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Posts Tagged "hearing"

18Jun

New St. Paul’s Hospital to get $12 million for hearing loss centre

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The new St. Paul’s Hospital will feature a state of the art hearing loss centre, funded through $12 million in equal $6 million commitments from a Rotary Club foundation and the hospital’s own fundraising arm.


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The new St. Paul’s Hospital will feature a state of the art hearing loss centre, funded through $12 million in equal $6 million commitments from a Rotary Club foundation and the hospital’s own fundraising arm.

The Rotary Club of Vancouver has been supporting hearing loss or deafness for three decades. In 1985, it formed the Rotary Club of Vancouver Hearing Foundation to address an unmet need in the philanthropy community. Through bike-a-thons and other events, it has raised over $3.5 million.

But the $6 million pledge is the biggest fundraising challenge for the charity. Jack Zaleski, president of the Rotary’s hearing foundation, said the St. Paul’s endeavour will be separate from the smaller donor bike events.

“We recognize with this opportunity that we can do something truly extraordinary, creating the premier clinic for those afflicted with hearing problems and deafness, a centre where everything will be under one roof.”

Zaleski said the foundation will leave no stone unturned in its mission to raise money. It will approach pharmaceutical companies, technology companies and everyone else involved in supplying services and equipment for the hearing community.


The provincial government hopes that a new St. Paul’s Hospital will open for patients by 2026.

The most recent big donation to the hospital development project came from the Louie family, which owns London Drugs. Two years ago, Vancouver billionaire Jimmy Pattison pledged $75 million for the new hospital, which is expected to be built by the fall of 2026 at a cost of nearly $2 billion. The existing hospital on Burrard Street will likely be demolished with land sales helping to fund the redevelopment of the False Creek flats site.

The B.C. Rotary Hearing and Balance Centre will include examination rooms, surgical suites, research space and laboratories. Funds will be earmarked for audiology testing and research, tinnitus and vestibular conditions that often affect balance. Since hearing often affects seniors, the centre will have specialized care for those who, because of age, mobility and geography, are less likely to access specialized hearing care.

“Benefiting thousands of patients provincewide, this funding will help us transform the patient experience …” said Dr. Brian Westerberg, head of the division of otolaryngology at St. Paul’s.

He noted that hearing problems are sometimes linked to other conditions so the new centre will allow for improved interactions and collaborations between doctors and health researchers in numerous areas including neurology, physiotherapy, kinesiology, psychiatry, ophthalmology and gerontology

The existing BC Rotary Hearing and Balance Centre at St. Paul’s Hospital had 4,629 patient visits from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

Broek Bosma, chief development officer for the St. Paul’s Foundation, characterized the donation pledge by Rotary as a “golden opportunity we did not want to miss.”

St. Paul’s has been the province’s main referral centre for patients with complex ear and hearing problems and it was the first hospital in Canada to offer cochlear implants in 1982. Since then, nearly 800 adult patients have had the revolutionary procedure there. B.C. Children’s Hospital offers the procedure as well to pediatric patients.

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22May

Nix the noise: WorkSafeBC worried about hearing loss for service industry workers | CBC News

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Exposure to continuous loud noise at work can cause permanent hearing loss and WorkSafeBC is telling service industry employees to beware.

Dan Strand, director of prevention services at WorkSafeBC, says noise levels above 85 decibels during an eight-hour shift can cause hearing damage and the levels in nightclubs and bars are often higher. According to Strand, employers are required to have a noise control program in place if volume in the workplace is a health risk.

Strand says WorkSafeBC officers routinely find noise levels in clubs, pubs and cafes between 90 to 95 decibels. He told CBC’s On The Island guest host Megan Thomas there’s an easy way to test whether the environment is above 85 decibels: If you have to raise your voice into a “sort of yelling mode” to communicate with someone a metre away, it’s too loud.

‘Once it’s gone, it’s gone’

WorkSafeBC wants employees and their bosses to be aware of the risk and has created a new safety bulletin to help them take action.

The bulletin has tips for employers on how to reduce noise, such as using plastic containers instead of metal for dropping off dirty dishes. It is also recommended that staff rotate during shifts so that no employee is continuously positioned where the noise is loudest.

 

To protect themselves, WorkSafeBC suggests employees wear hearing protection and get a baseline hearing test withing six months of working in a loud bar or club.

“You do not want to see degradation of hearing. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and it doesn’t come back,” said Strand.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees, said WorkSafeBC’s focus on educating employers about the health impact of noise has been positive because many don’t know it’s a hazard.

Guignard said there are hearing protection devices that employees can wear that will cancel out background noise, but still allow them to hear customers who are speaking to them.

