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10Jun

Too many fake service dogs, with fake licences: B.C. charity

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Jon Woodward, CTV News Vancouver


Published Monday, June 10, 2019 6:38PM PDT


Last Updated Monday, June 10, 2019 6:55PM PDT

Too many incidents of “emotional support dogs” looking like trained service dogs but behaving badly – sometimes even going on the attack – has a B.C. charity issuing a public warning.

The untrained dogs can be a menace and can also give the service dogs that help people with disabilities a bad name, making it harder for their owners to be welcomed in shops and public services, says Laura Watamanuk, the executive director of Pacific Assistance Dogs (PADS_.

It’s so easy to get a vest for a dog that says “service dog” online – even plastic ID that looks comparable to the B.C. government certification – it can be hard to tell the difference between a dog and a glorified pet, she said.

“It is really disheartening when someone goes online and purchases a cape and an ID to get easy access for a personal pet,” said Watamanuk.

“It’s a danger for our clients. We’ve had too many incidents where someone’s dog has attacked our dogs. For someone who is sight impaired, to have an untrained dog in public that jeopardizes their personal safety – it’s unacceptable,” she said.

In May, a man on a flight from Atlanta sued Delta Airlines when he said he was mauled in the face by an “emotional support” chocolate labrador-pointer mix. And in February, the mother of a five-year-old girl who had been bitten in the face by an “emotional support” pit bill in the Portland Airport sued as well.

In 2016, the B.C. government passed a law that required service dogs to pass a test before they could identify themselves as service dogs and be treated like them in public spaces like transit or restaurants.

The dogs are given a card that looks like a B.C. drivers licence that they can present if questioned. Failure to register can result in fines.

The B.C. government has received two complaints a year about false representation of dogs. It couldn’t provide CTV News with any information about how many dogs had been licensed under those rules.

Online retailers appear to be ignoring the rules completely. Amazon.ca sells vests and ID kits that would allow a dog owner to outfit their untrained pet to appear to be a service dog.

And ServiceDogCanada.com offers a kit that shows an ID and purports to help a dog owner train their dog to a standard.

Paul Bowskill, who operates the website, told CTV News Vancouver from Hawaii that he rejects the provincial government’s definition of a service dog. He used the example of a dog that recognizes lower blood sugar in a diabetic – but might not be able to pass all of the B.C. government tests.

“The piece of paper has nothing to do with making a service dog a dog,” he said. “It’s a person’s disability and the help of the dog that qualifies it as a service dog.”

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has ruled against a woman who claimed her son’s pit bull was a service dog and removing it from a strata would compound her son’s disability.

The woman lost her case, but the tribunal was willing to consider the argument that someone with a disability may deserve to keep a pet even if that pet isn’t a certified service dog.

There’s also a supply issue: PADS says it trains about 30 dogs a year, but has heard expressions of interest from over 200 people.

But Watamanuk says it’s worth the wait, pointing to Gucci, a service dog on her way to a deserving owner.

“We ensure they’re not going to be a nuisance in the public. They’re well-behaved. Well-mannered. They’re seen and not heard. We want dogs that are bombproof in the community,” she said.


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10Jun

New drug helps extend survival rate of men with advanced prostate cancer: B.C. Cancer Agency study

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Dr. Kim Ch, who led a clinical trial which found that over half of patients who used a new type of hormone-reducing medication saw a reduction in their risk of cancer progression and a 33% improvement in overall survival, in Vancouver BC., June 10, 2019.


NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

A new drug has helped reduce the risk of death by 33 per cent in men with prostate cancer that has spread, according to the results of an international trial led by the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Dr. Kim Chi.

The double-blind study on the androgen receptor inhibitor drug called apalutamide was conducted in 23 countries at 260 cancer centres. It involved 1,052 men whose median age was 68. The study was sponsored by Janssen, the drug company who makes apalutamide.

At two years, those taking the treatment drug in addition to their standard treatment had a 52 per cent lower risk of cancer spread or death.

The findings of the TITAN (Targeted Investigational Treatment Analysis of Novel Anti-androgen) trial which began in 2015 are published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Results were also recently presented by Chi at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Chi, an oncologist, said overall survival rate is only about five years once prostate cancer has spread beyond the prostate so new treatments are desperately needed. The percentage of patients who took the drug whose cancer did not spread was 68.2 per cent, but in the placebo group the proportion was 47.5 per cent. There was a 33 per cent reduction in the risk of death for those who took the drug.

