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Posts Tagged "government"

25Jul

B.C. government seeks public feedback on reducing plastic waste

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Don’t forget to reduce, reuse, recycle and reply with your feedback.

The B.C. government is asking the public to weigh in on how the province can cut down on plastics and improve recycling in an effort to protect B.C.’s waterways and environment.

Among the proposed actions the government is considering are bans on single-use packaging, requiring producers to shoulder more responsibility for plastic products, expanding the recycling refund program and reducing plastic waste across all product categories and industries.


Vancouver, BC: JUNE 08, 2019 –– Colunteers clean-up plastics and other refuse scraps from the shoreline at Second Beach in Vancouver, B.C.’s Stanley Park Saturday, June 8, 2019. Volunteers from the Vancouver Surfrider Foundation scoured local beaches Saturday as part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup initiative.

Jason Payne /

PNG

“The message from British Columbians is loud and clear — we need to take action to reduce plastic waste, especially single-use items like water bottles and plastic bags that often find their way into our waters, streets and environment,” said Environment Minister George Heyman in a statement.

“We have all seen the striking images of animals and fish being caught up in everyday plastic waste like grocery bags or beer can loops that ensnare these beautiful creatures and it cannot continue. I look forward to hearing from people about how we can all play a part in reducing plastic pollution and plastics use overall.”

Currently, B.C. has 22 recycling programs — more than any other North American jurisdiction — that cover 14 product categories of consumer products. Those include packaging, electronics, residual solvents, beverage containers, tires and hazardous wastes.

Those programs collect about 315,000 tonnes of plastics annually.

The feedback will help inform things like the reach of a single-use plastics ban, and determining any necessary exemptions for reasons of health, safety and accessibility; possible changes to B.C.’s current recycling program and changes to the deposit-refund fee structure; as well as the possibility of an electronic refund system for empty bottle refunds.

The public can read the proposals in detail and fill out the online survey at cleanbc.ca/plastics.


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8Jul

B.C. government says ride hailing services can operate starting Sept. 16

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The provincial government says its regulations for ride hailing will be in effect as of Sept. 16, 2019.


Seth Wenig / AP

Welcome to B.C., Uber and Lyft.

The ride hailing companies could be operating on B.C. roads as early as Sept. 16, according to the provincial government, which announced Monday its regulations on licensing and insurance for ride hailing will be in effect as of that date.

However, ride hailing companies would first need to apply for permission to operate through the Passenger Transportation Board; applications will be accepted beginning Sept. 3.

The PTB, an independent board, is also responsible for setting guidelines around supply, boundaries and fares.

“Our plan has made it possible for ride-hailing companies to apply to enter the market this fall, with vehicles on the road later this year, while ensuring the safety of passengers and promoting accessibility options in the industry,” said Transportation Minister Claire Trevena in a statement.

“British Columbians have been asking and waiting for these services after more than five years of delay by the former government. We took action to allow for the services people want and we’re delivering on that promise.”

Related

The Passenger Transportation Act regulations will require criminal record checks and driver record checks for any driver working with a ride-hailing company, and will introduce a new 30-cent per-trip fee and a $5,000 annual license fee.

The Motor Vehicle Act regulations will change how frequently cars must undergo inspections, will remove seatbelt exceptions for all for-hire vehicles, and will introduce side-entry accessible taxis.

Drivers working for ride hailing companies are still required to hold a Class 4 commercial licence, a requirement supported by B.C.’s police chiefs association but that was not recommended by a legislative committee tasked with making recommendations for ride hailing.

Alberta requires ride hailing drivers hold a Class 1, 2 or 4 licence, all of which are for professional drivers.

ICBC will also introduce a new insurance policy for drivers and vehicles operating with ride-hailing companies, effective this September. The policy is a blanket, per kilometre insurance product that provides third-party liability and accident coverage.

Drivers working with ride-hailing companies would be required to have their own basic vehicle insurance policy when they are not working.

It will also be left to the PTB to decide how many ride-hailing vehicles will be allowed to operate, what boundaries if any are applicable and what rates would be charged.

Uber has yet to respond to the news officially, though a spokesman said the company was reviewing the details announced Monday before discussing publicly how it might impact the company’s entry into B.C.

