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B.C. pharmacists push immunization after Vancouver measles outbreak

22Feb

B.C. pharmacists push immunization after Vancouver measles outbreak

by admin

Community pharmacists in B.C. have joined a chorus of health officials urging residents to get vaccinated after a recent outbreak of measles in Vancouver.

The B.C. Pharmacy Association is reminding the public that pharmacists across the province are prepared to give booster shots or new vaccinations to adults and children five years or older. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is publicly-funded and available from pharmacists in nearly every community, the association said in a news release Friday.

“Community pharmacists are one of the most accessible health care providers and have had the authority to provide injections since 2009,” said the association’s CEO, Geraldine Vance.

“Families and individuals looking to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date can go to their local pharmacist for care.”

Vancouver Coastal Health also recommends vaccinations. People who have previously had the infection do not need immunization.

B.C. children born in or after 1994 routinely get two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, one dose when they turn a year old and another before they start kindergarten.

People born before 1994 or who grew up outside of B.C. may need a second dose. People born before 1970 are likely immune; but if they aren’t sure whether they have had the infection, they can safely get the MMR vaccine.

Vaccinations and boosters are also available at doctors’ offices, and Immunization B.C. provides a map of local health units offering publicly-funded vaccinations at immunizebc.ca/finder. Services vary by location.


READ MORE: 

Measles in B.C.: How we got here and what you need to know

Burnaby family on edge after high-risk baby exposed to measles at children’s hospital


Earlier this week, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said measles is a “serious and highly contagious disease” and that getting inoculated is the best way to avoid getting sick — and transmitting it to others who may be unprotected.

Tam’s comments Tuesday came after a cluster of nine cases of measles in Vancouver that began in recent weeks after an unvaccinated Canadian child contracted the disease on a family trip to Vietnam.

The rate of immunization among students at the two Vancouver schools where the outbreak originated has since increased, according to an update earlier this week from Vancouver Coastal Health.

At École Secondaire Jules‐Verne and École Rose-Des-Vents, both francophone schools, the measles immunization rate is now 95.5 and 94 per cent respectively, said Althea Hayden, a medical health officer, at a news conference Tuesday.

“Before this outbreak started, we had documentation for only about 70 per cent of students having immunity,” said Hayden, adding that the rise in immunity is not just due to new vaccinations but also the result of those who have now reported their vaccination records, when their immunization status was previously undeclared.

Herd immunity requires a threshold of about 92 per cent.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control tracks child immunization and reports that 82.1 per cent of children aged seven had been immunized for measles in 2018, compared to 88.4 per cent in 2017 and 90.2 per cent in 2016.

With files from Tiffany Crawford, Stephanie Ip and The Canadian Press

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22Feb

Town Talk: Chinese community raises $4.1 M for Children’s Hospital

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ANOTHER RECORD: First-time co-chairs Carman Chan, Isabel Hsieh and Pao Yao Koo hit a home run when the Chinese community’s 24th annual For Children We Care gala reportedly raised a record $4.1 million. That will go toward a $14-million campaign for relocating the development-and-rehabilitation Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children to the B.C. Children’s Hospital’s main campus.


Carman Chan, Isabel Hsieh and Pao Yao Koo chaired a Versailles-themed gala to reportedly raise $4.1 million for the Sunny Hill Centre for Children.

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Last year’s event brought in close to $$3.4 million, which exceeded 2017’s by $836,000. Contrasting the hospital’s fiscal prudence, the gala’s theme was Versailles, the extravagant palace and estate that helped bankrupt 18th-century France and send King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette to the guillotine. Conductor Ken Hsieh and the Metropolitan Orchestra entertained gala-goers with music from Parisian Jacques Offenbach’s 1858 Orpheus In The Underworld that also enlivens the cancan dance. Happily, the gala’s fundraising co-chairs proved that they could-could and did-did.


Third-time For Children We Care gala presenter Ben Yeung saw Open Road dealer Christian Chia display a $500,000 Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV.

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FOR PAINT JOBS WE CARE: Open Road auto dealer Christian Chia showed a $500,000-range Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV at the For Children We Care gala. Viewers included the event’s third-time presenter, Peterson development firm executive chair-CEO Ben Yeung. Few buyers of the off-road-capable Cullinan would likely subject its flawless, porcelain-like surface to damage along bush-and-rock-flanked trails. Ditto when parking by night in certain DTES zones, including one where developer-to-be Yeung located his fresh-from-varsity dental practice.


