Category "BBG"


‘It feels like betrayal’: Vulnerable families respond to COVID-19 changes as B.C.’s top doctor defends approach

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When the provincial health officer told British Columbians she was removing isolation requirements and testing for most of the population and compared managing COVID-19 in similar terms to the flu or common cold, many people were shocked and some instantly alarmed. 

Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed people who are extremely clinically vulnerable, assuring them they would have access to COVID-19 testing and that they should get tested right away if they develop symptoms, so they can access treatment. In fact, she emphasized that the general public “have a responsibility to try and minimize our risk to them by doing the things that help protect us and protect others,” namely getting vaccinated and following public health orders.

For many, however, those statements were overshadowed by Henry’s discussion of the need for balance and the reduced severity of the Omicron variant in comparison to the deadlier Delta strain – particularly at a time the health-care system is struggling to maintain basic levels of care

“It feels like betrayal, like we’re just forgotten and left to the side,” said Laesa Kim, whose kindergartner has multiple serious medical conditions and had open-heart surgery in the fall.

“I’m cautious with my child, but I still want her attending school and socializing and doing the things she should be doing,” said the Langley mother of two. “People still send sick kids to school and think it’s no big deal and then she’s home for three weeks recovering from a cold.”

Jeremy Franta is a terminal cancer patient in Delta. He hasn’t sent his daughters to school yet because most of their friends have had COVID-19 in the past two weeks and he’s terrified of the potential consequences.

“Do we send my kids (to school), and they bring it to me, they kill me? I won’t care, but my kids have to live with that,” he said. “I feel the clinically vulnerable have been left behind and nobody cares. We’re left in the wind to fend for ourselves.”


One of British Columbia’s most respected pandemic analysts pointed out that – while testing is a useful barometer for public health officials and academics to track and assess the virus’s patterns, resistance to vaccines and new characteristics – a test does not change whether someone should or can get medical treatment.

SFU professor Caroline Colijn and her colleagues on the B.C. COVID-19 Modelling Group also aren’t convinced we’ve seen peak hospitalizations from the Omicron wave, and she emphasized the consequences of starting to reopen society for most but not all.

“I think we should be paying attention to unfair burdens and asking people who may be very at-risk to simply shield,” said Colijn. “Impacts on those who can’t work from home or those who are at risk of a more severe illness from COVID-19, I think we do have to consider that and consider that as numbers decrease they may also get concentrated in higher-risk groups.”

Disability analyst and researcher Gabrielle Peters wants the public to understand these aren’t theoretical issues.

“Our individual ability to mitigate risk varies and is impacted by multiple things like poverty, the type work you do, the housing you live in and supports you require. B.C. has failed to address any of this,” she said. “There has been an ableist bias to B.C.’s methodology for identifying disabled people’s risks and addressing our needs all along. We have done our best to survive in spite of this.”

Past president of Doctors of BC Dr. Matthew Chow said while he expected the transition to endemic management of the virus, he was surprised to see it now.

“I certainly hear from some colleagues who are concerned that we’re moving too quickly,” he said. “But I’ll tell you I also hear from some colleagues who say, ‘Let’s get on with this, this is such a pervasive infection now, you can assume everyone’s been exposed or will be exposed,’ so there’s no point in further restrictions at this time because they’re not likely to be meaningful.”

Chow pointed out that it’s understandable and acceptable that people feel unsettled by the transition and that it’ll take time to adjust, but he believes the decision wasn’t made lightly.

“I’m glad I’m not in the shoes of public health and that I’m not in Dr. Henry’s shoes, because it’s a tough call as to when to deliver that content,” he said. “It’s become increasingly obvious the approach would have to change unless we wanted a society-wide shutdown.”


As she maintained the somewhat contradictory messaging of public health measures like bar closures and mask mandates while also encouraging people to socialize and characterizing COVID-19 management like other respiratory viruses, CTV News asked Henry if her goals remain the same.

She replied that they remain unchanged: To reduce serious illness and death, to preserve the health-care system and to minimize societal disruption.

When asked whether the lack of isolation and testing indicated she had given up on trying to control the virus and switched to endemic mode, she denied that’s the case.

