Fridays for Future launches weekly Talks for Future

Journalist, activist Naomi Klein, senior WHO official Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum to speak at climate movement’s first webinar

Fridays for Future launches weekly Talks for Future

Global climate protest group Fridays for Future launched a weekly Talks for Future initiative bringing the movement from the streets to the internet due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

“Starting this Friday the movement will hold weekly webinars and discussion rounds with scientists, journalists, and activists as well as other international high-level experts,” climate advocate group 350 said in a statement on Tuesday.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Fridays for Future has postponed all mass gatherings and called for a “climate strike online, a strike from home and on the Internet.”

“We’re taking this education in our own hands with our new project #TalksForFuture, so that even in these coming weeks, where we are flooded with news about the coronavirus, we won’t forget about the climate crisis,” Ariadne Papatheodorou, a 16-year old climate activist from Greece, said in the statement.

Journalist and activist Naomi Klein and Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, climate change and health team leader of the World Health Organization, will be this Friday’s guests in the webinar to be streamed live at 2 p.m. GMT on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Like many economic, sports and cultural events, climate demonstrations have been affected by COVID-19 outbreak but have not stopped all demonstrations.

Groups such as Extinction Rebellions, Fridays for Future and 350 urged protesters to prevent mass gatherings and continue with digital activism.

The movement led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg quickly became a global phenomenon and has sought to bring world governments into full compliance with the 2015 Paris climate accord. SOURCE

This is how you can co-watch during a coronavirus lockdown

woman cowatch netflix party coronavirus quarantine eating pizza discord metastream zoom facetime

What’s co-watching? Shared screens are allowing friends and family to watch a film together apart, sharing the experience while practicing social distancingHere’s how you can try it out. 

—Instagram: Gather one or more pals by tapping the video-chat icon in the top right corner of a direct thread, next to the information icon. A screen appears letting the other participants know you contacted them; once you’re all on board, you can watch saved, liked, or suggested photos and videos together by tapping the camera icon in the bottom left corner of the video chat.

Netflix PartyEach viewer needs a Netflix account; once downloaded, the free Chrome extension appears in Netflix’s own browser. Pick what you want to watch, click on the Netflix Party extension to share your choice with your group, et voilà: the movie begins with a group chat bar, allowing viewers to type and chat. Bonus: there’s no video or audio chatting, which means you can watch your movie in co-silence, without the annoyance of pings interrupting a crucial moment.

Metastream: Another free Chrome extension widens your selection beyond Netflix to YouTube videos, along with Hulu, SoundCloud, Twitch, and even Reddit. As with Netflix Party, the chat function keeps the viewing experience pure. You can also curate a stream of YouTube videos, should you want to create a personal queue.

Discord: For co-playing video games, Discord has long been the platform of choice, allowing users to step in and out of an activity and do something else on the side. You download it as a separate app.

—Old school: The classic, no-tech-experience-required fix is to position a screen so it faces a video calling app like Zoom or FaceTime, and then just watch whatever it is you want to watch together. If screen an

d sound quality aren’t a big deal, this kinda works.

Free and family friendly: What to watch while you stay at home
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CORONAVIRUS KIDS’ GUIDE

 

None of us are immune to climate change

Oilsands in Alberta. Photograph by Andrew S Wright and Coronavirus image

The sheer volume of sick patients has overwhelmed the health systems of Italy and Iran, and stands to do so in Canada in the coming weeks. The end results will be tragic, but they will provide key lessons, as COVID-19 serves as a case study in what is required to respond to another crisis: the climate emergency.

Although it has taken a backseat to COVID-19, rest assured the climate emergency continues to march forward. Current estimates predict increased extreme weather events, global food shortages, and 200 million climate refugees by 2050. The WHO even predicts a net increase of 250,000 deaths per year by 2030 as a result of climate change.

The biggest dangers may be unforeseen, as feedback loops can accelerate the destruction in unpredictable ways. All told, the climate emergency is much more dangerous than COVID-19. This isn’t to say that we’ve overreacted to the current crisis, but rather that we are taking appropriate measures and we should already be doing the same, and more, to fight climate change.

