BC FORUM News
Working together for progressive change
Download the AGM report here.
Click here to view photo slideshow.
Click here to view photos.
Click here to read the Resolutions passed at the 2016 AGM.
The spirit of solidarity shone brightly as delegates participated in a lively annual general meeting of the BC Federation of Retired Union Members (BC FORUM), held June 22 at the UFCW 1518 meeting hall in New Westminster.
Retired workers, union leaders, and political leaders – including MLAs Raj Chouhan, Kathy Corrigan, Judy Darcy and Shane Simpson – debated resolutions, shared experiences, and heard featured speakers call for change.
Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour and Chair of BC FORUM, captured the mood of the meeting with a call for people to stick together to bring about positive change.
“We have a (provincial) government that thinks the economy is run entirely by big business. We need a government that shares our values,” said Lanzinger.
“We need to think about the opportunity we will have a year from now,” she said, noting that the next election will be a chance to start building the kind of province we really need for us, and for future generations.
Lanzinger noted that while the Christy Clark government was bragging about the strength of the BC economy, it clawed back bus passes for people with disabilities and gave a tax break to the richest 2 percent of British Columbians.
“The political landscape can change, and we have the power to make it happen. You are making a difference.”
Changing the world isn’t easy, she said, but it can be achieved by working together in solidarity.
“We face two enormous problems: climate change, and poverty and inequality,” she said.
To tackle climate change, labour and environmental groups are working together through Green Jobs BC to make it clear that it’s possible to have good jobs and a clean environment.
The work to implement good environmental policies and create good family supporting jobs “is so critical for future generations,” said Lanzinger.
As for poverty and inequality, she noted that unions have a key role to play. “The higher the union density, the more people who are in unions, the smaller the gap is between the rich and the poor. More people in unions means more equality,” she said.
Political pressure and change is also needed.
Many people, including older workers, are working full time and still living in poverty. That’s why the labour movement is fighting for a $15 an hour minimum wage, she said.
“We need to look after each other. We need to look after our most vulnerable citizens,” said Lanzinger and the way to get there is for ordinary people to stick together.
Judy Darcy, the BC NDP spokesperson on health care, characterized the BC Liberal government as contemptuous and arrogant. For example, when she noted that a cabinet minister had failed to answer a question in the Legislature, he responded, “It’s question period, not answer period.”
Among the highlights of Darcy’s speech:
• We have the only medical services tax in the entire country. It’s an unfair tax. An NDP government will change that.
• There are seniors who every day are forced to make unacceptable choices about whether they can afford to pay for prescriptions.
• BC has the longest wait times in the country for hip and knee replacements, with people waiting in pain for up to two and a half years.
• Fifty percent of seniors on anti-psychotic medications in residential care homes don’t have a diagnosis of psychosis. Instead of adequate staffing to help seniors live in dignity, they are being restrained with chemicals.
• In three out of five health regions, the availability of home support services has declined.
“We can do a whole lot better if we achieve government,” said Darcy. She called on delegates to “ensure that everyone gets mobilized for 2017. It’s not very far away.”
Diane Wood, President of BC FORUM, presented a detailed report on the campaigns and actions that BC FORUM has initiated or participated in during the past 12 months.
“This report reflects a lot of activity for BC FORUM. We’re proud of what we’ve done, and we know there’s more that needs to be done…. We may be retired, but we still fight for what’s right,” she said.
Wood urged all BC FORUM members to take a personal role in continuing to strengthen the organization by signing up new members, noting that you don’t have to be retired to join.
Resolutions - read the details here
Delegates resolved to work with BC FORUM allies to:
• Ensure that minimum staffing guidelines for seniors in residential care are followed, to protest staff layoffs, to oppose privatization of residential care facilities, and to work for an expanded public health care system.
• Endorse the Canadian Union of Postal Workers’ “Delivering Community Power” initiative which includes postal banking services, converting the postal fleet to run on renewable energy, electric charge stations at post offices, and expanded door-to-door mail delivery.
• Demand that the provincial government reinstate the transit subsidy for persons with disabilities, and implement an annual cost of living increase in disability assistance payments.
• Seize any opportunity to endorse and support initiatives to achieve acceptable, accessible, affordable, and public not-for-profit childcare for Canadian children.
• Urge the BC government to ban all paid-blood donations in BC, and urge the federal government to legislate a national ban on selling blood for profit.