In 1998, Vancouver gained DOXA, a non-profit society dedicated to presenting innovative documentaries to local audiences. The Vancouver branch of the UN Association in Canada (UNAC_V) is proud to have sponsored films for the Justice Forum category of this festival since 2012.
This year, UNAC-V has chosen, “The Cleaners” to support. A film about social media and its hidden secrets, it is especially relevant to global issues when considering recent news about the impact of disinformation and subsequent national, even international events. The film will be screened Wednesday, May 9th at 6pm. The location is 149 West Hastings Street in the SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. Please visit representatives of UNAC-V at their table located on the 3rd floor near the entrance of theatre! We would love to see you there. We are always looking for supporters to join which would assist us financially in supporting important local events such as DOXA.
Social media breathes life into democracy; Arab Spring and #BlackLivesMatter comes to mind. Unfortunately, more sinister forces are cultivated using social media, sometimes consciously and often inadvertently, but seemingly unabated. A United Nations report has blamed social media for genocide in Myanmar, with concern about “high levels of hate speech…particularly on social media”. Facebook has declared it has clear rules against hate speech and the incitement of violence, and that efforts have been improved to keep it off the platform. It’s what makes up these efforts at cleaning up Facebook that is the subject of this DOXA film, “The Cleaners”.
This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. In honour of this most important international document let us consider the ways that human rights are breached, and then support the UN in prevention and eradication efforts of these breaches. By supporting and joining the UN Association in Canada, you would be contributing to this important process of education and action. (Tip: Use the Google Chrome browser to see the online form.)
UNA-Vancouver is pleased to be sponsoring the May 9th screening of The Cleaners, a documentary film about the unseen impact of outsourcing the ethics of social media on workers, democracy and the role of technology in our lives. The Wednesday, May 9th screening is part of the Justice Forum Series and will include a post-film discussion with a selected voice from the field.
Directed by Hans Block (Germany) and Mortiz Riesewieck (Brazil), their work starts with investigations and end up as striking, complex narrations. In The Cleaners, they have revealed the dark underbelly of our globalized social media culture and the people employed to determine what is unacceptable.
The Vancouver Branch of the UN Association in Canada (UNAC-V) welcomes all members of the local branch to attend the Annual General Meeting taking place Monday, April 9th from 7pm until 8pm with refreshments at 7pm. The meeting will convene at the Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSBC) building located at 2610 Victoria Drive in Vancouver near the Broadway Skytrain Station.
We believe that the work of UNAC-V is very important: ensuring Canadians understand and support the goals and ideals of the United Nations. Please continue to support our work in sharing UN goals and achievements with Canadians of all ages.
The Dr. Richard Splane Lecture on Social Policy is an annual free public lecture in celebration of the noted accomplishments of Dick Splane, former Director of the School of Social Work at UBC and UNA-Canada patron.
This year’s guest lecturer, Dr. David Piachaud, will speak on the topic of “Poverty, Basic Income, and Social Policy.” The talk will take place on Thursday, 15 March from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM atThe Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, located between the C.K. Choi building and Nitobe Gardens, a short walk from the Liu Institute. Please find a map here.
Professor Piachaud’s lecture will review the causes, extent and evolution of poverty in advanced economies and the benefits and limitations of social security responses and, the growing interest in a basic income approach. Basic Income will then be described, as will confusions about its name, its objectives, its level, and its relation to other social services. Other consideration of basic income will include the justice of conditionality; individualized simplicity; redistributive efficiency; and, political feasibility. Finally, Professor Piachaud will conclude his lecture with consideration of the broader consequences of poverty and inequality for health, education and social stability – and the implications of these consequences for Basic Income and social policy generally.