More to come.

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5Jul

‘Too little, too late’: B.C. government sued over delay providing $750K drug | CBC News

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A 21-year-old man is suing the B.C. government for its delay in providing an expensive drug that he claims could have saved him from permanent disability.

Paul Chung of Langley, B.C., says the ministry of health provided him with Soliris, in 2017, only after an intense public lobbying campaign which led the province to cover the $750,000-a-year drug in specific cases.

The university student says he didn’t get the drug when he needed it most — immediately after his diagnosis with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) the previous summer.

Chung says his charter rights to “life, liberty and security of the person” have been violated by an “arbitrary” decision that left him on permanent kidney dialysis, unable to attend work or school.

“This decision was too little, too late… as Soliris must be administered promptly after diagnosis to be effective,” Chung’s notice of civil claim reads.

According to Chung’s lawsuit, he was admitted to Langley Memorial Hospital with acute renal failure in early August 2017.

AHUS is a rare condition that affects only one in a million people and fewer than 150 Canadians. The disease causes too many blood clots to form in the blood vessels, blocking regular blood flow to the kidneys.

Chung was rushed to hospital in 2017 after completing his first year of university. He was diagnosed with a rare disease that causes kidney failure. (Paul Chung/gofundme)

Chung says he was taken to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, where staff asked  if he had private health insurance that might cover Soliris. He didn’t, and couldn’t afford Soliris on his own. 

“[Chung] was advised a disagreement existed between the medical community and [the province] over the issue of extending coverage for aHUS treatment,” the notice of claim reads. 

Like other patients with aHUS, Chung turned to online fundraising and lobbying.

“Paul’s mother has been worried sick and continues to lose sleep. Paul’s father has [taken] time off work to care for Paul. Paul’s brother dropped his university courses in order to support Paul,” his GoFundMe page reads.

“Please pray for Paul.” 

‘The kidney had already scarred’

According to Chung’s civil claim, a Canadian drug expert committee concluded that patients like Chung could benefit from Soliris in May 2015 and other provinces approved coverage of the drug while B.C. did not.

On Nov. 20, 2017, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced that Soliris would be covered on a case-by-case basis.

He said the province made the decision after reviewing policies in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, where coverage is provided in exceptional cases.

Chung claims he was approved for three months’ worth of Soliris on Dec. 6, 2017.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced coverage for Soliris on a case-by-case basis in November 2017. (CBC)

But he says he was also told he would need to improve to the point of not needing dialysis to justify further coverage.

His coverage was discontinued in February 2018 “due to lack of improvement and [he] remains permanently on kidney dialysis.”

“His blood results have become stable, and Paul is no longer in a life-threatening position, but the miracle feature of the drug, the recovery of the kidney did not work as the kidney had already scarred,” his GoFundMe page reads.

Chung is suing for damages including cost of care and loss of income.

‘Arbitrary, irrational and unreasonable’

Chung also wants a declaration that the province infringed rights guaranteed to him by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“[Chung] is now on permanent kidney dialysis and his life expectancy is compromised,” the notice of civil claim reads.

“The Soliris administration was medically necessary to prevent serious harm.”

Chung claims that the government provides “expensive treatment and drugs to many residents of British Columbia in a myriad of circumstances.”

He says that the decision not to give him the drug “violated basic standards of decency” and “was arbitrary, irrational and unreasonable as it will cost more to treat [Chung] on permanent dialysis than to have administered Soliris to him.”

According to Chung’s gofundme page, it may take six to seven years for him to get a kidney transplant — but he will still need Soliris to protect the new kidney “from getting affected by the disease.”

The province has not yet filed a response to the claim.

None of the claims has been proven in court.


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5Jun

Government defends ICBC cap in response to lawsuit filed by trial lawyers

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Damaged vehicles are seen at ICBC’s Lower Mainland Salvage Yard.


DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The B.C. government is defending its decision to impose a cap on ICBC claims for minor injuries, in a response to a lawsuit filed by the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.

In April, the association sued in B.C. Supreme Court, saying the $5,500 cap on minor injury claims and the establishment of a civil resolution tribunal to adjudicate certain claims were unconstitutional and should be struck down.

