Posts Tagged "Ministers"


Minister’s statement on encampments in Victoria

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Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, has issued the following statement regarding tent encampments in Victoria at Topaz Park and Pandora Avenue:

“Since April 25, 2020, 308 people experiencing homelessness in Victoria’s Topaz Park and Pandora corridor have been moved into safe temporary housing. The housing provided includes wraparound services such as daily meals, support with mental health and addictions challenges, and help with finding more permanent housing solutions.

“All 360 people who were camped at Topaz Park and along Pandora Avenue as of April 25 have been offered indoor accommodation. People continue to actively move into temporary accommodation today, and we will co-ordinate with the City of Victoria as we move people out and close the sites over the coming days.

“I want to thank the dozens of people who have been involved in this partnership, including staff from BC Housing, the City of Victoria, Island Health, the Province, service providers, peer support workers and outreach workers. All have approached this massive effort to house people with compassion and care, providing people with choices that best suit their individual needs.

“These actions were taken to protect the health and safety of people living in the encampments as well as the front-line workers supporting them. Moving people from these encampments to temporary safe and secure housing is a major step in the Province’s effort to support our most vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

“We also continue to work with the additional people who have since moved into the area to provide them with shelter and housing options. Outside of the encampments, there are still many people in Victoria who need housing and support services. Outreach workers continue to register people on the housing registry. A resource guide has also been developed so people have information on safe places to shelter, access hygiene, harm reduction, health care and food services.

“In Victoria, as in communities around the province, our work is not done. Throughout B.C., we have more than 23,000 homes already underway or complete as part of our 10-year housing plan, and there are more to come. As part of that, we are working towards creating longer term and permanent housing solutions with ongoing supports so that after the pandemic, people do not return to homelessness but instead are able to build a better and more comfortable life. This work will continue in the months and years ahead.”


Minister’s statement on major encampments in Vancouver, Victoria

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Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, has issued the following statement regarding tent encampments in Victoria and Vancouver:

“This is a challenging time for everyone in British Columbia, especially those facing homelessness. Early in the pandemic it became clear that COVID-19, coupled with the ongoing overdose crisis, has created significant health and safety concerns for our province’s vulnerable people living in encampments, the professionals and volunteers that support these groups and the communities we all share.

“On April 25, 2020, the Province took the necessary steps to support people’s transition from unsafe, dense encampments in Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver, and Topaz Park and the Pandora corridor in Victoria, into safer, temporary accommodation as a first step toward more secure housing.

“Action needed to be taken for the health, safety and well-being of campers, and the front-line workers who support them. For those who were living in encampments, the wraparound health and other supports our government is providing will drive lasting, positive change for many individuals fighting hardship or addiction. The co-operation between the Province and the cities of Victoria and Vancouver, and the compassionate approach of BC Housing, service providers and the health authorities, has been remarkable.

“From the beginning, we committed to a compassionate, supportive approach, putting people’s housing and support needs first, to manage this transition. I’m encouraged our approach has been working. As of May 7, at 4 p.m., over 320 people have moved into safe, temporary accommodations in both Vancouver and Victoria, with wraparound supports to protect their health and safety.

“We have worked to ensure those who were living in Oppenheimer Park are moving into safe, temporary accommodations with wraparound supports by May 9.

“While we have been working with the hotel sector and service delivery partners toward the May 9 target in Victoria, it is now clear that more time is needed to ensure each person leaving Topaz Park and Pandora Avenue is moved into the accommodation that best meets their needs.

“To this end, the Province, in consultation with the City of Victoria, has extended the deadline from May 9 to May 20, 2020, to move people from Topaz Park and Pandora Avenue into safe, temporary accommodations. No one will be asked to leave these encampments without being offered a suitable temporary housing option.

“The Province is also developing plans for longer term permanent housing solutions for this population, with ongoing supports. These plans will build on the 23,000 homes already underway or complete through our 10-year housing plan and will include strategies to provide the right combination of housing and supports to mitigate the chances of a return to homelessness. That work will continue in the weeks and months ahead, but the priority now is on the immediate health and safety of people experiencing homelessness in these public health emergencies.

