A Vancouver everyone can afford.

Now that the election is over, it's time to get back to work: on affordable housing, affordable transit, making Vancouver a Sanctuary City, $10 a day childcare, and fighting to reverse climate change.

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  • The Coalition of Progressive Electors, since 1968

Vancouver can’t trust the NPA to tackle real estate speculation

For Immediate Release October 14th, 2014 Today the NPA announced its housing platform, which included a watered-down version of Meena Wong’s plan to tax vacant properties. COPE announced its plan …


We can’t afford four more years of Vision Vancouver

“Only COPE can be trusted to build a Vancouver everyone can afford,” says Meena Wong

For immediate release
Wednesday October 8th, 2014

In 2008 Gregor Robertson promised to end homelessness. After six years of corporate tax breaks, luxury condo development, and renovictions, homelessness is at its highest level in recorded history. Today, while Vision is in court seeking to evict hundreds homeless people from Oppenheimer park, they are announcing that they want to make Vancouver affordable.

  • Vision says it has adopted COPE’s idea for an Affordable Housing Authority. While COPE’s plan means the city will build and own affordable housing, under Vision’s plan the city won’t build or own a single unit of housing. According to Councillor Geoff Meggs it will be a “one-stop-shop” for developers. “This is all style and no substance, not the kind of leadership we need to solve the housing crisis,” said COPE’s Mayoral candidate Meena Wong.
  • Vision says they have built new rental housing by giving tax-breaks to developers through the STIR and Rental 100 program. But the rents in these apartments are not affordable. “I don’t call $1,800/month for a one-bedroom suite affordable,” said Meena Wong.
  • Vision says that they’re requiring that a portion of new developments to be for families. But every year 2% of children leave Vancouver public schools because they can’t afford to the cost of living. “New families can no longer imagine themselves building a life in this city. We need housing that families can afford,” said Meena Wong.
  • Vision says that have offered a free swimming course. But Vision has increased community centre fees across the board. “Only COPE can be trusted to reduce community centre fees for everyone,” said Wong.

“Vision accepted over $1 million from the real estate industry last election, and now you see the results,” said Meena Wong. “Only COPE can be trusted to build a Vancouver everyone can afford. We don’t accept funding from property developers.”

So far this campaign, COPE has proposed concrete ideas that will make life more affordable immediately.

    • Placing a duty on vacant properties to help fund our Housing Authority’s affordable and social housing.
    • A ban on renovictions to stop evictions for cosmetic renovations and to ensure a right-of return for tenants at previous rents.
    • Bringing in a Living Wage for all city employees and a $15/month minimum wage starting with large chain stores and hotels.
    • Reducing the cost of a 3-zone bus pass from $170/month to $30/month for all Vancouver residents who want it.

Vision Vancouver has opposed all these plans. We can’t afford four more years of Vision. It’s time for bold ideas to reduce the cost-of-living and increase incomes.


“Minimum Wage Should be a Living Wage”


At Vancouver’s biggest mall today, Meena Wong, COPE candidate for mayor, announced a key plank in the party’s plan to combat income inequality in Vancouver.

“I’m standing before you now to say this loud and clear: Vancouver needs a raise. Now, I don’t mean that City Councilors need a raise. In February of this year, the Mayor and City Councilors gave themselves a raise. And I don’t mean that the city’s communications department needs a raise. It came out last week they’re already getting $1.6 million. And for sure the property developers in this city don’t need a raise. They are making record profits under Vision Vancouver’s government,” said Meena Wong.

“I’m standing before here today to say that the people of Vancouver need a raise. Especially those who work the hardest and get paid the least. Hospitality workers, retail and food workers, caregivers, and more. These people are often women, people of colour, immigrants, indigenous people and students.”

Wong detailed COPE’s plans for implementing a Living Wage. Leading the way, a COPE government will institute a Living Wage as the minimum standard for those directly employed by the City of Vancouver.

Next, contractors will also be required to meet the Living Wage in order to qualify for City of Vancouver contracts. They will also have to meet unionization and Fair Wage requirements.

COPE will seek an amendment to the Vancouver Charter giving the City the power to set a local minimum wage. The provincial minimum wage is only half of a Living Wage in Vancouver, contributing to the growing inequalities that make the city unaffordable. Where the province has failed, COPE will lead.

