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Category "Social Development and Poverty Reduction"

27Jun

Supporting successful lives through independent communication

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Adults with severe communication disabilities will be supported in living with independence and as full participants in their communities through $9.3 million for augmentative communication technology and professional support.

The Province will provide the funding over three years to Communication Assistance for Youth and Adults (CAYA) to update aging equipment and client systems, and to continue helping people with severe communication disabilities.

“Speaking aids help people with communication disabilities to overcome barriers to full participation in their communities,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This funding supports CAYA’s important role in providing services and technologies that help hundreds of British Columbians to communicate and participate equally in all aspects of their own lives.”

CAYA gives a voice to people through a provincewide program that supports adults aged 19 years and older who require an augmentative alternative communication system due to speech that is not functional for daily communication. Over the past three years, CAYA has provided new or replacement communications technology to about 820 clients annually.

“This new funding ensures that adults in B.C. living with communication disabilities, as a result of conditions ranging from autism to ALS, will continue to have the supports and technology to communicate independently with their families, co-workers, friends and neighbours,” said Jeff Riley, program manager, CAYA.

“Communication assistance is more than just handing out devices,” said Glenda Hyatt Watson, a CAYA client. “It is also equipping people with specialized strategies and supports to deal with challenging situations, such as when you find yourself in a serious health-care situation without access to your communication system.”

The funding was announced at a CAYA demonstration and information session for alternative and augmentative communication technology, highlighting B.C.’s diversity and the importance of accessibility for everyone in the province.

Learn More:

B.C. government accessibility: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility

Communication Assistance for Youth and Adults (CAYA): https://cayabc.org/

CAYA client stories: https://www.cayabc.org/client-stories/


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26Jun

Fire mitigation project extended to help more people

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Vulnerable homeowners in areas threatened by wildfire can access free FireSmart advice and support from a government-funded job creation project supported by the United Way. 

Sixteen people will work over the summer to help seniors and persons with disabilities become FireSmart by preparing and protecting their homes from the threat of wildfires in the communities of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Clinton and Quesnel. This includes educating people about how to make their homes and property safer and removing vegetation that can fuel a wildfire.

To promote safety for people and communities, homeowners will also receive fire prevention materials and a resource list for assistance and support. The project, originally scheduled to end in April 2019, has been extended by four months to meet community need and to provide more job seekers with more opportunities.

“Connecting people with new skills and opportunities is part of our government’s focus on creating good jobs,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Community-driven projects like this one benefit participants, communities and the labour market, while creating a safer environment.”

The project provides extensive training in the formal FireSmart assessment process. The Thompson Nicola Cariboo United Way offers this service for free so people in wildfire-prone parts of the province have help protecting their home from potential fire threats. The crews also remove possible dangers, known as fire fuels, such as bushes, small trees or other organic matter, and provide information on how homeowners can further protect their property.

“There is a high demand for skilled workers to provide advice, support and labour in helping prevent the devastating loss of homes during the wildfire season,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “Training local people in fire mitigation will help meet the need for skilled workers in this and related fields.”

The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction provided $729,498 through the Jobs Creation Program stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP funds projects that increase employability levels and share labour market information.  

“In being able to provide FireSmart activities at no charge to vulnerable people in communities impacted by wildfires, those homeowners feel better prepared and less stressed,” said Monica Johnson, fire mitigation project manager, United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo. “The training and experience we provide to the participants are relevant and definitely increases their employability. We’ve had several participants exit the program because they’ve gotten jobs.”

Quotes:

Clayton Flanders, participant, 100 Mile House Fire Mitigation Job Creation Program –

“This program brings quality changes to both your personal and your professional lives. Not only does it provide important courses needed by future employers, what you learn in the fire mitigation training provides greater safety not only for your own home and neighbourhood but your local community. Thank you for the opportunity to make a big difference not only in my life, but for the others who now feel safer in their own homes.”

Ken Wiebe, homeowner, 108 Mile House –

“We were evacuated 15 days in the 2017 fires. There are people out here who would be absolutely helpless if that happens again. The work is very necessary.”

Florence and Morris Gran, homeowners, Quesnel –

“We are two senior citizens who qualified for the fire mitigation program. Al and his crew of three came to our ranch yesterday and today. They cut limbs, cut junipers, raked and worked steadily. He did not just supervise but worked hard alongside the young men working with him. And we are so grateful. This program is a real asset for seniors.”

