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March

31Mar

TransLink issues open call to make waiting for bus or Skytrain more pleasant

by admin

TransLink has issued an open call for submissions to make waiting for the bus or SkyTrain more pleasant — although it won’t include large investments into brick-and-mortar projects to make that happen.

Kevin Desmond, the regional transportation authority’s CEO, says the goal of the open call is to partner with the private sector, students or academics to come up with better ideas than the transit authority could on its own.

“We want to tap into innovators who can move a lot faster than we can as a public organization,” Desmond said.

Desmond points to projects like Google Maps and the Transit App — which use open-source data on bus and train routes to help people plan their trips —  as successful public-private partnerships that help transit customers without costing TransLink any money.

The successful proposal for the open call will get support from TransLink in the form of funding to develop the project and access to TransLink data or information. 

But Desmond says the open call likely won’t fund brick-and-mortar projects that also affect transit users’ experiences — like washrooms, for example. Those are part of a different project underway.

While the open call may not fund new washrooms, Desmond says it may fund an app that helps connect transit users to public washrooms near transit hubs. 

The goal of the open call is to stretch the agency’s money by partnering with an external agency or person, Desmond says. That way TransLink can focus its money on operating more trains and buses. 

“More and more, public organizations are going to be reaching out to private sector and private sector innovators to come up with great new ideas,” he said. 

Focus on core services

Mike Soron, founding director of public transportation advocacy group Abundant Transit, says he’s onboard with TransLink stretching its dollars to create better experiences for its users. 

However, he noted that safe, secure, comfortable washroom facilities for people should not be considered innovations. “That should be considered a core responsibility of TransLink.” 

Soron agrees that the private sector is better poised to find innovative technical solutions — and accept the financial risks of doing so.

This is the second open call TransLink has issued. Last year it focused on the theme “seamless mobility.”

The successful proposal was a partnership between car and bicycle-sharing companies Modo, Evo and Mobi to provide their services at transit hubs so people can easily switch from one form of transportation to another. 


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29Mar

Swearing is the biggest etiquette faux-pas among Canadians, poll suggests

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There are noisy eaters, people who are always late, litterbugs, chatty movie-goers and those who drive too slowly in the fast lane.

But a new poll suggests the biggest etiquette faux-pas of all among Canadians is foul language.

According to a nation-wide survey conducted by Vancouver-based Research, Co., 64 per cent of respondents said they’d witnessed someone swearing in public over the past month. In Alberta, that number jumped to a whopping 71 per cent.

“It would seem that the language of Canadians is getting more colourful,” Research Co. president and CEO Mario Canseco said in a statement. “More than two-thirds of women and residents aged 55 and over report hearing someone swearing in public over the past month.”

By comparison, only 56 per cent of those polled said they witnessed a child behaving badly in public while their parents looked the other way, while just under half said they witnessed someone littering in a public place.

Interrupting or talking over another person else followed closely behind at 48 per cent, and 47 per cent of respondents said they’d been cut off by someone while driving.

Other behaviours reported by Canadians included seeing people chewing with their mouths open (39 per cent). Again, that number was higher in Alberta at 44 per cent.

The results suggest cutting in line at the store was more common in Atlantic Canada than in the rest of the country (48 per vent versus 39 per cent).

According to Research Co. 33 per cent of those polled reported seeing someone making an obscene gesture (43 per cent in Alberta).

“The two lowest ranked items on the list of behaviours are someone delivering important information via text or e-mail instead of face-to-face (31 per cent) and someone ignoring, or not responding to an invitation (19 per cent),” the company said.

The survey also included two positive behaviours. According to the report, 63 per cent of respondents reported seeing someone hold a door open for a stranger, and just over one in four saw someone giving up their seat for someone who had a disability, was pregnant or elderly.

Research Co. conducted an online survey among 1,000 adult Canadians between March 22 and 24. The data carries a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.


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28Mar

Some medical waits shrink, but B.C. still has long waits compared to several other provinces

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Health Minister Adrian Dix tours a hip and knee program replacement program on Vancouver Island last year.


Don Craig | B.C. Government / PNG

B.C. performs worse than several other provinces when it comes to meeting recommended waiting times for various medical procedures, including cancer radiation therapy, a federal report released today shows.

