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Police investigating after assault in Burnaby condo building elevator

18Dec

Police investigating after assault in Burnaby condo building elevator

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Burnaby RCMP are asking a man to come forward after a woman was assaulted in the elevator of a condo building early Saturday morning.

Police say they received a report of an assault Dec. 15 just before 2 a.m. of an assault in the area of Nelson Avenue and Imperial Street in Burnaby.

The victim said an unknown man got into an elevator with her, assaulted her, stole her cell phone and fled.

CCTV footage from the elevator shows that the man struck the woman several times and fled after picking up what appears to be a cell phone.

The woman received minor injuries and was treated in a hospital. 

Pair were known to each other

According to police, initial investigations showed the man and woman were together before entering the elevator and had spent time in a condo suite in the same building where the alleged assault took place.

“The nature of this contact and what occurred prior to the male and female entering the elevator is still under investigation but may have been a factor in the assault that is alleged to have taken place,” the news release reads in part.

“At this time, police do not believe the general public is at risk as this appears to have been an isolated incident and it appears the male and female were known to each other, if only for a short period of time just prior to this incident taking place.”

Police want to speak with the man who is alleged to have committed the assault. He is described as Asian, five feet 10 inches tall, with a slim build and black hair. He was wearing a black jacket, black pants, and red and black shoes. He was last seeing headed north on Nelson Street. 


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17Dec

Vancouver Sun Dec. 18 letters to the editor

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Attorney-General David Eby.


CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

I recently settled an injury claim with ICBC. I read with concern Attorney-General David Eby’s suggestion that lawyers are driving up costs. In my experience, ICBC mishandled my claim and drove up costs.

Through no fault of my own, I was injured in a motor vehicle accident in 2013. I was off work for about six weeks. When I returned, I struggled with physical pain, debilitating headaches and dealing with the emotional impact of the accident.

I dealt with ICBC on my own for over a year, at times feeling pressured to settle, which I declined to do so because I was still in so much pain. I finally sought the help of a lawyer in March 2014. When my condition stabilized, we made a settlement proposal in August 2016. Without explanation, ICBC responded with an offer that was 15 cents on the dollar.

Fast forward to Nov. 22, 2018, two business days before my trial was set to start. My case settled for the very offer we made over two years earlier. In the meantime, we were forced to incur additional expert witness expenses in preparation of trial, including costly cancellation fees, all of which ICBC ultimately had to pay. ICBC also had to pay additional legal expense to their lawyers and expert witnesses.

It is unfortunate that ICBC did not treat me fairly from the start. It would have saved itself tens of thousands of dollars.

Erin Roddie, Vancouver

Eby shouldn’t blame lawyers

I disagree with NDP Attorney-General David Eby’s comments regarding ICBC in his Dec. 10 op-ed.

I was injured in a serious car accident caused by a bad driver and missed five years of work because of the injuries. While I returned to work part-time for a short period, I was unable to continue working due to my injuries. I loved my job and always worked hard. Not being able to work made me feel useless, weak and not a part of society. Enjoyment of my life disappeared.

I had severe ongoing neck and back pain that ICBC said were “only minor injuries.” ICBC refused to settle for a reasonable amount, which forced my lawyer to “build up my case,” getting opinions from many doctors just to prove that my injuries were “not minor.” ICBC also refused to pay “care” disability benefits.

By delaying the settlement, I would estimate it cost the system $100,000 or more. And the NDP have the nerve to blame victims’ lawyers! Even after the settlement, ICBC delayed processing the settlement cheque by months.

The NDP must stop blaming others and take responsibility for the costs caused by ICBC’s conduct.

Kent Westhora, Abbotsford

Electric vehicles are great

I read Jorgan Hansen’s letter to the editor last Tuesday about electric vehicle adoption in B.C. and must counter some of his points.

First, he feels the electrical grid is not up to supplying a large increase in electric cars. I have been participating in a B.C. Hydro program that controls when my car charges to minimize the load on the grid, and I don’t even notice this activity.

Second, the incentive program has helped subsidize the rapid evolution of electric cars. For the same price I paid five years ago, you can now purchase a vehicle that goes three times the distance. The program will not be needed in a few more years as electric cars will be the same price and eventually less expense then gas-powered vehicles.

As a bonus, electric cars are a lot more fun to drive.

Paul Paterson, North Vancouver

Carbon cuts are dumb

Re: Canada’s tiny contribution to world greenhouse gas emissions.