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately $15 million will be invested in CEP projects throughout B.C. in 2019-20.
  • Job Creation Partnerships are one of five Community Employer Partnership programs available throughout the province.
  • To date, since the start of the project in August 2018, 22 people have received training and work experience.
  • Project participants have completed 264 FireSmart assessments and 220 mitigations. The goal is to complete 100 more. 

Learn More:

Learn about how Community Employer Partnerships are helping local communities:  www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Learn more about Job Creation Partnerships: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships/Job-Creation-Partnerships.aspx

Find out more about Thompson Nicola Cariboo United Way: https://www.unitedwaytnc.ca/

Learn more about FireSmart: https://www.firesmartbc.ca


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17Jun

Policy changes help break the cycle of poverty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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11Jun

People facing homelessness to get local support from grants

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People facing homelessness will receive help through grants that support strong, sustainable planning for local groups and organizations working on the front lines in British Columbia communities.

The Province is granting $6 million to the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) for a Homelessness Community Action Grant to help groups address homelessness in their towns and cities. The grants will also support organizations with a provincewide focus to explore better ways of meeting the needs of particular groups of people that have a higher risk of experiencing homelessness.

“Preventing homelessness is a critical part of TogetherBC: BC’s Poverty Reduction Strategy,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Through these grants, we will build partnerships with local organizations and help people facing homelessness to prevent it from happening in the first place.”

SPARC BC will distribute the Homelessness Community Action Grants to groups and organizations over the next three years as a one-time grant to successful applicants. The chosen projects will build on local resources and knowledge about homelessness and its causes, increase public awareness and support, and respond to gaps in services for people experiencing homelessness. 

“Local organizations and non-profits are at the front lines of the homelessness crisis, and they have been doing great work creating partnerships to address homelessness at a local level,” said Lorraine Copas, executive director, SPARC BC. “This grant will support the sustainability of the work as they continue to make positive change.”

Through the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, the Province is investing $291 million to build 2,000 homes throughout B.C. and providing annual operating funding to provide 24/7 staffing and support services. Nearly 1,400 of the homes are complete.

“Homelessness touches virtually every corner of our province and affects at least 8,000 individuals on any given night of the year,” said Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association. “Combined with the historic investments in affordable housing now rolling out and a rapid response to homelessness through new supportive housing, this additional $6-million investment has the potential to help communities co-ordinate their supports for people experiencing homelessness.” 

TogetherBC, the province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in early 2019 and included a newly created Homelessness Coordination Office that will work with partners across government and in the community to deliver a co-ordinated and proactive response to homelessness.

“Homelessness is a complex issue that requires many solutions. The issues people face are different across communities and demographics,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction. “We can only prevent homelessness by working together. This grant supports communities and organizations on the ground who are dedicated to finding local solutions to preventing poverty.”

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

Quick Facts:

  • The Homelessness Action Grant application form will soon be available on the SPARC BC website.
  • TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in March 2019 as a roadmap to reduce overall poverty by 25% and cut child poverty in half over five years.
  • Through the Building BC program, the Province works in partnership to build homes for people individuals and families, seniors, students, women and children leaving violence, Indigenous peoples and people experiencing homelessness.
  • More than 20,000 new homes are completed, under construction or in the approvals process in communities throughout B.C. as part of a $7-billion investment over 10 years in housing affordability.

Learn More:

Find out more about SPARC BC: https://www.sparc.bc.ca/

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy:
ttps://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/poverty-reduction-strategy/togetherbc.pdf

Homes for B.C., a 30-point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia:
https://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_homes_for_bc.pdf

Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program:
https://www.bchousing.org/partner-services/Building-BC/rapid-response-homelessness

A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online:
https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC


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10Jun

Renters facing eviction get support through rent bank funding to Vancity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quotes:

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

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

Allison Felker, interim executive director, VCF —

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

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

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

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

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

Learn More:

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

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

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


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6Jun

TELUS grows Internet and Mobility for Good programs to support 25,000 more British Columbian families and youth

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More low-income British Columbian families will now have access to low-cost high-speed Internet, and more youth leaving foster care can now stay connected to their vital support networks through the expansion of TELUS Internet for GoodTM and TELUS Mobility for GoodTM, in partnership with the Provincial Government and Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.

