April of this year marks nine years since welfare rates – still frozen at $610 a month for a single person – have gone up. Although the provincial government plans to increase disability rates by $77 a month in September, they also plan to begin charging people who receive the disability pension $669 a year for a bus pass that they now get for $45 a year. This means giving with one hand and taking with the other, and the decision has enraged the many people trying to get by on meagre benefits across this province.
Transit prices are unaffordable for an increasing number of people in British Columbia. But they’re especially costly for recipients of social assistance, who today receive only $375 for housing and $235 for “everything else,” including groceries, bus fare, clothing, emergencies, and otherwise. The expectation is for recipients to budget (somehow) for transit costs, despite their low income. For those receiving welfare, a $2.75 bus ticket is a big deal. I’d like to put this in perspective.
This weekend Cafe Rebelde will be hosting The Struggle For the Land, an event that combines a photo exhibit, food, community theatre, followed by a discussion about the intersection of food sovereignty, global land struggle, and state repression. On this occasion we are publishing a new piece by Aiyanas Ormond, an organizer of the event.
As part of a wave of anti-pipeline actions across BC this week, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE) organized a march and rally on Tuesday outside the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre. Inside the hotel the National Energy Board (NEB) continued its review of Texas-based oil-giant Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline.
The main thing I would like to do today is to concentrate on the question of where the history of racial scapegoating in Vancouver originated. To do that it’s important to begin from the beginning. One thing that I find helpful in these conversations is to think about the question, “Who belongs here?” – “here” meaning where we are in Vancouver, but also in Canada in general. Many of you have probably heard that Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States are settler colonies that were built around white supremacy as a way determining who does and does not belong.
Earlier this fall Vancouver’s Gallery Gachet was notified that 100 percent of their funding from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) will be cut by December. The cuts reflect a trend in health services towards an increasingly limited definition of health care. They also come in the context of the continuous loss of affordable housing, increased policing, and accelerating gentrification in the wake of the City’s two year old Local Area Plan for the Downtown Eastside.
On Tuesday November 24th, protesters from the “Stop Demo-victions Burnaby” campaign brought their message to Burnaby City Hall. Chanting and singing, they marched into council chambers during the proceedings of a public hearing for the demolition rezoning of four more affordable rental housing apartment buildings in the Metrotown area. Despite public pressure, Burnaby City Council rubber-stamped the rezoning application, continuing its policy of displacement and fueling the speculative environment in the city.