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There is a stark racial divide in our country. Our current system is tailored towards supporting and protecting white supremacy and catering to white fragility. We need to address how the institutions that govern our lives have internalized and implemented racism. 


“The system perpetuates racism, gender inequities, fragmentation of social and ecological systems, and weakens efforts of the many individuals, organizations and agencies to achieve deep and meaningful truth and reconciliation between IBPOC and settler society.” says  Dawn Morrison, Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty and CCEC Board Member. 


We hear about white privilege, class privilege, and institutional privilege. We need to acknowledge that racism can look like hate, and show up as apathy, silence, ignorance and in the refusal to learn. Most recently, we’ve seen an increase in the number of anti-Asian acts of hate and violence. Systemic racism is complex. It has evolved out of a set of deeply rooted systems in our country. 


One thing we can do is to learn more about systemic racism and how to confront it  when we see it. Being silent is not an option.  In the last three months, there has been an eight-fold increase in anti-Asian hate crimes that included punching, subtle words and dirty looks; and we’ve opened a conversation about systemic racism in policing systems. For example,  Anti-Racism training (A.R.T) is available that helps participants shift from being  frozen/silent bystanders to becoming active witnesses during racist encounters. 


In Canada, we have an  Anti-Racism Strategy 2019-2022 called, Building a Foundation for Change.  The strategies outlined intend to help address barriers to employment, justice and social participation among Indigenous Peoples, racialized communities and religious minorities. In BC, the Organizing Against Race and Hate program was recently replaced with ResilienceBC Anti-Racism Network 


We can all do our part. Learn more and get involved. 


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This years’ film follows the director and fellow members of her community, as they are gradually expelled from their central Toronto neighbourhood by Vancouver-based developer Westbank, which recently began building 800 rental units on the site of legendary bargain department store, Honest Ed’s.  

The film supports our belief that housing is a basic human right. We all need a place to live and a community that is affordable, clean, and safe. Unfortunately, we are seeing the impact of redevelopment pressure on local businesses, people and the fabric of our communities. Working together, let’s make sure that our Restart Plans include housing that is equitable and just.”  


We also know the important roles that arts and culture are playing to help us recover from the pandemic. A DOXA spokesperson says, “We believe that documentary cinema holds power within moments of social momentum and change, and is a valuable tool in interrogating these unjust systems and institutions. We also believe in anti-racist education, increased mental health services, housing initiatives, income security, harm reduction services, accessible rehabilitation, arts and cultural programs, social workers, conflict resolution services, transformative justice, and other vital community-based systems.”


We agree that housing is a vital community-based system.  We need to build the kind of housing Vancouver needs and support social housing, guaranteed below market rental, moderate income rental, workforce housing, co-ops and co-housing.


CCEC is pleased to be the DOXA Festival Screening Partner for the film, There's No Place Like This Place, Anyplace . Let us know what you think. 


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We are in the same storm, not the same boat.

As we are in Phase 2 restarting, we ask ourselves: What do we want our community to look like? What did we learn from our time of self-isolation? What will be our economy?

At CCEC, we support a just recovery for all. We agree that now is the time to move forward with innovative, progressive recovery and rebuilding plans with a strong focus on social spending. Now is the time to invest in rebuilding our communities and cities based on care and compassion.

We cannot go back to the way things were. We are seeing the results of chronic underinvestment and inaction in the face of the ongoing, pre-existing crises of colonialism, human rights abuses, social inequity, ecological degradation, and climate change. We see that the people most impacted by the inequities are those living in poverty, women, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), racialized, newcomer and LGBTQ2S+ communities, people with disabilities, and seniors. We are seeing that the situation is forcing governments and civil society to face the inadequacies and inequities of our systems. There is no going back as “normal” caused our current situation and problems.

The recently formed Just Recovery Canada, an informal alliance of more than 150 civil society groups, have released “Six Principles for a Just Recovery.” The principles ask that all recovery plans being created by governments and civil society:

  1. put people’s health and wellbeing first;
  2. strengthen the social safety net and provide relief directly to people;
  3. prioritize the needs of workers and communities;
  4. build resilience to prevent future crises;
  5. build solidarity and equity across communities, generations and borders; and
  6. uphold Indigenous rights and work in partnership with Indigenous people.

The principles aim to capture the immense amount of care work happening throughout Canadian civil society right now and present a vision of a Just Recovery that leaves no one behind.

 

Now is the time to get involved and fight for a Just Recovery. We need to be on the path toward an equitable and sustainable future. 

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“This is not a return to normal … we’re going to a new normal," said Premier John Horgan.


But what does “a new normal”  look like for you? 


Dogwood BC says, “It marks the beginning of our next big test. Will we seize this opportunity to rebuild a more resilient province — or rush back to business as usual?” They ask you to help shape this essential public conversation by sending a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or through their webpage.