The NDP government had passed the legislation enacting the changes last year after declaring that ICBC, which has reported losses of $2.2 billion in the past two years, was in a financial crisis and measures were needed to protect the interests of B.C. drivers and keep premiums down.

The association’s lawsuit argues that the new regulations have the potential to discriminate against people with brain injuries, psychiatric injuries and chronic pain by treating those injuries differently than other injuries.

It said that the scheme would have a “disproportionately adverse effect” upon women, the elderly and persons with pre-existing injuries or other disabilities.

The establishment of the tribunal would create “significant barriers” to access to justice before the superior courts for many claimants, said the suit.

But a response filed in court by the Attorney General’s Ministry emphasized that the substantial increases in ICBC claims costs had jeopardized the Crown corporation’s long-term sustainability and its ability to keep basic insurance rates affordable for drivers.

The ministry denied that the cap disproportionately adversely affects women, the elderly or persons with pre-existing conditions. “The defendants further deny that the minor injury definition includes conditions that have been subject to prejudice and stereotyping, historically or at all.”

Any distinction that the cap may draw among accident claimants is based on severity of injury, not mental or physical disability, says the ministry’s response.

The response defended the establishment of the tribunal, saying that its mandate was to resolve claims within its jurisdiction in a manner that is “accessible, speedy, economical, informal and flexible.”

The tribunal does not create a barrier to access to justice in the superior courts, the ministry said.

“There is no constitutional or fundamental right to have vehicle accident claims determined by a superior court,” it said. “Historically and at Confederation, the superior courts exercised concurrent jurisdiction with inferior courts and tribunals for personal injury claims.

“The minor injury amendments do not impair the core jurisdiction of the superior courts, nor do they otherwise cause undue hardship thereby impeding access to justice for accident claimants to whom they apply.”

No date has been set for a trial.

[email protected]

twitter/com/keithrfraser


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8May

MRI wait times fall sharply after government boosts scans

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B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says MRI wait times have dropped significantly since the number of scans was ramped up.


Francis Georgian / Postmedia News Files

VICTORIA — Wait times for MRIs across the province have fallen sharply during the past year after government boosted the number of scans, according to provincial data.

The median wait time for an MRI scan in the Northern Health Authority fell 66 per cent between April 2018 and March 2019, with a patient waiting roughly 24 days compared to the prior 71 days.

Vancouver Coastal Health saw wait times drop from 36 to 21 days, a 42-per-cent reduction, and Fraser Health saw a reduction to 48 days from 89 days, a 46-per-cent cut.

“I’m happy with the direction,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “This is what we intended to do.”

The data reflects elective or scheduled MRIs. Emergency scans are done immediately.

MRI scan reduction times released May 8, 2019


B.C.’s wait times for elective or scheduled MRIs fell after government expanded exams, according to data released by the Ministry of Health on May 8, 2019.

Ministry of Health/submitted

Last year, B.C. began running 10 of the province’s 33 MRI machines 24 hours a day, seven days a week and bought two privately owned MRI clinics  in the Fraser Valley to expand capacity, at a cost of $11 million (plus an undisclosed amount for the clinics).

Dix announced last week a further expansion of MRI scans in the coming year, but did not have the data to prove wait times had reduced. He said the ministry was compiling the final figures and provided the data publicly Wednesday.

The longest wait times for certain patients — known as the 90th percentile measure — also dropped. Some MRI scans in Fraser Health had taken 346 days last year, but fell to 224 days once government expanded capacity, a reduction of 35 per cent, said Dix.

But that is still not good enough, he said.

“I obviously like the direction, I think we’re getting there,” he said. “We wanted to see everything under 26 weeks, and everything is under 26 weeks, except this.”

The longest wait times in Vancouver Coastal Health fell from 114 days to 99 days, a reduction of 13 per cent, and in Northern Health from 257 days to 55 days, a reduction of 79 per cent.

“The huge difference in the north is obviously significant,” said Dix.

Government is adding another $5.25 million to the MRI budget next year, which Dix said will fund 15,000 additional MRI scans. Dix said the wait times should drop even further.

