Posts Tagged "policy"

14Jul

Downtown Eastside’s exclusion from park drinking pilot a ‘policy failure’, advocate says | CBC News

by admin

The Vancouver Park Board’s decision to exclude parks in the city’s poorest neighbourhood from a new public drinking pilot may further marginalize low-income people, advocates say.

Public drinking is now legally allowed in certain sections of 22 Vancouver parks as part of a pilot project, nearly two and a half years after the issue was first brought to the park board.

While most neighbourhoods have at least one park where the pilot project is underway, one of the most densely populated ones is absent — Strathcona, in East Vancouver, has no parks where public drinking is now allowed.

Strathcona is adjacent to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood, and drug user advocates on social media said the decision to exclude it from the pilot is discriminatory.

 

Aaron Bailey, a member of The Right to Remain Research Collective and researcher at Queen’s University, says not extending the pilot to the Downtown Eastside could mean an increase in police enforcement of the area.

Bailey said Strathcona’s exclusion from the park drinking pilot constituted a policy failure and hopes future drinking policy from the city comes from drinkers and low-income residents themselves. 

“As spaces are sanctioned, drinkers and their advocacy groups really want to avoid that being used as justification to ramp up the harassment of people who can’t or won’t use those spaces,” said Bailey.

“Because there is a legal sanction placed to go somewhere else in the city [where public drinking is allowed], that gives them [police officers] reason to crack down even harder on folks who can’t or just won’t use those spaces, which shouldn’t be happening.”

Under B.C.’s Liquor Control Act, you can be fined for drinking in a public place. Vancouver’s park board had to wait for provincial approval before it could start the pilot project.

The Vancouver Police Department says it does not collect information on specific parks where public intoxication tickets are issued, so CBC News was unable to verify if certain parks produced more tickets than others. But a VPD spokesman said ticketing is unlikely in poor neighbourhoods.

“It is extremely rare for officers to issue intoxication tickets to Downtown Eastside residents, or to anyone who does not appear to have the means to pay a ticket,” explained Sgt. Steve Addison.

Bailey says he isn’t aware how common it is for drinkers in the neighborhood to get tickets, but said 7 out of 10 members of his peer group had interactions with police, and alcohol seizures by police were “quite common”.

Decision due to park inaccessibility, park board says

Amit Gandha, acting director of Vancouver’s parks, says the Downtown Eastside’s exclusion was due to two Strathcona parks being inaccessible when staff were making assessments for the project.

“When we were putting this together, Oppenheimer Park was not open. We were still doing the remediation work at the time due to the encampment that happened at Oppenheimer,” Gandha said. 

“Strathcona Park, same thing. We had the encampment there as well. So, you know, it was very difficult to try to put any kind of pilots at those two venues.”

While both Oppenheimer and Strathcona parks had tent encampments during the park board’s research period, they also would meet the criteria that the park board used to select parks for the pilot project.

Those criteria, according to Gandha, include a highly visible park location with emergency access, washroom facilities, accessibility by cycling, public transit or car and proximity to food and beverage facilities. 

Some other parks in or near the Downtown Eastside that would meet this criteria are CRAB Park, Grandview Park and Victoria Park.

Gandha says those locations were not included in the pilot because the park board wanted to spread out the 22 park locations where legal drinking is allowed, and that there were enough parks close to Strathcona that met the criteria. 

“The idea was to make sure there were parks across the city as a whole,” he said. 

He said the two downtown parks included in the pilot, David Lam Park on Pacific Boulevard and Harbour Green Park near Canada Place, would be the closest parks to the Downtown Eastside. The two parks are three kilometres away from the core of the neighborhood.

In Kitsilano, three parks where the pilot project is underway (Kitsilano Beach, Vanier Park and Volunteer Park) are within three kilometres of each other.

 

14Jul

Daphne Bramham: When it comes to drug policy, politicians aren’t following the evidence

by admin

Opinion: Why are our politicians ignoring experts on booze and drugs?

Article content

Every day since COVID-19 struck, we’ve been told that evidence matters, that we need to listen to the scientists and researchers.

Advertisement

Article content

Yet, when it comes to drugs, our provincial and municipal governments figure they know better and pay little or no attention. It seems they’d rather give people what they want and damn the consequences.