Of those hit hardest, the countries that have succeeded most in containing their outbreaks have been South Korea and Japan which have used strict case isolation and collective adherence to health authority recommendations to overcome early exposure and concentrated populations.

Canada has taken some key steps to “flatten the curve.” The willingness of the government to make economic sacrifices by banning dining-in and certain travel has been encouraging. Everyday citizens, even those at lowest risk of being harmed by COVID-19, have also taken measures to prevent spread by social distancing and cancelling vacations.

While many people still think the government is overreacting, unlike our response to climate change, the cautious side is winning out. Be it the NHL suspending its season, the pausing of student loan repayment, or eviction bans being put into place, our society is responding to this crisis at every level. This is a proof of concept that when push comes to shove, we care more about the lives of our most vulnerable than profit, or even certain personal freedoms.

It stands to reason that if we are willing to make these sacrifices for the lives of others, we should be responding even more drastically to the spectre of climate change. Why aren’t we?

For one, the most severe impacts of climate change are well into our future, far beyond the short electoral terms of our governments, and in many cases beyond the lives of the wealthiest citizens in our country. Moreover, the longer time span gives way to the belief that there is still time to invent climate-saving technology.

But as we’ve seen with COVID-19, putting in measures sooner saves exponentially more lives. When it comes to natural disasters, procrastination and waiting for inventors to save us is a losing strategy.

Another reason is that the deaths that can be linked to climate change are less direct. When someone passes away from malnourishment due to drought-caused food shortages, it takes some detective work to see the link to climate change.

Not so with COVID-19, where cause is self-evident in the respiratory failures it causes. Furthermore, climate change still disproportionately affects the world’s poorest citizens, and it does not provide a pressing danger to those living cushy lives in the West. COVID-19 isn’t quite as indiscriminate as some claim it to be; it is more likely to harm the elderly, people with heart conditions, or those unable to self-isolate because they’re reliant on shelters or live in prisons. It also presents greater financial difficulty for those who have lost jobs and/or live paycheck to paycheck. However, it still presents enough of a serious danger to many wealthy citizens in countries such as the U.S. and Canada, leading to more political will to respond appropriately.

A third reason our response to climate change hasn’t been adequate is that corporations still feel they can get away with profiting off of the environment. While COVID-19 has caused airlines to inch closer to bankruptcy, they have reason to hope for a bailout and a return to normal within the year.

A proper response to climate change would not involve bailouts to fossil fuel companies and airlines and these corporations are well aware of this. Similar to how a number of wealthy U.S. senators recently used government information on COVID-19 to sell stocks while publicly denying the seriousness of the pandemic, for years energy companies have known the effects of climate change and publicly denied their veracity.

While we wait for a vaccine for COVID-19, there is no chance at immunity against climate change. All the more reason to get serious about limiting non-essential travel, consumption and our growth-centered economic system far beyond the current pandemic.

COVID-19 is a tragedy, and the worst might be still to come. As a resident physician who has spent the majority of the last few months in emergency departments, I am scared. What scares me most, however, is that we will wake up on the other side and continue with business as usual until the bigger disaster hits.

But where there is fear, there is also hope. Hope that we realize that in emergencies, we are only as strong as our most vulnerable, so we build a stronger safety net. Hope that quarantine shifts our priorities as we realize that what’s missing from our lives isn’t destination vacations, but holding our loved ones. Hope that when the climate emergency comes, we’ll have each other’s backs like we do now, which is to say we will have each other’s backs from here on out, because climate change is here and it’s not going anywhere. SOURCE

5 ways coronavirus could help humanity survive the ecological crisis

Image result for empty departure terminal

A view of the near empty departure area at London’s Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 departure, March 12, 2020 (Steve Parsons/PA via AP)

The human tragedy of the coronavirus is immense. Thousands have died, hundreds of thousands have been infected globally, and millions more have been affected. Whilst infectious disease has always been a part of the human experience, the expansion of industrial civilization has inexorably amplified the risk of new diseases.

