Category "Local News"

18Oct

COVID-19: City of Vancouver and Grouse Mountain join growing list of mandatory vaccination sites

by admin

“Vancouver has one of the highest vaccination rates (90 per cent fully vaccinated), making us one of the world’s safest cities as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

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The number of mandatory vaccination orders in place to access venues or keep your job in B.C. continues to grow, with Grouse Mountain and the City of Vancouver releasing their plans on Monday.

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Mayor of Vancouver Kennedy Stewart said that all city workers will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses) by Dec. 6, 2021 or they will not be allowed in the workplace.

“Vancouver has one of the highest vaccination rates, making us one of the world’s safest cities as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stewart said in a prepared statement. The City of Vancouver has a vaccination rate in those aged 12 and over of 90 per cent, compared to the provincial 83.4 per cent.

“Having all city staff fully vaccinated by Dec. 6 is another step towards building on our success as a community and making sure we put the health of our workers and the public first.”

The City of Vancouver has around 8,000 full-time and part-time employees and is the first municipality in B.C. to make such an order.

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City manager Paul Mochrie said the vaccination policy will offer exemptions for people with a “protected legal ground”, such as for medical or other grounds under the B.C. Human Rights Code.

Meanwhile on Monday, Grouse Mountain revealed all workers and guests will need to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15, 2021.

The North Vancouver ski resort will have a one-time vaccine verification process for pass-holders, while people on day passes will need to show proof of vaccination (B.C. Vaccine Card) each visit.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has already made it mandatory for any hospital or long-term care facility worker to be fully vaccinated but she does not have the power to make orders in non-health workplaces.

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However, at her suggestion, B.C. Hydro two weeks ago mandated vaccination for all its workers at the Site C dam project where there had been two COVID-19 outbreaks. B.C. Ferries has also mandated vaccination in its workers, but not passengers.

There are 4,917 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., of which 360 are being treated in hospital including 151 in intensive care. These numbers are relatively stable.

The B.C. Ministry of Health reported 26 deaths over the past three days. There were 23,500 doses of vaccines administered over the same period, including 7,087 crucial first doses.

Vancouver Coastal Health appears to be benefiting from its relatively high rate of vaccination, coming in fourth of the five health authorities for new cases reported on Monday.

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Despite being the second largest health authority in B.C. — behind Fraser Health — Vancouver Coastal reported 212 cases over the past three days. The significantly smaller Interior Health (322) and Northern Health (212) authorities both reported more, while Fraser Health topped the list at 737 of the total 1,846 cases.

dcarrigg@postmedia.com


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18Oct

COVID-19: Vaccine mandate ordered for all registered pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in B.C.

by admin

All registered pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will have to be fully vaccinated, have received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, or have an exemption to continue working

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Emily McIntosh manages a rural pharmacy in Castlegar and has been frustrated with the lack of uniform rules for B.C. pharmacists and technicians being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to serve customers.

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One major chain, London Drugs, made it clear in late August that by Nov. 1 all its employees, including pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, would be required to be fully vaccinated.

But there was nothing in place at many small, independent drug stores, nor at other large chains such as Loblaw Companies, which owns Shoppers Drug Mart.

“We have many elderly people coming in. We have those plastic barriers and things like that. But sometimes you have to go out and help them find a product, so there goes the barrier,” said McIntosh.

“And sometimes if someone is asking a question and they can’t hear, and you have to lean in, it’s impossible to create the physical distancing.”

On Monday, the College of Pharmacists provided the clarity that McIntosh was looking for, saying all registered pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will have to be fully vaccinated, have received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, or have an exemption to continue working.

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The college said its statement was based on an order by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry late last week.

The requirements also apply to pharmacy and pharmacy technician students who are in care locations for training or research purposes.

Those who have only received one dose of vaccine by Oct. 26 may keep working, but they must follow preventative measures and get their second dose within 28 to 35 days after their first one.

