Clip from BC Labour Heritage Centre oral history interview, 2018.
Jackie Larkin [00:00:00] Before Women Against the Budget was formed, there was a meeting that was called around the Unemployed Committee in the Labour Council in Vancouver. And that was very soon after it, and there were like 400 people at that meeting, so there was already things rolling in immediate response. And then Women Against the Budget was called, and my primary memory of Women Against the Budget meetings was I facilitated or co-facilitated a number of them and they were often in the church, the United Church in the Downtown Eastside. And how difficult those meetings were. They were difficult and amazing at the same time.
Marion Pollack [00:00:41] I think that was one of the reasons why Women Against the Budget started, because they, I mean, they and the labour movement really did not talk about women’s issues at all, like you know, women were sort of either a sidebar or just ignored. I remember going to the first meeting; I don’t remember who called it, or how it was called. But it was, what I remember, fundamentally it was a huge, you know, a huge breadth and array of woman from various sectors. You know, there were union women. There were women from various organizations and we all hadn’t worked together in the past so it was, for me, it was kind of really exciting because there were women, you know, who I had worked with but women who I sort of knew but we had never worked with. I mean, it was just sort of the, the, the breadth of it was just like, amazing. It was like it sort of gave me some hope.
Lorri Rudland [00:01:44] I read somewhere, I think it was in Kinesis, that they had reported that over thirty five women’s groups were represented. I don’t think I went to the early, the first or second meeting, I don’t – thirty five years, I just don’t remember. I know at WAB I was, I was in WAB and I was elected to be their representative to the Lower Mainland Solidarity Committee at some point. They wanted a feminist and a woman who was pro-labour and then later on the Lower Mainland Solidarity Committee I was elected to be co-chair of their meetings with Al Blakey, but that’s another story. I want to get back to women’s issues. As Jackie has just said, women tend to be the most vulnerable, they tend to be in the lowest rungs of the socioeconomic scale. So any cuts in social services programs really affect them adversely and, and I want to tell a story about my mother that illustrates that.
[00:02:39] My mother was in her mid-60s, penniless, broke, and she worked as a waitress and for the first time in her life she couldn’t find a job. And so she had to go, this was in the spring, on social assistance, which also kind of, well, she was very distraught about that. But she made it work. She went on what was called the Community Involvement Grant where you volunteered at an okayed facility and you got 50 a month, and for her. And, and she, she was OK, and then in early August she got a letter saying her grant was cut off. That was Grace McCarthy, Grace McCarthy and Ministry of Human Resources. And then they abolished rent controls and her rent went up 50 dollars. And I am still moved by this. She went into a downward emotional spiral that was absolutely horrible. It was horrible to witness and I spend a lot of time with her, actually, before and after. And I just, the depth of that suffering was intense. And you know, we were all very sympathetic. The budget itself was so draconian that you couldn’t help but be sympathetic for people affected by it. But to look at her, and think of what might be happening in homes across the province…