Uncontrolled industrial expansion also dangerously heats the planet and drives the collapse of ecosystems worldwide. Experts like Professor Jem Bendell and philosopher Rupert Read have argued that societal collapse is near inevitable and that up to 6 billion people could die. Dr Nafeez Ahmed argues the collapse of civilization may have already begun. That human civilization itself is at risk is an increasingly accepted reality of our times. More than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries have declared a climate emergency warning:  “chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable”

Coronavirus is both a symptom of the problematic globalized economy and an important signal that things need to change. Emergency short-term measures to contain the virus also have a positive impact on decimated global ecosystems. Crisis can be an opportunity and adopting some of these measures in perpetuity could help to avert the worst case runaway climate scenarios and help to maintain the planetary conditions that humanity is adapted to.  Here are five ways the pandemic could actually help us survive the ecological crisis:

1. Demonstrating that a less industrial future is feasible

Currently, a slowing economy is a lower-carbon economy. In China, coronavirus slowed industrial production, prompted longer holidays and led to the introduction of travel restrictions, all of which resulted in lower CO2 emissions: China’s emissions alone are down by a quarter, or 100 million metric tons. The decrease in output means less material is being shipped across the world, and less disposable products are ending up in landfills.

The sort of precipitous and unmanaged decline coronavirus has forced on global economies can devastate people’s livelihoods and living standards. However it is possible to implement such measures in a steady way, and forge societies less dependent on industrial production that not only protect livelihoods but simultaneously increase citizens’ well-being. This is what economists and sustainability experts call degrowth: a ‘phase of planned and equitable economic contraction in the richest nations eventually reaching a steady state that operates within Earth’s biophysical limits.’

While coronavirus has resulted in a very sudden scale-down in industrial production due to a public health emergency, living through this spasm may allow citizens to imagine, and policy-makers to plan, how it is possible to live differently in response to the ecological emergency. Reducing economic activity and industrial output is a means to enable global ecosystems to regenerate.

2. Driving a massive contraction in demand for cruises and aviation

With the Diamond Princess now as synonymous with the virus as Wuhan province, the last place people are dreaming of being right now is on a cruise ship, and bookings for the $45 billion a year cruise industry are down 40%.

Cruise ships emit extreme pollution in some of the world’s most beloved and fragile ecosystems such as the arctic, Caribbean Sea and Galapagos Islands. Burning the world’s dirtiest oil (bunker fuel) they pollute the air and cause sickness among coastline communities. The European fleet of the world’s single biggest cruise company, Carnival Corporation, emits 10 times more SOx air pollution along Europe’s coasts than all of Europe’s cars.

Until these giant corporations address their impacts a drop in bookings for this monstrously polluting sector can only be a good thing for planet earth.

Similarly, air travel is down due to coronavirus, declining for the first time since 2009 with an estimated cost to airlines of $113 billion in lost revenue. Campaigners have been calling for limits to air travel for years highlighting the sector’s massive and increasing climate impact. It seems that the coronavirus is driving the sort of reduction in air travel that lawmakers and the industry itself have thus far failed to enforce. In the face of a climate emergency and political dithering, an overall reduction in unnecessary travel could promote shifts to the enhanced local economies that may help avoid the most dangerous runaway climate models.

3. Shifting towards more resilient local economies

More and more of us live in cities and eat food that has been industrially-produced elsewhere and trucked, flown or shipped in using fossil fuels. Intensive food production and perpetual long-distance shipping makes the spread of disease more likely. Furthermore, the loss of nature and spread of monocultures enable disease pathogens to thrive. A shock such as coronavirus or surges in oil price reveals just how precarious the globalized economy on which many of us depend is. For example, if fuel supplies are interrupted, London will run out of food within days. Tim Lang, a Professor of Food Policy says, “It is all on the motorway. We have a just-in-time system of food.”