Those who are ineligible to work because they have not had a first dose by Oct. 26, but who get one before Nov. 15, must wait seven days before returning to work, follow preventative measures, and get their second dose within 28 to 35 days after the first one.

The college said pharmacy managers and owners need to request and collect proof of vaccination, or an exemption, from pharmacists and technicians and keep a record of the information, so it can be disclosed to the Provincial Health Officer upon request.

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At London Drugs, the general manager of pharmacy Chris Chiew said throughout the chain’s 80 stores, “We have maybe a handful of people who have actually shown or stated some resistance to (the rolling out of their policy).

“But we’ve been able to talk with them and we’ve had (two months) to try to help them work through their issues and make sure we answer the questions and come up with alternatives for them, if needed.

“We’re dealing with a lot of people who come into our stores every day who are in close contact sometimes for prolonged periods of time. We’re dealing with individuals who would be at high risk, whether they are immunocompromised, or maybe they’re going for cancer therapy or coming in for medication associated with chemotherapy, or maybe just coming in from surgery. That’s why we put this in place.”

McIntosh thinks a mandate might cost her a pharmacist, a technician and possibly another assistant. “We would be short and I would still be okay with that. I would pick up some slack.”

jlee-young@postmedia.com

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18Oct

COVID-19 update for Oct. 18: Moderna appears to give higher antibody levels than Pfizer: Henry | Colin Powell dies at 84 from COVID-19 complications | 667 new cases, 13 deaths on Friday

by admin

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C.

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for Oct. 18, 2021.

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We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen.

Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.


B.C.’S COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS

As of the latest figures given on Oct. 15:
• Total number of confirmed cases: 196,433 (5,128 active)
• New cases since Oct. 13: 667
• Total deaths: 2,055 (13 additional deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 367
• Intensive care: 152
• Total vaccinations: 4,126,668 received first dose; 3,848,689 second doses
• Recovered from acute infection: 188,851
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 19

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IN-DEPTH:   Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021 | in 2020


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

COVID-19: Here’s everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: B.C.’s vaccine passport is here and this is how it works

COVID-19: Here’s how to get your vaccination shot in B.C.

COVID-19: Look up your neighbourhood in our interactive map of case and vaccination rates in B.C.

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

COVID-19: Five things to know about the P1 variant spreading in B.C.

COVID-19: Here’s where to get tested in Metro Vancouver

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool


LATEST NEWS on COVID-19 in B.C.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine proving to last longer than rival from Pfizer, says B.C. provincial health officer

The COVID-19 vaccine produced by Moderna is proving to be longer lasting than its rival Pfizer vaccine and better suited as a booster shot for some people who are severely immunocompromised, according to B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

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Both vaccines are approved for use in Canada and widely used in B.C.

At a press conference last week, Henry said her office was increasingly getting information on which vaccines worked as well or better than others — based mostly on studies of COVID-19 antibodies remaining in people’s blood after vaccination.

This antibody response is crucial to how vaccines work, as this response is what fights off the disease.

“As I said many times, we don’t yet have an absolute correlative protection (100 per cent protection), but Moderna seems to give higher antibody levels that stay longer,” Henry said.

This was most likely because the Moderna mRNA vaccine has a higher amount of antigen (the substance that creates an immune response) than the Pfizer vaccine.

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Read more HERE .

— David Carrigg

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell dies of COVID-19 complications

WASHINGTON — Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state and top military officer, died on Monday at the age of 84 due to complications from COVID-19. He was fully vaccinated, his family said in a statement on Facebook.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” his family said.

Powell was one of America’s foremost Black figures for decades.

Powell, who was wounded in Vietnam, served as U.S. national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1989. As a four-star Army general, he was chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush during the 1991 Gulf War.

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Powell, a moderate Republican and a pragmatist, considered a bid to become the first Black president in 1996 but his wife Alma’s worries about his safety helped him decide otherwise. In 2008, he broke with his party to endorse Democrat Barack Obama, who became the first Black elected to the White House.