“Across our province, there are countless families and children in need of support. Through programs like these, and in collaboration with the Provincial Government and Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada (CAFC), we are changing these realities to ensure that more British Columbians are connected to the tools, people and resources they need to be successful,” said Darren Entwistle, President and CEO of TELUS. “To date, we have offered thousands of families across British Columbia access to low-cost, high speed Internet through TELUS Internet for Good, and today we are proud to expand this program to more families receiving income and disability assistance through the Province, ensuring more kids have access to the Internet at home and to the same digital opportunities as their classmates.”

TELUS Internet for Good offers low cost, high-speed Internet to families with children currently receiving income or disability assistance from the provincial government. Eligible families will receive a letter from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction with a unique PIN code, enabling them to activate TELUS’ offer of Internet 25 for $9.95 per month for two years. The program also includes access to a low-cost refurbished computers, and online safety training.

“Many people can’t afford the basic technologies we often take for granted, like Internet access. We know that children who live in homes without Internet access have a lower graduation rate,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Through TogetherBC, BC’s Poverty Reduction Plan, our government is working in partnership with companies like TELUS to help people access technology so that they have the tools they need to be successful and participate in their community. Partnerships like this one are an important way to reduce poverty and connect people with opportunities.”

“We are also expanding Mobility for Good, which began in partnership with the provincial government to provide kids aging out of foster care a free smartphone and plan,” continued Entwistle. “Now, in partnership with CAFC, we are extending this vital lifeline to more than 9,300 youth in British Columbia, better preparing them to begin their independent lives feeling safer, more connected and better prepared for a successful transition to independence. Together, by leveraging technology, social innovation and human compassion, we are making a meaningful difference in the lives of underserved and vulnerable citizens across the province.”

TELUS Mobility for Good first launched in British Columbia in 2017 in partnership with the Provincial Government, followed by Ontario and Quebec in partnership with CAFC. Today, TELUS and CAFC also announced they are expanding this program to Manitoba and New Brunswick. With this expansion,TELUS and CAFC can provide 20,000 youth transitioning from care with the opportunity to access a smartphone and two-year TELUS mobile plan at $0 per month, including unlimited nationwide talk and text and up to 3GB of monthly data usage. While TELUS is providing the service to youth for free, the bills will appear in the youth’s name to help them build positive credit and gain the skills required to manage their finances in the future. At the end of the two-years, they will have access to a low-cost $35 per month plan for an unlimited duration. This program is administered by Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, the country’s leading charity dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth growing up in the child welfare system.

“With the touch of a screen, smartphones can connect you to a whole world of possibilities,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “We want youth aging out of government care to share in those opportunities. It’s why we have programs and partnerships like this to give them the tools they need to find a job, home or college, stay connected to their friends and support networks and succeed as independent adults.” 

“Without the support of permanent families, youth transitioning out of care are often ill-equipped for life on their own and a smartphone is critical to helping them stay connected and achieving independence,” says Valerie McMurtry, President and CEO, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada. “Working together with TELUS, we will be able to reach more vulnerable young people in British Columbia and meet an urgent need that enables youth to search for somewhere to live, look for job opportunities and stay in touch with friends and vital support networks.”

For more information on the TELUS Mobility for Good Program or to apply, please visit: www.cafdn.org/for-youth/telus-mobility-good/. For more information on TELUS Internet for Good and other giving initiatives, please visit telus.com/community.

About TELUS

TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies, with $14.5 billion of annual revenue and 14.0 million subscriber connections, including 9.7 million wireless subscribers, 1.9 million Internet subscribers, 1.2 million residential voice and 1.1 million TELUS TV customers. TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services, including wireless, data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, television, entertainment, video and home and business security. TELUS is also Canada’s largest healthcare IT provider, and TELUS International delivers business process solutions around the globe.

