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17Jun

Policy changes help break the cycle of poverty

by admin

On July 1, 2019, the following policy changes take effect to help build a better B.C. for vulnerable British Columbians, making life more affordable and supporting them to overcome social and economic barriers:

Reducing access times: The work-search period will be reduced from five weeks to three weeks, while returning applicants will continue to complete the three-week work search. These changes do not impact applicants who are already exempt from work search requirements.

Ending penalties for families providing room and board to a family member: Clients who pay room and board to a parent or child while on income assistance currently do not receive the same level of benefits as those in private room and board situations. Now, families will be allowed to receive up to the full room and board payments (i.e., support and shelter allowance) when providing room and board to an adult child or parent on assistance, without a financial penalty, similar to those living in a private room and board situation.

Expanding access to the ID supplement: The identification supplement is available to individuals, through hardship assistance, to ensure they can meet the ministry’s identification eligibility requirements when applying for assistance. The supplement is being extended to all income and disability assistance clients, in addition to hardship assistance clients, to ensure they can continue to meet ministry eligibility requirements and/or access other important services within British Columbia (e.g., BC Services Card, banking, community services and programs).

Expanding access and simplifying the application process for the persons with persistent multiple barriers (PPMB) category: Expanding access to the PPMB category by removing restrictions that required people first be on income assistance for 12 out of 15 months and prevented access for people with addictions. The application process has also been simplified for clients and staff.

Elimination of the “transient” category: Eliminating the “transient” category to ensure persons without a fixed address, no dependent children and who are not considered to be taking up permanent residence in the community, are eligible to receive the same supports as other people on income assistance.

Allowing people to keep their vehicles: The $10,000 asset exemption limit on a primary vehicle will be removed for people on income assistance, allowing all clients to keep their primary vehicle, regardless of value, without impact to their assistance.

Higher asset limits: Asset limits for people on income assistance will be increased from $2,000 to $5,000 for a single person and from $4,000 to $10,000 for couples and one or two parent families, allowing people on income assistance to keep more of their money and build their assets.

Making relocating easier: Expanding the moving supplement for moves anywhere in B.C. when clients are moving to lower-cost housing or are evicted for any reason (including lawful and unlawful evictions and the existing circumstances of rented accommodation being sold, demolished or condemned). The expanded supplement will also assist with storage costs, if necessary, to preserve the family’s personal belongings while they are moving. Clients will also be supported when they incur moving costs prior to receiving ministry approval in exceptional circumstances.

Expanding access to nutritional supplements: Registered dietitians, as well as medical doctors and nurse practitioners, will be able to submit documentation on behalf of their patients for all nutritional supplements, including all diet supplements (including the high-protein diet), the monthly nutritional supplement, short-term nutritional supplement, tube feed supplement and infant formula supplement.


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17Jun

Plan to ban single-use plastics has First Nations with long-term drinking water advisories worried | CBC News

by admin

A plan to ban single-use plastics in Canada has First Nations with long-term drinking water advisories that rely on bottled water concerned about how they will be affected.

Single-use plastics, as defined by the United Nations Environment Programme, are disposable plastics from packaging that are often intended to only be used once. These include grocery bags, food packaging, straws, cutlery and bottles.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government intends to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021.

“My family would have less plastic waste if we didn’t rely on bottled water for fresh drinking water on reserve,” read a tweet by Courtney Skye following the announcement.

She lives in Six Nations of the Grand River in southern Ontario, where only part of the community is connected to a water line fed by a state-of-the-art UV water treatment plant.

The rest of the community, including Skye’s family, has cistern water tanks attached to their houses for water to use for washing clothes and showering. There are stations where bottles can be bought or refilled with water for drinking and cooking.

“There is a need for First Nations’ perspective on a lot of different issues,” she said. “People should be questioning and looking for it when they’re seeing these types of announcements made on things that affect the whole society.”

According to Indigenous Services Canada, there are currently 58 long-term drinking water advisories in effect on reserves, which the federal government plans to end by March 2021. Since 2015, 84 long-term advisories have been lifted.

‘A terrible thing to have no water’

June Baptiste is a councillor for Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation in B.C. which currently relies on bottled water brought into the community for clean drinking water. Any ban on single-use plastics that would affect access to bottled water would not go over well in the community, she said.

“That would be a terrible thing to have no water out there, without no water plant,” she said.

Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation has running water connected to its homes, but Baptiste said it is contaminated with heavy metals that leave the water yellow and smelling like sulfur. 

Even when the water is boiled, it remains discoloured and foul-smelling, she said.

The community is hoping to get a chlorinated water treatment plant soon, but Baptiste is unsure of the project’s timeline. If the community didn’t have access to single-use plastic water bottles, she said it would be a disaster.

“How would they get water out to us? They would definitely have to build that water plant right away.”  

Emergency water supply

Even communities with water treatment plants sometimes rely on bottled water in emergencies — like when the water treatment plant in Carry the Kettle Nakoda First Nation in Saskatchewan burned down this winter.

The Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation’s water treatment plant burned down in February. (Submitted by Jay Bouchard)

It’s estimated that it will be another six months before the water treatment plant is operational again. In the meantime, water is being trucked in from nearby communities and poured into a reservoir to feed the community’s plumbing, while bottled water is being used for drinking.

“If we don’t continue to have this water available to people, then there’s going to be a real cry for water that is going to be devastating to communities in the future,” said Tim Haywahe, a resident of the community.

Indigenous Services Canada said in an email they are committed to lifting all long-term drinking water advisories on reserve by March 2021.

“With every advisory lifted, that means one more community that no longer has to rely on bottled water,” the statement said. 

“For all initiatives to reduce plastic waste, the government of Canada’s approach will take into consideration accessibility and health and safety. Accessibility and health needs of the public will be taken into account before any targeted action on single-use plastic products is taken.”

The statement added that a ban is not the only option, as recycling rates can be “dramatically improved.”




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