The B.C. government’s announcements last week that cocktails can now be delivered along with meals and that cannabis stores can now legally do dial-a-dope were greeted enthusiastically. The same has been true of announcements by various municipalities that they are expanding their zones where people can openly drink alcohol.

Cannabis remains mostly a no-go for parks since it falls under the prohibition against smoking — one of the few legal vices deemed worthy of strictly regulating.

But is this good public policy?

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The Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research suggests that it’s not and especially not considering that its December research indicated that private liquor store sales in British Columbia rose 18.5 per cent between March and June 2020, while government liquor stores had an eight-per-cent increase.

At the time, lead researcher Tim Stockwell said, “We suspect part of this increase at private stores has to do with the fact they have been making alcohol more convenient to buy, by offering home delivery with a minimum order or listing its products on third-party delivery apps.”

On Tuesday, institute researchers led by Tim Naimi released Not a Walk in the Park: Alcohol Consumption on Municipal Properties in B.C. It makes recommendations to local governments for assessing and mitigating the risks of unsupervised consumption in public places.

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“This approach carries significant public health and safety risks, may add costs to governments and may divert sales away from regulated, licensed establishments,” they wrote. “Furthermore, this approach may not support the social connection goals of everyone in the community, as not everyone welcomes increased opportunities for alcohol consumption.”

Among the “second-hand harms” cited are increases in assaults, gender-based violence, vandalism and impaired driving. The report also cites an increased risk of drowning and potentially marring the enjoyment of others (including families) sharing public spaces and the higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Even before the COVID and the liberalization of liquor laws, the institute noted that B.C. consumption was already higher than the national average, steadily rising since 2013 along with the public costs.

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Those costs are substantial. There is a causal link between alcohol use and 200 types of chronic diseases and acute injuries.

The institute estimated the 2017 economic cost in B.C. of alcohol was $2.38 billion, or $483.10 per capita, surpassing tobacco ($277.80) and opioids ($257.04).

Coincidentally, on Tuesday when institute research was released, the Globe and Mail reported that later this week the B.C. government will be expanding its unprecedented experiment with providing pharmaceutical alternatives as replacements for street drugs.

The program was originally aimed at supporting people with addictions physically distance, self-isolate or quarantine in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Article content

Now, with widespread vaccinations and the reopening of the economy, British Columbia will require all health authorities and their clinicians to provide pharmaceutical grade opioids (including fentanyl), stimulants and other addictive substances to illicit drug users.

Out of hospital drug costs will be paid by Pharmacare, the provincial drug plan.

The expansion is coming even though the number of overdose deaths has continued to rise and is on track to hit a record this year.

But that’s no reason to stop, according to the draft update to the B.C. Centre on Substance Use’s safe-supply guidelines.

“The risk of overdose remains high due to the contaminated drug supply,” says the draft document. “(And) it may be appropriate to continue this prescribing for patients who have shown clear indication of benefit.”

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For evidence, the draft notes that it’s “challenging” to compare mortality rates to opioid-user-only data because safe-supply data mixes opioids, stimulants and alcohol.

Between March 27, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021, there were 6,498 people in the program including 1,431 who were given alcohol withdrawal medication and 3,771 who were given opioid alternatives.

Of the 82 people in the program who died, the cause of death for 37 was not available “because of a delay in vital statistics data.”

Among the findings was that the urine samples of “many” who were prescribed oral hydromorphone (a narcotic) were laced with fentanyl, suggesting that those “many” were at very least topping up their safe supply with illicit drugs.

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According to the Globe and Mail, the final report notes that “health system partners” expressed “significant reservations” about the approach because their training does not include prescribing potentially fatal substances for other than their medically regulated use.

Still, the document’s unnamed authors concluded, “We recognize that we have been unable to address all concerns, but we also recognize that we have to start somewhere.”

Meantime, Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson is still sitting on an evidence-based proposal that would provide housing, addiction and mental health treatment for 1,500 people and whose $37-million cost would be offset by the reduction in hospitalizations and interactions with the police.

Following the evidence worked with COVID. So, maybe with these other longer term and wickedly expensive problems, politicians should give it a try — even if drinking wine and beer from glasses rather than paper bags in parks seems like a good idea.

dbramham@postmedia.com

Twitter: @bramham_daphne

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Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

13Jul

Daphne Bramham: When it comes to drug policy, politicians aren’t following the evidence

by admin

Opinion: Why are our politicians ignoring exports on booze and drugs?

