Posts Tagged "supports"


B.C. rejects calls for individualized air quality supports for people with disabilities and those at risk from wildfire smoke

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Though there is widespread consensus that wildfire smoke has become an annual health issue for thousands of high-risk British Columbians, the provincial government is rejecting calls for individualized air quality measures and defending its one-size-fits-all approach.

CTV News Vancouver has spoken with several people with disabilities and the BC Lung Association, who all agree that the long-term issue of poor air quality during annual wildfire smoke should prompt the province to consider air purifiers an essential health device for those with relevant health conditions.

“I would not be surprised to see more people with underlying conditions going to emergency rooms,” said Dr. Menn Biagtan of the BC Lung Association, noting that the thousands of British Columbians who’ve had COVID-19 are now included in that category.

“I think one of the lessons we’re going to learn from this wildfire season is that air purifiers (should be) available for those who really need it or cannot afford it. I would be in agreement with that, and that should be included in the plan.” 

Disability researcher and policy analyst Gabrielle Peters raised the issue with the province last year, penning a letter to several ministries and urging them to consider an extension to the BC Medical program.

“Disabled people are disproportionately likely to live below the poverty line and already facing extraordinary costs because of COVID-19,” she wrote last fall. “It is simply not possible to purchase air purifiers at this income level.” 

The Ministry of Health rejected the idea of providing air purifiers to individuals in its response to Peters, saying it was too complex and expensive to do so and that the government was focussed on community centres and shopping malls as centres where anyone could find relief during periods of poor air quality. The ministry reiterated this position when CTV News asked about the issue on Wednesday.

“Due to these unique individual considerations when purchasing a portable air purifier, the provincial government does not provide portable air purifiers to the public,” wrote ministry staffer, who said no interviews were possible on the issue.

“BC Housing has an Extreme Heat and Wildfire Smoke Response Protocol for social housing buildings managed by BC Housing, including the creation of cooling rooms, regular checks on tenants and providing tenants with information about how to stay cool and protect themselves from smoke.”


While the smoke from wildfires may be an unpleasant annoyance for many people, for others, the weeks of fine particulate matter in the air can have serious health consequences. 

“I get migraines and respiratory distress that triggers heart problems for me,” said Q, a disabled person in Chilliwack with a connective tissue disorder and COPD, among other complex health issues, which are aggravated by wildfire smoke.

“I am likely to faint if I do go outside; I have been hospitalized with wildfire smoke exposure.” 

For those living in the Okanagan, the impacts have been even more intense and long-running.

“I know so many disabled people who, like me, are reluctant to seek medical care unless it’s a crisis since we spend so much time and energy navigating the system,” wrote Kelowna resident Shaunna Muckersie, who has permanent lung damage after mistaking a serious cough in 2018 as wildfire-smoke-related, when she actually had a lung abscess and double pneumonia.

“I am very lucky in my living situation in that I have been able to acquire an air purifier to run in my bedroom,” added Muckersie. “I genuinely don’t know what I would do otherwise. The mall and library are not safe for me now because of COVID, and as my disability has gradually worsened, I have had difficulty driving at times.”


The BC Lung Association includes wildfire smoke prominently in its “State of the Air” report, urging British Columbians to start preparing for issues before the smoke sets in.

“Exposure to wildfire smoke is associated with a range of acute effects, particularly for those with respiratory diseases,” note the report’s authors. “Evidence of longer-term health effects is also starting to emerge.”

Biagtan reiterated the advice to stock up on medications, have a “clean air room” in each home and make sure that anyone investing in an air purifier gets the right size for the space they want to use it in. She also advocated using the DIY option the B.C. Centre for Disease Control is recommending for those in a budget. It costs just $60 in materials. 

“lf you’re planning to go out, look up the Air Quality Health Index,” she added. “If it’s high, stay indoors and seek clean air shelters. If your symptoms are worsening, consult your doctor or go to the emergency room.”


Peters would like to see wheelchair-accessible hotel rooms reserved for Interior Health residents to be able to escape the intense smoke near their homes, pointing out that unless the flames from a wildfire threaten someone’s home, they can be living in a fire zone for weeks with horrendous air quality and little escape if they don’t have the money or social connections to stay elsewhere.