Massively boosting local food production slashes fossil-fuel emissions and reduces our dependence on this complex and precarious flow of global trade. What’s more, it will make us radically happier too. Our current economic system, which maximizes how much we all work and consume, has failed to translate into a rise in wellbeing: instead it has created a raft of new afflictions, running from obesity and eating disorders through to depression and a suicide epidemic in young men.

A future sustainable society would mean most of us working and commuting less, being more involved in our local communities and growing food near to where we live, with more time with our friends and families – all things found to increase human happiness. Helena Norberg-Hodge the director and founder of Local Futures said:

“By shifting towards more localized, diversified food economies around the world, we’d not only reduce the risk of diseases infecting our food supply, but we’d also keep more wealth within communities instead of siphoning it away to multinational corporations. We’d be providing livelihoods for people who are getting squeezed out of jobs by the mania for mechanizing and centralizing food production. And we’d be pushing back against the climate crisis as well, by reducing the need for fossil fuel-powered global supply chains to get our monocrops from place to place. Local food economies are a win-win from every angle.”

4. Ending the trade in wild animals

The calamitous decline of wild species is at least as great a threat to human survival as the climate emergency. Every species that goes extinct is an irreplaceable loss. In January this year, China banned the wildlife trade nationwide in markets, supermarkets, restaurants, and e-commerce platforms due to the coronavirus outbreak. In a joint statement, the country’s market watchdog, agricultural ministry, and forestry bureau also said any places that breed wildlife should be isolated, and the transportation of wildlife should be banned.

It is widely reported that the outbreak of Covid-19 may have started in a wild animal market in Wuhan. Pangolins, in particular, have been proposed as a possible host of the virus before it jumped to people via bats. Pangolins or scaly anteaters are extraordinary animals – the only mammals with scales. They are also the most trafficked creatures in the world, mainly for use in Chinese traditional medicine. As with the rhino horn, their scales are believed to have medicinal properties. They don’t. Banning the wildlife trade could put a brake on the relentless and pointless persecution of these animals allowing them to recover from the brink of extinction.

5. Highlighting the horrors of factory farming

Factory farms, which raise billions of animals per year in squalid, cramped and unhygienic conditions, are ideal breeding grounds for infectious diseases. The deadly 2009 swine flu pandemic sprang out of a massive pig farm in Veracruz, Mexico, where hundreds of pigs died in an outbreak that eventually moved into people.

Mandy Carter, Global Senior Campaign Manager at Compassion in World Farming, said:

“Intensively farmed animals live in crowded, barren conditions deprived of even the most basic natural behaviors. Given the number of animals involved and their lifelong suffering, factory farming is one of the biggest causes of animal cruelty on the planet. And not only does it harm animals – it hurts the natural world and us too.”

Wendy Orent, the author of “Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World’s Most Dangerous Disease” writes:

“If we want to forestall the evolution of ever-newer, and possibly deadlier, human-adapted viruses, live animal markets must be permanently shut down… until factory farms housing millions of animals are eliminated, until we take the inevitable logic of disease evolution into account, novel, and potentially deadly, human diseases will continue to arise. Again. And again. And again.”

Factory farmed animals are fed feed grown in the habitats of the world’s last wild animals such as the Amazon rainforest. Factory farming animals is increasingly seen by scientists, health experts and ethical commentators as an abomination that has to be stopped.

Conclusion

The best way to prevent pandemics and avoid the scale human suffering we are seeing unfold in the world due to coronavirus is not self-isolation, handwashing or facemasks, but the jettisoning of our moribund economic, food and transport systems, and replacing them with structures that put nature and planet first. A world where factory farming and wildlife trade is outlawed. Where economic growth is not pursued at all costs, where our capacity to feed ourselves from one day to the next is in our own hands, rather than those of gigantic polluting multinational corporations.

Coronavirus and the ecological crisis are linked symptoms of an unjust and unsustainable global system. Steps we can take to prevent another coronavirus spreading are the same steps we need to take to tackle the ecological emergency: to live more locally, with due respect for our biosphere’s limits and reverence for the precious wild creatures within it. Overall, this virus may be an important signal that human health cannot be treated independently from the health of the natural world; the two are inextricably linked.

