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Which welfare model should we trial or adopt in BC? How are other countries addressing the welfare needs of their citizens? Here are a few recent announcements:   

  • Finland announced that it is stopping their trial of the Universal Basic Income (UBI) program at the end of 2018.  They are looking into alternative welfare schemes including the Universal Credit model.  
  • Read how the current Universal Basic Income trials are falling short of holding society-changing potential. Is Basic Income being setup to fail? 
  • The United Kingdom introduced a Universal Credit program in 2013,  However, a recent article in the Economist suggests that the roll-out is not going well.  

  What do you think we should be doing in BC?  Add Your Comments...

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Proportional Representation 
What is it?  What does it mean to me?  
Do BC elections put the right 'representatives' in the legislature?  Many want the system changed. And now change is being proposed.

BC residents will participate in an electoral reform vote this fall. You will be asked two questions:

1. Which should British Columbia use for elections to the Legislative Assembly? 

  • The current First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system. or 
  • A proportional representation(PR)  voting system.

2. If British Columbia adopts a proportional representation voting system, which of the following voting systems do you prefer?

  • Dual Member Proportional (DMP)
  • Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)
  • Rural-Urban PR 

Learn more:

  • Fair Vote Canada in BC is pro - Proportional Representation. They say that first-past-the-post delivers majority governments to parties with 39% of the vote. With proportional representation, if a party earns 30% of the vote, they get 30% of the seats. 
  • The “No Proportional Representation in BC Society” favours keeping our current, “First Past the Post” or “FPT
  • Get involved and participate in the conversations and debates. 
Share your thoughts on this issue.
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Credit unions are consumer owned enterprises that represent a fundamental challenge to conventional capital corporations.  Credit unions do not exist to generate profits, but to provide services to member-shareholders.  Recent published documents raise some interesting questions about the future of our credit unions.  

Consolidation and amalgamation over the last thirty years has drastically reduced the number of credit unions in BC (and elsewhere).  In the mid-eighties there was 120, now there are 43.  And the two largest credit unions comprise @50% of the deposits and almost 50% of the memberships in BC. Two papers submitted to the provincial government review of credit union legislation were made public online and provide pointed criticism of the erosion of member democracy in large credit unions. Submissions are public and the papers from Bruce Bachelor and Mark Latham both argue for enhanced democratic practices. Also, governancewatch.ca  provides an excellent overview of difficulties at Coast Capital Credit Union. 

But beyond that, credit union members also own "second tier" enterprises, or are the beneficial owners of these; Central 1, Co-operators Insurance, CUMIS Insurance, etc.  Since credit unions control these businesses, consumer owners rarely consider their stake in them.  But a recent paper from Central 1 provides a great overview, and a discussion of a 'restructuring' of these entities - Future State. But this paper fails to recognize consumer ownership as the key 'uniqueness' of our credit unions.

Over time the radical idea of consumer control has been down played.  More emphasis has been placed upon marketing smarts and service. Indeed, co-operative democratic governance has been under-represented and eroded.  Members are no longer encouraged to take active interest in the affairs of the credit union, unless there is a merger proposal. This is unfortunate, as the price of democracy is vigilance.  Our credit unions not only manage our savings, but also control substantial accrued 'wealth'; retained earnings is an asset held/owned in common by all members. This is community property.  

Our organizations do not 'belong' to the managers and directors. When there are big choices to make members should be consulted. Members must not only think about their own accounts and transactions, we all have a stake in the community organizations that we have jointly created over time and organizations that ought to be looking out for us as we move forward. 

CCEC welcomes input from our members on the evolution of the credit union system and how we may play our part.  Feel free to listen into this podcast with Ross Gentleman and Tammy Lea Meyer. 

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On behalf of the board, we are pleased to announce that Tracey Kliesch will be joining CCEC Credit Union as our General Manager as of May 15, 2016. Tracey is coming to CCEC after more than 12 years at Vancity in both operations and community investment. 

“It’s an honour and pleasure to welcome such a strong advocate for co-ops and community organizations to CCEC,” remarked Tammy Lea Meyer, Co-chair of the Board of Directors. “As a champion of co-operative economics and an active leader in the community, we are extremely pleased to have her take on this leadership role at our credit union.”

Tracey has spent the last five years as a Community Investment Portfolio Manager, where she has focused on building meaningful partnerships with mission-based organizations, as well as managing the Youth Community Advisory Committee and online forum. Outside of her work with Vancity, Tracey teaches Cooperatives and Community Economic Development at BCIT, and has worked internationally to promote and strengthen the cooperative model and help build the cooperative movement.