The next phase will focus on big box stores and chains. Most small businesses want to pay their employees well, but they are undercut by big businesses that pay low wages. COPE will work with other municipalities to institute a Living Wage across Metro Vancouver, lessening the chance of stores relocating to avoid paying their employees a fair wage.

The Seattle experience demonstrates that with the support of residents, city governments can take a stand to support working people and to bring low wage workers out of poverty.

In Seattle last year, Kshama Sawant was elected to Seattle City Council on a platform of winning a $15/hour minimum wage. Sawant unseated the incumbent Democrat and now Seattle is implementing a $15/hour minimum wage, which will rise with inflation.

Councillor Sawant is coming to Vancouver this weekend, and she will be giving the keynote speech at COPE’s event this Saturday. Sawant is here to say, “if we gave Seattle a raise, you can give Vancouver a raise too!”

Seattle City Councillor, Kshama Sawant, will be speaking Saturday September 27th, 7:00pm at the Maritime Labour Centre, on that city’s successful fight for $15/hour. Tickets available here: www.cope.bc.ca/kshamasawant.

Meena Wong

COPE statement on Mental Health Task Force

“How can we take guidance from a Task Force that hasn’t genuinely included people who have experienced mental health issues?”
–Meena Wong, September 17th, 2014

Long-time mental health advocate and COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong is speaking out against the final recommendations of the Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions. “The mental health task force has 64 members, almost all of them are politicians, CEOs, doctors and people with money and power,” said Wong. “Only three of the 64 are affected community members. I have heard loud and clear that the community is frustrated by lack of action on affordable housing and better incomes.”

“Why have the City’s task forces consistently failed to include the voices of the people who are most affected?” asked Wong. “Last year the housing task force was all developers without a single renter in a city of 50% renters.” Meena and the COPE team are opposing the recommendations of the Mayors Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions for the following six reasons:

– Task Force did not genuinely include people who have experienced mental health issues and the mental health system from below.

– The report ignores the fact that mental health services are currently facing serious cuts across the city.

– Recommendations fail to address the housing crisis. Homelessness and inadequate housing conditions are the primary cause of deteriorating mental health.

– Task force communications frames people with mental health illness as dangerous, obscures the fact that people with mental health illness are more likely to be the victims of violence.

– The final task force report recommends increased involvement of police in providing mental health support through ACT teams and other VPD assertive care enforcement. There are already 8 mental health apprehensions in Vancouver per day under the Mayor’s police-led approach to mental health. These traumatic arrests are worsening the mental health crisis. What we need instead are low-barrier employment opportunities, healthy living conditions, and more social supports for marginalized people.

– Task Force recommendations will result in increased institutionalization of people with mental health issues. Mental health care institutions will worsen long-term mental health instability if they are not complemented with housing, social supports, decent incomes, and community.

– Doesn’t do enough to address the legacy of colonialism and residential schools, nor does it address the ongoing role of displacement for urban aboriginal communities.


COPE applauds Federal NDP call for $15/hour minimum wage

“The minimum wage should be a living wage” says mayoral candidate Meena Wong

The Coalition of Progressive Electors is pleased to support Tom Mulcair and the NDP’s call for a $15/hour minimum wage for federal employees.

In the meantime, COPE is pressing for even stronger measures to combat income inequality in the city of Vancouver. Once elected, COPE Councillors will seek an amendment to the Vancouver Charter to confer powers upon the City that will allow it to set a municipal minimum wage. The initial wage will be set at $15/hr with the aim of closing the gap between a minimum and a living wage (that is currently closer to $20/hr).

“COPE believes that no one should live right at the poverty line,” said Meena Wong, COPE’s candidate for mayor. “The current minimum wage in BC is $10.25 but the cost of living in Vancouver is almost double that, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.”

COPE looks south to Seattle for an example of a successful push for a municipal $15/hour minimum wage. Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Councillor, was elected on a platform that included a $15/hour minimum wage and mobilized a diverse cross-section of Seattle’s working people to have it enacted this summer.

“Kshama Sawant shows us the way to $15/hour in Seattle,” said Meena Wong. “By taking a stand with low-wage workers, she shifted the whole debate across the continent. Now almost everyone is recognizing that when everyone gets a living wage, people can live in dignity and support the local economy.”

On Saturday September 27th at 7pm at the Maritime Labour Centre, Kshama Sawant will speak about the fight for $15/hour on behalf of COPE.