“Homelessness and affordable housing continue to be concerns throughout British Columbia. People and communities are suffering as a result. Over the last few years, we have taken urgent action to provide supportive housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness throughout the province, opening more than 2,100 new supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness with a further 900 underway around the province, toward a goal of 4,900 over 10 years. This includes 21 units nearing completion in Victoria and 784 complete in Vancouver.

“We knew this would be a challenging transition for people, but I am proud of the significant steps we have taken to provide safer and more secure options for people. While this pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge, it is heartening to know that hundreds of people, and the communities they inhabit, will be healthier and safer through this initiative.”

Learn More:

For daily updates on the number of people being moved from the encampments, visit:


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.”


Minister’s statement on income survey

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Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, has released the following statement on Statistics Canada’s release of the Canadian Income Survey 2018, which shows declines in poverty rates in British Columbia:

“The 2018 Canadian Income Survey demonstrates that TogetherBC, the province’s first poverty reduction strategy, is working. We set a target to reduce the overall poverty rate by 25% and the child poverty rate by at least 50% by 2024 based on 2016 data.

“B.C.’s overall poverty rate was 8.9% in 2018 compared to 12% in 2016, while B.C.’s child poverty rate declined to 6.9% in 2018 from 12% in 2016. I’m pleased to see this Statistics Canada data confirm that our poverty reduction strategy is working to make life better for people. By investing in housing and child care, and by raising the minimum wage, we are helping to lift British Columbians out of poverty. These statistics are encouraging and confirm we’re on the right path, but there is still more work to do.

“Since forming government in July 2017, we’ve been delivering on our priority of making life more affordable for British Columbians. We’ve increased income and disability assistance rates twice and made child care more affordable. In just over two years, 23,000 new affordable homes are completed or underway throughout the province and we’re taking action to make renting fairer for people in B.C.

“With the release of the Canada Income Survey 2018, Statistics Canada also released its second comprehensive review of the market-basket measure, which establishes poverty thresholds based on the cost of necessities such as food, clothing, accommodation and transportation. It recommends increasing the costs associated with housing and accommodation, as well as transportation.

“The previous government chose to ignore the housing crisis and left people behind. Our government is choosing to invest in people with a plan to build 114,000 new affordable homes through partnerships over 10 years. We also expect additional initiatives rolling out this year will reduce poverty rates. For example, the new BC Child Opportunity Benefit that comes into effect October 2020 is expected to help about 290,000 families. The elimination of MSP premiums, effective January 2020, and increases to the minimum wage are helping low-income individuals and families.”

Quick Facts:

  • Statistics Canada proposes to finalize and start using the revised market basket sometime in the early summer. Applying these revisions will result in some changes to the number of people living below the poverty line but will still demonstrate a reduction in B.C.’s poverty rates.
  • As required by the Poverty Reduction Strategy Act, the first annual report on B.C.’s poverty reduction strategy will be released by October 2020.

Learn More: 

TogetherBC, B.C.’s Poverty Reduction Strategy:

Budget 2020:

Statistics Canada’s Canadian Income Survey 2018:


Who are Trudeau’s new cabinet ministers from B.C.?

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VANCOUVER – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet has been sworn-in, and there are four ministers from British Columbia, including some with high-profile portfolios. The Liberals won 11 of B.C.’s 42 seats in this year’s election, compared to 17 in 2015.

Joyce Murray, minister of digital government

Joyce Murray was first elected in 2008 and is the MP for Vancouver Quadra. She was previously president of the Treasury Board and once ran for the leadership of the Liberal party. This is a relatively new cabinet position that had previously been held by Scott Brison and Jane Philpott. The ministry is expected to focus on the digital strategy of the federal government.

