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3Oct

Election 2019: Where the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Greens stand on 12 key issues for B.C.

by admin

A federal election 2019 platform primer: Brief summaries of where the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and Greens stand on 12 major issues, and highlights of what they are promising Canadians.


Tens of thousands of people concerned about the state of the Earth’s climate converged on Vancouver City Hall on Sept. 27.

Jason Payne /

Postmedia News

Climate change/carbon tax/fossil fuels

Liberals

The Liberals commit to planting two billion trees in a $3 billion plan to conserve forests, agricultural lands, wetlands and coastal areas. They promise carbon neutrality — balancing emissions against carbon offsets —  by 2050 and to halve taxes for companies that develop or manufacture products with zero emissions. They propose interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to make homes more energy efficient and a grant for people who buy carbon neutral homes. They plan to send disadvantaged kids to camp so they’ll learn to love the outdoors.

Conservatives

The Conservatives promise to meet Canada’s Paris commitment to cut emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, but provide few specifics. They would scrap the carbon tax. They believe Canada would make little impact on climate change by reducing emissions at home, so would make Canadian oil and gas cleaner to replace dirtier products from other countries. The parliamentary budget office says the party’s green homes tax credit for energy-saving renovations would cost $1.8 billion over three years.

NDP

The NDP promises to help stabilize the global temperature rise to 1.5 C. It would continue carbon pricing and will clamp down on big polluters. It would move government vehicles to electric by 2025. It would retrofit all housing stock in Canada by 2050, giving low-interest loans to homeowners. It says all new buildings would have net-zero emissions by 2030. It would power Canada with net carbon-free electricity by 2030. To pay for these steps, it would redirect the billions spent on oil and gas subsidies.

Greens

The Greens pledge $3.2 billion over five years to help keep the global temperature rise to 1.5 C. They would go beyond the Paris targets, promising a 60 per cent cut in carbon emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, and to set emission limits and penalties for industries. By 2030, all of Canada’s electricity would come from renewable sources. The party would fund building retrofits and ensure new construction meets carbon neutral standards by 2030. It would reduce nitrogen fertilizers and support farmers to shift to regenerative farming.


Pipes destined for the Trans Mountain pipeline are moved by rail through Kamloops in June.

Gerry Kahrmann /

PNG

Trans Mountain pipeline

Liberals

Leader Justin Trudeau made a bargain on the environment and the economy: Cancel the Northern Gateway oil pipeline, approve the Trans Mountain expansion, create a national carbon tax and get concessions from Alberta, including phasing out coal energy and capping oilsands emissions. In 2018, Trudeau bought Trans Mountain for $4.5 billion. A second approval for pipeline expansion was given in June. Said Trudeau: “We need to create wealth today so we can invest in the future.”

Conservatives

Leader Andrew Scheer supports the Trans Mountain expansion. But more is needed to encourage oil and gas projects, say Conservatives. That includes repealing the carbon tax and Bill C-69, which overhauled federal environmental assessments of major construction projects, and ending the ban on shipping oil on the B.C. north coast. Scheer would use federal powers to declare a major project in the national interest. Criticizing the Liberal approach, Scheer said: “Not a single inch of new pipeline has been laid.”

NDP

Leader Jagmeet Singh wants the Trans Mountain expansion abandoned, saying it will undermine efforts to fight climate change. The NDP also worry about ocean spill risks. Approval of the project ignores violations of Indigenous rights, says the party. In criticizing Liberal approval of the project, Singh said: “While they’re great with symbolic gestures like voting for a climate change emergency, they do the opposite of helping the environment the very next day with the approval of this pipeline expansion.”

Greens

Green leader Elizabeth May was arrested in Burnaby in 2018 for protesting the Trans Mountain expansion. “The commitment to build a pipeline in 2018, when we are in climate crisis, is a crime against future generations and I will not be part of it,” said May. The Greens would cancel the project. The party would cut subsidies to fossil fuel industries of several billion dollars a year and would redirect the money toward a transition to renewable energy.


Redevelopment work at Heather Place, an affordable housing project in Vancouver, in September.

Gerry Kahrmann /

Postmedia News

Affordable housing 

Liberals

The Liberals promise to help people with annual incomes below $120,000 (and up to $150,000 in high-cost areas such as Vancouver) by taking up to 10 per cent off the price of a home with the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, budgeted at $1.25 billion over three years. This applies to homes up to $789,000 in expensive regions such as Vancouver. The party promises a national anti-speculation tax of one per cent on non-resident, foreign owners; it’s estimated to create revenue of $940 million over four years.