— Reuters

Cancelled flights and tightened rules hit travellers from Vancouver to Hong Kong

Vancouver travel agent Glynnis Chan’s client was on the Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong last week where one passenger aboard was confirmed to have COVID-19 when tested upon arrival.

The case, in part, led to Hong Kong’s Department of Health banning Air Canada flights from Vancouver to Hong Kong for the next two weeks until Oct. 29, and is an example of the unpredictable snafus that can crop up, said Chan.

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In an email, an Air Canada spokesperson said passengers on the four now cancelled Vancouver to Hong Kong flights are being rebooked or given refunds if rebooking within three hours of their original departure time isn’t possible.

“Things can change very quickly, even just when you land,” said Chan.

Authorities in Hong Kong are tightening rules after 58 of the total 59 reported COVID cases for the first half of October were attributed to incoming travellers.

Read more HERE .

— Joanne Lee-Young

667 new cases of COVID-19, 13 deaths

B.C. reported 667 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, for a total of 196,433 cases in the province.

There are 5,128 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 188,851 people who tested positive have recovered.

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Of the active cases, 367 individuals are in hospital and 152 are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.


B.C. MAP OF WEEKLY COVID CASE COUNTS, VACCINATION RATES

Find out how your neighbourhood is doing in the battle against COVID-19 with the latest number of new cases, positivity rates, and vaccination rates:


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER



LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information

Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

Vancouver Coastal Health – Information on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

HealthLink B.C. – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

B.C. Centre for Disease Control – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

–with files from The Canadian Press

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Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

17Oct

SAD plus COVID: A bit of light and a bit of exercise can make all the difference

by admin

The best way to prepare for the winter blues is to anticipate, prepare and plan to add light and exercise, say experts.

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As the season of darkness and rain descends, the spectre of lowered mood, heightened anxiety and seasonal depression looms. The global pandemic has added an additional stressor to those vulnerable to mood disorders.

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“Stress plays a role,” said Dr. Raymond Lam, an expert in seasonal affective disorder. “People who have clinical depression can have their depression start earlier, have symptoms worsen, and people with mild or winter symptoms can have major symptoms such as sadness, lowered mood, oversleeping, overeating.”

According to a recent Ipsos Reid poll , nearly three in 10 Canadians have reported a deterioration in mental health since the beginning of the pandemic, and according to Stats Canada , more Canadian adults screened positive for anxiety or major depressive disorder in 2021 than in 2020.

Lam, professor and B.C. leadership chair in depression research at UBC, said the best way to prepare for the season is to anticipate it, and understand our defences may be down due to the pressures of the pandemic.

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“Not having the usual things that help with our resilience, such as exercise, gatherings, and friendships, means our coping behaviours are reduced,” said Lam.

Raymond W. Lam, professor and B.C. Leadership Chair in depression research, UBC, in his office.
Raymond W. Lam, professor and B.C. Leadership Chair in depression research, UBC, in his office. Photo by Handout /PNG

For those who have seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, a mood disorder that strikes during the autumn and winter seasons, light therapy , or exposure to 30 minutes of bright, artificial light a day, is a well-known, safe and effective treatment. However, Lam said research shows that even when skies are grey, exposure to natural light is beneficial.

Lam also suggests we get moving. “Exercise by itself helps depression, even clinical depression, and specifically for winter depression it is helpful.”

So what happens when restrictions, fear of COVID-19 infections or a dislike of being outdoors in bad weather keeps us from staying active?

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New research by Dr. Eli Puterman has found that at-home exercise through fitness apps is an effective tool in managing depression.

At the beginning of pandemic restrictions in 2020, Puterman, an associate professor in the school of kinesiology at UBC, said that he heard countless stories from people he met who were suffering from isolation, loneliness and depression.