Human civilization can protect itself from future shocks and become more resilient by shifting to become more in tune with the natural world it is a part of. Degrowing the global economy, regenerating natural systems and ending the systematic mistreatment of animals are key.

SOURCE

 

There is no climate justice without Indigenous sovereignty

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A note: Over the coming weeks and months, Stand.earth will continue to push for climate action and climate justice, because the climate crisis can’t wait. We’ll also be supporting efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus while advocating for measures that keep people around the world healthy and safe during these unprecedented times. You can read our full statement on COVID-19 here. 

While the rest of us are social distancing to keep each other safe, Coastal GasLink is still bringing in workers from all over Canada to build its fracked gas pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory – putting entire northern communities at grave risk.

The Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline is a threat to the land, air, water, climate, and to the Indigenous women living near the fracked gas pipeline route. The Wet’suwet’en have rights and title to their land, and have not consented to the pipeline.

With mass gatherings being paused to keep people safe amidst the spread of COVID-19, the Wet’suwet’en are adjusting their tactics, but calling on allies to keep standing with them. What can you do? Call out the largest funders of the CGL pipeline: JPMorgan Chase and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR). These companies’ plans to invest in the pipeline aren’t final and there’s still time to stop them.

Sign this petition to KKR and JP Morgan Chase, and demand they stop funding Coastal GasLink.

SIGN NOW

Last month, militarized police conducted a raid of the resistance camps on Wet’suwet’en land and illegally evicted hereditary chiefs, land defenders, and matriarchs. The police came with assault rifles, snipers, dogs, sound cannons, and helicopters to arrest unarmed Indigenous elders and youth.

Demand Chase and KKR stop financing the Coastal GasLink pipeline

A powerful solidarity movement quickly sprang up across the globe and got the world’s attention. Indigenous people and allies have led railway blockades, port shutdowns, sit-ins at government buildings, and huge rallies that brought parts of Canada to an economic standstill. Meanwhile, global allies shut-down Canadian consulates and banks that are funding the pipeline. Now that we can’t gather in person, digital tactics are more important than ever.

So we’re taking the fight to the largest bankers and investors of the CGL pipeline — JPMorgan Chase and KKR.

JPMorgan Chase, the world’s biggest banker of fossil fuels, is helping funnel more than $5 billion in loans to the company behind Coastal GasLink. And, KKR — a New York City based investment firm with a grotesque reputation for putting profits over employees, people, and the environment — is involved too. It has plans to purchase 65% of the pipeline with Alberta Investment Management Corp (AIMCo). Companies like Chase and KKR actively perpetuate the destruction of stolen Indigenous lands to fuel the climate crisis.

Fortunately, KKR’s plans to invest in the pipeline aren’t final. We must hold the company accountable before it’s too late.

Sign the petition and rise up with the Wet’suwet’en people: Demand Chase and KKR stop financing the CGL pipeline!

The Stand.earth community is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and other First Nations resisting destructive fossil fuel projects on their territories. Over the past decade, Stand has joined forces with frontline communities and allied organizations again and again to stop dozens of fossil fuel projects, including the Teck Frontier mine. We continue to support Coast Salish nations fighting against the Trans Mountain pipeline too.

The current resistance to the CGL pipeline is as much of a fight for Indigenous rights as it is for the future of the planet. The Wet’suwet’en First Nation have the right to live on their unceded land. Pipeline funders must be held accountable for their role in steamrolling Indigenous rights, destroying Indigenous lands, and fueling the climate crisis.

There is no climate justice without Indigenous sovereignty.

Sign Up for Webinar Today! HOW TO BEAT CAONAVIRUS CAPITALISM

Even more than the many disasters of the past, this current crisis is laying bare the extreme injustices and inequalities of our economic and social system.