She added that without access to air purifiers, high-risk people with compromised immune systems, cardiac conditions, various lung issues and physical disabilities can take up critical acute care resources.

“Research has shown emergency room visits and hospitalizations go up when there is wildfire smoke in the air,” wrote Peters. “We also know that (fine particulate matter) can cause both immediate acute symptoms and long term health effects.”

And while the argument that supplying air purifiers is more economical than a hospital stay doesn’t appear to be part of the government’s calculus, Q doesn’t think the government is taking into account the people who feel invisible in their health struggles, which are amplified each summer.

“The government has to rethink messaging and how we’re involved with these decisions,” Q said. “We really do get left on the sidelines. The greatest effects (from wildfire smoke) are against the people who are not cared for and not remembered by most of society.” 


Grant supports inclusive employment |BC Gov News

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Employers in British Columbia are receiving support to create inclusive work environments for people with disabilities through a $4.8-million grant from the Province.

“Many people with disabilities are interested in securing a good job but have experienced additional barriers due to the pandemic,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This new funding will support employers and businesses committed to building more inclusive and accessible workplaces in hiring staff that reflect the diversity of our province.”

Over the next two years, Small Business BC will work with the Presidents Group on the Employer Supports for Persons with Disabilities project. The goal of the project is to support employers to hire, rehire and retain people with disabilities for long-term successful employment. The Presidents Group is a network of 25 change-driven B.C. business leaders who are champions for more accessible, inclusive workplaces.

Most of the funding will support small businesses in making their workplaces more accessible. Small businesses can apply for Workplace Accessibility Grants of up to $1,000 to remove physical, communication and other barriers. These funds will also support awareness campaigns and learning and development resources offered by the Presidents Group and Small Business BC. Each September, which the Province proclaims as Disability Employment Month, Small Business BC hosts a series of webinars on the benefits of inclusive hiring practices. Small Business BC will provide additional information about the grant opportunities and programs via a dedicated website in a short time.

While employment levels in B.C. are beginning to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, populations already facing barriers to employment – like people living with disabilities – may take longer to reach the same recovery levels. These include people with mental illness, invisible disabilities, communication disabilities and physical disabilities. With this funding, government remains committed to helping address barriers and create more inclusive workplaces.

Small Business BC helps British Columbia’s entrepreneurs grow successful and sustainable businesses through expert business advisors, educational services, easy-to-use free resources and community events.

The Province has proclaimed May 30 to June 5, 2021, as B.C.’s fourth annual AccessAbility Week, to promote inclusion and accessibility, while also celebrating the people in the disability community who are working to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. B.C.’s week coincides with National AccessAbility Week and National Indigenous AccessAbility Week.


Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility –

“Attitudinal barriers are one of the biggest challenges people with disabilities face, especially when it comes to long-term employment. Our government is committed to supporting employers in building inclusive workplaces, and Small Business BC and the President’s Group will help us amplify this work.”

Tom Conway, CEO, Small Business BC –

“Small Business BC strives for itself and its small business clients to create open, accessible, inclusive and equitable environments in which every individual has the opportunity to flourish. We are honoured to be supporting workplace accessibility to be fully inclusive of our entrepreneurs, employees and clients with disabilities.”

Lisa Beecroft, co-chair, the Presidents Group –

“Hiring inclusively makes good business sense, and we know that with the right supports, B.C. employers can make themselves accessible. This funding will help businesses reduce barriers and raise awareness of accessibility with employers across the province. Reaching the small business community has long been a priority for us, so we’re really excited to be working with and supporting Small Business BC on this initiative.”

Quick Facts:

  • In British Columbia, there are 523,800 small businesses that employ fewer than 50 people.
  • Over 33% of people with disabilities reported experiencing a temporary or permanent job loss or reduced hours due to the pandemic.
  • In 2017, there were an estimated 926,100 British Columbians over the age of 15 who reported having a disability.
  • The proposed accessible British Columbia act was introduced to the legislature on April 28, 2021.

Learn More:

Learn more about British Columbia’s accessibility legislation: 

Read more about Small Business BC on its website:

More information about the Presidents Group’s commitment to accessible employment can be found here:


New supports for students with disabilities make education more accessible |BC Gov News

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Students with disabilities enrolled at public post-secondary institutions are receiving more supports to help them succeed in their studies and train for a range of in-demand careers.