Benchmarks are defined as “evidence-based goals each province or territory strives to meet.” They reflect the maximum waiting time that medical experts consider appropriate to wait for a particular procedure.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information report shows that while there are glimmers of improvement in some categories, B.C. generally lags behind a handful of other provinces.

For hip replacements, for example, 67 per cent of patients got their surgery in B.C. within the recommended six months in 2018, compared to 61 per cent in 2016. The national average in 2018, however, was 75 per cent. And in Ontario, 84 per cent of patients got surgery within the time period; in Quebec, 80 per cent.

Long waiting times are generally a function of operating rooms being available for surgeons and other resources like funding, hospital beds, nurses for the operating rooms, recovery and ward beds.

For knee replacements, 59 per cent of B.C. residents got the surgery within the six-month recommended time. That was an improvement over 47 per cent in 2016, but again, lower than the national average of 69 per cent.

For cataract surgery, 64 per cent of B.C. residents got the cataract removal procedure within the recommended wait of four months for high-risk patients. That was slightly worse than in 2016 when it was 66 per cent of patients. The federal average in 2018 was 70 per cent.

For procedures that are especially time-sensitive, B.C. was near the bottom.

For hip fracture repairs, it is recommended that patients wait no longer than 48 hours. In 2018, 85 per cent of B.C. patients got surgery within the recommended time; the national statistic was 88 per cent.  Alberta was tops at 94 per cent meeting the benchmark. Only Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island had longer waiting times than B.C. on this measure.

On radiation therapy, B.C. had the worst ranking with 93 per cent of patients getting treatment within the benchmark of 28 days. The other provinces reported that 95 to 100 per cent of patients were treated within 28 days.

The B.C. Health ministry says on its website that the number of patients waiting for radiation in 2017/18 rose to a high of 467 and the number of cancer patients who got radiation therapy in 2017 declined substantially to 10,663, from about 13,000 from 2015. It is unclear if far fewer patients required radiation or whether B.C. Cancer can’t offer it to as many patients as in prior years.

In an emailed statement, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the report shows B.C. is on “the right track” to improving surgical care, especially for case types that have the longest waiting times.

“We are seeing improvements throughout the health authorities. For example, Island Health’s rate for hip replacements within the benchmark went from 45 per cent in 2016 to 49 per cent in 2017 and 66 per cent in 2018. The rate for knee replacements was even more stunning: In 2016, 29 per cent; in 2017, 32 per cent and in 2018, 57 per cent.

“We know there is more work to do (and) our surgical and diagnostic strategy is not a one-time effort. It is a multi-year plan that is supported with ongoing targeted funding of $75 million starting in 2018-19, and increasing to $100 million in 2019-20,” Dix said, noting that targeted funding should ensure that other surgeries, besides the ones benchmarked, don’t fall behind.

Bacchus Barua, associate director of health policy studies at the conservative think-tank, Fraser Institute, said the CIHI reports shows that many British Columbians still do not receive their treatments within “remarkably long pan-Canadian benchmarks.

“Our own annual survey of waiting times reveals that while the total wait time (between referral from a family doctor to treatment) across 12 specialties has fallen in B.C. between 2016 and 2018, last year’s 23.2-week median wait is nevertheless more than twice as long as the 10.4 week wait time in 1993.

“Wait times are not benign inconveniences. They can, and do, have a real impact on patients’ lives,” he said.

 

[email protected]

Twitter: @MedicineMatters




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27Mar

Is 12 too young to work? Youth advocates slam B.C.’s lax child-labour laws

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A youth advocacy group is calling on the province to tighten regulations around child labour, arguing that B.C. has some of the most lax regulations around children working in North America — and the government is now putting the question to the public. 

Currently, the minimum age of formal employment in B.C. is 12.  There are no age-specific restrictions on the time of day a child can work outside of school hours, the tasks they can do, or the industry in which they work.

“We’re seeing kids working in construction, they’re working in manufacturing and they’re working in the trades,” said Helesia Luke, communications and development coordinator of First Call B.C.

“We know this because we know that they’re getting hurt there.”

The group sent an open letter to B.C.’s Ministry of Labour, calling for a number of changes to the province’s Employment Standards Act like raising the minimum age of formal employment to 16.

They also want to ban children under 18 from doing hazardous jobs — like working with heavy equipment or on construction sites. Other “light work” would have some exemptions to the restrictions.  

