Blog

March 24th, 2021 – 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Free Documentary film showing and discussion about Basic Income in Canada. Please see our ‘upcoming events’ page for the Zoom link.

by March 31st, 2021

Basic income bill

Sign the federal bill introducing a basic income national strategy and piloting in one or more provinces.

https://www.ubiworks.ca/basicincomebill

January 23rd, 2021

Also, U of C students are invited to participate in our Basic Income interactive workshop on Tuesday, January 26th. Please see ‘Upcoming Events’ for details!

December 13th, 2020

Our next WTEP meeting is this Tuesday, the 15th, at 7 pm via Zoom. Here is the link and info:

Time: Dec 15, 2020 07:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87395612781?pwd=T1N3b0YwVHJGSVV1UEE2dk5uTkVQQT09

Meeting ID: 873 9561 2781

Passcode: 058750

One tap mobile

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Meeting ID: 873 9561 2781

Passcode: 058750

November 15th, 2020

We have an upcoming event called ‘Herstories in Anti-Racism and Decolonial Organizing’ on November 26th – please check it out! https://wtepyyc.com/upcoming-events-2/

There is a link to register for the free online panel discussion:

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/herstories-in-anti-racism-decolonial-organizing-tickets-128204189181?aff=erelexpmlt

November 5th, 2020

Check out our Statement regarding our support for AUPE here: https://wtepyyc.com/statements-2/

October 16th, 2020 – 2 events to tell you about!

  1. Poverty Talks: International day to eradicate poverty 2020! Online webinar Saturday Oct 17, 1 to 3 pm. https://www.povertytalksyyc.org/2020/09/international-day-to-eradicate-poverty.html?fbclid=IwAR2SvPJrnlUOdPk5ZOLTGvG4mRP7Ow33DOChf4eOjBKUTkbEgjWm0opRMew
  2. Basic Income Alberta: sign up to ‘become an advocate’  https://basicincomealberta.ca/take-action/

After being ‘approved’, you can access, toolkits and social media content (graphics, videos) to promote basic income.

September 30th, 2020: AISH

The Alberta government has told us all programs are under review. In recent news, the Premiere has mentioned they are looking at eligilbity. However there has been an outcry from Albertans, a pandemic is not the time to be looking at eligilbity. We are organizing at this time.

We hope to be hosting a town hall in the near future.

Here is our recent news release where we asked for a public consultation.

August 19th, 2020: Kenney needs to fire Chris Champion as a curriculum advisor!

We’re Together Ending Poverty (WTEP) is outraged and horrified at the July appointment of Chris Champion as one of eight advisors to the Alberta school curriculum review. Not only is there a problem with the fact that all the advisors are men (ho hum), but Champion, who will be advising on the social studies curriculum grades K – 4, is opposed to efforts to decolonize the curriculum and wrote numerous homophobic articles in the 90s.

Last year Champion stated that “the inclusion of First Nations perspectives in the curriculum is a fad” and that the KAIROS blanket exercise (designed to increase understanding of the impact of colonization and settler culture on Indigenous peoples) was “brainwashing”. He has also “cast doubt on the suffering of residential school survivors”. Furthermore he resurfaces that tired argument that devalues oral tradition as a legitimate historical source.

As one WTEP member states: “Government and churches have made a public apology to Indigenous People because their actions were wrong. There is no way to teach history to our kids without telling the truth about what colonizers did and the reason for the apologies. Without an Indigenous perspective, the whole truth would not be shared and understood. Truth and ability to make better decisions than previous generations is a function of education of our children. We are not looking for trained rats, but critically thinking, empathetic humans.”

Furthermore, as mentioned by another member of WTEP, ” for Champion to say ‘the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives is a fad’ is heartbreaking because Indigenous peoples have suffered for so long and fought so hard for equity in our society and still haven’t gotten remotely close to it.”

It is clear that Kenney is intent on derailing the process of reconciliation. Curriculum reform and education about residential schools were key recommendations in the 94 Calls to Action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The UCP obviously wants to set reconciliation back by decades or Kenney would not have appointed Champion, with such abhorrent views, as a curriculum advisor. Could it be that the UCP is afraid that if Albertans understand the impact of colonialism in the past they will also understand how is continues to function today?

Therefore, WTEP fully endorses the call of the 60s Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta for Kenney to remove Champion as a curriculum advisor.

Source for quotes about Champion: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-social-studies-curriculum-adviser-calls-inclusion-of-first-nations-perspectives-a-fad-1.5690187

June 10th, 2020: Racism and Poverty – A Statement from We’re Together Ending Poverty

We’re Together Ending Poverty (WTEP) is a small diverse grassroot group of activists which came together in 2008 to educate and empower ourselves and others to take action on root causes of poverty.