“Every British Columbian deserves the opportunity to achieve their career dreams and goals,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “We’re empowering students with accessibility challenges to pursue post-secondary training and education to reach their goals, get good-paying jobs and fully participate in B.C.’s strong, resilient economy.”

The Province is providing additional support to three programs that facilitate accessible education across public post-secondary institutions. The Academic Communication Equity (ACE), Centre for Accessible Post-Secondary Education Resources (CAPER) and Program for Institutional Loan of Adaptive Technology (PILAT) help students with accessibility challenges train for in-demand jobs, including those in the technology and trades sectors.

“Almost 25% of adults in B.C. identify as living with a disability. That means a potentially large number of people struggle with unnecessary barriers to training and education,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. “We remain committed to building a more accessible and inclusive B.C., and these three new programs are a great step towards that goal.”

The ACE program supports accessible post-secondary education for students who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind and attending, or planning to attend, college or university in B.C.

The CAPER program provides alternative-learning-format resource materials, such as digital audio books, large print texts, electronic texts and other suitable formats to students and instructors.

The PILAT program supports post-secondary students that require specialized adaptive technology and/or software, such as TypeWell Transcriber and XamBox computer technology.

The $250,000 in additional funding towards these three programs will support approximately 3,000 students with disabilities at public post-secondary institutions. This additional support addresses an increase in demand and will help these students succeed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

Prior to the pandemic, B.C.’s Labour Market Outlook estimated 861,000 jobs will need to be filled over the next 10 years. These ranged from trades, technology and tourism, to health care, management and business. Some level of post-secondary education or training will be required for about 80% of those job openings.

Approximately 71,000 students received federal/provincial student financial assistance through StudentAid BC in 2019-20, totalling $768 million. This included 4,800 students with disabilities.

The Province has proclaimed May 30 to June 5, 2021, as B.C.’s fourth AccessAbility Week, to promote inclusion and accessibility, while also celebrating the people in the disability community who are working to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. AccessAbility Week is also nationally recognized.

A backgrounder follows.


Provincial funding supports people with disabilities |BC Gov News

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In celebration of British Columbia’s fourth annual AccessAbility Week, people with disabilities will be supported through $500,000 in new community grants aimed at improving accessibility and inclusion.

AccessAbility Week highlights the efforts of people, communities and workplaces that are actively removing barriers so people of all abilities have a better chance to succeed.  

“AccessAbility Week is an opportunity to appreciate the many ways that people living with disabilities and their advocates have made our province more accessible and inclusive,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This past year has put additional pressures on people facing barriers and these grants, along with our tabled accessibility legislation, demonstrate our government’s commitment to building a barrier-free B.C.”

Disability Alliance BC (DABC) will distribute the grants to support local accessibility projects throughout the province. Calls for proposals will be posted on DABC’s website later in the year. Grants will vary depending on each project’s size and scope, and will be given to projects focusing on accessible education and learning, sports and recreation, arts, culture and tourism, community participation, emergency planning and response, or accessible employment.

The Province proclaimed May 30 to June 5, 2021, as AccessAbility Week to promote inclusion and accessibility, while also celebrating the people in the disability community who are working to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. B.C.’s week coincides with National AccessAbility Week and National Indigenous AccessAbility Week.

The accessible British Columbia act was introduced on April 28, 2021. Once passed, it will enable the Province to move ahead with establishing new accessibility standards in a range of areas, including education, the built environment and the delivery of services.


Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility –

“This week, we celebrate the abilities of people, recognize the individuals and organizations who continue to go above and beyond, and raise awareness about what each of us can do to make our province more inclusive. Today’s announced grant funding will support organizations across the province in removing barriers and creating new local opportunities for British Columbians with disabilities.”

Karen Martin, executive director, operations, Disability Alliance BC –

“Disability Alliance BC is very pleased to be selected to administer the Accessibility Project again in 2021. We are grateful that the ministry continues to support the work of organizations as they increase accessibility and make their communities and programs more inclusive of people with disabilities. Projects that make connections and provide opportunities to participate are especially important during the pandemic and going forward.”