It’s been an ongoing battle since the province’s labour laws were changed in 2004 but Luke said she’s optimistic this time around.

“There isn’t a single minister of labour that we have not met with to discuss this,” she told CBC’s The Early Edition.

“With this new government, we have had some signals from the minister that he is willing to look at better standards.”

The Ministry of Labour has turned to the public for input on how to modernize the Employment Standards Act. Consultations run until March 31.

Exemptions can be made for some kinds of underage ‘light work,’ Helesia Luke of First Call B.C. says. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Workplace accidents for teens

There is a “data gap” in exactly how many underage workers there are in B.C., Luke said, because Statistics Canada doesn’t track the participation of under-15s in the workforce.

The best indication First Call B.C. has at the moment is through accident claim data.

“We were shocked it was even worse than what we thought it would be,” she said.

In the last decade, WorkSafeBC has paid out more than $5 million in disability claims to 12- to 14-year-olds.

During that time, an additional 2,000 children under 14 were approved for health-care claims related to being injured in the workplace.

“We’ve heard from a young man who, when he was 12, was stripping autos in a scrap yard and spilled battery acid all over himself,” Luke said.

“He has a lifelong scar from that experience. That’s too high a price to pay when you’re 12.”

A youth advocacy group is calling on the province to tighten regulations around child labour, arguing that B.C. has some of the most lax regulations around children working in North America. 7:47

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27Mar

The pastas at Cibo Trattoria prompt a happy dance

by admin


The dining room at Cibo Trattoria, located at 900 Seymour St., in Vancouver.


Mia Stainsby / PNG

Cibo Trattoria

Where: 900 Seymour Street, 604-602-9570

When: Open for breakfast, lunch dinner daily

Info: cibotrattoria.com

No guts, no glory, they say. I think Curtis Luk gets that. Why else would he sign up to compete in Top Chef Canada twice? It takes a fierce spirit to go through that wringer.

I’ve come across Luk’s cooking at The Parker (where he cooked remarkable vegetarian food in a Lilliputian kitchen) and at Mission where he was chef and co-owner. Despite positive reviews, the latter closed about a year ago.

“In the end, it was a financial decision,” Luk says.

For the past eight months, Luk has been the executive chef at Moda Hotel where Cibo Trattoria restaurant and Uva Wine and Cocktail Bar reside. I hadn’t been to Cibo since the first chef, Neil Taylor, left some eight years ago although I’ve sipped a cocktail or two or three at Uva. 

I recently attended a media event at Cibo, a tasting of new lunch dishes and found myself doing a happy dance around the pastas — the tagliatelle with spiced duck ragu, spaghetti vongole, tagliatelle with spiced duck ragu, all rustic and elegant. I appreciate good pasta dishes because like sushi, it’s everywhere and often uninspiring. The common crimes are over-saucing, overcooking, toppings that don’t sing or all of that.


Spaghetti vongole from Cibo Trattoria.

Mia Stainsby /

PNG

At the lunch, prosciutto and pressed melon was yummy as was a burrata and grilled sourdough salad. Another wintry salad was dominated by delicious smoked salmon. And the desserts were gorgeous; a panna cotta and tiramisu were picture perfect and light enough to follow a big meal.

So how could I not be interested in the dinner menu? I noticed conflicting reviews online about the food and service but I found the service to be warm and attentive, especially the woman who looked like Kaylie Cuoco (you know, Penny in The Big Bang Theory) who looked after us confidently and charmingly.

The room hadn’t changed much — the portrait painting by Bruce Pashak (love it) is still there and on the opposite wall, a collection of plates with images of turn-of-the-century Italian opera singer Lina Cavalieri.

Lunch had been on a bright sunny day and dishes looked bright and tempting. On our evening visit, the room was lit low in the way of higher end restaurants. I know it’s atmospheric but I gotta say, there’s something to ‘eating with the eyes’ but my taste buds struggle. It’s different than closing eyes and concentrating. And it’s hell on photos should someone need to shoot sneak photos for a column she’s going to write. 


Duck breast in dolce forte.