Conservatives

The party promises to change the Liberals’ mortgage stress test to ensure first-time homebuyers aren’t unnecessarily prevented from getting mortgages, and to work toward removing the stress test from mortgage renewals. It would increase amortization periods on insured mortgages to 30 years for first-time homebuyers to lower monthly payments, make surplus federal real estate available for development to increase the supply of housing, and hold a $20-million inquiry into money laundering in the real estate sector.

NDP

The NDP promises to create 500,000 units of affordable rental housing in the next 10 years, financed by $5 billion in the first 18 months of government, and also to create “fast-start funds” to help communities build co-ops, social, and non-profit housing. It would waive the federal GST on construction of new rentals; reintroduce 30-year terms to CMHC-insured mortgages on entry-level homes; double the homebuyer’s tax credit to $1,500; put a foreign buyer’s tax on sales to non-Canadians.

Greens

The Greens would make housing a fundamental human right, and work with provinces to build 25,000 new rental homes and 15,000 rehabilitated units annually for the next 10 years. They promise to: boost funding for new builds by $750 million and for rent assistance by $750 million to help 125,000 rental households; better support provincial and municipal housing projects; provide financing to non-profits to expand housing for seniors, people with special needs and low-income families; restore tax incentives for building rental housing.


Children at the Novaco Daycare in North Vancouver- Ma visit Novaco Daycare in North Vancouver in May.

Jason Payne /

Postmedia News

Child care 

Liberals

Liberals promise to improve the accessibility to and affordability of before- and after-school care for kids in elementary school. The party says it has created thousands of new preschool child care spaces and would create up to 250,000 more for kids ages five to 10. It would improve child care hours for people who work overtime or late shifts. It promises to reduce fees 10 per cent, which could save a family of four around $800 annually. The party has promised new funding of $535 million a year.

Conservatives

The party has not made any campaign announcements about child care. It has promised to make maternity benefits tax-free, which could save an average Canadian $4,000 a year. It would reintroduce a children’s fitness tax credit, allowing parents to claim up to $1,000 a child annually for sports, and a children’s arts and learning tax credit, allowing parents to claim up to $500. The budget office says this would cost $616 million in its first year, increasing annually.

NDP

The NDP would enshrine in law a commitment to high-quality public child care. The party notes provinces such as Quebec, B.C. and Alberta have made investments in child care and it promises to “build on that work” by investing $1 billion in 2020 and growing that investment annually, in conjunction with provinces and territories. It gave no specifics for the number of spaces planned, but said affordable child care helps the economy by allowing parents to work.

Greens

The Greens say universal child care is crucial for women’s equality and promise to increase funding to at least one per cent of GDP annually, adding an additional $1 billion each year until this level is reached. The party did not say the number of new spaces it would create. It would eliminate GST on construction of new child care spaces. The party plans to boost early educator jobs, locate new facilities along transit routes and strengthen parental leave benefits.


B.C. launched a review of money laundering controls at casinos in 2017.

Francis Georgian /

Postmedia News

Related

Money laundering

Liberals

In this year’s budget, the Liberals promised $70 million over five years to create a money-laundering task force and support financial intelligence gathering. Another $68.9 million over the next five years was earmarked to strengthen policing. The Liberals also amended the Criminal Code this year to make it easier to prove money laundering. “This is a real problem we are taking seriously,” Trudeau said following a B.C. report that estimated laundering at $46.7 billion in Canada.

Conservatives

Scheer announced that his party would launch a national money-laundering inquiry to “root out” corrupt practices that inflate housing prices. About $20 million would be budgeted for the two-year inquiry, meant to produce recommendations for regulatory and legislative changes and extra enforcement. The inquiry would be able to compel testimony and order disclosure. “We believe this will get to the bottom of the shadowy practices that are going on,” said Scheer.

NDP

The NDP announced it would launch a national inquiry to determine why there hasn’t been sufficient investigation into a criminal activity that is “so widespread.” The NDP would create an RCMP anti-money-laundering unit supported with $20 million a year, with $10 million of that earmarked for B.C. The NDP would work with provinces to create a registry to increase transparency about who owns properties. “This is a direct issue the federal government can play a massive role in flagging, identifying and in ending,” said Singh.

Greens

The Greens are calling for a public inquiry into what the RCMP and other agencies knew about money laundering in B.C. casinos and why they did not expose the corruption. In the House of Commons this year, May said: “What did the RCMP know, why did they turn a blind eye and are we looking into it?” The party says a crackdown is needed on financial crime, suggesting a special RCMP unit and more resources for investigations and prosecutions.


Pro-China protesters at a counter-rally outside the Chinese consulate in Vancouver in August during a protest against allegations of police brutality in Hong Kong.