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twitter.com/robshaw_vansun




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28Apr

Surgery delays deepen over compliance letters B.C. government has forced on surgeons

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Dr. Amin Javer and his team perform sinus surgery on a patient at False Creek Surgery Centre in Vancouver. That is where Mr. Justice John Steeves had his sinus surgery under a contract with Vancouver Coastal Health. But the provincial government has severed contracts between health authorities and clinics that allow patients to pay for their expedited surgeries.


Arlen Redekop / PNG

Patients are waiting even longer for operations like sinus or breast reconstruction because of the latest government crackdown on private clinics and the surgeons working in them, according to affidavits filed in court.

Sinus surgeon Amin Javer says he can’t even begin to make a dent in the number of patients waiting. That’s because he only gets four operating room days at St. Paul’s Hospital a month, allowing him to handle just 12 to 16 cases monthly.

He also operated on patients at False Creek Surgical Centre. But last fall, the government ordered Vancouver Coastal Health to end its contracts with False Creek because the centre was also taking money from patients who were paying the clinic’s facility fees to get expedited surgery.

Javer was the sinus surgeon who operated on the judge in the continuing constitutional trial launched by Dr. Brian Day. The judge would not be able to get that sinus surgery today because False Creek can no longer do business with the government. Yet False Creek is the only private clinic in B.C. with the sophisticated equipment Javer needs to do delicate sinus surgeries.

Not only can Javer no longer perform publicly funded operations at False Creek, but he’s also doing fewer at St. Paul’s because, as the hospital struggles to deal with growing waiting lists, his operating room days have been cut to eight hours from 10.

He has about 300 patients on a pre-surgical wait-list and another 220 waiting for surgery. “It will take me about four years to get through my current surgical wait-list.”

He used to tell patients they’d get their surgery in 2.5 years. Now Javer, the head of the St. Paul’s Sinus Centre and co-director of ear, nose and throat research at UBC, says he has to tell them the waiting time has gone up to four years.

“There’s no outsourcing at all, so the wait-list at the hospital continues to grow. And there’s no extra time being given to surgeons at public hospitals. All that extra operating room time we were promised hasn’t happened,” he said.

Dr. Nancy Van Laeken, a plastic surgeon who performs breast reconstructive surgery on breast cancer patients, said in her affidavit that the government did not increase operating room time in public hospitals enough to compensate for the private clinic crackdown. That means that fewer surgeries are being done in B.C., she said.

Van Laeken said she has privileges to work at five hospitals but only gets four operating room days in total each month. She is willing to do surgeries 10 days a month, but can’t get more time.

“Because of the limited OR time in the public hospitals, the wait times for surgery … in the public system are very long. For example, many of my patients wait (up to) 48 months for breast reconstruction surgery,” she said in her affidavit, noting that is 42 months longer than the target.

For years, health authorities have paid several private clinics to help because of backlogs of scheduled surgeries. But most private clinics also take patients willing to pay out of pocket for expedited surgery. The NDP government argues it is illegal for clinics and doctors to take money from patients for operations covered by medicare and the government is determined to stamp out the practice.

Last fall, the government introduced so-called compliance letters. Surgeons who do any work at private clinics that have contracts with health authorities must sign statements promising they will not do medically necessary work in both the public and private systems. If they refuse, they are banned from doing publicly funded operations at those private clinics that have contracts with health authorities.

If private clinics don’t agree to the same conditions, they won’t get contracts from health authorities or could have their contracts cancelled.

There are only a few private clinics that have agreed to the terms, including View Royal Surgical Centre in Victoria and the ASC Vancouver Surgical Centre.

Javer and Van Laeken are among a group of surgeons who want B.C. Supreme Court Justice Janet Winteringham to issue an injunction to stop the province’s latest stab at clinics until the end of the Day trial, which is being heard by Justice John Steeves. Winteringham has reserved her decision.

The government’s unwavering approach doesn’t end there.

“Doctors who work at Cambie have received warnings from health authority executives that they may lose their surgical privileges in public hospitals if they continue to treat patients wishing to be treated quickly and privately at our facility,” said Day, co-owner of the Cambie Surgery Centre.