Hometown Star recipient Jim Pattison was feted by Premier John Horgan but hasn’t hire him to a top job as he did a predecessor, Glen Clark.

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STARRED: Local self-made billionaire Jim Pattison and entertainers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have received Hometown Stars from the Canada Walk of Fame organization. The local ceremony followed a flossier one in Toronto where Paul Anka and investments supremo Warren Buffett serenaded Pattison with Frank Sinatra’s My Way. Rogan and Goldberg were lauded here by fellow walk-of-famer Howie Mandel. Also by teacher Mike Keenlyside from Point Grey Secondary where their stars will be embedded. Of their alma mater, “Everybody needs to know that Seth was a dropout and didn’t graduate,” Goldberg cracked.


Entertainers Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg received Canada Walk of Fame stars that will be embedded at their Point Grey Secondary alma mater.

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Howie Mandel and chef-restaurateur Vikram Vij attended a ceremony for city-raised billionaire Jim Pattison and entertainers Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg.

Malcolm Parry /

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When John Oliver Secondary grad and legendary toiler Pattison was asked if he really ought to be at work during daylight, he replied: “The answer is: Yes.” As for working for Pattison as former NDP premier Glen Clark does, successor John Horgan said: “I’ve got a job right now, but that’s an option.” That option would doubtless pay more than his current $205,400.16 salary. Meanwhile, Horgan and others might heed Pattison’s words: “Do the little things well and the big things will follow.”


Long-time Bella Bella resident Ian McAllister directed and Seaspan principal Kyle Washington executive-produced the Great Bear Rainforest Imax film.

Malcolm Parry /

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BEAR FACTS: Another billionaire hit town recently. That was Seaspan Marine Corp. head Dennis Washington whose US$6-billion-range net worth is close to Pattison’s but whose 332-foot yacht Atessa IV overpowers the latter’s 150-foot Nova Spirit. Washington arrived for the premiere of Great Bear Rainforest, an Imax movie executive-produced by his son and Seaspan ULC executive chair, Kyle. Its director, Ian McAllister, met the younger Washington three years ago at a luncheon for the Pacific Wild Foundation that McAllister co-founded. Rather than conventional digital shooting, three-decade Bella Bella resident McAllister argued for Imax’s costlier 70mm film system that promises worldwide access to young audiences. The picture’s own young characters include Mercedes Robinson, who lives in 350-population Klemtu and retrieves DNA from trees where bears scratch themselves. Of her debut movie role, Robinson said: “You can get a lot of information from bears … who are guardians of the eco-system and have the ability to make it thrive and make the land more healthy.” When grown up, “I hope to provide information to the younger generation so that they protect the (bears’) territory and save it from those taking it from them.”


B.C. Women’s Hospital Foundation CEO Genesa Greening and board chair Karim Kassam fronted a $300,000 fundraiser for chronic-disease diagnosis.

Malcolm Parry /

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NEED FOR SPEED: B.C. Women’s Hospital Foundation president-CEO Genesa Greening and board chair Karim Kassam reported $300,000 was raised at the recent Illuminations luncheon. That’s where guests were illuminated regarding thousands of women plagued by slow-to-diagnose health concerns. A tenfold increase in research funding is said to be needed to address complex chronic diseases that are up to nine times likelier to affect women than men.


Aide de camp and former Vancouver police inspector, Bob Usui, escorted Lieutenant-Governor Jane Austin at a B.C. Women’s Hospital Foundation fundraiser.

Malcolm Parry /

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MEADOW MONEY: Attending the luncheon, the B.C. lieutenant-governor and former Women’s Hospital Foundation board member, Janet Austin, called the hospital’s researchers “some of the best in the world.” Then, pointing to retired Vancouver police inspector Bob Usui, who is one of her 35 ceremonial aides de camp, she told guests: “People think he is the lieutenant-governor, not me.” Her joke likely reminded some of an earlier LG, David Lam, who claimed that children sometimes misheard his title as “left-handed governor.” As for research-funding, Austin sounded in tune with rancher-predecessor Judith Guichon by saying: “Money is like manure — no good if it isn’t spread.”


