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November. A month of colourful leaves, cooling temperatures, lots of rain in the Lower Mainland, and snow in many other parts of the province. Whether we are bracing for winter or already experiencing winter conditions, November is a good time to turn our thoughts to those living in poverty. Whether it is hunger, precarious employment, or housing security, no one should be facing these struggles alone.
November is also the month when First Call releases their annual BC Child Poverty Report Card
. The 2018 report will be released on November 20. As educators, the well-being of our students is central to our work. We understand that the effects of poverty create obstacles to our students' good health, learning, and success.
The BCTF recognizes November as Antipoverty Month. Each week in November will focus on poverty at different levels. Week 1: Poverty at the School Level; Week 2: Poverty in our Communities (BC); Week 3: Poverty in Canada; Week 4: Poverty as a Global Issue. We will address issues such as housing, childcare, student attendance, school food programs, and more.
Please advocate for those living in poverty. The BCTF's Antipoverty web page has lesson plans, resources, posters, and more. You can also book a free antipoverty workshop for your school's staff.
By Leon D'Souza, member of BCTF Committee for Action on Social Justice
Classism is defined as prejudice against, or in favour of, people belonging to a different social class. Visit the Raising Awareness page on the BCTF Equity and Inclusion web pages for links to several antipoverty videos and Poverty Myth busters from the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. These resources address the underlying causes of poverty, and in doing so, help dispel stereotypes leading to classism.
Do you have a story to share about a social justice activity or project that you have carried out in your classroom, local, or community? Is there a social justice issue that you'd like to highlight for BCTF members? We are currently accepting articles for the Winter/Spring 2019 edition of the Social Justice Newsletter. For more information, see the Social Justice Newsletter Submission Guidelines document on the Social Justice Newsletter page.
The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition has developed a campaign aimed at seeing the introduction of a bold and comprehensive poverty reduction plan from the government of British Columbia that would include legislated targets and timelines to significantly reduce poverty and homelessness. See the ABC plan.
#AllOnBoard stands for affordable and accessible transit that is based on income in Metro Vancouver, to ensure our communities can access public transit to live, work and thrive. They advocate for free transit for all children and youth 0-18, and for a sliding scale monthly pass system based on income. They also advocate for a social justice and poverty reduction mandate for Translink, non-stigmatizing affordability measures, fare evasion fines to be unlinked from ICBC, and infrastructure expansion.
Raise the Rates BC works to end poverty and homelessness in BC. Sadly, Raise the Rates will not be sponsoring the Welfare Food Challenge this year! The average rent for a room in the Downtown Eastside increased to $687 per month this year, leaving only $23 per month for food and other necessities. Last year's challenge allowed the participants $19 for the week to buy food. The current $5.75 per week for the challenge would prove most difficult. While the challenge is not running this year because of these deeply inadequate rates. We cannot forget that there are still about 190,000 people trying to survive on income and disability assistance who don't have a choice.
Please support them by emailing the Minister of Social Development and your local MLA at www.abcplan.ca and urging the government to raise the rates!
The 2018 BC Child Poverty Report Card will be available mid-month on the First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition website.
The BC government has put forward Bill 39, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Act. See details below:
The Act: Bill 39 - 2018: Poverty Reduction Strategy Act
A response: Poverty Reduction in BC: New Legislation & Next Steps
CBC News report: BC vows to cut poverty rate by 25% in 5 years.
Submission dates for Local Social Justice Grants: any time between September 4 and April 12, 2019.
Local Social Justice Grants provide seed money for activities or projects involving several schools within a local aimed at bringing about systemic change for social justice. This grant is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Our information package and application form for BCTF locals and sublocals is online. To ensure you have time to carry out your project by the end of the year, please apply as early as possible.
Ed May Social Responsibility Education Fund: deadline is November 21, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.
Social Justice Initiatives Grant: deadline is December 13, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.
The BCTF will be hosting the biennial Provincial Social Justice Conference this Spring on the weekend of
May 25. Local social justice contacts and local Ab Ed contacts should stay tuned for details on how to register.
For more information, including application forms and examples of past projects, visit the Social Justice Grants and Funds web page.
Assistant Director of Social Justice
BC Teachers' Federation
100-550 West 6th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4P2