Posts Tagged "langley"


What is B.C.’s plan for residents on income and disability assistance? Update to come

by admin

The province is expected to provide information Thursday on its plan for residents receiving income and disability assistance.

The minister of social development and poverty reduction will address media at a news conference in Vancouver.

CTVNewsVancouver.ca will stream the news conference LIVE @ 10 a.m.

No details have been provided in the advisory other than that Shane Simpson will discuss “temporary COVID-19 supports and supplements.”

An American Sign Language translation of today’s news conference is available on the provincial government’s YouTube page

This article is developing. Check back for updates.



Essential services in B.C.: Find out if your job is on the list

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At a time when some businesses are boarding up, others are busier than ever.

Members of the public may be confused about why some people are still working, while others are off the clock for the foreseeable future.

B.C. has deemed some businesses and industries as “essential services,” a term for daily services the province says are required for “preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning.”

These businesses and services are generally still operating, though they can be shut down if not following public health guidelines.

Similarly, businesses not on the list may be permitted to stay open if they’re able to adapt to those same guidelines.

Wondering which services and jobs count as essential? Here’s a list from the Ministry of Public Safety.

Health and health services

  • Acute care at hospitals
  • Secondary and long-term care
  • Coroners
  • Public health
  • Detox facilities
  • Safe-injection sites
  • COVID-19 testing
  • Clinical research on COVID-19
  • Blood and plasma donation
  • Emergency pre-hospital services
  • Physicians
  • Dentists
  • Psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors
  • Other mental health services
  • Outreach workers
  • Overdose and harm reduction
  • Mid-level practitioners
  • Nurses and assistants
  • Infection control
  • Pharmacists
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Social workers
  • Substance use and peer support workers
  • Speech pathologists
  • Diagnostic and therapeutic technicians
  • Chiropractors
  • Naturopaths
  • Crisis Centres
  • Meal programs
  • Paramedics
  • Pharmaceutical production
  • Medical laboratories and research, medical testing and analytical testing labs
  • Medical supply and equipment manufacturers
  • Wholesale, distribution and stores
  • Safe supply
  • Health plans, billing and information services


Law enforcement and public safety

  • Police and firefighters
  • Corrections
  • Park rangers
  • Commercial vehicle safety enforcement
  • Security
  • Court services
  • Bylaw enforcement
  • Communication and dispatch for first responders
  • Other services that provide public safety
  • Volunteers including search and rescue, public safety lifeline
  • Public sector workers for peace, order and good government
  • Technical infrastructure maintenance
  • Other employees and businesses of contracted service providers relating to this field
  • Emergency management personnel
  • Businesses that support critical infrastructure repairs and emergency response requirements
  • Equipment and uniform suppliers to first responders


Communications, information and IT

  • IT and communications for medical facilities, governments, emergency response, energy and utilities, banks and other critical infrastructure categories
  • Journalists and others involved in the production of news online, on TV, on the radio and in newspapers
  • IT, radio, cable providers and telecommunications service including internet and phone
  • Manufacturers and distributors of communications equipment


Non-health service providers

  • Livestock, pet and shelter services
  • Coroners
  • Funeral homes
  • Crematoriums and cemeteries
  • Banks
  • Credit unions
  • Workers who support security and technical operations for financial institutions
  • Capital markets
  • Services related to bankruptcy and credit
  • Non-bank services including cheque-cashing and money sending
  • Accounting
  • Payroll
  • Translators
  • Legal services
  • Insurance
  • Adjudication providers
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Elevator maintenance
  • Exterminators
  • Property management
  • Custodial/janitorial
  • Cleaning
  • Fire safety and sprinklers
  • Building systems maintenance and repair
  • Engineers
  • Mechanics
  • K-12 and post-secondary schools – currently closed as they’re unable to comply with COVID-19 physical distancing rules
  • Laundromats
  • Drycleaners
  • Restaurants and other facilities that are able to offer takeout and delivery
  • Towing services
  • Construction industry
  • Forestry and silviculture
  • Research services supporting essential sectors
  • Government
  • Businesses and non-profits that provide services on behalf of the government, including BC Services, residential tenancy, income and disability assistance and MSP
  • Weather forecasters
  • Mining
  • Workers at operation centres that help other essential services
  • Land registration
  • Real estate
  • Building code enforcement
  • Public washrooms for people without shelter
  • Parks and greenspace