NICK PROCAYLO /

PNG

Canada-China relations

Liberals

The Liberals recently named Dominic Barton, a businessman with extensive experience in Asia, as Canada’s ambassador to China. They hope he will reset a relationship that collapsed following Canada’s detaining last December of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S., the arrest of two Canadian citizens in China a few days later and China’s blocking of important Canadian exports. Organizers of an election debate on foreign policy in September cancelled the event after Trudeau dropped out.

Conservatives

In response to China blocking Canadian exports, the Conservatives pledge to pull $250 million in funding from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is headquartered in Beijing. Scheer said he is against using Canadian tax dollars to build infrastructure in countries that China influences. He said the focus of the relationship between Canada and China should be on the two Canadians detained there, and that a reset in that relationship begins with a prime minister who stands up to China.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh is calling for the focus of the Canada-China relationship to be on the Canadians detained in China. He said trade with China has focused on free trade that doesn’t benefit workers. He described the Chinese ban on canola, pork and beef exports as being “unfairly targeted by China despite a lack of scientific evidence” and said China is punishing Canadian producers over a diplomatic disagreement. He has called for the Liberals to protect Canadian workers.

Greens

May has been critical of the Canada-China Investment Treaty brought in by the Conservatives in 2014. She has said it allows discriminatory practices towards Canadian enterprises and allows for “secret” government-to-government wrangling “in which China’s larger economic weight is likely to lead to all manner of concessions by our government.” The relationship “is imperilled by some rather large forces that are outside of our control. Donald Trump is poking China with a stick and creating a trade war. We’re caught in the middle.”


A treatment room in the emergency department at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

Health care

Liberals

The Liberals promise to spend $6 billion over four years to ensure every Canadian has access to a family doctor or primary health care team. They would also set national standards for access to mental health services, expand access to home care and “take the critical next steps” toward universal pharmacare to include prescription drug coverage. They would increase funding for pediatric cancer research by $30 million in 2020 and create a national Institute for women’s health research to tackle gaps in care.

Conservatives

The Conservatives would continue the health care transfer to provinces and maintain the funding increase of at least three per cent a year. The party would spend $1.5 billion on MRI and CT machines. It would reduce the number of hours required per week on therapy to qualify for the disability tax credit to 10 from 14. The Conservatives have not pledged to introduce universal pharmacare and Scheer has said he doesn’t trust the Liberals to implement it.

NDP

The NDP would create a universal pharmacare program starting in late 2020 at a cost of $10 billion. The party would expand public dental care coverage to households making under $70,000, starting in 2020, and copayments for households earning $70,000-$90,000, at a cost of $560 million in the first year, $1.9 billion in the second year and up to $850 million after that. The NDP would fight efforts to privatize health care.

Greens

The Greens would change the federal-provincial Health Accord to base health transfer payments on demographics and needs in each province, rather than on GDP growth. The party would Introduce universal pharmacare and free dental care for low-income Canadians and would reduce drug patent protection periods. It would expand mental health and rehabilitation services and access to safe abortion services. It would improve health care for Indigenous Peoples by implementing calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


Clients and workers at the Career Zone Youth Employment Centre in Vancouver in June.

Nick Procaylo /

Postmedia News

Jobs

Liberals

The Liberal’s platform on job creation focuses on supports to workers and supports for business. The promises to workers include guaranteed training for apprentices and $100 million in funding for skills upgrading, specifically for work in conducting energy audits, building retrofits and carbon-neutral home construction. To business, the party promises to cut in half corporate taxes for businesses in zero-emission industries, including renewable energy and zero-emission vehicles. It also plans to cut the cost of incorporating a small business.

Conservatives

The Conservatives’ platform includes creating a national energy corridor to carry oil, natural gas and electricity as a means to “create wealth, prosperity and opportunity” for Canadians. The party’s platform also plans support for small business by exempting spouses from new taxes on dividend payments from small businesses, reducing “red tape” in federal regulations by 25 per cent, and enforcing a rule to cut two old regulations for every new regulation introduced on business.

NDP

The NDP ties its goal to reduce carbon emissions to its promise to create jobs, estimating that clean energy, sustainable infrastructure and energy-efficient buildings will create 300,000 new jobs. Forestry is singled out, both for the role of forests in climate health and the source of jobs that support rural communities. The party promises to support innovation in value-added manufacturing of forest products and reforestation. It would allow workers to qualify for employment insurance after quitting work to return to school.

Greens

Acknowledging job losses in oil and gas production while phasing out fossil fuels, the Greens vow a “just transition” for workers from those sectors into renewable energy and in construction for energy-efficiency retrofits of buildings. The plan includes a fund to support training and a community benefit strategy to maximize local hiring and purchasing. May has also proposed a “robot tax” that employers would pay when they replace workers with artificial intelligence, with the revenue used to retrain workers.