Puterman, a health psychologist, had maintained his workouts during lockdown using Down Dog, an app that provides a variety of exercise programs. He researched whether at-home exercise apps could provide some relief.

The results of his study, published last week in the British Journal of Sports Medicine , showed that at-home app-based workouts, especially those using a combination of high intensity interval training and yoga, provided significant reductions in depressive symptoms.

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The study randomized a group of 334 women and men between 18-64 years old who were not involved in high levels of exercise, and assigned them to either yoga, HIIT, or both, and a control group was asked to maintain their current level of exercise.

Participants using the app all exhibited a steady decrease in their depression symptoms regardless of the type of exercise they did, and those with the most significant depression symptoms had the most dramatic improvements.

“The people in the study group categorized as having some kind of significant depression saw a drastic change,” said Puterman. “A good 70 per cent of them could no longer be categorized as having significant depression by the end of the study.”

Twenty minutes of vigorous exercise, four times a week, was enough to make a difference, said Puterman with those who used a combination of yoga and HIIT training receiving the greatest benefit.

Puterman said he hopes that public policy will shift to providing tools, tax incentives and education programs to help people incorporate more exercise into their routines.

At the individual level, Puterman reminds people to start slowly.

“Even a walk around the block can help,” he said.

Puterman also suggests using covered spaces in parks and school grounds to exercise outdoors, to get the added benefit of natural light exposure and fresh air.

dryan@postmedia.com

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Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

17Oct

Single mother fights eviction from Vancouver co-op housing where she’s lived for 10 years

by admin

“I am preparing to live in my car and I can’t let myself think negative — I already have depression.” — Lenlen Aixendora Castro

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A single mother who has a subsidized rental unit in a Vancouver housing cooperative is fighting eviction to get more time to find “safe and affordable” housing.

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If she fails to get more time, she fears she will end up homeless because of extreme rental housing costs in Metro Vancouver.

Lenlen Aixendora Castro has lived at Rishon Housing Cooperative in the Marpole area of Vancouver for 10 years, but was given an eviction notice of Sept. 15.

Castro lost an appeal to the general membership of the 20-unit housing co-op and is now fighting in B.C. Supreme Court for more time to find adequate housing.

A hearing was scheduled for Oct. 14 in court in Vancouver but has been delayed until Nov. 4.

“I am preparing to live in my car and I can’t let myself think negative — I already have depression,” said Castro, who is on disability and works seasonal and contract jobs.

“I just need time to find safe and affordable housing.”

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A lawyer representing the Rishon Housing cooperative in the court action did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Castro believes the eviction notice was precipitated by her planting a garden this spring in a common area without explicit permission, although she noted that some other residents had gardens. Court filings show the request to remove boxes from the garden escalated to a notice of termination in April.

Castro has alleged in court filings that her unit had been entered without consent and that racist messages had been posted on her door in the past.

In court documents, the housing cooperative have accused Castro of “harassment.”

Castro says she realizes she cannot stay at the co-op because the tenants don’t want her there, but is anxious and fearful about finding a home because her search so far for affordable housing shows wait lists as long as two years.

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Castro’s court filings say B.C. Housing placed her at the cooperative housing, which she says happened after she fled an abusive relationship when she was pregnant.

The rent for a two-bedroom unit at the co-op is about $1,000, of which about half is covered for Castro by a B.C. Housing subsidy for a person with a disability.

Castro has moved her daughter, in Grade 7, to her mother’s house so that she can avoid the stress of witnessing the dispute.

Stephanie Fung, an organizer with the Vancouver Tenants Union, said Castro’s situation is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s happening to tenants across the Lower Mainland.

“At a time like this, no one should be forced out of their home. We urge Rishon Housing to cease their harmful actions and give Lenlen time to find safe and secure housing,” said Fung.

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A report released last week by Zumper, an online site that helps people search for rental units, ranked Vancouver as the most expensive rental city in Canada.