Wonderful! So we kill our economy, lower my standard of living and destroy my retirement plans to reduce a minuscule amount of “pollution” by half and the rest of the industrialized world laughs all the way to the bank.

Canadian oil is sold at a deep discount to the U.S. because of the anti-pipeline activists while we reduce our carbon footprint by less than one per cent of the planet’s total. McDonald’s is a bigger polluter, I bet, and I don’t see meat production on the chopping block.

Andrew Davidson, Surrey


Letters to the editor should be sent to sunletters@vancouversun.com. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected].


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17Dec

Vancouver Sun Dec. 18 letters to the editor

by admin


Attorney-General David Eby.


CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

I recently settled an injury claim with ICBC. I read with concern Attorney-General David Eby’s suggestion that lawyers are driving up costs. In my experience, ICBC mishandled my claim and drove up costs.

Through no fault of my own, I was injured in a motor vehicle accident in 2013. I was off work for about six weeks. When I returned, I struggled with physical pain, debilitating headaches and dealing with the emotional impact of the accident.

I dealt with ICBC on my own for over a year, at times feeling pressured to settle, which I declined to do so because I was still in so much pain. I finally sought the help of a lawyer in March 2014. When my condition stabilized, we made a settlement proposal in August 2016. Without explanation, ICBC responded with an offer that was 15 cents on the dollar.

Fast forward to Nov. 22, 2018, two business days before my trial was set to start. My case settled for the very offer we made over two years earlier. In the meantime, we were forced to incur additional expert witness expenses in preparation of trial, including costly cancellation fees, all of which ICBC ultimately had to pay. ICBC also had to pay additional legal expense to their lawyers and expert witnesses.

It is unfortunate that ICBC did not treat me fairly from the start. It would have saved itself tens of thousands of dollars.

Erin Roddie, Vancouver

Eby shouldn’t blame lawyers

I disagree with NDP Attorney-General David Eby’s comments regarding ICBC in his Dec. 10 op-ed.

I was injured in a serious car accident caused by a bad driver and missed five years of work because of the injuries. While I returned to work part-time for a short period, I was unable to continue working due to my injuries. I loved my job and always worked hard. Not being able to work made me feel useless, weak and not a part of society. Enjoyment of my life disappeared.

I had severe ongoing neck and back pain that ICBC said were “only minor injuries.” ICBC refused to settle for a reasonable amount, which forced my lawyer to “build up my case,” getting opinions from many doctors just to prove that my injuries were “not minor.” ICBC also refused to pay “care” disability benefits.

By delaying the settlement, I would estimate it cost the system $100,000 or more. And the NDP have the nerve to blame victims’ lawyers! Even after the settlement, ICBC delayed processing the settlement cheque by months.

The NDP must stop blaming others and take responsibility for the costs caused by ICBC’s conduct.

Kent Westhora, Abbotsford

Electric vehicles are great

I read Jorgan Hansen’s letter to the editor last Tuesday about electric vehicle adoption in B.C. and must counter some of his points.

First, he feels the electrical grid is not up to supplying a large increase in electric cars. I have been participating in a B.C. Hydro program that controls when my car charges to minimize the load on the grid, and I don’t even notice this activity.

Second, the incentive program has helped subsidize the rapid evolution of electric cars. For the same price I paid five years ago, you can now purchase a vehicle that goes three times the distance. The program will not be needed in a few more years as electric cars will be the same price and eventually less expense then gas-powered vehicles.

As a bonus, electric cars are a lot more fun to drive.

Paul Paterson, North Vancouver

Carbon cuts are dumb

Re: Canada’s tiny contribution to world greenhouse gas emissions.

Wonderful! So we kill our economy, lower my standard of living and destroy my retirement plans to reduce a minuscule amount of “pollution” by half and the rest of the industrialized world laughs all the way to the bank.

Canadian oil is sold at a deep discount to the U.S. because of the anti-pipeline activists while we reduce our carbon footprint by less than one per cent of the planet’s total. McDonald’s is a bigger polluter, I bet, and I don’t see meat production on the chopping block.

Andrew Davidson, Surrey


Letters to the editor should be sent to sunletters@vancouversun.com. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected].


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16Dec

Canadian public libraries call for more access and better prices for e-books

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Public libraries across Canada say major publishers are increasingly charging unfair prices and limiting access to e-books and e-audio books, despite a growing demand from patrons. 

The Canadian Urban Library Council says “the big five” publishers like Hachette, Penguin Random House and MacMillan have long restricted library access to electronic materials, but in the past two years the problem has grown worse.