Article content

Every day since COVID-19 struck, we’ve been told that evidence matters, that we need to listen to the scientists and researchers.

Advertisement

Article content

Yet, when it comes to drugs, our provincial and municipal governments figure they know better and pay little or no attention. It seems they’d rather give people what they want and damn the consequences.

The B.C. government’s announcements last week that cocktails can now be delivered along with meals and that cannabis stores can now legally do dial-a-dope were greeted enthusiastically. The same has been true of announcements by various municipalities that they are expanding their zones where people can openly drink alcohol.

Cannabis remains mostly a no-go for parks since it falls under the prohibition against smoking — one of the few legal vices deemed worthy of strictly regulating.

But is this good public policy?

Advertisement

Article content

The Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research suggests that it’s not and especially not considering that its December research indicated that private liquor store sales in British Columbia rose 18.5 per cent between March and June 2020, while government liquor stores had an eight-per-cent increase.

At the time, lead researcher Tim Stockwell said, “We suspect part of this increase at private stores has to do with the fact they have been making alcohol more convenient to buy, by offering home delivery with a minimum order or listing its products on third-party delivery apps.”

On Tuesday, institute researchers led by Tim Naimi released Not a Walk in the Park: Alcohol Consumption on Municipal Properties in B.C. It makes recommendations to local governments for assessing and mitigating the risks of unsupervised consumption in public places.

Advertisement

Article content

“This approach carries significant public health and safety risks, may add costs to governments and may divert sales away from regulated, licensed establishments,” they wrote. “Furthermore, this approach may not support the social connection goals of everyone in the community, as not everyone welcomes increased opportunities for alcohol consumption.”

Among the “second-hand harms” cited are increases in assaults, gender-based violence, vandalism and impaired driving. The report also cites an increased risk of drowning and potentially marring the enjoyment of others (including families) sharing public spaces and the higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Even before the COVID and the liberalization of liquor laws, the institute noted that B.C. consumption was already higher than the national average, steadily rising since 2013 along with the public costs.

Advertisement

Article content

Those costs are substantial. There is a causal link between alcohol use and 200 types of chronic diseases and acute injuries.

The institute estimated the 2017 economic cost in B.C. of alcohol was $2.38 billion, or $483.10 per capita, surpassing tobacco ($277.80) and opioids ($257.04).

Coincidentally, on Tuesday when institute research was released, the Globe and Mail reported that later this week the B.C. government will be expanding its unprecedented experiment with providing pharmaceutical alternatives as replacements for street drugs.

The program was originally aimed at supporting people with addictions physically distance, self-isolate or quarantine in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Advertisement

Article content

Now, with widespread vaccinations and the reopening of the economy, British Columbia will require all health authorities and their clinicians to provide pharmaceutical grade opioids (including fentanyl), stimulants and other addictive substances to illicit drug users.

Out of hospital drug costs will be paid by Pharmacare, the provincial drug plan.

The expansion is coming even though the number of overdose deaths has continued to rise and is on track to hit a record this year.

But that’s no reason to stop, according to the draft update to the B.C. Centre on Substance Use’s safe-supply guidelines.

“The risk of overdose remains high due to the contaminated drug supply,” says the draft document. “(And) it may be appropriate to continue this prescribing for patients who have shown clear indication of benefit.”

Advertisement

Article content

For evidence, the draft notes that it’s “challenging” to compare mortality rates to opioid-user-only data because safe-supply data mixes opioids, stimulants and alcohol.

Between March 27, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021, there were 6,498 people in the program including 1,431 who were given alcohol withdrawal medication and 3,771 who were given opioid alternatives.

Of the 82 people in the program who died, the cause of death for 37 was not available “because of a delay in vital statistics data.”

Among the findings was that the urine samples of “many” who were prescribed oral hydromorphone (a narcotic) were laced with fentanyl, suggesting that those “many” were at very least topping up their safe supply with illicit drugs.

Advertisement

Article content

According to the Globe and Mail, the final report notes that “health system partners” expressed “significant reservations” about the approach because their training does not include prescribing potentially fatal substances for other than their medically regulated use.

Still, the document’s unnamed authors concluded, “We recognize that we have been unable to address all concerns, but we also recognize that we have to start somewhere.”

Meantime, Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson is still sitting on an evidence-based proposal that would provide housing, addiction and mental health treatment for 1,500 people and whose $37-million cost would be offset by the reduction in hospitalizations and interactions with the police.