Vulnerable population service providers

  • Non-profits and businesses that provide food, shelter, support services and other necessities, including food banks, social housing, SROs and residential health facilities
  • Community services and outreach for immigrants, refugees and vulnerable populations
  • Care for seniors and people with disabilities, including service support
  • Child care for people providing essential services
  • Caregivers for children in and out of care
  • Residential care for individuals with mental health and substance use challenges
  • Government and non-profit delivery staff providing access to income support
  • Residential and care facilities and shelters
  • Overdose prevention sites and services
  • Medical cannabis provision
  • Businesses that sell, rent and repair assistive devices and aids, or products for the health sector


Food and agriculture

  • Food cultivation including farming, fishing and food supply chain
  • Food processing, manufacturing, storage and distribution
  • Workers who maintain or repair equipment
  • Workers, including temporary foreign workers, who support agricultural operations
  • Farming supply, including seed, pesticides and machinery
  • Food inspection services
  • Businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including veterinarians, kennels, zoos, aquariums and research facilities



  • Grocery stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Farmers’ markets
  • Pet and livestock supply stores
  • Liquor stores
  • Cannabis
  • Stores that sell household consumer products, including cleaning products
  • Stores that sell groceries and other products, including home supply, hardware and garden centres


Transportation, infrastructure and manufacturing

  • Public transit
  • Supply chain for services including cooling, storage, packaging and distribution
  • Maintenance and operation of cargo services
  • Manufacturers and distributors of packaging and shipping materials
  • Truck drivers who haul hazardous and other waste materials
  • Local, regional and provincial delivery services, including mail
  • Maintenance and repair of highways, roads and bridges
  • Maintenance and repair of overhaul vehicles, aircraft, rail, marine vessels, etc.
  • Vehicle rentals and leasing
  • Services involved in ports, road, air and rail operation
  • Facilities and workers that support delivery through use of truck scales, commercial vehicle inspection and more, including truck rest stops
  • Businesses that supply other essential businesses and people working from home
  • Private transportation, including taxis, ride-hailing and aircraft
  • Chemical and industrial gas supply chain
  • Public works operations
  • Inspection and maintenance at industrial facilities
  • Inspectors of worksites, and workers who process and manage claims from people injured on the job
  • Hotels and other accommodations
  • Consuls General staff
  • Landlords of consulate buildings
  • Storage for essential businesses
  • Businesses that provide materials for transportation systems
  • Businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, equipment and materials
  • Vegetation management crews
  • Traffic workers
  • Businesses that provide staffing services, including temporary jobs
  • Businesses that support the safe operations of residences, businesses and facilities


Critical infrastructure

  • Critical infrastructure service providers including drilling, refineries, processing, utilities, transmission services, transportation, drinking water and waste water
  • Manufacturing of goods needed for other essential infrastructure and business
  • Gas stations
  • Diesel, propane and heating fuel providers
  • Operations for water, waste water, water testing, etc.



  • Necessary cleaning services
  • Manufacturing of sanitary products
  • Retrofitters able to produce goods and services that can be used to support critical shortages
  • Businesses including environmental consulting firms, engineers and geoscientists, septics haulers and exterminators
  • Garbage, organics and recycling

Your rights in a pandemic: What B.C.’s human rights commissioner wants you to know

by admin

Human rights and civil liberties must be balanced against the safety and health of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to B.C.’s human rights commissioner.

“Human rights are never more important than in times of crisis. It is precisely when they are hardest to to fulfill that they are the most important,” Commissioner Kasari Govender said in a video address posted to YouTube.

“It is in these challenging times that it becomes critical for us to know our human rights, for us to understand the scope and protections here in B.C., and for all of us to place human rights in the centre of our decision making.”

Govender released a statement Tuesday saying decisions that limit human rights and civil liberties “must be evidence-based, proportionate to the public health risk, temporary and transparent.” 

“Like any other context, we must be vigilant about how racism, economic inequalities and classism, ableism, ageism and misogyny may all be factors in how people are treated and how people experience the pandemic,” she said.