A one bedroom goes for an average of $2,130, higher than Toronto at an average of $1,800. A two-bedroom apartment, the size of unit Castro would need for her and her daughter, is on average $2,900 in Vancouver, according to the Zumper survey.

The Vancouver Tenants Union has been demanding immediate action from the B.C. government to deal with what they call an “eviction crisis.”

The union has called for immediate public release of all data the province has on evictions and the creation of a system to track all evictions in the province while preserving tenants’ privacy. It has also called for the province to implement “real” rent control that ties the cap on rent increased to the unit and not the tenant.

ghoekstra@postmedia.com

twitter.com/gordon_hoekstra

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Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

16Oct

Single mother fights eviction from Vancouver co-op housing where she’s lived for 10 years

by admin

“I am preparing to live in my car and I can’t let myself think negative — I already have depression.” — Lenlen Aixendora Castro

Article content

A single mother who has a subsidized rental unit in a Vancouver housing cooperative is fighting eviction to get more time to find “safe and affordable” housing.

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If she fails to get more time, she fears she will end up homeless because of extreme rental housing costs in Metro Vancouver.

Lenlen Aixendora Castro has lived at Rishon Housing Cooperative in the Marpole area of Vancouver for 10 years, but was given an eviction notice of Sept. 15.

Castro lost an appeal to the general membership of the 20-unit housing co-op and is now fighting in B.C. Supreme Court for more time to find adequate housing.

A hearing was scheduled for Oct. 14 in court in Vancouver but has been delayed until Nov. 4.

“I am preparing to live in my car and I can’t let myself think negative — I already have depression,” said Castro, who is on disability and works seasonal and contract jobs.

“I just need time to find safe and affordable housing.”

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A lawyer representing the Rishon Housing cooperative in the court action did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Castro believes the eviction notice was precipitated by her planting a garden this spring in a common area without explicit permission, although she noted that some other residents had gardens. Court filings show the request to remove boxes from the garden escalated to a notice of termination in April.

Castro has alleged in court filings that her unit had been entered without consent and that racist messages had been posted on her door in the past.

In court documents, the housing cooperative have accused Castro of “harassment.”

Castro says she realizes she cannot stay at the co-op because the tenants don’t want her there, but is anxious and fearful about finding a home because her search so far for affordable housing shows wait lists as long as two years.

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Castro’s court filings say B.C. Housing placed her at the cooperative housing, which she says happened after she fled an abusive relationship when she was pregnant.

The rent for a two-bedroom unit at the co-op is about $1,000, of which about half is covered for Castro by a B.C. Housing subsidy for a person with a disability.

Castro has moved her daughter, in Grade 7, to her mother’s house so that she can avoid the stress of witnessing the dispute.

Stephanie Fung, an organizer with the Vancouver Tenants Union, said Castro’s situation is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s happening to tenants across the Lower Mainland.

“At a time like this, no one should be forced out of their home. We urge Rishon Housing to cease their harmful actions and give Lenlen time to find safe and secure housing,” said Fung.

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Article content

A report released last week by Zumper, an online site that helps people search for rental units, ranked Vancouver as the most expensive rental city in Canada.

A one bedroom goes for an average of $2,130, higher than Toronto at an average of $1,800. A two-bedroom apartment, the size of unit Castro would need for her and her daughter, is on average $2,900 in Vancouver, according to the Zumper survey.

The Vancouver Tenants Union has been demanding immediate action from the B.C. government to deal with what they call an “eviction crisis.”

The union has called for immediate public release of all data the province has on evictions and the creation of a system to track all evictions in the province while preserving tenants’ privacy. It has also called for the province to implement “real” rent control that ties the cap on rent increased to the unit and not the tenant.

ghoekstra@postmedia.com

twitter.com/gordon_hoekstra

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Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

16Oct

COVID-19 update for Oct. 16-17: 667 new cases, 13 deaths | Deadly outbreak at Burnaby care home shows booster shots needed sooner | U.S. will accept mixed doses of vaccines from international travelers

by admin

Read more HERE .