Following the evidence worked with COVID. So, maybe with these other longer term and wickedly expensive problems, politicians should give it a try — even if drinking wine and beer from glasses rather than paper bags in parks seems like a good idea.

dbramham@postmedia.com

Twitter: @bramham_daphne

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Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

29Jun

COVID-19: Are we ready? B.C.’s indoor mask policy relaxed for Canada Day

by admin

Public health officials say while the mandate is officially lifted, people should continue to wear masks until they’re certain those around them are doubly vaccinated

Article content

Not necessarily masking, but masking if necessary.

Starting July 1, B.C. is cancelling its mandatory masking requirement for indoor spaces, as the number of new COVID-19 cases dropped to just 29 on Monday, and vaccination rates rise — in B.C., 78 per cent have a single dose, more than 30 per cent have two.

“That doesn’t mean mask-wearing isn’t important,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “It certainly is.”

She also suggested wearing masks if you are going to be around strangers because you don’t know if they are fully vaccinated, meaning 14 days after having getting a second jab.

Not everyone feels the same, so “we all need to respect people’s comfort levels,” she said.

And Premier John Horgan said he would continue to wear a mask on a bus, ferry or plane, calling the relaxation of the policy that has been mandated since November a “recommendation, not direction.”

The Glowbal group of restaurants will continue to require staff be masked despite the easing of the mandate, “for a least a couple, few more weeks,” said owner Emad Yacoub. “But we may not be running after customers who go to the washroom without a mask to tell them they have to put one on.

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“I’m so sick and tired of the mask,” he said. “I would love to take my mask off.”

But he said he will continue to wear one and require them of his staff as a precaution in case other staff or customers have vulnerable family members at home.

People enjoying patio life at The Fill Station on Queen St. E. on Saturday, June 19, 2021.
People enjoying patio life at The Fill Station on Queen St. E. on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Photo by Jack Boland /Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

When the mandate for wearing masks in indoor public places was implemented in mid-November, many British Columbians were already voluntarily wearing them. The mandate applied to malls, coffee shops, grocery stores, liquor and drug stores, airports, city halls, libraries, community and recreation centres, places of worship, common areas of office buildings, court houses, hospitals, hotels, sport and fitness centres, common areas of post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations, as well as on public transit and in taxis. The fine for non-compliance was $230, and Henry said tickets can still be issued.

TransLink announced on Tuesday that masks won’t be mandatory starting Thursday, but will still be “recommended” on Metro Vancouver’s public transit system.

“Customers are encouraged to continue wearing masks on transit as a precautionary measure to protect themselves, fellow customers, and our employees,” TransLink said in a release.

“We will continue to follow our safe operating guidelines, which includes increased cleaning, improved sanitization measures, and thorough ventilation on our vehicles.”

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We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Signage will gradually be changed, beginning Thursday.

Restaurants Canada said each of its member operators will decide on their own whether to require the continued wearing of masks, said Mark von Schellwitz, Western Canada’s vice-president.

“Restaurants can’t mandate the wearing of masks, but they certainly can encourage it,” he said. “We expect a gradual return to normal.”

Patrick Johnson, secretary-treasurer for the United Food and Commercial Workers in B.C., said he would recommend customers practise patience when it comes to shopping in grocery stores and remember that it is a workplace as well as a store.

He said the union is reaching out to store operators to determine plans for the lifting of pandemic protocols to ensure they are carried out safely.

slazaruk@postmedia.com

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

22Jun

COVID-19: Henry stays course on vaccine for children, despite no WHO policy

by admin

The WHO hasn’t made general recommendations on vaccinating kids against COVID-19, saying more evidence is needed

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B.C.’s policy to vaccinate children against COVID-19 is the right thing to do, despite no direction from the World Health Organization, says provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Henry said Canada and other countries were immunizing children from 12 to 18 with Pfizer, the only WHO-approved vaccine for use in that age group. However, the WHO hadn’t made general recommendations on vaccinating kids against COVID-19, saying more evidence was needed.

“That’s the decisions we’ve made in Canada and in many other countries,” Henry said. “We know that there has been studies done looking at safety and efficacy in children down to age 12, and there are additional studies being done in children down to six months of age.”

