LOADING...

Category "News/Canada/British Columbia"

30Aug

‘I am almost not a person’: ICBC denies photo ID to Richmond woman over middle initial | CBC News

by admin

Nyoka Campbell has been a Canadian citizen for more than a decade, but her ongoing struggle to secure a B.C. photo ID has left her feeling like an outsider.

The 29-year-old has spent much of her life on the move, immigrating to Canada from Jamaica when she was just a child. Now living in the Lower Mainland, she has two primary pieces of ID to her name: a Canadian passport and a B.C. services card without a photo.

The two cards would usually be enough for someone to qualify for a B.C. photo identification card. But a small discrepancy between her documents — her passport includes her middle initial, while her care card does not — has kept ICBC from issuing her a card.

ICBC is the provincial Crown corporation that insures cars and is also responsible for issuing B.C. ID cards.

“I feel like I am almost not a person because of the way they’ve treated me.” Campbell told CBC News from her Richmond home.

“I am Canadian, I am a citizen of the Province of British Columbia, and I feel that I am entitled to be able to identify myself,” she added.

ICBC confirmed with CBC News that the documents she’s provided are insufficient for a photo identification card.

“In this case, while we sympathize with Ms. Campbell, we’ve reviewed the provided documents and unfortunately, they do not meet the requirements,” spokesperson Lindsay Wilkins said in an e-mailed statement.

Campbell says she now needs to obtain a citizenship certificate in order to clear up her ID troubles, but she can’t afford it.

Nyoka Campbell says a small discrepancy between two government-issued IDs has kept ICBC from issuing her a photo ID card. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A prolonged dispute

Campbell moved to Vancouver in 2015. She says she was issued a provincial care card which by default did not include her middle initial.

“I didn’t choose the way my name was presented on the [services card], it was just generated by Health Insurance B.C.” said Campbell.

She doesn’t have her Jamaican birth certificate, and her Canadian citizenship card was stolen along with her wallet several years ago.

When she sought out a photo ID from ICBC in 2016 using what documents she had left, she was denied by staff. She claims her account has been red flagged by staff as potentially fraudulent due to the discrepancy between her passport and services card.

She’s kept pursuing the ID ever since, providing the insurance provider with mail, her SIN card, her son’s birth certificate and bank statements, but says it hasn’t swayed ICBC’s position.

“We do look at customer’s situations on a case-by-case basis, but it is more difficult in cases where there isn’t a verified photo record in our database,” said ICBC’s spokesperson.

ICBC says it looks at customers’ situations on a case-by-case basis, but it is more difficult in cases when there isn’t a verified photo record in its database. (David Horemans/CBC)

Hard times

The Canadian government no longer issues citizenship cards, but Campbell has been advised to apply for a citizenship certificate — a commemorative slip of paper that doesn’t qualify as identification but would confirm her citizenship. She could use it at the ICBC office. It can take up to five months before a certificate arrives.

However, the document requires a primary piece of photo ID. The only photo ID Campbell has — her passport — is now expired. She says doesn’t have sufficient documents to renew it.

And even if she could, Campbell, a single mother living off disability payments, says she would have trouble finding the money — about $200 in total — to retrieve both documents.

“I get about $1,500 per month … [my rent is] $1,248 plus my utilities, plus my insurance — and I also have my eight year old,” said Campbell.

She wonders just how long it will be before she has an official photo ID to her name — a circumstance she says is particularly troubling because it prevents her from boarding an airplane. Her grandmother, who lives in Ontario, is struggling with kidney failure.

“At any moment I could need to go to Ontario, but I’m not able to,” she said.

30Aug

Province won’t change Robson Square steps despite accessibility complaints | CBC News

by admin

The ramp that zigzags across the steps at Robson Square in downtown Vancouver will not be modified to address accessibility concerns because of the “architectural significance of the site.”

Accessibility consultant Arnold Cheng says the ramp, which was designed in the 1970s by Vancouver architect Arthur Erickson, is too steep to safely navigate in a wheelchair or while pushing a stroller.

Cheng says the ramp is also a tripping hazard for people with visual impairments because the stairs are all the same colour, which makes it difficult to determine where one step ends and the next one begins.