Carla Qualtrough, minister of employment, workforce development and labour

Carla Qualtrough is the MP for Delta and was first elected in 2015. She has previously served as the acting president of the Treasury Board, minister of sport and persons with disabilities and the minister of public services, procurement and accessibility. Before entering politics, she had served as legal counsel for the Canadian Human Rights Commission. She has been visually impaired since birth and competed in the 1988 and 1992 Paralympic Games.

Harjit Sajjan, minister of national defence

Harjit Sajjan will be resuming his role as minister of national defence. Sajjan was first elected in 2015 and represents the riding of Vancouver South. He served three tours in Afghanistan and also worked for the Vancouver Police Department for 11 years.

Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of environment and climate change

Jonathan Wilkinson served as minister of fisheries and oceans and Canadian Coast Guard in Trudeau’s previous cabinet. This time, he’s been named minister of environment and climate change, a position previously held by Ottawa MP Catherine McKenna. Wilkinson will face some immediate challenges reaching out to Alberta and Saskatchewan over the federal government’s climate initiatives.

“I think Canadians were pretty clear during the campaign that they want strong action on climate change,” said Wilkinson after the cabinet swearing-in ceremony. He also mentioned his roots in Saskatchewan and his experience working as an executive in clean technology.

“But I think what they also said is that they want to make sure we’re being as thoughtful and as sensitive to the legitimate aspirations of all regions of the country. That certainly includes Alberta and Saskatchewan.”

Former minister of justice and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould congratulated the new cabinet ministers on Twitter, saying there was lots of work to be done.

“The country needs and deserves leadership that unifies the country, upholds truth, justice and ethics, as well as being a real voice of change and action on behalf of those who elected them and for all Canadians,” said the tweet.

Wilson-Raybould was elected as an Independent MP in Vancouver Granville. She resigned from the Trudeau cabinet over the SNC-Lavalin affair and was later removed from the Liberal caucus.


Minister’s statement on Indigenous Disability Awareness Month

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Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, has released the following statement in recognition of Indigenous Disability Awareness Month:

“November is Indigenous Disability Awareness Month in British Columbia. This is a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples with disabilities and take action to ensure equity of rights, access and opportunities.

“In Canada, the rate of disabilities among Indigenous peoples is higher than the national rate. Indigenous peoples with disabilities face accessibility barriers and limited employment opportunities that magnify the social and economic exclusion they experience. Too often this is compounded by systemic and social discrimination.

“Since 1991, the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS) has been an important resource for Indigenous peoples. BCANDS provides disability and health support services to eligible Indigenous persons and organizations. It is the only stand-alone organization in Canada serving Indigenous peoples with disabilities.

“Accessibility for all British Columbians, including Indigenous peoples with disabilities, means full and equal participation in our communities. We are committed to creating opportunities to work and thrive, creating a culture of greater social inclusion and a continuing, deep commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

“Every person living with a disability deserves to live with dignity in a world without barriers.

“To help make British Columbia a truly inclusive province, government is working with BCANDS, Indigenous communities, people with disabilities and their families to bring in B.C.’s first piece of accessibility legislation next year.

“In September 2019, we launched public consultations to inform the development of accessibility legislation to better support people with disabilities to live with dignity and to participate in their communities.

“We are visiting communities throughout the province, and I encourage everyone to provide their feedback online or attend a community session.”

Quick Fact:

  • There are more than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 years, or almost 25% of the population, who have some form of a disability (Statistics Canada, Canadian Survey on Disability 2017).

Learn More:

British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society:

Accessibility through Legislation – public consultation (Sept. 16 to Nov. 29, 2019):

B.C. government accessibility initiatives:

B.C. government services for people with disabilities:


Ministers’ statement on tackling homelessness

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Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, have issued the following statement in recognition of Homelessness Action Week, Oct. 13 to Oct. 19:

“Homelessness is a complex issue causing deep and lasting impacts on the lives of too many people in B.C. We see it every day on our streets and in encampments that pop up in our communities. It can also be invisible — people sleeping on couches or staying in harmful relationships for shelter. It is personal stories of hardship and struggle, but it is also the result of system failures, impossibly high rents, barriers to support and poverty.   