Gillian Siddall was installed as president and vice-chancellor at Emily Carr University of Art + Design’s still-new False Creek Flats campus.

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NEW CARR: Bonhomie, not money, was spread on Great Northern Way recently with Gillian Siddall’s induction as Emily Carr University of Art and Design’s second president and vice-chancellor.  She succeeds 22-year incumbent Ron Burnett who oversaw the much-enlarged academy’s move from Granville Island.

DOWN PARRYSCOPE: February 23 is International Dog Biscuit Day or, for humans taking a mouthful, World Sword Swallowers Day.

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21Feb

How have Vancouver’s Airbnb rules affected the housing market?

by admin

Hundreds of landlords are still flouting the law almost a year after Vancouver introduced rules around short-term rentals, says a housing advocate who is unconvinced of the bylaw’s clout.

City bylaws introduced  April 19 require hosts to obtain a business licence and state that a landlord can only rent out their principal residence, or, if the residence is already rented long term, the tenant may operate a short-term rental with the owner’s permission.

The initiative was the city’s response to short-term vacation rentals wreaking havoc with housing for long-term renters.

But Vancouver housing advocate Rohana Rezel, a candidate for council in the last municipal election, says a quick scan of 4,000 Vancouver units listed on the site showed at least 800 in clear violation of the bylaws.

He said hosts are getting around the bylaws by describing multiple units under one listing or simply typing “exempt” as their licence, because the city has no software to track and validate each licence number.

“There were ​hosts listing more than one unit, more than one entire home or apartment,” said Rezel.

Problem with enforcement

Rezel says these problems persist because the memorandum of understanding between Airbnb and the city was flawed to begin with. It absolves Airbnb of wrongdoing or responsibility when it comes to cracking down on the hosts.

Although Airbnb has agreed to help the city enforce the rules, Rezel says enforcement is ultimately up to the city.

But Rezel thinks the city should do more to pressure the company.

“If you put the onus on Airbnb to police the hosts, I think we can make some progress on tackling this problem,” he said.

“The cities that have successfully cracked down on Airbnb have made the platform accountable.” 

Vancouver a ‘great model’

Chris Lehane, the head of global policy and public affairs for Airbnb, says that Vancouver is a “great model” for cities dealing with housing accessibility.

And when it comes to concerns over policing, Lehane says the company and the city share information that leads to effective enforcement overall.

“The regulatory framework here works,” he said.

“Ultimately, we did take down 2,500 listings and we are working closely with the City of Vancouver to make sure this is working as well as possible.”

When presented with Rezel’s criticisms, Kathryn Holm — the chief licence inspector with the City of Vancouver — maintained its relationship with Airbnb is working.

“Airbnb provides the city with data on a quarterly basis to support enforcement efforts, and we are very pleased to be working with them to help ensure all Vancouver listings on Airbnb are licensed,” Holm said.

Lehane says that short-term rentals are benefiting nearly 5,000 Vancouverites who are supplementing their incomes.

Rezel agrees in theory that home-sharing is a great way for people to make some extra money on a spare room — but says too many people are not using it this way.

He also says he’s still hearing stories of people getting kicked out of their homes so the landlord can operate Airbnb, even though it’s against the law.

“People are leaving the city because they can’t find housing,” said Rezel.

Click below to hear the full interview with Rohana Rezel:

It’s been almost one year since Vancouver introduced bylaws around short term rentals through sites like Airbnb. But Vancouver housing advocate says the rules have had little impact with the lack of enforcement on the part of the city. 9:03

With files from The Early Edition




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21Feb

How have Vancouver’s Airbnb rules impacted the housing market?

by admin

Hundreds of landlords are still flouting the law almost a year after Vancouver introduced rules around short-term rentals, says a housing advocate who is unconvinced of the bylaw’s clout.

City bylaws introduced  April 19 require hosts to obtain a business licence and state that a landlord can only rent out their principal residence, or, if the residence is already rented long term, the tenant may operate a short-term rental with the owner’s permission.

The initiative was the city’s response to short-term vacation rentals wreaking havoc with housing for long-term renters.