“A lot of people use architectural significance to justify not making any changes, but historically it has not been a problem for many, many buildings,” he said.

“The Louvre in Paris has more historical significance than Robson Square, but they have changed a lot of things over the years.”

Any changes to the design would have to be approved by the provincial government.

Arnold Cheng, accessibility assessor for spectrum ability, rolls his wheelchair up the ramp he says is unsafe at Robson Square in Vancouver on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Changes coming

The province conducted accessibility audits of Robson Square in 2010 and 2018, both of which determined the stair ramps may be difficult for some people to use.

Despite the findings, the B.C. government will not alter the design.

“There are no plans to update the ramps and as such they should be primarily considered ornamental,” the Ministry of Citizens’ Services said in an emailed statement.

“Access to the building can be attained through a number of other means.”

The province says there is signage to direct people to more than 20 elevators that are located at Robson Square, but more signs and assistance for people with a variety of disabilities will soon be added to the site.

Cheng says he welcomes the changes but he doesn’t think they go far enough. 

“The signage definitely has to be better,” Cheng said.

“For some reason, people think you automatically know where everything is.”

Accessibility consultant Arnold Cheng wants to see improvements to the steps at Robson Square. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Erickson’s vision

Erickson’s father lost both of his legs in the First World War.

Arthur Erickson Foundation director Simon Scott says accessibility was an issue that was always close to the architect’s heart.

“He wanted to make public spaces accessible and enjoyable,” Scott said.

“The steps here, which are part of this wonderful public space, have stairs and ramps so that everybody can enjoy it.”

29Aug

High school should prioritize accessibility, B.C. mom says | CBC News

by admin

Maya Bosdet says she’s excited for the beginning of classes next week because it means continuing a family tradition of attending high school at Claremont Secondary, in Saanich, B.C.

But a tour of the school this week has her concerned the building won’t be accessible enough to meet her needs as a wheelchair user.

A previous visit to the school revealed a lack of ramps and an unreliable elevator. Maya also says the door to the accessible bathroom is really heavy, while the lock and light are situated too high for her to reach.

Maya has a rare genetic disease called mucopolysaccharidosis, which causes sugar molecules cells to build up in her body. She has joint pain, a dislocated hip, and regularly sees specialists and undergoes surgery. 

Accessibility problems

Lisa Bosdet, Maya’s mother, said the pair took a tour of the school in June and were disappointed to learn that the “archaic” elevator regularly breaks down, the desks are too high, and there aren’t any wheelchair ramps.

Bosdet said the elevator is currently being repaired, but is still concerned it will be unsafe.

“We expressed lots at that tour about what we saw [were issues],” she said. “I don’t want [Maya] to have to ask a friend to take her to the bathroom at 14 years old.

“I feel like it’s a basic human right for her to be able to use the bathroom.”

On a second tour of the school this week, the pair said they found not much had been improved for the start of the school year.

Bosdet said Maya’s therapists expressed concerns to the school staff about the lack of accessibility, but the response was that it would cost too much money.

CBC was not granted access to the school, and requests for interviews with school staff were declined. 

Maya Bosdet says Claremont secondary is the school her father went to, and the closest to her home. Her mother is adamant that accessibility issues at the school won’t stop her from attending classes there. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

A B.C. government document says the school was built in 1961.

Justina Loh, the executive director of the Disability Alliance B.C., says that was long before buildings were designed with accessible features. 

“In the last few years accessibility has become more of a buzzword and more important … especially as our population ages,” Loh said.

‘Most of my friends are going to this school’

Maya said she doesn’t want to attend another high school because Claremont is close to her home. 

“My dad went here,” she said. “Most of my friends are going to this school.”

She added that her friend, who also uses a wheelchair, attends the school with a caregiver who helps him move around and use the restroom.

Maya said she wants to maintain her independence.

Dave Eberwein, the superintendent for the Saanich School District, said while retrofitting an older building isn’t easy, “that doesn’t mean we don’t make them accessible. All of our schools are accessible.”

