Category "News"


B.C. extends COVID-19 income, disability and senior assistance programs

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VICTORIA — B.C. will continue to offer COVID-19 financial support for income and disability clients, as well as monthly crisis supplements for low-income seniors, the government announced Monday.

The province has extended for two months its $300 monthly crisis supplement to low-income seniors, which also goes to income and disability clients who reside in special care facilities, said Social Development Minister Shane Simpson.

Recipients will not have to reapply, and the money will continue to flow automatically on cheques between July 22 and Aug. 26. The money is earmarked for British Columbians on provincial income, disability, senior’s or comfort assistance programs who aren’t receiving federal employment insurance or the $2,000 monthly Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The program started in April.

The B.C. government also extended a policy that prevents clawbacks of financial aid from those receiving both new federal COVID-19 assistance on top of provincial income or disability assistance.


Vancouver man with dementia has been missing for one year

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The Vancouver Police Department has re-issuing a public plea for help in finding a 62-year-old Vancouver man who went missing from his assisted-living home one year ago.

David Sullivan, who has dementia and Type 2 diabetes, was last seen June 27, 2019.

“His disappearance was highly unusual and despite extensive efforts, police have found no sign of him,” said VPD spokesperson Sgt. Aaron Roed.  “We are appealing for the assistance of anyone who may have information on his disappearance. Understandably, his family and friends are desperate for answers.”

David Sullivan, who has dementia and Type 2 diabetes, was last seen June 27, 2019. VPD handout

In a security camera image captured two days after he was last seen, Sullivan was wearing a red-and-white checkered short-sleeve shirt, brown pants and carrying a blue gym bag.

He is described as a white man, bald, and around 5-feet-11 with a heavy build.

Anyone with information about Sullivan’s whereabouts can call the Vancouver police missing persons unit at-604 717-2533.


Vancouver park board votes to ease traffic restrictions in Stanley Park

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“We are joining Stanley Park businesses’ calls to remove uncertainty and restore broader accessibility to the park so customers can return and businesses can begin to recover. Moving forward, there should be a consultative and collaborative approach to working with the business community to improve environmentally friendly and low-carbon options to access the park.”

The Teahouse restaurant, which has been operating in Stanley Park for more than 40 years, has argued against a proposal to eliminate one of the two lanes of roadway and reduce available parking in Stanley Park.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest crisis we’ve faced in 100 years, and we need normalcy rather than uncertainty,” said The Teahouse owner Brent Davies.

“The changes to Stanley Park are being made during an unprecedented time without consideration of the additional impact they will have. Reduced vehicle access and parking will be detrimental to employees and park goers.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry has backed the five members of the park board who don’t necessarily want to go back to the way it was pre-pandemic, saying she would be in favour of encouraging active transportation.


-with files from Gord McIntyre


Detention of former gang associate in special unit at Kent prison declared unlawful by judge

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In March there was a hearing before the warden that confirmed the transfer.

Raju applied to set aside the warden’s decision and argued in court that he was not treated fairly by prison officials, a claim the judge accepted.

“In my view, there has been substantial procedural unfairness visited on the applicant in these proceedings,” said the judge. “Significant disclosure on which the warden relied in reaching her decision was not disclosed to the applicant. Here, I refer to CCTV footage showing some interaction between the applicant and another inmate, said to depict an assault.”

Raj could not make submissions on what was shown on the CCTV footage because it was not disclosed to him, said the judge. The footage shows the other prisoner following Raju into his cell and six seconds later the other prisoner falling backward into the hallway, appearing to put his right hand up to the side of his face before immediately getting to his feet and re-entering the cell, he said.

“There is no way to discern from the CCTV footage what occurred between the two men during the critical six seconds. Because the CCTV footage was not disclosed to the applicant, he could not make submissions about what it did or did not depict,” the judge said.

The judge directed that Raju be released from SIU to a maximum security federal prison. Since the ruling, he’s been transferred to a prison in Edmonton.




‘What happened inside the hospital?’ Family of deceased Abbotsford man wants answers

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The new guidelines include “mental-health disability” — anyone in crisis or experiencing any mental-health-related issue that compromises decision-making.

The health authority said the revision was already in the works and is unrelated to Uko’s death.

But Nyee believes otherwise.

He said it’s clear Uko needed to have a person with him in the hospital.

“Samwel comes in with mental-health issues. How’re you going to deal with it? It’s not something you can see. It’s not something you can put under an MRI and you will know.

