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Reinvest in Equity- Open Letter to Vancouver City Council

A city's operational budget is the most important decision a council makes. Motions can suggest priorities, but programs and policies aren't possible without funding to make them happen. In response to concerns from front-line organizations and community members,WTC along with 14 other organizations wrote an open letter to Vancouver City Council urging them to reinvest in equity in the 2023 operating budget.


Download and share the letter to City Council.

2023 Operating Budget Open Letter (1)
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February 27, 2023


Re: The City of Vancouver’s 2023 operating budget must reinvest in equity


Dear Mayor and Council,


We are writing to urge you to reaffirm your commitment to making Vancouver an inclusive and equitable city by reinvesting in the services and long-term strategies that equity-deserving residents depend on.


The city has not yet reinstated pandemic funding cuts.


In 2020, Council slashed spending in response to a sharp, pandemic-induced drop in revenue. Every department was asked to find savings and leave vacancies empty. Those cuts have yet to be reversed despite revenue bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels.


For example, the draft operating budget does not include funding that was previously earmarked for¹:


  • Gender equity and safety initiatives to address gender-based and sexualized violence in public spaces and the MMIWG2S+ crisis

  • Implementation of UNDRIP and alignment of policies with the City’s Reconciliation Framework

  • Antiracism and cultural redress programs

  • Programs offering residents and businesses alternatives to calling the police

  • Citywide accessibility improvements and continuing to implement the City’s Language Access Policy

  • Extended library branch hours and critical support for library workers

  • Free menstrual products in civic facilities

  • Emergency materials (like cots and cooling kits) for vulnerable populations in extreme weather events

  • Vancouver Fire Department’s staffing needs to reduce exposure to risk for under-served communities and reduce staff burnout


These are just a few examples of vital initiatives already slated to be cut due to persistent underfunding. Further clawbacks would have dire consequences for residents struggling to make ends meet.


Vancouverites can’t afford another budget that shortchanges equity.


When we don’t invest in community services, those who face the most significant barriers to having their voices heard are too often the first to be left behind. Women and gender-diverse communities––particularly those who are Indigenous, Black, racialized, immigrants, renters, workers, people with disabilities, low-income, criminalized, and under-housed––deserve your support in this budget.


The 2023 operating budget is an opportunity to course-correct fiscal attrition that hinders our ability to address the multiple overlapping crises our communities face daily.


Committing to equity requires reinvesting in services and strategies that provide safety and dignity for equity-deserving residents.


In a city that positions itself as inclusive, most elected leaders will say they want to make life better for residents that are made marginalized. However, what you choose to fund is the ultimate indicator of your priorities. When local governments don’t invest in community services, systemically marginalized residents suffer first and foremost.


In the 2023 operating budget, we urge you to reinvest in equity.


Sincerely,


Janice Abbott, CEO, Atira Women’s Resource Society

Rowan Burdge, Provincial Director, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition

Harmony Bongat, Facilitator, Chronically Queer

Heather McCain, Founder & Executive Director, Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods

Sunil Singal, President, Force of Nature Alliance

hua foundation

Halena Seiferling, Executive Director, Living in Community

Taylor Scott, Office Manager, PACE Society

Mariam Bouchoutrouch, Executive Director, Pacific Immigrant Resources Society

Tonye Aganaba, Criminalization & Policing Campaigner, Pivot Legal Society

Viveca Ellis, Executive Director, Single Mothers’ Alliance

Stephen Von Sychowski, President, Vancouver & District Labour Council

Raji Mangat, Executive Director, West Coast LEAF

Ash Peplow Ball, Executive Director, Women Transforming Cities

Rain Chan, Board Member, Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice




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¹For descriptions and costing of these initiatives, see “Prioritized Initiatives List” (tab 2) in the “2023 Draft Current State Budget - Council Supporting Information” spreadsheet found within the City of Vancouver’s financial reports and information.


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