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Rooted in social justice values—like human dignity and freedom, fairness, equality, solidarity, environmental sustainability, and the public good—and a strong belief in the power of participatory democracy, CCPA released its’ 25th edition of the Alternative Federal Budget (AFB) Recovery Plan. 


It is time to put human rights, labour, environmental protection, anti-poverty, arts and culture, social development, child development, international development, women, Indigenous peoples, the faith-based community, students, teachers, education, and health care workers at the forefront of policy planning and decision-making. 


2020 is  a critical turning point, a year in which the systems that sustain our societies failed. Greenhouse gas emissions dropped, highlighting the irrefutable link between how we live and climate change. Globally, billions of lives have been disrupted, more than half a million lives lost.


In Canada, we are guilty of racial, ethnic, and Indigenous injustices. The inequities that were baked into our systems have been exposed and exacerbated by COVID-19.  We need investments in a just, equitable and sustainable recovery and to fix many areas of public policy. 


The AFB Recovery Plan identifies the following immediate action items: implement universal public child care so people can get back to work, reform employment insurance, strengthen safeguards for public health, decarbonize the economy, and tackle the inequalities in gender, race and income. 

The Plan includes an analysis of key areas being impacted by COVID-19 including affordable housing and homelessness.  We know that when eviction bans are lifted, more households will be on the brink of homelessness.  Also, the closure of daytime services and public spaces offering washroom facilities and internet access created challenges for those who depend on these shared services.  

We need to increase our social housing stock and in Barcelona they are doing this by seizing empty apartments.  The city told the property owners to fill the vacant rental units with tenants or they would take over their properties. The landowners have one month to comply. Would or could our city government be willing to take such bold action? 

At CCEC, we work to reduce barriers to open a bank account and to provide equitable and just access to financial services. We know this is our chance to bend the curve of public policy toward justice, well-being, solidarity, equity, resilience, and sustainability.  Learn more and read the CCPA Alternative Federal Budget Report to build healthier communities where no one is left behind. 

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We have an opportunity to build back better. We need a recovery map that fixes the systemic inequalities that are embedded  in our communities. 

It is tempting to want to return to the status quo pre-Covid, but that cannot happen.  There were too many crises raging that will worsen if nothing is done.  For example, last month Vancouver recorded our highest number of opioid related deaths.  Income inequality, an inadequate social safety net and climate change are just three of the crises that must be addressed. 

We have an opportunity to redesign our economic programs, social infrastructure and public services to build an inclusive, fairer and more resilient economy. During Covid we learned that we need to invest in our workers, our shared prosperity and to have economic justice for historically marginalized groups. 

We can all agree that out of Covid, we are more aware of care and compassion.  Dr. Henry’s words, “Be Kind. Be Safe. Be Calm”  resonated with us. 

CCEC was formed in 1976 by groups who were unable to access financial services through banks and other credit unions. We continue working to reduce barriers to open a bank account and to provide equitable and just access to financial services.  

We encourage our members to get involved, speak up and be part of shaping our community economic development.  For example,  @JustRecovery and the #BuildBackBetter campaigns.  Share your stories with us.


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Keeping your money working in your community. 

Once dubbed the “activist credit union”, CCEC has been known as one of the few financial institutions willing to do business with “fill in the blanks”.   In the past 45 years that we’ve been serving our community, we see that our conversations on community economic development, sustainable development, workplace equity, and social justice have now become mainstream.

During this time of change and uncertainty as we work towards a Just Recovery,
the values on which CCEC was founded resonate stronger. 

CCEC has kept true to the values and beliefs on which we were founded in 1976.  Now, we see that many of the issues CCEC has been dealing with at the grassroots level are top priorities for credit unions and co-operatives across the country.  At CCEC, it is business as usual as we continue to promote local economic development, and serve groups that have been excluded from the economic mainstream because they don't fit a banker's idea of a good credit risk. At one time, giving workers a stake in running the business, saving the environment and promoting community development had a flaky reputation - not something a financial institution would associate itself with. But times change.

Did you know that we have provided bike loans for over 45 years! In the past, these small loans have been shunned by other banks as they don’t make money. Now, it is trendy to lend for alternative transportation like e-bikes.  No worries, however, as you can still come to CCEC for your bike loan. We do lend for many other purposes so just ask.

At CCEC, we have always reinvested your money within the community we serve. We continue to lend to member organizations and individuals who are underserved to meet their basic human needs and rights, for community enterprises and community action. 


We invite our members to get to know us better and those who want to belong to a credit union that stands up for what you believe in, to join us. 


Be sure to share with us your favourite story about CCEC. 


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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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Invest in you and your future with an RRSP.  RRSP’s continue to be a good investment fit for many of our member-owners’ financial plans and lifestyles.


There are two main reasons our members invest in an RRSP:  to reduce taxable income (paying less tax in that year); and to be saving tax-free as (taxes are payable later on withdrawal in what would be a lower income year).  At this time, you can contribute up to 18% of your 2019 earned income, to a maximum of $27,230 plus any carry-forward contribution room that you may have until the year you are 71 years of age. 


If you would like to contribute, ask us about an RRSP loan so that you can maximize or top-up your RRSP contribution (before March 2, 2020).  You may be able to save tax dollars by investing the funds from the loan into your RRSP. By starting a monthly contribution plan, you can earn compound interest making more than if you contribute a lump sum. 


RRSP’s are considered longer-term retirement investments. However, you can withdraw funds,  for use towards the Home Buyers’ Plan or the Lifelong Learning Plan; which must be repaid within a specified time.  A word of caution before you resort to withdrawing from your RRSP - look for alternatives and talk to us. 