“We are clearly not in a place where it’s endemic right now. What we are doing is adjusting to the changes that we’ve seen from the new variant,” Henry insisted, noting that contact tracing and testing had reduced purpose with the virus spreading faster and with a shorter incubation period, and with fewer people needing hospital care relative to overall cases.

But she also continued to talk about COVID-19 in the long-term; diseases are considered endemic when regularly found in certain areas, but with low and stable hospitalizations. 

“We cannot eliminate all risk, and I think that’s something that we need to understand and accept as this virus has changed and has become part of what we will be living with for years to come,” said Henry.

Without a clear plan or specific advice for vulnerable British Columbians, they’re left waiting to see when their situation will be acknowledged or how long they’re expected to seal themselves away while the rest of us get closer to our normal lives.

“So many people like to peg family members with risk factors are just fearful and yes, we are fearful because we’ve seen first-hand what any number of viruses can do to our loved ones,” said Kim. “But we’re also wanting them to live life – I’m not fearful to the extent I want to keep (my kindergartner) in the house for the rest of her life.” 


B.C. tribunal allows complaint alleging sexual harassment on HandyDART bus to go to hearing

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A B.C. tribunal is allowing a complaint alleging a HandyDART driver sexually harassed a passenger to proceed.

The decision to allow the complaint to go ahead, published by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal last week, said a unnamed woman who uses a wheelchair claimed a HandyDART driver made inappropriate sexual comments and “invited her to sexual contact” in October 2019.

HandyDART is a service offered by some transit operators, like B.C. Transit and TransLink, that provides door-to-door transportation for people requiring mobility assistance. In this instance, B.C. Transit has a contract with another local transit company to operate HandyDART in the unspecified community.

The decision explained once the complainant gets on the bus, she is locked in and can’t move until someone unlocks her chair and unbuckles her seatbelt for her.

“She submits that she was trapped into a secured wheelchair and was unable to move without assistance while on the bus,” tribunal member Grace Chen wrote in her decision.

“She says she was vulnerable to the harassment due to her disability, and was trapped on the bus with the driver because of her disability.”

According to the tribunal’s decision, the complainant filed a grievance to B.C. Transit after the incident and was interviewed by a general manager. The tribunal heard that police investigated the incident, and decided no charges would be laid.

After being interviewed, the complainant said she didn’t hear from the transit operator for several months, until she was told through a staff member at her residence that she had to ride with an attendant – at her own expense – if using HandyDART.

A general manager for the company operating the buses claimed the woman “made similar accusations against other people,” which is why she was asked to use the service with an attendant.

Meanwhile, the woman alleged, the company wanted her “to sign an agreement stating that her complaint was false.” Instead, she filed another complaint to B.C. Transit but didn’t get a response.

“The complainant has not used HandyDART since February 2020, and uses public buses and taxis instead,” Chen wrote.

“She says it is not because of the pandemic, but because she is afraid to run into the driver, and she feels humiliated and angry about what happened. She says she struggles to use the public bus service because of her wheelchair.”

B.C. Transit requested the human rights complaint be dismissed, saying while it had a contract with the company operating HandyDART, it doesn’t run the service itself. But the complainant said B.C. Transit “plays a role in delivering the service,” and that her file was handled both by the HandyDART operator and the Crown corporation.

Chen wrote in her decision that B.C. Transit didn’t persuade her the complainant won’t be able to show a connection between the transit companies. While she said it doesn’t mean the woman’s human rights complaint will be successful, it’s permitted to go to a hearing.

The allegations made by the complainant about the driver’s actions have not been proven in court. 


Nearly a year since she was reported missing, Trina Hunt’s family waits for answers in her homicide case

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This Tuesday, Jan. 18, will mark a year since Port Moody woman Trina Hunt was reported missing, sparking a massive community search. The case turned into a homicide investigation last May, and remains unsolved.

Hunt’s cousin-in-law and family spokesperson Stephanie Ibbott said the family needs answers to began the healing process.

“There’s no closure when something like this happens,” she said. “I don’t think that someone sentenced to life would even bring closure to us. It’s just about another year of learning to be without Trina, and wondering and waiting to find out what happened.”

The 48-year-old Hunt was last seen on security camera footage in the community on Jan. 14, and was reported missing on Jan. 18 of last year. Police said Hunt’s husband Iain reported coming home to find she was gone. The community rallied with a intense search effort, hoping to help find her.