In support of our philosophy to give where we live, TELUS, our team members and retirees have contributed over $690 million to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and volunteered more than 1.3 million days of service to local communities since 2000. Created in 2005 by President and CEO Darren Entwistle, TELUS’ 13 Canadian community boards and five International boards have led the Company’s support of grassroots charities and have contributed $72 million in support of 7,000 local charitable projects, enriching the lives of more than 2 million children and youth, annually. TELUS was honoured to be named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation globally for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, becoming the first Canadian company to receive this prestigious international recognition. For more information about

TELUS, please visit telus.com


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6Jun

Building a dragon boat gives job seekers new carpentry skills

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Fifteen job seekers have gained new boat-building and carpentry skills through a work experience project focused on this year’s Dragon Boat BC Festival in Vancouver.

The province provided $288,643 to Dragon Boat BC to create a dragon boat building program that helped unemployed and at-risk people develop marketable skills in boat building, finishing carpentry and painting. The group created a full-scale dragon boat prototype and a fully finished boat that will compete in the 2019 Concord Pacific Dragon Boat BC Festival from June 21-23, 2019.

“This program brings together skilled workers and people experiencing unemployment looking to add new skills to their resume,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Dragon Boat BC recognized an opportunity to help people gain work experience and expand community sport participation. It’s these innovative partnerships and a community commitment that help create more opportunities for people in our province.”

Both groups worked closely with a project team led by an aerospace engineer, project manager, professional shipwright, multi-generation canoe carver and paddlers. The teams used high-tech and modern aerospace materials to develop a new high-quality, lightweight and B.C.-built design.

“All of the program participants showed drive and determination,” said Ann Phelps, executive director of Dragon Boat BC. “It isn’t an easy thing to learn a new skill, and everyone who helped us build this boat worked hard to gain transferable experience that will support them in their employment path. The funding gave us the opportunity to introduce people to new skills and a new sport, and build something we can share with the community.”

The boats will be used to support community paddling programs in B.C. to give more people an opportunity to try the sport and become part of a growing community of paddlers.

“I knew that this program would help me build a stronger resume, but I didn’t realize just how much it would change my life,” said Angela Gleeson, program participant. “My time here has grown into a full-time position with Dragon Boat BC and I can say first-hand that other participants, and now friends, have gone on to work in jobs because of the life skills and resume-building work that we accomplished together here.”

Funding for this and other projects is provided through WorkBC’s Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP aims to increase employment opportunities for unemployed British Columbians through partnerships, research and innovative job creation projects.

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately $15 million will be invested in CEP projects throughout B.C. in 2019-20.
  • Since the program began in 2012, more than 381 CEP projects have helped local communities, employers and people looking for work.
  • Job creation partnerships are one of five CEP streams available throughout the province.

Learn More:

Learn about how Community and Employer Partnerships are helping local communities:  www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Job creation partnerships: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships/Job-Creation-Partnerships.aspx

Dragon Boat BC: https://dragonboatbc.ca/

2019 Concord Pacific Dragon Boat BC Festival: https://concorddragonboatfestival.ca/


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6Jun

Food security centre creates stronger food economy in Victoria

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Healthy, fresh and sustainable food options are now on the table for more than 35,000 people facing food insecurity in the Greater Victoria area.

With support from the Province, the Mustard Seed has secured a permanent home for its Food Security Distribution Centre.

The Mustard Seed has purchased the centre at 102-808 Viewfield Rd. with the help of $2 million in provincial funding provided through the Victoria Foundation. The building is home to a growing system of food security programs, food literacy initiatives and other community social supports. It is also the central collection point for the Food Share Network, a collaboration of more than 50 organizations including non-profits, First Nations, school districts and other community agencies that operate food security programs in the area.

“Our goal as a government is to make lives better for people in our province and the best way to achieve this goal is to work together,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The collaboration and partnership of different organizations is filling gaps in affordability and opportunity so that people and their families can live healthier, fuller lives.”

More than 1,815 kilograms (4,000 pounds) of fresh food from grocery stores pass through the centre each day. This food is redistributed to Food Share Network partner programs across the region.

“When we waste food, we waste all of the additional resources it takes to get it to our tables,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “The partners in the Food Share Network have collaborated to create an innovative solution that keeps food on the plates of people who need it most. It’s about working together to tap into the large number of food resources in our region and create a sustainable food economy that works together to support everyone who lives here.”

The Mustard Seed and the Victoria Foundation have plans for the building and intend to explore new opportunities beyond the traditional food bank model. They will work with organizations and individuals through a community consultation process to determine the best way the distribution centre can continue to support food-insecure families and the local food economy.