— Gordon Hoekstra

Health professionals in private practice face vaccine order

B.C. doctors, dentists and other health professionals in private practice will soon be required to get vaccinated.

The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, issued an order Friday putting unvaccinated health professionals on notice that they would be required to be vaccinated in order to see patients or provide care or services in B.C.

The notice was directed at health professionals not covered by previous orders, including those who work in private practice and do not have privileges at a hospital or health-care facility. Henry’s order did not set a deadline.

COVID-19 vaccinations are already mandatory for staff at long-term care homes and assisted living facilities. Anyone who works in a health-care facility, including hospitals, will be required to be fully immunized by Oct. 26.

Read more HERE .

 — Cheryl Chan

667 new cases of COVID-19, 13 deaths

B.C. reported 667 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, for a total of 196,433 cases in the province.

There are 5,128 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 188,851 people who tested positive have recovered.

Of the active cases, 367 individuals are in hospital and 152 are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

Getting answers on which B.C. schools still need ventilation updates proving frustrating

About 50 schools across B.C. are scheduled for upgrades to their ventilation systems during this academic year, so that the air in these crowded buildings is safer for kids and teachers during the pandemic.

These improvements, funded through the Education Ministry’s capital budget, are in addition to the 84 schools that had HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system updates in the 2020-21 academic year.

The province, however, has nearly 1,600 public schools. So once these projects are completed at these 125 or so schools over the two years since COVID arrived, how many of the remaining schools still need this type of work?

Finding an answer to this question was impossible because there is no centralized list. The ministry has left it up to each of B.C.’s 60 school boards to decide which buildings need ventilation upgrades and how those improvements should be achieved. The ministry has also left communication about these plans with the districts, and as a result many parents and teachers were left frustrated about a lack of clear answers.

Read more HERE.

-Lori Culbert

U.S. will accept mixed doses of vaccines from international travelers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said late on Friday that it will accept mixed-dose coronavirus vaccines from international travelers, a boost to travelers from Canada and other places.

The CDC said last week that it would accept any vaccine authorized for use by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization.

“While CDC has not recommended mixing types of vaccine in a primary series, we recognize that this is increasingly common in other countries so should be accepted for the interpretation of vaccine records,” a CDC spokeswoman said.

The White House said Friday the new vaccine requirements for foreign nationals traveling to the United States will begin Nov. 8 for visitors crossing at land borders as well as international air travelers.

-Reuters

Find out how your neighbourhood is doing in the battle against COVID-19 with the latest number of new cases, positivity rates, and vaccination rates:

15Oct

COVID-19: Health professionals in private practice face vaccine mandate

by admin

On Friday, B.C. recorded 667 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 new deaths.

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B.C. doctors, dentists and other health professionals in private practice will soon be required to get vaccinated.

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued an order Friday putting unvaccinated health professionals on notice that they would be required to be vaccinated in order to see patients or provide care or services in B.C.

The notice was directed at health professionals not covered by previous orders, including those who work in private practice and do not have privileges at a hospital or health-care facility. Henry’s order did not specify a deadline.

COVID-19 vaccinations are already mandatory for staff at long-term care homes and assisted living facilities. Anyone who works in a health-care facility, including hospitals, will be required to be fully immunized by Oct. 26.

In a note sent to members on Friday, the College of Dental Surgeons of B.C. said it “interprets the order to mean that, in time, all of our registrants will be required to be vaccinated to provide health care or services in B.C.”

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It said it supports Henry’s office and expects members to comply with provincial health officer orders.

Doctors of B.C. also said it supports mandatory vaccination of health-care workers. The vaccination rate among physicians is about 97 per cent, said the organization.

On Friday, B.C. recorded 667 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 new deaths.

