Posts Tagged "CTV Vancouver"


B.C. man with ALS encouraged by UN watchdog’s ‘urgent’ call for services

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A Powell River man contemplating physician-assisted death in the face of limited healthcare options is feeling vindicated and encouraged by a United Nations analysis of Canada’s treatment of people with disabilities that found our country is in need of “urgent” change to address what it described as a human rights issue.

UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, held a press conference in Ottawa Friday where she told reporters, “I’m deeply concerned many people with disabilities are presented with no other choice than the placement of residential institutions like nursing homes and group homes.”

She described the approach as segregation and re-institutionalization of persons with disabilities, calling on the government to “provide the necessary support for persons with disabilities to live independently in their communities. This should be recognized as a human right and not merely as social assistance program.”

When CTV News Vancouver presented her comments to 40-year-old ALS patient Sean Tagert, he responded in text messages he “typed” after selecting letters with eye movements: “They say a country can be judged on how it treats the sick and elderly. Today, UN envoy Catalina Aguilar voiced what many Canadians with disabilities already know – we are failing.”

No longer able to eat, speak or even breathe on his own, Tagert has been battling Vancouver Coastal Health for 24-hour homecare funding. He’s currently funded for 20 hours a day through the Community Supports in Independent Living (CSIL) program and struggling to hire caregivers for the round-the-clock care he requires to maintain his breathing machine and move him to avoid bedsores and pain.

“The government’s [CSIL home support funding] is a generous program, but ALS is so catastrophic,” his mother Patricia Mennittee told CTV News Vancouver in their wheelchair-modified home when first interviewed for this story. “There is no denying this is an illness that requires 24 hours a day of care and we’ve done our best as a family to rise to those needs but we’re becoming exhausted.”

Tagert’s family doctor has also been advocating for the immobilized father to get CSIL funding in order to stay in a setting where he can enjoy quality time with his son and has a sophisticated technological setup to communicate with the outside world through the movements of his eyes, the only part of his body he has any control over.

“I think he’s an incredibly brave guy who remains optimistic and hopeful,” said Dr. Stephen Burns when CTV first interviewed him about Tagert’s funding situation in early April. “The circumstances he finds himself in, I think there’s few of us who can endure what he’s endured. I think what he’s been able to do on a very limited budge it provide himself with the best quality of living that could be obtained with his condition.”

When CTV News asked Vancouver Coastal Health to address Aguilar’s statements in relation to Tagert’s situation, the health authority reiterated its position staff is willing to help Tagert find ways to maximize his existing funding, like hiring live-in caregivers in lieu of rent. Their initial email statement on Tagert ended with the confirmation that “There are a range of care options for clients with complex needs, including 24-7 residential care.”

Without a care facility for quadriplegic patients in Powell River, Tagert has been presented with the George Pearson Centre in Vancouver, which would take Tagert away from his technological access to the outside world and the home setting where he is comfortable spending time with his 11-year-old son.

“So left with the options of either waiting for a day that I have no staff available and choking to death, or being institutionalized at George Pearson (the ‘jail for quads’) and dying a slow tortuous death, I’m going to pursue medically assisted death,” he wrote on a March 19 Facebook post.

“I get why a person goes there, I absolutely do, when all you can see in your future is more suffering,” said his mother.

But Tagert feels much more hopeful in the wake of Aguilar’s statements in Ottawa.

“Let’s fix it,” he wrote.

Aguilar suggested Canada is acting against Article 19 of the Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities, which discusses “the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others” and specifically: “Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community.”

“This is something that really needs to be addressed urgently [in Canada] to make sure that services are provided in the community,” said Aguilar. “That support is provided for persons with disabilities so that you avoid situations in which nursing homes or home groups or other kind of residential facilities are the only and default option for people with disabilities”

Tagert says he’s now considering filing a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

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‘Safe and accessible’: Granville St. Bridge renewal open houses begin

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The City of Vancouver wants you to have your say on the future of the Granville Street Bridge.