“Our goal is to, within reasonable amounts, accommodate all … students’ needs in each building,” he said, adding that things such as a light switch that’s too high, or a door that is too heavy, can be fixed relatively quickly.

He noted, however, that “sometimes it’s just not physically possible to install every accessibility [measure] in every building [because it’s] just not going to fall within our budget.”

‘We need to progress’

Bosdet said it seems accessibility issues often don’t take priority in a school’s budget, and the change needs to come from the higher ranks in the school district. 

“It’s almost 2020, and I really believe we need to step up now … We need to progress,” she said. 

She’s adamant that Maya will not attend another school.

“I resist changing a school because … the path I’d rather take is speak up and get them to make these changes so [my daughter] can have a choice.

“We’ll find a way to make it work.”

28Aug

Pharmacist fights for right to take opioid replacement medication on the job | CBC News

by admin

B.C.’s Human Rights Tribunal will hear the case of a pharmacist who claims restrictions on opioid replacement medication for working healthcare professionals is discriminatory — even though he’s been cleared to re-apply for his licence.

The 16-year pharmacist, who is not named or identified in any way by the tribunal, is now free to return to work following a second opinion from an addictions specialist. It’s unclear if he has applied to do so and he argues his screening process took too long.  

The pharmacist argues there’s no scientific reason to restrict healthcare workers from using medications that curb drug cravings and withdrawal in order to aid addiction recovery.

The 16-year pharmacist, who is not named or identified in any way by the tribunal, was initially denied his license when he tried to return to work two years ago after a voluntary suspension due to an “addiction-related disability” that led to a $1,300-per-week heroin habit.

He wanted to use Suboxone — a medication that curbs opioid cravings — and be allowed to return to his job dealing with high-risk drugs. Doctors and nurses in many U.S. states and Quebec are permitted to take Suboxone, and in some cases methadone, while working.

Suboxone allowed him to live ‘a normal life’

According to an  Aug. 22  tribunal decision, the pharmacist struggled with opioid addiction, including heroin, for several years, then returned to work. But he relapsed in 2015, despite a return-to-work plan that included monitoring. The pharmacist voluntarily suspended his license, returning to in-patient treatment.

He was prescribed Suboxone, a medication used to curb craving for opioids and ultimately taper opioid use, in 2016. The pharmacist reported Suboxone helped him live a normal life.

But when he attempted to return to work in 2017, the addictions specialist who evaluated him determined the pharmacist was not fit for duty in a “safety-sensitive” job — such as a clinical pharmacist who handled opioids — if he continued to take Suboxone. 

The pharmacist who launched the complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal did get a second opinion when he balked at abstinence as having no scientific basis as successful. That doctor agreed. (Shutterstock / Atstock Productio)

The doctor also recommended he enter a 12-step program, faith-based treatment program that requires abstinence from all drugs. He objected because he is an atheist and claimed the drug-free rule wasn’t based on scientific evidence.

The pharmacist sought a second doctor’s assessment and the college eventually accepted new recommendations in August 2018 which allow him to submit an application to register as a full pharmacist.

The first doctor and the College of Pharmacists of B.C. then requested his human rights complaint be dismissed. But the tribunal ruled Aug. 22 that the hearing will proceed, in part.

‘Hurt and shocked’

In the pharmacist’s initial complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal he argued that he was discriminated against because he was referred to a religious-based treatment program when he’s an atheist, and he wasn’t allowed to return to work unless he stopped using medication needed for his disability.

That precondition prevented his return to work in a “reasonable time frame,” he argued.

The pharmacist said the first doctor who assessed him “demonstrated unfair and offensive stigma and stereotyping of people with addiction issues.”

He described feeling “hurt and shocked” when the assessing doctor asked if a return to work would make him feel “like being a kid in a candy store” since he would be near so many drugs.

Tribunal Member Emily Ohler said she read more than 1,300 page of submissions from all parties before determining a hearing was needed.

Ohler denied the pharmacist’s claim of discrimination based on religion, as the 12-step treatment program was not mandatory. She did order a hearing into the discrimination claim based on mental disability.

In her ruling Ohler cited an expert who confirmed past workplace addictions policies in this province restricted healthcare workers from using drugs like Suboxone, but said that practice needed more study.