“Libraries are really struggling to maintain a level of service when it comes to that digital content because of these really restrictive licensing models, whether it be for price or for accessibility,” said Sharon Day, chair of the council’s e-content working group.

“Libraries are about freedom to access and information, and we need to maintain relevance going into the future if we’re going to continue to be a valuable service for the public.”

The council plans to renew its call for fair access to e-books and e-audio books next month. It also wants patrons to understand why they may not be able to access certain materials at their local branch.  

CBC News requested comment from most of the major publishers. They did not respond. 

Rising demand and costs for e-content

Librarians say circulation for physical materials has slightly declined over the past few years, but demand for e-books and e-audio books especially has risen exponentially.

The formats aren’t just popular, librarians say — they also reach different types of patrons. 

But libraries pay up to six times the cover price for some e-books, Day says, and major publishers often limit the number of times the books can be checked out.

In this Sept. 24, 2013 file photo, the 8.9-inch Amazon Kindle HDX tablet computer is held up in Seattle. Amazon owns Audible, which recently launched its dedicated Canadian service, with $12 million earmarked to create audiobooks in Canada. (The Associated Press)

The reasoning is that printed books are eventually repurchased when they’re lost or worn out, and e-book licensing should reflect a similar model. 

Day agrees with that, but says some e-book licences are often limited to as few as 26 check-outs, which is far less than the lifespan of most printed materials.

Exclusive content

But sometimes libraries can’t access e-content from some publishers at all.

In 2017, popular audio book platform Audible launched in Canada and announced it would invest $12 million in Canadian content. But Day says Audible won’t grant libraries access to its platform.

Some of its content, like Justin Trudeau’s 2014 memoir Common Ground, isn’t available in e-audio format anywhere else. 

Librarians also say that last year Tor, a science fiction and fantasy subsidiary of publisher MacMillan, told them it won’t grant libraries access to the electronic versions of new titles until four months after the release date, as a way to boost sales. 

But libraries say research shows that’s faulty reasoning.

Partners, not adversaries

2016 Pew study suggested that library users are more likely to buy books. 

And early research from the Panorama Project, which examines the impact of libraries on book sales, similarly suggests that library availability of new books increases sales and promotions.

“We are partners with publishers, we’re not adversaries. We want just as much as they do for their content to be made available to be purchased to be consumed,” Day said. 

Librarians like Kay Cahill, director of collections and technology at the Vancouver Public Library, say libraries’ access to e-content supports publishers and patrons alike because libraries develop literacy, encourage reading and ensure a thriving literary landscape.

“Publishing in Canada and elsewhere in the world is undergoing a lot of change,” Cahill said.

 “What I would say is just that limiting access and imposing these these high prices for e-content is not the answer.” 


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15Dec

Can’t find your favourite e-book at the library? This might be why

by admin

Public libraries across Canada say major publishers are increasingly charging unfair prices and limiting access to e-books and e-audio books, despite a growing demand from patrons. 

The Canadian Urban Library Council says “the big five” publishers like Hachette, Penguin Random House and MacMillan have long restricted library access to electronic materials, but in the past two years the problem has grown worse.

“Libraries are really struggling to maintain a level of service when it comes to that digital content because of these really restrictive licensing models, whether it be for price or for accessibility,” said Sharon Day, chair of the council’s e-content working group.

“Libraries are about freedom to access and information, and we need to maintain relevance going into the future if we’re going to continue to be a valuable service for the public.”

The council plans to renew its call for fair access to e-books and e-audio books next month. It also wants patrons to understand why they may not be able to access certain materials at their local branch.  

CBC News requested comment from most of the major publishers. They did not respond. 

Rising demand and costs for e-content

Librarians say circulation for physical materials has slightly declined over the past few years, but demand for e-books and e-audio books especially has risen exponentially.

The formats aren’t just popular, librarians say — they also reach different types of patrons. 

But libraries pay up to six times the cover price for some e-books, Day says, and major publishers often limit the number of times the books can be checked out.

In this Sept. 24, 2013 file photo, the 8.9-inch Amazon Kindle HDX tablet computer is held up in Seattle. Amazon owns Audible, which recently launched its dedicated Canadian service, with $12 million earmarked to create audiobooks in Canada. (The Associated Press)

The reasoning is that printed books are eventually repurchased when they’re lost or worn out, and e-book licensing should reflect a similar model. 

Day agrees with that, but says some e-book licences are often limited to as few as 26 check-outs, which is far less than the lifespan of most printed materials.

Exclusive content

But sometimes libraries can’t access e-content from some publishers at all.