To do so, they’re hosting open houses Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday, April 16, and inviting the public to speak their minds about the planned renewal project. 

The city says the planned improvements would make walking, rolling and cycling safer and more easily accessible for people of all ages and abilities, while still accommodating drivers, transit and emergency vehicles.

According to the project’s website, the eight-lane Granville Bridge was originally intended as a high-speed, freeway-style connector. Granville Street is the main thoroughfare from the Arthur Laing Bridge in Richmond; the closest bridge to the Vancouver International Airport and a major connector from the airport to the city’s core. 

Now, they say the current design presents “significant safety and accessibility challenges in today’s urban context.” 

In an information sheet, the city says the bridge has “extra capacity” and could reallocate up to four car lanes for a pathway. 

The same info pack says on a typical weekday, the bridge can see as many as 65,000 motor vehicles daily, plus 25,000 transit trips.

Currently the bridge does not feature any bike lanes or signaled crosswalks. The sidewalks are narrow and elevated, which the city says makes it inaccessible for pedestrians with mobility aids like wheelchairs or scooters.

Apart from safety and accessibility, the city says they are open to “big ideas” for the public space around the bridge, including art, seating and lookout stations. 

The open houses are being held at CityLab at 511 West Broadway on the following days:

  • Friday, April 12, from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 13, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
  • And Tuesday, April 16, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

An online survey is open until May 10 for anyone that can’t attend the live consultations, and four workshops are planned for April 27 and April 30.

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Swearing is the biggest etiquette faux-pas among Canadians, poll suggests

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There are noisy eaters, people who are always late, litterbugs, chatty movie-goers and those who drive too slowly in the fast lane.

But a new poll suggests the biggest etiquette faux-pas of all among Canadians is foul language.

According to a nation-wide survey conducted by Vancouver-based Research, Co., 64 per cent of respondents said they’d witnessed someone swearing in public over the past month. In Alberta, that number jumped to a whopping 71 per cent.

“It would seem that the language of Canadians is getting more colourful,” Research Co. president and CEO Mario Canseco said in a statement. “More than two-thirds of women and residents aged 55 and over report hearing someone swearing in public over the past month.”

By comparison, only 56 per cent of those polled said they witnessed a child behaving badly in public while their parents looked the other way, while just under half said they witnessed someone littering in a public place.

Interrupting or talking over another person else followed closely behind at 48 per cent, and 47 per cent of respondents said they’d been cut off by someone while driving.

Other behaviours reported by Canadians included seeing people chewing with their mouths open (39 per cent). Again, that number was higher in Alberta at 44 per cent.

The results suggest cutting in line at the store was more common in Atlantic Canada than in the rest of the country (48 per vent versus 39 per cent).

According to Research Co. 33 per cent of those polled reported seeing someone making an obscene gesture (43 per cent in Alberta).

“The two lowest ranked items on the list of behaviours are someone delivering important information via text or e-mail instead of face-to-face (31 per cent) and someone ignoring, or not responding to an invitation (19 per cent),” the company said.

The survey also included two positive behaviours. According to the report, 63 per cent of respondents reported seeing someone hold a door open for a stranger, and just over one in four saw someone giving up their seat for someone who had a disability, was pregnant or elderly.

Research Co. conducted an online survey among 1,000 adult Canadians between March 22 and 24. The data carries a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

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Prisons fail to provide adequate addiction treatment: ombudsman

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Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Published Wednesday, March 20, 2019 11:08AM PDT

VANCOUVER – Memories of vomiting, diarrhea and unrelenting stomach pain as he withdrew from opioids in prison had Rob MacDonald repeatedly asking for addiction treatment before he left a maximum-security facility but despite dozens of formal complaints, he says he didn’t get any help.

“I was thinking, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m going out onto the street with this addiction,”’ MacDonald said recently a week after being released on supervision from the Atlantic Institution in Renous, N.B., his fourth facility in over a decade behind bars.

MacDonald, 41, said he feared his 15-year opioid addiction would cause him to returned to crime while using illicit drugs on the outside so he tried desperately to get treatment from the federal prison service.

