February 19, 2019
Victoria – Metro Vancouver Alliance (MVA) is a broad-based alliance of 57 civil society institutions who work together for the common good. Our member and sponsoring organizations represent 200,000 people in Metro Vancouver and over 700,000 people across the Province.
At our Provincial Election Accountability Assembly on April 4, 2017, we received commitments from Premier Horgan and Andrew Weaver on our provincial priorities. In May and October 2018, we met with Minister James and asked her to prioritize and support these commitments in the provincial budget.
With an overall theme of affordability and helping families, MVA is encouraged by the spending priorities in today’s provincial budget which address the affordable housing crisis, access to transit, access to healthcare, and income inequality in British Columbia.
Until now, British Columbia was the only province without a plan to reduce poverty. MVA received a commitment from Premier Horgan to work with us and our partners at the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition to develop a bold and comprehensive strategy to address the depth of poverty in our province. We are pleased to see the government unveil a Poverty Reduction Plan in this session. Related budget items include eliminating MSP premiums; eliminating student loan interest; raising income and disability rates by $50/month; removing barriers to access the BC Employment Assistance program; and funding community-operated rent banks. It is an encouraging start and will begin to make an immediate impact in people’s lives. We look forward to hearing the full details of the plan this Spring. We continue to work with our partners at the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and government to address the depth of poverty in our communities. This work will be ongoing until we see meaningful change in the lives of our members.
Housing unaffordability continues to top the list of pressures facing families in BC. MVA called for the BC Government to spend $3B a year to build 10,000 new affordable housing units per year for the next 5 years. Budget 2018 introduced a housing plan to invest $7B over 10 years for 114,000 housing units. In 2018 they built 17,000. The 2019 budget shows the continuation of this spending commitment. It also includes funding for 200 additional modular units for homeless, bringing the total to 2200. This is not enough to meet the needs of BC residents; we had hoped to see a greater investment in truly affordable housing to meet the commitment we secured from Premier Horgan in 2017.
Accessible & Affordable Transit
In 2017, MVA asked Horgan to commit to increasing HandyDART vehicle service hours by 5% for the next 4 years across the entire province through special funding directly from the province. HandyDART service in all jurisdictions is suffering, and HandyDART riders with it. As in 2018, there is no line item for this in the 2019 budget. BC Transit is getting an additional $21M in funding, so we will see some further increase in service. It is not enough and we will continue to advocate for more HandyDART vehicle hours.
Access to transportation is critical for BC residents. We must be able to get to work, to school, to the doctor, to see our families, and to participate in civic life. MVA has asked the province to fund free transit for children and a sliding-scale low-income transit pass. There is nothing in the budget to reflect funding for these programs.
MVA asked Premier Horgan to commit to increase access to coordinated primary, community, and social care services. We specifically recommended and received commitment for an annualized global funding model for Community Health Centres, and for investment in 20 new community-governed, not-for-profit Community Health Centres by 2020. The 2019 budget invests in many areas of healthcare, including 5 more new urgent primary care centres, as well as expanding and upgrading hospitals and improving integrated mental health care services. Our ask for new Community Health Centres and a global funding model however is not addressed.
This was MVA’s first invitation in the budget lock-up. This recognition is a testament to the power of the work we are doing together. Although there is more to do, we are pleased to see the provincial government engaging with civil society organizations. We will continue to build on this momentum.
Maria Robinson / firstname.lastname@example.org / 778-773-2895
Tracey Maynard, Lead Organizer / email@example.com
MVA is at the Provincial Budget Lock-up today. Maria Robinson from Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin is representing MVA. She'll be following up on the commitments made to MVA by John Horgan on behalf of the alliance. She'll be asking tough questions of the ministers and their staff, connecting with other organizations and preparing our response to the budget 2019.
We've done much work this year with the Minister of Finance on our budget recommendations for affordable housing, affordable public transit, community healthcare and poverty reduction. Tomorrow we will interpret the budget to determine if the promises made to our alliance of organizations have been upheld.
If you have a question to send with Maria, or would like to connect with her directly before or following lockup, please reply to this email and we will connect you.
Please look forward to our initial response to the budget with more detail later in the week.
Join us on February 19th as we launch Metro Vancouver Alliance’s Faith Caucus
When: 19th February 2019, 11:30 A.M.-1:30 P.M.
