Posts Tagged "minister"

22Jan

Ian Mulgrew: Justice minister gets personal about assisted dying

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In the midst of a whirlwind coast-to-coast tour to consult Canadians about medical assistance in dying, federal Justice Minister David Lametti interrupted his Vancouver breakfast Friday.

Under pressure of a March 11 deadline set by the Quebec Superior Court, Lametti hopes to quickly craft amendments he can put to parliament that will make the still-controversial law, often called MAID, constitutionally compliant.

“We’ve all been touched by it,” he confided, setting down his coffee. “I’ll tell you my story if you want to hear it.”

As with so many individuals and families, Lametti has personally confronted an excruciating life-and-death decision involving a loved one.

“In 2016, when we were passing the original legislation, I watched my mother die of a rather negative form of dementia, and it wasn’t easy,” he explained.

“I knew, I had spoken to her (about medical assistance in dying) 10 years before. She was a devout Catholic, and I knew what her beliefs were. So I never would have considered assisted dying for her.”

The 57-year-old former McGill law professor, more comfortable quoting legal precedent than an example from his own life, continued:

“My brothers and I were well aware of what her feelings were. That being said, we did at a certain point have to make a decision that she not undergo further treatment — which is in a sense a delegated decision, although fully within her belief structure, within the church’s belief structure, and within the medical structure.”

Lametti said Canadians have long accepted such delegated decisions when a life was at stake.


David Lametti speaks to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after being presented as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, November 20, 2019.

REUTERS/Blair Gable

“This MAID provides another way for people to chose in an autonomous fashion how they wish to end their life given certain conditions, and usually under very tragic circumstances or sad circumstances or personal circumstances. And it allows for people to do it in a positive, oftentimes spiritual, oftentimes uplifting way.”

Still, in September, the Quebec court said the federal law was too restrictive — allowing MAID only to those facing “reasonably foreseeable” or, depending on your vocabulary, “imminent” death.

Ottawa decided not to appeal the ruling, but was hampered in responding because the decision came down as the federal election campaign started. Now, time is running out.

“We’re consulting experts, MAID providers, we’re consulting persons who feel vulnerable because of the legislation, some people with disabilities,” Lametti said.

“While we’re doing it, we’re trying to touch base with Canadians on a couple of specific issues around advance requests, which we know some Canadians are interested in. … Would people allow for someone who had been evaluated and approved to benefit from MAID even after they have lost consciousness or capacity?

“And then another advance request from someone who had been diagnosed with a well-known progressive disease, so Alzheimer’s, if you get the diagnosis and say, ‘Look, when I reach this stage, I would like the benefit of MAID.’ We’ll see … if there is consensus among Canadians.”

As well as the consultation process under way, the government has posted an online questionnaire.

The MP for the Montreal riding of Lasalle-Émard-Verdun, Lametti said more than 150,000 have responded already.

He pointed out the review was also a bit of an advance scout because the original 2016 MAID legislation contained within it a five-year evaluation process that will begin in June.

Lametti said it will “deal with the really tough issues — mature minors, mental disability and advance requests more generally.”

But he did not think the law itself was under threat:

“The experience that we’ve heard now from caregivers across Canada, from families who have had a loved one benefit from MAID has been I think relatively positive. I think maybe even overwhelmingly positive. … And I think there is a large acceptance of the practice amongst practitioners, amongst people who are facing, in particular, terminal illness. So I think the practice is here to stay and the question is how much farther do we push the boundaries.”

Still, he acknowledged there were passionate critics of MAID, especially among some faiths.

“I hope we don’t reach the same kind of polemics that we do with a question like abortion,” the justice minister said. “But there are a number of legitimate concerns that are raised by people who worry, people living with disabilities, for example, feel vulnerable, and legitimately feel vulnerable. They see themselves as being susceptible to being influenced by others who say, ‘Well, you know, you’d be better off dead.’”

This is about individual autonomy, he insisted.

“But we also, as a government, have to be sensitive, as a society we have to be sensitive, to what one might call quality-of-life issues. We need to make sure the quality and value of care is as best as it can be for people who choose not to have assisted dying but to end their days following a more natural progression,” Lametti said.