In Quebec, doctors overcoming addiction can use methadone. An American study published by the Mayo Clinic in 2012 reported dozens of healthcare worker discipline programs permitting nurses and doctors to return to work while using similar addiction treatments.

Suboxone is a long-acting opioid medication used to replace shorter-acting opioids like heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl or hydromorphone. It can prevent withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. (Sally Pitt/CBC)

26Aug

Hidden camera found in winery washroom, Kelowna man arrested | CBC News

by admin

A Kelowna, B.C., winery employee could be facing charges of voyeurism after police found a hidden camera inside a washroom at the winery.

Kelowna RCMP were called to Summerhill Pyramid Winery Friday after a witness reported seeing what they believed was a small camera concealed inside a staff washroom.  

A man, who police say is from Kelowna, was arrested Friday at the winery but has not been identified yet, as the investigation into the breadth of possible charges continues.

“Evidence has been seized in relation to this offence and once it has been properly processed, RCMP will be able to determine how many victims may be involved and further charges could be forwarded,” said Const. Lesley Smith with Kelowna RCMP.

The CEO for Summerhill Pyramid Winery said the employee has been fired and the company is communicating the news with its employees in person and in letter form.

Parents notified

“I am just going to be calling parents of underage staff members as well today,” said Ezra Cipes, CEO of the winery.  

Cipes said the company did a sweep of the winery and found no other cameras, and because of that, there is no danger to the public.

“We hope people care about us through this situation and don’t point a finger at us,” he said.

RCMP say they have released the male suspect. He is facing possible charges of voyeurism and has an upcoming court date.

22Aug

The Robson Square steps are beautiful but are they safe? | CBC News

by admin

The path at Robson Square in Vancouver that zigzags across the stairwell like a switchback trail on a mountainside is a crown jewel in the late architect Arthur Erickson’s portfolio.

Arnold Cheng doesn’t like it.

“There are two competing camps — people who think it’s beautiful and wonderful and people who don’t think it’s beautiful and wonderful,” Cheng said.

“Quite often, one [camp] is people without disabilities and the other is people with disabilities.”

Cheng, who works as an accessibility consultant, says it’s dangerous to travel down the steep ramp in his wheelchair.

Conversely, anyone pushing a stroller uphill would have a hard time making it to the top of the steps.

“You need stamina,” he said. “Muscles, too.”

Cheng pushes his wheelchair up the ramp at Robson Square in Vancouver. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Is it dangerous?

It’s not just the ramp Cheng takes issue with.

The stairs are all the same colour, which he says can make it difficult for a visually impaired person to tell where one step begins and the next one ends.

“That’s how people start tripping,” he said. “It’s quite a hazard.”

Cheng has a list of suggestions to make the space more accessible: make the ramp less steep; add more handrails and place coloured strips on each step to increase visibility.

Accessibility advocates have raised concerns about the wheelchair ramp at Robson Square in Vancouver on Tuesday, August 20, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Accessibility

A third-party property management company looks after the complicated land share agreement between the province and the city of Vancouver, which both own portions of Robson Square.

Any alterations to the steps would fall under the province’s jurisdiction. The B.C. government didn’t respond to CBC’s request for comment before deadline.

Arthur Erickson Foundation director Simon Scott says accessibility was an issue that was close to Erickson’s heart.

Erickson’s father lost both of his legs in the First World War, which deeply impacted his son’s designs.

“He wanted to make public spaces accessible and enjoyable,” Scott said.

“The steps here, which are part of this wonderful public space, have stairs and ramps so that everybody can enjoy it.”

Scott says Robson Square was built to code when it opened between 1979 and 1983 and entrances to all buildings on site are equipped with elevators.

James Cheng, architect with James KM Cheng Architects, is pictured in his office in Vancouver on Tuesday, August 20, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Working for Erickson

Architect Jim Chang worked on the Robson Square project shortly after he graduated from university.

He remembers working under Erickson’s leadership with a team to incorporate an accessibility ramp into the stairway, which was a brand new idea at the time.

Chang says similar designs are now used all over the world, including a recent project along the river walk in Chicago.

