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Posts Tagged "creates"

10Jul

Project breaks barriers, creates access to affordable menstrual products

by admin

People will soon have easier, more affordable access to menstrual products with the launch of the United Way Period Promise research project.

Through a $95,000 B.C. government grant, the project will distribute menstrual products to 12 non-profit agencies that serve vulnerable populations throughout the province. The agencies will make them easily accessible to clients from July 2019 to July 2020.

The project will collect quarterly data on the number of people served and products used, how the lack of access to menstrual products because of financial limitations, known as “period poverty,” affects people’s lives and how addressing the issue can benefit communities.

“Period poverty creates barriers and stigma, and leaves people isolated,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The United Way’s project will use the knowledge and experience of local organizations already working closely with vulnerable people. This research will help us better understand how we can create solutions that will make a difference.”

Always and Tampax have partnered with the United Way to provide menstrual products at a significantly reduced rate, allowing the United Way to increase the amount of participating non-profit agencies. The increase will broaden the project’s reach and help the United Way create a more robust research report to assist in addressing period poverty in British Columbia. The report will be presented to government in December 2020.

The grant is part of a larger shift in government toward better supports and services for the people who need them most. It also aligns with TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, with guiding principles of affordability, opportunity, reconciliation and social inclusion. This project demonstrates how government, the non-profit sector and the business sector can work together to find local solutions to complex poverty issues.

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

Quotes:

Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity —

“Having a period is a part of life for more than half our population, and not being able to afford basic hygiene products can be devastating. Tackling period poverty closes the gap on gender inequality. By providing affordable menstrual products, those who menstruate will have the freedom to participate fully in life’s activities.”

Michael McKnight, president and CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland —

“United Way is all about making our communities more accessible for everybody, and we’re excited to work with the provincial government, community agencies and sponsors to help solve such a personal challenge that so many people face. The Period Promise research project is just one more way that we are working with a variety of partners to make where we live healthy, caring and inclusive.”

Nikki Hill, co-chair, Period Promise campaign —

“The simple truth is that people who can’t afford menstrual products are often going to community agencies to find them, and sometimes they just aren’t available. The government’s commitment to work with the United Way Period Promise campaign shows that they get it, and that they are looking for solutions that will make access to tampons and pads easier for everybody who needs them. Their leadership should be applauded.”

Sussanne Skidmore, co-chair, Period Promise campaign and secretary-treasurer, BC Federation of Labour —

“For the BC Federation of Labour and the labour movement, working with the United Way on Period Promise has just been an extension of the work we do to make our province better. Period Promise is only enhancing our commitment to helping vulnerable people live and work with dignity across B.C., and we’re proud to be involved.”

Barbara Wood, board president, Kiwassa Neighbourhood House —

“This initiative and the Period Promise campaign help reduce menstruation stigma and contribute toward greater equality for women, trans and non-binary people. We hope that facilitating access to free menstruation products will reduce barriers faced by community members needing to access support and live with dignity. Thanks to the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and the United Way of the Lower Mainland for leadership. Kiwassa is proud to be a part of this important initiative and sharing our learning on its impact.”

Learn More:

Find out more about the United Way Period Promise campaign: https://www.periodpromise.ca/  

Read TogetherBC: B.C.’s Poverty Reduction Strategy: https://www.gov.bc.ca/TogetherBC

To read more about other poverty reduction grants this year, visit:


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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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26May

Mom creates program for supportive housing tenants after son’s death

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After Christine Harris’s son died slowly and alone in a Vancouver supportive housing unit, she vowed to do everything possible to ensure no other parent would have to share her pain.

She last spoke to her son, Lindsey Longe, on July 12, 2012. The 30-year-old was last seen alive by a friend on July 15, 2012. He died the next day of blood poisoning in his room at Pacific Coast Apartments. The use of illicit drugs contributed to his death, according to a coroner’s report.

Longe’s body wasn’t discovered until three days after he died, after days of Harris calling and pleading with Coast Mental Health staff to check on him, Harris said.

In recent years, Harris, an Alberta social worker, has been developing “Got Your Back For Life,” a volunteer program that pairs people living in supportive housing with a “most-trusted person” who agrees to check on them regularly.

The program is halfway through a one-year pilot at PHS Community Services Society’s Margaret Mitchell Place. About 20 residents of the 52-unit temporary modular housing complex near Olympic Village Station signed an agreement with a trusted person who might be a friend, neighbour, family member or staff member.