But Vancouver housing advocate Rohana Rezel, a candidate for council in the last municipal election, says a quick scan of 4,000 Vancouver units listed on the site showed at least 800 in clear violation of the bylaws.

He said hosts are getting around the bylaws by describing multiple units under one listing or simply typing “exempt” as their licence, because the city has no software to track and validate each licence number.

“There were ​hosts listing more than one unit, more than one entire home or apartment,” said Rezel.

Problem with enforcement

Rezel says these problems persist because the memorandum of understanding between Airbnb and the city was flawed to begin with. It absolves Airbnb of wrongdoing or responsibility when it comes to cracking down on the hosts.

Although Airbnb has agreed to help the city enforce the rules, Rezel says enforcement is ultimately up to the city.

But Rezel thinks the city should do more to pressure the company.

“If you put the onus on Airbnb to police the hosts, I think we can make some progress on tackling this problem,” he said.

“The cities that have successfully cracked down on Airbnb have made the platform accountable.” 

Vancouver a ‘great model’

Chris Lehane, the head of global policy and public affairs for Airbnb, says that Vancouver is a “great model” for cities dealing with housing accessibility.

And when it comes to concerns over policing, Lehane says the company and the city share information that leads to effective enforcement overall.

“The regulatory framework here works,” he said.

“Ultimately, we did take down 2,500 listings and we are working closely with the City of Vancouver to make sure this is working as well as possible.”

When presented with Rezel’s criticisms, Kathryn Holm — the chief licence inspector with the City of Vancouver — maintained its relationship with Airbnb is working.

“Airbnb provides the city with data on a quarterly basis to support enforcement efforts, and we are very pleased to be working with them to help ensure all Vancouver listings on Airbnb are licensed,” Holm said.

Lehane says that short-term rentals are benefiting nearly 5,000 Vancouverites who are supplementing their incomes.

Rezel agrees in theory that home-sharing is a great way for people to make some extra money on a spare room — but says too many people are not using it this way.

He also says he’s still hearing stories of people getting kicked out of their homes so the landlord can operate Airbnb, even though it’s against the law.

“People are leaving the city because they can’t find housing,” said Rezel.

Click below to hear the full interview with Rohana Rezel:

It’s been almost one year since Vancouver introduced bylaws around short term rentals through sites like Airbnb. But Vancouver housing advocate says the rules have had little impact with the lack of enforcement on the part of the city. 9:03

With files from The Early Edition




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21Feb

Daphne Bramham: B.C. group’s call for legally regulated heroin sales is unfounded

by admin

Desperate times call for desperate and often unfounded measures. And, that’s exactly what a new report from the B.C. Centre on Substance Use is proposing in response to the unabating opioid overdose crisis.

It wants government to immediately clear the way for “heroin compassion clubs.” These would be free-standing co-op stores staffed by health care providers selling untainted heroin — diacetylmorphine — to members at the same price or less than street heroin. It would be free to members who can’t afford it, even though the report acknowledges that the risk of street resale of prescription opioids is greatest when the drugs are free.

And that would all be possible, the report says, because of things like volume discounts and “other economies of scale.”

“It would be precisely measured and dispensed in known quantities and at relatively safe doses,” says the report that was released Thursday. The emphasis has been added.

The heroin would be in powdered form, rather than an injectable liquid, just like it is on the street except this would be untainted heroin, not heroin cut with caffeine to prevent overdoses or any other additives to bulk up the product.

Members would be able to buy a couple of days’ supply and take it home with them.

Membership would be low-barrier, a term that’s not defined in the report.

Applicants would be screened by staff members who are “health care providers,” although not necessarily addictions physicians.

The co-op’s board members would be people with “lived experience” — a.k.a. users and former addicts.

Evan Wood, the head of the B.C. Centre on Substance Abuse, says the proposal is unprecedented so there is no evidence that it would reduce overdose deaths or disrupt organized crime’s role in fentanyl, money laundering or housing affordability, which is what’s advertised on the report’s cover.

“To be fair, we are in an unprecedented situation with fentanyl and the prescription opioids overdose crisis,” Wood said. “We are in uncharted waters.”

The two main goals are keeping users alive and disrupting the evils of organized crime.

