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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 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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BC has a high rate of foreign ownership. Why? Wealthy people in unstable regimes want to buy here; we have a history of 'selling passports or residency' to wealthy families; and our current tax system subsidizes foreign ownership. The tax called the Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT) is aimed at limiting speculation, not necessarily taxing “speculators”.

Read this article for more information  The Speculation and Vacancy Tax: An Explainer Josh Gordon School of Public Policy, Simon Fraser University March 4, 2019.  A few points from the article are noted here.

CRA  allows a wealthy person to access all of the social services and public amenities as the high-earning local individual, but not pay income taxes. They can file as a non-tax resident, even if their family resides here. This is the so called “satellite family” situation. Gordon, in his article, states that we can address this issue in the tax system by imposing a property surtax on families who have most of their income earned abroad. The speculation component of the SVT seeks to address a tax avoidance problem. 

However, there are many exemptions and foreign owners and satellite families are able to avoid a speculation tax liability if they rent out their properties to an arms-length tenant, in whole or in part. The  SVT aims to encourage unused housing units into the rental market with vacancy taxes. For many,  housing sitting empty, especially as speculative investments, in the midst of a housing crisis is unacceptable.

So, “Why don’t we just ban foreign ownership already?” Some have urged banning foreign ownership as an alternative to the SVT. With the foreign buyer tax, currently at 20%, purchases by foreign buyers are already down substantially at only 2-3 percent of total purchases last year in affected areas. 

The housing crisis is not an easy problem to solve. Learn more by reading this article about the SVT - Speculation and Vacancy Tax and it's intent and aims.  Tell us what you think. 

Read this article for more information  The Speculation and Vacancy Tax: An Explainer Josh Gordon School of Public Policy, Simon Fraser University March 4, 2019.​

 

 

 

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Inequality is one of the big issues of our time, and it will not be reversed by philanthropy.  That was one frank assessment by a Dutch historian who recently took part in a Davos panel.  Yes, at the international conference for the wealthy elite convened in Switzerland annually.  Rutger Bregman called out the bankers, politicians and tech billionaires for being all talk and only serving themselves. His remarks became a social media sensation.   Bregman's recent book is Utopia for Realists and it appears to touch a nerve with some - perhaps a Utopia for others. 

We have a system that rewards the wealthy with praise and status if the 'give back'.  But this is a sham, or even a scam.  No matter what wonderful things a few very wealthy people may support, the system is simply designed to make them all richer. Another book, Winners Take All, by Anand Giridharadas, has received great reviews because the book clearly describes the corrupt model; the shortcomings of celebrity billionaires, their foundations, and their vanity. 

The CCPA has outlined how the game is being played by Canada's billionaires

It will take more than a few outspoken voices to re-balance the tax burdens in Canada and elsewhere.  This is an issue with many faces.  Recent changes to property taxes in BC are step in the right direction.  Higher marginal income taxes for the rich and fewer tax exemptions are needed. We need to support measures that will maker our tax system fairer.  And we have to challenge the myth that the charity of the super-rich is some kind of answer.   

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Today the CCPA published a great blog post on the land wealth inequality. Using publicly available data from Stats Canada and the Canadian Revenue Authority, Alex Hemingway documents how the rich get richer. This is a BC based analysis of how the boom times have enriched the top 20%, or the top 5% even more.

The concentration of wealth in relatively few hands is difficult to swallow in an allegedly 'democratic', egalitarian country.  The top 20% by net worth own 62% by value of all the real estate designated principal residences; and 80% of all the other real estate (presumably rental, commercial, and industrial). 

On the flip side, the 60% with lowest incomes own only own only 13% of the value in principle residences.

When property values escalate it is clear who gains.  In 2016, Hemingway notes, Vancouver single family properties jumped $47B in market value, roughly equal to the entire provincial budget in that year.  We can estimate that 62% of that or $29B went to the wealthiest 20% of households - and most of it 'tax free'. (@$6B went to the bottom 60% of households!)

The post notes that this inequality is the result of tax treatment, and Hemingway endorses the new speculation tax and new school tax that will require higher value landowners to pay more.  He suggests implementation of a progressive property tax.  Yes, these are good measures, but we should also place a cap on the capital gains tax exemption for principal residences.

The existing tax regime benefits the wealthy because they pay attention and lobby.  Ordinary people have to push for a fairer system.  It is possible to get this tax question on the table for the next Federal election.  It did come up last year

This item from policynote.ca is a call to action for those of us who want to challenge the status quo.  The Provincial government has done the right things so far, but there is more to do. 

 

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