In 2017, popular audio book platform Audible launched in Canada and announced it would invest $12 million in Canadian content. But Day says Audible won’t grant libraries access to its platform.

Some of its content, like Justin Trudeau’s 2014 memoir Common Ground, isn’t available in e-audio format anywhere else. 

Librarians also say that last year Tor, a science fiction and fantasy subsidiary of publisher MacMillan, told them it won’t grant libraries access to the electronic versions of new titles until four months after the release date, as a way to boost sales. 

But libraries say research shows that’s faulty reasoning.

Partners, not adversaries

2016 Pew study suggested that library users are more likely to buy books. 

And early research from the Panorama Project, which examines the impact of libraries on book sales, similarly suggests that library availability of new books increases sales and promotions.

“We are partners with publishers, we’re not adversaries. We want just as much as they do for their content to be made available to be purchased to be consumed,” Day said. 

Librarians like Kay Cahill, director of collections and technology at the Vancouver Public Library, say libraries’ access to e-content supports publishers and patrons alike because libraries develop literacy, encourage reading and ensure a thriving literary landscape.

“Publishing in Canada and elsewhere in the world is undergoing a lot of change,” Cahill said.

 “What I would say is just that limiting access and imposing these these high prices for e-content is not the answer.” 


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11Dec

Vancouver hospital using new lifesaving device on bleeding-to-death trauma patients

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VGH Dr. Naison Garaway shows off the REBOA catheter, a new balloon device to temporarily stop bleeding for patients.


Arlen Redekop / PNG

Vancouver General Hospital is the first in western Canada to deploy a new balloon-tipped catheter device to save the “sickest of the sick” patients who are at risk of bleeding to death following car accidents, stabbings and other injuries such as gunshot wounds.

In the past few months, trauma teams at the hospital have been practising on cadavers and simulation mannequins, but they recently used the REBOA (resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta) on a gunshot victim. He was in hemorrhagic shock after sustaining multiple wounds to the abdomen — and he survived.

Doctors say up to 90 per cent of patients in hemorrhagic shock can die after a thoracotomy — the conventional method of opening the chest to clamp the main aorta artery. But the REBOA device and procedure is less invasive and may help save more lives. Doctors expect it will be used on up to 15 trauma patients a year at VGH.

The technique for stabilizing patients in shock and in danger of bleeding to death from traumatic injuries to the chest (below the diaphragm), abdomen or pelvis works by controlling or stopping the hemorrhaging. In the trauma bay area of the emergency department, trauma specialists thread a balloon-tipped catheter up to the aorta, entering through the femoral artery in the groin. The balloon is placed inside the aorta, then filled with saline to temporarily block it off to stop further hemorrhaging.

The device stops bleeding in the lower half of the body, but maintains blood circulation to the brain, heart and lungs. Once the balloon is inflated, a patient’s dire low blood pressure should normalize. 

The device is not unlike the flexible balloon-tipped tubes that are used in angioplasty procedures by interventional cardiologists to open up blocked coronary arteries. But in this case, the balloon is used to close up the artery. It is ideally suited to patients whose bleeding cannot be controlled through compression techniques because of their extensive injuries.

The REBOA is a stop-gap measure. Once the balloon has been inserted, medical teams have just under an hour to get patients onto the operating room table for surgery to repair the injuries to vital organs that are the source of the bleeding.

The disposable REBOA device costs about $2,000 and VGH doctors are upbeat about its potential.

“This new device will allow us to gain precious minutes in the patient’s golden hour during which controlling the hemorrhage is the single most important move to improve survival,” said trauma surgeon Dr. Emilie Joos, the first surgeon to use the REBOA procedure at VGH, and as it turns out, the first in Western Canada.

“For me, the decision was simple: either I would inflate this balloon in the patient’s aorta or he would die on the OR table,” said Joos. “REBOA allowed me to find and control bleeding from multiple injuries.”

Previously, trauma surgeons would have to make a large incision from the patient’s chest to pelvis and use a clamp to temporarily stop the bleeding, said Dr. Naisan Garraway, medical director of the VGH trauma program and a former Canadian Armed Forces doctor. He has done multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq and said earlier versions of a REBOA-like device were used on battlefields to stabilize soldiers so they could be airlifted.

“Implementing REBOA will help us continue to be on the leading edge of care for the trauma patient,” he said.

The device got Health Canada approval last year. Trauma doctors in Montreal were the first to use it.