“Same is true for other life issues, people living with disabilities or people living with other forms of suffering who want to live and — whether it’s because they want to see their kids grow up, or whether it’s because they want to share more time with loved ones, or they have other things they want to accomplish in life — we need to make sure people can live fulfilling and productive lives even with the suffering they are going through.”

imulgrew@postmedia.com

twitter.com/ianmulgrew

25Nov

NDP members want free patient parking at B.C. hospitals, but minister demurs

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NDP members have backed a call for government to remove paid parking from hospitals for patients and families, similar to a plan by Jon Buss, pictured outside Surrey Memorial Hospital, and his HospitalPayParking.ca campaign.


PNG

VICTORIA — B.C.’s New Democrat party members are urging their government to make hospital parking free for patients and families, but the minister responsible isn’t ready to commit to any such action.

NDP members at the party’s weekend convention passed a resolution that called on the provincial government to “eliminate parking fees for patients and families visiting hospitals in B.C., while taking an evidence-based approach to ensure spaces are available and the system is not abused by those who are not patients or their family members.”

The resolution, which passed on the convention floor, said that parking fees are “a hardship during some of the most stressful moments in a family’s life” and “give private companies the chance to profit from parking violations incurred by sick or grieving people using a publicly run service.”

The fees — which range by health authority, but at the Vancouver General Hospital parkade are $3 per half-an-hour or $18.75 per day — also create a financial barrier within the health care system, according to the resolution.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said his ministry is still reviewing the hospital parking issue, but noted that some of the revenue goes to hospital foundations, supports health care, and offsets expensive parking enforcement services.

Revenue generated from parking fees at all health authorities is approximately $40 million annually, up from $15 million in 2003.

“It’s actually challenging, especially in some communities, to offer low-cost parking and police low-cost parking,” he said. “So it’s a challenging and complicated issue. But it’s one of the issues that the premier has directed me to look at. And so we’re doing that right now. The resolution at the party convention will inform that process as well.”

John Buss, founder of the HospitalPayParking.ca website that is advocating free parking for patients and those visiting them, said he was pleased with the resolution. Buss said he has been participating in the provincial review process and is “very hopeful” Dix has heard the public outcry.

“The issue is, when do we get Mr. Dix to stop reviewing and start doing,” said Buss. “Our group’s fear is it’s going to be used like the tolls on the bridges and we’ll bring it up at election time. Please promise us we don’t hold this issue as a piece of bait for the next election.”

Opposition critic Norm Letnick said a one-size-fits-all solution to hospital parking won’t work and that he’s sympathetic to the cost pressures facing Dix.

“Right now, he’s using those dollars to provide services,” he said. “Philosophically, I’ll wait and see what his position is, because he’s government. And if we don’t like it, we’ll criticize it.”

Dix was equally noncommittal about a separate review passed by NDP members calling for the introduction of a publicly funded dental care plan in the next election, which would start with children and youth before expanding to adults when funding is available.

“Certainly it’s something that we’re open to, but, again, the health care system has currently a $20-billion budget and we have to act within that budget and set priorities within that budget,” he said.

While a limited number of dental surgeries are covered by public healthcare, most are only covered by private extended health insurance plans.

The first priority is incremental improvements for dental coverage for low-income citizens and those with developmental disabilities, said Dix.

Premier John Horgan publicly declared interest in the idea last year. While Dix would not state an estimated cost on Monday, a dental coverage proposal in Ontario was estimated to cost roughly $1.2 billion annually.

Letnick said the government should first focus on making sure national pharmacare programs promised by federal parties don’t download costs onto provinces before considering expensive programs like dental coverage.

rshaw@postmedia.com

twitter.com/robshaw_vansun

30Sep

B.C. teen vaping plan coming within the month, says minister

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https://vancouversun.com/


B.C. will get an action plan to curb teen vape use within a month, says Health Minister Adrian Dix.


VICTORIA — B.C.’s plan to tackle the alarming increase in teen vaping and e-cigarette use will come within a month and likely include a new licensing system similar to tobacco sales, says the province’s health minister.

Adrian Dix said he is concerned by the rising number of cases across North America of youth who have suffered lung damage and other health problems after using e-cigarettes.

“We’re going to act soon,” Dix said Monday. “I think it’s a serious situation. We’re disappointed, despite our considerable efforts, that the federal government didn’t act before the election. But we remain optimistic they will (act). People expect us to act very soon and we will lay out our plan certainly within the next month.”