Location: St Mary’s Catholic Parish, 5251 Joyce Street, Vancouver (at Joyce Skytrain Station, parking available)
This luncheon will be an opportunity to build relationships with clergy and lay leaders from various faith traditions across Metro Vancouver. Together we will explore the values that motivate us to act together for the common good.
What’s on the menu? We will feed you lots of good stories about the meaningful impact that broad based faith organizing has had on Canadian society. (There will also be food, of course!) Come with an appetite to relate with one another, and we promise that you will walk away with more than enough material for a great sermon or reflection!
This event is open to current and prospective MVA members. RSVP required online at metvanalliance.org, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 778 883-5934. Please make note of any dietary restrictions you may have.
On Nov 9 and Nov 10, I participated in an IAF-organized seminar on the future of work in Phoenix, Arizona. The seminar was led by the MIT professor Paul Osterman, who delivered the material in an engaging and accessible way. The audience was geographically diverse, including representatives from California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Iowa, and British Columbia.
Despite an increase in low-wage jobs over the last decade and a hostile organizing environment (only 6.5% of private sector workers in the US are unionized), Osterman’s message was an optimistic one. He argued that unemployment will decline as baby-boomers continue to retire, and declining unemployment will give workers additional bargaining power, both in the United States and Canada. Since this trend is already becoming visible, Osterman advised that now would be a good time to lift health care assistants out of poverty, win living wage campaigns in our cities, and improve lives of residential construction workers who are often missclassified as independent contractors. In essence, it’s a good time to be an activist.
This was my first time to attend an IAF seminar. Knowing that an MIT professor would be lecturing, I went in with high expectations. Osterman certainly delivered; his presentations and ensuing discussions made my inner geek happy. What I did not expect was that the audience would consist solely of organizational leaders, many of whom were professional organizers. I had never before seen a room full of individuals who are ready at a moment’s notice to deliver a rational speech, act out an emotional anecdote, or make the room laugh. Was this lucid expressiveness an example of a highly refined social sensibility, or of a martial art? Whatever the answer might be, knowing that these people are out there, fighting for the common good, is both comforting and inspiring.
When not in lectures, seminar attendees would spontaneously meet with each other. These relational meetings made me friends. They also boosted my understanding of political and demographic complexities as they appear across a large chunk of the continent. Many of these discussions are still with me, as I think about opportunities facing Metro Vancouver Alliance, and my union, CUPE Local 23.
Government of British Columbia has kept its promise to MVA leaders to legislate a poverty reduction strategy!
In 2017, John Horgan and Andrew Weaver stood before 800 MVA leaders and committed to legislate a poverty reduction strategy. This week, the legislation passed unanimously!
Congratulations to MVA leaders, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and the thousands of British Columbians who worked tirelessly for over a decade to make this happen! A huge win for the common good. Now the real work continues in encouraging a bold and comprehensive plan to be announced next year!
On September 8th, MVA Leaders gathered for a retreat to evaluate the past work and explore our collective vision for the future.
We identified our values and reminded ourselves of our relational, learning and action-oriented focus as we work together as civil society organizations for the common good.
Our key strengths are building relationships across sectors, holding large public actions and campaigning on important issues. We tend to focus on political action, and have a lot of action coming up this fall as we continue to follow up on our provincial accountability assembly and meeting with candidates for the municipal election. Our next action is meeting with Minister Carole James on the provincial budget on October 11th.
While political action is important, we would like to strengthen our action teams by engaging in deeper listening insider our member organizations, and building understanding and relationships between us.
We reached consensus to plan next year around 3 key areas:
1. Building deeper connections within organizations
MVA Leaders identified internal organizing and relationship building as both a strength and weakness of our current structure. Leaders have a desire for more opportunities to relate with each other within organizations and between organizations. We proposed 3 ways to work on this into 2019 - host a table talk discussion for your members, build a core team, and attend the faith, labour or community caucus meeting.
Building a Core Team
A core team is a collective of leaders within an organization that have been through the IAF leadership training and are implementing the practices by connecting with your members, identifying leaders and strengthening the culture of your organization. We will be having quarterly trainings for core team members throughout 2019.
Would you like to join this cohort starting in January? email email@example.com to be put on the mailing list.
Host an MVA Table Talk discussion!
Our housing, transit, social inclusion, economic justice and community healthcare teams research action teams are hard at work but in order to understand the impacts of these issues, we need to hear from your members! Research action teams will be connecting back to member organizations to ensure our community experience is reflected in policy development. Our affordable housing team is ready to come to your organization now. Host a meeting with one of our research action teams is a great way of engaging your members on their interests!