These are ambitious albeit inappropriate goals for an organization whose mandate is to “develop, help implement, and evaluate evidence-based approaches to substance use and addiction.”

Using heroin to treat users isn’t new. But every other trial or program has a treatment component whether they’re at Vancouver’s Crosstown Clinic, the PHS Community Services or in European countries.

In Europe, heroin is prescribed with the goal of stabilizing users to a point where they can get jobs, form relationships or switch to other (cheaper) opioid replacement therapies such as methadone or Suboxone. (The annual cost per patient in European prescription-heroin programs ranges from $19,000 in Switzerland to $30,000 in the Netherlands.)

But there’s nothing like this in Canada.

“I’m not aware of the existence of ‘heroin clubs’ anywhere else,” Jann Schumacher from the Swiss-based Ticino, an organization of addictions specialists, said in an email. “In Switzerland the heroin assisted therapy is strongly regulated and always under medical control.

“Our Swiss model (heroin assisted treatment) has strong evidence as a harm reduction method, in getting people into treatment and stabilizing their lives, and in reducing the illegal market.”

To qualify, Swiss patients must have at least two years of opioid dependence and at least two failed tries using other addictions treatment methods. They are only allowed to the drug in pill form and take it with them after being in the program for six months and only if it’s necessary to hold down a job.

Drug-related crime in Switzerland has decreased 90 per cent. But compassion clubs would have no effect on drug-related crimes because members would still have to find some way to buy the heroin.

As for disrupting organized crime, the report suggests that compassion clubs would be competing for sales, influencing both the demand and market for heroin.

“The establishment of a regulated and controlled supply of fentanyl-unadulterated heroin may increase demand for street heroin among persons who use street opioids and force organized crime groups to return to the provision of heroin as part of the illicit drug market,” the report says.

And since violence is criminals’ usual response to unwelcome competition, it seems likely that they will attempt to terrorize compassion clubs out of business.

What makes this proposal all the more absurd is that it is aimed only at British Columbia. Surely, low-barrier access to pure heroin would be a magnet to every opioid user across the continent, let alone Canada.

British Columbia is already the epicentre of the overdose crisis just as it was ground zero for the cannabis legalization movement that began with compassion clubs dispensing so-called “medical marijuana,” which led to an explosion in unlicensed and unregulated pot shops.

It’s also where Canada’s harm-reduction model was birthed with free needles, supervised injection sites and readily available naloxone. But it was supposed to be part of a four-pronged strategy just as Switzerland’s is — a strategy that includes access to treatment and recovery as well as education aimed at dissuading drug use.

But since 2017, the $608 million spent by the B.C. government has gone almost exclusively to harm reduction. Yet, the number of overdose deaths is still rising.

It’s clearly not working and Canadians can’t help noticing now that 9,000 are dead including more than 4,000 in British Columbia. According to an Angus Reid poll released last week, 85 per cent of Canadians want mandatory treatment for opioid addiction. Forget legalization or free drugs, decriminalization was favoured by only 48 per cent.

Although the B.C. Centre on Substance Abuse is proposing a radical and untried solution, Wood dismissed mandatory treatment as an option because it’s unsupported by evidence.

As for decriminalization, Wood said, “The problem with it is that you still leave control of the market to organized crime. The user is not criminalized, but they still have to go to the black market.”

Yet, 20 years’ worth of evidence from Portugal show that paired with assertively promoting treatment and recovery, providing universal access to those programs and enforcing drug trafficking laws, decriminalization works.

There, it not only effectively brought an end to Portugal’s heroin overdose crisis, addiction and usage rates for all drugs including cigarettes and alcohol are now among the lowest in Europe.

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Twitter: @bramham_daphne

 


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21Feb

Ottawa could face four class-action lawsuits over $165M error at Veterans Affairs

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The federal government now faces four proposed class-action lawsuits over a $165 million accounting error at Veterans Affairs that shortchanged more than 250,000 former soldiers, sailors and aircrew, CBC News has learned.

The latest claim was filed this week by the Ottawa law firm headed by retired colonel Michel Drapeau. It joins similar cases launched by lawyers with Koskie-Minsky of Toronto, McInnis-Cooper of Halifax and the Kelowna office of Murphy-Battista.