Between 2008 and 2017, WorkSafeBC accepted 3,343 disability claims for noise-induced hearing loss in B.C.




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21May

WorkSafeBC imposes new guidelines to prevent hearing loss among service industry workers

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Meagan Gill, CTV News Vancouver


Published Tuesday, May 21, 2019 1:16PM PDT


Last Updated Tuesday, May 21, 2019 1:21PM PDT

WorkSafeBC has released a new safety bulletin with noise control regulations for workers in the service industry.

The safety organization says many people working as servers and bartenders are reluctant to use hearing protection devices because they believe it will make it difficult to communicate with customers. 

“Studies show that when noise levels reach 90 decibels or higher, hearing protection actually improves your ability to hear speech,” said Dan Strand, WorkSafe BC’s director of prevention services. “We need to change how we think about hearing protection in the service industry.”

Repeated exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss in unprotected people. But studies by WorkSafeBC show that many pubs and nightclubs in B.C. exceed that level during a regular shift.

If noise exceeds the 85 decibel limit within an eight-hour shift, employers are now required by regulation to have a noise control and hearing conservation program.

Between 2008 and 2017, WorkSafeBC accepted 3,343 disability claims for noise-induced hearing loss in the province.

“Noise is a serious and widespread problem in many workplaces, and this includes the service industry,” said Strand. “Our research has found that most service sector workers and employers are not aware of the risk of hearing loss in their industry.”

The new safety guidelines urge workers to find hearing protection tools that work best for them and to get annual hearing tests. In addition, WorkSafeBC is also providing employees in the service industry with several online resources to better raise awareness on noise-induced hearing loss.


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3May

‘Poor Canada’: Will Meng Wanzhou extradition hearing threaten national interest?

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Read this story in traditional Chinese.


If anyone can appreciate the kind of pressure facing the Canadian prosecutors handling Meng Wanzhou’s extradition hearing, it’s Nick Vamos.

As the former head of extradition with the British Crown Prosecution Service, Vamos has handled many high-profile, international white collar cases in the U.K..

He says political concerns — such as China’s obvious displeasure with the Huawei executive’s arrest — may swirl in the background. And he has heard comments from politicians like U.S. President Donald Trump — who suggested Meng could be used a bargaining chip in a trade war — inadvertently hand defendants ammunition in their bids from freedom.

But Vamos — who now works as a London-based defence lawyer — says he’s never seen anything as overt as Beijing’s apparent attempts to bully Canada into releasing Meng: arresting and isolating two Canadians in China for allegedly spying, sentencing two more to death for drug trafficking and choking off imports of Prairie canola.

“That’s a new phenomenon,” said Vamos, a partner with Peters and Peters, a leading U.K. law firm with expertise in business crime.

“Or at least not a phenomenon that’s been so publicly and obviously displayed in an extradition case.”

‘I find that profoundly depressing’

Meng’s legal team will likely provide a roadmap along with the beginnings of a strategy for extradition proceedings when the Huawei chief financial officer makes her next B.C. Supreme Court appearance on May 8.

The 47-year-old faces the possibility of decades in jail if sent to the U.S. to face criminal charges of conspiracy and fraud in relation to accusations she lied to New York banks as part of a scheme that allegedly saw Huawei violate sanctions against Iran.

Canada has come under intense pressure from China to release Meng. Her supporters have crowded the Vancouver courtroom where Meng’s court proceedings take place. (David Ryder/Reuters)

Her lawyers have already raised concerns about what they called the “political character” of the case, along with hints they’ll be claiming abuse of process in the way Canada Border Services agents and the RCMP detained and arrested her at the Vancouver airport last December.

Vamos said prosecutors essentially act as a lawyer for the requesting state — the United States in Meng’s case. They wouldn’t normally be aware of the kind of back channel pressure that accompanies some extradition cases.

“Poor Canada — without wishing to sound patronizing — is being caught in the middle of this, and China are shamelessly using political tactics to intervene in what is supposed to be an open, transparent judicial process,” he said.

“And I find that profoundly depressing.”

‘The boyfriend of a very bad man’

Vancouver-based lawyer Gary Botting has written several books on extradition and constitutional freedoms, including one focused on the law surrounding extradition to the United States.

He believes Meng has a strong case, in part because her treatment could be seen as “unjust or oppressive” given the nature of her job and the way in which she was apprehended.

“The vice-president of an international corporation doing business hither and yon has to know they’re going to be safe from being arbitrarily arrested at an airport at the behest of a rival state,” he said.