Two of our founding beliefs are relevant to the activism seen on Calgary streets and
around the globe:
• To understand the root causes of poverty we need to examine our society from
many different perspectives including but not limited to gender, race, class,
ability, age and sexual orientation.
• The concentration of wealth in a few hands, locally and globally, and the
continued existence of patriarchal and classist attitudes and practices are
fundamental causes of poverty.

As this is written, tens of thousands of Calgarians and other Canadians mobilize on the streets in solidarity with anti-racism protests in the US denouncing the killing of George Floyd, the latest black man to be murdered by the police. However, they are also speaking out against the racism experienced on a daily basis by Indigenous and racialized peoples in Calgary and Canada.


Regardless of what now happens in the US, a key issue before us in Calgary and Canada is what happens next once the rallies and marches end? How will we build on the energies and passions that have been unleashed to uproot racist structures and systems in our society to move beyond the soft discussions around diversity and multiculturalism. We have to engage in uncomfortable dialogues around the interconnected and mutually reinforcing relationships among
• underlying white supremacist assumptions;
• the economic, social, political and other institutions in our society:
• and individual actions and behaviours:
• and the impact these have on Indigenous and racialized communities.


These dialogues are fundamental in enabling us to take the actions necessary to disrupt systemic racism. Systemic racism does not operate alone in our society, but is intertwined with other systems of oppression, all of which intersect to foster the exploitation of labour, lands and resources. The discussion around “the racialization of poverty” is illustrative of this point.

In 2015, at the Conference on Restorative Justice, in Halifax, Social Work educator, scholar and activist Robert Wright defined racialization as the “practice through which a group becomes increasingly populated by racialized persons.” Wright defined the “poor” as those living below the low-income cut-off (LICO). He then went on to cite the 2013 Poverty Profile produced by the National Council of Welfare to demonstrate that the poor in Canada are more racialized than white. According to the 2006 Census of Canada, the overall poverty rate was 11%; the rate among racialized persons was 22% and that among non-racialized persons 9%. Wright then states that growing economic disparity in Canada is “disproportionately impacting racialized people and that this was best explained by racism.”


This national picture of the racialization of poverty holds true for Calgary, according to a 2006 report, Inequality in Calgary: The Racialization of Poverty, as well as updated statistics by the Homeless Hub (an initiative of the Canada Poverty Institute). The Hub stated that in general Calgary’s population of low income individuals has shown a tendency of being increasingly composed of racialized individuals.


In “The Colour of Poverty: Understanding Racialized Poverty in Canada” (2014), Seema Allahdini argues that the growing racialization of poverty is rooted in “racial discrimination in the labour market, beginning with settler colonization” during which “race was used as an organizing principle in society to oppress, exploit and exclude people of colour” [and indigenous peoples]. It is the continuing impact of this organizing principle on structures and systems today that explains why we find people of colour concentrated in “contract, temporary, part-time and shift work” which in turn means “less job security, sub-standard working conditions… and low wages.”


It is obvious that anti-poverty activists also need to be anti-racism activists. This activism goes beyond rallies calling for systemic change. Power is not given up without struggle and often the trappings of change leave systemic oppression intact. Today’s rallies are not the first time that the issue of systemic and institutional racism has been raised in Calgary by, for example, the Congress of Black Women, the Committee Against Racism, the Alliance Project of the Women of Colour collective, the Calgary Status of Women Action Committee, the Committee for Antiracism Education, and the Anti-Racism Organizational Change Project at CommunityWise Resource Centre (Calgary). For years Indigenous communities have called for systemic change in policing, education, health, child welfare, etc. The 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada are all
focussed on immediate systemic changes, including anti-racism education, that are
long overdue.

So once the rallies are over, we need to build on the passions, energies and numbers that have come out onto the streets and build a mass anti-racism movement that uses an intersectional analysis(one that understands how individuals may be impacted by multiple forms of oppression) and that will disrupt systemic racism institution by institution.


“A Luta Continua – The Struggle Continues!”
In solidarity with BlackLivesMatter.
WTEP

November 7th, 2019: Kenny’s Budget an “exercise in smoke and mirrors”-
WTEP commentary

The UCP budget is a shell game supposedly designed to create jobs and lower the deficit but which in fact reinforces class and gender oppression and flies in the face of fundamental beliefs and demands of We’re Together Ending Poverty (WTEP). While there are some positive elements, the overall thrust of the budget and particular measures represent an attack on workers including those living in poverty.

WTEP believes that “the concentration of wealth in a few hands, locally and globally, and the continued existence of patriarchal and classist attitudes and practices are the fundamental causes of poverty.”

The 2019 UCP budget is all about the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few – namely the 4% tax cut to corporations from 12% to 8%, even though the previous 12% rate compared favourably to other provinces in Canada. The UCP argument is that this will bring investment into Alberta thereby creating jobs, especially in the oil and gas sector which has always been pandered to by conservative governments.

However, the reality is that the global landscape of oil and gas development is changing due to global politics and expanded production in the US. Witness the recent ENCANA decision to move its headquarters to the U.S., changing its name in the process. The company says it will maintain its operations here, but that is doubtful.