Mia Stainsby /

PNG

We ordered a six-ounce 30-day dry-aged rib-eye ($38) which came with wilted kale salad and sunchokes and a duck breast in dolce forte ($27). The rib-eye (from Two Rivers) was tender and pumped with flavour. The duck, too, was lovely, served with braised half cipollini onions (too many), golden raisins and pine nuts. I liked the Tuscan sauce with chocolate, raisins, vinegar, candied fruit but I can’t say it was forte (strong). A side dish of polenta topped with mushrooms ($11) was soft, airy and delicious.

Dessert wasn’t the beauty as the lunchtime panna cotta and tiramisu I’d gushed over. We shared a chocolate raisin cake with Chantilly cream, caramel sauce and candied pecans — a nice enough ending as the cake and sauce were light and not too sweet.


Panna cotta.

Mia Stainsby /

PNG

The food, Luk says, showcases the regions of Italy while balancing accessibility, creativity and obscure dishes.

“I like to take iconic dishes and turn them on their head. The Ligurian farinata dish, for example, is normally a chickpea flour pancake. I put a twist on it, serving it with braised octopus, cured meat, tomato, olives,” he says. (Which seems more of a cartwheel than a twist.)

Carta di musica is a riff on the traditional Sardinian dish; it’s a crisp flatbread with eggplant, white bean purée and roasted chili peppers. 

“I do a lot of dishes with less meat, emphasizing vegetables,” Luk says. 

B.C. wines are highlighted with strong backup from Italian regions. There are about 20 by the glass and three flights (bubbles, whites and Italian). Cocktails come from Uva the bar in the next room with Wyeth Maiers at the helm.

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twitter.com/miastainsby

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26Mar

‘Not a job for old people’: Doc series shines spotlight on B.C. paramedics

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A Vancouver paramedic specialist with advanced training tends to a heart failure patient, en route to St. Paul’s Hospital. The scene is in the last episode of a new documentary series on Knowledge Network, Paramedics: Life on the Line. It premieres April 2.


TBA / PNG

After the success of its documentary series on life and death in the emergency room, the Knowledge Network wasted no time commissioning a riveting “prequel” consisting of 10 episodes on paramedics working throughout the Lower Mainland.

The series, which streams online and on television April 2, won’t disappoint those craving insight into the jobs and personalities of 911 call takers, dispatchers and the paramedics who race to scenes in their “moving emergency rooms.”

As many already know, ambulance drivers frequently encounter distracted pedestrians looking down at their cellphones as they cross streets, oblivious to speeding ambulances with lights and sirens, not to mention drivers who take far too long to get out of the way. The producers even made a short video calling attention to bad drivers.

It’s just one exasperating part of the job.

“Threading the needle” is the term one ambulance driver uses to describe the precarious weaving (“c’mon kid, I’m not skiing”) to manoeuvre through traffic. A dash cam installed by the film company partner, Lark Productions, captures the driver’s candid banter with her colleague as she aggressively steps on the gas and quips: “It’s fun driving fast with lights and sirens, let’s be honest.”

Those who’ve opined that such health professionals must be adrenalin junkies thriving on chaos will also observe how calm the call takers and paramedics appear as they’re taking information from people in medical crises and rushing to the scene of gruesome accidents to provide care to those in need.

The series reinforces the understanding that the work takes a huge toll, both physically and emotionally. Post-traumatic stress disorder was the focus of a CBC documentarybut the physical toll, especially on the musculoskeletal system, is also harsh and a common cause of days off work.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I’m hoping to make it to retirement in about six years if my body holds up. It’s no job for old people,” said one paramedic in an episode titled No Occupation for Old Men.

Ironically, there is no mandatory retirement age for paramedics and many work well into their 60s, according to B.C. Emergency Health Services.

British Columbia's first report on road safety recommends a speed limit of 30 kilometres an hour in urban areas to reduce deaths among pedestrians and cyclists.


Knowledge Network shines the spotlight on paramedics.

RICHARD LAM /

Vancouver Sun

They eat on the go, wolfing down a sandwich or an ice cream with one hand while deftly steering ambulances with the other. They use deadpan sarcasm and droll humour to lighten the mood. And they must have good chemistry and trust with their shift partners.

There are only two deaths shown in 10 episodes of the docuseries. The paramedics on the scene of one cardiac arrest try everything to save the male and even call a hospital doctor to verify there’s nothing they’ve missed.

