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Time to grow the movement

According to a recent Bloomberg Survey, 37% of insolvencies in Ontario involved a payday loan (source)

Worse still, the report suggests that the numbers are getting worse. The loans are getting bigger, and more people are falling into the trap. Because, let's face it; it is a trap.

While things are different in BC, they are not necessarily better. With a cooling real estate market, Canada on the brink of recession, and jobs increasingly moving to the "gig economy", the need for fairer solutions to banking is growing daily. The market of the precarious is lucrative for exploitative payday lending institutions. The BC government just announced that it is moving to protect some consumers with new proposals to regulate this sector, which is to be applauded.

CCEC offers emergency small-dollar loans to its members in an attempt to offer a more viable alternative. But we need policy change; which is why we support ACORN and their pleas for fair banking measures to be brought front and centre.

Add your name to the push, and tell your local MP to step up! https://www.acorncanada.org/take-action/tell-your-mp-its-time-fair-banking

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More than fifty members came out to the CCEC Annual General Meeting February 6th, to consider ordinary business and four special resolutions.  Special resolutions - which require 18 days notice and 2/3 majority support - are needed to alter the CCEC Rules (or 'bylaws').

The board proposed four Rule changes; texts and rationale had been circulated well in advance.  Director Shannon Daub presented these to the meeting, specifically saying that these changes were presented separately so that members would have the opportunity to consider each change on its own merits.  

In the end, three of the changes were carried by substantial majorities. These included (1) a prohibition of employees sitting as directors, (2) a charge to the nominating committee to inquire into candidates' potential conflicts of interest and report out on these to members, and (3) giving limited authority to the board to remove a director for misconduct, failure to attend to duties, or if they were obliged to resign by law and had not.  In the debate several particulars were highlighted, such as possible conflicts that may result in Rules texts, and the board will be looking into these more closely.   

Special resolution #4 failed. That change would have enabled the directors to introduce the use of electronic notices and voting, subject to statutory restrictions.  The principal concern expressed by those speaking against the motion related to electronic voting.  There was a view that CCEC should not proceed down such a path without much more careful planning and proposals. 

Within the context of these debates, but also receipt of other reports and elections, the meeting was lively and constructive.  All feedback on the meeting that has been offered subsequently has been positive and we thank all those attending for there contributions.

‚ÄčThe successful special resolutions have now been filed with the Superintendent, and the board will be reconsidering the various matters arising in the next few months. 

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As an intervenor on the NEB process, CCEC stands in support of our members saying NO to the pipeline.  Here is what some of our members have to say.

“It’s ridiculous! The economic case for this pipeline is from 2012,” said Wilderness Committee Climate Campaigner Peter McCartney. “How can you argue these impacts are justified at all, let alone based on a dying industry doomed to fail.”

Ian Marcuse, Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Network says, "The NEB decision is deeply troubling. The loss of species and food sources for indigenous communities speaks to the economic, corporate interests prioritizing over environmental and cultural well-being.”

The Mountain Protectors say, “We are outraged and utterly disappointed by the NEB’s decision to prioritize profit for a fossil fuel corporation above the health and well-being of all people, the land, the ocean and all life that depends on the health of the land.  The NEB decision endangers our long-term well-being by pushing to destabilize the climate when we urgently need to transition to renewable energies.”

Dawn Morrison, with the Wild Salmon Caravan and chair of the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty says, “The NEB structures and processes are one glaring example of how the system is failing in its ability to implement collectively held Indigenous title and rights and Free and Prior Informed Consent, and adequately assess the 1).inter-generational equity of both present and future generations in decision making matters impacting the broader ecological, cultural and temporal scope and scale of Indigenous land and food systems, and 2) assess cumulative impacts to our climate and complex system of Indigenous biodiversity and cultural heritage.”

So, what happens next?  The federal cabinet will mull over the NEB’s report, and continue consultations with Indigenous communities, before they make a decision on whether on not to proceed with building the Trans Mountain expansion. With 5.4 billion dollars sunk into purchasing the pipeline, most likely the government is going to green light the project.

Peter McCartney, Wilderness Committee continues by saying, “It’s a travesty Trans Mountain has never, and likely will never, receive a proper, thorough environmental assessment.  We will continue to stand behind Indigenous nations that have never consented to this project.”

Dawn Morrison’s final words on their press release says, “STOP the Trans Mountain Pipeline that is threatening the health and integrity of Indigenous social and ecological systems for the benefit of all!”

While the report found that the project would have "adverse effects on southern resident killer whales" and that greenhouse gas emissions from tankers would be 'significant', they approved it anyway. Today’s announcement is bad news for all of us who support Indigenous rights, understand climate change is real, and are committed to making sure Trans Mountain never gets built at all.

For more information like and follow these groups:

Wilderness Committee

 Mountain Protectors

Stop KM Legal Defense Fund

Wild Salmon Caravan

Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Read the NEB Report here.

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Good for most families, disappointing for individuals.  The first-ever Poverty Reduction strategy reflected in the BC Budget announced February 19, 2019, brings good news for low-income families but did not ‘raise the rates’ to lift those on social assistance out of poverty. At the same time, some of the investments made, while small on the scale of the budget, may significantly change the lives of some of our more vulnerable community members.