“They truly gave us hope,” Ibbott said. “The gratitude that we feel towards everybody is just something that we’ll never be able to tell people how much it means to us.”

Then, last May, the case became a homicide investigation, with police confirming Hunt’s remains had been found near Hope just over a month earlier.

Last June, investigators executed search warrants at Hunt’s former home in Port Moody and the family home of her husband in Mission.

There have been no arrests, and no further updates.

“I think that with this year mark, we know that we need to be patient,” Ibbott said. “For us, if it means that the charges that will stick, and that there will be a conviction and the person or persons responsible will go to prison, then for us it’s worth the wait.”

Hunt’s family has worked to keep her case in the public eye, and are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and charges.

They also held a public event in November to raise awareness about violence against women while sharing Hunt’s story.

“You go through grief, and you go through trauma, and you need to channel it into something good,” Ibbott said. “Just to bring awareness, not just to Trina but to all women that are suffering from any kind of abuse, was really important.”

Over the past year, Hunt’s family has also shared memories of her online: from nature walks to birthday celebrations, each video and photo has revealed glimpses of the joy she brought to their lives.

“Trina walks into the room, and everybody is paying attention to her. It’s just the way that her personality was,” Ibbott said. “Just so dynamic and just full of love and full of life.”

Ibbott is asking anyone with information to come forward speak with investigators.

“Stop covering up for people. Stop trying to hide this. Because if the people that did this to Trina were able to do this to Trina, then what’s going to stop them from doing this again?” she said. “There’s no loyalty. There’s no trust. Do the right thing and end the suffering. There’s a lot of people suffering because of what happened to Trina.”

Anyone with information about Hunt’s case can connect with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team through their information line at 1-877-551-4448, or via email at

Those who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. 


West Vancouver police seek occupants of silver sedan, believed to have witnessed fatal collision

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West Vancouver police are looking for witnesses of a tragic accident last summer, when a bus fatally struck a pedestrian.

“Investigators are looking for the occupants of a silver sedan who they believe may have useful information,” Const. Kevin Goodmurphy said in a statement released Thursday, five months after police first sought the public’s assistance in the ongoing investigation.

According to police, the sedan was identified through CCTV captured by the bus before the incident.

On July 30, 2021, an out-of-service bus struck a female pedestrian in the crosswalk at 25th Street and Marine Drive around 9:30 p.m.

Multiple cameras were on the bus, which was towed for inspection following the fatal collision. The RCMP’s Integrated Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Service is investigating.


BC Transit to launch real-time bus tracking app on all routes across province

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BC Transit will expand its real-time bus tracking app, NextRide, to all routes it operates across the province this year.

The “Automatic Vehicle Location” (AVL) technology lets users see a bus’s position in real-time to better estimate when it will arrive at specific stops.

NextRide also includes a call-out service aboard buses, where an automated voice says the upcoming stop for riders.

Bus location data will also be available on Google Maps and Transit App through BC Transit, says the bus operator.

“Expanding the NextRide program will improve the customer experience, increase safety for riders and drivers, improve accessibility for users and provide important data for better route planning that will benefit customers across the province,” said Tim Croyle, vice president, operations and chief operating officer for BC Transit in a release Thursday.

NextRide was already in use in seven transit systems on Vancouver Island, Squamish/Whistler and the Interior.

The app will expand to 19 more transit systems in the province, starting with regions on Vancouver Island this month.

All transit systems are expected to be added into the app by this summer.

The estimated launch times for each region can be found below:

  • January 2022 – Cowichan Valley

  • February 2022 – Port Alberni

  • February 2022 – Campbell River

  • Spring 2022 – Fraser Valley Transit Systems

  • Spring 2022 – Vernon Regional

  • Spring 2022 – Shuswap Regional

  • Spring 2022 – South Okanagan-Similkameen

  • Spring 2022 – Dawson Creek

  • Spring 2022 – Fort St. John

  • Spring 2022 – Powell River Regional Transit System

  • Summer 2022 – Sunshine Coast

  • Summer 2022 – Prince George

  • Summer 2022 – Kitimat, Skeena Regional and Terrace Regional

  • Summer 2022 – Prince Rupert/Port Edward

  • Summer 2022 – Cranbrook

  • Summer 2022 – Kimberley

  • Summer 2022 – Elk Valley

  • Summer 2022 – Columbia Valley

  • Summer 2022 – Creston Valley

  • Summer 2022 – West Kootenay

BC Transit has singed a contract with Consat to roll out this new phase of the NextRide program.