“It’s just common sense that shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”

Botting said Meng has a number of possible grounds to challenge the extradition. Trump’s comments will almost certainly be among them, as will the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees she has already claimed were violated in a separate civil suit.

In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a judge’s decision not to extradite four men wanted in the U.S. for a $22-million telemarketing scam because of comments U.S. prosecutors made that would have led to a violation of their charter rights.

The Supreme Court of Canada upheld a decision not to extradite four men to the United States after a U.S. assistant attorney suggested one of them might be raped in prison if he didn’t waive his extradition rights. (Shutterstock)

The ruling came after an assistant U.S. attorney told CBC’s The Fifth Estate one of the accused would “be the boyfriend of a very bad man” if he waited out his extradition hearing and wound up in jail after a trial.

The men argued that they were being threatened with rape in prison, which would have violated the charter right to life, liberty and security of the person — not to mention the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

‘Political in nature’

Along those lines, Meng has already claimed in her civil case that the RCMP arranged for CBSA officers to detain her for three hours before she was officially arrested so she could be denied access to a lawyer and her electronic devices could be seized.

She said she was denied her charter rights to know the reason for her arrest, to retain and instruct legal counsel without delay and to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments about Meng could factor into her defence if she says she is being persecuted for political reasons. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Vamos said Trump’s comments won’t necessarily play a huge role during the hearing stage.

He said prosecutors will likely ask the judge to look at the record of actions of the U.S. Department of Justice in regards to Meng as opposed to the president’s off-the-cuff statements. 

The courtroom extradition hearing itself is supposed to be apolitical.

But if a judge commits Meng for extradition, the final decision to surrender belongs to Canada’s minister of justice.

And the Supreme Court of Canada, in a precedent-setting case involving a man accused in a mining fraud, has described the minister’s role in that part of the extradition decision-making process as “political in nature … at the extreme legislative end of the continuum of administrative decision-making.”

‘There will come a moment’

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland acknowledged this reality in an interview in February with CBC’s Ottawa Morning.

“Saying you’re a rule of law country doesn’t mean political decisions don’t get taken,” Freeland said.

“There will come a moment — as in all extradition cases, where the minister of justice will need to — could need to, depending on how things develop — could need to take a political decision about whether to approve the extradition.”

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has said that there may come a moment in the Meng case when a poltical decision is necessary. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

The Extradition Act says the minister “shall refuse to make a surrender” if it would be “unjust or oppressive having regard to all the relevant circumstances.”

The minister must also consider whether or not the prosecution is taking place to punish a person by reason of “race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, language, colour, political opinion, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability or status.”

But the law is silent on the types of pressures facing the Canadian government when it comes to Meng and China. Shortly after her arrest, the Chinese government arrested two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have since been accused of spying. According to Canadian officials, both men have been kept in isolation for months.

A third Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, was sentenced in January to death in China for allegedly trafficking drugs. He was originally given a 15-year sentence, which he appealed. And this week, a Chinese court handed the death sentence to a fourth Canadian, Fan Wei, for his role in an alleged methamphetamine trafficking ring.

The Chinese have denied any relation among the fates of Kovrig, Spavor, Schellenberg and Meng, but the Canadian government has raised concerns about the timing.

Meanwhile, China has choked off Canadian canola shipments, claiming to have found “dangerous pests” in imports of the grain, which account for about $2.7 billion of annual trade between China and Canada.

‘Nobody would be weeping’

Vamos sees an interesting parallel between Meng’s case and an English case that saw the director of the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office discontinue an investigation into allegations of bribery in connection with a multibillion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia in 2006 under extreme pressure from the Saudi government.

At the time, Prime Minister Tony Blair defended the decision by saying Britain’s “strategic interest” in terms of Middle East counterterrorism had to come first.

That proceeding differs from an extradition case in which Canada has little choice but to act in accordance with its international treaty obligations. But Vamos says the same kind of issues are at play.

“That puts them in this awful position where they have to carry on with the case knowing or suspecting that it might have these terrible consequences for Canadian citizens or the Canadian economy,” Vamos said.

“So what do they do about that? Presumably they can talk to the Americans on various channels to say: ‘Can you please not put us in this position?’ But that gets very complicated because the Americans would look like they’re giving in to Chinese pressure.”

Vamos said he has discussed the Meng case with Canadian counterparts and has been following it with interest. If nothing else, it’s keeping the world of extradition experts entertained.

He won’t be drawn into betting on the outcome.

“I say this glibly, but I’m sure nobody would be weeping for too long if somehow she just managed to give her security detail the slip and left Canada on a false passport wearing a fake beard and moustache and appeared in China somewhere,” he said.