Labour Caucus: Nov 8th
After an energizing first meeting, Stephen von Sychowski, President of VDLC and Kari Michaels, Executive Vice-President BCGEU are chairing the next Labour Caucus meeting on November 8th at 6pm at VDLC. We will be sharing best practices for connecting with our members. Please RSVP
Faith Caucus : Early 2019
We will be convening the first MVA Faith Caucus in early 2019. Would you like to attend or be part of the planning team? firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Caucus : Early 2019
- If you would like to help plan the caucus of community organizations , please email email@example.com
2. Financial Sustainability
Hundreds of volunteers have been involved in MVA this year from our 50+ member organizations but we have only 1 paid staff member. This is not a sustainable situation, so the next few months are dedicated to organizing funding to hire a second organizer and admin support. This means upping our budget to invest in our work to act meaningfully for the common good in Vancouver.
We are evaluating the financial future of MVA and how we can work together towards a healthy budget in 2019 and beyond. We have been saying we need a second organizer for over 5 years and this is the year we will put serious steps in place raise the money for it. A fundraising campaign will launch before the end of the year.
If you want to build your fundraising skills, we've got lots of workshops planned to share knowledge between our members on how to raise money for organizations and projects. Here's what we have coming up:
How to Raise Money for Anything with fundraising expert Bob Connolly
Friday November 30, 2018 - RSVP
Congregational Finances with expert Bob Connolly
Friday November 30, 2018 - RSVP
3. Expanding diversity of organizations
Mapping our membership and expanding our membership to truly reflect all people who make up our communities is a key priority for 2018. Although our organizations have diverse memberships, it tends to be the same people who regularly attend MVA events. We collectively voiced that we need to prioritize welcoming new people from different perspectives into our work and decision making and will be making a plan at our coming meetings to think about how to do this in each of our actions in the coming year.
Deepening the work we've started on decolonizing our training curriculum, building relationships with indigenous advisors and welcoming change to the way we've always done things. We are in a process of evaluating how we teach and practice organizing on Coast Salish Territory alongside our sister organization Greater Victoria Acting Together who is undergoing a similar transformation. Many of our members are reading the TRC 94 Calls to Action and are implementing the recommendations in their congregations, unions, community groups and neighbourhoods. If you would like to be involved in taking this project further, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be put in touch with the team lead.
Thank you to BCGEU for hosting us at this retreat and to all the MVA leaders and organizations that contributed their energy into creating our strategic plan.
Retreat follow-up: November 24, 2018
We will be mapping our our 2019 plans as they relate to these 3 priorities on November 24, 2018 at PSAC. This meeting is available to all members of MVA member organizations. RSVP
If you are interested in joining MVA and would like to attend as an observer, please email email@example.com.
November 1, 2018 - MVA Leaders from BCGEU, UNITE HERE 40, Anglican Diocese of New Westminster Eco-Justice Unit, CUPE 23, ATU Local 1724 met with Mayor-elect Mike Hurley to discuss how we as civil society organizations might work together with the new Burnaby government in the shaping of Burnaby's future.
We secured a commitment to work together on the City of Burnaby becoming a living wage employer. Mr Hurley also agreed to support our affordable transit and housing proposals.
Major topics of discussion included addressing the housing crisis, initiating work on anti-poverty measures such as the living wage for the city, and ensuring that those in need have access to affordable public transit. We look forward to working with Mayor Hurley as well as to building strong working relationships with other members of the city council.
Special thanks to MVA's Burnaby Chair, Denis Boko from CUPE 23 for coordinating this meeting 11 days after the election. Mike Hurley was elected Mayor of Burnaby on October 20th, 2018 and will be sworn in on November 5th.
If you are an MVA member who would like to get involved with our Burnaby team, we invite you to our next meeting on November 15, 2018 at 6pm in Burnaby. Location to be confirmed. Please RSVP.
We also welcome new organizations in Burnaby to learn more about joining the MVA.
Would you like to meet members from other MVA organizations?
For many MVA members, meeting people from across civil society is one of the most important and meaningful reasons we participate in MVA.
The relationships we build are what keep our alliance strong and able to act in solidarity with each other.
We've already matched up 42 people who have committed to sit down with each other for a conversation over the summer.
If you would like to sign up to be paired with a member from another organization please email firstname.lastname@example.org