“Death is part of life, we’re all gonna die one day,” a paramedic says as a body is covered with a flannel sheet. It was one of at least 17 calls he had responded to during the 12-hour shift.

Viewers might find themselves frustrated by not knowing what happens to patients, like the East Vancouver woman who encountered a complication during a midwife-assisted water birth at home or the 46-year-old heart failure patient waiting to go on a heart transplant wait list.

That sentiment is often shared by the paramedics themselves, said Erin Haskett, a Lark Productions series executive producer. Many expressed frustration that they often don’t learn the outcomes of their cases after patients are handed off to hospital teams.

The series took 130 days of filming from December 2017 to June 2018. The 10 episodes are each under an hour but 1,500 hours of filming was done, often by crews embedded in ambulances at all hours of the day and night. Patients were asked for consent to film before they were handed off to the hospital and again after.

While rural paramedics were left out because of logistical challenges, about 40 of those working in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby Richmond and Surrey are featured. There are about 3,800 paramedics with various levels of credentials and 300 dispatch staff working for B.C. Emergency Health Services across the province.

Linda Lupini, executive vice-president of BCEHS, said the agency was reluctant to participate in the series.

“Initially we didn’t want to do this and we actually spent a few years talking to Knowledge Network about our concerns about logistics, about patient privacy, etc. So we hired a legal analyst and a top privacy expert. They came up with a lengthy list of things to ensure everyone met all the requests.”

There are numerous tricks used by the show’s editors to obscure locations and identities. In some cases street signs are even switched in the editing process and passersby who were on foot are shown on bicycles.

Among the incidents included in the series are a sexual assault call, a baby in respiratory distress, a cyclist hit by a car, a truck-bus crash, a fall at a construction site, an overdose at a SkyTrain station and an unconscious restaurant customer.

“I call our health professionals the first-first responders,” said Lupini. “People who watch this series will see their incredible compassion and patience. They often don’t get the recognition they deserve and I think this is a powerful way to showcase that.”

Viewers may be left wondering why anyone would want a job that takes such a toll on the human spirit. Lupini acknowledges she worried, initially, that the authentic conversations paramedics have about their work might deter people from entering the profession.

“In the series, paramedics talk about why they love their jobs but they also speak honestly about the challenges,” she said.

[email protected]

Twitter: @MedicineMatters




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26Mar

“Not a job for old people” — documentary series shines spotlight on paramedics

by admin


A Vancouver paramedic specialist with advanced training tends to a heart failure patient, en route to St. Paul’s Hospital. The scene is in the last episode of a new documentary series on Knowledge Network, Paramedics: Life on the Line. It premieres April 2.


TBA / PNG

After the success of its documentary series on life and death in the emergency room, the Knowledge Network wasted no time commissioning a riveting “prequel” consisting of 10 episodes on paramedics working throughout the Lower Mainland.

The series, which streams online and on television April 2, won’t disappoint those craving insight into the jobs and personalities of 911 call takers, dispatchers and the paramedics who race to scenes in their “moving emergency rooms.”

As many already know, ambulance drivers frequently encounter distracted pedestrians looking down at their cellphones as they cross streets, oblivious to speeding ambulances with lights and sirens, not to mention drivers who take far too long to get out of the way. The producers even made a short video calling attention to bad drivers.

It’s just one exasperating part of the job.

“Threading the needle” is the term one ambulance driver uses to describe the precarious weaving (“c’mon kid, I’m not skiing”) to manoeuvre through traffic. A dash cam installed by the film company partner, Lark Productions, captures the driver’s candid banter with her colleague as she aggressively steps on the gas and quips: “It’s fun driving fast with lights and sirens, let’s be honest.”

Those who’ve opined that such health professionals must be adrenalin junkies thriving on chaos will also observe how calm the call takers and paramedics appear as they’re taking information from people in medical crises and rushing to the scene of gruesome accidents to provide care to those in need.

The series reinforces the understanding that the work takes a huge toll, both physically and emotionally. Post-traumatic stress disorder was the focus of a CBC documentary but the physical toll, especially on the musculoskeletal system, is also harsh and a common cause of days off work.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I’m hoping to make it to retirement in about six years if my body holds up. It’s no job for old people,” said one paramedic in an episode titled No Occupation for Old Men.