A comprehensive policy statement from the commissioner and available online is intended to provide guidance to “employers, landlords, service providers and each of us as individuals about how to ensure that human rights are protected and balanced against urgent public health priorities.”

Govender says in the absence of the Human Right Tribunal or the courts being able to weigh in on whether COVID-19 amount to a disability, she says she believes it does.

“The seriousness of this illness – and the potential stigma that attaches to it – make it more akin to the legal protections that apply to HIV than to the common cold,” the policy statement says.

Discrimination on the basis of race, colour, ancestry or place of origin is also prohibited. This means that discrimination against someone who comes from a COVID-19 hotspot, like China or Italy, is prohibited. Restrictions based on recent travel may be considered reasonable, and not discriminatory, based on guidance from public health officials.

Below are just some of the findings of the full report


“Employers cannot make hiring, discipline or firing decisions on the basis of whether a person has, or appears to have COVID-19. However, it is not discriminatory to lay off employees if there is no work for them to do because of the impacts of COVID-19,” the document says.

It goes on to say employers are required to accommodate workers who may have had the virus and precautions must be taken to prevent further spread within a workplace, which could include providing sick leave or letting employees work from home.

Employers cannot discipline employees unable to come to work because medical or public health officials have told them to self-isolate or enter self-quarantine in connection to the virus.

Protections must also be in place for workers with compromised immune systems or the elderly, which could include additional cleaning or allowing employees to work from home. 

“Employers may also need to accommodate employees with increased child care obligations due to the pandemic. Protections related to family status may require employers to take all actions short of undue hardship to accommodate family care giving responsibilities where an employee is unable to cover the necessary care through other means.”

It also says employers should not require sick notes during this time due to the burden they would place on the medical system.

Service providers

There is also direction for service providers, which include everything from health care, to homeless shelters, to food vendors.

The report says “service providers cannot turn away someone seeking assistance or services because that person appears to have COVID-19, unless it is necessary to keep themselves or others virus-free and there is no way (short of undue hardship) to do so otherwise.”

It also places grocery stores and pharmacies should consider creating times for vulnerable people such as the elderly to shop without other customers. That is something that is already being done by many places across Canada and in Metro Vancouver. 

Housing providers

The report says landlords cannot turn away an application, harass a tenant, or evict someone because they have, or appear to have, COVID-19. The landlord is required to take precautions though, which includes cleaning common areas in buildings like elevators to help stop the spread.

Landlords may not turn away or evict tenants that have ties to COVID-19 hotspots (like China or Italy).

The commissioner is also urging landlords (though not required by law) to delay evictions due to non-payment of rent during the pandemic. 

Public impacts

The office of the human rights commissioner is looking for public feedback on how the pandemic is affecting lives in B.C., including details about barriers and discrimination British Columbians may be facing. 



Some B.C. parks are now fully closed to the public

by admin

A few days after it was announced that provincial parks in B.C. would be off-limits to camping during the COVID-19 pandemic, some have now been closed altogether.

Parks in B.C. have seen an uptick in visitors, but many people have not been observing physical distancing, according to a news release from BC Parks. Public health officials have advised people should maintain at least a two-metre physical distance from others to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On the South Coast, Chilliwack Lake, Joffre Lakes, Murrin, Shannon Falls provincial parks, as well as the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and Protected Area, are all now closed to the public. Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park in the Okanagan is also now closed.

BC Parks said they will continue to monitor the outbreak and additional closures could be implemented on a “case-by-case basis” if required.

“People who still choose to visit provincial parks should be mindful that they are now responsible for their own safety and that washroom facilities will not be available,” the release stated.

Recreation Sites and Trails BC announced that its campgrounds and amenities would also be closed.

“The temporary closure includes RSTBC campgrounds where there is an increased likelihood of close contact with frequently touched surfaces, including toilets, kiosks, ticket booths, overnight shelters and day-use shelters,” the government agency said. “Day-use shelters, backcountry cabins, warming huts, ticket booths at snowmobile areas and other built facilities will be closed.”