“I put 150 requests in, probably 70 complaints, for a 15-month period, trying to tell them, ‘Put me on it. I need it before I get out. I want to get help, I don’t want to go back into the community in a high-risk situation, I don’t want to re-offend,’ ” he said from Halifax, where he lives in a halfway house.

He said he complained to the warden and then appealed to the commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada. One of his complaints to the commissioner was upheld but he said he was placed on a wait list because there was a limit on the number of inmates receiving treatment.

When he was incarcerated at British Columbia’s Kent Institution between 2017 and 2019 for drug-related offences and robbery, MacDonald said debilitating withdrawal symptoms had him seeking potentially deadly fentanyl-laced drugs that were smuggled into the prison.

“At least eight guys died in the 17, 18 months I was at Kent,” he said.

The Correctional Service linked MacDonald to a clinic in Halifax upon his release nearly two weeks ago and he is now prescribed the opioid substitute Suboxone. But he said he should have received the medication in prison as part of the agency’s treatment program, which also includes methadone, so he could focus on finding a construction job to get his life back on track.

Ivan Zinger, Canada’s ombudsman for offenders, said the Correctional Service has failed to provide adequate addiction treatment, programs and staff at a time when more drugs are contaminated with fentanyl.

“I think when you’re dealing with a large inmate population that has such a long history of substance abuse you should be providing an awful lot more treatment and programming in addition to opioid substitution therapy,” said Zinger, who called for the reallocation of funding to provide those services.

“It’s unclear to me why the budget has remained the same and decreased in the past when clearly the number of incidents is increasing,” he said of overdoses that caused 41 deaths between 2010 and 2018.

Zinger said programs such as counselling are provided just before offenders are released instead of throughout their incarceration.

“That’s a problem when you have a highly addicted inmate population that has a lot of time on their hands and are in sometimes difficult conditions of confinement. They will find ways to bring in drugs.”

The Correctional Service said in a statement that 66 per cent more prisoners have accessed treatment in the last two years, but a jump of 115 per cent has been recorded in the Pacific region, where the opioid crisis is most acute.

It did not respond to requests for information on whether its budget will be increased to meet the demand for more treatment.

Kent Elson, a lawyer for an offender at Joyceville Institution in Kingston, Ont., said the Correctional Service did not accommodate his client’s disability of addiction so he filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission last November.

Elson said his 50-year-old client, who is serving a four-year sentence, had been on methadone but alleges the medication was withheld without explanation for five days when he was transferred from another facility in November 2017.

“He needed medical help and he got forced, cold-turkey withdrawal in a feces-smeared segregation cell and cruel mistreatment from guards. And it was so unbearable that he tried to kill himself three times,” Elson said from Toronto.

While Correctional Service guidelines state a doctor is required to interview offenders before they are involuntarily tapered or cut off from methadone or Suboxone, Elson said his client was not seen by a physician.

“This whole experience was incredibly traumatic and he ended up with PTSD,” he said.

“The impact on him was terrible but everybody wins if prisoners get the right treatment. Suffering from PTSD is not going to make them easier to integrate back into society.”

The Correctional Service did not respond to a request for comment on the human rights complaint filed by Elson or another from the Prisoners’ Legal Services. The B.C. group’s complaint was filed in June 2018 on behalf of offenders who accused the Correctional Service of discriminating against them.

Nicole Kief, an advocate for the group, said about 100 inmates reported three main concerns: long wait lists for treatment, being cut off Suboxone after false accusations of diverting it and not receiving addiction counselling.

“Of the people that I’ve talked to there has been a real sense of urgency, with people calling me and saying, ‘I’m worried about dying,”’ she said.

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From rental supply to border patrol: Highlights of the 2019-20 federal budget

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The Trudeau Government is promising billions of dollars for everything from compensating farmers to quelling the opioid overdose crisis.

CTV News Vancouver took a quick look at some of the highlights from the 2019-20 budget released Tuesday:

1. Housing

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Ottawa pledges to help first-time homebuyers with their mortgages with incentives for families with combined incomes less than $120,000.

