On the Death of Robson St. and Remembering When Governments Built Great Things

Tea & Two Slices is a long-running local news round-up by NEEDS frontman and veteran restaurant dishwasher Sean Orr, who lives and works in Gastown. He is very aware of his privilege, so there’s really no need to remind him of it.

BC Liberal leader says people could get ‘carried away’ with interest-free student loans. Hey, it’s that out of touch white guy showing that since his “renting is fun” moment last week, he’s still, really, really out of touch. I mean, it’s a set amount. WTF is he talking about? How do you get carried away when you only get one student loan? I mean, the water is free at my house but that doesn’t mean I turn on all the taps and keep them running 24/7 a day because that would make me a psychopath.

Horgan OK with SNC-Lavalin Bidding for $1.4-Billion Bridge in BC. Remember when the government would build amazing things for the people they governed? Sigh. Here’s Stuart Parker’s take:

Many will say that Horgan and Meggs are getting or will get kickbacks here. But that would be wrong. Third Wayers seek approval and legitimacy in the eyes of the global capitalist elite. In this way, a cozy relationship with SNC-Lavalin is its own reward, a sign that they are “in the big leagues,” “adults in the room,” “pragmatic” and “know how the game is played.”

Even the New York Times is calling bullshit: Canadian Politics Aren’t Cute. They’re Corrupt.

Tom Sigurdson: You have to ask why some contractors oppose worker membership in trade unions. You have to love when things that were brought in by conservatives are now seen as a burden to the further corporate exploitation of labour and resources that never-ending austerity demands.

They’re not going to stop until you’re living in a lake and working at mill 20 hours a day for tuppence a month.

Kids nowadays have it so good: William Watson: Canada has so few poor people now, a guaranteed income may be pointless. “But even if the 1.2 million were all stuck below LICO for good, they are one in 30 among us”.

I’m glad you can manipulate data to rationalize poverty and feel better about yourself but you’re wrong and it’s dangerous. Here are the facts:

-1 in 7 (or 4.9 million) people in Canada live in poverty.
-Poverty costs Canada billions of dollar annually.
-Precarious employment has increased by nearly 50% over the past two decades.
-Between 1980 and 2005, the average earnings among the least wealthy Canadians fell by 20%.
-Over the past 25 years, Canada’s population has increased by 30% and yet annual national investment in housing has decreased by 46%.
-People living with disabilities (both mental and physical) are twice as likely to live below the poverty line.Poverty is sexist.
-Nearly 15% of people with disabilities live in poverty, 59% of which are women.
-Estimates place the number of homeless individuals living with a disability or mental illness as high as 45% of the overall homeless population.
-Children with disabilities are twice as likely to live in households relying on social assistance
-21% of single mothers in Canada raise their children while living in poverty (7% of single fathers raise their children in poverty).
-Women parenting on their own enter shelters at twice the rate of two-parent families.
-Indigenous Peoples (including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples) are overrepresented among the homeless population in virtually all urban centres in Canada.
-28%-34% of shelter users are Indigenous.
-1 in 5 racialized families live in poverty in Canada, as opposed to 1 in 20 non-racialized families.
-Racialized women living in poverty were almost twice as likely to work in manufacturing jobs than other women living in poverty.
-Overall, racialized women earn 32% less at work.
-Nearly 15% of elderly single individuals live in poverty.
-Nearly 2 million seniors receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and live on about $17,000 per year. However, the most basic standard of living in Canada is calculated at $18,000 per year for a single person
-In Canada, 1.3 million children live in conditions of poverty (that’s 1 in 5).
-1 in 2 Status First Nations children lives in poverty.
-8% of children in British Columbia live in poverty with children under the age of 6 representing an even higher poverty rate of 20.1% (both are higher than the national average of 18.5%)
-40% of Indigenous children in Canada live in poverty, and 60% of Indigenous children on reserves live in poverty.
-More than one-third of food bank users across Canada were children in 2016.
About 1 in 7 of those using shelters in Canada are children.

But we keep offering bandaids to cover up the gangrene: Government commits $3.1 million to keep eight Vancouver shelters open year-round.

“But technology being what it is, I picked up the phone Monday and spoke to Swanson. And in her get-to-the-point way, this is what she said:

“I hate shelters, right. They’re deplorable. We need housing.”

Anyway, she continued, extending the operation of the shelters is a “no-brainer” in the interim”.

Is modular housing the solution to end Vancouver’s homelessness crisis? Sure, why not?

What complicates an answer to the equation of whether Vancouver’s homeless population has decreased since last year are two sobering data points.

The first one is that 78 per cent of people surveyed in the March 2018 count said they last paid rent in Vancouver prior to becoming homeless, dispelling a long-held myth that the city’s population is being fueled by migration from other cities and provinces.

The second point is that 52 per cent of people surveyed said they had been homeless for one year or less.

That has been a reoccurring trend.

The reasons vary, but the drivers of homelessness, as identified in city reports, have included expensive rents, low vacancies, job loss, people living with mental health and addiction issues and lack of housing for people leaving hospitals, jails and foster care.

Yeah, let’s keep adding more fucking barriers for these people: Despite Promises, Province’s ID Changes Hurting Homeless and Marginalized. This is frustrating because you know it was some pencil-pushing bureaucrat that made these changes, likely someone who has never had a problem getting ID even when he was 17 and made a fake one by stencilling a “6” over the “8” in 1978.

The May 2018 change required people to have a BC Services Card or other photo ID to access medical and other services.

But identification cards are frequently lost or stolen in the Downtown Eastside and it’s difficult for many people to keep them, Lansdowne said. Without identification people can be barred not only from coverage for health services, but also from accessing employment insurance or applying for a job, housing, food banks and other services.

Make transit free: TransLink still losing millions to fare evaders but it’s not tracking numbers. Remember folks, even if this didn’t happen, it still wouldn’t cover the cost of the fare gates.

You’ve changed, man: Robson Street’s last independent shops say goodbye. Remember when Robson was called Robsonstrasse and there were actual houses on it?

Honour Bound: Non-profit dental clinic opens in North Surrey.

Not satire: Ash and dash: Vancouver church offers drive-thru blessings for Ash Wednesday. Bless me while I idle here in my greenhouse gas-spewing SUV.

Bonus: From video game to day job: How ‘SimCity’ inspired a generation of city planners.

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