Right to the City
Wealth should not determine who has the right to live, work and thrive in the city. COPE’s Right to the City policies are grounded in the belief that everyone has the right to remain in the city. This includes the right to access affordable and good quality basic services – like housing, transit and childcare – as well as the right to live free from discrimination and marginalization.
On the unceded territories of Vancouver, the Right to the City also means that we recognize Indigenous people’s right to the land. A Right to the City means moving beyond the politics of recognition towards a process of reparations and redistribution of both the wealth and land in the city, following the active leadership of First Nations communities.
Gentrification, rising rents, low wages and criminalization are some of the forces that today work against a just city. These processes are shared by all of us, but they are also experienced uniquely by different communities. Indigenous people, people of colour, recent immigrants, undocumented migrants and women in particular are the most adversely affected. In addition to strong policies, COPE also pledges to support social movements in the creation of a Right to the City.
How will COPE build the Right to the City?
Labour and living wage
Low wages are a key cause of the poverty, marginalization and displacement of working class people in the city of Vancouver. Low wage workers continue to be overrepresented by recent immigrants, undocumented workers, women, and people of colour. In Vancouver, women earn on average 30% less than men.
COPE will therefore work to increase the minimum wage in the City of Vancouver. COPE will work to ensure that employees of the city are paid at a living wage. We will also be proposing an amendment to the Vancouver Charter to confer powers on the City allowing it to set a municipal minimum wage for the City of Vancouver at $15/hr indexed to inflation, with the aim of closing the gap between a minimum and a living wage.
COPE will also advocate for increasing the minimum wage to $15/hr province-wide which would place a minimum wage worker just above the poverty line – in solidarity with other municipalities and in line with recommendations from Raise the Rates. Read more on COPE's plan to give Vancouver a raise.
Living in community
The criminalization of sex workers is detrimental and harmful for the wellbeing and safety of sexworkers. COPE will therefore adopt a harm reduction approach to people engaged in the sex trade and advocate that the federal and provincial governments adopt similar legal frameworks.
Furthermore, COPE supports the right of all workers, including those employed in Vancouver’s sex industry, to organize into unions, and to protection under Employment Standards, B.C. Labour Code, and the Worker’s Compensation Act. COPE will also adopt the 2007 Living in Community Action Plan as the City’s position on Balancing Perspectives on Vancouver’s Sex Industry, and will implement core funding for the plan.
Access without Fear
Sanctuary City is a term for a municipality that has protections for migrants so that all residents, regardless of their immigration status, can live without fear of detention or deportation. COPE will not be cooperative or complicit in the agenda of federal immigration authorities to unjustly detain and deport migrants, and will put an end to the detention and deportation of migrants as a result of accessing basic services.
Through Sanctuary City, COPE will:
- Enable access to basic services for all Vancouver residents, regardless of status
- Prohibit the use of municipal funds, resources and workers in enforcing federal immigration
- Support the regularization of all non-status persons
- Establish a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for service providers to ensure non-disclosure of
immigration information to federal immigration authorities and provide access to services
without fear. This means that service providers will not inquire into immigration status and in
the event that they discover a resident’s status, they are prohibited from disclosing the
information to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or CBSA
- Support migrant justice movements and organizations
Taking a lead in the Canada-wide fight against Harper’s war on drugs
COPE will lobby the federal government and join social movements calling for expanded harm reduction and a public system of regulated drug use. In the absence of genuine federal and provincial strategy to end cycles of addiction, poverty and marginalization, the City of Vancouver should step in to support underfunded and threatened harm reduction, addiction and/or substance abuse, treatment, and drug user services.
With COPE, the City of Vancouver will take a lead in the Canada-wide fight against Harper’s war on drugs and aggressive agenda of mandatory minimum sentencing. COPE will direct the VPD to de-prioritize the enforcement of harmful federal drug laws and will support the continued existence of Insite.
End discriminatory policing
COPE will work for an improved accountability and independent police oversight; for the elimination of of civic bylaws that police public space and criminalize low-income and vulnerable people, including survival sex workers and people with mental health issues; and for the implementation of a system of police training that acknowledges systemic violence.
In the context of a 54 million increase in the annual police budget since 2008 and a miniscule and stagnant annual budget for municipal housing, COPE will also work towards reducing the police budget over time and transfer funding towards employment in the housing sector as well as social services and supports.
Read COPE's full Policing Platform here.
Equity, Gender, Justice, Childcare
In Vancouver, women earn on average 30% less than men. The real income gap is even wider as more women continue to pay a greater portion of their income for childcare and essential services. COPE will create and implement a city-wide childcare strategy that includes using Council, Parks, and School resources and spaces for the development a childcare system that allows access to childcare for all parents. At the provincial level COPE will continue to support the $10/day childcare plan. COPE will also advocate for the parental rights of trans people.
COPE will also work to develop, promote, and maintain appropriate facilities, services, and programs that reflect the needs of single mothers, women, queer, trans and two-spirited communities, as well as build practical support programs for immigrant and migrant people, particularly women, living in Vancouver.
Homes for All
More Buses, Lower Fares
To make transit more accessible, we will implement an identifying card or sticker for riders with disabilities to display when using transit. COPE will also advocate to expand HandyDART service, and make HandyDART a direct subsidiary of Translink rather than contracting it out to for-profit operators. COPE will work to reduce transit fares toward phasing out fares entirely within 10 to 15 years to create a universal and accessible public transit system.
Defending Public Libraries
COPE will bring democracy to the Library Board, and give a voice to Library staff through designated board positions.
COPE will not cut hours for Library staff, and will return Vancouver Library staff hours to 2008 levels. COPE will find the means to increase Library hours of operation. This includes expanding the hours of the Special Collections department to 2008 levels.
COPE will conduct an inquiry into the Information Services Model based on input from Vancouver Public Library patrons and Library staff, and implement changes based on this inquiry to ensure that new implementations of the Information Services Model are functioning to increase Library service and improve working conditions for staff.
Supporting social movements
Social movements are crucial for building a just city and culture of cooperation, support and community empowerment. The Coalition of Progressive Electors is a social movement party that recognizes the enormous power of social movements, grassroots organizing and community-led initiatives across the city.
COPE will stand with communities in their campaigns and struggles. A COPE-led municipal government will provide yearly city grants to social movements, social justice groups, tenants unions and advocacy groups.
COPE will also stand with communities in standing up to both provincial and federal levels of government. As COPE-led school boards have done in the past, we will take action to protest and refuse provincial cuts to education. We will also challenge ongoing federal budget cuts to programs like social housing, as well as diverse forms of non-cooperation with austerity governments.