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Twitter: @MedicineMatters




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11Dec

Assisted death transfers now declining: B.C. local health authorities

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Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Carrie Stefanson says VCH does not allow publicly funded facilities to deke out of medical assistance in dying responsibilities unless they have a religious exemption:


Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Carrie Stefanson says VCH does not allow publicly funded facilities to deke out of medical assistance in dying responsibilities unless they have a religious exemption:

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Local health regions are making significant progress in boosting the number of patients dying in place rather than being moved to facilities to obtain medical assistance in dying.

The Fraser Health region, where palliative care hospices have been especially resistant to providing medical assistance in dying (MAiD) on site because of philosophical opposition, has drastically reduced the number of patients transferred to other facilities on their last day or days of their lives, going from 27 transfers in 2017 and part of 2016 to only six in 2018, according to new data provided by the health authority.

“In each case, we carefully consider how to offer MAiD in the most patient-centred way we can as we strongly support the patient’s right to choose to access these services,” said Fraser Health spokeswoman Jacqueline Blackwell.

It has been one year since Fraser Health told hospices and other care facilities to stop transferring clients out for MAiD services. While some like the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner remain defiant, the latest data on the distressing, disruptive transfers that were occurring with much regularity last year show it is now becoming a more infrequent occurrence.

“We have been able to limit the number of transfers by understanding our patients’ end-of-life wishes and ensuring they receive care in a facility that can support them,” said Blackwell, referring to facilities that receive taxpayer funding.

“We believe hospice care is a critical part of the continuum of care, and we value those who provide this vital service, including the care providers, the volunteers and the administrators. We understand there are controversies surrounding this legal obligation and where and how to implement this. (But) we also respect that individuals and faith-based health care organizations can conscientiously object and not participate in the direct provision of medically assisted deaths, while providing safe and timely transfers for patients for further assessment and discussion of care options, if required.” 

Between the time when MAiD was legalized midway through 2016 to Oct. 31, 2018, 257 medically assisted deaths were provided in Fraser Health. Half of those were conducted in 2018.

While there are still some holdout hospices in the Fraser region, hospices in the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region are providing MAiD except for those that are faith-based facilities; from those, 17 patients have been transferred so far this year.

Overall in 2018, there have been 131 provisions of MAiD within Vancouver Coastal, including the 17 affected who wanted it but had to go elsewhere.

Langley-Aldergrove Conservative MP Mark Warawa.


Langley-Aldergrove Conservative MP Mark Warawa.

Adrian Wyld /

Canadian Press files

Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Carrie Stefanson said the health authority does not allow publicly funded facilities to deke out of MAiD responsibilities unless they have a religious exemption:

“VCH policy, and the B.C.’s health sector generally, respects that individuals and faith-based health care organizations can conscientiously object and not participate in the direct provision of medically assisted deaths while providing safe and timely transfers for patients for further assessment and discussion of care options if required.”

Mark Warawa, Conservative MLA for Langley-Aldergrove, said in an interview that hospices providing palliative care in the Fraser Valley don’t want to offer MAiD because it is inconsistent with their mandate to provide a haven for “a natural death” process and not to hasten death.

He said he believes residential homes and hospitals are the best places to offer MAiD. “This shouldn’t be forced on hospices,” he said, referring to an edict a year ago from Fraser Health that patients should not be transferred out of their last health care setting in order to get MAiD.

Warawa said over the last 18 months, his office staff has tried to reach out to provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix multiple times to discuss the hospice issue. Dix said in an email that he has spoken with Warawa and knows about his beliefs.

Dix said B.C. has been leading the country in end-of-life matters and enabling individuals to “make choices in how they unfold.”

“We are a leader in organ donation. And through B.C.’s Representation Agreement Act, we are a leader in how we set out in our wills our wishes and instructions for key parts of our end-of-life medical care. Ensuring that MAiD can be accessed by patients who meet the stringent criteria puts the onus on us — and our health-care facilities — to ensure patients’ move to this end-of-life choice is free of friction and the additional suffering it causes.”

Warawa said provinces have been given plenty of time to build enough capacity into the health care system for “assisted suicides” and if hospitals and non-denominational facilities don’t have enough resources for MAiD requests, then it may be time to build stand-alone “centres of excellence” for MAiD services.

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11Dec

Despite steps taken, homeless counts show challenges ahead

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The first-ever provincewide homeless-count report shows that while B.C. has taken important first steps to house British Columbians, more work needs to be done to prevent and address homelessness in B.C. communities.

According to the report — which brings together statistics from 24 communities over the past two years — at least 7,655 people are experiencing homelessness across a broad demographic of individuals, families, youth and seniors. Indigenous peoples and former children in care are significantly overrepresented.

