Posts Tagged "month"


Vancouver restaurant sees 3 dine-and-dash incidents in 1 month

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It’s been a bittersweet few weeks for Amar Maroke. The Vancouver restaurant owner installed his outdoor patio at Four Olives Restaurant at the start of June, but since then, he’s had three incidents of customers dining and dashing.

After the first two, Maroke decided to install a security camera outside. The third incident, which happened around 3 p.m. Saturday, was recorded.

In the video, a man can be seen seated on the patio. Maroke says the customers ordered a couple of beers and a full meal, totalling about $75. As a family walks past on the sidewalk, the man stands up from his seat, walks with the family and leaves.

“It hasn’t happened often, maybe once a year inside, but outside it’s been three times in one month,” Maroke said. “That’s probably $200 in one month … What can you do? Do you have a choice? You can’t run after them.”

Maroke says each time a customer ran off without paying their bill there was only one server working.

Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, believes the staff shortage could be a contributing factor.

“You could just survey the situation and see there’s not really anyone supervising, so you could eat, drink and get out of there,” Tostenson said.

Across B.C., the service industry is short about 40,000 workers, both front-of-house and back, according to Tostenson.

He says many people left the industry during the pandemic because work was unstable. Others are afraid to comeback due to COVID concerns, and others are working “minimal hours” to still receive federal benefits, such as the Canada Recovery Benefit, or CRB, Tostenson said.

When it comes to incidents of dining and dashing, Tostenson says there has not been a significant increase.

“It’s popping to the surface a bit more than normal; we haven’t talked about dine and dash for years,” he said. “But thank god it’s not at pandemic levels, if you will.”

His simple message to restaurant-goers is to “stop being a jerk.”

“Go enjoy yourselves, but pay your bill too,” he said. 


Vancouver Car Free Day organizers plan month of smaller events in place of usual festivals

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The organizers of Vancouver’s Car Free Day festivals are returning to in-person gatherings this fall, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them online last year.

The Car Free Vancouver Society says in a statement on its website that it is planning a month-long festival that will feature a series of smaller events, rather than the large street parties it has traditionally hosted.

The series of “markets, performances, parklets, bike rides, audio tours and more” will begin on Aug. 29 and run until Sept. 25.

“We want to safely engage with our supporters and partners and foster the community that is so important to us,” the society says in its statement.

The society has been organizing Car Free Day festivals in Vancouver since 2008, with events blocking off Commercial Drive, Main Street and the West End in non-pandemic years.

In 2020, the society held virtual concerts, scavenger hunts and audio tours, while not organizing any in-person events to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The society says it wants to “safely engage” in person this year.

“We feel that this aligns with what our supporters are looking for in our events, and that’s a sense of community,” the society says. “By hosting a series of smaller events, we believe that the ‘car free’ vision can be experienced in neighbourhoods we have not reached before and provide more accessibility options, while also continuing to work with the partners that have supported us in previous years.”

B.C.’s restart plan allows for organized events like fairs and festivals in Step 3, as long as COVID-19 safety plans are in place. Step 3 is scheduled to begin on July 1 at the earliest. 

Step 4 of the plan, which is scheduled for Sept. 7 at the earliest, allows for increased capacity at large organized gatherings, such as concerts. 


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:


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:


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

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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.”


Minister’s statement on Disability Employment Month

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Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, has released the following statement in celebration of Disability Employment Month:

“September is Disability Employment Month in British Columbia. This is a time to celebrate the contributions of people with disabilities in the workforce and to recognize the many inclusive employers throughout B.C.

“Government is working with the disability and business communities to help ensure people with disabilities have the opportunity for meaningful employment, greater independence and full participation in society.

“Businesses throughout B.C. can receive support with inclusive hiring through the Presidents Group Community of Accessible Employers. It provides employer-focused tools, resources and access to training on how to effectively recruit, hire and retain employees with disabilities.

“WorkBC centres provide support and resources to employees with disabilities, including personalized job-search support and the Assistive Technology Service program, administered provincially through the Neil Squire Society.

“Job seekers and employers can contact their local WorkBC centres to learn more about the Disability Employment Month events held in their area and the resources and supports available to help people with disabilities gain good, worthwhile employment.

“Inclusive hiring helps businesses attract and retain employees with disabilities who make a valuable contribution to the workplace, while also expanding the range of customers and clients. British Columbia is facing a shortage of skilled workers and there are thousands of enthusiastic and motivated people in the disability community who can meet that demand. 

“Everyone plays a role in fostering a welcoming workplace culture. We all want B.C. to be an accessible and inclusive province, where people of all abilities can participate in every aspect of life. Working together, we can reach this goal.”