Tiffany Tjosvold, executive director, Embrace Arts Foundation –

“The Accessibility Project Grant has opened up such exciting possibilities for our organization. We are now able to run our new artist-to-facilitator program, where a group of local disabled and neurodivergent artists will train together and refine their skills as community facilitators. We believe it is important to have more disabled and neurodivergent artists in leadership roles within the community. We can’t wait to see what impact this will have on our organization and our community at large.”

Lynda Edmonds, CEO, Fraserside Community Services Society –

“The Accessibility Project Grant has helped Fraserside be better prepared and equipped in keeping the people we serve and employ safe. The grant gave us the means to design and implement an effective pandemic response plan that ensured persons served by Fraserside, especially those with disabilities, continued to receive support during this difficult time. We also created a disaster response plan that will act as a guide during an emergency to keep everyone safe and informed. Thank you for helping our persons served live a barrier-free life.”

Quick Facts:

  • In 2020, 14 organizations received funding for accessibility projects.
  • As of 2017, there are more than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 with some form of disability.

Learn More:

Visit the Disability Alliance BC website for more information:

Previous Accessibility Project Grant recipients can be found here:

Learn more about British Columbia’s accessibility legislation:

View the AccessAbility Week 2021 Proclamation:



Grant supports jobs for youth facing barriers to employment

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Young people with persistent and multiple barriers to employment or education, including youth directly affected by COVID-19, will have better access to services through a new employment program.

The Province is providing Foundry with a one-time grant of $5.1 million to administer Foundry Works! over the next three years. Foundry Works! is a youth employment program that integrates health and social services.

“We know social and emotional well-being matters, and support can prevent or minimize future mental health and substance-use challenges in a young person’s life,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Foundry’s research-backed employment initiative will support youth to have the greatest chance for success and happiness.”

Foundry Works! is designed to provide integrated and individualized wraparound assistance to youth aged 15 to 24 in B.C., including health, mentoring, education, skills development and job placement services. Foundry Works! will deliver programs and services to youth, who are not employed or involved in an educational program, to help them develop skills, gain paid work experience and eventually transition into the labour market.

“Young people in B.C. are full of potential. Especially now, during COVID-19, they are facing unprecedented challenges – including to their employment,” said Steve Mathias, executive director, Foundry. “Foundry envisions all young people in B.C. having the supports they need to live the life they want to lead. That includes vocational and employment services integrated with other health and social services young people need, delivered in a personalized way. We are excited to launch Foundry Works! through the Foundry Virtual BC platform and in our Foundry centres in 11 B.C. communities starting this summer.”

Foundry is a provincewide network of integrated health and social services centres where young people can access a variety of wraparound supports and services, including individualized mental health care, substance-use services, primary care and social services, as well as youth and family peer supports. Online resources and first-of-its-kind, provincewide virtual services further broaden Foundry’s reach. Referrals are not required to visit a centre or to receive online support, and all services are free and confidential.

“For young people, especially those who have mental health or substance-use challenges, meaningful employment can make a huge difference to their life,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Using an innovative approach, the Foundry Works! program integrates both health- and employment-related services to help put youth on a successful pathway.”

Interested participants can contact their nearest Foundry to enquire about Foundry Works! and do not need a referral from another organization.  

“Children, youth and families facing mental health and substance use challenges can learn new skills and participate in the workplace, which will make a tremendous difference in their lives,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Foundry is a leader in our communities and this investment in Foundry Works! will give youth and young adults access to the supports they need as they transition to adulthood.”

Quick Facts:

  • Over 123,000 young people in B.C., aged 15 to 24, are affected by loss of employment due to COVID-19.
  • Foundry services can be found online and in 11 B.C. communities, with another eight centres in development.
  • Foundry Works! is expected to support up to 600 individuals each year to improve their employment readiness, social and emotional well-being, and to achieve success in the labour market.
  • Foundry Works! is expected to launch provincewide in summer 2021.
  • This grant is funded through the Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement (WDA).

Learn More:

Learn more about Foundry:

For further details about the launch of Foundry Works! in summer 2021, visit:

If you or someone you know needs help, reach out. Supports can be found online:

Learn more about the Canada-British Columbia WDA:  


Funding supports green infrastructure projects in Cavan Monaghan, Trent Hills, Minden, Haliburton

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A combined $28 million in federal and provincial government funding will help support 20 green infrastructure projects throughout Ontario, including several in Peterborough and the surrounding area.