Are RRSPs worth it in the long run? Even though you have to pay the tax back when you withdraw the funds, yes, they are worth it. They are a valuable tool to reduce your tax burden and save for the future. Be sure to include an RRSP as an investment option in your financial plan. And, be sure to review your plan each year.  


Need a plan?  We can help you with that.


Call us today to speak with one of our investment specialists. 

Pick up the leaflet, Your Guide to Understanding RRSP’s in the branch or visit the CRA website for more information. 


A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is a retirement savings and investing vehicle for employees and the self-employed in Canada. Pre-tax money is placed into an RRSP and grows tax free until withdrawal, at which time it is taxed at the marginal rate.

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"Scotiabank Refuses to Honour Old GIC's Until CBC Steps In" reads the headline. Watch the CBC clip and Denis Flinn, General Manager CCEC is interviewed (at 1:33). 

 

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April 24: Join the ACORN Fair Banking Campaign Rally at Fairstone Metrotown. 

At CCEC we support the work of ACORN Fair Banking campaign. and have been providing our members with emergency short term loans for many years. We also provide debt consolidation services to help our members avoid the predatory lenders. 

Non-bank lenders like Fairstone are unregulated when they give out loans over $1500. They give out loans up to $20,000 at rates as high as 59%  which is still considered legal (under 60% is legal in Canada). Fairstone recently rebranded from CITI Financial. You may have heard of them as they were a leader in the US with predatory mortgages. In the US, they paid penalties of over $7 Billion for their role in financially destroying millions of Americans. So, they renamed their high interest loan outlets as Fairstone. ACORN's campaign for Fair Banking is putting Fairstone on notice that their days of unregulated lending are coming to an end.

The BC Government has introduced legislation that would license high-interest lenders, enabling them to cap the interest rates and other predatory lending practices. "Regrettably many people do not understand the true implications of taking out a high-cost loan only to find out later how hard and how long it can take to repay,” says Scott Hannah, president of the Credit Counselling Society.

Email Metrovan@acorncanada.org for more info on ACORN's campaign and be sure to join the rally on April 24!  

Call CCEC if you need a short term or other loan. We want to work with our members to avoid them feeling they need to work with predatory lenders. 

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Wealth inequality is growing in Canada and in the US.  But our political parties seem not to notice, are they on the take?

Last week the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a great analysis of the wealth concentration in Canada.  In BORN TO WIN,  David Macdonald reviews the census data to clearly show how our tax system, public investment strategies, and regulatory efforts serve the rich very well.  He note in the introduction that over the 17 year period ending in 2016 the 87 wealthiest families in Canada saw their wealth grow by 37%, more than twice the rate at which was experienced for middle class families.

American academic Karen Petrou is raising the same issues south of the border, this interview in Bloomberg is great, laying the groundwork for her new book to be published early next year.  She is a harsh critic of both the way banks have been regulated and monetary policies - to the disadvantage of the many.

Both of these arguments clearly outline a problem that is bigger than 'windfalls' that benefit some home owners.  Housing affordability and precarious employment are a consequence of public policy decisions, that systemically favour the wealthy.  As Macdonald states, "... in general Canada’s tax system is set up to encourage concentration of wealth at the very top." 

 

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The second largest credit union in BC is applying to become a bank.  Coast Capital Savings (@500k members at @$16B in assets) has made an application to the provincial regulator, FICOM, for permission to be continued under The Bank Act as a federally incorporated entity.  FICOM is requesting public input, so let's encourage people to write. [Added: CCEC submission Mar 28, 2017.]

The Bank Act was amended three years ago to allow for 'federal credit unions' as a type of bank. The federal government has taken other steps to induce or coerce larger credit unions to move to that jurisdiction. Coast is the first from BC to move down this path, a special resolution was put to that credit union membership in November, with very little supporting information and no real debate.  Now, FICOM has to review the proposal.

A more complete explanation may be found at www.cufutures.ca  A blog post there outlines many concerns.(other information is at www.governancewatch.ca )

But two big questions arise;

  1. Are credit unions not inherently local, self-help responses to a big national bank oligopoly?  This conversion abandons the model of a network of locally based, democratically controlled financial co-ops.  
  2. And will the departure of these large credit unions undermine the viability of the real credit unions that remain?  We must ensure the legacy of several generations, the credit unions of BC, are not undermined and placed at risk.

RG

 

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CCEC GM Ross Gentleman spoke to BNN today regarding the Vancouver housing market. The six minute interview considered economic issues, lending risk, and public policy responses. Ross said, "The rapid rise in values over this past year cannot be sustained."  Even the OECD has publicly called for government action this past week. The local real estate board reports prices are up 22-37% annually in the region. 

Ross expressed concern that rising real estate prices are pressuring middle and lower income households.  All credit unions are committed to ensuring these households' shelter needs are met.  He noted that CCEC does not finance speculation, with a primary focus is upon home ownership for middle income credit union members, secure shelter options generally, AND non-market community owned housing stock.

Ross also noted that CCEC supports co-op housing and CCEC sees a need for more collaboration between that sector and government to ensure that more non-market housing units are built. The community land trust model in Vancouver is a good example. 

Lastly, he projected a need for government intervention as affordability becomes a more serious concern for ordinary people.  In particular, he itemized the need for the reconsideration of (a) the property transfer tax system, (b) the municipal property tax system, and (c) the privileged tax exempt status of capital gains on primary residences. 

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