BC has some of the highest levels of poverty in Canada for all age groups. In a wealthy province like ours, such poverty and homelessness is unfair and unnecessary. It is also extremely expensive.

This blog outlines a few areas of the budget we feel are of most interest to our members and member groups. We encourage you to read further through the links at the end of this blog.

For Families:

Student loans become interest-free as of today. A good start, however, some provinces provide grants that you don’t pay back and some countries provide free post-secondary education.  We will see improvements to employment training programs delivered by WorkBC, additional funding to increase access to adult basic education and English language training and a small funding boost for trades training.

The new BC Child Opportunity Benefit is great news for low-income families with children.  The expansion of the provincial child benefit increases the provision from 6 years old to 18 years old. However, by setting the threshold for the maximum benefit at $25,000 means that many single mothers and other families will see their benefit reduced while they are still below the poverty line.

For Individuals:

One in three singles live in poverty in BC.  180,000 people live on income assistance.

The increase to welfare and disability rates of $50 per month will remain thousands of dollars below the poverty line. Benefits for single, employable individuals will continue to be less than 50% of the poverty line (as measured by the Market Basket Measure). Now a single person on income assistance will receive $760 per month. It is felt that disability rates should be increased to $1,500 per month and index rates to the cost of inflation. It takes: 1.16billion to bring up income assistance rates to the poverty line in BC which is only 1% of the provincial GDP.

Homelessness

In BC, it is estimated that 7,700 people are homeless.

The Budget included funding for 200 new units of Temporary Modular Housing units beyond the 2000 announced last year. Also, $15 million in funding to develop a province-wide homeless response strategy over the next three years.  In Vancouver this past year, we brought online 650 units of housing, demonstrating that we can eliminate homelessness if this is prioritized.

Given the surpluses budgeted over the next three years, we have the capacity to invest more substantially in poverty and homelessness.  We look forward to seeing more significant measures and the long-term vision in the full poverty reduction strategy to be released shortly.

References used in this blog are:

 BC Poverty Reduction Coalition

Inclusion BC

Raise the Rates

Central 1 Flash Report

CCPA

 

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Wild Salmon Caravan (WSC) is a project led by the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty (WGIFS) in collaboration with the Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance. The project engages multiple Indigenous and non-Indigenous Elders, activists, researchers and lawyers.  2019 will be the 5th annual WSC.  Dawn Morrison, Co-Founder/Chair of the WGIFS says, “The strength of our work lies in our networks and our ability to link with over 100+ organizations to leverage support, access funding, and co-develop programs, promotion, and public education materials, as well as plan logistics, and host community arts build workshops, feasts, ceremonies and visual and performing arts events.”  

The WSC, with guidance and direction from the Salish Council of Matriarchs, raises awareness of the issues surrounding the declining health and abundance of our most important Indigenous food, wild salmon. They organize community arts and cultural engagement activities that brings together Rainbow Peoples (peoples of all creeds and cultures) in their public education campaign and celebrations of the spirit of wild salmon.

The WSC mobilizes traditional ecological knowledge, values, strategies, practices and protocols that have persisted throughout the process of colonization. The WSC media highlights  teachings on sustainability of wild salmon fisheries and how it can be applied in the present day reality.  Sustainability of our efforts ultimately lies in the extended networks where Indigenous food, social and ceremonial fisheries knowledge lives, and the large volunteer basis on which the WGIFS and WSC planning teams work. We activate sharing and trading of knowledge and food and revitalize inter-tribal networks, and we promote and generate awareness of how to increase the communities’ ability to respond to their own needs for food in a way that affirms the regenerative paradigm that underlies Indigenous cosmologies and worldviews. 

In 2018, the eight-day caravan started in Vancouver with a parade on September 22 and finished in Chase at Adams Lake on September 29.  For more information and to get involved in the 2019 WSC visit their website  Like and Follow them on Facebook 
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Inequality is one of the big issues of our time, and it will not be reversed by philanthropy.  That was one frank assessment by a Dutch historian who recently took part in a Davos panel.  Yes, at the international conference for the wealthy elite convened in Switzerland annually.  Rutger Bregman called out the bankers, politicians and tech billionaires for being all talk and only serving themselves. His remarks became a social media sensation.   Bregman's recent book is Utopia for Realists and it appears to touch a nerve with some - perhaps a Utopia for others. 

We have a system that rewards the wealthy with praise and status if the 'give back'.  But this is a sham, or even a scam.  No matter what wonderful things a few very wealthy people may support, the system is simply designed to make them all richer. Another book, Winners Take All, by Anand Giridharadas, has received great reviews because the book clearly describes the corrupt model; the shortcomings of celebrity billionaires, their foundations, and their vanity. 

The CCPA has outlined how the game is being played by Canada's billionaires

It will take more than a few outspoken voices to re-balance the tax burdens in Canada and elsewhere.  This is an issue with many faces.  Recent changes to property taxes in BC are step in the right direction.  Higher marginal income taxes for the rich and fewer tax exemptions are needed. We need to support measures that will maker our tax system fairer.  And we have to challenge the myth that the charity of the super-rich is some kind of answer.   

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