The incentive applies only to mortgages no more than four times their income. Those who qualify will receive help to lower their monthly payments, though the amount will depend on several factors.

In addition, first-time buyers will be allowed to pull more from their retirement savings to help cover the costs, if needed. Previous rules meant buyers could only use $25,000. Under the new rules, they can take out $35,000.

2. Agriculture

The feds promised to compensate some Canadian farmers affected by the recent free-trade agreements with $2.15 billion over the next few years. In October, the prime minister hailed a landmark agreement as a victory, though Canada had to give up some access to its dairy, egg and poultry industries.

The budget does not say when the changes will be in place or how much money farmers will get.

3. Borders

The Liberals say they intend to stem the flow of asylum seekers crossing into Canada without using official entry points with a new enforcement strategy. The plan is expected to cost about $1.8 billion over five years.

4. Jobs

The government plans to spend billions of dollars on programs meant to help Canadians train for and retain their jobs. Morneau said the initiatives address what he called growing concerns that good jobs won’t last and young people will have a harder time finding employment.

Initiatives include a refundable tax credit for low-income earners and refunds for part of the cost of training fees at colleges, universities and other eligible institutions providing occupational skills training.

5. Opioids

To address an unprecedented rate of overdoses in Canada, the new budget proposes $30.5 million over five years for harm reduction and treatment programs. The money will also go to expanding access to safe supplies, and increasing response training programs and availability of Naloxone.

6. Rental construction

“The rental market is simply not keeping pace with growing demand – especially in large cities where rental vacancy rates hover around one per cent,” the budget reads.

To encourage an increase in supply, the government has earmarked an additional $10 billion over nine years, a number it suggests would support about 42,500 new rentals across Canada.

7. Electric car credits

The federal government proposes a purchase incentive of up to $5,000 for electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles priced less than $45,000. The feds also suggest investing in more recharging stations, and paying auto manufacturers to ensure supply meets demand.

In addition, corporations looking to replace their fleets can get a full tax write-off the year they put the vehicles into use.

8. Retirement

If the budget is approved, Ottawa will put aside $9.6 million to cover the costs of proactively enrolling Canada Pension Plan contributors over the age of 70 who have not yet applied to receive their retirement benefit.

The 2019-20 plan also suggests appointing a Minister of Seniors and setting aside $6 billion over 10 years for home care, as well as investments in employment insurance, accessibility and housing.

9. Technology

The latest budget suggests expanding high-speed internet access further into rural, remote and northern communities. It estimates the investment will cost up to $1.7 billion.

The government pledges $144.9 million for cybersecurity initiatives including protection from cyberattacks and improving access to high-quality information to prevent the spread of “disinformation.”

10. Indigenous rights and reconciliation

The Liberals said they wish to expand previous measures meant to support priorities of Canada’s Indigenous communities. About $40 million is earmarked to help First Nations research and develop claims to address past wrongs and longstanding grievances, the document says.

Another $1.4 billion over seven years will be used to forgive outstanding loans and reimburse governments.

The budget also proposes spending about $80 million to fund surveys that will guide decision-making and future health, education, employment and language programs.

Another $48 million would go to supporting communities in need of advice and tools for governance and critical programs.

11. Health care

The government highlighted a few specific health care challenges it plans to address, including $50 million to the Public Health Agency of Canada for a national dementia strategy.

Another $36.5 million would go to issues surrounding organ donation, and sales tax relief measures are suggested for Canadians experiencing infertility, using in vitro methods, or using devices for foot problems.

The government also proposes $25 million over five years to support suicide prevention services, and $2.4 million over three years for research into the barriers around plasma donation. Other topics addressed in the budget include autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, blindness and food insecurity.

12. Poverty

Measures to address poverty include funding for artists, investments in gender equality initiatives, a new anti-racism strategy and further support for minority-language education. The feds also pledge to invest in sports programs, supports for veterans and a clarification to the Income Tax Act on financial assistance.

