Joint Statement for a Just Recovery
Vancouver Just Recovery Coalition
April 30, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the world is thinking about the future, hungry to rebuild anew. This moment presents an opportunity to examine if the status quo was truly serving our people, our environment, and our opportunities to live, work, and prosper.
As we have watched the pandemic unfold, the devastating impacts on those without homes, without adequate income, without jobs easily conducted remotely, without access to information, social support or food have only made painfully clear the inequities that are part of Vancouver's social fabric.
The Vancouver Just Recovery Coalition is calling on the City of Vancouver to prioritize lessening existing inequalities, respecting Indigenous rights, and tackling the climate emergency. We believe socially just strategies to recover and rebuild post-COVID-19 will better support vulnerable communities, and make a safer, healthier city for all.
As many Vancouverites continue to struggle financially and emotionally with the pandemic, now is not the time to reduce social spending. Now is not the time to restrict spending in an effort to preserve the status quo.
As our federal, provincial and municipal governments begin to strategize on their post-COVID recovery and rebuilding strategies, we need to prioritize those most impacted, ensuring that our economic recovery lessens existing inequalities, respects Indigenous rights, and tackles the climate emergency. The pre-COVID status quo was failing too many people.
This is especially true in Vancouver, where the impacts of COVID-19 on the City’s operating budget, combined with anti-tax lobbying, could mean delays or defunding of critical cultural, social equity, and climate programs.
The City of Vancouver is very limited by its inability to run a deficit to cover the gap. The lack of fiscal tools for local governments threatens the City’s provision of essential public services, social programs and other public priorities. This includes essential programs and services that many of those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic rely on: public libraries, public transportation, community centres, neighbourhood houses, homeless outreach services, food security programs, etc. There is also an urgent need for more affordable housing options, accessibility improvements, and capital upgrades to aging community centres and other infrastructure. The loss of these supports and programs will disproportionately affect women, those struggling with homelessness, renters, health workers, elders, youth, artists, cultural workers, small businesses, sex workers, Indigenous peoples, communities of colour, and those continuing to fight the opioid crisis. Alternatively, investing in services and programs, such as cultural services, public libraries, and climate action will enable Vancouverites to heal together and build a better city for the future
Vancouver’s Just Recovery Coalition calls on the Governments of BC and Canada to provide Vancouver and other local governments with emergency funding supports to address financial short-falls caused by the pandemic, and to develop, in coordination with the City of Vancouver and others, additional fiscal tools that allow municipalities to be more resilient in the face of future crises of this scale and scope.
Threats to the City of Vancouver’s essential services, programs, and public priorities, presents a significant risk to Vancouver’s vulnerable communities in an already unaffordable city. This danger could get even worse if there is pressure for Council to pass an austerity budget in 2021.
Any recovery strategy should offer every resident the same opportunities to rebuild their lives and thrive in a safe, inclusive, just, and caring society.
Now is the time to approve innovative, progressive recovery and rebuilding plans with a strong focus on social spending to invest in the rebuilding of our communities. Now is the time to invest in building a city of complete communities based on care and compassion...a kind of city that will be more liveable for everyone.