Dogwood BC also says that in BC, “normal” was failing to meet our climate targets. “Normal” was Indigenous and rural communities with no economic opportunities. “Normal” was housing, homelessness and addiction crises in our cities. “Normal” was a wildly inequitable distribution of wealth and power in our province. Let’s not go back to “normal”. 

The province has set aside $1.5 billion to get our economy back on its feet again as we transition out of the pandemic. ‘There’s a huge opportunity for very important economic growth and economic benefits to be invested in greening our economy, in energy efficiency,’ says interim Green Leader Adam Olsen.

But, the Premier’s task force in charge includes big business and unions, but not green groups.

Our members say:  

Advocating for a "hard hat" or "shovel ready" recovery is grabbing the wrong end of the stick. We  need to see retraining and placement programs at an unprecedented scale, with gender equity outcomes far beyond anything anyone's achieved in any economic recovery I've heard about.

The recovery plan MUST include:

  • clean energy development - lots of new jobs there!

  • fossil fuel use reduction

  • remove subsidies to fossil fuels - stop investment in dying industries

  • develop local power grids like solar roofs and wind power (there are bird friendly windmills already developed)

  • invest in green transportation like public transit and safe bikeways

BC Transit needs to establish a province-wide public bus company that uses as much electric power as possible.  Many communities in BC cannot be reached by bus…forcing people to drive their cars, if they have them, are agile enough and can afford to drive.

This is a once-in-a-generation chance to invest these precious public dollars into projects that build the kind of B.C. we all want to live in.  We need to be louder. Spark a conversation in your community about what our province should look like as the economy powers up again.  

Get involved. We need a Green New Deal, a CleanBC and a Way Forward. 

Like and follow groups including DogwoodBC, Wilderness Committee, and  STAND.earth


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Be on alert for government benefit scams, business rewards and other “too good to be true” offers.

 

There's been a significant  increase in false texts and emails that try to make you believe, for example,  you've received a CERB or other government benefit. These messages will usually ask you to click a link to claim your benefit.


Think twice before you click.  If you receive an unsolicited text or email from someone you don’t know asking you to click on a link, don’t do it. 


Do your homework. Even if a call or message seems to come from an official source, research it before handing over sensitive information, such as your name, address, or banking information. Scammers often try to earn consumers’ trust by impersonating reputable, official institutions.


Remember, the CRA will never send you text messages. If it sounds too easy or too good to be true, it probably is. Be skeptical and never respond to these messages or click on the link – even if it seems like it came from a credible source.


Arm yourself with the latest list of COVID-19 scams from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre


If you have any questions, call us Tuesday to Friday 9:30am - 5pm at 604.254.100. 


Stay home. Be safe. Be extra diligent for scams. 


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“Many of today's greatest challenges are global and they can only be solved when we work together. That is why Canada stands united with its German, French, and Japanese friends,” says Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.  She continues by saying, “We face the most turbulent moment in terms of the rules-based international order since WW2.”

#MultilateralismMatters   #AllianceOfMultilateralists 

COVID-19 was a wake-up call for multilateralism. The virus doesn’t recognize borders. We need strong global cooperation and solidarity to fight COVID-19. Containing and countering this pandemic calls for a co-operative, transparent, science-based and coordinated global response. Only by building a more sustainable and resilient world through enhanced international cooperation can we overcome this threat to humanity.

Multilateralism is founded on respect for international law as the only reliable guarantee for international stability and peace and that the challenges we are facing can only be solved through cooperation. It aims to bring together willing partners who can express themselves and take action.

The initiative is organized around three goals:

  • 1) compensating for the insufficient involvement of States and defending fundamental standards;
  • 2) reforming and modernizing the international institutions compared with the status quo;
  • 3) driving strong initiatives, particularly where governance is absent or insufficient.

Other initiatives will continue to develop that include human rights, international humanitarian law, cyberspace, future technologies, disarmament and arms control, global public goods and strengthening international institutions.

As we strive to “recover better”, the Alliance’s roadmap is the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.

We encourage our members to support a  Green New Deal, say no to pipelines and fossil fuel, stand up for Indigenous sovereignty and rights.  This crisis has created opportunities
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March is Fraud Prevention Month: Recognize, Report and Reject. 

Scammers can target any Canadian or Canadian business. Here are some tips and tricks to protect yourself or your business from scams and fraud. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it is.  For more information and helpful tips visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud page.  

Read the helpful tips for Individuals:

Read the helpful tips for businesses:

 
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We need public development of non-market rental stock and social/supportive housing, including temporary modular housing. Our greatest housing need is for rental stock for low-to moderate-income households that is unprofitable for private-sector developers.  We need to change the assumption that private-sector developers should take the lead on building the housing that we need for people and community.  


Housing is for community not developers. Let’s look at the Little Mountain Housing site. Ten years ago the residents were removed and the buildings demolished on what was Vancouver’s first social housing site (built in 1954). The 15 acre site continues to be vacant. The community is calling on the government to #Take Back the Mountain (sign their petition) into public hands and “to build the kind of housing that people need and deserve in Vancouver.”