Peterborough-Kawartha Liberal MP Maryam Monsef and Laurie Scott, Ontario infrastructure minister and MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, were among the politicians to make the announcement on Thursday.

The federal government is providing $15.3 million, while Ontario is contributing $12.8 million through the Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure Stream (CCRIS) and the Green Infrastructure Stream (GIS) of the Investing in Canada plan. The recipients are responsible for the remainder of funding, with contributions of more than $16.1 million combined toward their respective projects.

Read more:
$6.1M to upgrade The Mount Community Centre in Peterborough, centres in Norwood, Havelock

More than $1.56 million combined will support three projects in Cavan-Monaghan Township:

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  • Old Millbrook School rehabilitation (federal: $204,700; provincial: $170,566; recipient: $136,484): Replacing the roof and windows with energy-efficient alternatives; repairing damaged walls, floors and doors; and installing a new ventilation and exchange system to the historically protected school built in 1889. “These improvements will provide year-round access to indoor space for various social groups and services, while improving access to quality community, cultural and recreational infrastructure.”
  • Millbrook Arena renovation to a multipurpose hub (federal $386,400; provincial $321,968; recipient $257,632): Rehabilitation of steel girders, beams, walls and floors; converting the concession stand into accessible washrooms; replacing the roof; and installing air ventilation system. “Once complete this facility will provide a space for year-round sports programming and community social activities.”
  • Revisioning the Bruce Johnston Library Branch as a Community Hub (federal $37,400; provincial $31,164; recipient $24,936): Renovate the existing library to create a more accessible, ergonomic, functional and energy-efficient space. “These renovations will provide a larger, more flexible space for clients and staff, improving the library experience and working environment.

In the Municipality of Trent Hills, more than $2.6 million combined will support the following project:

  • Replacement of the Hastings treated water standpipe (federal $1,043,700; provincial $869,663; recipient $695,887): Replace a standpipe along with 875 metres of water main to connect the new standpipe to the distribution system. “The replacement will improve water pressure, support better fire protection and ensure a safe, secure and reliable water supply.”

In Minden Hills Township, more than $2.38 million combined will support the following projects:

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  • Minden Hills Community Facilities for Accessibility rehabilitation (federal $358,800; provincial $298,970; recipient $239,230): Project will provide various structural and accessibility upgrades to the Minden Library/Cultural Centre, Lochlin Community Centre, Irondale Community Centre and Minden Curling Club building (install an elevator and air lock). “These improvements will provide the associated communities with safer and more accessible entrances to community spaces, meeting current Ontario Building Code standards, while extending the life of these facilities.”
  • Kinark Outdoor Centre rehabilitation (federal $595,320; provincial $496,051; recipient $396,930): Constructing an additional respite dorm and improving the safety and accessibility of indoor and outdoor spaces like trails, waterfront areas and classrooms; upgrading the dining hall and laundry facilities; and providing winterization and accessibility to sleeping cabins. “The project will increase the seasonal capacity of the facility, and provide greater access to preventative respite for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

In Haliburton County and the Municipality of Dysart et al, more than $568,000 combined will support the following projects:

  • Haliburton County Rail Trail Corridor upgrades (federal $107,250; provincial $89,366; recipient $71,509: Improving 30 kilometres of trail with granular overlay; installing 15 benches, 500 metres of barrier and informational signage to highlight trail history, the natural environment and trail accessibility. “This project will provide an improved recreational experience for users, while reducing annual maintenance costs.”
  • Rotary Beach Park rehabilitation (federal $120,000, provincial $99,990; recipient $80,010): Improving overall park infrastructure, which includes repairing the surface of tennis, basketball and pickleball courts; improving the accessibility of pathways, docks, courts and picnic areas; rehabilitating the storage building exterior; installing a play structure, rain garden and bike rack; and creating an off-leash dog park as well as a public wifi network. “These improvements will provide an accessible, modern, and safe recreation area for residents and visitors, while supporting various community, cultural and sporting events.”

“As the weather begins to get warmer, the need for sport and recreational infrastructure becomes even greater as it provides members of the community an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle,” said Scott. “That’s why our government’s investment into local community, culture and recreation infrastructure projects like sport arenas and play structures could not have come at a better time.”