Several Metro Vancouver municipalities have also closed their outdoor areas after people ignored physical distancing guidelines. On Monday night, White Rock’s city council voted in favour of closing the city’s pier, and the City of Vancouver closed its ball courts, playing fields and parking lots near popular beaches and parks.

“The mental and physical wellness benefit of being outside during the COVID-19 pandemic response is important, but keeping people safe right now is the most important thing we can be doing,” said B.C.’s Minister of Environment George Heyman in a news release. “Until we flatten the transmission curve of COVID-19 and people strictly comply with the (provincial health officer) physical distancing requirement, provincial park access will be restricted.”

For the full list of closures, including parks in the north and on Vancouver Island, you can visit the BC Parks website. 


Some Vancouver renters get reprieve on evictions as COVID-19 restrictions take hold

by admin

The City of Vancouver has asked developers to voluntarily and indefinitely hold off on evicting tenants if the eviction is for redevelopment, and therefore falls under the city’s tenant relocation policies.

Sarah Lindsay is one tenant who could benefit from such a delay: the Vancouver resident has rented a two-bedroom apartment in a heritage house in Mount Pleasant for 17 years. She was give an eviction notice in December 2019 so the developer that bought the house, Port Living, can redevelop her home and neighbouring buildings.

Lindsay pays under $1,000 to rent her current home, and her main income source is $1,200 a month in disability payments. She’s been searching for a new place for months, but so far hasn’t had any luck, even though she’s given up on Vancouver and has been looking in small towns on Vancouver Island.

Her eviction is now looming at the end of April. With businesses and normal activities increasingly shut down to limit the spread of COVID-19, she’s found that landlords are now not even showing units that were previously advertised as available.

“I’ve been looking for over a year and I’ve applied for a lot of places and I keep getting turned down, and I have a month left,” Lindsay said. “No one’s listing anything right now and every place that I had a viewing cancelled on me.”

To make matters worse, a small business she runs — finding and selling props to sell to film companies shooting in Vancouver — has now ground to a halt after the retail space she rented closed down because of COVID-19.

Because Lindsay’s building is being redeveloped, it falls under the City of Vancouver’s Tenant Relocation Plan — a policy intended to give tenants extra compensation and assistance to look for a new place.

But today the City of Vancouver asked developers who are in the process of evicting tenants to voluntarily put a temporary — but indefinite — hold on evictions for developments that fall under to the Tenant Relocation Plan. The city says it sent the message at noon today and has been in discussions with various developers throughout the afternoon.

In an emailed statement, PortLiving said it is “in close contact with our development partners at the City of Vancouver and will continue to follow their direction toward ensuring the social and economic health of our home and community.”

On Tuesday, Ontario’s provincial government announced it will temporarily not issue any new eviction orders due to COVID-19 and will halt the enforcement of evictions scheduled for this week.

The move followed similar eviction bans enacted in some American cities and states as the COVID-19 pandemic and measures to contain it increasingly take a toll on the economy. On March 16, California’s governor issued an executive order to authorize local governments to halt evictions for renters and homeowners who have been affected by COVID-19.

The B.C. government has been working on the issue, according to MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, and may have more to say tomorrow. On Wednesday afternoon, Chandra Herbert said he was bringing his recommendations to Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Those recommendations will then go to cabinet on Thursday or Friday.


Emergency response needed for Vancouver’s homeless, advocates say

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Advocates for Vancouver’s homeless population are calling for an emergency response tailored to the hundreds of people who live in the city but don’t have a home.

Recent estimates suggest there are more than 2,200 homeless people living in Vancouver, according to the city. More than 600 of those are believed to be what advocates refer to as “unsheltered.”

Together with residents of areas including Oppenheimer Park, the group is calling on agencies including Health Canada, the City of Vancouver and the Red Cross to put a COVID-19 plan in place.

“How can you self-isolate when you don’t have a home? How do you wash your hands when you don’t have a sink?” a statement announcing a Tuesday morning news conference read.

Among the issues highlighted by the community is a shortage of soap and hand sanitizers in Oppenheimer Park.

The park, which is being used as a tent city, does have washrooms, but sometimes the facilities are closed, and running water is limited.

Also an issue is that those who live in the park, and other homeless Vancouverites, rely on crowded shelters and drop-in centres, and often wait in line for food. Social distancing is a challenge, and washrooms are shared.