Together, they decide how often they’ll do health and wellness checks — it might be every day or once per week — and sign contracts with some personal information and ID photos. The trusted person can then go to building staff at the agreed-upon time, or any time they have a reason to be concerned, and ask them to check on their partner.

Harris said the program came out of discussions with supportive housing residents during an event she holds each summer in her son’s memory. She pitched the cost-free program to PHS in July 2018 and by November the trial was underway.

She praised PHS for already doing 24-hour checks at its supportive housing units but said she hopes the program helps push other housing operators to do better, too.

“(PHS is) doing it to give their tenants an extra layer of protection,” she said. “I think it’s amazing.”

Amid the overdose crisis, B.C. Housing updated contracts with supportive housing sites to require them to conduct health and wellness checks at least every 48 hours, and more frequently when deemed necessary.

But Harris believes 48 hours is inadequate. She keeps an eye on coroner reports, which recently indicated that in Vancouver 48 per cent of the people who died of an illicit-drug overdose since 2017 were in “other residences” such as social and supportive housing, SROs, shelters and hotels.

“I don’t believe that we, as a society, have done enough,” Harris said. “We need to give people the power to look after each other and this community. These people care about each other.”


Lindsey Longe, pictured here with his mother Christine Harris, was 30 when he died in supportive housing in 2012 in Vancouver.

Submitted: Christine Harris /

Vancouver

Margaret Mitchell Place resident Chris Middleton said he has a strong network of friends, family and staff who check on his well-being often, but knowing Got Your Back For Life has a “most-trusted person” regularly checking on him, too, puts his mind at ease.

“I have someone else looking out for me,” he said. “A lot of people don’t. They grow up in these buildings and they have no one that is willing to go ‘Hey, how are you?’”

Middleton believes the program is particularly good for people who might not leave their room too often, such as those who are elderly or disabled.

“It should be status quo,” he said. “Everybody would have their buddy that would check in on how they’re doing.”

The program also helps build community. When it came to Margaret Mitchell Place, it brought people together right away, said building manager Byron Slack.

“A lot of people knew each other in the building but hadn’t really congregated in the common spaces,” he said. “It was one of the first programs we brought into the building and it’s a way of empowering neighbours to be able to check up on their friends.”

Slack said staff check on residents on behalf of their loved ones whether or not they are in the program, but said the contract made between its participants, in honour of Longe, is especially meaningful.

“It’s been a really positive thing,” he said.

The program appealed to PHS because it was peer-driven and came at the height of the “prohibition crisis” behind B.C. overdose deaths, said Duncan Higgon, senior manager of housing.

It works as an overdose intervention tool, he said. For example, if partners score drugs from the same dealer, one might go back to their room, take them and come close to an overdose. With their Got Your Back For Life commitment in mind, they might be compelled to make sure their partner with potent drugs is OK.

Staff have embraced the program and it has the added benefit of engaging tenants in peer-to-peer work, Higgon said. Sometimes, tenants don’t like to ask staff for help, so an arrangement with a peer is more appealing.

“For us, that is very meaningful,” he said. “When we were presented with those opportunities, it was really exciting to trial.”

Higgon said PHS is developing trials at three other PHS modular-housing buildings. But there is potential for it to run at all 1,500 units of PHS housing. He would like to see it used to help homeless people, too.

“I really do see it as a uniquely beautiful, supportive and useful tool across a whole spectrum,” he said.

Harris believes that if just one life is saved by Got Your Back For Life, her program has done what it was designed to do.

“Lindsey, in the last while of his life, when he started hoarding, became very isolated,” she said.

“He was living in shame. To have had something that could have connected him with someone a little more tightly would have helped in many ways.”

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19Feb

Budget 2019 creates opportunities, makes life better for people

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Making Life Better

British Columbia is an economic leader in Canada. Private-sector forecasters expect B.C. to have the highest rate of gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Canada in 2019 and 2020, and B.C. has had the lowest unemployment rate in Canada for over 17 months.

B.C.’s economic success should benefit the people who make the economy work, which is why the B.C. government is choosing to invest in people, while balancing the budget. By ensuring that everyone has a chance to succeed, government is supporting a strong, sustainable economy for today and into the future.