“The Mustard Seed is a well-known food bank in the community, but we have big goals for the distribution centre that go beyond the traditional food bank model,” said Derek Pace, executive director, Mustard Seed Street Church. “We’re working closely with other organizations to make the distribution centre an integral part of a sweeping network of services that provide fresh, healthy produce to families and connect them with programs that support opportunities in food literacy, education, employment and more.”

The funding is part of a $3-million grant from the Province to support the Victoria Foundation’s new Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund. The fund will expand food security programs and initiatives in communities throughout British Columbia. More details of the consultation process for the distribution of funds will be available in a short time.

“The Food Share Network is an innovative collaboration of organizations that work closely with their communities and understand where their programs fit in the larger picture of regional food security,” said Sandra Richardson, CEO, Victoria Foundation. “Local organizations know the unique needs of the people they support. Our Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund will use the great work being done here in Victoria as a guide when we work with provincial and local organizations in other communities in B.C., to build on the work already being done throughout the province.”

The grant aligns with TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, which works across governments, non-profit organizations, businesses, First Nations leaders and Indigenous communities to reduce poverty in B.C.

Quotes:

Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin —

“I’m proud of the great work that is being done right here in Esquimalt. Now that the distribution centre is a permanent fixture in the community, I look forward to watching it support a growing network of services that put food on the plates of people who need it. This community and the partners in the Food Share Network clearly recognize the change that can happen when we all work together.”

Peggy Wilmot, food bank co-ordinator, The Food Bank at St. John’s and Greater Victoria Acting Together —

“Both the Food Security Distribution Centre and the Food Rescue Project are the result of ongoing collaboration among the many organizations delivering the services of the Food Share Network. Every bit as important are those supporting the work, like services clubs, grocery stores, farmers, funders and various levels of government. The great success of the Food Share Network shows the power of community coming together across sectors to make us better equipped to support our neighbours and tackle our common challenges of poverty and food insecurity.”

Matthew Kemshaw, executive director, LifeCycles Project Society and chair, Food Share Network —

“Food insecurity is a regional challenge that affects a broad range of people. More than 50 agencies are participating in the Food Share Network and are distributing fresh healthy food throughout the region, so the people that you are helping are your neighbours. We believe that by working together, as a community, we can ensure everyone has dignified access to healthy, delicious food.”

Steve Walker Duncan, program chair, culinary training, Camosun College —

“Now that the Food Security Distribution Centre is a permanent hub for food security in the community, Camosun College and the Mustard Seed are working together to create a culinary employment program that will support people with barriers to employment train and find work in the culinary field. The program will create opportunities for people looking for employment in a culinary industry that is constantly looking for new staff.”

Quick Facts:

  • The distribution centre has been leased by the Mustard Seed Street Church for the Food Rescue Project since 2017.
  • The goal of the centre is to provide additional regional infrastructure, such as food processing, cold and dry storage and social enterprise incubation, all for the local food economy.
  • Each year, the distribution centre distributes roughly 545,000 kilograms (1.2 million pounds) of food throughout Greater Victoria.
  • Over half a million British Columbians experience some level of household food insecurity.

Learn More:

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/poverty-reduction-strategy/togetherbc.pdf

The Victoria Foundation’s food security initiatives:
https://victoriafoundation.bc.ca/food-rescue-project/

The Mustard Seed Street Church’s Food Rescue Project:
http://mustardseed.ca/food-rescue/


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27May

Provincial funding embraces accessibility and inclusion

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People with disabilities will be supported in living with independence and as full participants in their communities, through $500,000 for community projects that improve accessibility.

“Every day, people with disabilities overcome barriers that could otherwise impact their lives,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Organizations across B.C. are working to embrace diversity, create equal opportunities and improve social inclusion. This funding will support them in that important work and contribute to the Province’s commitment to building a better B.C. for people with disabilities.”

The funding announcement launches B.C.’s second annual AccessAbility Week, May 26 to June 1, 2019.  AccessAbility Week promotes and celebrates diversity and inclusion, and recognizes the importance of accessibility.

The funds will be distributed through grants administered by Disability Alliance BC (DABC). A call for proposals will be posted on the DABC website in summer 2019, and grants will be awarded by the end of the year.