“They need someone to be there.”

Saskatchewan’s chief coroner is looking at the case seriously, but will not decide whether to hold an inquest until the investigation is complete, said a spokeswoman with the Ministry of Justice.

Citing privacy concerns, the health authority said it cannot talk about the case.

Scott Livingstone, head of the health authority, said earlier this week that officials were working with Uko’s family members to answer their questions.

Nyee said that didn’t happen right away.

And the family still doesn’t have answers.

“Did they give him the help that he needed? Did they at least try to do something?

“We want to know what happened.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2020


COVID-19: New substances used to cut street drugs much harder to ‘reverse’

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“There’s a real lack of skill providers out there and we don’t have a functioning addiction treatment system in B.C.,” she said.

Karen Ward, drug policy adviser for the City of Vancouver, said overdoses and deaths in the city’s Downtown Eastside skyrocketed when COVID-19 measures came into effect mid-March and shut down services and facilities in the neighbourhood.

“That was a lot, all at once, in a very short period of time,” she said. “April … it’s bad but compared to March it’s actually not as bad as I feared.”

Ward said she was heartened, however, to see the coroners report that average daily drug deaths had fallen during income assistance week in April to 3.9 deaths per day, after spiking to 6.6 deaths per day in March. It was the first time she could recall cheque week being less deadly than the rest of the month.

She believes $300 in provincial emergency aid for people on income and disability assistance, along with new banking measures implemented by Pigeon Park Savings and Vancity, played a role in saving lives.

“That (April) was the first time we got our $300 emergency supplements,” she said.

“It’s about poverty. So many of deaths during cheque week are about the fact that the government dumps a huge pile of money in a very small space, on some very desperate people.”




What do I do if my parents get sick? Your COVID-19 questions answered — kids’ edition | CBC News

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Today’s edition is a little different — We’ve teamed up with CBC Kids News to answer questions from, well, kids! So today’s FAQ is devoted to them. As always, you can continue sending us your questions about the pandemic via email to COVID@cbc.ca, no matter how old you are, and we’ll try our best to answer as many as we can.

What should I do if both of my parents catch COVID-19?

Nicholas is 12 years old and lives in Fredericton. He wants to know what happens if both of his parents catch COVID-19.

Nicholas in Fredericton wants to know what he should if both of his parents catch COVID-19. 0:09

Health Canada advises anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate. 

So what should you do if both of your parents get sick and need to self-isolate? Toronto-area pediatrician Dr. Dina Kulik recommends giving them space, so you don’t get the virus too.

“It depends on your age,” says Kulik, pediatric emergency medicine physician and founder of Kidcrew Medical, a pediatric clinic in Toronto. “If you are old enough to take care of yourself, cook your own meals, and don’t need your parents to care for you day-to-day, I would suggest isolating from them.”

However, every family should have a plan, and if the parents and child feel as though the child would be better off living with a friend or relative, then that’s an option too. But Kulik cautions that it’s possible the child could be asymptomatic, meaning a person has the virus but is not showing any symptoms, and that could put the other caregivers at risk.

If you are sharing a space with someone who’s sick, Kulik also recommends wiping down all high-traffic surfaces such as counters, door handles, and even the refrigerator, with products approved for use against the coronavirus including:  alcohol, peroxide, or a bleach solution. She also advises using a different washroom if possible, which should help contain the spread. —

Canada’s top doctor, Theresa Tam, told CBC Kids News, “It’s normal to feel frightened,” but make your parents know you’re worried, and remember you’re not alone. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family had to deal with the coronavirus, when his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive. She has since recovered. 

“It would be scary to have two sick parents, but it is not your job as a child to take care of them or make adult decisions for them,” says Alyson Schafer, family counsellor and parenting expert. “You only need to let other adults and professionals do their job of taking care of them and trust that everyone is helping people sick with COVID-19.”

This is a frightening disease, but most people recover, Schafer says. “Your mind may want to worry about future events that might happen, but we don’t know what the future will bring, so try to focus your mind on what the reality is at the moment.”

If you need support during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact Kids Help Phone.

Is the pandemic under control? When will it end?

A lot of people are sending us questions about when this will all be over, including 11-year-old Alexander in Calgary who wants to know when he can go back to school and continue learning. 