Ironically, there is no mandatory retirement age for paramedics and many work well into their 60s, according to B.C. Emergency Health Services.

British Columbia's first report on road safety recommends a speed limit of 30 kilometres an hour in urban areas to reduce deaths among pedestrians and cyclists.


Knowledge Network shines the spotlight on paramedics.

RICHARD LAM /

Vancouver Sun

They eat on the go, wolfing down a sandwich or an ice cream with one hand while deftly steering ambulances with the other. They use deadpan sarcasm and droll humour to lighten the mood. And they must have good chemistry and trust with their shift partners.

There are only two deaths shown in 10 episodes of the docuseries. The paramedics on the scene of one cardiac arrest try everything to save the male and even call a hospital doctor to verify there’s nothing they’ve missed.

“Death is part of life, we’re all gonna die one day,” a paramedic says as a body is covered with a flannel sheet. It was one of at least 17 calls he had responded to during the 12-hour shift.

Viewers might find themselves frustrated by not knowing what happens to patients, like the East Vancouver woman who encountered a complication during a midwife-assisted water birth at home or the 46-year-old heart failure patient waiting to go on a heart transplant wait list.

That sentiment is often shared by the paramedics themselves, said Erin Haskett, a Lark Productions series executive producer. Many expressed frustration that they often don’t learn the outcomes of their cases after patients are handed off to hospital teams.

The series took 130 days of filming from December 2017 to June 2018. The 10 episodes are each under an hour but 1,500 hours of filming was done, often by crews embedded in ambulances at all hours of the day and night. Patients were asked for consent to film before they were handed off to the hospital and again after.

While rural paramedics were left out because of logistical challenges, about 40 of those working in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby Richmond and Surrey are featured. There are about 3,800 paramedics with various levels of credentials and 300 dispatch staff working for B.C. Emergency Health Services across the province.

Linda Lupini, executive vice-president of BCEHS, said the agency was reluctant to participate in the series.

“Initially we didn’t want to do this and we actually spent a few years talking to Knowledge Network about our concerns about logistics, about patient privacy, etc. So we hired a legal analyst and a top privacy expert. They came up with a lengthy list of things to ensure everyone met all the requests.”

There are numerous tricks used by the show’s editors to obscure locations and identities. In some cases street signs are even switched in the editing process and passersby who were on foot are shown on bicycles.

Among the incidents included in the series are a sexual assault call, a baby in respiratory distress, a cyclist hit by a car, a truck-bus crash, a fall at a construction site, an overdose at a SkyTrain station and an unconscious restaurant customer.

“I call our health professionals the first-first responders,” said Lupini. “People who watch this series will see their incredible compassion and patience. They often don’t get the recognition they deserve and I think this is a powerful way to showcase that.”

Viewers may be left wondering why anyone would want a job that takes such a toll on the human spirit. Lupini acknowledges she worried, initially, that the authentic conversations paramedics have about their work might deter people from entering the profession.

“In the series, paramedics talk about why they love their jobs but they also speak honestly about the challenges,” she said.

[email protected]

Twitter: @MedicineMatters

 




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26Mar

Legislative committee gives advice on ride-hailing regulations

by admin

Ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft should not be limited by geographic boundaries or caps on fleet sizes, and drivers should be allowed to work with Class-5 licences, according to a provincial legislative committee.

In November, the provincial government introduced legislation that will allow ride-hailing companies to operate in B.C., likely by late this year.

The nine-member, all-party select standing committee on Crown corporations was asked to look at four specific areas of regulation: boundaries, vehicle supply, fare and price regimes, and driver’s licence requirements.

On Tuesday, it released 11 recommendations after hearing from 15 witnesses and receiving 47 written submissions from municipalities, regional districts, First Nations, taxi associations, disability advocacy organizations and ride-hailing companies.

“I do hope that now government will see fit to keep the recommendations and get real ride-hailing in place and on the road in British Columbia,” said Surrey South Liberal MLA Stephanie Cadieux, who was the committee’s deputy chair.

Currently, taxi companies are limited by operating boundaries, which are set when a taxi licence is granted. They dictate where a taxi can pick up passengers, which can lead to deadheading — return trips without passengers — and ride refusals.