“I’m not saying that’s going to happen. But who knows?”


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1May

May is Speech and Hearing month, Yat Li addresses that

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Yat Li of the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, in Vancouver on May 1. Li was born with tiny ears and now has prosthetic ones. The hard-of-hearing refer to deafness as the invisible disability, Li, communications and marketing manager with the WIDHH, said.


Arlen Redekop / PNG

In a way, suffering from hearing loss is worse than many other physical ailments because, for one, it’s not particularly visible.

In fact, the hard-of-hearing refer to it as the invisible disability, Yat Li, communications and marketing manager with the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WIDHH), said.

“Growing up in the ’90s, I was very self-conscious,” Li said. “I had lots of problems, without wearing hearing aids I am not able to function normally.”

He was born in Hong Kong with microtia — tiny ears, one of about 40,000 born every year with the condition worldwide — and his family moved to Coquitlam when Li was five.

There was practically no Chinese culture in Coquitlam then, Li didn’t speak English well (nor, for that matter, did he speak Cantonese well). It’s hard to learn to speak when you have profound hearing loss.

About 157,000 people report being deaf or hard-of-hearing in B.C., according to WIDHH figures. Hearing loss affects social skills, learning and mental health.

“Many of us take our ability to communicate for granted, but the ability to speak, hear and be heard is much more vital to our everyday lives than most of us realize,” says Speech-Language & Audiology Canada. “For those who have difficulty communicating, everyday interactions can pose significant challenges.

“A communication disorder may prevent an individual from performing well at work, asking for help, hearing instructions at school or even saying. ‘I love you’.”

And whereas poor eyesight is corrected by something that’s become a fashion accessory — eyeglasses — hearing aids don’t enjoy the same panache.

Li has prosthetic ears (they look great). The ears are attached magnetically to small posts inserted into his skull, sitting where his tiny biological ears used to be. He had the surgery to install them when he was 21 by Vancouver doctor Jack Zolty at the Realistic Prosthetic Studio. The procedure cost $5,000, as did each ear, a cost not borne by the Medical Services Plan because he wasn’t considered deaf enough.

Li can swim with his ears on. He takes them off at night. And the hearing aid is hidden behind his right, attachable ear.

Growing up, Li wore his hair long in embarrassment, classmates made fun of him. He was an ethnic minority, he was small, he had those tiny ears, he was easy to pick on. Even today, folks who should probably know better make jokes at his expense: Things like, when it’s raining, cautioning Li not to get electrocuted.

“It’s funny to them, I guess, it’s not funny to me,” he said.

Li worked in marketing in the hotel industry up to 18 months ago when he got tired of hiding his hearing loss, tired of faking it like he was “ordinary.” He was scared people would look at him differently, feel he was weak if they knew the truth.

“It took me a long time of trying to live with who I am and what I am. I’ve only become open to sharing myself, sharing who I am, recently,” the 30-year-old Li said.

Besides his work with the deaf and hard-of-hearing institute, which by the way isn’t government funded but that relies on charitable donations for its work and to pay for its staff of 40 or so, Li markets his Acoustic Wear line, clothing with sayings such as ‘Pardon Me?’ and ‘Hear I Stand’.

And, in his quest to be an inspiration for others, he addresses conferences around the globe.

“I want others to feel empowered and inspired and motivated by someone who went through what I faced, because I did not think I would be here right now,” Lee said.

“For parents, I want you to know you can love your kid with no barriers. You know the cards you’ve been dealt is not the perfect hand. It’s about how you play them. Show affection to your kids, love them for who they are. That’s when they’ll realize, ‘Hey, it’s OK to be me.’ ”

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29Jan

Overbilling Vancouver physician faces discipline hearing

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The medical office of Dr. Viem Chung Nguyen at 1209 Kingsway in Vancouver.


PNG

A Vancouver doctor who was ordered to repay $2 million related to medical service over-billings now faces a disciplinary hearing for refusing to answer questions from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C.

Nguyen has been summoned to the college discipline committee meeting Feb. 12. The purpose of the hearing is to inquire into his “conduct or fitness to practise medicine in B.C.”

He is charged with failing to respond to multiple communications and correspondence from the college. But when there are serious findings by the Medical Services Commission about irregular, or even fraudulent, billing by doctors, as there was in 2017, the case often ends up back at the college for an investigation into the doctor’s ethical and professional conduct.

Nguyen graduated from the University of Montreal medical school in 2002. He specializes in physical and rehabilitation medicine, otherwise known as physiatry. Such doctors — there are three dozen in B.C. — have a broad range of knowledge about the musculoskeletal, neurological, rheumatological and cardiovascular systems.