The court actions, which have not yet been certified, relate to a bungled calculation of disability awards and pensions at Veterans Affairs — an oversight that started in 2002 and ran undetected for almost eight years.

Last month, CBC News revealed internal federal documents that explained how the error happened and detailed some of the flawed assumptions bureaucrats used to bury the mistake when it was uncovered.

Veterans ombudsman Guy Parent speaks to media October 1, 2013 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

In 2010, when the department discovered and corrected the indexing mistake, it did not notify any of the 272,000 veterans who were affected. The matter did not become public until former veterans ombudsman Guy Parent blew the whistle last November.

The Liberal government owned up to the error and promised to reimburse veterans, beginning in 2020 — but Dennis Manuge, the former soldier who initiated the first class-action claim, said the mushrooming number of cases is a sign of the frustration and impatience felt by those affected.

The fact that it will take until after the next election to rectify the situation is one of the major factors driving the court cases, he added.

“The trust level isn’t there, and I think that’s regardless of the party in office,” said Manuge, who noted the former Conservative government fought a separate class-action lawsuit related to a clawback of veterans’ disability payments.

In that case, Manuge — acting on behalf of roughly 7,500 former soldiers — won an $887 million settlement in 2013.

The documents obtained and published by CBC News last month show how Veterans Affairs officials traced the confusion over the disability payments back to changes in forms related to the 2001 overhaul of the Income Tax Act.

Critics say the revelations over the unchecked error raise important questions about fiscal accountability at Veterans Affairs.

They’re asking what actions bureaucrats took when the error was first discovered — and why it was kept hidden for almost a decade.

Many of the affected veterans have died

A significant number of the affected veterans — 170,000 — have passed away since the error was discovered. The Liberal government promised to repay their estates, but the documents show Veterans Affairs does not keep track of next-of-kin and has no means of finding them.

Manuge said he has no confidence that all affected veterans’ families will get justice.

“If we wait another two years, the older veterans involved, well, many of them will be gone,” he said. “I can only speak for myself … that’s one of the major factors in my making a decision to have a go at this.”

The government’s handling of the error “just isn’t good enough,” he said. “It’s not acceptable.”

Since the matter is before the courts, federal government officials declined comment on Wednesday.


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20Feb

Task force set up to tackle sexual harassment at UBC medical school

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UBC medical students are being sexually harassed more often than students in other Canadian medical schools, according to a new report.

An internal memo written by Dr. Andrea Townson, acting co-head of the UBC department of medicine, and sent to medical faculty at the University of British Columbia, refers to the “deeply concerning” results from a 2018 questionnaire of students who graduated from the 17 medical schools across Canada. Sexual remarks, uninvited touching and sexual assault are examples of harassment.

• Twelve per cent of students at UBC reported unwanted sexual advances and touching by faculty, fellow students, health professionals or patients, compared to a national average of 6.5 per cent.

• Thirty-three per cent of students at UBC said they were subjected to offensive sexist remarks, compared to the national average of 25 per cent.

• A third of UBC medical students also said they were subjected to racially offensive remarks, compared to the Canadian average of 12 per cent.

“We aren’t unique or isolated with these concerns but we are obviously not happy to see these high reported rates so it’s launched a number of different initiatives,” said Dr. Deborah Money, executive vice dean of the UBC medical school.

UBC results from the annual report have been “steady” over the past number of years, according to Money.

Money is chairing a dean’s task force meant to find ways to change the culture and environment at the medical school and to prevent mistreatment and harassment at the more than 80 training sites where UBC medical students learn, such as hospitals and clinics.

“Part of our work has to focus on learning from others, so we know what best practices look like.”

Sixty per cent of UBC medical graduates said they had been publicly humiliated. This may include being asked a question by a professor in a group setting, not knowing the answer and feeling shame about it because of, for example, how the instructor reacted.

This raises the question of whether students are becoming more sensitive to these kinds of learning tools.

“That’s a tough question. It’s an old style of teaching and how it’s done or how it’s perceived may be different in each scenario. We have actually made a video that tries to distinguish between being challenged academically and being bullied or called out so much that people feel humiliated,” she said.

Money said staff have collected data on the reported incidents of public humiliation, racially or sexually offensive remarks and unwanted sexual advances experienced by students.