Although B.C.’s fall legislative session begins next week, the government does not necessarily need a new law, said Dix.

Instead, cabinet could change regulations under a 2015 law that made it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 19, he said. That could be accompanied by public health advertising campaign.

“We need to restrict certain kinds of vaping products, that’s pretty clear,” he said. “We need to raise the standard of vaping products, we need to address issues collectively, the federal and provincial government around advertising, because we need to ensure people understand the risks of vaping — that harm reduction may still mean harm, and if you aren’t a smoker, you shouldn’t vaping.”

There are roughly 90,000 businesses in B.C. currently selling e-cigarettes and vape products, including local corner stores, convenience stores and gas stations. They do not require a license, and health inspectors are stretched thin to catch anyone selling illegally to minors.

A government licensing program would bring the number of retailers down closer to the 6,000 B.C. stores licensed to sell tobacco, with the addition of extra licenses available for dedicated legal vaping stores and cannabis outlets, said Dix.

Governments across Canada and the U.S. are wrestling with the rise of teen vaping, as well as the wide variety of flavoured vape juices that appear designed to appeal to young children.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that usually contain nicotine-infused liquid, which is combined with vapour when the user inhales. They have been marketed as a way to reduce cigarette addiction, but an increase in lung problems recently has caused some states, like Michigan and most recently Washington State, to ban flavoured vape juice.

Dix said the federal government has draft regulations on e-cigarette standards and flavours, and he hopes Ottawa will enact a national standard quickly.

Opposition Liberal critic Todd Stone, who brought in a private member’s bill earlier this year on flavoured e-cigarettes, said he is frustrated that B.C. is taking so long.

“The strongest action we could take is to ban that flavoured juice,” he said. Stone suggested limiting sales to vape shops, tobacco stores and pharmacies.

“This is a public health crisis that has really only emerged in the last 18 to 24 months,” he said. “It’s really come on fast and it’s getting worse by the day. I don’t take much comfort at all in waiting for Ottawa to act.”

rshaw@postmedia.com

twitter.com/robshaw_vansun

23Aug

Daphne Bramham: B.C. addictions minister targets province’s ‘wild, wild West’ recovery houses

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B.C. Addictions Minister Judy Darcy has no illusions about the current state of British Columbia’s recovery houses and the risk that the bad ones pose to anyone seeking safe, quality care.

Nor is she alone when she calls it “the wild, wild West.”

Anyone able to build a website and rent a house can operate a so-called recovery house. Like a game of whack-a-mole, even when inspectors try to shut down the worst ones, they spring up somewhere else.

That said, the regulations they’re supposed to enforce are so vaguely worded that it’s easier for bylaw inspectors to shut places down for garbage infractions than for failure to provide the most basic of services like food and a clean bed to people desperate for help.

Even the most deplorable ones have never been taken to court by the province, let alone fined or convicted which makes the penalties of up to $10,000 moot.

It’s taken two years, but this week Darcy — along with Health Minister Adrian Dix and Social Development Minister Shane Simpson — took the first steps toward bringing some order to the chaos and overturning years of neglect.

In two separate announcements, what they’re offering is both the stick of tighter regulations and enforcement as well as the carrot of more money for operations and training staff.

The carrots announced Friday include $4,000 grants available immediately to registered and licensed recovery home operators to offset the costs of training for staff before tougher regulations come into force on Dec. 1.

On Oct. 1, the per-diem rate paid for the treatment of people on social assistance will be raised after more than a decade without an increase. Recovery houses on the provincial registry will get a 17-per-cent increase to $35.90, while recovery houses licensed by the regional health authorities will jump to $45 from $40.

The sticks are new regulations that for the first time require things like qualified staff, which common sense should have dictated years ago as essential. Recovery houses will have to provide detailed information about what programs and services they offer. Again, this seems a no-brainer, as does requiring operators to develop personal service plans for each resident and support them as they transition out of residential care.

As for enforcement, the “incremental, remedial approach” to complaints has been scrapped and replaced with the power to take immediate action rather than waiting for a month and giving written notice to the operators.

Darcy is also among the first to admit that much, much more needs to be done to rein in bad operators whose purported treatment houses are flophouses and to provide addicts and their families with the resources they need to discern the good from the bad.