Outpatient physiatrists (those working in communities as opposed to in hospitals) would see patients with orthopedic injuries, spine-related pain and dysfunction, occupational injuries and overuse syndromes, and chronic pain, for example.

Kristy Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health said Nguyen can’t bill the Medical Services Plan until he is eligible to re-enroll after May 31 of this year. Strangely, Nguyen’s medical receptionist told a reporter over the phone that an appointment could be booked after a doctor’s referral and that he doesn’t charge patients directly; a B.C. Services Card (formerly known as the CareCard) can be used, she said.

Although the government insists that doctors should never bill patients directly for medically necessary services, Nguyen can do so during the temporary de-enrolment.

“During this time, Dr. Nguyen can practise medicine; it is only the college of physicians and surgeons that can remove that right. But he cannot bill to the Medical Services Plan,” Anderson said.

Susan Prins, spokeswoman for the college, said that as a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, “it is reasonable that a major part of his work might be privately funded, independent medical exams, but I can’t confirm that’s the case.”

Neither of the officials could answer why the receptionist told a reporter posing as a prospective patient that a visit would be publicly funded.

It’s unclear if Nguyen has paid back the $2 million he agreed to repay after an audit found a large number of billing irregularities. The government refuses to divulge such information. 

“Due to privacy restrictions under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the ministry is unable to release any third-party financial information or personal details,” said Anderson. 

“If an individual fails to pay an amount assessed by the audit, they are referred to the Ministry of Finance to pursue collection action as outlined in the Financial Administration Act or the governing statutes,” she added. 

Last year, the commission issued a report that said an onsite audit found poor documentation of Nguyen’s patient records and “for several patients, there was no evidence that Dr. Nguyen ever provided any care to that patient.” 

According to the latest commission report, the government body was able to recover about $8 million in 2017-18 from 18 audited doctors who were deemed to have over-billed in recent years.

There are about 11,000 doctors in B.C.

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Appeal court rejects bid by first doctor ever thrown out of B.C. Medical Services Plan

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22Jan

Roughly 2/3rds of Canadians are concerned about mobility, hearing and vision issues: new study

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A new study from the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Angus Reid Institute suggests more than two-thirds of Canadians fear someone in their lives will face mobility, hearing or vision disabilities in the next 10 years.

Roughly the same two-thirds concerned about a family member or a friend are also worried they too may face similar challenges.

Overall, almost one quarter of Canadians say they have a disability or face mobility, hearing, and vision challenges.

According to the study, 28 per cent of adults aged 35-54 expect to deal with a disability in the next five to 10 years – that number rises to 32 per cent for adults over age 55.

Canadians are also concerned about accessibility to buildings, the study indicates.

Seventy per cent of respondents said they believe any new building that can be made accessible for all should, and one in five Canadians would support a business more knowing it was certified as accessible.

The study also looked at the economic backgrounds of the respondents, and found nearly half of all people who say they’re directly affected by a disability come from households with combined incomes of less than $50,000 annually.

But for those directly affected and earning $100,000 or over, the number plummets to only 14 per cent.

The poll data comes from an online survey that ran from Nov. 14 to Nov. 20 2018, from 1,800 randomized members of an Angus Reid study group.


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23Nov

NEB to hold Trans Mountain reconsideration hearing in Victoria next week

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The National Energy Board will hear from Indigenous groups in Victoria next week as part of reconsideration hearings for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.

Sessions are set to take place at the Delta Hotel Ocean Pointe Resort beginning Monday, Nov. 26 and continuing through Thursday.

Over the week, the board will meet with members of the Stó:lō Tribal Council, Kwantlen First Nation, Tsawout First Nation, Tsartlip First Nation and Squamish Nation from B.C., and the Swinomish, Tulalip, Suquamish and Lummi Nations from the U.S.

In August, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned Ottawa’s approval of the project, saying the NEB’s initial environmental assessment was flawed.

The project was sent back to the review phase to address tanker traffic concerns and engage in more meaningful consultation with First Nations.

That decision came on the same day Kinder Morgan sold the pipeline to the Canadian government for $4.5-billion, not including construction costs.

In September, the NEB was given six months to complete the new review. It completed one hearing in Calgary on Tuesday, with the second taking place in Victoria next week.

First Nations and environmental groups have expressed concerns about the potential for diluted bitumen spills and increased tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast if the pipeline expansion is built.

Possibly expecting a large turnout of protesters, Victoria police said they would deploy temporary CCTV cameras near the Delta for the hearings.

After the new NEB hearings conclude, the board will have to submit a report with its new findings by Feb. 22, 2019. 


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