Strong, Stable Economic Growth

The Budget 2019 forecast for B.C. real GDP growth has increased from 1.8% to 2.4% in 2019 and from 2.0% to 2.3% in 2020, compared to the First Quarterly Report 2018, with growth rates of 2.1% expected in 2021 and 2.0% in both 2022 and 2023. These changes partly reflect recent developments regarding the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement and the final investment decision on the LNG Canada project, the single largest private sector investment in Canadian history.

This, along with other factors, resulted in the Economic Forecast Council (EFC) substantially upgrading its projections for B.C.’s economic performance in both 2019 and 2020. An average of six private-sector forecasters (a subset of the EFC) expect B.C.’s economic growth to rank at the top of provincial standings.

The main upside risks to the economic outlook include less domestic monetary policy tightening, a weaker Canadian dollar and a more resilient U.S. economy. The main downside risks include uncertainty regarding global trade policy, fiscal sustainability at ICBC and BC Hydro, weakening global economic activity, lower commodity prices, as well as ongoing economic challenges in Asia and the euro zone. To manage these risks, the Budget 2019 economic forecast is prudent compared to the Economic Forecast Council’s outlook.

Budget Outlook

Budget 2019 projects surpluses of:

  • $274 million in 2019-20
  • $287 million in 2020-21
  • $585 million in 2021-22

The B.C. government has included several layers of prudence in the fiscal plan to help account for lower than expected revenues, unforeseen expenses or emergencies. Budget 2019 includes a forecast allowance of $500 million in 2019-20, $300 million in 2020-21, and $300 million in 2021-22. Budget 2019 also includes contingencies of $750 million in 2019-20, $400 million in 2020-21 and $400 million in 2021-22.

Revenue Outlook

Total government revenue is forecast at $59 billion in 2019-20, $60 billion in 2020-21 and $62.5 billion in 2021-22. This growth is driven by strengthening economic activity; there are no new revenue-raising tax measures in Budget 2019.

Expense Outlook

Total expenses over the three-year fiscal plan are forecast at $58.3 billion in 2019-20, $59.5 billion in 2020-21 and $61.6 billion in 2021-22.

Capital Spending

Taxpayer-supported capital spending over the fiscal plan is a record-level $20.1 billion and includes investments needed to support a strong, stable economy, such as:

  • Health: $4.4 billion to support new major construction projects and upgrading of health facilities, such as the redevelopment of the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, a new patient-care tower at the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and a new St. Paul’s Hospital at the Station Street site in Vancouver.
  • Transportation: $6.6 billion for priority projects, such as the Pattullo Bridge replacement, the Broadway subway, four-laning on Highway 1 through Kicking Horse Canyon and the replacement of Bruhn Bridge in Sicamous.
  • Education: $2.7 billion to maintain, replace, renovate or expand K-12 facilities, such as a new Northeast Elementary school in Fort St. John, a new school in Kelowna and expansion schools for Sullivan Heights Secondary in Surrey and Royal Bay Secondary in the Sooke school district. 
  • Post-secondary education: $3.3 billion to build capacity and help meet the province’s future workforce needs in key sectors, including a new sustainable energy engineering building at Simon Fraser University in Surrey, a new health sciences centre at Camosun College in Victoria and a renewed and expanded trades training facility at Selkirk College in Nelson.

Debt Affordability

As a result of prudent fiscal management, the B.C. government successfully eliminated British Columbia’s operating debt in the second quarter of 2018-19 and is now free of operating debt for the first time in over 40 years. This means B.C. is in one of the strongest fiscal positions in the country.

B.C.’s taxpayer-supported debt is projected to be $44 billion at the end of 2018-19 – $1.2 billion lower than projected at Budget 2018. This means the B.C. government’s borrowing costs will be lower, saving money that can be invested into making life better for the people of B.C.

The taxpayer-supported debt-to-GDP ratio, a key metric used by credit rating agencies, is expected to remain near 16% over the fiscal plan period, while funding record levels of capital spending.

Supplementary Estimates

With the elimination of the operating debt, the B.C. government is tabling supplementary estimates. For the first time in more than a decade, the B.C. government is using supplementary estimates to reinvest part of the government’s surplus into the services people need.

Highlights include $100 million for northern communities to improve infrastructure to prepare for community growth ahead of LNG development, $89 million for health research grants and $50 million for Connecting British Columbia to improve internet connectivity for Indigenous and rural communities.


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