We are in a battle of worldviews that will determine how we ultimately respond to this crisis. We will either be catapulted backward to an even more brutal winner-takes-all system — or this will be a wake-up call to leap to a society in which every life has equal value, and we take care of each other as if our lives depended on it. Because, as it turns out, they do.

This Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 5pm ET, The Leap is co-sponsoring an online teach-in with Naomi Klein, Astra Taylor and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on how to beat coronavirus capitalism.

How to beat coronavirus capitalism graphic.

What: How to Beat Coronavirus Capitalism: An online teach-in

Who: Naomi Klein, Astra Taylor, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, with a musical performance by Lia Rose

When: Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 5pm ET

sponsored by Haymarket Books, The Leap, and Debt Collective

Click here to RSVP.

In moments of crisis, the previously unthinkable suddenly becomes the only path forward that makes sense.

It’s always been possible to protect workers and communities, instead of corporate executives. What we’ve lacked hasn’t been resources, or technology, but political will — which is to say, the political power to make our politicians act in the interest of people and the planet.

The world we live in will never go back to the way it was before — and we don’t want it to.

Join us on Thursday to talk about how we can stay organized and stay connected to win truly transformative changes that will help us meet everyone’s needs. Right now, and always.

Take Action! Bail-out people not Big Oil

Peoples’ prosperity, not corporate profits.

These last weeks have revealed who are the essential workers: they are the medical professionals, the often underpaid grocery store clerks, truck drivers… They keep our society afloat when everything is on pause in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As dire consequences of this pandemic unfold, people are struggling, many have lost their jobs, they can’t pay their rent and they live with the uncertainty of what tomorrow may bring1 . While the federal government has announced measures to help people, it is still unclear where its real priorities are.

We heard last week that the government is preparing a multi billion-dollar bailout package for Canada’s oil and gas sector 2. While people everywhere are showing extraordinary gestures of solidarity and compassion, our government has to lead by example. Tell Justin Trudeau to bail-out workers, not a polluting industry in decline.

All available funds should go directly to people, to save lives, help everyone pay their bills, ensure Indigenous communities finally get clean water and access to decent housing, and transform our economy for the people through a just transition.

We should not allow polluters to profit from this situation in a sneaky attempt to take a big, disproportionate piece of the cake. Bailing out the shareholders of dirty industries to continue business-as-usual, rather than protecting workers and their families, means we would have learned nothing from the bank bailout during the financial crisis of 2008. Oil lobbyists want billions of our dollars to keep poisoning the planet and Indigenous lands for their own profit. We can’t let this happen. We actually have the opportunity to build a just and sustainable society. Add your name now.

The clock is ticking. With the imminent bailout, now is the time to send a clear message to Justin Trudeau — we’re watching, you cannot allow a corporate and fossil fuel bailout under the cover of a national crisis. It’s time to take unprecedented action to shape and change our world for the better now and in the coming years. In this, people have to come before profits.

OPEN LETTER: UBCIC demands immediate release of all non-violent offenders as part of COVID-19 pandemic response and emergency state of Indigenous incarceration

Image result for Indigemous incarceration

Honourable David Lametti
Minister of Justice & Attorney General
of Canada
Honourable Bill Blair
Minister of Public Safety &
Emergency Preparedness
Honourable David Eby
Attorney General

Honourable Mike Farnworth
Minister of Public Safety and
Solicitor General

OPEN LETTER: UBCIC demands immediate release of all non-violent offenders as part of COVID-19 pandemic response and emergency state of Indigenous incarceration

Dear Ministers,

Dr. Ivan Zinger, Canada’s Chief Correctional Officer, has called the current rates of Indigenous incarceration in Canada a national travesty, with nearly 1/3 of all inmates in Federal custody being Indigenous. In response to the growing rates of Indigenous people being sentenced to custody, the UBCIC Chiefs Council presented, affirmed and endorsed unanimously UBCIC Resolution 2020-03, “Call for Action to Declare Indigenous Incarceration Rates a State of Emergency” (attached), on February 27, 2020.