As of Tuesday, 67,775 children between 12 and 18 had received one dose of Pfizer — about 1.5 per cent of all British Columbians who have received at least one dose.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said there were 327,000 doses of Pfizer arriving this week, but after that shipments would be reduced by around two-thirds until resuming later in July.

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Pfizer has been the workhorse in the pandemic for B.C., accounting for 68 per cent of all doses, followed by Moderna with 24 per cent. These two mRNA vaccines are among the four approved for use in Canada. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine hasn’t been used yet in Canada, while the AstraZeneca vaccine has fallen out of favour (though 10,000 doses are arriving in B.C. this week).

“As you know, we’ve received a whole bunch of Moderna just in this past week and we are expecting to receive more before the end of June and into early July,” Henry said. “At the same time that we just heard, there’s a delay and some challenges with Pfizer.”

Henry reported 21 per cent of adults in B.C. were fully vaccinated with two doses, while 77.7 per cent of adults had received at least one of the 4.5 million doses administered in the province so far. B.C.’s strategy has been to get as many single doses out as possible, as policy on when to administer the second dose changed according to supply. It’s now at eight weeks.

On Tuesday, 80 per cent of the 81,491 doses of vaccine administered in B.C. were second shots.

According to Dix, almost 90 per cent of British Columbians over age 70 had received at least one dose and 55 per cent had received two. In those over age 30, 20 per cent had two doses and 80 per cent a first dose. There have been 4,511,923 doses of the three approved vaccines administered in B.C.

Henry reported 56 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and no deaths. There are 1,039 active cases of COVID-19 in the community, plus 111 being treated in hospital, including 41 in intensive care.

There are three active outbreaks in health-care facilities and so far 1,743 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C.

All key COVID-19 metrics in B.C. are improving.

The B.C. government has once again extended the provincial state of emergency due to the pandemic until July 6.

dcarrigg@postmedia.com


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22Jun

Girl with disabilities forced from Playland over mask policy | CBC News

by admin

What was meant to be a fun day at Playland for Bobbie Dube and her seven-year-old daughter, Mikayla, turned out to be a big disappointment when the pair was forced to leave the park because Mikayla can’t wear a mask. 

Mikayla is non-verbal, has autism, and her mother says she needs to use a wheelchair.

Dube, who lives in Burnaby, B.C., had called ahead to book tickets and says when she asked about Playland’s mask mandate, she was told her daughter would not have to wear a mask given her disabilities. 

But after one ride, where the ride operator allowed Mikayla on without a mask, Dube says an attendant at the Vancouver amusement park told them they would be barred from any more rides.

“They proceeded to tell us that no one in the park would allow us to go on any rides because my daughter, who is seven, has special needs and can’t wear a mask,” said Dube. 

The pair’s experience highlights how challenging it can be for people with disabilities to get out and enjoy the simple pleasures in life that those without disabilities enjoy regularly, without planning ahead or worrying about accessibility. 

‘Happens all the time’

Heather McCain, the executive director of Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods (​CAN), says phoning ahead does not always ensure a hassle-free trip. 

“It’s exhausting to have to try to do homework before every trip. And even when you phone a business, such as in this case, you are not given the appropriate information,” McCain said. “And this happens all the time.”

Heather McCain is executive director of the non-profit group Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In addition to the miscommunication about Mikayla’s need to wear a mask, Dube discovered when they arrived at Playland on Sunday that the park’s ride accessibility program had been suspended due to COVID-19 protocols. The program allowed people who use wheelchairs to access rides using the exit so they didn’t have to wait in line and so they could store their wheelchair. 

But when Mikayla and her mom arrived at the kids’ roller coaster, Dube’s friend had to carry her. 

McCain says when businesses make changes such as those made at Playland, the onus is often placed on people with disabilities to find the flaws in those changes and fight them. 

“Unfortunately, the only way disabled people have power against businesses is to have a human rights complaint,” McCain said. “But that process is expensive, takes several years and is not accessible to many disabled people.”

Dube says she asked the ride attendants to explain why Mikayla was being asked to wear a mask when rules on Playland’s website say exceptions are made for infants or those with medical needs.

She said she was told there is “absolutely no exception.”

Laura Ballance, PNE spokesperson, said Playland does in fact make exceptions to COVID-19 rules that require guests over the age of two to wear a mask on rides and when waiting in line-ups. 

But she added that Playland’s COVID-19 safety plan requires all guests, regardless of whether they have a medical exemption, to wear a mask for the short period of time when an operator is in close contact with the guest while they check restraints and ensure proper riding position. 