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Kick starting climate action locally – Apr 19, 2021

Monsef said recreation and community spaces are at the “heart” of Canadian towns and cities.

“The federal government’s investment of more than $15.3 million toward the 20 projects announced today will provide modern, accessible spaces where residents can come together to stay fit, and connect with friends and loved ones safely,” she said.

Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes Brock Conservative MP Jamie Schmale applauded both governments’ commitment to projects in his riding.

“It is wonderful to be a part of the investments today from both the provincial and federal governments made into the riding of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock,” he stated. “They will create local jobs and provide economic activity. I would like to congratulate all successful applicants that received funding through the ICIP program.”


Grant supports culture of accommodation in the workplace

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Individuals who are dealing with a mental or physical health impairment will be better supported to safely return to work, thanks to new funding for the National Institute of Disability Management and Research (NIDMAR).

The Province is providing NIDMAR with $6 million in a one-time grant to administer a return-to-work and disability management education program and support project over the next four years.

“Every worker has the right to return home safely from work,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. “As someone who has endured a serious workplace injury myself, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to return to the workplace. This funding will help more people successfully transition back into the workforce.”

The project has three strategies to support B.C. employers’ capacity to accommodate injured workers to return to work, as well as increase the number of people with disabilities in the provincial workforce:

  1. Disability management program assessments and improvements
  2. Educational development
  3. Professionalization

“We very much appreciate the support of the Province to enable us to provide employers in B.C. with education, professional certification and implement a return-to-work/disability-management program, so they can assist workers who acquire a mental or physical health impairment to maintain attachment to their workforce,” said Wolfgang Zimmermann, executive director, NIDMAR. “Over 80% of impairments occur during a person’s work life, and after spending a year on disability support, less than 1% will work again. Workplace efforts in early intervention and return-to-work play a key role in successful socio-economic outcomes for the injured/disabled worker.”

The disability management program assessment and improvement component offers workplace assessments and supports employers in implementing recommendations to assist injured workers returning to work. It also offers practical tools and resources for employers, and a survey of 700 disability management professionals.

“This is a tremendous opportunity. Employers, in collaboration with their employees, can effect meaningful change through personal leadership and by introducing organizational policies and practices that focus on retaining valuable workers they might otherwise lose to the onset of mental or physical health impairment,” said Lance Blanco, senior vice-president of corporate development, Hardwoods Distribution Inc. “Everyone benefits when we build a culture of accommodation that recognizes the important contributions we can all make.”

The educational development component will provide up to 500 individuals annually with return-to-work/disability-management program and practice knowledge.

“We are encouraged by this practical investment that will help injured workers to return to work,” said Sussanne Skidmore, secretary treasurer, BC Federation of Labour. “While there is much work to do to improve accessibility and supports for injured workers, employers will now have access to training and skills development to ensure they properly support their workers.”

The professional designation component provides full-time and part-time scholarships for a bachelor of disability management at the Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences and supports eligible individuals with registration and examination fees for the disability management professional designation.

“Ensuring that workers who become injured or disabled have the supports they need to be able to return to work is vital to a healthy and just workforce,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “This grant will go a long way to improve and expand B.C.’s disability management and return-to-work resources and provide workers and employers with more of the supports they need.”

The scholarships and educational modules are expected to begin accepting applications in early summer.

Quick Facts:

  • More than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 years live with a disability.
  • More than 158,000 new workplace injuries were reported in B.C. in 2019.
  • Worldwide, 6,500 people die every day from work-related diseases and an additional 374 million workers suffer non-fatal occupational accidents.
  • This grant is funded through the Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement (WDA).

Learn More:

Learn more about employment resources for people with disabilities:

Learn more about the Canada-British Columbia WDA:

National Institute of Disability Management and Research:

Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences:


Five-point plan supports women with brain injuries

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Common thinking up until a few years ago was men were far more likely than women to end up with a brain injury.

Football, hockey, extreme sports, fighting – so many of the activities known to carry a risk of head trauma tend to be those that are more popular among males.

That’s what The Cridge Centre for the Family believed for most of the three decades it has provided support, housing and hope for people with brain injuries in Greater Victoria.