More than most, the minister knows the toll that poor funding and lack of regulation is taking both on addicts who seek help and on their loved ones. She’s haunted by meetings she’s had with the loved ones of those who have died in care and those who couldn’t get the services they needed.

“It’s the most difficult thing that I have to do and, of course, it moves me to my core,” she said in an interview following the announcement. “People say, ‘Do you ever get used to it?’ Of course I don’t. If you ever get used to it, you’re doing the wrong job.

“But I try and take that to drive me and to drive our government to do more and to move quickly and act on all fronts and having said that, there’s a lot to do. There’s really, really a lot to do.”

Among those she’s met are the two mothers of men who died within days of each other in December under deplorable conditions in two provincially registered recovery houses run by Step By Step.


B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy shares a laugh with Scott Kolodychuk, operations manager of Surrey’s Trilogy House One recovery home where Friday’s news conference was held.

Mike Bell /

PNG

It was four to six hours before 22-year-old Zach Plett’s body was found after he overdosed and died. On Christmas Eve, a 35-year-old man died at a different Step by Step house. It was two days before his body was found by other residents.

Two years before those men died, the provincial registrar had received dozens of complaints and issued dozens of non-compliances orders. Both houses remained on the registry until this summer when owner/operator Debbie Johnson voluntarily closed them.

After years of relentless advocacy Susan Sanderson, executive director of Realistic Recovery Society, was happy to host the ministers’ Friday announcement at one of its houses. She wants to believe Darcy that these are just first steps since the per-diem rate is still short of the $40 she and others lobbied for and remains a small fraction of what people who aren’t on welfare are charged — charges that can run up to $350 a day.

Having taken these long overdue and much-needed initial steps, maybe Darcy and her colleagues can take another logical next step to support working people getting access recovery who — without access to employee benefit plans — can’t afford the cost of treatment.

They shouldn’t have to wait until they’re destitute to get care, any more than someone on welfare should be deprived of help.

dbramham@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/bramham_daphne

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25Jul

Global measles cases mean B.C. push for vaccination to continue: health minister

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VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s health minister says the number of children fully immunized against measles rose by 37,525 between April and June as part of a catch-up program.

Adrian Dix says a requirement for parents to report students’ immunization records in September is expected to further increase vaccination rates in a province that has seen 29 cases of the infectious disease this year.

Dix says up to 50,000 children begin kindergarten every year so the push for vaccination will continue as measles remains a public health issue, especially given that Washington state declared an emergency in January over a rising number of cases and rates of infection increased around the world.


B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix

Nick Procaylo /

PNG

Dix says the number of vaccinations at doctors’ offices and pharmacists has also increased, with 1,220 people getting immunized by pharmacists between April and June, up from 21 during the same period last year.

He says more public education about measles led to a large number of students in Grades 10, 11 and 12 getting themselves immunized at over 1,000 clinics set up at schools.

Health authorities in B.C. also held over 3,500 public health clinics during the three-month catch-up period so people could get immunized.

“The big challenge is that there’s a tendency to respond to these things when they’re seen as crises and after the crisis ends you sort of take the foot off the gas and we don’t intend to do that,” Dix says. “By changing the way that we engage with people on immunization that’s going to continue.”

Two separate doses of the measles mumps and rubella vaccine are needed to provide immunity against the highly contagious airborne disease, the first dose at 12 months of age and the second usually between the ages of four and six.

Symptoms of the disease that was eradicated in Canada in 1998 include fever, cough, runny nose and a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the chest.


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29May

New probe into patient’s death ordered by B.C. health minister

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Health Minister Adrian Dix.


Francis Georgian / PNG

Health minister Adrian Dix said he’s taking the rare step of ordering an independent review into a patient’s death because of the family’s continuing concerns after the initial investigation conducted by two health agencies.

The Vancouver individual, whose identity is being withheld, died in November 2018 and the only detail Dix would disclose is that paramedics had difficulty “accessing” the patient.

Dix conceded it is rare for health ministers to intervene in such cases and this is the first time he has done so since he became health minister two years ago. But he felt it was important for family members who told him  that they wanted “fresh” eyes on the circumstances leading to the death.

“I just felt we needed to do more,” he said, referring to the patient safety review that B.C. Emergency Health Services and Provincial Health Services Authority carried out right after the death.

The new review  will delve into the medical care in the weeks before the death and the emergency response “in the hours surrounding the death.”