Alex in Calgary wants to know if this pandemic is under control and when he will be able to go back to school. 0:25

There is a lot we don’t know about this pandemic, and it’s not clear when Canadian kids can go back to their normal lives.

Other countries are already easing up some restrictions; for example, schools in Norway will welcome back students this week, while some schools in Germany have already reopened, after closing down in March. 

In Canada, schools remain closed, because provinces and territories will need to continue practicing social distancing for a little longer, experts say, in order to reduce the rate at which the virus is spreading.  

“COVID-19 started in December, and it is only April. It is a novel coronavirus, meaning it is new and therefore we don’t have long-term data on it,” says Kulik. 

Kulik said it usually takes about three months before the positive results of physical distancing become apparent.

“Most of Canada started this process in mid-March. So, if we continue to be cautious and minimize exposure to others, we are looking at lessening restrictions this summer,” she says, cautioning that Canada is still “months from going back to normal.”

New Brunswick and Saskatchewan are already planning to reopen parks and beaches, but both provinces say schools will likely remain closed until the end of summer.

“The more restrictive we are now, the sooner we can go back to normal. Jumping back to normalcy may lead to further months in lockdown,” Kulik says. 

Will it be safe to go swimming in the lakes this summer? 

This question comes from David, 10, who emailed CBC Kids News, because he wants to know if it will be safe to swim in lakes this summer.  

In theory, it should be safe to swim in lakes, but only if physical distancing restrictions are relaxed. Why? Because the virus is transmitted person-to-person, health authorities have closed beaches, boat launches and most marinas to reduce the rate of new COVID-19 cases by preventing crowds from gathering in recreation areas.

But, New Brunswick recently reopened its outdoor spaces, such as parks and beaches. And officials will allow gatherings of up to 10 people within two to four weeks, as long as they maintain a physical distance of at least two metres, and provided there is no significant new wave of infections. 

Saskatchewan also announced it is planning to reopen municipal parks and swimming pools, but the date is yet to be determined.

According to Canada’s Public Health Agency, provincial and territorial governments may issue more specific guidance about this in the coming weeks. 

As for pools? We’ve already tackled that question. You can read about it here.  

Can cats and dogs get sick from the coronavirus?

Rachel, 11 wrote into CBC Kids News with a question that’s also popular in our COVID@cbc.ca inbox.

While we know animals can become infected — even a tiger in a New York City zoo tested positive for the virus — Dr. Rebecca Archer, a clinical instructor of small animal medicine with the faculty of veterinary medicine at the University of Calgary, has said there is no evidence so far that we can catch the coronavirus from our pets. 

Here’s what Dr. Scott Weese, a veterinarian from the University of Guelph has to say about the coronavirus and our furry friends:

Dr. Scott Weese, a veterinarian from the University of Guelph, explains whether cats and dogs can get sick from the coronavirus. 2:10

Where does Coronavirus come from, and how does it spread? 

Six-year-old Liane wrote into CBC Kids News with a question about where the virus comes from, and how it spreads. 

There’s a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus, but scientists believe it jumped from an animal to a person. But there is no evidence to suggest that animals, including pets, are playing a role in the spread of COVID-19.

You can read more about where the virus originated here.

Respiratory viruses like the coronavirus are typically transmitted by touching your face or breathing in droplets that an infected person has just breathed out.

Here’s how you can stop the spread of COVID-19.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Practice physical distancing.

  • Stay home if you are sick.

You can get more information for kids about COVID-19 and how to prevent it here. 

We’re also answering your questions every night on The National. Last night, your questions included: Should I wear a mask if I’m healthy? Watch below:

An emergency room doctor answers your questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, including the latest advice on whether healthy people should wear masks. 2:37

Friday we answered questions about herd immunity and ironing masks. Read here.

Keep your questions coming by emailing us at COVID@cbc.ca.


COVID-19: Ministers announce supports for people struggling and poor

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He said they are working closely with about 2,000 agencies and non-profits delivering social services to make sure they have what the need to operate through the pandemic.

The B.C. government will use a “crisis supplement model” to support people in income and disability assistance, and is reducing bureaucracy that slows down the delivery of services, Simpson said.

He said they are also forming a plan for assistance cheque-issue day next week. Drug overdoses and deaths spike on the last Wednesday of each month.

“We know this is a challenging time for all British Columbians,” Simpson said.

