The BC Humanist Association has joined calls from community to divest from policing and invest in community programs in the City of Vancouver.
"We were never going to be able to police our way out of poverty," says BCHA Executive Director Ian Bushfield. "Investing in community and decriminalizing poverty means recognizing the dignity of some of the most marginalized members of our society."
The letter, endorsed by nearly fifty organizations, calls on the City of Vancouver to:
- Divest from policing and invest in community-based services, specifically non-police interventions that support people who are impacted by homelessness, toxic drug supply, mental health distress, and those working in informal/grey economies, such as sex work.
- Provide and make available to directly-impacted groups and organizations the expenditures associated with this Decriminalizing Poverty Motion, and future related work, supported with transparent reporting, including line item details.
- Design permanent funding for programs that prioritize the work of decriminalizing poverty and supporting community-led safety initiatives as part of the path to defunding the police.
Individual supporters of the letter who live in Vancouver are being encouraged to sign the petition calling for investments in permanent alternatives to policing.
The endorsement of this letter follows the BCHA supporting calls for the decriminalization of drugs and sex work, and its long support for prison reform.
The BCHA is also encouraging supporters to make their voice heard at the province's Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act. The committee is accepting submissions from the public until April 30, 2021 at 5 pm PDT.
The BC Civil Liberties Association has created a toolkit to help people draft their own response to the committee.