The expansion is estimate to cost nearly $6 million, with 50 per cent of the funding coming from the federal government, 40 per cent coming from the provincial government and the remaining 10 per cent coming from local governments. 


Rapid spread of Omicron showing ‘tale of two pandemics: rich and poor’

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As parts of Canada see staggering rises in COVID-19 activity amid Omicron’s rapid spread, experts say the highly transmissible variant is training a spotlight on social inequities across the country.

Dr. Amit Arya, a palliative care physician in Mississauga, Ont., said Omicron’s rise continues to show “a tale of two pandemics — rich and poor,” with those who can afford to better protect themselves pitted against those who can’t.

He said lower-income populations often don’t have the funds to buy upgraded masks or rapid antigen tests, nor can they easily take time off work to isolate or get their booster doses.

“If you have money, you’re able to afford the protection you need to survive and be safe,” he said.

Essential workers bore the brunt of COVID-19 infections during Canada’s Delta-driven wave last spring, and Arya said low-wage employees are likely to experience some of that again.

As provinces scale back eligibility for PCR testing, he pointed out that private testing companies in Ontario, which can offer same-day results for those willing to pay $160 or more for the service, further show an income divide in how people can deal with COVID-19.

Risk profiles have also differed across economic lines throughout the pandemic, Arya said, but the more transmissible Omicron virus variant may exacerbate them.

“(Essential workers) by definition have to leave the house to work,” he said. “They might be taking public transit to work, they might be working around 400 people in a distribution centre … many frontline workers are racialized, they’re immigrants to Canada, they’re more likely to live in multi-generational households with elders and vulnerable children who aren’t vaccinated.”

Cynthia Carr, an epidemiologist in Winnipeg, said while that all holds true, the heightened spread of Omicron makes it harder for everyone, regardless of economic status, to avoid exposure.

The difference with lower-income groups, however, is what happens once they’re infected.

“I do think it’s shifting in terms of perhaps everyone bearing the brunt, but with sick days and isolation, that’s where the change is,” she said. “If I’m infected, I’m fortunate and fully vaccinated. I may be mildly ill, if at all, and I can continue to work because I’m at home.”

Carr said efforts to take sick days can be further affected if low-income workers can’t get a test to prove to their employer that they have COVID-19. Arya added that may have downstream effects with insurance companies if people develop long COVID symptoms and need to collect longer-term disability benefits, but don’t have a test showing they ever had the virus.

Health experts have said vaccine boosters are the best way to protect against severe disease and death with Omicron, noting that those who have had three doses are less likely to require hospitalization.

Data from Health Canada shows roughly 16.5 per cent of Canadians had an additional vaccine dose as of Jan. 1, though several provinces have significantly ramped up their immunization drives with a focus on boosters in recent weeks.

Dr. Andrew Boozary, who leads the Social Medicine Program at Toronto’s University Health Network, said that while many essential workers have had two doses, third-dose uptake has been slower.

“We’ve seen real disparity in access to third doses,” he said.

Ontario reported 2,594 patients in hospital with COVID-19 on Saturday, including 385 in intensive care, while Quebec reported 44 deaths attributed to the virus, its highest daily death toll in nearly a year.

Figures from Atlantic Canada, meanwhile, show continued growth in COVID-19 cases there, with hospitals reporting they are nearing or over capacity.

New Brunswick reported 80 hospitalizations on Saturday, up from 69, with 17 patients in intensive care and 11 on ventilators.

Ontario’s Saturday hospitalization numbers were up from the previous day’s count of 2,472 patients hospitalized and 338 in intensive care units.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said 248 ICU patients are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown immunization status, and 137 are fully vaccinated. There were also 31 new deaths linked to the virus.

Ontario reported 13,362 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, but Public Health Ontario says the actual case count is likely higher due to current testing policies that limit access for many residents.