Rob Grant, a lawyer for Day, the Cambie Surgeries Corporation and other plaintiffs, calls the government’s actions “authoritarian” and counter-productive because surgeons get a limited amount of time — often only a day a week — in hospital operating rooms. Private clinics have, for over 20 years, allowed surgeons to use their excess capacity to help more patients, he said.

According to the government, the new contracting out policy has not hurt patients and “more scheduled surgeries are in fact being performed.” In the Vancouver Coastal Health region, however, the latest figures show about a third of patients who were waiting for surgery in the last nine months of 2018 were waiting for more than 26 weeks — triple the target numbers. While  86.4 per cent of scheduled operations were completed within 26 weeks, the target is more than 95 per cent.

In Fraser Health, the latest report also shows targets not being met.

[email protected]

Twitter: @MedicineMatters




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17Apr

Doctors approve new fee agreement with B.C. government

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The Doctors of B.C. president, Dr. Eric Cadesky.


Doctors of B.C. / PNG

B.C.’s physicians have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new agreement with the B.C. government in a deal that will cost taxpayers at least $331 million over the three-year deal.

Last year, the government paid out $4.516 billion for physician services. By the end of the three-year deal that took effect on April 1, that will rise to $4.85 billion.

One of the elements of the deal is a signing bonus-like payment of $7,500 to each physician who earned over $75,000 in income in 2018, or in any of the past few years, to help offset rising overhead and other costs of running their offices.

Dr. Eric Cadesky, president of Doctors of B.C., said the sum is a one-time payment. But the help with overhead costs like lease payments doesn’t end there. In 2020, the government will give physicians — in Vancouver, Victoria and other urban areas — premiums to help offset inflationary costs like higher rents.

Doctors who have offices in Vancouver, for example, will get a five per cent increase that will be capped at a daily maximum of $60; Victoria doctors with private practices will get four per cent more with a maximum of $48 a day. And in Kelowna, Nanaimo, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton, doctors will get three per cent more up to a daily maximum of $36.

There is no cap on this weekly “business cost premium”, so doctors who keep their offices open seven days a week could earn $420 more each week.

“A reasonably active physician in the city of Vancouver could earn an additional $13,200 annually when the BCP is implemented in 2020,” Cadesky said.

For several years, doctors in private practice have been complaining about rising costs of running offices. Cadesky said it was important to have a premium in the contract that would offer some relief. Alberta has a similar program but the premium is applied as a flat rate of 1.1 per cent across the province while in B.C., the premiums rise in communities where overhead costs are higher.

Clauses like this one clearly appealed to physicians even though only about 4,000 of the 12,000 doctors in the province voted during the ratification process. Only three per cent voted against the new deal. Doctors had sought a five year deal like the term they got under the Liberals but this government wanted to keep the deal at three years, consistent with other public service contracts.

 

Doctors will also get an additional half of one per cent more in fees in each of the three years and an assortment of other compensation payments to help with retirement plans, malpractice insurance premiums, and pay for work previously not compensated, like adding information to patient charts, writing reports, following up on lab and diagnostic tests, and maintaining electronic medical files.

The new contract is outlined in nearly 400 pages and is called the Physician Master Agreement. Cadesky said it will go a long way toward helping support family physicians who want to deliver a full spectrum of care — often referred to as cradle-to-grave patient care.

Patients should benefit because the new contract includes a commitment from the government to hire more doctors to “address growth in the workload of existing physicians (such as) emergency room physicians and medical oncologists.”

The contract also addresses some fee disparities between various medical specialists. There’s a sum of $42.73 million to shrink gaps between lower and higher paid physicians — highly paid ophthalmologists, for example, compared to geriatricians, pediatricians and psychiatrists.

The government has made good on its pledge to reduce the amount of money ophthalmologists earn doing cataract removal surgery. When negotiations began last year, the government’s starting point was a fee cut of 80 per cent, provoking a near revolt on the part of such surgeons. After many months of negotiations, the parties settled on a fee of $350, down from $425, about 18 per cent lower.

The savings — $4.7 million — are to be used to raise fees of other surgeons and specialists who are considered relatively underpaid. 

The contract also boosts government funding for things like continuing medical education, disability insurance  and rural physician funding. There are pledges by the government to consult more with doctors, including on violence prevention in health facilities, electronic medical records, and new payment models.