“It’s a challenging time around the anxiety that’s created by this virus, and the anxiousness, and that is even more challenging for people who are living vulnerable. For people who are poor, people with disabilities, people who are on the street, the homeless, it’s an extremely challenging time for that population in particular.”


Daphne Bramham: Searching for happiness in the novel coronavirus era

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This is a particularly joyless March and what have we got to look forward to? April, which T.S. Eliot called the cruelest month.

There’s angst all around. It’s impossible to have even a casual conversation with a stranger without the dreaded COVID-19 virus being raised, let alone dinner with friends or a few hours on social media.

We don’t know whether to be afraid or whether to risk being reckless by going to a restaurant, hockey game or pick up a friend at the airport.

We’re worried about the unknown ‘what next’ because even when there is a lull in the seemingly endless news coverage of all things viral, there’s so much more bad news.

The stock market collapse, the joyless battle of the American grandpas for president, the oil shock caused by a seemingly crazed prince, continuing migrant crises in Europe and the Americas, riots in India and so on and so on.

I want to run away from it all. Except for the virus, I would literally have been packing my suitcase right now for Bhutan — the first place on Earth to put happiness before the economy.

But COVID-19 put a stop to that.

My trip was postponed because of the turmoil of changed and cancelled flights, not fear of catching the virus. Ironically, it was only in cancelling that we discovered we’d been rebooked on a return flight that left a day later, took 35 hours with three stops and landed us in Detroit with no indication of how we’d get home.

I’m relieved, but grounded and surrounded with fear of the unknown. How do I — how do any of us — find happiness now when it seems there’s nowhere safe to go?

Naturally, I turned to Google. It’s perhaps a sign of the times that among the first quotes that came up was this misanthropic one: “Happiness comes from peace. Peace comes from indifference.”

That misanthropic recipe from tech entrepreneur Naval Ravikant belies the research, which says the opposite. Happiness comes from engagement, social contact, a feeling of belonging.

Then, up popped Marie Kondo’s exhortation to “spark joy” by decluttering. I nixed that as an immediate solution. But it’s something to keep in mind if ever the time comes for self-isolation.

Beyond that are dozens of others advising that the route to happiness is to find one’s “authentic self” or one’s “inner awesomeness.”

I retreated to the kitchen and put on a pot of soup. But rather than the usual Zen of chopping vegetables as the stock bubbled, it reminded me that I couldn’t find any lentils on the grocery store shelf Monday. Should I join the panicked rush? What if the crisis is real?

Most of us are urban-dwelling, just in time people. Grasshoppers, not ants. We’re a frail lot too when you consider the Inuit and Dene in the north, Andean highlanders in the south, nomadic Mongolians or our ancestors.

That’s why I travel, to see how others live. It’s how I’ve come to be on six of the seven continents and travelled in more than 40 countries. It’s why Bhutan beckoned and not a Caribbean beach.

It’s why on a gloomy, rainy day with a case of fake jet lag from the time change, I went looking and found happiness at the Museum of Anthropology. Pulling open drawers, there are small things of beauty and purpose. Towering poles are testament to survival and renaissance against astounding odds.

Wandering aimlessly, it’s impossible not to see the interconnectedness of human imagination and endeavour from the fearsome to the sublimely decorative to the practical.

(If fear or the virus keeps you home, you might want to try it virtually. The collection is online at http://collection-online.moa.ubc.ca/)

There were spears, swords, fertility figures, wedding dresses, bowls, spoons, as well as religious objects and necklaces with charms meant to ward off the unforeseen, the unpredictable and the deadly that have always stalked us.

On a recent trip to Edinburgh, I took a tour of Mary King’s Close where in 1645 the pneumonic or ‘black’ plague stalked the residents of the crowded underground tenements.

Their doctors dressed in long leather cloaks with large brimmed hats and wore grotesque, beaked masks made of tin and filled with herbs to repel the evil smells that were thought to carry disease. The sight of today’s health-care workers in HAZMAT suits, N-95 masks, visors and gloves are not less disturbing, albeit far more effective.

Humans understand science better now than in the past. With every new outbreak from HIV/AIDS to Ebola to SARS, the time from first detection to getting it under control has improved. Yet, the unseen and the unknowable remains no less frightening to us than it was to a 17th century Scot or a 19th century Haida.

Where once people flocked to church looking for benediction and salvation, these days they head to Costco.

But for some peace and perspective? Try some homemade soup and some quiet time at a museum … Just don’t touch your face and make sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before you leave.