Ms. Meyer continued, “CCEC stands for Community Congress for Economic Change, and as an agent of change, we promote social justice and economic democracy.  It is clear to us that Tracey shares this commitment.  Her proven managerial skills in the financial service industry and a broad understanding of the social profit sector give us confidence that she will represent the values of our members and member communities.  She is well prepared to take on this leadership role at CCEC.”

“I am very excited and deeply honoured to become CCEC’s next GM and I look forward to stewarding the credit union’s continued success,” said Ms. Kliesch. “I have had the pleasure of serving community members in Squamish, Vancouver, East Vancouver and Burnaby for over 12 years with Vancity and look forward to continuing that work in support of CCEC’s members and community organizations. I look forward to working with the Board, our managers, our union and staff to continue to build an organization that is sustainably successful and true to our founding values. I am proud to take the helm of this local, autonomous and independent credit union that so clearly lives and advocates for cooperative values.”

Ms. Kliesch will be replacing Ross Gentleman who is retiring after leading the credit union for three years, having been an active volunteer and contributor for over 35 years. Although he will be missed as GM, we expect he will continue to volunteer in some capacity.

CCEC Credit Union provides financial services to non-profits, co-ops, social enterprises and progressive small businesses, and to individuals affiliated with these community organizations.  As a community development credit union, CCEC has worked with many projects associated with housing, childcare, health, environmental stewardship, gender equality, and free expression.


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Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz spoke at UBC last Friday and made the case that growing inequality in modern day America (and Canada) is a result of political choices we have made; the failed experiment of trickle down neo-conservative policies that have been advocated since the 70's. He boldly advanced the need for a new political agenda that will give ordinary people a bigger share of the pie. 

The presentation included graphs on income distribution, wealth distribution and other factors over the last 100 years, and the data clearly indicates the fact that the very rich have benefited handsomely since 1970, while others have barely held their own. He then provided comparisons between nation states to show that social equality was not so skewed elsewhere; in Scandinavia, western Europe, Japan and Canada the inequalities are modest compared to the USA. Approximately 20% aggregate 'income' in the USA goes to the top 1% of the population. 

He asserts that the rules of the game (video, Democracy Now), that is the legal and tax systems in the USA, the UK and New Zealand (and to some degree Canada), have been set to ensure the rich get richer. The analysis has been set out in two books by Siglitz over the last 6 years; The Price and Inequality and The Great Divide.  He argues that it is time for ordinary people to challenge the privileges given to the very wealthy. He referred attendees to the Roosevelt Institute for additional insights and proposals. He eloquently argued that the erosion of the 'equality of opportunity' will lead to potentially immense social and economic costs. And he held up a copy of his just published book Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy.

He closed his remarks with a pointed critique of the Trans Pacific Partnership ("TPP"), an international 'trade' agreement now being promoted in Canada and the USA. Stiglitz represented the deal as entrenching benefits for large corporations and international finance, and undermining democratic governments. He specifically noted that the TPP went well beyond 'trade' to impose limits on government regulation, government purchasing, and tax policies; and would have disputes settled by 'private' arbitration rather than in public courts. It can be noted that opponents to the TPP include the Council of Canadians, Open Media and Doctors Without Borders. 

 

 

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Distraction, apathy and disengagement are rotting the foundation of western democratic traditions.  While it is tempting to repeat well known aphorisms about what a great place Canada may be, there is an underside of inequality, poverty, plunder and amorality that is both present and ominous.  For many, the challenge of these political 'realities' provides purpose and for many others this emerging global corporate empire is overwhelming.  

But the temptation to watch sports and reality TV, to binge in online games or HBO offerings, and to turn hotel chefs into celebrities is actually part of a a larger social pattern,  The Four Horsemen is a feature length documentary film that lays out a cogent and constructive overview of just what is going on; how certain ideas have become mainstream and blinded us, and how democratic institutions have been subverted.  The film, from the Renegade Economist  (Ross Ashcroft), features several notable thinkers and writers, including Joseph Stiglitz, Herman Daly, Noam Chomsky, and John Perkins.  

Notably, it outlines the need for local institutions and projects to counter this global 'financialization' project. It also emphasizes the need to participate, apathy serves the interests of the rich and privileged.   

 

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CCEC Member, Discovery Organics is organizing a panel discussion about Farm Working conditions on Friday, June 5th at 6pm downtown Vancouver.  In our backyard, the Fraser Valley, there are many migrant farm workers that are mistreated.  Learn more!

RSVP: jsage@discoveryorganics.ca 

More than half of the produce you buy in the supermarket comes from California or Mexico.  