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Twitter: @MedicineMatters




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5Apr

Government supports access to free menstrual products for students, people in need

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Under a ministerial order that was issued Friday, April 5, 2019, all B.C. public schools will be required to provide free menstrual products for students in school washrooms by the end of 2019.

In issuing the order, Education Minister Rob Fleming said it’s time to normalize and equalize access to menstrual products in schools, helping to create a better learning environment for students.

“Students should never have to miss school, extracurricular, sports or social activities because they can’t afford or don’t have access to menstrual products,” said Fleming, adding that current research indicates that one in seven students has missed school due to their periods because they cannot afford products.

“This is a common-sense step forward that is, frankly, long overdue. We look forward to working with school districts and communities to make sure students get the access they need with no stigma and no barriers.”

The ministerial order – which takes effect immediately but allows districts until the end of 2019 to comply – comes with $300,000 in provincial startup funding. Over the coming months, the ministry will continue to work with school districts, community and education partners to look at the needs of each district, identify gaps and ensure they have the funding needed to meet this new requirement.

In addition, government is also providing a one-time grant of $95,000 to support the United Way Period Promise Research Project, to fund menstrual products for up to 10 non-profit agencies and research into how best to provide services and products for people who menstruate.

“The cost and availability of menstrual products is a real concern for those who are poor and often face the choice of purchasing those products or buying other essentials, like food,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “I encourage other organizations to join our government in supporting the Period Promise campaign, to help end the stigma that causes social isolation, and begin to address that larger issue around affordability.”

“Having your period is a part of life, and easy and affordable access to menstrual products should be simple,” said Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “Menstrual products should be available to people when and where they need them, which is why we’re improving access in schools and in communities. These actions are going to make a big difference in the lives of people who menstruate, and I’m proud that our government is taking leadership on this issue.”

The United Way funding builds on the work government is doing to reduce poverty in British Columbia. In March 2019, the B.C. government released TogetherBC, the Province’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy. TogetherBC brings together investments from across government that will help reduce overall poverty in the province by 25%, and cut child poverty in half, over the next five years.

Quotes:

Glen Hansman, president, B.C. Teachers’ Federation –

“By ensuring school districts make menstrual products free and accessible to all students who need them, the government is taking an important action towards improving equity in our schools. There are many reasons why students need access to menstrual products at school. Many of our members can share stories of students who have felt shame or embarrassment, or have even gone home, because they did not have access to a tampon or pad or could not afford one. Today’s announcement will also help deal with what the United Way’s Period Promise campaign calls ‘period poverty.’ I want to thank the Minister of Education and this government, as well as those working on the United Way campaign, for making this announcement today.”

Mark Gifford, chair, New Westminster Schools Board of Education

“Our board is proud to have led the way in breaking down barriers and ensuring access to free menstrual products in all of our schools. It’s a basic gender-equity issue and our work helps ensure female and transgender students can manage normal bodily functions without stigma, cost, or disruptions to their learning. We are thrilled with the minister’s announcement today and applaud such swift action in support of advancing a fundamental right of access across the province.”

Andrea Sinclair, president, B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils –

“This is a long-standing ‘hidden and unspoken’ problem for students who need menstrual products. There continues to be stigma surrounding this, which causes unnecessary anxiety and reduced confidence for students, including reduced attendance. We need to remove the barriers to access, eliminate the stigma and normalize the conversation for student well-being. We are encouraged by this action and fully support it. Today’s announcement is another example of the ministry listening and acting for the best interest of students.”

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

“The inspiring support United Way’s Period Promise campaign has received demonstrates the impact we create when we mobilize to address issues in our own neighbourhoods. I want to thank the Government of B.C. for its commitment to tackling period poverty, and thank the passionate individuals tackling vulnerability and isolation in all its forms, in our local communities.”

Sussanne Skidmore, secretary-treasurer, BC Federation of Labour, volunteer co-chair of United Way’s Period Promise campaign –

“The community and government response to the issue of period poverty has been incredible. The hundreds of thousands of donated menstrual products we’ve received will make a concrete difference in people’s lives, and with support from the Government of B.C., we can also create change on a wider scale, long-term.”