The City is taking a more planned approach toward approving new affordable housing (2018 Housing Strategy), including financial incentives for developers to build rental housing instead of condos. However, the construction of affordable housing is inadequate for the current needs let alone the anticipated future needs. There’s a case to be made for a more public planning model, including public land assembly, project financing and rental housing development for the large build-out we need.


How do we define “social housing” and “affordability”?  Recent Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative (CCPA) research considers affordability by looking at the hourly wage that would be required to afford an apartment and allocating no more than 30 per cent of pre-tax earnings to be spent on rent. In Metro Vancouver, a household needs a wage of $26.72 per hour to afford a one-bedroom and $35.43 per hour for a two-bedroom apartment. A person in a minimum wage job, on disability or social assistance cannot afford the current rents. 


We need a building program where priority is given to households in extreme housing

need. We need a range of housing options that work for people with different incomes and at different stages in their lives that include larger, family-sized units. The top 3 needs for public housing investment include the following:

  • Housing people who are homeless

  • Non-market rental housing that is locked in as affordable

  • Housing for seniors.


We can pay for this! CCPA has crunched the numbers.  We can move forward with a build-out program that would see the construction of 10,000 new units of non-market rentals, public housing and co-op housing per year. As an example, City Council just approved the first projects under the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program, which they approved in November 2017 to create more affordable housing. The pilot allows for up to 20 buildings where at least 20 per cent of the residential units must be set aside for "moderate income households," defined as households earning between $30,000 and $80,000 per year. It’s a start! 


Read the CCPA report, “Planning for a build-out of affordable rental housing in Metro Vancouver”.

 
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We need social housing and welfare rates enough to cover basic rent in the city. There are 2,223 homeless people in Vancouver, up only 2.2% but there are more seniors, women and those who had housing now in the homeless count. It takes political will and all levels of government to address the problem. Read more in the just released  The Vancouver Homeless Count 2019 


In 2015, Medicine Hat declared it had ended chronic homelessness. The program continues to be successful. "Our definition of ending homelessness never did include the idea that it would never exist again, and that people would never fall back into that state of homelessness," said Jaime Rogers, the manager of homeless and housing at the Medicine Hat Community Housing Society. ​"We still need emergency shelters and we absolutely have people in our community that still experience homelessness. However, anyone who experiences being homeless is for a period that is "brief and short-lived," she said. 


The Mayor of Medicine Hat calls on provinces and Ottawa to provide the funding, but then to allow municipalities to implement strategies that makes the most sense wherever they're at. He says that their homeless strategy is saving taxpayers money in  terms of declining costs of crime, health care and child welfare services. 


Housing is for community not developers. On November 30, a rally was held at what was the Little Mountain Housing site. Ten years ago the residents were removed and the buildings demolished on what was Vancouver’s first social housing site (built in 1954). The 15 acre site continues to be vacant. A rally spokesperson says, “It was a successful social housing community. Many, many thousands of people grew up and lived their lives there. The buildings could have been renovated.”  The spokesperson adds, “It’s clear that the redevelopment of Little Mountain has been a failure. We are calling on the government to #Take Back the Mountain,’ to take the Little Mountain site into public hands and to build the kind of housing that people need and deserve in Vancouver.”


Read the  Vancouver Homeless Count 2019 Report 

Learn more about the Homeless Action Strategy in Alberta 

 
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STILL FROM MENSAKAS YOUTUBE VIDEO FOR ITS FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN. IMAGE: RIDERSXDERECHOS BCN/YOUTUBE

This recent article in VICE provides a great overview on how the digital economy can be re-oriented to promote worker co-ops, and other forms of social enterprise.  In particular, we have to consider people-based alternatives to the exploitative trends in the 'gig economy'. 

Worker co-ops are a model of worker ownership that can be a real alternative to transnational capitalism. Employee ownership, with one-member one-vote, emphasises the importance of the work, the worker, and the workplace; while it downplays the return to be paid to outside investors.  Growing tech companies now prosper by squeezing workers; Amazon, UBER, Facebook, and others create two classes - the very rich and the precarious poor. 

Many software and technology firms are worker owned at the start but 'sell out' as they grow.  However, some are committed to a co-op model long term. This is likely the future for co-ops in the Internet Age.  One in BC is Affinity Bridge.  In addition, one of the Affinity Bridge principals, Robin Puga, hosts Each For All on Vancouver Co-op Radio

In Montreal, an option to UBER has been created, called EVA; it is a novel hybrid of a worker and consumer co-op.  EVA now has over 18,000 members.  In BC MODO the car co-op is a great consumer co-op with a good core technology platform. 

Open-source software may give local projects the means to create their own apps and build their own successful co-op business, adapted to our device driven reality.  Such projects have a potential privacy side benefit if the user's personal data is not being aggregated and sold to the Big Data marketing machine.    

 

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