David Piachaud taught at the London School of Economics from 1970 to 2016 and was Professor of Social Policy 1988 to 2016. He is now Emeritus Professor of Social Policy and an Associate of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion and of the Indian Observatory. He was Social Policy Advisor in the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit (1974-79) and has been Consultant to the European Commission, the ILO, the OECD and the Chinese Government. He has lectured in 20 countries. He has written papers and books on children, poverty, social security, social exclusion and social policy. Publications include: Causes of Poverty, HMSO, 1978 (with Richard Layard and Mark Stewart); Understanding Social Exclusion. Oxford University Press, 2002, (editor with John Hills and Julian LeGrand); Poverty in Britain: The Impact of Government Policy since 1997, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2003 (with Holly Sutherland and Tom Sefton); One Hundred Years of Poverty and Policy. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2004 (with Howard Glennerster, John Hills and Jo Webb)’ Making Social Policy Work Policy Press, 2007 (editor with John Hills and Julian Le Grand); Colonialism and Welfare, Edward Elgar, 2011, and Social Protection, Economic Growth and Social Change: Goals, Issues and Trajectories in China, India, Brazil and South Africa, Edward Elgar, 2013, (editor with James Midgley).
This event is co-hosted by the UBC School of Social Work, the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the United Nations Association of Greater Vancouver.
This event is now sold out. To be added to the waitlist, please email your name and any guest name(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2017, there was remarkable progress made to enhance women’s empowerment; one particular movement of which has continued to have a voice into the new year. The familiar hashtag #metoo, went viral in October across social media platforms providing a channel that would connect survivors of sexual harassment and draw attention to the magnitude of those affected. While this hashtag has been popularized recently, the #metoo movement was originally created by Tarana Burke in 2006. Burke meant to give a voice to the victims of sexual violence with her idea of “empowerment through empathy,” where sexual violence survivors could share their experiences with others who have similar stories and find they are not alone. #Metoo is meant to start conversations about sexual violence and help survivors find healing. The spread of the hashtag highlights the sheer number of people affected which in turn helps to de-stigmatize the survivors, and seeks to prevent future sexual violence.
While the movement started as a way of giving a voice to those who have experienced sexual violence, it has since expanded to the stories of those who have been affected by sexual assault or harassment. The movement gained momentum after sexual misconduct allegations were made against Harvey Weinstein when Alyssa Milano took to Twitter to encourage survivors of sexual harassment and assault to post #metoo as a status update. According to a CBS News stat, the hashtag was retweeted just under a million times in 48 hours, and on Facebook had more than 12 million posts, reactions and comments in less than 24 hours by 4.7 million users around the world (2). The article continues that in “the U.S., Facebook said 45 percent of users have had friends who posted ‘me too.’” These staggering numbers show survivors that they truly are not alone, while also revealing to the public the extent of the problem and the shocking amount of people who have experienced sexual harassment and violence.
Vancouver citizens have joined in the #metoo movement not only by participating in the social media hashtags but by holding a MeToo Rally that took place on November 4, 2017. In Vancouver, there are many survivors of various forms of sexual misconduct. The movement and rally have brought attention to the importance of the conversation around this topic, and in order to move that conversation forward, the focus must be around ending discrimination and violence against women in society. In Vancouver, the city has provided some notable ways in which to do this.
For example, a significant legislation was passed on April 16, 2017, that required all British Columbia post-secondary institutions to establish and implement a sexual misconduct policy by May 18, 2017. The University of British Columbia has responded to this policy by implementing a Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office that receives disclosures of sexual misconduct, provides information and referrals to different counselling and aid centres, helps act as a liaison with investigations of allegations, and leads an educational program to counter sexual misconduct (5). Other BC Universities have followed in implementing programs designed to prevent and protect their students and staff from sexual misconduct.
UBC has also made a point to address and educate their students on what is considered sexual misconduct, and what is considered consent. These keywords, “sexual misconduct” and “consent,” are crucial for the public to understand so that they can recognize what appropriate boundaries and behaviour looks like. By being able to recognize and respect appropriate behaviour and boundaries, it is easier for people to spot when it is being transgressed and get help.
In 2018, women’s empowerment must continue to push new boundaries. Vancouver citizens should be able to feel safe to express sexual misconduct complaints and be taken seriously without fear of retaliation. These affected citizens are vital voices to be heard as the pain and anger from their experiences will help others understand the importance of this issue. Post-secondary institutions are now required to have sexual misconduct policies, and workplaces should too. Society cannot remain indifferent to acts of sexual harassment. The government needs to step in with active ways to prevent sexual misconduct in all levels of communities, provide aid to those affected, and alleviate survivors from feeling blamed or ignored but empowered in voicing their stories so they don’t face fear of stigmatization.