But with a growing body of research identifying a strong correlation between intimate partner violence and brain injury, The Cridge now recognizes an urgent need to expand its brain-injury supports to reach more women with experiences of domestic violence.

“Brain injury is the unseen disability that affects so many things,” said Joanne Linka, manager of communication and fund development at The Cridge. “This is a story we’ve been telling for 30 years, trying to leverage dollars and resources for this work. So when we started seeing the research about women impacted by intimate partner violence a few years ago, that jumped out at us.”

Research has established an estimated 80% of women who have been in a violent relationship have had at least one brain injury. Women could be routinely experiencing one brain injury after another in cases of ongoing violence, Linka said. Strangulation plays an even more insidious role, depriving the brain of oxygen.

“A brain injury can affect a woman’s ability to work, to function, to parent, to manage her life. We know the spiral into poverty, addiction and criminal activities. They need support early.”

The Cridge has developed a five-point plan for stepping up its work with women who have brain injuries due to intimate partner violence. The plan includes direct services, research participation, training and support for front-line workers to recognize brain injury, advocacy to raise awareness and funding support, and prevention.

That prevention piece includes working with male abusers to reduce abusive behaviours and learn to regulate their emotions, Linka said, adding that more than half of male abusers have suffered a brain injury themselves.

The Cridge is a faith-based community social services agency and the longest-running charity in Western Canada, with 148 years of service. Some 2,000 people a year access its eight programs serving a diverse population across all ages, genders, cultures, faiths, income levels and personal circumstances.

Cridge services include a women’s transition house, where the impact of brain injury on the lives of women who have experienced intimate partner violence plays out every day in myriad ways.

“Seeing what goes on for the women who we serve, it’s heart wrenching to know that they will struggle for the rest of their lives,” Linka said. “And that is where we come in. We can help them find the support they need to reduce that struggle.

“Their brain injury affects them in every way. For instance, there’s one woman we support who we know loves her kids, but her injury is so severe that even getting them to school on time is a huge challenge. That puts her at risk of having her children end up in care.”

With the right kind of individualized services, Linka noted, people can adapt and learn new ways to manage their lives in healthy, safe ways. A day when there are no victims of intimate partner violence and no one has to fear not being believed is the ultimate dream guiding The Cridge’s work.

The B.C. government has proclaimed March as Community Social Services Awareness Month in appreciation of the more than 42,000 people who work in the community social services sector. They provide help and assistance to those who need it most.

Learn More:

The Cridge Centre for the Family:

To learn more about VictimLink, which provides immediate crisis support for people facing family or sexual violence, visit:

For the Community Social Services Awareness Month Proclamation, visit:


Emergency supports extended for vulnerable people

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The Province is extending federal employment insurance exemptions and the provincial temporary crisis supplement.

These extensions will help ensure people on income or disability assistance and low-income seniors will continue to have access to the supports they need during the pandemic.

“B.C.’s response to COVID-19 has been strong and swift, but we are not out of the woods yet,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The extension of these programs will allow some breathing room for people to get back on their feet as we move through our restart plan.”

On April 2, 2020, the Province announced a three-month exemption of all federal employment insurance benefits, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, for people already receiving income or disability assistance at that time. This exemption was put in place to ensure current clients whose employment may have been impacted by COVID-19 did not face any additional barriers and could fully benefit from federal emergency response programs.

This exemption, which now includes the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (effective May 1, 2020), has been extended for the duration of these federal emergency support programs so that eligible people will continue to fully benefit without any reductions to their monthly income or disability assistance payments.

For those who are not eligible for the federal benefits, the Province’s temporary COVID-19 Crisis Supplement, which has been provided since April, will be extended an additional two months. This supplement will continue to be provided to low-income seniors receiving the B.C. Senior’s Supplement and income assistance and disability recipients residing in special care facilities. No action is required from recipients. The temporary $300 crisis supplement will continue to be automatically applied to cheques distributed July 22 and Aug. 26, 2020.

These interim measures are part of the B.C. government’s COVID-19 Action Plan to provide income supports, tax relief and direct funding for people, business and services. 

Learn More:

For more information on supports for people on income or disability assistance:


Province secures safe shelter, supports for people living in major encampments

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The Province is working with the cities of Vancouver and Victoria to transition people living in encampments in Oppenheimer Park, Topaz Park and on Pandora Avenue into safe, temporary accommodations with wraparound supports to protect their health and safety in the overlapping COVID-19 and overdose crises.