Mikayla enjoyed one ride at Playland before she and her mother were told they weren’t allowed on more rides. (Bobbie Dube)

Ballance apologized for the “unintentional stress and anxiety” caused for the family, but said Playland is following COVID protocols. 

“We must adhere to both WorkSafeBC and the provincial health orders for both the protection of our guests as well as our staff,” Ballance said. 

B.C.’s mask mandate exempts people with physical, cognitive or mental impairments who cannot wear a mask.

Dube recalls that nobody stopped them or told them that Mikayla had to wear a mask when they entered the amusement park, went on the first ride, or when they were simply walking around. 

Dube says Mikayla has missed out on so much during the COVID-19 pandemic. While she thought Playland was something fun her daughter could do, it too has been crossed off the list. 

31Mar

Accessibility advocates raise serious concerns with new policy allowing dogs on Nova Scotia patios

by admin

One day after the Nova Scotia government announced a new policy allowing dogs on outdoor patios, some accessibility advocates and guide dog users are raising concerns that the presence of pets could compromise their safety.

While service animals are well-trained, any barking or play from dogs at other tables may still distract them, interfering with their ability to keep their owner safe, said guide dog user Shelley Adams.

“I’m just worried about the extra distraction it’s going to bring,” said Adams, sitting next to her own guide dog, Rookie.

“I don’t want to have to be sitting there worrying that another dog is going to try and engage with him, or I don’t know, hurt him in any way … He is my mobility aid.”

Read more:
Bone appetit! Dogs now allowed on Nova Scotia restaurant and cafe patios

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Adams said she is not opposed to the policy, and would still attend an outdoor patio but ask to be seated away from other dogs.

In the event someone else’s dog were to start misbehaving, however, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) said the desire of the service dog user to sit on the patio must be prioritized.

“If there are going to be other animals on a patio, there’s potential for the other animals to negatively interfere with the work of a guide dog. I think the behaviour of the animals needs to be held to the same high standards that we as guide dog users have our dogs following,” said CNIB guide dog program president Diane Bergeron.

It’s important to distinguish between the rights and needs of a service dog user and the preference of a pet owner, she added.


Click to play video: 'Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios'







Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios


Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios – Mar 30, 2021

Read more:
Halifax woman who is blind says sidewalk barricade putting ‘lives at risk’

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The provincial change came into effect on Tuesday, answering a longstanding request from the restaurant industry to remove barriers for dog owners, who may be more likely to stop for a meal or a drink if their dogs can accompany them.

In a Wednesday statement, Environment Department spokesperson Barbara MacLean it’s important for Nova Scotians to do their part not to distract service dogs or interfere with their ability to do their job, but ultimately, establishments are responsible for enforcing the policy properly.

“It’s up to restaurant owners to ensure that dogs on patios are not impeding their customers, including those from the accessibility community and service dogs,” she wrote.

Read more:
Halifax restaurants calling on province to change food safety rules following warnings about dogs

Businesses that choose to allow pets must also follow certain rules, she added, including keeping their dogs leashed, on the ground and away from the aisles. Pet dogs are still prohibited from entering bars and restaurants, while service dogs are not.

Luc Erjavec, vice-president of the Restaurants Canada Atlantic chapter, emphasized that the new patio provision is voluntary and not every restaurant will choose to adopt it.

Restaurant owners who do choose to allow pets, he added, will do their utmost to accommodate all customers.

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“I don’t think any operator wants 10 dogs on a small patio. I think they’re going to look at each individual situation, the time of day, what’s going on and respond accordingly,” he said. “Our goal is to keep our customers happy.”


Click to play video: 'Letting the dogs out through Canicross'







Letting the dogs out through Canicross


Letting the dogs out through Canicross – Mar 25, 2021

Read more:
Accessibility advocates say Peggy’s Cove viewing deck will ensure safe access for all

Accessibility advocate Paul Vienneau, who helped win the case for accessible washrooms in Nova Scotia restaurants, said he shares the concerns of guide dog users.

He loves dogs and sympathizes with the restaurant industry, he told Global News, but he fears the policy decision was taken without consultation from the disability community, casting a shadow over years of accessibility progress.

“There are other ways to make money than doing this,” said Vienneau. “For the government to just wave their hand and basically wipe away decades of hard work by disabled and blind folks that they’ve done is pretty disrespectful to these people.”