Learn More:

Participate in the United Way Period Promise campaign: https://www.uwlm.ca/

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


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20Mar

B.C. government doubling grant funding to provide low-cost dental care to more people

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Twenty-four not-for-profit dental clinics around the province will have their annual operating support from the British Columbia government doubled, helping them provide a mix of free and low-cost dental care to people living in poverty.

The $3.6 million in funding over three years, which includes $2 million to upgrade dental equipment in the clinics, comes just days after the Province launched TogetherBC, B.C.’s first-ever poverty reduction strategy.

“Too often, people living in poverty cannot afford to take proper care of their teeth because they have to put the basics like food and shelter first,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

“Access to quality, affordable dental health and hygiene care should be available to more people, and that’s why we’re making it a part of this government’s efforts to reduce poverty throughout B.C. This investment in community-based dental services will support not-for-profit dental providers across the province and benefit thousands of low-income families, children and seniors over the next three years.”

The one-time $3.6-million grant to the BC Dental Association (BCDA) will help B.C.’s 24 not-for-profit clinics provide more services to some of the province’s most vulnerable people, including:  

  • an annual grant of $20,000 for each clinic over the next three years to help offset the costs of materials and dental lab fees required to provide services to financially vulnerable people. The increase doubles the amount the clinics received in 2017. 
  • approximately $2 million over three years to support capital needs such as equipment like X-ray machines, dental chairs, pediatric equipment and computer software for the electronic submission of dental forms.

“Oral health is an important component of our overall health,” said Raymon Grewal, president, BCDA. “This funding will play a critical role in enhancing the access to dental care for financially vulnerable British Columbians, improving their quality of life and employment opportunities while also reducing the cost to the public health-care system by helping these patients remain free of oral pain and infection. The BCDA welcomes this partnership with the provincial government and looks forward to supporting its poverty reduction plan.”

Increasing access to dental care for people in need is part of TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy. TogetherBC reflects government’s commitment to reduce poverty and make life more affordable for British Columbians.

Guided by extensive engagement undertaken with thousands of British Columbians, TogetherBC represents a starting point for delivering on the targets introduced in the 2018 Poverty Reduction Strategy Act: a 25% reduction in B.C.’s overall poverty rate and a 50% reduction in the child poverty rate by 2024.

Quick Facts:

  • Not-for-profit dental clinics in B.C. provide dental treatment for free or at reduced rates to low-income families.
  • Last year, B.C.’s not-for-profit dental clinics provided safe, affordable, quality dental-care services during approximately 54,000 patient visits.
  • In addition to the non-profit clinics, through the Healthy Kids Program, children of low-income families can get help with the costs of basic dental care, prescription eyewear, hearing instruments and alternative hearing assistance.
  • In 2017, the Province increased funding by $6 million annually for the BC Healthy Kids Program, bringing the current investment in the program to almost $30 million a year.

Learn More:

Reduced cost services offered by the BC Dental Association:
http://www.yourdentalhealth.ca/visiting-your-dentist/reduced-cost-clinics

Learn more about B.C.’s commitment to reduce poverty for the people of B.C.: 
http://www.gov.bc.ca/TogetherBC 

Find out about the Healthy Kids Program and low cost of dental care for children:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/healthy-women-children/child-teen-health/dental-eyeglasses


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18Mar

B.C.’s poverty reduction plan seeks solutions from across government: minister

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The British Columbia government has released guidelines it says will lead it toward the goal of reducing the province’s overall poverty rate by 25 per cent and child poverty by 50 per cent within the next five years.

Shane Simpson, the minister of social development and poverty reduction, says the province’s first-ever poverty reduction strategy called TogetherBC takes an approach that involves all of the government to assist the 557,000 people who are living in poverty.

He says TogetherBC’s programs, policies and initiatives tie together investments launched in the fall of 2017 and are being implemented over three budgets.

He says they include a focus on safe and affordable housing, cutting child-care costs for low-income families and raising income and disability assistance rates.

Simpson says his ministry alone will offer more than $800 million in support to people by 2022 and while those programs and other plans won’t end poverty, the NDP government is confident the strategy will help some of B.C.’s poorest.

Simpson made the comments Monday flanked by several anti-poverty and social service experts at a child care resource centre in Surrey. 


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