Since March 2020, the Province, in partnership with BC Housing and local municipalities, has worked to secure and operate 686 hotel and community centre accommodations in Vancouver and 324 hotel spaces in Victoria. This allows people from the encampments to safely physically distance, with access to important health, social and other supports.

“Providing safe, temporary accommodations and wraparound services for people facing homelessness has been an urgent priority for this government for a long time,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Now, more than ever, with the concurrent emergencies of the pandemic and the ongoing opioid crisis, it is time to implement long-term housing solutions that take care of and protect our most vulnerable people.”

This is a step toward providing permanent housing for people in these encampments. BC Housing, non-profit and health authority staff, provincial community-integration specialists and municipal staff will be working directly with people living in these three encampments and will help transition people into safer accommodations. There, they will have their own living space and access to services, such as meals, laundry, washroom facilities, health-care services, addictions treatment and harm reduction, storage for personal belongings and other supports.

This is the next step in a phased approach, developed in co-ordination and collaboration with local governments and service delivery partners, to support vulnerably housed people living with elevated risk during two public health emergencies – the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing overdose crisis. 

“Having a roof over your head, access to food, health care and social supports are all essential to finding a pathway to hope,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “As we stare down not one, but two public health emergencies, we are saying that we won’t leave anyone behind.”  

By transitioning vulnerable people into more secure accommodations, the Province is focused on reducing the immediate health and safety risks to people living and working in these densely populated encampments, as well as those in the neighbouring communities.

“Every day I am inspired by the tremendous leadership the Province has shown British Columbians,” said Lisa Helps, mayor, City of Victoria. “This approach to helping our most vulnerable residents is thoughtful, prudent and ultimately will keep all of us safer during this pandemic.”

This transition is supported by an order under the Emergency Program Act under the provincial state of emergency issued by Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, as part of the Province’s all-of-government response to COVID-19. The order sets May 9, 2020, as the deadline to transition people out of the encampments.

“In this provincial state of emergency, our priority is public safety: for those living in these encampments, neighbouring communities and front-line workers delivering services to these vulnerable people,” Farnworth said. “We are committed to working in partnership with local governments and law enforcement to address the elevated health and safety risks within and around these encampments, while making sure people have access to the critical services they need.”

The Province is working on comprehensive long-term plans to secure permanent housing with appropriate supports for those leaving the encampments and moving into safe, temporary accommodations. These plans will include strategies that will mitigate a return to homelessness and will also make sure the many public safety concerns at the current encampments are addressed, including fire code violations, property crime and sexual violence.

These accommodations are in addition to the more than 1,739 beds that have been secured for vulnerable people, including those experiencing homelessness, in other hotel rooms, community centres and emergency response centres across the province. This step also supports additional and existing work done to date by the COVID-19 Vulnerable Populations Working Group, regional health authorities, BC Housing and the cities of Vancouver and Victoria.


Cheryl Casimer, political executive, First Nations Summit –

“We would like to acknowledge the efforts of the provincial government and all partners involved in developing a strategy for the Downtown Eastside (DTES). Although the strategy announced today includes a temporary plan to address urgent housing and social service supports needed to curtail the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the DTES, it will also allow the Province and primary partners to work towards addressing the much needed long-term housing and wellness strategies and needs to support the DTES community. Based on reports that a second wave of COVID-19 is possible, it is absolutely necessary that these long-term needs are addressed on a priority basis.”

Regional Chief Terry Teegee, B.C. Assembly of First Nations –

“These necessary supports for vulnerable members of the DTES community as well as other communities are much needed during this unprecedented health crisis. I applaud the efforts of the provincial government and other partners in addressing the housing and health-related realities that residents are facing. We must continue to advance and ensure long-term collaborative supports as we work to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Learn More:

The related order under the Emergency Program Act under the provincial state of emergency can be viewed here:

For an overview of BC Housing’s work to monitor and respond to COVID-19, visit:

For more information and latest medical updates on COVID-19, follow the BCCDC on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit its website:

For more information on non-medical issues like travel recommendations and how to manage social isolation, visit:
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.

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