Here’s another that will bite the dust come the end of December. BC women are bearing the brunt of this round; they have Gordon Campbell against them as well as the Harpercrites.
Like SWAG - which is hosting WISE's Scarlet Letter Campaign workshop in Victoria next month - WISE is likely to die out, thanks to the changes to Status of Women Canada. WISE is a BC-based ad hoc group and growing national movement that is led by women in poverty. We work to address the causal links between policy and poverty, educate people about the effects of poverty - and income more generally - on the health and wellbeing of individuals and their communities, and support one another in introducing and implementing inexpensive, creative solutions at the local level. WISE has only ever received two grants, both from Status of Women Canada. Given that funding in Canada is ultimately governed by the Charity Act, WISE is not permitted to receive grants from private foundations. Moreover, no other government department or ministry, at any level of government, EXCEPT THE STATUS OF WOMEN CANADA, even considered applications from committees or ad hoc groups. With the change to its mandate and eligibility criteria, Status of Women Canada has joined the rest. Now groups like WISE are locked out of all funding options. Stephen Harper and Minister Oda argue that advocacy should be funded by those doing, or supporting, the advocacy. Well in "booming" British Columbia, almost one-quarter of the population is living below the poverty line; the other three-quarters wants to pretend there isn't a problem or that the poor are deservedly society's throwaways. In other words, the population from which there is most likely to come advocacy on behalf of the poor is the poor themselves. By definition, the poor are struggling to survive on too little money. They've NOTHING to fund their advocacy. WISE is a case in point. Full membership in WISE is available only to women in poverty - they are our raison d'etre. WISE Membership is necessarily free. Therefore, it wouldn't matter if we had one million members. It's still the case that X times $0.00 is $0.00. Everything that WISE does has been reliant on electronic networking. Between our two grants, we have been without a phone. Thankfully, our book sales have allowed us to maintain our Internet connection and website, but that's it. WISE cannot, for example, be an affiliate member of NAC or any other organization to which fees must be paid. After WISE's current grant from Status of Women Canada ends in December 2007, there will be no more funding for our initiatives. Hence, there will be no more WISE initiatives. And no more initiatives means no more WISE. Chrystal Ocean, Coordinator Wellbeing through Inclusion Socially & Economically http://www.wise-bc.org/ 250-748-8093