The previous investigation was conducted with so-called Section 51 protection, which means there is no public disclosure. Section 51 safety reviews are conducted to see if anything can be learned from a death and suggest steps to prevent reoccurences.

Dix said the new study will have more transparency and will give family members more access to information and findings; the report will also be made although some information may be redacted “for the sake of privacy.”

Dix said he could have referred the case to the Patient Care Quality Review Board but in this case, there was a “technical glitch” that would have meant passing a new regulation. So, he said he decided to refer the case to Dr. Jim Christensen, an emergency physician at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver and head of the academic department of medicine at the University of British Columbia. He will be assisted by Dr. Michael Feldman, the paramedic services medical director and provincial dispatch medical director at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Centre for Prehospital Medicine.

In a purposely vague media release, the ministry of health said the review panel will have the “co-operation” of four agencies — Providence Health Care, VCH, BCEHS and PHSA.

“British Columbians can and do rely on our emergency responders when they are at their most vulnerable,” Dix said in the announcement. “Whenever we are faced with a case that may warrant a review, we look to independent experts who can look for learnings and suggest improvements that will benefit patients, first responders and the system as a whole.”

The government will receive the report by July.

Officials with PHSA would not comment on the internal review process that has already taken place. On its website, PHSA states: “When a patient safety event occurs, the goal is immediate management, disclosure and analysis of the event through a structured process, focused on system improvement, that aims to identify what happened, how and why it happened, whether there are any ways to reduce the risk of recurrence and make care safer. PHSA conducts patient safety event reviews in accordance with Section 51 of the B.C. Evidence Act.”

The review is meant to enable “full, open and candid discussions amongst health care professionals” with the goal of improving care for future patients. Further education or policy changes may be recommended.

“Patient safety event reviews do not preclude health-care professionals from cooperating in other reviews by outside investigative bodies, such as the police or regulators, nor do they shield health care professionals or PHSA from potential civil suits.”

pfayerman@postmedia.com

Twitter: @MedicineMatters




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16Apr

 Microsoft deal means more access for all Canadian public servants with disabilities, minister says

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The federal government has renewed a contract with Microsoft Canada that includes more digital communication tools for public servants with disabilities.

Minister of Accessibility Carla Qualtrough made the announcement at Microsoft’s offices in Vancouver, saying the modern tools will allow for more information sharing, productivity and collaboration.

Qualtrough, who is legally blind, says the seven-year agreement is part of the government’s procurement of software and services for all public servants and that about five per cent of the workforce of 410,000 people has a disability.

The inclusive design of the $940-million deal includes features such as artificial intelligence technology that allows an image on a screen to be described to someone who can’t see and provide transcription for dozens of languages.

Qualtrough says all public servants will now have access to Office 365 and the agreement will enable software to run in data centres or in the cloud.

She says all Canadians will benefit as a result of a strong platform for the delivery of programs and services.


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3Apr

National chronic pain task force a first step: federal health minister

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‘People with chronic pain are often underemployed or unemployed because they simply cannot work and not all of us have extended health benefits and even health benefits run out,’ says Andrew Koster.


‘People with chronic pain are often underemployed or unemployed because they simply cannot work and not all of us have extended health benefits and even health benefits run out,’ says Andrew Koster.


CHAD HIPOLITO / CANADIAN PRESS files

The federal health minister is forming a national task force to provide input on how to better prevent, treat and manage chronic pain, which affects one in five Canadians and is often addressed with opioids.

Ginette Petitpas Taylor said in an interview Wednesday the task force will provide information on barriers that may prevent people suffering with persistent pain from receiving the treatment they need.

“This is the first step in addressing the issue of chronic pain in this country,” she said, adding the eight members will consult with governments and advocacy groups around the country and provide an initial report in June, followed by two more over the next couple of years.

Petitpas Taylor made the announcement in Toronto at the 40th annual scientific meeting of the Canadian Pain Society, which has long called for a national pain strategy, especially as the opioid crisis has exacerbated the stigma around prescribing and use of the pain killers.

She said she committed to exploring the creation of a national pain task force after a discussion with patients, clinicians and researchers at a symposium in Toronto last year, when she heard people living with pain often feel their condition is misunderstood and services are inconsistent.