“Many are immune compromised, with chronic disease and disability, and a high percentage are seniors. The vast majority don’t have phones to call 811 for testing or help,” the news release said.

This is a developing news story and will be updated. Check back for more.


School staff member seriously injured in assault at Surrey high school

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Surrey RCMP are responding to a serious assault at LA Matheson Secondary School in Surrey that happened at 8:25 a.m. on Friday.

A member of the school staff was seriously injured and has been taken to hospital. The school is currently in lockdown, and police are asking the public to stay away while the lockdown is in place.

A suspect was seen leaving the school grounds in a grey Kia car, and police are now asking anyone who may have witnessed the vehicle leaving, or who might have CCTV or dash cam footage, to contact police at 604-599-0502.

This is a developing story and will be added to throughout the day.


COVID-19: Disability advocates plead for support of immunocompromised

by admin

As the number of COVID-19 infections continues to grow, employers are increasingly taking steps to encourage and facilitate working from home, which health officials and disability advocates say is critical to “flattening the curve” of infections.

The City of Vancouver is now taking steps so that more employees can work from home, while tech companies from smaller Vancouver startups to big multi-national companies like Google and Apple are either encouraging or outright demanding employees stay at home to work.

Those measures to curb the spread of infections at the urging of health officials are coming as a relief to immunocompromised members of the community who worry people forget it’s not just seniors at risk of serious illness and death if they contract COVID-19.

“One of scary things about living with rheumatoid arthritis is that one of the main causes of death for patients is respiratory disease,” said disability advocate Eileen Davidson. “I’ve started to limit how much I’m going out. I’m carrying extra hand sanitizer and starting to stockpile a little bit of food and supplies that I know that I will need and my son will need if things do get bad.”

The Burnaby mother says going to doctors’ appointments in Vancouver with public transit have become a stressful experience, especially since her weak joints mean she’s constantly grabbing at railings and surfaces to steady herself when she wobbles.

“It makes me really think, ‘did I clean my hands properly after I touched the hand rail there or when I touched the elevator in my doctor’s office?’ The thoughts just keep multiplying and I can see why a lot people are getting anxious about it because we can control what we touch, but we can’t control what other people have touched,” she said.

New government support for sick employees

The federal government announced a $1-billion COVID-19 aid package on Wednesday, including eliminating the wait time for employment insurance payments, among other measures. A statement from the prime minister’s office added, “We are exploring additional measures to support other affected Canadians, including income support for those who are not eligible for EI sickness benefits.”

Canada’s top doctor said keeping sick people away from the workplace is a key measure in the fight against COVID-19 infections.

“The majority of cases, if we look around the world, are actually in working-age adults and so business continuity and work planning using these scenarios are very important,” said Tam. “That’s why the supports for people to do what local public health is asking them to do is just so important.”

Flattening the curve

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged that at this point officials are just hoping to curb the rate of infections so they don’t overwhelm doctors and hospitals with severe cases.

“We know that what is extremely important right now is that every Canadian does their part to arrest the spread of this virus, to slow the infection curve we’re seeing elsewhere around the world,” said Trudeau, referring to the surge of infections seen in places like Italy, which are flooding hospitals with severe infections that outstrip the medical resources available, like ventilators.

“We know that by keeping a slow pace for the spread of the virus we will avoid over-burdening our health care system and more people getting the illness, so we need to make sure everyone is given the tools they need — whether it’s figuring out how to stay home from work and work from home…whether it’s making smart decisions around shaking fewer hands, washing your hands more often.”


‘Our lives are worth living’: Remembering those with disabilities who were murdered

by admin

A solemn group of two dozen gathered in Burnaby Sunday to remember those whose lives were cut short at the hands of loved ones.

The annual Disability Day of Mourning is a vigil dedicated to raising awareness that some people with disabilities are killed by caretakers and family members.

“Many of us organizing, and many attending, do have disabilities ourselves,” said Vivian Ly, one of the founders of Autistics United Canada. “A lot of us have had violence enacted on us by our caretakers. A lot of questions that come up are, ‘Am I next?’”

“[The vigil] is sending the message that our lives are worth living; that these murders are not justified,” she said.