Quick Facts:

  • More than 926,100 British Columbians aged 15 to 64 years, almost 25% of the population, identify as having a disability.
  • Almost 90% of consumers prefer companies that employ people with disabilities, according to a study cited in a 2012 Conference Board of Canada report.
  • The provincial government offers services and programs that support job seekers and employees with disabilities and employers who want to build an inclusive workplace, including:
    • WorkBC centres
    • WorkBC Assistive Technology Services
    • Community Transition Employment Plan
  • There are 102 WorkBC locations throughout the province that serve British Columbians, including people with disabilities. WorkBC also offers 24/7 access through Online Employment Services.
  • The Presidents Group, a group of B.C. business leaders, are encouraging and supporting employers across different sectors to hire more people with disabilities: 

Learn More:

Resources for job seekers with disabilities:

WorkBC Assistive Technology Services:

For employers wanting to learn more about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, visit:

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

Disability Employment Month 2019 proclamation:


May is Speech and Hearing month, Yat Li addresses that

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Yat Li of the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, in Vancouver on May 1. Li was born with tiny ears and now has prosthetic ones. The hard-of-hearing refer to deafness as the invisible disability, Li, communications and marketing manager with the WIDHH, said.

Arlen Redekop / PNG

In a way, suffering from hearing loss is worse than many other physical ailments because, for one, it’s not particularly visible.

In fact, the hard-of-hearing refer to it as the invisible disability, Yat Li, communications and marketing manager with the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WIDHH), said.

“Growing up in the ’90s, I was very self-conscious,” Li said. “I had lots of problems, without wearing hearing aids I am not able to function normally.”

He was born in Hong Kong with microtia — tiny ears, one of about 40,000 born every year with the condition worldwide — and his family moved to Coquitlam when Li was five.

There was practically no Chinese culture in Coquitlam then, Li didn’t speak English well (nor, for that matter, did he speak Cantonese well). It’s hard to learn to speak when you have profound hearing loss.

About 157,000 people report being deaf or hard-of-hearing in B.C., according to WIDHH figures. Hearing loss affects social skills, learning and mental health.

“Many of us take our ability to communicate for granted, but the ability to speak, hear and be heard is much more vital to our everyday lives than most of us realize,” says Speech-Language & Audiology Canada. “For those who have difficulty communicating, everyday interactions can pose significant challenges.

“A communication disorder may prevent an individual from performing well at work, asking for help, hearing instructions at school or even saying. ‘I love you’.”

And whereas poor eyesight is corrected by something that’s become a fashion accessory — eyeglasses — hearing aids don’t enjoy the same panache.

Li has prosthetic ears (they look great). The ears are attached magnetically to small posts inserted into his skull, sitting where his tiny biological ears used to be. He had the surgery to install them when he was 21 by Vancouver doctor Jack Zolty at the Realistic Prosthetic Studio. The procedure cost $5,000, as did each ear, a cost not borne by the Medical Services Plan because he wasn’t considered deaf enough.

Li can swim with his ears on. He takes them off at night. And the hearing aid is hidden behind his right, attachable ear.

Growing up, Li wore his hair long in embarrassment, classmates made fun of him. He was an ethnic minority, he was small, he had those tiny ears, he was easy to pick on. Even today, folks who should probably know better make jokes at his expense: Things like, when it’s raining, cautioning Li not to get electrocuted.

“It’s funny to them, I guess, it’s not funny to me,” he said.

Li worked in marketing in the hotel industry up to 18 months ago when he got tired of hiding his hearing loss, tired of faking it like he was “ordinary.” He was scared people would look at him differently, feel he was weak if they knew the truth.

“It took me a long time of trying to live with who I am and what I am. I’ve only become open to sharing myself, sharing who I am, recently,” the 30-year-old Li said.

Besides his work with the deaf and hard-of-hearing institute, which by the way isn’t government funded but that relies on charitable donations for its work and to pay for its staff of 40 or so, Li markets his Acoustic Wear line, clothing with sayings such as ‘Pardon Me?’ and ‘Hear I Stand’.

And, in his quest to be an inspiration for others, he addresses conferences around the globe.

“I want others to feel empowered and inspired and motivated by someone who went through what I faced, because I did not think I would be here right now,” Lee said.

“For parents, I want you to know you can love your kid with no barriers. You know the cards you’ve been dealt is not the perfect hand. It’s about how you play them. Show affection to your kids, love them for who they are. That’s when they’ll realize, ‘Hey, it’s OK to be me.’ ”

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