Quebec recorded an 11 per cent rise in COVID-19-related hospitalizations with 2,296 patients — 163 more than the day before — including 245 people in intensive care, a rise of 16 from the previous day. There were 15,928 new infections in Quebec.

The province’s 44 deaths, up from 27 a day earlier, marks the worst tally since Jan. 27, 2021 when it logged 45.

Nova Scotia reported 1,145 new cases of COVID-19, with the province saying it is now limiting contact tracing to long-term care settings, healthcare facilities, correctional facilities, shelters and other group environments.

New Brunswick had 421 new cases and one new death.

While Omicron is thought to cause less severe disease in most people, especially those who are vaccinated, experts say characterizing the variant as “mild” can be problematic.

“You hear people say: ‘Why are you worried about Omicron? If you’re healthy and young, it’s no problem, it’s just a cold.’ And … that’s completely dismissing the reality of millions of people in this country,” Boozary said.

“It’s that complete ableist language and tone and policy that’s putting millions of people at risk.”

Arya said it’s “completely inaccurate” to call Omicron mild, saying people need to let go of the perception that the variant has transformed COVID-19 into the common cold or flu because not enough is known about the virus’s long-term consequences.

Arya said dismissing Omicron as mild has been “very harmful,” as is the notion from some that infection is inevitable because of the higher transmissibility of the variant.

“It centers our policy responses around young and healthy people who are well off and can afford protections,” he said. “That’s a big problem.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 8, 2022.


B.C.’s homeowner grant threshold raised as property values increase

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Homeowners in British Columbia whose property is valued at just under $2 million will still be eligible for the annual homeowner grant.

The provincial government announced Wednesday it has raised the grant threshold to $1.975 million for this year.

The government says in a news release that the new cap will ensure 92 per cent of residential properties are covered, lowering the amount of taxes people pay on their principal residence.

Those who own and live in their homes in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Capital Regional districts are eligible for the $570 basic grant, or up to $845 for those with a disability or who are 65 and older.

The basic grant for those in northern and rural areas is $770, or $1,045 for those who are disabled or over 65.

The B.C. assessment authority released property valuations this week, showing increases in almost every part of the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2021.


List: B.C. appointees of Order of Canada include province’s first children’s advocate

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The Governor General has released her list of this year’s appointees to the Order of Canada, a list that includes several British Columbians.

Among the 135 honourees nation-wide are former senator Murray Sinclair, who is also the former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and has been recognized for his commitment to the representation of Indigenous legal issues.

Also on the list are novelist Yann Martel, for his contributions to literature, and Paramount Foods owner Mohamad Fakih, for his involvement in his community.

Local recipients include Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a lawyer, judge and prominent voice on Indigenous issues who was also the province’s first children’s advocate.

Also from B.C. is former deputy premier and NDP cabinet minister Joy MacPhail.

Biomedical researcher and drug developer Pieter Cullis, of Vancouver, was honoured for “his mentorship of the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs.”

Also from Vancouver, cancer researcher and stem cell biologist Connie J. Eaves. Kelowna’s David Ross Fitzpatrick, is also on this year’s list for his leadership and economic, cultural and conservation efforts.

Professor of early childhood education Margo Lianne Greenwood, sports medicine expert and researcher Donald Chisholm McKenzie and figure skating judge Jean Riley Senft made the list, as did Verena Tunnicliffe, for “being a pioneer in the scientific exploration of the deep sea.”

Lili Siewsan Chow received the honour for her work to promote and reserve the history of early Chinese immigrants to Canada, and for their contributions to the arts and young artists, Janis Dunning and Jacques Lemay were appointed.

Walter N. Hardy was honoured for his “pioneering contributions” in particle physics, materials science and high-temperature superconductivity, and Jane Heyman was appointed for her contributions to Vancouver’s cultural landscape through the theatre sector.

Others on the list from B.C. are university administrator Ralph Nilson, contributor to the field of disability art David Roche and Diane Sowden, who works to raise awareness and prevent human trafficking and sexual exploitation of youth.

Marine virologist Curtis Suttle, stem cell bioengineer Peter Zandstra and public servant David Zussman were also honoured.

The full list and further details are available online.