“Throughout B.C., community organizations and people with lived experience of homelessness have been raising their voices for years. And for too long, they were left with little support to address a growing problem.

“By proclaiming Oct. 13 to 19 Homelessness Action Week in B.C., the Province acknowledges the tireless work of organizations and advocates to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness. We hope to increase awareness and empathy, and encourage more people to get involved with local organizations and solutions. As a government, we’re committed to building on the successes we have seen responding to homelessness with proactive and preventative initiatives to stop homelessness before it happens.

“The new Office of Homelessness Coordination is working across government and with community partners to deliver a co-ordinated response to homelessness that is based on prevention and, if it does occur, an immediate response and stability so that it only occurs once. In everything we do, we are building a culture of empathy and putting people first.

“We’ve made historic housing investments. Through our Rapid Response to Homelessness program and BuildingBC: Supportive Housing program, we are building 4,700 supportive homes over 10 years for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. In just over two years, we have opened 2,000 supportive homes, with more than 800 more in progress. Twenty-nine municipalities have partnered with us so far to help people and improve the overall health of their communities. In addition, government is funding tens of thousands of new affordable rental units through our provincial housing plan, Homes for BC.

“These new supportive houses do more than put a roof over people’s heads. They provide 24/7 staffing and support services so help people can get the help they need. Preventing the reoccurrence of homelessness requires a strong foundation of supports and services, with a focus on the key areas of poverty reduction, mental health and addictions support, and more accessible affordable housing.

“The beginning of this work is laid out in two strategies that we released earlier this year: TogetherBC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, and A Pathway to Hope: A roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in British Columbia.

TogetherBC outlines programs and policies across government that will lift people up and out of poverty — and stay there — by removing barriers, creating social inclusion and continuing to focus on reconciliation.

“A Pathway to Hope lays out the first steps to turn the corner on the overdose crisis and create a sustainable system of supports for providers and people receiving care. We are helping supportive recovery homes become safer spaces for vulnerable people by increasing the daily user fee rates for the first time in 10 years and updating the Community Care and Assisted Living Act to support care options and add protection for the people receiving care.

“We are also investing in local solutions so local organizations have the resources and tools to continue to make meaningful change in communities.

“$10 million in provincial grants will service the sustainability of existing rent banks and create a provincewide system to help people throughout B.C. We are helping communities create local plans and projects for homelessness and poverty reduction through a $6-million grant for Homelessness Community Action grants and $5 million for local government poverty reduction projects and plans. We have also provided $3.5 million for local overdose prevention projects to help communities tackle the overdose crisis on the ground.

“The best way to tackle the complex issue of homelessness is through teamwork. Over the past two years, the Province has been stepping up to become the partner that community organizations need to continue to make real change. We look forward to a future home for everyone.”

Learn More:

TogetherBC, British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy:

Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program:

A Pathway to Hope: A roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in British Columbia:

For a map of all announced supportive housing projects, visit:

Learn more about rent banks in B.C.:


Minister’s statement on World Cerebral Palsy Day

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Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, has released the following statement in recognition of World Cerebral Palsy Day:

“Today is World Cerebral Palsy Day. This is an opportunity to celebrate, raise awareness and take action to ensure that people living with cerebral palsy have the same rights, access and opportunity as everyone in our communities.

“Cerebral palsy is a physical disability that affects a person’s movement, posture and speech. It is the most common motor disability amongst children. There are more than 10,000 British Columbians living with cerebral palsy who deserve to live with dignity in a world without barriers.

“This year, anyone with cerebral palsy and related conditions, as well as their friends, families and communities, are encouraged to get active. The Move as One event is promoting the benefits of sport, physical activity and mental health on the quality of life for those living with cerebral palsy. People across B.C. and around the world are sharing their contributions on social media using the hashtags #CPMoveAsOne and #WorldCPDay.

“As part of the global GoGreen4CP campaign, we’re lighting up the Parliament Buildings in Victoria in green today in support and recognition of children and adults who have cerebral palsy.

