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During WW2 in Britain, the government introduced rationing to make sure that people got an equal amount of food every week.  Rationing lasted 14 years, ‘Dig For Victory’ gardens were everywhere, and the health of all improved, infant mortality decreased, and life expectancy increased.  Before the Second World War started Britain imported about 55 million tons of food a year from other countries.  During the war as supply lines were impacted, they had to take measures to increase their food self-sufficiency. The government was worried that as food became scarcer, prices would rise and poorer people might not be able to afford to eat.

Compare the food basket during rationing with what a person on welfare can buy in BC today:

We need to raise the rate! Read our blog on Raise the Rate or visit their Website.

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Even Warren Buffet is saying, “Tax me!”  So why do we think that people living in Vancouver can survive on $610 per month?   In the most expensive City to live in North America (2013)  singles on welfare get only $610.

It is 10 years since Raise the Rates was established (and joined CCEC), but we would prefer that there was no need for them to exist. If only our politicians would buy-in to a living wage for all residents, and agree that it is not acceptable that BC has had the highest child poverty rate in Canada.   800,000 British Columbians are living in poverty, and that 1 in 8 people are food insecure.  Did you know that the poverty line in BC is around $1,500 a month?

Poverty is a political choice. We can afford to abolish poverty.  We are the only province that doesn’t have a Poverty Reduction Strategy.  Two recent polls showed that 78% of people in BC want a poverty reduction plan and the most important issue is poverty, housing, and homelessness.  More British Columbians are having difficulty dealing with the increasing cost of living, and are compromising on our food choices as our real incomes have stagnated.(BIV Insights West BC Gov’t Report Card, May 2016).  And, we know that hunger is a result of poverty.  Are you surprised that at least half of the new Canadians (Syrian refugees), are using the Food Bank? 

Basic welfare has been frozen at $610 a month since April 2007.  Bill Hopwood, Organizer and Activist with Raise the Rates says, “Nine years ago, you could rent a crummy SRO in the Downtown Eastside for $375 a month, now the average cheapest rent is $517.  Rents for the worst housing has increased $142 in 9 years, but no increase in welfare.  After rent and other necessities, a person on welfare has $93 left each month to pay for food, clothing, hygiene, a phone and transit which means $10 a week for food.  The cost of living index has gone up 15%.”  At the recent Vancouver Food Summit held at Gordon Neighbourhood House, the panel on Poverty: What can food policy do?  unanimously agreed that the Welfare Food Challenge, the annual event for Raise the Rates is impossible.  You simply cannot eat a healthy diet living on welfare.  In 2015, Kathy Romses, Dietician and Challenge Participant commented, “Social isolation was a challenge as meals with family and friends or meetings at the coffee shop were not an option.  Trying to guard limited food doesn’t help build or maintain relationships with friends and family.”

For people with disabilities the government announced the first increase in 9 years on the rate of $906 – up by $77.  That is not even half of what is needed to keep pace with inflation.  BUT, they stole most of it back.  They scrapped the free bus pass and now people have to pay $52 a month for the pass so the increase is only $25 a month.  Compare BC with Alberta’s rate at $1,588 a month.

Poverty is a political choice.The government makes it as difficult as possible to even claim welfare - watch the video -

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while being extra generous to very rich.  Last year the government gave $227 million in tax cuts to the richest people in BC on top of the $billions they have already received in tax handouts. The minimum wage was increased by 20 cents an hour and no increase in welfare.  Bill says, “The government chooses to feed the rich by starving workers and the poor.” 

One of the biggest challenges facing Raise the Rates according to Bill is keeping their activists confident when they see the abject failure of politicians to take seriously raising welfare rates.  Everyone in BC should live above the poverty line – we can afford it, it would make BC a much healthier place and in the medium term save money. Read the report from Policy Alternatives on the Cost of Poverty.  How can politicians support policies that keep people in poverty?  Yet, Bill say, “Can you tell me a politician who is advocating for welfare of $1,500 a month?”

Movements make change and we have to build public support to push politicians to act.  Welfare Rates need to be Raised.  Raise the Rates will continue to campaign.

JUSTICE not CHARITY.  WE need a HAND UP not a HAND OUT.  Isn’t it time we took a stand?  2017 is a Provincial election year.  Get involved.  Make your vote count.  

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Did you know?  In Vancouver:

  •  65,000 people who are spending more than 50% of their income on housing are facing homelessness. 
  • BC Housing has 5 year wait list. One person was told he better be prepared to go to a shelter as there are an awful lot of people like him on fixed incomes and facing renovictions.
  • More than half of Vancouverites live in rental housing.  But more than 81 per cent of the current rental housing was built in the 50’s and needs upgrading.
  •  People most affected are too busy surviving and lack the capacity to fight. 