“It’s identical to the same solution we had,” he said. “This is 40 years later.”

Chang is open to making minor alterations to the Robson Square ramp and stairwell but says it’s also important to preserve Erickson’s vision.

“I’m of the opinion that as long as there are other options, like elevators, that if you aren’t comfortable taking those ramps, take the elevator,” he said.

“Everybody has got choices.”

Arnold Cheng, Accessibility Assessor for Spectrum Ability, rolls his wheelchair up the ramp he says is unsafe at Robson Square in Vancouver on Tuesday, August 20, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Cheng hopes speaking publicly about his concerns will persuade the government to take action.

“Just because something is old doesn’t mean it can be improved,” he said.

“The Great Wall of China is actually accessible right now because somebody had the vision to actually make it accessible.”

 

22Aug

Abbotsford police investigating hit-and-run that killed pedestrian | CBC News

by admin

Abbotsford Police are investigating a fatal hit and run that occurred Tuesday night.

According to a written statement from police, Abbotsford Emergency Services responded to a hit-and-run involving a pedestrian in the 32600 block of Marshall Road at 8:30 p.m.

The pedestrian was taken to hospital by BC Ambulance Service and died Wednesday morning.

Police were asking for the driver of the vehicle to “do the right thing and come forward to speak with investigators.”

On Wednesday evening, police said the registered owner of the vehicle has come forward.

Police are still looking for witnesses, CCTV footage and dashcam footage to help identify the driver and vehicle involved in this hit-and-run.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Abbotsford Police Department at 604-859-5225, text the department at 22973 (abbypd) or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

17Aug

How did we get here? Failed public policy and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside | CBC News

by admin

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has been the epicentre of homelessness and drug addiction in the province for decades. It has also been the focus of public policy to address these problems for almost as many years.

Yet for a neighbourhood in the public spotlight, a walk along East Hastings Street these days looks like policymakers have turned a blind eye. 

Mayor Kennedy Stewart recently acknowledged to Stepehn Quinn, the host of CBC’s The Early Edition, that the notorious neighbourhood is in the worst shape he has ever seen. Homelessness and open drug use are hard to miss on area streets. and people who have been on the front lines of housing, addiction and mental health programming say years of inadequate services are partly to blame.

Donald MacPherson, the former drug-policy coordinator for the City of Vancouver and current director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, has seen a lot of policies introduced into the Downtown Eastside, including the highly-lauded Vancouver Agreement in 2000.

The Oppenheimer Park homeless camp on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Signed by all three levels of government, the agreement was a 10-year plan to improve housing and social welfare in the area. According MacPherson, many of the agreement’s initiatives “came to a crashing end when the Harper Government was elected and did not participate.”

“A well thought-out strategy to provide supportive housing, mental health and addiction treatments city-wide, to provide harm reduction services city-wide, never really actualized,” said MacPherson.

Today, the concentration of homeless people on the streets and in Oppenheimer Park’s tent city shows the problems the Vancouver Agreement intended to fix are far from solved.

 Retired politician Libby Davies, a former city councillor and NDP member of Parliament for Vancouver East who was the federal housing critic, has seen a lot of housing ideas come and go.

 “If you can’t have a sustainable program — and that’s critical for housing —  and if you don’t have the partnership of the federal government … it creates a dire, serious situation.”

Protesters at the intersection of Main and Hastings Street calling for affordable housing in August 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

After the Vancouver Agreement, Davies said the federal government was notably absent from housing initiatives. 

“We had this huge gap where nothing was happening, because the federal government had opted out of and completely abandoned building new social housing,” said Davies. “We’re still recovering from that.”

In 2017, the federal government announced a 10-year multibillion-dollar national housing strategy. Davies hopes it is more than lip service.

“Big announcements are one thing, but getting the money, shovels in the ground … this is what’s urgently needed right now,” said Davies.

A police car cruises an alley on the Downtown Eastside. (Rafferty Baker/CBC News)

Dr. John Miller, former B.C. provincial health officer, said modular housing is one step in helping the homeless and precariously housed, but without “wrap-around’ support services for mental health and addiction, chaos will continue.