“Too many British Columbians — working, on a pension, suffering from illness — have been left behind for far too long,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This level of homelessness should never have been allowed to take hold. The numbers we’re seeing make us even more determined to make housing more available and affordable for all British Columbians.”

The B.C. government began working with partners to take action on homelessness soon after being sworn in last year by fast-tracking modular housing in 22 communities, and supportive housing for Indigenous peoples, seniors, and women and children fleeing violence.

“Having a place to call home, knowing there is somewhere to go that is safe and secure means different things to different people,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “For some, it is a new start, opening a door to new opportunities. For others it is hope, relief from grinding despair.

“At the same time, we know there are many more people who still need a safe place to call home. We continue to work closely with all our partners to find solutions, build new housing and deliver effective supports. The kind of homelessness we’re seeing today didn’t happen overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight, but we haven’t waited to get started.”

The report is the first time this information has been compiled on a provincial level and will help government, community partners and housing providers develop better supports and services to help people who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. Government will release a homelessness action plan as part of B.C.’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy in early 2019.

“This report is another reminder of why we have made it a priority to rebuild the social programs people rely on,” added Simpson. “Many people living on the street are struggling with challenges that are intensified through their experience of being homeless. You can’t live on the street and not be affected both mentally and physically by the constant struggle.

“In the coming months, we will be looking to other levels of government and our community partners to help us deliver a wide range of supports, with a focus on early intervention services that will help prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.”

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

Quotes:

Celine Mauboules, executive director, Homelessness Services Association of BC —

“The report provides important baseline information including demographic and service needs of individuals experiencing homelessness and is an important step to understanding and addressing the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. Finalizing the report was a significant undertaking and we are grateful for the support we received from participating communities.”

Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association —

“That nearly 8,000 British Columbians on a typical night have no place to call home is a problem that has persisted for far too long. For some time now, we have advocated for a report like this that looks at homelessness at a provincial level. Good baseline data will allow us to track the impacts of the historic provincial investments being made into housing and poverty reduction, and our collective efforts in solving a crisis that reaches every corner of British Columbia.”

Quick Facts:

  • In March 2018, the Province provided the Homelessness Services Association of BC with $550,000 to co-ordinate homeless counts in 12 communities, compile that data with data from other communities and prepare the provincial homeless count report.
  • Investments in housing and supports for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness include:
    • more than 2,000 modular homes in partnership with 22 communities;
    • 2,500 supportive housing units;
    • $734 million over 10 years for 1,500 spaces of transition and second-stage housing to provide a safe place for women and children escaping violent relationships;
    • $550 million over 10 years for 1,750 new units of social housing for Indigenous peoples, both on- and off-reserve; and,
    • expanded eligibility for the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER). More than 35,000 households will benefit from the enhancements. The average RAP payment will go up by approximately $800 a year and the average SAFER payment will go up by approximately $930 a year.
    • In addition to over 2,000 permanent, year-round shelter spaces available throughout B.C., the Province is working with municipalities and non-profits to provide 1,454 temporary shelter spaces and 772 extreme weather response shelter spaces and will open additional shelters throughout the season as needed.
  • Investments to make life more affordable in B.C. include:
    • $472 million over three years to increase income and disability assistance rates by $100 a month, a move that benefits 190,000 people in the province;
    • $20.9 million over three years to increase earnings exemptions for everyone on assistance by $200 a month, allowing people to keep more of the money they earn; and,
    • $214.5 million over three years to create a new transportation supplement for people on disability assistance.

Learn More:

2018 Report on Homeless Counts in B.C.: www.bchousing.org/home  

Homes for B.C., a 30-point plan to address housing affordability for British Columbians: www.bchousing.org/partner-services/Building-BC

B.C.’s Poverty Reduction Strategy consultation: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcpovertyreduction

For more information on B.C.’s RAP and SAFER: www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance-financial-aid-for-home-modifications

A backgrounder follows.


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10Dec

Suspect found dead days after aunt raised suicide concerns, inquest hears

by admin

CTV Vancouver


Published Monday, December 10, 2018 12:27PM PST


Last Updated Monday, December 10, 2018 4:37PM PST

A coroner’s inquest began Monday into the death of David Singh Tucker, a sexual assault suspect whose body was discovered in a Surrey, B.C. pretrial facility two years ago.

Tucker, 28, was one of two men being held in custody following a disturbing attack at the University of British Columbia campus in May 2016, and was facing charges of sexual assault, unlawful confinement, robbery and disguising his face with the intent to commit a crime.