This tunnel vision in regards to oil and gas at the expense of other sectors is also reflected in the $30 million Kenny has set aside for an oil propaganda war chest, as well as the cancellation of credits for start-up businesses in technology, digital animation, craft brewing, and the film industry. These cuts are being made despite the protests of the Business Council of Alberta and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, and the fact these credits generated three times their value in investment. Cancellation of the carbon tax has also cut the revenue stream that was financing the support of the alternative energy sector, and diversification within the oil and gas sector.

Meanwhile, public sector spending will be cut by at least 2.8 % leading to job losses in healthcare, education, social services, etc. and public sector workers are being asked to roll back their wages by as much as 3% to 5%, even though their wages have already been frozen for several years.

Furthermore, the provincial government will be retaining a larger share of property tax revenues thus leaving municipalities short. This, in combination with changes in scheduled provincial payments for infrastructure projects, will also threaten jobs. For
example, The City of Calgary’s Green Line LRT project which would have generated 20,000 jobs while it is being built, now has a very uncertain future.

In fact, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) estimates, in a report developed in consultation with economist Hugh McKenzie, that Kenny’s budget will lead to a total loss of 114,000 jobs in Alberta in both the public and private sectors.

The cuts to the public sector will also impact specific programs needed by Albertans. The Alberta Federation of Labour report predicts that with inflation and population growth, the cut of 2.8% will in fact be 14.7%, and for the same reasons, the Edmonton Social Planning Council states the cuts are closer to 17%. So it’s at the expense of everyday Albertans that Kenny has given a major tax break to corporations.

Examples of these cuts include:
• Deindexing AISH and seniors benefits and a future review of rising AISH costs
• Seniors’ drug program changed so that dependents of seniors no longer qualify
• “$193 million reduction to Employment and Income Support programs (social assistance) between now and 2022/23 due to expected drop in caseloads as economy improves”
• $24 million reduction to rental assistance program
• Increasing the Basic Child Benefit to the lowest 15% of recipients, but phasing out benefits sooner as recipients increase their income, resulting in $40 million fewer dollars in the hands of Alberta families
• While the province has maintained its share of funding for the Low Income Transit Fare program, it is grabbing a bigger share of property taxes from the cities. This will make it difficult to hold-the-line on transit increases for low-income riders.

Education
An educated workforce has always been an incentive for investment. For example, the Conference Board of Canada has stated that for every dollar invested in education there is $1.3 in positive economic impact. Sufficient education funding is an essential component of poverty reduction strategies, especially the investment in early childhood education. Access to post-secondary education has allowed working class students, including those coming from low-income families, to have opportunities for a better future.

The UCP budget will have a negative impact on students and their families, as follows:
• The Alberta Teachers’ Association states that although the government says it is not making cuts to education funding for grades K to 12, the impact of enrollment growth and inflation will reduce per capita student spending. Furthermore, the day after the budget was announced the government released the Education Funding Manual with shows that there will be funding cuts per capita for most 6, 7 and 8 year-olds, who are already experiencing the impact of underfunding for special needs and larger class sizes.
• Elimination of Bill 1, an Act to reduce school fees
• Ending the freeze on tuition hikes for post-secondary students
• Ending tax credits for tuition and fees for post-secondary students
• Interest rates on student loans will increase

Conclusion
To summarize this UCP budget cannot guarantee the return of jobs in the oil and gas sector, has slashed jobs in the public sector and negatively impacted jobs in the non-oil and gas sector; reduced supports to the most vulnerable, including young children, and limits access to post-secondary education for working class students. And there is no guarantee that things won’t get worse. Many programs will be under review with the prospect of further reductions. For example, AISH and supports for families with children with disabilities, will be fully reviewed because of rising costs associated with these programs. In fact, the forecast is an economic contraction of 3.5% in Alberta as a result of the UCP budget according to the AFL report written in consultation with economist Hugh McKenzie.

We’re Together Ending Poverty (WTEP) will be joining with others to resist the impact of this budget and to fight for better futures for ourselves, our families and communities. The information in this commentary has come from the Edmonton Social Planning Council budget highlights sheet, a fact sheet from Vibrant Community Calgary, the Alberta Federation of Labour, the ARA website and various newspaper articles.

July 16th, 2019: WTEP stands in solidarity with the 4 American Congresswomen who were attacked by Trump as being ‘UnAmerican’. He told them to ‘go home’ although 3 out of the 4 Congresswomen of colour were born in the United States.

July 10th, 2019: Alberta Premier Kenney’s government no longer opens meetings and events with a land acknowledgement. Land acknowledgements are but a first step in the Reconciliation process and have to be be followed up with action if they are not to be just token pronouncements. The fact that Kenney’s government isn’t willing to take this first step is indicative of the UCP government’s attitude towards Indigenous people in the province.

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