In the weeks since, the COVID-19 pandemic has seized the attention and the resources of the country, with governments rushing to mitigate losses. Crisis-reactions have allowed the most vulnerable people to be overlooked, and without immediate attention and drastic interventions, COVID-19 threatens the safety and wellbeing of incarcerated people across British Columbia and Canada. Over-crowding and insufficient sanitation could cause the virus to spread rapidly in correctional facilities, while insufficient medical and mental health resources increase its lethality. Article 7(1) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the government of Canada has adopted without qualification, and has, alongside the government of BC, committed to implement, states that all Indigenous peoples have the rights to life, physical and mental integrity and security of person. It is the responsibility of your governments to ensure that international human rights of Indigenous people are protected and upheld during this pandemic.

The consequences of the pandemic for the criminal justice system will be disproportionately felt by Indigenous people, who remain dramatically over-incarcerated by BC and Canada. UBCIC demands incarceration levels be recognized as an emergency and requires an urgent response from BC and Canada on the issues contained in this letter.

By Resolution 2020-03, the UBCIC Chiefs Council calls upon the Federal and Provincial governments to commit to reducing the overall number of Indigenous people in custody at least 5% by 2022. With the current health crisis created by COVID-19, we ask that your governments elevate the urgency of this call and implement immediate strategies focused upon the decarceration of Indigenous peoples as a pandemic response. To facilitate this, we make the following recommendations:

    • Immediately develop release plans for low-risk and non-violent offenders;
    • Proactively identify all inmates who may be nearing eligibility for parole or statutory release and begin facilitating release plans;
    • Ensure corrections facilities have updated pandemic preparedness plans and adequate medical resources to humanely treat inmates who may contract the virus, including plans for quarantine and isolation that do not rely on over-use of solitary confinement;
    • Provide free calling and video-calling access for all incarcerated people to mitigate the consequences of lost visitations; and
    • Immediately call for the full decarceration of Indigenous youth in custody wherever possible, in line with the intentions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

In addition to the risk posed by COVID-19 mismanagement in prisons, we caution the use of policing for enforcement of pandemic-related sanctions. Where BC or Canada uses their authority to restrict civil liberties in order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, you must work to ensure it does not put Indigenous people at risk of further criminalization. The use of police forces to disperse gatherings or regulate non-essential travel must not unduly target Indigenous peoples, and specifically must not endanger or target those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, or who may be facing significant socio-economic barriers to self-isolation.

While a response to the COVID-19 pandemic addressing the overincarceration of Indigenous peoples is needed now, we also require assurances that long-term decarceration work is not neglected. UBCIC calls for an ongoing commitment to the full decarceration of Indigenous peoples by taking the following steps:

    • Immediately re-establish the Law Reform Commission with a specific mandate to address the systemic and legislative factors that impact overincarceration and substantive inequality for Indigenous people involved in the criminal justice system; and
    • Work towards the transfer of jurisdiction over the care, custody, and supervision of Indigenous offenders to First Nations, transforming the criminal justice system and ensuring that sections 81 and 84 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act are utilized to their full legislative intent, including adequate resourcing for First Nations and support to resume jurisdiction over justice.

Image result for union of bc indian chiefsWe await your urgent response to the issues identified in this letter, and we ask that you work closely with the First Nations Justice Council, the First Nations Leadership Council, and First Nations leadership broadly to develop and implement a pandemic response plan for Indigenous people currently incarcerated or at risk of becoming involved with the criminal justice system. Anything less threatens to repeat the patterns of violent institutional negligence that has characterized genocide against Indigenous people in Canada since colonization began.

On behalf of the UNION OF BC INDIAN CHIEFS

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
President

Chief Don Tom
Vice-President

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson
Secretary-Treasurer

CC: Assembly of First Nations
BC First Nations Justice Council
BC Assembly of First Nations
First Nations Summit

Update for the Bay of Quinte on COVID-19

Dear Bay of Quinte,

Image result for niel ellis mpAs some of you may already know, the Government of Canada in consultation with the opposition parties, worked late into Tuesday night to enact Bill C-13, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act. 