The suspect was being kept in a segregation unit when staff found him dead on July 25 of that year.

The inquest into his death began with testimony from his aunt, Susan Brennan, who read a statement from Tucker’s mother describing him as a troubled person who was diagnosed with behavioural disorders as a young boy.

Brennan told the jury her nephew had expressed a desire to turn his life around, and an interest in financial planning. She said he told her over the phone that he “was disgusted with himself” after his arrest.

“He felt like a monster,” she said.

Brennan also testified that Tucker shared plans to intentionally overdose on hoarded methadone while in custody, and she pleaded with officials at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre to keep a close watch over him on July 20 – a few days before he was found dead.

According to the BC Coroners Service, Tucker was last seen alive when he was given his dinner around 4 p.m. on July 24. Officers found him unresponsive during a check the next morning.

One of the guards from the Surrey pretrial facility told the inquest Tucker was not on suicide watch at hte time, and that it was hard to see into his cell because the window on the door and the security camera lens were both scratched.

The jury also heard testimony from staff about how some inmates would pretend to drink their methadone by hiding gauze in their mouth to soak up the drug, which would then be sold to other inmates.

Tucker’s cause of death has never been publicly released. The inquest is expected to hear from a toxicologist and a pathologist on Tuesday.

The inquest will examine the facts surrounding Tucker’s death, but can’t make any finding of legal responsibility. The jury can make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths in the future.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Nafeesa Karim  


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10Dec

New book from Victoria author scares up some Canadian ghost stories

by admin

Barbara Smith’s lifelong interest in ghosts began over sixty years ago when she walking with her father in Toronto.

“We were walking past a huge bank building. You have to understand I was just three feet tall so it was really enormous and my father said to me I understand that bank is haunted — that it has a ghost in it. I just flipped out,” said Smith, who was seven years old at the time. “I had never been so intrigued by anything in my entire life and so I was just throwing questions at him. He didn’t know the answers, that’s just what he had heard.”

Years later Smith found out the ghost at the bank was that of a young teller named Dorothy who was in love with a co-worker but the affection was not mutual. Distraught the heartbroken teller took her own life with a bank-issued revolver (for protection against bank robbers) in the women’s bathroom in 1953.

The story about Dorothy and her death at the Bank of Montreal (which became the site of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993) and her subsequent haunting of the location is in Smith’s latest collection of ghost stories (her 26th book on the topic) titled Great Canadian Ghost Stories.


Great Canadian Ghost Stories by Barbara Smith. Photo: Courtesy of Touchwood Editions

Touchwood Editions /

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“I love that story and didn’t that bank become the Hockey Hall of Fame. So what a perfect Canadian ghost story,” said Smith gleefully.

Canada is not lacking in spooky tales and unexplained phenomenon. Smith loves them all and treats the stories about average folks like Dorothy with the same wide-eyed reverence as tales about historical heavyweights like Henry Hudson.

“I love the combination of history and mystery,” said Smith, when asked why she keeps digging up ghost stories. “It just tickles me. I love social history. There is a feeling that I get called deliciously frightened. I love that.”

B.C. is well represented in the book. Vancouverites will love the tale of the Headless Brakeman who slipped while walking the tracks at the Granville Rail Yard and had his head cut off by a train. Now if you happen to be down at the tracks at the foot of Granville St. late at night and you see a swaying light say hello to poor old Hub Clark.

And because you are at the rail yards why not head over to the Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown. That building’s busy history has apparently made for some regular ghostly manifestations including the Little Red Man. This regular haunter is short, dressed all in red and likes to hang out in the women’s washroom.

To call Smith a prolific writer is an understatement. Great Canadian Ghost Stories is her 36th book. She is thinking of retiring but says when she does she’ll write a memoir and some collections of short stories. Retirement it seems is not a clear concept.

Smith’s writing career began in 1988 when she had a secretarial job working for the Edmonton school system. In the past, finances had kept Smith from pursuing writing but now she was in a better position and as a lover of ghost stories she was thrilled to find out that the old school that housed the Edmonton public school archives was supposedly haunted. She wrote the story sold it. That bit of sleuthing lead to more digging and more stories and soon Smith had her book Ghost Stories of Alberta and as she says she has “been at it ever since.”

“The first book was really hard to write, really difficult,” said Smith, who has lived in Victoria for a little over a decade. “But once that came out I was just inundated with stories to the point that all I had to do was go out and interview the people and wham I had another book within a year and a half.”