After about two years, 82 per cent of men in the investigational drug group were alive compared to 74 per cent on placebo. Men in both groups also took standard male hormone deprivation therapy showing that combination therapy helps to improve survival. Male hormones (androgens) like testosterone feed prostate tumours and currently, men with metastatic cancer are put on hormone deprivation treatment that has been the standard of care for many decades. Apalutamide, also called Erleada, is said to more completely block male hormones.

Chi said the drug is “not toxic” and there were no significant differences in the proportion of study participants in the intervention or placebo groups who experienced side effects, but skin rashes were just over three times more common in the drug group.

The drug has already been approved in Canada for certain patients with hormone-resistant, non-metastatic cancer but Chi said now that it is showing benefit for patients whose cancer has spread, he expects the drug will be approved by Health Canada for those patients as well, perhaps later this year. After that approval, provinces will have to decide on whether to expand funding for the drug, which costs about $3,000 a month. Chi said he expects more Canadian patients will have access to it next year.

“This is a next generation, better-designed androgen inhibitor and we really need better drugs for those with metastatic prostate cancer,” Chi said.

“There’s a critical need to improve outcomes for these patients and this study suggests this treatment can prolong survival and delay the spread of the disease.”

Chi was also a co-author on another drug trial, the results of which were published in the same issue of the NEJM medical journal. The ENZAMET trial, as it was called, is on a drug called enzalutamide (Xtandi). The results of that trial were similarly favourable.

About 2,700 men will be newly diagnosed with prostate cancer in B.C. this year. More than 600 men will die from it. 

[email protected]

Twitter: @MedicineMatters




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10Jun

It is ‘its own thing’: Andrew Scheer disagrees with Indigenous inquiry’s genocide finding | CBC News

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the level of violence directed at Indigenous women and girls in Canada should not be labelled a genocide.

In its final report, released last week, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) came to what it called an “inescapable conclusion” — that genocide was committed by the state against Canada’s Indigenous peoples from the colonial era to the present.

It pointed to the Indian residential school system, the ‘Sixties Scoop’ of Indigenous children, instances of forced sterilization of Indigenous women and allegations of police inaction on murder cases to justify its genocide conclusion.

“Every single life lost is a tragedy and has a huge impact on families and loved ones, and there are concrete things the government, all levels of government, can do to help protect vulnerable people in our society, specifically Indigenous women and girls,” Scheer said.

“That being said, the ramifications of the term genocide are very profound. That word and term carries a lot of meaning. I think the tragedy involved with missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is its own thing, its own tragedy, and doesn’t fall into that category of genocide.”

Marion Buller, the inquiry’s chief commissioner, said this “Canadian genocide” is different from the Holocaust or the genocidal campaign against the Tutsi in Rwanda, but the term can still reasonably be applied to the Indigenous experience in Canada based on the UN’s 1948 convention on genocide.

After the report’s release, Conservative Indigenous affairs critic Cathy McLeod said the party did not want to focus on the word alone, but rather on some of the inquiry’s 231 recommendations. “The Conservative Party will commit to a national action plan in terms of moving forward in partnership, of course, with Indigenous peoples,” she said.

Despite calls from some in the crowd for him to say the word ‘genocide’ during the inquiry’s closing ceremony, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not use that word to describe the violence. The following day, however, Trudeau appeared to embrace the description: “We accept their findings, including that what happened amounts to genocide.”

In a Monday morning interview with CBC’s French-language service, Radio-Canada, Trudeau said that while he accepts the inquiry’s findings, he cited “cultural genocide” as his preferred term to describe the Indigenous experience.

After the the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its report on the Indian residential school system in 2015, Trudeau called on the Conservative government of the day to take action to address that instance of “cultural genocide.”

The inquiry went further than the TRC by saying Canada, through its policies, has aimed to “destroy Indigenous peoples.”

“Canada has displayed a continuous policy, with shifting expressed motives but an ultimately steady intention, to destroy Indigenous peoples physically, biologically, and as social units, thereby fulfilling the required specific intent element,” the inquiry said in a supplemental report on the use of the word genocide.

The inquiry found that Indigenous women and girls are more likely to be murdered or to go missing than members of other demographic groups in Canada — and 16 times more likely to be slain or to disappear than white women.

Citing research from Statistics Canada, the inquiry said Indigenous women and girls made up almost 25 per cent of all female homicide victims in this country between 2001 and 2015.

To help Indigenous women, the inquiry recommended sweeping reforms to the justice system and policing, including stiffer penalties for men who carry out spousal or partner abuse and “Indigenous-specific options” for sentencing. It also said more Indigenous judges, justices of the peace and police should be hired to ensure Indigenous voices are in positions of power in the criminal justice system.