This bill has activated all $82 billion dollars of support measures to assist Canadian families, and Canadian businesses within the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which were previously announced last week. 

As you may recall from those announcements, there will be a total of $27 billion dollars in direct support offered to Canadian workers and businesses and another $55 billion dollars to meet the needs of Canadian businesses and households through tax deferrals which will also help us stabilize the economy. 

To help make sure that you and your family members are fully aware of these support provisions, I’d like to provide the following overview and links for each support measure to help clarify and simplify the process of applying for measures that fit your needs.

1. Canada Child Benefit payments

. $2 billion in extra support is available for families. 

. $300 top-up, per child, will be added to the May payment.

2. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will comprise of both the care and support streams announced on March 18, 2020. The CERB will include the:

. Emergency Care Benefit

$10 billion dollars allocated to provide income support to workers who must stay home and who do not already have access to paid sick leave. This measure will give up to $900 dollars bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks.

You’re eligible if you are: 

Self-employed

Sick, or directed to quarantine/self-isolate, but do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.

Taking care of a family member with COVID-19. 

EI-eligible or non EI-eligible working parent who must stay home without pay because of children who are sick or who need additional care because of school closures. 

. Emergency Support Benefit

o $5 billion dollars allocated to provide support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment. 

o You’re eligible if you are: 

Self-employed, employed on a contractual or part-time basis and have lost your job. 

An employee who has lost their income but remains attached to an employer. 

3. Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit

. $5.5 billion dollars to deliver a special top-up payment to individuals and families with low and modest incomes.

. $400 per individual or $600 per couple. 

. As one-time special payment will be delivered by May 2020. 

4. EI sickness benefits for workers 

. Waiving the mandatory one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits.

. Waiving the requirement for a medical certificate to apply for EI sickness benefits. 

o You’re eligible if you’re:

A worker directed to quarantine or to self-isolate due to COVID-19. 

5. Extend the tax filing deadline for individuals to June 1.

. All taxpayers may defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

6. Payment deferral for homeowner/government-insured mortgage loans and relief on other credit products.

. For borrowers in financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

. Insurers will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.

. A six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products for personal and small business banking customers.

7. Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) 

. Reduce minimum withdrawals by 25% for 2020 in recognition of volatile market conditions and the impact on many seniors’ retirement savings. 

8. Canada Student Loan (CSL) payments

. Initiation of a six-month long, interest-free period for all individuals who are actively repaying their CSL loans.

9. Indigenous Community Support Fund 

. $305 million dollars to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.

10. Support women and children fleeing violence 

. $50 million dollars to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities. This includes funding for facilities within Indigenous communities.

11. Reaching Home program 

. $157.5 million dollars to address the needs of Canadians experiencing homelessness who would otherwise have limited access to preventative measures or supports for COVID-19. 

12. Business Credit Availability Program

. $10 billion in credit support for small, medium, and large Canadian businesses.

. For businesses experiencing cash flow challenges, support will be provided through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. 

13. A 10% wage subsidy for eligible small businesses.

. To help small businesses keep their staff on payroll.

. Available for a period of 90 days up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer to 

14. Canada Emergency Response Benefit

. Income support to workers who are furloughed. 

. This benefit will complement the wage subsidy and help both workers and employers avoid a formal layoff situation. 

15. Flexibility to provide further support and stimulus to the Canadian economy, including: 

. Capacity for further financial support to businesses through EDC, BDC, and Farm Credit Canada.

. Flexibility for the Canada Account to better support specific businesses and sectors.

. Ability to give additional support to provinces and territories facing significant economic or financial distress.

16. Business Income Tax

. Allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any business income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. 

. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

Each of these measures will help us tackle the most pressing challenges in our ongoing COVID-19 situation. I look forward to providing further on our national efforts to prioritize the health and safety of Canadians and stabilize the economy. Until we connect next, thank you for everything that you’re doing in your own capacity to help our riding get through this situation.

Warmest regards, 

Neil Ellis

Member of Parliament, Bay of Quinte