“We have to recognize that Canada’s a big country and we certainly know there’s inconsistent services in provinces and territories so I have to really have a good understanding of what’s available and what’s happening out there,” Petitpas Taylor said.


Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, stands during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017.

Sean Kilpatrick /

The Canadian Press

Advocates for pain patients presented the former Conservative government with a plan in 2012, but Petitpas Taylor said it’s too early to say whether such a plan will be introduced.

Andrew Koster, who suffers from debilitating lower back and knee pain from a type of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis, said he’s concerned the task force’s work will go nowhere if there’s a change in government in October.

“I’m looking for signs from the government that they’re taking this seriously and it’s not just something to state during an election campaign,” he said. “There has to be definite action.”

Koster, who will have surgery on his left knee next month following an operation on the other one last year, said he can no longer afford to pay $100 a week for acupuncture to deal with daily pain after he voluntarily reduced his opioids over concerns about any long-term consequences.

“People with chronic pain are often underemployed or unemployed because they simply cannot work and not all of us have extended health benefits and even health benefits run out,” he said from Victoria.

He said it’s crucial for the task force to identify non-drug costs for patients and provinces for services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and acupuncture as part of any strategy it may come up with in its final report.

Andrew Koster, who suffers from debilitating lower back and knee pain from a type of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis, pictured at his home in Victoria in 2018.


Andrew Koster, who suffers from debilitating lower back and knee pain from a type of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis, pictured at his home in Victoria in 2018.

CHAD HIPOLITO /

CANADIAN PRESS files

Serena Patterson, a 60-year-old psychologist in Comox, has lived with pain associated with fibromyalgia for over half her life and also developed migraines that prevented her from continuing her teaching job at a college.

She said a three-year task force seems excessive, especially because advocacy groups have enough information on health-care gaps and patients wait too long to see specialists.

“I think we know that people are dying in an opioid epidemic and chronic pain patients are high on that list,” Patterson said.

“I would hope that this three years would be building, not more research. What needs to be built is a network of multidisciplinary team programs that are accessible, that are in rural areas as well as urban areas, that provide not only medical support but psychological as well as social support to help people be full participants in their life and in their community.”

Dr. Norman Buckley, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care at McMaster University in Hamilton, said hundreds of organizations, patients, clinicians and researchers came together in providing the federal government with the strategy in 2012. There was no action at the time but he said the opioid epidemic has now made that unavoidable.

Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter

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18Mar

B.C.’s poverty reduction plan seeks solutions from across government: minister

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The British Columbia government has released guidelines it says will lead it toward the goal of reducing the province’s overall poverty rate by 25 per cent and child poverty by 50 per cent within the next five years.

Shane Simpson, the minister of social development and poverty reduction, says the province’s first-ever poverty reduction strategy called TogetherBC takes an approach that involves all of the government to assist the 557,000 people who are living in poverty.

He says TogetherBC’s programs, policies and initiatives tie together investments launched in the fall of 2017 and are being implemented over three budgets.

He says they include a focus on safe and affordable housing, cutting child-care costs for low-income families and raising income and disability assistance rates.

Simpson says his ministry alone will offer more than $800 million in support to people by 2022 and while those programs and other plans won’t end poverty, the NDP government is confident the strategy will help some of B.C.’s poorest.

Simpson made the comments Monday flanked by several anti-poverty and social service experts at a child care resource centre in Surrey. 


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18Mar

B.C.’s poverty reduction plan seeks solutions from across government, says minister

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The British Columbia government has released guidelines it says will lead it toward the goal of reducing the province’s overall poverty rate by 25 per cent and child poverty by 50 per cent within the next five years.

Shane Simpson, the minister of social development and poverty reduction, says the province’s first-ever poverty reduction strategy called TogetherBC takes an approach that involves all of the government to assist the 557,000 people who are living in poverty.

He says TogetherBC’s programs, policies and initiatives tie together investments launched in the fall of 2017 and are being implemented over three budgets.

He says they include a focus on safe and affordable housing, cutting child-care costs for low-income families and raising income and disability assistance rates.

Simpson says his ministry alone will offer more than $800 million in support to people by 2022 and while those programs and other plans won’t end poverty, the NDP government is confident the strategy will help some of B.C.’s poorest.

Simpson made the comments Monday flanked by several anti-poverty and social service experts at a child care resource centre in Surrey. 


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