Story continues below advertisement

David Fraser, a privacy lawyer who represented wheelchair users in the 2018 challenge for accessible restaurant washrooms, also wondered whether the new policy was “thought through.”

“My concern is by allowing dogs access to patios, you might be reducing the access to those patios that are otherwise accessible to individuals who use service animals, and I think that’s a real concern,” he said.




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

19May

B.C. updates policy on hospital visitors after outcry over disabled woman’s death | CBC News

by admin

B.C. has revised its policy for essential visitors to hospitals and long-term care homes to make it clear that people with disabilities still need access to vital supports.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Adrian Dix acknowledged that many disabled people have been afraid to access health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, when only essential visitors have been allowed in hospitals and long-term care.

He said the province has now amended the visitor policy to make sure health-care providers give special consideration to designated representatives who help people with disabilities eat, communicate, get around and make decisions. 

“They’re significant changes for people and they came at the concern and the request of people in the disability community so that they would have the confidence to visit hospitals,” Dix said.

Before now, essential visitors have been mainly limited to end-of-life reasons and visits to provide specific types of care, Dix added.

The changes come after outcry from disabled people and advocates about the death of 40-year-old Ariis Knight at Peace Arch Hospital.

Knight, who had cerebral palsy, died of a respiratory illness on April 18, a few days after she was transferred to the hospital from the group home in South Surrey where she had lived for a decade. 

Knight could not speak and depended on caregivers and family members to communicate. Because of visitor restrictions, none of Knight’s caregivers or family members were allowed to be with her in the hospital, and she died alone.

People with disabilities have said they’re afraid to go to the hospital because they worry about whether their support people will be allowed inside with them.

17May

Disabled community pushes for policy change after woman died alone at B.C. hospital | CBC News

by admin

Disabled people and their families are calling on the B.C. government to make changes to visitor restrictions in hospitals after a 40-year-old woman with cerebral palsy died alone last month at Peace Arch Hospital. 

Ariis Knight could not speak and depended on caregivers and family members to communicate. But because of visitor restrictions put in place to control the spread of COVID-19, none of Knight’s caregivers or family members were allowed to be with her in the hospital. 

Knight died on April 18, a few days after she was transferred to the hospital from the group home in South Surrey where she had lived for a decade. She had been experiencing breathing difficulties, but tested negative for COVID-19, according to her brother, David Knight. 

Now, a month later, Paul Gauthier is haunted by the tragedy and is mobilizing people to send a message to the B.C. government. 

Paul Gauthier has cerebral palsy and needs a personal support worker for everything from eating to using the washroom to adjusting his computer screen. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Gauthier, who has cerebral palsy, is a community advocate and executive director of the Individualized Funding Resource Centre Society. He says the disability community is devastated, and scared. 

“People with disabilities are telling me they’re not even thinking of going to a hospital,” Gauthier said. “And that’s because they’re concerned that they’re not going to be able to bring their support person in with them.”

Gauthier has been working with individuals and organizations, helping to grow a grassroots movement to send a clear message to the B.C. government — current policies that deal with visitor restrictions in hospitals and health-care settings shouldn’t apply to support workers and caregivers. 

A letter went to a number of senior government officials, including Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Dr. Bonnie Henry on May 5. The letter called for the government to guarantee people with disabilities the right to essential support from caregivers in health-care settings.

“Nurses are amazing. But we need to be realistic about what they can handle while we’re in the hospital,” Gauthier said. 

“I have cerebral palsy. For me that means that I can’t go to the washroom by myself. I can’t feed myself. Scratching my head is something I can’t do by myself. A personal support worker is the key to make sure that I continue to live.”

Government says change is coming

Dix responded to the group’s concerns on May 14, noting the COVID-19 policy around hospital access for visitors included provisions for essential visitors to accommodate people with disabilities. 

But he added that the government is working to respond to specific concerns of the disability community that include special needs such as feeding, mobility, communications and decision making.

“We want to make those explicit in the policy, ” he said. 

“We’re going to make changes to the policy that reflect the absolute need to provide protection for everyone involved in a time of pandemic … This is a very serious situation for people who are vulnerable.”

Paul Gauthier sits outside his apartment in Vancouver. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

When asked when the revised policy might be in place, Dix said he was hopeful the new policy would be available by Tuesday. 