In preparing for this year’s event, Ly researched one of Metro Vancouver’s latest victims, Florence Girard, a 54-year-old Port Coquitlam woman who had Down syndrome.

Girard was found starved and malnourished in October 2018; she weighed just 56 pounds. Her case was not brought to light until this year, when her caretaker was formally charged in her death.

“She did not deserve such a horrific death,” Ly said. “She deserved way better from those who were responsible for her care.”

She doesn’t want to focus on the circumstances of Girard’s death and pending court case, but rather remember the life that she led. She told the crowd the 54-year-old was funny, liked to take photos and swam competitively.

“We want to remember them as people,” Ly said. “People like us. And they had voices, too – even if they were silenced too soon.”

During the vigil, Sam McCulligh, another organizer, read a list of victims from across the country who have died since this type of death began being officially recorded.

“When I read the list, I just think about how many people have been senselessly murdered,” he said.

The list contains 61 names, but McCulligh believes there are many more cases that didn’t get reported.

For example, the list dates back to the early 1940s, but only two cases are mentioned before it jumps to a victim in 1977. Then there’s another large gap before Tracy Latimer’s name is mentioned.

The 12-year-old Saskatchewan girl was killed by her father in 1993. Robert Latimer served 10 years in prison and when he was released, he said he had no regrets about killing her.

The father always claimed he killed her out of compassion to end her daily pain and suffering.

“It’s extremely disturbing to me that he’s been receiving so much support after essentially murdering his own daughter,” McCulligh said. “A lot of times, we aren’t viewed as full people; our lives are viewed as tragedies, viewed as burdens.”

He said that is why it is so important to hold events like the vigil to raise awareness that a disability should not result in a death sentence. 


First province-wide ride-hailing licence goes to Richmond startup

by admin

The Passenger Transportation Board’s latest round of application decisions included the approval of the first province-wide ride-hailing licence to a Richmond start-up that had once been in hot water.

Kabu is the first company to apply for ride-hail licences in every region of the province, and received permission to operate in every one of them, giving all British Columbians the prospect of access to the popular services.

“This morning, when we received the news from the PTB, there were a lot of tears that were shed,” said Kabu spokesperson Martin Van Den Hemel. “We have hundreds of drivers that are ready to join our company and when we’re ready to launch we believe we’re able to provide excellent service here in Richmond, Vancouver and the Vancouver area.”

Van Den Hemel believes the company can sort out insurance and other logistical requirements in the next couple of weeks before activating the app for service in the Lower Mainland.

The Richmond-based company admits it had been running up to 3,000 rides a day from 2016 to 2019 under GoKabu through social media platform WeChat, activity that got the company in trouble with the Ministry of Transportation. The City of Richmond opposed the company’s application to the PTB, saying GoKabu had “continuously and flagrantly facilitated unlawful ride hailing,” but in its decision the board says co-founders Austin Zhang and Billy Xiong were young and inexperienced, but admitted their mistakes and paid fines. The decision says since Kabu is a separate legal entity, they would not assess the application based on past conduct – adding that “a past violation does not in and of itself operate as a barrier to granting Kabu’s application.”

And, while the PTB isn’t enthusiastic about Kabu’s prior operations, the board acknowledged the company’s argument that the BC Liberal government of the day had promised to green-light ride-hailing in the province soon.

With the company’s plan to offer multilingual service through diverse drivers, the PTB also found that “Kabu has identified an under-served and growing market niche which focuses on the increasing number of immigrants, tourists, and international students coming to Canada.”

With a shortage of drivers eligible to work for ride-hailing companies due to the province’s Class 4 licence requirement, Kabu acknowledges it’s competing against big companies like Uber and Lyft to attract enough drivers to roll out service in Victoria, Kelowna, and the rest of the province.

“What we’ve committed to doing is providing subsidized health, dental, disability and illness coverage to them as well as free life insurance,” said Van Den Hemel, with a promise of at least $25 per hour in earnings.

“We’re [also] partnering with other Canadian companies to drive down the price of inspecting vehicles, operation and maintenance of vehicles as well as other cost-drivers for these drivers like their cell phone plans and their cellular phones themselves.”

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