Townson told clinical faculty members in the memo obtained by Postmedia that if they are concerned they’ve made a comment that might have been misinterpreted and want “a safe place to debrief” they should come and speak to her.

She said in the memo that “addressing student mistreatment” is a priority and students need a clear mechanism for reporting concerns. UBC has several satellite sites — Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna and Prince George — where undergraduate students learn and Townson said in her memo that the disturbing reports are “not isolated to a single site or a single rotation.”

Money said there are about 700 professors in the medical school and about 7,000 clinical instructors. When students complain about a particular instructor or fellow student, an investigation is launched to determine whether coaching or discipline is required. Money said she couldn’t say how often that occurs but said expulsion is “rare and extreme.”

The survey of medical school graduates in Canada covers a broad range of topics about the quality of education and student experience and has been conducted annually by the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada since 2015.

UBC is the fifth largest medical school in North America with 288 students admitted each year, and 4,500 students doing residencies and other postgraduate work.

At the same time as UBC is grappling with the mistreatment issue, the Lancet has published the results of an alarming survey showing that sexual harassment — by patients, teachers and peers of medical students — is common in Canada.

The study by researchers in Ontario and Alberta shows that despite policies and complaint mechanisms intended to promote respectful conduct and to prevent harassment, students are subjected to everything from sexist remarks to rape. A total of 807 incidents were reported by 188 respondents to the 2016 anonymous survey. The harassment occurred in clinics, medical schools and social settings; patients requested medical students touch their sexual organs and they groped doctors. One student said she was raped by a fellow student. Faculty members were implicated in about 20 per cent of the incidents that were predominately experienced by female students. Men were the most frequent perpetrators.

The authors say that faculty, peers and victims come to almost normalize sexual harassment. Students try their best to ignore it while at the same time finding it “confusing, upsetting and embarrassing.”

Many don’t report it because staying silent is seen as “less risky than confrontation or official reporting.”

Dr. Susan Phillips, a professor at Queen’s University and co-author of the Lancet study, said it is clear that women who are practising doctors or studying to become doctors are not immune to harassment and sexual assault.

“This is a societal problem. And we have to find ways to decrease the incidence,” said Phillips, who several years ago published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that 78 per cent of female doctors had been harassed by inappropriate comments or conduct by patients.

“Medical schools can’t fix societal problems but they can do more to legitimize student concerns. That means if they hear about a patient or faculty member making inappropriate comments, they don’t let it go. There has to be zero tolerance and in the case of faculty members, it has to be enforced.”

One limitation of the Lancet study is that few medical students completed the survey. There are about 11,600 medical students across Canada and just under 300 completed the consent form to submit answers to the anonymous survey.

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Twitter:@MedicineMatters




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20Feb

B.C. poverty reduction plan a mix of new and old programs, says minister

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Minister of Social Development Shane Simpson says a new poverty reduction plan, coming within two weeks, will be a mixture of new programs and items government has already announced.


CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

VICTORIA — B.C.’s new poverty reduction plan will include a mixture of fresh government programs as well as services that have already been announced, says the social development minister.

Shane Simpson said Wednesday that while no specific money was highlighted in Tuesday’s budget for poverty reduction, there are nonetheless several programs already in place and funded by other ministries that will count toward the plan when it is released in “a couple of weeks.”

The poverty reduction plan calls for a 25 per cent reduction in poverty, and a 50 per cent reduction in child poverty, within five years.

“There are a whole array of issues that will play into achieving those objectives,” said Simpson. “It’s child care, it’s minimum wage, it’s housing, it’s pieces that have gone before, it’s pieces that will come afterwards, it’s pieces that we’re not even sure of where they land like the basic income initiative that we’ll see in 2020.”

Tuesday’s budget did announce a $380-million annual new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit program to give families up to $1,600 a year in financial support for a child — though the benefit doesn’t begin until October 2020. The budget added only $9 million for child care, though that was on top of $1 billion over three years announced last year that funds a mixture of subsidies (including virtually free care for a family with an income under $45,000) and 53 pilot sites for $10-a-day child care.