13. Policing

The Liberal government suggests giving the RCMP $508.6 million over five years to support operations, $77.3 million for enhanced border enforcement and about $70 million for enhanced capacity in initiatives including money laundering investigations.

Another $11.5 is earmarked for transportation security and $5.7 million for national economic security.

14. Natural disasters

The budget suggests spending $151.23 million over five years for improvements to emergency management. The money will go to prediction and early warning systems, as well as studies on the nature of risks posed by natural disasters.

It will also go toward assessments of Canadian infrastructure including water supply and energy grids.

Another $5 million would go to Public Safety Canada for awareness programs and $260 million for the provinces for local relief and recovery efforts.

15. “Access to justice”

The federal government has suggested the following funding for protection from violence and “promoting access to justice”:

  • $22.4 million over three years to fight child sexual exploitation online
  • An undisclosed amount for combatting human trafficking
  • $8.1 million over five years to help Canadians access legal education and information
  • $21.6 million over five years for Canadians going through divorce or separation
  • $2-$4 million per year to protect community gathering spaces from hate-motivated crimes

Read more about the specific plans and other priorities in the full budget, available online.

With files from The Canadian Press

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Canada looking for input on making travel network most accessible in the world

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The federal government is asking for input on how tomakeCanada’s travel network the most accessible in the world for all passengers, including people with physical and mental disabilities.

It haspublished a new set of regulations for the public to view and consult on in the Canada Gazette, the federal government’s official newsletter. There, people can leave comments for the Canadian Transportation Agency, who said they will update the proposed changes based on public feedback. 

“(It’s) an ambitious vision, but we believe that in a country who values include equality and inclusion, we should aspire to nothing less,” said Scott Streiner, the chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency.

The proposed changes would help centralize the CTA’s existing rules, six of which are voluntary, into a legally-binding set of transportation regulations.

That includes:

  • How to better communicate with disabled travellers
  • How to train transportation workers to help travellers with disabilities
  • How to make carriers and terminals accessible for all travellers
  • How to provide accessible services
  • How to make border and security screening accessible

Proposed changes range from automated self-service desks, training for staff to help those with sight and hearing impairments and assisting people with disabilities getting in and out of terminals.

The changes would apply to large airlines – an airline that carries more than one million travellers annually – VIA Rail and Amtrak operators, ferries weighing at least 1,000 gross tonnes, as well as Greyhound and Mega Bus operators.  

Airports that served more than 200,000 passengers over the past two years, any transportation terminals used by the aforementioned companies, and Canadian ports used by cruise ships would also fall under the new regulations.

The announcement was made at Vancouver International Airport, which received the Rick Hansen Foundation’s gold certification for accessibility last December.

If approved, the regulations would go into effect one year after they are published. The consultation period is open until April 8th, and feedback can be emailed to [email protected]

The CTA hopes to have the final regulations published by this summer.

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Woman assaulted after allowing stranger into home

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A woman in North Vancouver reported being sexually assaulted after allowing a stranger to use a washroom in her home, according to RCMP.

North Vancouver RCMP said the alleged assault happened in the early afternoon of Feb. 27 in the Upper Capilano area.

Police said they have not received additional information that would  make them believe the public’s safety is at risk.

“Police wish to take this opportunity to remind people not to allow strangers into their homes,” said Sgt. Peter De Vries in a press release.

Police have released a composite sketch of the suspect and are asking anyone who can identify the man to contact them at 604-985-1311.

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Bike stolen in Vancouver the very first time newcomer locked it outside

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It was not the “welcome to Canada” moment that Mahshid Hadi was expecting.

The 27-year-old moved to Coqutilam from Turkey in December and the very first time she locked her bike in downtown Vancouver it was stolen.

“I didn’t bring any clothes with me – I just carried my bike with me,” Hadi said, explaining that her bike took up most of her 23-kilogram suitcase during the journey to Canada.

Originally from Iran, Hadi was a refugee in Turkey for more than four years.