Meet CCEC Member and Inman Award Nominee, The Social Housing Alliance (SHA), who are changing their name to Alliance Against Displacement.  They feel this will better represent their movement's roots in displacement due to real estate, and Indigeneous displacement due to resource extraction.  Sign up for their newspaper, The Volcano, and learn how our low-income, working class & Indigenous communities are struggling for social justice in Vancouver & in BC. 


Why we belong to CCEC:  
CCEC reflects our movement’s values.


Housing, like food, is a basic human right.  We all need affordable, good, secure housing to live a healthy life, to enjoy our friends and families, and to contribute to our communities.  Vancouver and BC has a housing crisis.

Those at risk of being homeless are not only in the Downtown Eastside.  For example, SFU students are evicted from student housing; and renoviction is becoming too common in the Metrotown area.  It used to be that you were evicted for being a bad tenant. Today, you’re more likely to be evicted because you’re in the way of someone maximizing their profit.

Letizia Waddington, volunteer organizer says, “We see the need to organize on a daily basis, the challenge is that people most affected are too busy surviving, and the greater proportion of British Columbians believe that they will be fine with working hard.”

 

Their platform to end the housing crisis in BC is: 

·         BUILD 10,000 units of good quality social housing per year.

·         FUND and support community-based solutions to the housing crisis.

·         PRIORITIZE social housing for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and those most discriminated against.

·         SAVE existing low-rent housing.

·         PROTECT and empower tenants.

·         INCLUDE everyone who needs housing.

For more information:  http://thevolcano.org/  The website is being updated. 

 

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Michelle Fortin, CCEC Co-chair, has been nominated for a Women of Distinction Award through the YWCA of Metro Vancouver. And Michelle deserves the recognition. Michelle is a powerhouse ED at Watari Counseling and Support Services, in the inner city. There she displays vision, tact and compassion working with families, youth and others who need assistance. As well she participates in a several service sector coalitions and advisory boards. For the last 8 years she has been a director at CCEC, and has served as Co-chair for the last three years. Michelle is a natural leader, convener and negotiator.  Michelle distinguishes herself as an outstanding communicator and thinker everyday, CCEC is glad to see her get this nomination. 
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SFU Public Square - Summit

CCEC is collaborating with SFU Public Square and hosting one of 100 Community Conversations on the BC Economy, taking place over the coming few weeks. These conversations will feed into a Community Summit Sep 28-Oct 4 at the Centre for Dialog and subsequently the publication of a "Citizens' Agenda". 

The SFU Public Square is a unique community engagement project which tries to foster constructive open dialog on issues of substantial importance within the province. 

The challenging question is, "How can we create wealth, promote social equity, and protect our environment?"

Check out the other events and activities associated with this 2013 Community Summit. If you'd like to take part in our CCEC community conversation session, email Joanne. Last year's 'summit' considered the problem social isolation in urban environments and the report prompted policy re-considerations within governments and foundations.  

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Key players in the Occupy movement have announced innovative plans.  A small co-op is being formed to potentially offer low cost prepaid payment cards.  The potential credit union link is explored in this Credit Union Times article. The occupy movement still thinks in both national and local terms, and continues to encourage credit union membership and democratic control models. 

Notably, Canadian 'prepaid' payment cards are criticized in the Vancouver Sun today because of the excessive fees charged by many financial institutions. These kinds of cards are evolving into more than gift cards.  Social assistance payments and other transfers are being processed using these cards; particularly to those who do not have bank or credit union accounts.  As noted in the Vancouver Sun piece, the added costs are potentially borne by those who can least afford it.  CCEC is researching such a card offering but has no definite plans at this time.  

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Take the Welfare Food Challenge

Can you live on $610 per month?  That is the maximum welfare rate for a single person to cover everything including food, shelter and clothing.  This rate is below the poverty line. 

One in seven people in BC live in poverty.  Poverty in BC costs us all between $8 – 9 billion a year in crime, poor health, and lost economic opportunities. The cost of fixing it is less than half of that.   BC has the greatest economic inequality and the worst poverty and child poverty rates in Canada.

Take action today:  

  • Invite Jagrup Brar to speak on his experience living on $610 a month or a speaker from Raise the Rates;
  • Write to your local MLA;
  • Hold a public meeting or event;
  • Do a public action, maybe outside your local MLA’s office;
  • Contact your local media about any activities you organize including taking the Welfare Food Challenge to live on only the food you can purchase for $26 for a week.

Support the work of Raise the Rates, a long time CCEC Member.  Work to build a movement for change that raises welfare, tackles poverty and shifts the priorities of society to putting the needs of people first.


For more information visit these websites: 

Raise the Rates

MLA Welfare Challenge

Welfare Food Challenge

Like us on Facebook

·      Phone: 604 738-1653 (Bill Hopwood) or 604 729-2380 (Jean Swanson)

·      E-Mail Bill bill50@vcn.bc.ca  or Jean jean.swanson@gmail.com

Ask them for a copy of their 2012 Raise the Rates Report.


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