Eleven of the deaths occurred in the Fraser Health region, where Willingdon Care Centre, a Burnaby long-term care facility, has been grappling with a COVID-19 outbreak since late September that has infected at least 90 people. Two deaths occurred in the Interior.

Out of 5,128 active cases in the province, 367 people are in hospital including 152 in intensive care.

The new figures come a day after Henry introduced “circuit-breaker” restrictions in most of northern B.C., where hospitals have been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

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Northern Health, which has seen the highest rate of infections and hospitalizations in the province, reported 184 cases on Friday. Fraser Health had 246 cases; Interior Health, 101; Vancouver Coastal, 75; and Island Health, 59.

There have been 196,433 cases of COVID-19 and 2,055 deaths from the virus in B.C. since the start of the pandemic.

More than 3.8 million people, or 83 per cent of eligible British Columbians 12 and older, are fully vaccinated, while 89 per cent have received their first dose.

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15Oct

Hiring society’s overlooked could help cure B.C.’s pandemic-fuelled job crunch

by admin

Since 2009, Mission Possible has trained dozens of people, including those who are homeless and have physical or developmental disabilities.

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A Vancouver employment agency is offering a solution to quell a COVID-fuelled job crunch that’s devastating B.C. restaurants, stores and businesses.

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“Meet the labour shortage by tapping into talent that’s traditionally been excluded,” said Matthew Smedley, executive director of a non-profit group that provides job-skills training to unemployed Vancouver Downtown Eastside residents.

This week, the agency released a comprehensive guide for employers on how their workplace can accommodate diverse staff members who are struggling with disordered substance use or experiencing mental-health crises.

“Approximately one-in-five Canadians have some kind of disability or barrier, visible or not. Simply put, there is a largely untapped pool of people who are ready, willing and able to work,” reads the guide .

It suggests employers allow their employees “time to attend meetings and appointments that support their treatment or recovery during work hours.”

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Since 2009, Mission Possible has trained dozens of people, including those who are homeless and have physical or developmental disabilities.

Vancouver’s Chris Middleton had six months of paid training, cleaning litter and garbage before he graduated and found full-time work in 2020.

“Before Mission Possible, I couldn’t get a job because I had no ID or cellphone. I had spent years on the streets using drugs,” said the 42-year-old.

After graduating from its job training program, Middleton became a support worker for a non-profit. He’s now helping others find stable housing.

“Many employers think it’s a risk to hire people from the streets — but in my current job, I’ve found people in poverty to be some of the hardest workers. They’re willing to work for what is theirs,” Middleton said.

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“Today I pay my own rent, have a job I love and a passion for the work I do.”

Last year, Mission Possible saw 15 of its participants land full-time jobs. Smedley is hoping to see 50 more graduates in 2022, to help Vancouver’s unemployed as well as businesses recovering from pandemic-driven losses.

“Right now, the biggest challenge for businesses is finding workers,” said Pierre Cléroux, chief economist with the Business Development Bank of Canada. “The labour shortage is hindering the countries’ post-pandemic recovery.”

A development bank study of 1,251 entrepreneurs found that 55 per cent were struggling to hire workers and 37 per cent had to delay or cancel orders as a result.

Statistics Canada 2021 data also paints the picture of a widespread labour shortage. In B.C., more job vacancies exist than in 11 of the country’s 13 other provinces and territories.

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In the last few years, B.C. restaurant chain Tacofino has hired a dozen employees with developmental disabilities as prep or line cooks.

“Employers often think hiring disabled people is going to be a lot of extra work but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Taylor Chobotiuk, head of people and engagement for Tacofino. “It’s a manager’s job to understand the needs of his or her employees. Everyone communicates differently. We start off our hiring process with an open dialogue, asking the worker how they best take instructions.”

Accommodations Tacofino has made include offering its employees more frequent breaks and communicating work duties using written to-do lists.

