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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 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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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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Another report card, another stagnant rate. One in five children still lives in poverty in BC, as reported in  First Call’s 2019 Child Poverty Report Card.  However, despite BC seeing 18 years in a row with higher than national average child poverty rates, there has been progress and advocates insist there are solutions.


First Call’s 23rd Annual Child Poverty Report Card was released on January 14, 2020.  They report that the overall poverty rate across Canada is shrinking and credit the federal Canada Child Benefit (launched in July 2016); and the increase in household incomes for families receiving welfare and disability payments.  It is anticipated that further poverty reductions will be achieved when BC’s new Child Opportunity Benefit comes into effect this fall. 


There have been successes, however, First Call also says that “For the first time since 2009, we see an increase in lone-parent families to make up over half of BC’s poor children”. In addition, the data shows that nearly half (44.9%) of the kids living in poverty identify as recent immigrant children, one-third (30.9%) as Indigenous children living outside of First Nations communities and one-quarter (23%) as racialized (2016 census). 


There is more work to be done. Next month, the BC Budget will be released. What would the poverty reduction advocates like to see supported by the government?  The list includes increasing the number of $10-a-day child care centres, offering No-Fee Childcare spaces for those families earning $45k or less, increasing income supports and providing affordable housing, targeting efforts to help those who have a higher risk of living in poverty, increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour, raising income and disability assistance rates in line with actual living expenses (up to 75 per cent of the Market Basket Measure) and indexing them to inflation. The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition also says that the province’s poverty reduction strategy must adopt a gender-based lens to analyze how men, women, and non-binary people experience poverty differently.  


BC now has a poverty reduction strategy called, TogetherBC. We’ve seen positive impacts from the strategies that have been implemented so far.  And, yes, we can improve. If we want to live in an equitable and just society, we need to find solutions to address the systemic barriers facing those living in poverty. 


For more information:


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What actions can we take to make poverty an issue in the next provincial election? How can we ensure there is coordination of the CleanBC Plan and the poverty reduction strategy? These, and other questions are being asked by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC) of its’ members. CCEC and our members,  Raise the Rates and the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks are part of this discussion. 

After a decade of advocacy work by the BCPRC and other groups, the BC Government released TogetherBC, their first poverty reduction strategy. It addressed some needs for children and families in poverty through the Child Opportunity Benefit, and a continued commitment to building a quality, affordable child care system in BC.

However, there are still huge gaps. The BCPRC has identified priorities that are not addressed in TogetherBC. They include “better access to good food for families, enhanced investments in affordable transportation, and improved income security, including assistance rates.” The coalition is asking the government to address housing, child care, education, employment, health, transportation, access to justice and food security. Learn more and sign their open letter to the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. 

Another related initiative is the BC Governments’ Clean BC Plan.  There is a public consultation process underway through the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to develop a clean growth strategy. The BCPRC is working to ensure there is coordination between the poverty reduction strategy and the clean growth strategy. There are three papers for consideration: clean transportation; clean, efficient buildings; and a clean growth program for industry. Unfortunately, BCPRC says that none of the proposed initiatives apply a “poverty/equity lens” to ensure accessibility to low income people. Read their submission for a Clean Growth Strategy where they outline recommendations for housing affordability, transportation, and education and training for good jobs. 

You can be involved and provide your feedback about the following topics:

Poverty is an election issue. We encourage our members to get involved. 

The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC) is an alliance of over 400 organizations in BC that have come together to raise awareness about poverty and inequality, and improve the health and well-being of all British Columbians.

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October 21, 2019 is Election Day in Canada. On that day, eligible voters exercise their right to vote for one of the candidates in their riding to represent them in the federal House of Commons.

First Call, the child and youth advocate organization created a toolkit to support individuals and community groups in their advocacy for legislation, policy and practice that benefit children and youth and their families.

Click here to see the kit online and to download. 

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BC ACORN's new study: "Barriers to Digital Equality in Canada” shows how home internet is used for vital life activities and at the same time remains unaffordable.  Read the report then send a message to your MP, the Prime Minister, and the Minister responsible that all people in Canada need to access affordable internet.

High speed Internet access has become increasingly important for participation in essential facets of life, from job searching, homework to accessing government services and seeking information.  However, in Canada, thousands of low income families cannot afford high speed internet at home.  Cost is a major barrier to digital equity.  In a recent survey of ACORN members, over 35% of the 500 respondents had to make sacrifices such as food, clothing or transit, to afford the internet. Further, only 76% of respondents with household incomes below $10,000 have home internet access.

This "digital divide" excludes low-income individuals and families from what the United Nations now considers to be a human right, comparable with freedom of speech.

ACORN Canada is leading the fight for affordable home access to high speed internet for all residents of Canada!

Take Action Today.  Click here for more information and to Add Your Voice to support the campaign.

Click here to access the full report.     

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Raise the Rates says that the BC Government $2million grant for “food rescue” operations will not solve the problem of food insecurity in BC as the root cause is income poverty.  

They say, “Distributing surplus food has won out over raising welfare rates to enable the hungry and homeless to afford to feed themselves and their families. The year’s humiliating $50 monthly benefit increase keeps them with incomes 50 per cent below the poverty line.” Cash is needed to shop for food in normal and customary ways: a living wage, adequate income benefits, real rent control.

Click here to read the article as it appeared in the Tyee.

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