The committee said boundaries should not be imposed for ride-hailing companies. Instead, they considered other options to manage the distribution of vehicles, such as geofencing to redistribute supply and per-trip or per-kilometre fees to deal with congestion, if necessary.

Fleet sizes for ride-hailing companies should not be capped, the committee said, however it did not agree on other mechanisms to deal with supply and demand.

In the interest of safety and reducing emissions, the committee recommended that vehicles used for ride-hailing be no more than 10 years old.

On pricing, the committee said there should be a minimum per-trip price that is not less than the cost of public transit. A regular adult fare for someone who does not have a Compass card is $2.95 for one zone, and $5.70 for three zones.

They also agreed that the cost of a trip should be the same for an handicap-accessible vehicle and non-accessible vehicle.

Companies should be required to disclose the price for a trip on their apps before the customer orders a ride, and data should be monitored to see if a base rate or cap on surge pricing should be implemented. These recommendations were in a 2018 committee report.

The committee was not unanimous in its views on driver licensing, but a majority of members voted for a Class-5 licence requirement, rather than a Class-4. A Class-5 licence is what most drivers in B.C. hold.

“Members expressed uncertainty over whether the Class-4 licensing process actually produces safer drivers,” the report states.

They emphasized that driver rating systems could help identify safe drivers, and said driving record checks and medical exams could be required.

The committee also recommended that ride-hailing companies be required to provide data to the province for monitoring purposes, and that the province make that information available “to the broadest extent possible while maintaining privacy.”

It was recommended that the province review the regulations in 2023.

Committee member and B.C. Green spokesperson for transportation, MLA Adam Olsen, said the government now has the tools to make ride-hailing a reality.

“Ride-hailing will make transportation services more accessible for British Columbians, and the recommendations brought forward by our committee ensure that there would be a regulatory environment that promotes overall safety and a fair playing field,” said Olsen. “I hope government will implement these recommendations, which are informed by other jurisdictions.”

Ridesharing Now for B.C., a coalition advocating in favour of ride-hailing, urged the province to adopt the recommendations and move forward.

“Today’s report marks a major milestone in bringing ride-sharing to the province by the fall of 2019, as promised by the government,” said spokesperson Ian Tostenson. “It is time to get ride-sharing on the road by implementing the key recommendations and finalizing ride-sharing auto-insurance.”

To bridge the gap until ride-hailing is allowed in the province, a local company has started Kater, a ride-hailing app that will begin beta testing on Saturday.

People who have registered on the company’s website and been chosen to take part in the trial will be able to download the company’s app and order rides from Vancouver to anywhere in B.C. Kater will begin with a small number of vehicles and scale up to 140 within a few weeks.

The company will use Vancouver Taxi Association licences to operate and will be expected to abide by the existing rules — which include requiring a Class-4 licence, TaxiHost Pro certificate, and chauffeur-for-hire permit, and charging taxi rates — but use a typical ride-hailing app that takes payment and allows users to track their rides and rate drivers.

[email protected]

twitter.com/jensaltman

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26Mar

‘Staying close but not too close’ when your child has a disability

by admin

This story is part of Amy Bell’s column Parental Guidance that airs on CBC Radio One’s The Early Edition.


Parenting can be an overwhelming endeavour filled with chaos, doubt and daily fears for your child’s well-being. But if you are a parent to a child with a disability of any kind, you might feel those battles more keenly than others and face fears most parents can’t even begin to fathom.

Through no effort of my own, I have been blessed with two remarkably ordinary children, but for parents with more extraordinary children — who have disability and needs unique to them — parenting can be a time filled with confusing lows and incredibly rewarding highs. 

White Rock resident Leslie Stoneham wasn’t expecting to give birth to a child with Down syndrome 31 years ago. When she had Kierra, she was provided with outdated information and was still presented with the option of giving her newborn up for adoption — in 1988!

But she knew instantly that she was going to raise Kierra just as she had been raising her older daughter, and that meant plenty of  love — sometimes tough love — compassion, and joy.  It also meant focusing on Kierra as a whole person and not just someone with special needs.

Leslie has also had to fight and advocate for Kierra to get the assistance and government funding she is eligible for, and wishes that it wasn’t such a battle for parents to get the support their children deserve.  

Can there be too much support? Not really— it takes a village, after all — but as any parent knows, there are times you need to push your child so they can fully realize what they are capable of . 