If the #metoo movement continues to be empowered with honest and impassioned voices, it will push the United Nations goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women into a closer reality. The UN seeks to see accomplishments made in favour of advancing women’s rights throughout the world, which can be seen in the UN Women’s Year in Review link: http://interactive.unwomen.org/multimedia/timeline/yearinreview/2017/en/index.html
If you are affected by a sexual misconduct crisis or know someone who is, there are resource groups established to help like WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre, Vancouver Rape Relief, and The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of B.C. who are easy to get in touch with. And remember, if you see something, say something.
At the time of this post, it has been revealed that only six people today have as much wealth as half of the global population. Inequality is getting worse in Western countries and is one of the leading concerns of public health as numerous studies over the past decade have concluded.
Work published by American Psychological Association (APA) shows that having low socioeconomic status increases the risk for mental illness. What this means is that poverty, housing unaffordability, and unemployment increases one’s chance of mental illness.
One of the greatest determinants of a person’s health is their income. Researchers Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson found that a 25-year gap exists in life expectancy between the rich and poor in the city of London. In 2014 in the UK, “the richest 10 percent [had] 850 times the wealth of the poorest 10 percent. As economic inequality has risen, so too has health inequality.”
Another study at the University of California, Davis shows that low socioeconomic status also increases the risk of heart disease.
Researchers at Washington University, St. Louis found out that poverty is linked to an increase in the risk of depression in children and also changes in brain connectivity. While another study based on 63 countries revealed that in the year 2009, around 46,000 suicides were related to unemployment.Therefore, regardless of one’s age group, inequality has shown to be linked to public health problems through one form or another.
What these works ultimately reveal is that rise in income and wealth inequality is a danger to public health and should be treated as such. From cardiovascular diseases to mental illnesses, inequality plays a vital role in a society in forming these health concerns.
Canada is not immune to inequality and if you look at the data over the last 25 years, inequality is, in fact, rising in the country.
“In terms of inequality, Vancouver joins the club with Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal as cities where the gap between rich and poor is widening”. Toronto has seen an increase in poverty throughout many of its suburbs while there is a shrinkage of the middle class. According to Dr. Hulchanski, Vancouver has seen similar trends but the difference is because of inflow of foreign capital rather than high-paying jobs that are available in Toronto.
A recent article by Vancouver Sun noted that British Columbia, in fact, has “the second-highest poverty rate in Canada, with a large number of the poor working full-time.” Many of the jobs that the middle class depend on have either been completely eliminated or reduced through the rise of automation and instead, people have to settle for service sector jobs that pay lower than what they have been used to.
When we compare Canadian median total income before tax from 2005 to 2015, we see that there was only a 12.7% increase for the middle class whereas the top 10% had their income increase 16.4%.
Looking at the CEO incomes in Canada, it was revealed on January 2nd, 2018 that top executives are making 8% more than last year whereas the average Canadian is not even making 1% more. “Canada’s CEO pay broke a new record in 2016, with the 100 top-paid chief executives of publicly traded companies netting $10.4 million on average, or 209 times the average income” of Canadians.
These statistics all point out to why there is an increasing inequality in Canada over the last two decades and ultimately a rise in public health risks.
Inequality is a structural problem, meaning that a few policy changes or regulations will not change the trend on the whole. For example, more wealth transfer through welfare programs will help Canadians in the short term but it still will not tackle the problem of systematic inequality. Rather, it will only transfer funds from one group to another with the threat of public health risks still in the picture through uncertainties of whether or not these programs or policies will remain with future governments.
There needs to be an innovative approach to tackle inequality and one of those approaches could be through support of worker co-operatives in Canada. Worker cooperatives allow for people in a company to manage profits democratically. Instead of having CEOs who as stated before on average make 209 times more than the average Canadian worker or for example decide the employment of their works by moving the jobs overseas, the workers can manage the company themselves. This not only tackles inequality but has a positive impact on climate change, development of the local community and ultimately public health.