“Disability Alliance BC is honoured to have the opportunity to once again support projects that promote greater accessibility and inclusivity for people with disabilities in B.C. communities,” said Justina Loh, executive director, Disability Alliance BC. “With funding from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, we will help enrich and improve the lives of all people with disabilities. We are grateful to government for providing the funds and the opportunity to see more amazing projects come to life.”

During AccessAbility Week, communities throughout the province will host events and supporting activities that promote inclusion and accessibility. The celebrations are supported by $10,000 in provincial funding to the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC BC). AccessAbility Week 2019 will wrap up on June 1, Access Awareness Day.

Quick Facts:

  • This is the second year that these grants are being made available. Last year, 16 community projects received funding for projects that will be completed by the end of this year.
  • In B.C., more than 900,000 people aged 15 years and older, or 24.7% of the population, self-identify as having a disability.
  • One in five Canadian adults has a disability.
  • The provincial government provides up to $5 billion annually to fund services and supports for people with disabilities in B.C.

Learn More:

B.C. government accessibility initiatives: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility

View the 2018 AccessAbility Projects: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018SDPR0056-002319

Disability Alliance BC: www.disabilityalliancebc.org

SPARC Access Awareness Day: www.sparc.bc.ca/accessibility/

View the AccessAbility Week Proclamation: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/AccessAbility_Week_2019.pdf


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30Apr

New funding will support food security programs throughout B.C.

by admin

With a $3-million grant from the B.C. government, the Victoria Foundation will improve access to fresh, nutritious, affordable food for thousands of people who regularly experience food insecurity.

“Connecting more people to healthy food will make a huge difference in the lives of so many families,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This is a perfect example of how we can all work together to reduce poverty and make life better for British Columbians.”

From the $3-million provincial contribution:

  • Up to $2 million will be used to help purchase the Mustard Seed’s Food Security Distribution Centre, which is a hub to redistribute food across south Vancouver Island and home to the region’s Food Rescue Project. The building has been leased since 2017, and the purchase will provide long-term stability for the program.
  • The remaining funding will be used to offer grants to organizations in B.C. for food security projects that can help low-income individuals and families.

“The Victoria Foundation and Mustard Seed are partners in a far-reaching network of businesses, non-profits and community volunteers working together to tackle food insecurity in a sustainable way,” said Simpson. “Our government is proud to support these efforts and help them grow to reach every person who needs support.”

Food insecurity occurs when people do not have reliable and regular access to quality, healthy, culturally appropriate, affordable food. It affects the health of approximately 50,000 people in the capital region and around half a million people provincewide.

Through the new Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund, the Victoria Foundation will work with local non-profits throughout B.C. to identify community-specific needs and create food security projects that support health and wellness. More details on the fund will be available in late June 2019.

“Food security is central to the well-being of people, which makes it a priority for our region and the Province,” said Sandra Richardson, CEO, Victoria Foundation. “The new Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund will help us build and support other programs like the Food Rescue Project, because better food creates healthier individuals, families and communities.”

The Food Rescue Project operates in collaboration with more than 50 member organizations of the Food Share Network, an informal group of local non-profits, First Nations, school districts and organizations working toward a food-secure region. The Mustard Seed recovers about 1,815 kilograms (4,000 pounds) of fresh food daily from local grocery stores and redistributes it to network members, who in turn help feed 35,000 food insecure people in the capital region annually. The centre is the key piece in a food distribution network that decreases food insecurity and connects people with social service programs.

“The distribution centre will secure a permanent location for a food hub for the capital region,” said Derek Pace, executive director, Mustard Seed Street Church. “Purchasing the building gives us the stability we need to continue growing the network of donors who provide food each week and to continue to support and participate in the Food Share Network made up of those groups who distribute food to people in their communities. In addition to helping ensure that the Food Rescue Project remains sustainable, the centre will enable the community’s larger vision for food security, growing programs in food literacy, employment, environmental sustainability and the local food systems.”

The Victoria Foundation is actively working to find other donors to support the Mustard Seed’s purchase of the Food Security Distribution Centre and the Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund. Vancity has already committed $200,000 to support the purchase.

Learn More:

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

The Victoria Foundation’s food security initiatives:
https://victoriafoundation.bc.ca/food-rescue-project/

The Mustard Seed Street Church’s Food Rescue Project:
http://mustardseed.ca/food-rescue/

A backgrounder follows.


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