While ghost stories can be wildly entertaining — who doesn’t want to now the story of the Dungarvon Whooper — at their root they are usually tragic and usually involve a death that is either nefarious or premature in nature.

“Ghost stories are fun and everything but they imply a death,” said Smith. “Some of them have been profoundly difficult emotionally so I really do feel grateful and humbled that these people would share with me.”

Smith says many of us have our own ghost stories, stories of a room going cold or a feeling of someone standing behind us when there is no one else around. It’s these creepy connections that Smith thinks peaks our interest in the paranormal.

“The pre-orders were strong for this book. They were tremendous. All of my books sold well,” said Smith, with not a drop of arrogance in her voice.

She quickly adds though that one ghostly tome didn’t sell so well. Haunted Hearts, about ghost love stories, died a premature death.

Why is it we want to read about and think about the dead?

“I think we want to understand what happens after. Also if we lose someone near and dear to us it is comforting to feel them around you,” said Smith.

After years of collecting stories, she says with confidence the place most frequented by ghosts is not graveyards.

Instead, common haunting sites include hospitals, firehalls and theatres, where there is a lot of emotion.

“I find firehalls are very often haunted because there is that huge surge of emotion. Theatres are often haunted, I have one full book on theatres (Haunted Theatres),” she said.

Smith herself says the spookiest place she has been was an old Edmonton hospital. There she said she had a huge emotional sadness overcome her. She said it was weird because she is a “tough old boot.”

There are a lot of commonalities in ghost stories.

“Children are more likely to see things because as we grow up we train ourselves not to see them. Animals are very sensitive. If a dog or a cat stares at something that is usually not a good sign at all.”

Cold spots are big and also if you got a ghost there’s a higher chance he’s a dude.

“Off the top of my head I say men (haunt the most),” said Smith. “There’s a lot of routinized behaviour with men in a haunted house. There you hear the front door open and then close, heavy footsteps going up the stairs. They’re there five days a week forever. He’s just coming home from work.”

Women seem to a have a bit of flourish. They want to be noticed and it seems they don’t want to be caught dead in just any old outfit.

“We have a lot of coloured ladies. We have blue ladies, The Blue Lady of Peggy’s Cove. The grey ladies that kind of thing. I think they are more mournful and they are here because they are sad.”

What about her own afterlife? Does Smith want to return as a ghost?

“I hope so. My girlfriend Jo-Anne Christensen, who wrote Ghost Stories of Saskatchewan and a few other ones, she and I have promised each other we’ll try to come back and hang out together as ghosts.”

Where would she like to do her ghost work?

“I guess a childhood home. That would be really nice. But now that I think about it I think a theatre would be fantastic. I’m a big swimmer and swimming pools are often haunted. Gee, I think I’d like the freedom to flit around.”

Smith’s next book is due out in April and is a follow up to one she did focusing on Canadian suffragette, politician, author, and activist Nellie McClung.

“I had compiled a collection of Nellie McClung columns. That book naturally lead me to the Famous Five and the “Persons Case,” in 1929 and so I’m finishing up that book (Famous Five) and it will be out in April,” said Smith. “It is social history so it does kind of fit. You are not going to see a book from me about quantum physics. That’s not going to happen.”

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What ghost stories does a writer of ghost stories like?

Author Barbara Smith offers up her favourite books about ghosts:

“Choosing favourite ghost story books was tough, but The Ghost of Flight 401, by John G. Fuller, has always been a big favourite of mine. I really admire the way he sets the scene for the plane crash — December 1972, one of those huge old L-1011s crashing into a Florida swamp. Very chilling. Also, you can imagine the pilots’ reactions going from mild annoyance to the terrifying reality that they are about to crash the plane they are responsible for and likely kill all on board.

“Then when those pilots faces start showing up in other L-1011s — ones that have been fitted with parts from the wrecked plane — with messages to prompt the crews to look for safety hazards, well, it’s just creepy and so believable.

“On a much lighter note — you really can’t beat A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I like the book way more than any version of the movie. I think we can all identify with different parts of each character, which really brings the story close to the heart.

“The Haunting of Hill House is such a classic — and scary like mad. I think for the same reason as A Christmas Carol is effective, we can all identify with parts of each character and then our imaginations just go into overdrive. Plus Shirley Jackson was such a skilled wordsmith. She just ratchets up the suspense.

“And last is a Ghost Story by Peter Straub. The nice quiet setting of a small town with four old men telling stories to one another is such a bait and switch for what’s to come and again, it gets personal.”




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