CWCF is an organization in Canada devoted to supporting and strengthening of worker co-operatives in Canada. For more information visit their website: http://canadianworker.coop
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have listed reduction of inequality and eradication of poverty as two of their goals. By the year 2030, the target set for SDGs intends to “progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 percent of the population at a rate higher than the national average” while by the same year “reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions”.
These goals are certainly doable given the level of global technological advancement. However, implementation of policies to combat inequality and eliminate poverty requires an active voice and leadership from all members of the community including the business sector.
Worker co-operatives as mentioned are one way of making sure that companies are run democratically, thereby reducing inequality and poverty on the whole. Other potential policies would be to set up vertical farming in different parts of our community, which would allow for distribution of abundant levels of food for the members of that community.
These are just a few examples of what possible policies can be implemented. Many other policies and progressive ideas can be thought of to combat inequality and poverty in order to significantly lower the dangers of public health in our society.
3rd December: Celebration of People with Diverse Abilities
Today marks the worldwide celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly resolution 47/3in 1992, to promote “an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life (1).”Persons with Disabilities’as defined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ (CRPD) are “those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments that, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others (2).” According to the World Health Organization, over one billion people – about 15% of the world’s population – have some form of disability. Their optimal level of functioning and development is dependent on the dynamic interaction between their health conditions and social factors such as attitudes, institutions, and laws (3).
The theme guiding this year’s celebration is “Transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all’. The underlying principle of this theme is to ‘leave no one behind’ and empowers people with disabilities to be active contributors to society. This is based on transformative changes enumerated in the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. These goals are meant to address all areas of development and equality, and include disability components in several of them –aiming to strengthen the resilience of people with disability by providing full access to justice, health care services, infrastructure, inclusive education, accessible communities and sustainable economic growth through employment (4).
As we reflect on these goals, a question that comes to mind is, what is the contribution of our nation so far in achieving an inclusive and accessible society? As Canada’s first Minister dedicated to Persons with Disabilities, the Honorable Carla Qualtrough commented this year “Our country is a leader on the world stage, with a very robust human rights system. We’ve made great strides in fostering an inclusive society for people with disabilities. But there is still work to be done (5).”Moreover, this year, April 3rd and 4th marked a historical moment for Canadians. For the first time, the UN CRPD committee reviewed Canada’s implementation of the CRPD-an important tool for ensuring that people with disabilities have equal access to economic, cultural and social opportunities. This opportunity allowed Canada to underline the country’s progress, as well as discuss areas for improvement in fostering an inclusive and accessible society.
Now, moving forward, as we think of attaining the highest levels of an inclusive society- one that defends the rights and dignity of all citizens and empowers every person with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of social, political, economic and cultural life- what can we do as responsible citizens? Well, as mentioned in the CRPD, individual citizens, the government, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, academic institutions and the private sector need to work together to achieve the sustainable development goals but more importantly, the need of the hour is for all of us and not only the people in the disability community, to view issues through a disability lens, rather than observing specific issues as only issues for the people with disabilities. For example, the way we protect the rights of victims disabled by violence can improve how we take care of all citizens who are vulnerable to violence. Furthermore, improving services to persons with disabilities, can improve institutional capacity for all citizens, both now and into the future. Thus, as responsible citizens, I ask that we all take initiatives- not only today, but a 365 day challenge- to listen to fellow citizens with disabilities, and work with them in advancing solutions towards an inclusive society. Ultimately, diversity is the strength of our nation and by increasing the participation of people with all abilities, we will create a stronger Canada.
Michelle is a a 4th year PhD Candidate in the Experimental Medicine graduate program at the University of British Columbia. She is passionate about policy issues around child and family health. Michelle’s dissertation is grounded on the World Health Organization’s framework on functioning and disability (ICF-CY) that highlights family as the most salient environmental factor affecting child development. For her dissertation, Michelle evaluate’s BC-based physical activity programs for children with neurodevelopmental disorders as an avenue to support and strengthen families’ health. Michelle is also a volunteer with the Let’s Talk Science program at UBC, a national program geared towards engaging children in science. As a part of the UNA Vancouver content writing team, she writes about issues/policies on health related to the mandate of the World Health Organization. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why? France! I’ve always wanted to visit France ever since I learned the language as a child. I admire the culture, architecture and love the food as well as I would be able to test my language skills!