The report also calls on provincial and territorial governments to improve the restraining order system by making them “available, accessible, promptly issued and effectively serviced and resourced” — to help Indigenous women stay out of harm’s way when faced with a violent partner.

Beyond facilitating access to restraining orders (or “protection orders,” as they’re often known in Canada), the inquiry is calling on the government to offer guaranteed access to financial support, legislated paid leave and disability benefits and “appropriate trauma care” to Indigenous victims of crime or other traumatic events.

Trudeau has vowed to review the calls for justice and implement meaningful reforms.

“You have my word that my government will turn the inquiry’s calls for justice into real, meaningful, Indigenous-led action … we must continue to decolonize our existing structures,” he said.


For immediate emotional assistance, call 1-844-413-6649. This is a national, toll-free 24/7 crisis call line providing support for anyone who requires emotional assistance related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. You can also access long-term health support services such as mental health counselling and community-based cultural services through Indigenous Services Canada.


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10Jun

Renters facing eviction get support through rent bank funding to Vancity

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Renters facing short-term financial difficulties will soon get more help and avoid evictions with new funding for community rent banks.

Rent banks provide emergency low-cost or no-cost loans to help renters facing eviction. As part of Budget 2019, the Province granted $10 million to the Vancity Community Foundation (VCF), a non-profit foundation associated with Vancity credit union, to develop a sustainable, provincewide rent bank system. Vancity has been supporting rent banks in communities for over a decade and will consult with existing rent banks to develop a sustainable provincial program.

“Preventing homelessness by helping people avoid eviction is key and rent banks play an important role,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The Province is contributing this funding to support a sustainable network of rent banks to help people in B.C., and I look forward to hearing about the consultation, and the plan that Vancity and the existing rent banks will have in place for the long term.”

VCF and Vancity are working with existing rent banks to better understand their operational needs, discuss best practices, identify service gaps and examine expanding the rent bank model to more communities throughout B.C.

Existing rent banks already have access to funding from the provincial grant to ensure their immediate needs are met and their work is sustainable. Following the consultation, funding will go toward expanding a B.C.-wide system so tenants experiencing short-term financial crisis can be supported, regardless of where they live.

“People with lived experience of these issues are guiding this work,” said Catherine Ludgate, senior manager of community investment, Vancity. “We are taking a consultative approach with the rent banks to assess how they can expand service across the province, so more people can access funds and avoid homelessness.” 

Rent banks support the goals of TogetherBC, the provincial poverty reduction strategy. Implementing a B.C.-wide rent bank system was a recommendation of B.C.’s Rental Housing Task Force, following consultations with landlords and tenants throughout the province.

The funding builds on other improvements government has made to support renters in B.C., including cutting the annual allowable rent increase, introducing stronger protection for tenants during renovations or demolitions and enhancing eligibility and benefits under the Rental Assistance Program for families with children and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters.

“Housing security is a priority for the BC Green Party and the provincial government,” said Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands and a member of the Rental Housing Task Force. “Rent banks offer a level of security for renters and landlords that doesn’t currently exist, and alongside the task force recommendations, will help to create a stronger, more supportive rental market for British Columbians.”

Addressing poverty and homelessness is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quotes:

Spencer Chandra Herbert, chair of the Rental Housing Task Force and MLA for Vancouver-West End —

“We know how expensive, disruptive and stressful evictions can be for everyone. We need to be proactive if we’re going to reduce homelessness. Rent banks help keep people in their homes and get back on their feet, while ensuring the rent gets paid. That’s why I helped found Vancouver’s Rent Bank. They work.”

Allison Felker, interim executive director, VCF —

“We’re using our financial tools and expertise to build capacity for rent banks, ensuring they have the ability to meet the needs of our communities.”

Kellie Carroll, executive director, the Network of Inner City Community Services Society and the Vancouver Rent Bank —

“The staff at the Vancouver Rent Bank are pleased that the funds that the provincial government is providing will contribute to the long-term sustainability of rent banks in B.C.”

Melissa Giles, director of programs, Mennonite Central Committee and the Fraser Valley Rent Bank —

“Through the funding, the Province has made clear the important role of rent banks in helping at-risk people receive the critical support they need to remain housed and off the streets. Working together as a coalition, we are committed to see these funds used efficiently in the support of existing rent banks and the expansion of the program into new communities in B.C.”

Learn More:

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/poverty-reduction-strategy

Renting in B.C.: https://www.renters.gov.bc.ca 

BC Housing Rental Assistance Programs: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance


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