He said when Riverview Hospital closed in the 1970s many patients from the  mental health facility gravitated to the DTES and policymakers planned to put mental health services in the community.

“The second step never happened and still hasn’t happened,” said Miller. “Mental health services, addiction services, physical disability services, all of these things need to be there, and we haven’t really put them in place thoroughly yet.”

MacPherson, author of the city’s Four Pillars Drug Strategy, which is based on the principals of harm reduction, prevention, treatment and enforcement, said the strategy was “never really implemented” and addicts are not getting the help they need.

“We keep propping up this failed drug policy that we have in Canada that continues to criminalize vulnerable people, push them into the shadows and make them the target of the problem,” said MacPherson.

The Vancouver Agreement signed in 2000 by all three levels of government was a 10-year plan to improve housing and social welfare on the Downtown Eastside that the city’s then drug policy co-ordinator says never really materialized. (Rafferty Baker/CBC News)

16Aug

‘That’ll teach me to lock my doors now’: Video shows B.C. bear easily opening car door | CBC News

by admin

When a Vancouver woman discovered the doors of her car had been opened, she thought someone had broken in — until she saw a giant paw print on the seat.

After seeing security camera footage, Terry McPhail later found out that print belonged to a black bear.

“There was slobber on both handles and a little bit inside,” McPhail said. 

She had been house-sitting in the village of Anmore, near Port Moody, B.C., and had parked her car in the driveway of the remote private property.

She said when the dog she was watching for the owners of the house started barking, she wasn’t too surprised as bears are common in the Anmore area.

She found evidence of the intruder when she returned to her car later that day.

Four days later, when the property’s owners returned, McPhail was able to go through the security footage and confirmed the culprit was a bear:

The bear appeared to have no problem standing up and opening the car doors, she said.

“‘That is not the first time this bear has opened a car door,’ is what went though my mind. And the second thing that went through my mind was: ‘That’ll teach me to lock my doors now,'” she said. 

After viewing the footage, McPhail realized she had missed the bear by minutes after the dog barked enough to send her looking outside. 

“It took [the bear] one minute and 38 seconds to get in the one side and get fully inside and have a look around. And then less than a minute to open the other door, look in and then wander off,” she said.

McPhail says there was no food in the car. 

Apart from the slobber, the bear left the car in its original condition, she said.

14Aug

Huge demand spurs Victoria book store to move to larger location | CBC News

by admin

In a world of tablets and smartphones, it’s hard to imagine a book store doing so well it needs to be relocated to a larger venue.

But that’s what’s happening at Russell Books in downtown Victoria, where demand has prompted a move to bigger digs across Fort Street.

The new location will increase the store’s floorspace by about a third, and will greatly improve accessibility thanks to an escalator and elevator.

Now, co-owner Andrea Minter and her staff are in the process of moving three floors of books — most of them stacked from hardwood to ceiling — to their new home.

“You can never replace a book,” says Minter, describing their appeal as she packs up another box of heavy tomes.

“People enjoy picking up a book. The feel of it, the smell of it.”

Minter, who owns and operates Russell Books with her husband and her brother, says much of the store’s success is thanks to its strong local customer base and its recognition as a tourism hotspot.

‘We specialize in everything,’ says co-owner Andrea Minter about the selection at Russell Books. (Andrea Minter)

“It helps selling a product you believe in, as well,” added Minter. “We take great pride in having a large collection of everything. We specialize in everything.”

Having a large selection of books available for sale is something Minter’s family has taken seriously for generations. In the early 1960s her grandfather, Reginald Russell, opened the first Russell Books in Montreal.

Reginald Russell was a banker with a love for reading who collected many books. He decided to sell his collection to the public and ran the shop with his mother. Decades later, he convinced his daughter, Diana Depol, to open a second Victoria location in 1991.

Depol and her husband ran the Victoria store for many years before handing the business over to Minter, their daughter.

Now another chapter of Russell’s history is about to begin with the move to larger digs.

As she helps pack up thousands of books, Minter is glad the move is just across the street.

“Books are heavy,” she said, smiling.

With files from All Points West

This website uses cookies and asks your personal data to enhance your browsing experience.