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Internet provider discontinues service in Haida Gwaii - Aug. 19.  The COVID-19 crisis has brought into sharper focus a digital divide that is both socioeconomic and geographic. As our lives have shifted to online, many of us take for granted our internet connection and the access that comes with it. The Internet is considered a basic service, but there are too many people who don’t have accessible, inclusive and affordable service.


A Digital Divide is a difference in access to technology between nations, regions and people based on demographic factors such as income, race and age.  One year ago, we wrote a blog on the Digital Divide and its importance to our communities. The crisis has highlighted how essential an internet connection is to daily life - to earn a living, to access mental health resources, or to apply for benefits - and why it’s unacceptable that one in 10 Canadian families do not have a home internet connection.  


Racialized, low-income people are being hardest hit by the Divide. With COVID, it has become more difficult for marginalized populations to stay connected to their social and community support networks.  This is not only in remote areas or on Indigenous lands but here in Vancouver. The Binners Project in the Downtown Eastside, for example, had to change its weekly meeting to phone calls. Most Binners, who do not have access to the internet or a cellular phone, felt more disconnected and lonely as many still are not employed.


Internet access is expensive both as a customer and for the service providers. Many rural, remote, and Indigenous communities don’t have access to a good connection due to the costs to service a small number of people. A town with a population of 14,000 reports that it can take at least 2 hours to download large files like homework.  Teachers with slow or no access are wondering how they will provide online learning for their students. ACORN reports that more than one third of Canadians have to make sacrifices to afford home internet, like forgoing spending on transit or even food.


The Province included internet and telecommunications in the list of services that must continue to be delivered during the pandemic, describing these services as “essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning.”  Home internet is used for vital life activities and at the same time remains unaffordable and inaccessible.  Let’s support a Just Recovery where all British Columbians have access to high speed internet. 


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We’ve come to a fork in the road. We need to decide if we are an ‘oil country’ or a ‘country of nature?’ Do we want the previous status quo, with its now-obvious holes in our health and social well-being nets, and its trajectory towards climate catastrophe? Or do we want to “build back better” in ways that fight climate change, inequality & injustice?


We talk about  building a healthier, fairer, greener province based on a clean economy. We want to support strong climate and clean energy policies needed to build a resilient economy. We know the projects generated from a clean energy framework can put people to work in safe, healthy, well-paid jobs. We understand that a green recovery is a  just recovery and we don’t want anyone to be left behind. 


The Premier’s Economic Recovery Task Force is scheduled to release its findings from the 6 week public consultation process this month. The report aims to provide recommendations on how the $1.5 billion fund set aside for recovery spending will be deployed.  A member of the task force,  The BC Federation of Labour, submitted, “We must make up for lost time in addressing the climate crisis, with an accelerated and inclusive path to a green economy. The global collapse of oil prices is only the latest drastic swing in the fossil fuel economy — and one more sign that a sustainable future must rely on a swift transition to cleaner, renewable sources of energy.” They continue by saying, “We must look beyond economic indicators to human outcomes — our goal entails nothing less than the end of poverty, homelessness and other inequities. And it goes deeper: a meaningful connection to the communities they live and work in and with — even in times of crisis, with no exceptions.” Reading submissions like those of the BC Federation makes it sound hopeful that the BC Economic  Recovery Plan will support a Green New Deal. 

At the same time, however, we continue to invest in fossil fuel projects. The Trans Mountain Pipeline, owned by the Canadian Government, continues to be built despite knowing there is no longer a market in Asia or in the US to sell the gas; that we publicly committed  to climate action in the Paris Agreement; we have a flawed consultation process with Indigenous communities; a  failure to consider the risks posed by increased tanker traffic; ongoing protests and other concerns.  We know that the BC Recovery Plan Task Force is represented in favour of heavy industrial business and is  lobbying to have their projects be financially supported through the Plan.  

The Report
is scheduled to be released this month.  Let’s see how well the  recommendations reflect the importance of workplace safety, strong public services, and our collective responsibility to take care of each other. We have the chance to address those gaps, and to do much more. We can build back better than before.

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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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We all play a part to create an economy that's more just, equitable, and sustainable.


At CCEC, your funds allow us to support local, grassroots businesses and reinvest in our community. For over 45 years we have served member organizations and individuals who are underserved to meet their basic human needs and rights, for community enterprises and community action. 


At this time, it is even more important that we shop local and eat seasonal produce. Your independent owned or co-operative business contributes to your neighbourhoods’ arts, culture and sports. They build community, connect us to each other and form our economic activity.  


A member recently commented, “We appreciate the role CCEC plays in Community Economic Development and your roots from the Community Congress for Economic Change.”  


Community Economic Development (CED) is a core value for CCEC.  We know that CED empowers communities to shape how the local economy provides for them and how it impacts their lives.  We can ask ourselves, “What kind of community is created and sustained by the local economy, and how do we include the people who may be  left out.”  CCEC supports a Just Recovery and an economy where there is a shortening of the supply chain. 


Local businesses help our communities by:

  • Creating diverse, inclusive employment

  • Adapting to challenges

  • Being proactive, prepared, and resilient.


There is an additional economic benefit to an area when money is spent in the local economy.  Independent locally-owned businesses recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to absentee-owned businesses (or locally-owned franchises*). In other words, going local creates more local wealth and jobs.


CCEC has always kept your money in your community to support our local economic development. We encourage our members to shop or keep shopping local to support our arts, culture, sports, restaurants, greengrocers and other neighbourhood businesses. 


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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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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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“We can focus on the “well-being” of citizens, rather than on traditional bottom-line measures like productivity and economic growth”, says, NZ President, Jacinda Arden. As we RestartBC and reopen the economy, will we go back to what was “normal” or will we use the opportunity to forge a New Way Forward? 

For example, New Zealand is proposing a budget where all new spending must advance one of five priorities: improving mental health, reducing child poverty, addressing the inequalities faced by indigenous Maori and Pacific islands people, thriving in a digital age, and transitioning to a low-emission, sustainable economy.

Naomi Klein with The Leap has started the project, BAILOUT FOR PEOPLE AND THE  PLANET:  A Crisis Response that Builds from Emergency to Transformation. They advocate for a recovery where  stimulus spending builds the scaffolding for a zero-carbon, full employment economy; and re-imagining where we  transform the economy to prioritize safety and stability for all, not just the 1%.  The Leap is working with partners to advance urgent demands around Housing, Health Care, Work and more.

Our response to this period of converging crises is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the federal government to initiate a reset of our economy and society, putting Canada on a path toward zero emissions, and bringing immediate material benefits and enhanced, 21st century universal public services to everyone – prioritizing Indigenous, racialized and working class communities – that is, the people who need them most.

In other words, this is the ideal moment for the Green New Deal. Essentially, it recommends an unprecedented public investment in a justice-based transition that creates well-paying jobs, solves our crises in housing, crumbling infrastructure, health and education, inadequate transit, and deep inequality. This kind of public investment would vastly expand the tax base and stabilize the economy at the same time.

Learn more. Get involved. Like, follow, sign up to support The Leap’s People’s Bailout, Progressive International, and a Green New Deal Canada.

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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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