“We recently launched public consultations to inform the development of legislation, standards and policies to better support people with disabilities so they can live with dignity and participate in their communities. I encourage everyone to attend a community session or provide their feedback online:

“Every person living with cerebral palsy has the right, and should have every opportunity, to have as full and complete a life as they would like.”

Learn More:

Cerebral Palsy Association of BC:

Accessibility through legislation public consultation (Sept. 16 to Nov. 29, 2019):

B.C. government accessibility initiatives:

Government services for people with disabilities in B.C.:


Minister’s statement on Community Inclusion Month

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Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, has released the following statement in celebration of Community Inclusion Month, October 2019:

“This is a time to recognize people with developmental disabilities and celebrate the importance of all people being able to contribute and be included at home, school, work and in the community.

“This year, the theme for Community Inclusion Month is ‘the future is accessible.’ Throughout October, Community Living BC, service providers and community groups will host events and initiatives to build awareness about inclusion for adults with developmental disabilities. The month also recognizes the important role families, friends, caregivers, volunteers, community groups and employers play in ensuring the full participation of those living with developmental disabilities in our communities.

“We recently launched public consultations to inform the development of legislation, standards and policies to better support people with disabilities to live with dignity and to participate in their communities. I encourage everyone to attend a community session or provide their feedback at:

“Every person with an intellectual or developmental disability has the right and should have the opportunity to live life to the best of their unique abilities and interests.”

Quick Facts:

  • There are more than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15, or almost 25% of the population, who have some form of a disability.
  • Community Living BC serves more than 20,000 people in B.C. who live with a developmental disability or who are diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders or autism and have significant limitations in adaptive functioning.

Learn More:

Accessibility through legislation – public consultation (Sept. 16 to Nov. 29, 2019):

B.C. government accessibility initiatives:

B.C. government services for people with disabilities in B.C.:

Community Living BC:

Re-Imagining Community Inclusion report:


Minister’s statement on Registered Disability Savings Plan Awareness Month

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Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, has released the following statement in recognition of Registered Disability Savings Plan Awareness Month:

“October is Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) Awareness Month in British Columbia. More than 31,000 people with disabilities have opened an RDSP in B.C., giving our province the highest per capita enrolment rate in Canada. This month is an opportunity to further increase awareness of RDSPs and how they can help to ensure a stable and independent financial future for people with disabilities.

“Right now, 40% of eligible people have signed up, which means there are still tens of thousands of British Columbians who are qualified but don’t have an RDSP yet. We want to make sure that every eligible person knows about this savings plan and how to access the resources and support to sign up.

“RDSPs are an excellent savings tool that help people with disabilities, and their families, plan a financially secure and independent future without affecting disability assistance. Anyone under the age of 60 who qualifies for the disability tax credit can open an RDSP. The federal government matches up to $3 for every dollar deposited through the Canadian Savings Grant program — up to $3,500 annually to a lifetime maximum of $70,000. People with low incomes can also receive a Canada Savings Bond of up to $1,000 annually, to a lifetime maximum of $20,000, even if they aren’t able to contribute. 

“Reducing poverty is a major challenge for our province. The RDSP is a valuable tool that can help to address poverty for people with disabilities. It’s an opportunity for people with disabilities to have some peace of mind, knowing they will have savings available as they age. I encourage everyone to visit to sign up or help someone start an RDSP today.”

Quick Facts:

  • More than 926,100 British Columbians aged 15 to 64 years, almost 25% of the population, identify as having a disability.
  • The federal government launched the RDSP in 2009.
  • B.C. continues to lead Canada with the highest per capita uptake of RDSP in the country:
    • 40% of eligible people now hold an RDSP (31,000 British Columbians).
    • The average value of an RDSP in December 2017 was $24,300 — $2,050 above the national average.

Learn More:

Registered Disability Savings Program:

Registered Disability Savings Plan action group and guide:

B.C. government accessibility initiatives:

B.C. government services for people with disabilities:

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