Chobotiuk said the restaurant chain’s more diverse staff are some of its most dependable: “Many have been with us for a few years now, doing great work.”

sgrochowski@postmedia.com

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15Oct

COVID-19 update for Oct. 15: New ‘circuit-breaker’ restrictions introduced in northern B.C. | 10 deaths feared in outbreak at Burnaby care home | 580 new cases, nine deaths | B.C.’s vaccine cards hit with constitutional challenge

by admin

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the new measures are meant to stop transmission and save lives. The new rules covers the entire health region, except for areas including Terrace and Kitimat that had high rates of vaccination, effective Oct. 15 until Nov. 19.

  • Personal gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, will be restricted to fully vaccinated people only.
  • Indoor personal gatherings are limited to five vaccinated people, while outdoor personal gatherings are limited to 25.
  • All indoor and outdoor organized events, such as weddings and parties, will require a COVID-19 safety plan and masks. Guests also have to be fully vaccinated. These indoor organized events are capped at 50, while outdoor events are capped at 100.
  • In-person worship services are closed, and will be limited to virtual services only

On Wednesday, the province reported 67 new cases of COVID-19 in the Northern Health Region and three deaths. There are 689 active cases in the region of about 300,000 people, which is only 32 fewer than currently active in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, a region that serves 1.25 million people.

10 deaths feared in outbreak at Burnaby care home

A COVID-19 outbreak at a Burnaby long-term care facility includes 90 cases and a death toll that’s expected to rise.

Out of the 90 infections at the Willingdon Care Centre in Burnaby, 69 are among residents in the 95-bed facility, while 21 cases involve staff, according to the most recent data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Three residents have died. On Thursday, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said due to a delay in reporting, he expects the number of deaths to rise to 10 in the coming days.

Dix said there has been a number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities, particularly in Interior Health, but the outbreak at Willingdon Care Centre is “by a significant margin, our most significant outbreak.”

Fraser Health declared an outbreak at the care home just over two weeks ago, on Sept. 28, when one resident tested positive. By Oct. 5, 39 residents and six staff have contracted the virus.

-Cheryl Chan

B.C.’s vaccine cards hit with constitutional challenge

In what may be a first for B.C., two women with physical disabilities have filed a constitutional challenge to the provincial government’s COVID-19 vaccine cards.

But a former B.C. attorney-general asked to comment on the case cautioned that Charter rights are not absolute and the government would likely argue that any infringement of the petitioners’ rights would be justified to prevent further harm caused by the pandemic.

The B.C. Supreme Court petition filed by Sarah Webb and Leigh Anne Eliason seeks a number of court orders including an injunction staying the legal effect or enforcement of the vaccine card orders.

Webb, a 39-year-old mother of two who lives and works in both Victoria and Calgary, says she got her first COVID-19 vaccine shot on May 2 but developed a reaction that included fatigue, cramping, heart arrhythmia and severe pain.

Read more HERE.

-Keith Fraser

B.C. ski resorts scramble to recruit winter workforce thinned out by COVID travel restrictions

Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna saw a surprising flurry of job applicants following the Thanksgiving long weekend to fill some of the 650 positions it’s trying to fill for the upcoming ski season, not that it takes any pressure off senior vice-president Michael Ballingall.

In a normal year, Big White would get five to six applicants for every position it offers, this year, deep in B.C.’s fourth wave of COVID-19, “we don’t have one-to-one,” Ballingall said, which is currently typical across a lot of ski resorts in the province.

Skiing proved to be a popular outdoor outlet for a lot of British Columbians during the first waves of the pandemic, which has resorts banking on another solid season.

Recruiting, however, remains a challenge as earlier COVID-related travel restrictions still make it difficult to secure the usual pool of snow-seeking foreign visitors that resorts traditionally relied on to fill out their workforce, and resorts compete with all other hospitality businesses to hire from an increasingly thin local labour pool.

Read more HERE.

-Derrick Penner

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