‘Give her that opportunity’

Lucia Arreaga is a Bowen Island resident and the mother to a brilliant, boisterous six-year-old girl named Maya. Maya has ADCY5-related dyskinesia — an incredibly rare genetic disorder that causes uncontrolled movements and greatly affects Maya’s mobility.

Yes, she needs a great deal of assistance from her family, friends and community. But her family is very conscious of the fact that while Maya does faces many challenges, part of what will ultimately help Maya is knowing when to take a step back.

“It’s that fine line of staying close but not too close”, said Arreaga. “Give her that opportunity to prove to herself that she can do it.” 

Parents such as Leslie and Lucia and countless others just want their children to be seen as people first — regardless of any special needs they might have. That they not be defined by their disabilities and that everyone realize just how lucky they are to have these children in their lives. 

“She’s been my teacher. She’s taught me to be a better person, ” said Stoneham. 

Arreaga has the same praise for Maya:  “She’s an incredible, incredible human being … who has changed so many people’s perceptions in life.” 

All too often, we view people with special needs and disabilities by what they can’t do, instead of celebrating all that they are capable of and capable of becoming.

Young kids are often most open to children with disabilities, but somewhere along the line to adulthood, we forget that natural acceptance and focus too much on what people are lacking. 

As parents, we need to work hard to instill and keep this kindness and openness in our children.This will only continue to make a more inclusive community for everyone, which ultimately benefits those with disabilities and those without.


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26Mar

‘A thick accumulation of rodent excrement’: Inspectors found major issues after chowder rat video

by admin

The seafood chowder prepared in a Vancouver restaurant kitchen was “unfit for human consumption,” according to an inspection report prepared after a rat was allegedly found in a customer’s bread bowl.

Cockroaches, mouse droppings and other rodent excrement were all visible when Vancouver Coastal Health inspectors visited the commercial commissary kitchen at Mamie Taylor’s restaurant on Dec. 28, 2018, according to a report obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

At the time, Crab Park Chowdery was renting the basement space to prepare its chowder, but the kitchen is no longer being used to prepare food.

“General sanitation was poor,” Insp. Karen Rehbein writes of the kitchen.

“A cockroach was sighted running over [Crab Park Chowdery owner Ashton] Phillips’s head. Mouse droppings were noted inside the walk-in cooler, as well as in the food preparation and food storage areas. A thick accumulation of rodent excrement and accumulated debris was noted on plumbing lines situated above the cooking equipment.”

She notes that 10-litre plastic tubs of chowder were placed into a walk-in cooler once they were taken off the stove.

“At the time of inspection, the chowders in the walk-in cooler were NOT covered,” Rehbein wrote.

A video posted on Instagram in December 2018 appeared to show a dead rat inside a bread bowl of soup at the Crab Park Chowdery. (Instagram/pisun_ne_ne)

The health authority ordered the inspection after a diner at Crab Park Chowdery posted a video on Instagram that showed what appeared to be a dead rat in her meal. The post caused a social media uproar and resulted in numerous complaints from the public.

Problems rectified, owner says

The two inspectors who accompanied Phillips to Mamie Taylor’s noted that there was no hand-washing sink in the base kitchen area, and one of the prep tables was placed directly below a sewer line. Fixtures in the washroom weren’t operating.

The inspectors ordered Phillips to throw out all of the chowder in the kitchen. Rehbein wrote “food is unfit for human consumption.”

The health authority shut down Mamie Taylor’s and its commercial kitchen after the inspection. The restaurant was allowed to reopen the next day, after staff made the necessary improvements.

Vancouver restaurant Mamie Taylor’s was only forced to close for one day after December’s incident. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

As a result of the rat incident, Mamie Taylor’s announced it was severing ties with Crab Park Chowdery and would no longer rent out the basement kitchen to other restaurants.

Mamie Taylor’s owner, Ron Oliver, told CBC that all of the problems in the Dec. 28 report have been rectified.

“Without tenants, without any use of the space that isn’t storage, we’re able to keep a much tighter control on what’s happening in the space that formerly housed the commissary,” he said.

He added that the restaurant has been inspected twice since the December incident and has passed both times.

Meanwhile, Crab Park Chowdery announced it was closing for good in January.

Read the Vancouver Coastal Health inspection report


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