Simpson said it’s difficult to put a dollar figure on his plan because spending for the child benefit and child care programs are budgeted elsewhere. But he said the plan will incorporate the $100 in increases to the disability and social assistance rates dating back to 2017, as well as the $50 additional rate increase announced in Tuesday’s budget.

Social advocacy groups criticized the government for not providing more assistance for the poor in the budget, including the deeply poor. Simpson said he appreciated the work of the advocacy groups and “I’m looking forward to working with these groups and for them to continue to push us. That’s healthy.”

The poverty plan will also include new funding for rent banks, which Finance Minister Carole James has said will help prevent people from being evicted if they run into financial trouble due to illness, their job or life events. James’s ministry said Wednesday the government will be providing money to existing rent backs in communities across B.C. rather than creating and operating its own.

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20Feb

B.C. Budget 2019: Discounted transit fares, HandyDART funding absent

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Two initiatives that could make transit Metro Vancouver more accessible and affordable were missing from Tuesday’s provincial budget.

The region’s mayors have been advocating for funding for HandyDART, the door-to-door shared-ride service for people with disabilities, and a break on transit fares for people with low incomes and youths.

“We would have liked to have seen those programs included in this year’s budget,” said New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté, who chairs the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation.

For the past couple of years, both the council and TransLink, the regional transportation authority, have argued that the provincial government should help pay for HandyDART.

TransLink has invested money in expanding HandyDART service as part of its 10-year regional transportation plan, and made some changes following a review to improve the quality of service.

However, Coté said the majority of HandyDART trips are related to health services, such as dialysis or specialist appointments, and seeing some investment from the Ministry of Health would make sense.


Viveca Ellis, a leadership development coordinator of the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition and All On Board campaign coordinator, wants free transit for youth and reduced fares for others.

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“We think there is an argument to be made that there should be better support through the provincial government, just like the provincial government mainly funds those services throughout other parts of the province,” he said.

“That’s been a longstanding issue that the Mayors’ Council and TransLink have advocated for better support there.”

The budget did include some extra money for transit — and HandyDART — improvements, but for communities outside Metro Vancouver. It adds $21 million over three years for B.C. Transit to expand bus services in 30 urban and rural communities and make improvements to help seniors and people with disabilities.


LISTEN: This week on the In The House podcast, Mike Smyth and Rob Shaw discuss the 2019 BC NDP government budget – was it a prudent NDP spending plan or a missed opportunity to get its agenda done?

We also discuss the CleanBC plan, BC Green leader Andrew Weaver’s budget response and the BC Liberals struggling to define themselves within the budget debate.


A spokesperson for the HandyDART Riders Alliance could not be reached for comment, but on social media shortly after the budget was released on Tuesday, the group called the lack of specific funding for HandyDART “disappointing.”

Coté said he hopes increasing demand for HandyDART service will prompt more serious conversations with the province about a long-term, sustainable funding model so that TransLink can continue to provide the service.

Providing discounted transit passes for people with low incomes and free transit for youths under the age of 18 has been discussed around the Mayors’ Council table, Coté said, and such initiatives have been adopted in other major cities.

“I think the Mayors’ Council is very interested in the idea, but it’s something we strongly feel would be most appropriately funded through a provincial poverty reduction strategy,” Coté said.

Such a strategy was outlined in the budget, but details about the specific programs therein were not released. It’s expected that the public will hear more in the coming weeks.

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Viveca Ellis, campaign organizer for #AllOnBoard, has been lobbying for a regional plan and provincial funding for making transit affordable and accessible for all people in the region.

“In the budget documents and the information that we have right now, we didn’t see anything specifically related to transit affordability and accessibility to transit for low-income people in the TransLink service region or any other region,” Ellis said.

“We’re looking forward to the release of the poverty reduction plan and seeing what will be addressed there in terms of affordable transit.”

Coté said the Mayors’ Council will move forward by formalizing their position on reducing transit fees for low-income earners and youths this spring.

“We do expect continued discussions on that regard there and hopefully future inclusion in budgets in coming years,” he said.

The budget did follow through on promised funding for major transportation infrastructure projects, including the Broadway subway line, for which $1.12 billion has been allocated over the next three years. The total cost of that project is $2.83 billion.

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20Feb

Report coming Thursday to outline proposal for regulated heroin sales

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