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Penny Daflos


Handshake deal at the centre of Vancouver legion branch eviction fight

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A Royal Canadian Legion branch in Vancouver’s Kitsilano is gearing up for a fight.

The legion is getting evicted on Dec. 31 for not paying rent, but its members say they don’t owe any rent because of a handshake deal made 50 years ago.

Second vice-president of the legion’s B.C.-Yukon command Bob Underhill says the Shalom Branch #178 has been an integral part of the community for the past five decades.

The “dry” branch of the Royal Canadian Legion raises funds for various charitable organizations, and it’s existed on land paid for by the legion.

According to Underhill, the legion bought the property and gave it to a housing society. That group then used $1 million to build an auditorium as well as units of housing.

Part of the deal struck 50 years ago was that the legion would be able to continue using the hall in perpetuity, rent-free, but there has never been a lease agreement. It was all done on a handshake and goodwill.

Property lawyer Ashley Syer says that kind of deal is legally binding.

“A handshake deal is what we call an oral agreement,” said Syer. But it is difficult to prove, she said.

“Especially when 50 years have gone by and people that were originally part of that deal aren’t around anymore.”

The legion has never paid rent, but recently Maple Crest Housing Society, which runs the BC Housing complex in which the legion is located, has been asking for money.

The legion refused to pay, citing the previous verbal agreement, and on Nov. 17, the housing society issued an eviction notice to the legion.

It is expected to vacate by the end of this year.

‘It just doesn’t seem right feel right. It isn’t right to do this over the holidays to a group of veterans,” said MP Taleeb Noormohamed.

While the legion has support from the area’s MP, it is under provincial jurisdiction. Underhill is hoping the community speaks out in support.

“Contact your MLA and say this isn’t right. Please help us,” said Underhill.

The tenants who live in the building next door, like Katrin Jardine, are especially worried about what this eviction could mean for them.

“We believe if the legion is evicted we might be next,” said Jardine.

She says her concern stems from changes she’s noticed in the building the last couple of years.

“It’s supposed to be for low-income seniors, disability, veterans but it’s not really the case any longer. Even repairs aren’t being done. I’ve been waiting six months to have my taps fixed. Today there is barely any heat,” said Jardine.

Underhill says over the last few years the relationship between the legion and Maple Crest Housing Society has been contentious.

“At one time you had to be a member of the legion to be on the board, but over the years they have eliminated that requirement so they can do whatever they want. They hold meetings in Richmond at the same time that the legion holds its meetings so people can’t be in two places at once, and the housing society will not negotiate with us at all,” said Underhill.

CTV News reached out to Maple Crest Housing Society but did not get a response.

BC Housing responded with the following statement.

“Maple Crest Apartments, located at 2229 Maple Street in Vancouver, is owned and operated by the Maple Crest Housing Society. As a provider of affordable housing for seniors, BC Housing provides a subsidy to the Society so they can offer the apartments to tenants at below-market rates.

“BC Housing is unable to comment on matters between the Legion and the Maple Crest Housing Society around any lease agreements or understandings they may or may not have with one another. “

Eviction day is only days away but legion members say they are not going anywhere.

“If you vacate the premises you have basically given up hope, so we are not leaving,” said Underhill.


Feds to expand worker, business aid eligibility amid new COVID-19 restrictions

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The federal government intends to temporarily expand the eligibility of several support programs to apply to those impacted by new public health restrictions driven by the Omicron surge.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough said on Wednesday that through regulatory powers, Ottawa will make changes to the Local Lockdown Program and the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit.

Instead of applying solely to those in “complete” lockdowns of more than 14 days, the local lockdown program will include employers subject to capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more. The government is also reducing the current monthly revenue decline threshold to 25 per cent. Eligible employers will receive wage and rent subsidies between 25 per cent to 75 per cent.

With the adjustments, the worker lockdown benefit will apply to workers in regions where provincial or territorial governments have introduced capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more. The benefit provides $300 a week to those eligible.

The government fielded criticism after unveiling the programs as no region then or now faces a lockdown of more than 14 days.

The two programs are detailed in Bill C-2, which passed through the Parliament last week.

The announcement comes as provinces and territories impose new restrictions to manage the surge of COVID-19 cases spurred by the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.

More details to come…

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