But Gauthier says no one is declaring victory yet.

“We’re pleased that Minister Dix is taking steps to update the hospital visitor policy to address the critical needs of people with disabilities, and clarify the role of essential support people,” he said.

“But we’re disappointed that it’s taken this long. We’re concerned that the minister’s hope for a May 19 release may not happen.”  

23Jan

Vancouver police defend street-check policy following civil rights criticism

by admin

Vancouver police are defending their new policy for street identity checks following criticism by a civil-rights organization before a Thursday police board meeting.

At the board’s public meeting, members sought clarification about the police department’s policy, implemented on Jan. 15. New provincial policing standards came into effect that day requiring all B.C. police forces to introduce internal guidelines that direct how and when such checks are conducted.

Under the new guidelines, police cannot make a decision on whether to conduct a street check based on “identity factors.” Those include economic or social status, race, colour, ancestry, place or origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression/identity, or age.

Officers also cannot decide to conduct a street check simply because a person shares an identity factor with a person being sought by police. They must ensure that the person subject to a street check understands the interaction is voluntary, that they are not required to provide any identifying information or answer questions, and are free to leave at any time.

Before the meeting, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association held a news conference where Latoya Farrell, policy council for the association, said they believe the new police policy “misses the mark” and has left civil-rights watchers concerned.

“The idea that any sort of interaction with the police is voluntary doesn’t really understand the meaningful effect of being over-policed and under-protected in certain communities,” Farrell said.

“We’re taught from early childhood that you respect the police, you comply with their requests and you answer their questions. So the idea that I could just walk away from a certain circumstance with police doesn’t seem to really address the systemic issues that these communities are facing on a daily basis.”

Farrell said it’s also unclear how police will be held accountable should they breach the policy, and what recourse there is for people affected by street checks.

Meghan McDermott, policy director for the association, said they will pressure the B.C. government to respect human rights as it updates the provincial standard.

“That, in theory, should flow down to all the policies in B.C.,” McDermott said.

Chief Constable Adam Palmer said he anticipated criticism about the policy but believes it will allow police to use street checks fairly.

“I understand, of course, it’s like with any contentious issue, you will have people come down on the side that you should never do any, under any circumstances whatsoever, you will have other people that will think, well, police should do them all the time,” Palmer said.

“I think these guidelines kind of find a sweet spot that respects human rights, civil rights, that idea, but also still allows the police the ability to use their common-law authority to prevent crime and protect the public.”

Palmer said Vancouver police had already been working on street check policy for two years, implementing training and education recommendations in September 2018, and drafting policy in anticipation of the provincial standard.

In response to a complaint about Vancouver police street checks in 2018, the board also contracted a consulting group to conduct an additional independent review. The board reviewed its recommendations in camera on Thursday and will release the report next month, Palmer said.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who chairs the police board, said those recommendations will help the board understand what additional work on street checks it must do.

“It’s something that we’ll continue to look at because it is an issue, but I do think that these provincial guidelines are a very, very good first step,” Stewart said.

Drazen Manojlovic, director of the planning research and audit section for Vancouver police, told the board that all front line officers have been trained on the policy and will also complete an additional one-hour online course.

New board member Allan Black, who was sworn in Thursday, asked for clarification about a person’s right to walk away from a street check, and whether they would be advised of possible consequences for doing so.

“There are no consequences, they’re free to walk away,” Manojlovic said.

The formal policy is one of six recommendations the Vancouver force agreed to implement after a 2018 internal report. Those findings came after the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association released freedom-of-information documents that showed police stops in Vancouver disproportionately involved people who were Indigenous or black.

Data previously released by Vancouver police also showed that 16 per cent of street checks in 2017 were of Indigenous people, who make up about two per cent of the city’s population. A total of five per cent of checks that year were of people who were black, which are just one per cent of Vancouver’s population.

Vancouver police had said the majority of its police stops are linked to repeat offenders or in areas where crime is more frequent, while other checks are to ensure an individual was OK, though no separate data was available to distinguish those checks.

In addition to the formalized policy, Vancouver police had previously vowed to add additional training, release street check data annually, appoint an Indigenous liaison officer, work on building links with the community and record data that distinguishes checks on an individual’s well-being.

The Vancouver police regulations and procedures manual is available to read online.

— With files from Stephanie Ip

neagland@postmedia.com

twitter.com/nickeagland

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