Working as an ELS teacher, she said it took two years to save up enough money to buy the bike. Hadi said she would ride from one poor community to another – teaching kids how to ride it.

“This bike meant a lot to me because it carried so many stories with it,” Hadi said.

On Saturday, Feb. 23, Hadi had locked her bike on Homer Street in front of Westside Church, where she was volunteering at a film festival. When she came out it was gone.

“I was thinking, the world is gone from in front of my eyes,” Hadi said.

One security camera in the area recorded the moment two thieves approach her bike. According to the video, at 8:24 p.m. a man appears to cut her bike lock and ride away.

Another woman seen in the video follows the thief using a different bike.

“Bike thefts continue to be an issue in Vancouver and other cities around British Columbia,” explained Const. Jason Doucette with Vancouver Police.

Doucette said more than 2,000 bikes were stolen in the city in 2018.

Vancouver police recommend owners record the serial number on their bike, take a photo of the bike, and also take a photo of them with the bike.

“We recover many bikes that are stolen and we can’t link back to an owner and they end up going to auction and we don’t want to do that,” Doucette explained.

Meanwhile, Hadi is holding out hope someone will read her story and find it in their heart to return the bike.

Her message to the thief is, “This bike is much more than what you may think or imagine. It affects my life, it affects my future opportunities. I would like this bike back.”

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Certified gold: BC bank branches given Rick Hansen Foundation top certification

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Vancity clients and staff with disabilities will have greater access at the bank’s head office in Vancouver or the Burnaby Heights branch.

Today, both buildings were awarded gold accessibility certifications by the Rick Hansen Foundation – the first financial institution and the third company in B.C. to receive the rating.

The foundation’s namesake, Rick Hansen, was in Burnaby Heights to celebrate the milestone achievement.

“They’ve set a really high bar to become much more inclusive for everybody not just for their staff but for their customers and community,” Hansen told CTV News.

“It’s the new standard that we want to recognize and create across Canada and all across the world.” 

Hansen said that the country has come a long way in accessibility, and his foundation wants to turn a “made-in-BC global solution” into an industry standard worth praising.

“We’ll train industry professionals – they’ll have all the knowledge and tools, we’ll have an objective rating, and then we’ll reconigze people,” he said.

“We want innovation to keep going and think about their buildings and how they function for people who desperately need those barriers removed,” said Hansen.

Vancity president and CEO Tamara Vrooman said when the company decided to rebuild their Burnaby Heights branch, it was done with more than sustainability or aesthetics in mind.

“For our staff and our community, if you can’t come in and see us, it’s very difficult to be part of our great organization,” she said.

Vrooman is also the current chair of the Rick Hansen Foundation board. The bank’s Burnaby Heights Community branch features:

  • Fully accessible Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) that include grab bars, knee clearance for chair users, accessible buttons, and plugs for head phones;

  • Power doors in all entrances;

  • Contrasting colour flooring and walls for improved wayfinding;

  • A lowered teller counter with hearing assistance for employees and members; and

  • Accessible washrooms with inclusive signage

More than 1,100 buildings across the province have been registered for rating by the foundation.

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Anti-poverty groups say B.C.’s budget has left them hanging

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VICTORIA – Anti-poverty groups say British Columbia’s budget has left them hanging in anticipation for details outlining the minority New Democrat government’s promised poverty reduction strategy.

Finance Minister Carole James says her budget includes poverty-fighting measures, but the government’s full strategy will be announced later this spring.

BC Poverty Reduction Coalition spokeswoman Trish Garner says she’s waiting for more dollars after the small steps James took towards fighting poverty in the budget.

Garner says raising welfare and disability rates by $50 per month and adding only 200 new modular homes are not enough to help people struggling with poverty.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives senior economist Iglika Ivanova says the government’s BC Child Opportunity Benefit does not come into effect until 2020 and does not go deep enough to help lift families out of extreme poverty.

Garner and Ivanova say the government’s current budget surplus situation leaves James much more room to implement poverty-reduction measures.

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