Daphne Bramham: Canada’s other public health crisis also needs urgent attention

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There is a very real and deadly health crisis in B.C. from which two people died yesterday and two more will likely die today, tomorrow and the days after that.

It’s not COVID-19, and no news conference was hastily called to talk about it.

Most of those dead and dying are blue-collar guys in what should be the prime of their lives.

This is the reality as B.C. lurches into the fifth year of an opioid overdose crisis. It’s a seemingly unending emergency that by the end of 2019 had already killed 5,539 people here and more than 13,900 across Canada.

Five years in, this crisis has become normalized, with the only certainty as we face another day is that first responders are now better at resuscitating victims because, year over year, the calls have only continued to increase.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed his top ministers to a committee tasked with responding to the COVID-19 crisis. At that point, Canada had only 30 confirmed cases. Of the 21 B.C. cases, four of the patients have fully recovered.

Not to belittle the concerns about COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic, but with nearly 14,000 dead already, no committee — high-level or otherwise — has yet been struck to devise a national addictions strategy that would deal not only with opioids, but also the biggest killer, which is alcohol. A 2019 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that 10 Canadians die every day from substance use, and three-quarters of those deaths are alcohol-related.

During the 2019 election, the issue flared briefly after Conservatives placed ads — mainly through ethnic media — claiming that Trudeau’s Liberals planned to legalize all drugs, including heroin.

Already beleaguered, Trudeau not only denied it, he quickly disavowed the resolution overwhelmingly passed at the party’s 2018 convention that called on the Canadian government to treat addiction as a health issue, expand treatment and harm reduction services, and decriminalize personal-use possession of all drugs, with people diverted away from the criminal courts and into treatment.

Trudeau disavowed it again this week when a Liberal backbencher’s private member’s bill was put on the order paper.

Liberal member of Parliament Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (in front) pictured in 2018.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Depending on how you read Bill C-236, it’s either calling for decriminalization or legalization. Regardless, the fact that Nathaniel Erskine-Smith’s bill will be debated at least gets it on the political agenda because unless there are some major changes, Canadians are going to continue dying at these unacceptably high rates that have already caused the national life expectancy to drop.

Erskine-Smith, an Ontario MP from the Beaches-East York riding, favours a Portugal-style plan of which decriminalization plays only a small part.

But parliamentary rules forbid private member’s bills from committing the government to any new spending, so he said his bill could only narrowly focus on decriminalization.

The slim bill says charges could be laid “only if … the individual cannot be adequately dealt with by a warning or referral (to a program agency or service provider) … or by way of alternative measures.”

Erskine-Smith disagreed with the suggestion that it gives too much discretionary power to police — especially since in B.C., it’s prosecutors, not police, who determine whether charges are laid.

Still, what he proposes is quite different from what happens in Portugal.

There, police have no discretionary power. People found with illicit drugs are arrested and taken to the police station where the drugs are weighed, and the person is either charged with possession and sent to court or diverted to the Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Use to meet with social workers, therapists and addictions specialists who map out a plan.

Since private members’ bills rarely pass, Erskine-Smith doesn’t hold out much hope for his.

It created a firestorm on social media, with some recovery advocates pitted against advocates for harm reduction, including full legalization.


Federal Conservatives also repeated their trope that drug legalization is part of Trudeau’s secret agenda.

Meanwhile, Alberta’s United Conservative government inflamed some harm-reduction advocates with the release of a report on the adverse social and economic impacts of safe consumption sites, even though it didn’t recommend shutting them down.

The report acknowledged that they play an important role in a continuum of care, but it also called for beefed-up enforcement to lessen the chaos that often surrounds them.

The committee questioned some data provided to them that suggested Lethbridge — population 92,730 — may be the world’s most-used injection site.

The committee also questioned why some operators report all adverse events, including non-life-threatening ones as overdoses, leaving the impression that without the sites “thousands of people would have fatally overdosed.”

Among its recommendations are better data collection using standardized definitions as well as better tracking of users to determine whether they are being referred to other services.

More than a year ago, Canadians overwhelmingly told the Angus Reid Institute that they supported mandatory treatment for opioid addiction.

Nearly half said they were willing to consider decriminalization. Nearly half also said that neither Ottawa nor the provinces were doing enough to ease the epidemic.

It seems Canadians are eager for change even if they’re not yet certain what it should look like. The only ones who seem reluctant are the politicians.



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