“Arrests as Mexico farming wage strike turns violent” Aljazeera – May 12th                                                            

… “Farmworkers in Baja California protest low pay, poor conditions”

… “Many laborers stayed away from the fields Tuesday and hundreds spilled onto the highway, where they barricaded the road and burned tires.”LA Times – March 18th                      

…”Labour exploitation, slave-like conditions found on farms supplying biggest supermarkets” – ABC News Australia – May 7th

AND CLOSER TO HOME…

Locally, agriculture is one of the most dangerous jobs for the 10,000 immigrant and migrant workers in our horticultural industry. This workforce, is one of the lowest paid, least protected, and most vulnerable occupational categories in the province. 

To what extent can we claim our food system to be sustainable?  What needs to be implemented to reach social sustainability in our food system, both locally and globally?

For more, watch Product of Mexico – Behind the Scenes video

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:

David Fairey has an MA in Labour Economics from the University of British Columbia. He has been a Labour Research Economist and Labour Relations Consultant in BC for over 30 years, and Director of the Trade Union Research Bureau since 1989. David is now the director of Labour Consulting Services and is also a CCPA–BC research associate.

Colette Cosner is the executive director of the Domestic Fair Trade Association—a coalition of stakeholders throughout the US and Canadian food and farming systems dedicated to health, justice, and sustainability. Originally from the east coast, Colette moved to Seattle in 2009 to work for YES! Magazine. Since then she has served as the Regional Organizer of Witness for Peace Northwest, the Communications Association for Cultivate Impact, and a board member for the Washington Fair Trade Coalition. She is the co-author of “Farmers at the Table: Connecting Food and Trade Justice.”

Gerardo Otero is professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies at Simon Fraser University. He is the author or editor of four books and dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters. His new edited book is Food for the Few: Neoliberal Globalism and the Biotechnology Revolution in Latin America, published in 2008 by The University of Texas Press.

Fr. Patrick Murphy is the director of Casa del Migrante, a house of hospitality in Tijuana where migrants receive room and board as well as medical assistance and orientation regarding migrant issues. Fr. Pat has been a member of the Missionaries of St. Charles – The Scalabrians since his first profession. During the course of his seminary formation, Fr. Patrick had the opportunity to live both in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Mark Thompson is a professor of Social Sciences at the Sauder School of Business at UBC. He teaches Industrial Relations in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Division. His research interests involve but are not limited to the impact of NAFTA labour accords and the management of industrial relations. He has published numerous scholarly articles, book chapters and papers on industrial relations, collective bargaining and occupational health and safety.

Please RSVP to Julie Sage, Discovery Organics Fairtrade Certification and Marketing Director: jsage@discoveryorganics.ca   



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Hands and Globe

The provincial government is about to launch a review of BC's credit union legislation, this review provides a moment to stop and reflect on current trends and desired outcomes. Late last year CCEC GM, Ross Gentleman, prepared a paper on BC Credit Union Futures - Trends and Choices as an attempt to stimulate some discussion and critical debate. The paper provides an overview of the history of the BC movement, the broader public benefits, and the potential consequences of consolidation (as mergers have become common).

One big issue relates to the future for smaller credit unions. Public policy appears to induce further amalgamations, and second tier credit union organizations are providing fewer supports, since the very large credit unions do not need them.  And then evolving technology and the preferences of a consumer society have introduced new competitive pressures. What is the future for these community-based institutions? 

Two credit unions now comprise more than 50% of total BC credit union assets.  The scale of these large organizations has diluted the role of members, as owners and citizen-participants. The co-operative governance model may no longer provide the accountability and direction needed. If, and that is a big if, public policy continues to implicitly promote consolidation, what provisions should be made to ensure that the interests of communities (and members) are well served? Another perspective, generally speaking to a notion of 'open co-operatives', is available on shareable.net.    

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Credit unions in BC are, along with many other financial institutions, subject to added scrutiny as a result of the 2008 banking crisis. Good "Governance" is a subject of particular interest.  The BC regulator, FICOM, has proposed a new guideline for credit union governance in the recent past and invited comment from credit unions. 

CCEC's submission champions open democratic practices. One key issue is whether Boards should include 'professionals' who may better understand the risks in financial institutions. The regulator proposes that credit unions have more professionals sitting as directors. This is distinctly at odds with open democratic elections and member control. The CCEC position disputes the proposals on principal, but also on conceptual grounds; indeed, boards made of lay people have not proven themselves to be less prudent.  On the other side, the Board's of the large US banks that failed in 2008/2009 were filled with 'professionals'.

CCEC does not believe that lay people are less able to provide direction to community organizations, and indeed they provide a comprehensive linkage to the community and knowledge of our membership that is invaluable. 

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