Marchers in the Parade of Action on the Overdose Crisis in Vancouver in April.

Jason Payne /

PNG

Drug policy/opioid overdose epidemic

Liberals

The Liberals pledge $700 million in additional funding between 2020 and 2014 to expand access to drug treatment and to combat opioid and meth addictions. The party will help provinces expand community-based services, build more in-patient rehab beds, and “scale up the most effective programs” — such as extending hours for Vancouver’s Insite and other safe consumption sites. It will also make drug treatment court the default option for first-time non-violent offenders charged exclusively with simple possession, to help drug users get quick access to treatment.

Conservatives

A spokeswoman said the party has not yet released its policy, but will “in the coming weeks.” On the campaign trail, leader Andrew Scheer has criticized the Liberals for expanding supervised-injection sites without properly consulting communities. He has told reporters that a Conservative drug policy would focus on getting people off drugs, not “maintaining” a life of addiction. The former Conservative government tried unsuccessfully to have Vancouver’s Insite shut down.

NDP

The NDP promises to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency and to work with governments and experts to end “the criminalization and stigma of drug addiction” so people can get help without fear of arrest. The party supports overdose-prevention sites. It would expand access to treatment on demand, launch an investigation into the role of drug companies in opioid overdoses and seek financial compensation for the public costs of the crisis, and “get tough” on traffickers. The platform provides no cost estimates.

Greens

The Greens promise $100 million annually to respond to the opioid crisis, plus $1 billion annually for treatment that includes mental health and addictions. The party’s platform promises to declare a national health emergency, plus “Recognize that fentanyl contamination is why deaths are more accurately described as poisonings than overdoses. Drug possession should be decriminalized, ensuring people have access to a screened supply and the medical support they need. … Increase funding to community-based organizations to test drugs and make naloxone kits widely available.”


Renderings for the proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain extension.

Submitted /

Postmedia News

Transportation/infrastructure

Liberals

The Liberals say they will create a national infrastructure fund to support yet-to-be-determined “major nation-building projects.” They would make permanent the federal commitment to fund public transit, and put in an additional $3 billion a year in stable funding on top of gas tax transfers, and require that new federal investments in public transit are used to support zero-emission buses and rail starting in 2023. They would also support the transition to zero-emission fleets for school and transit buses, and encourage businesses to convert their fleets.

Conservatives

The Conservatives have committed to ensuring promised infrastructure projects will proceed, with top priority to infrastructure projects that shorten commute times, like the George Massey Tunnel replacement. They would scrap the $35-billion Canada Infrastructure Bank. They would reintroduce a transit tax credit similar to the one ended in 2017, which will apply to monthly and weekly passes, and some electronic fare cards. It’s estimated that over 10 years, the tax credit will cost the government $2.2 billion.

NDP

The NDP would introduce a permanent funding mechanism for public transit. It wants to electrify transit and municipal vehicles by 2030, expand rail service, work with provinces and municipalities toward “fare-free transit” and re-establish rural bus routes formerly covered by Greyhound and expand bus service in rural regions. It would use community benefit agreements for infrastructure projects. To encourage zero-emission vehicle adoption, it would extend federal incentives for vehicles and chargers, waive federal taxes on purchases and expand charging networks.

Greens

The Greens would develop a national transportation strategy with the goal of reaching zero-carbon public transportation — rail, light rail and electric buses — across Canada by 2040, and revamp the Canada Infrastructure Bank. They would ban the sale of internal combustion engine passenger vehicles by 2030, require all passenger ferries to convert to electric or hybrid by 2030, exempt new and used zero-emission vehicles from federal sales tax, expand charging stations, implement a passenger rail transportation policy, create a cycling and walking infrastructure fund, and develop “green freight transport program.”


Gas and auto insurance are among many living expenses on a steep rise in B.C.

Nick Procaylo /

Postmedia News

Related

Cost of living

Liberals

The Liberal plan is to reduce personal income taxes by raising the personal exemption to $15,000 from $12,069, saving the average Canadian $292 and the average middle-class family $585. The party takes aim at cellphone bills, promising that increased competition would reduce them 25 per cent and threatening regulation if that doesn’t happen. The party would increase student grants by $1,200, to reach $4,200 a year. The party’s promises to seniors include increasing old-age-security payments by 10 per cent.

Conservatives

The Conservatives’ tax plan aims straight at cutting the lowest-bracket tax rate to 13.75 per cent from 15 per cent, which the party bills as its “universal tax cut,” saying it will save as much as $440 for individuals or $850 for a two-income family. The party’s plan also includes increasing Registered Education Savings Plan grants to $750 a year from $500 and reviving tax credits for expenses on children’s arts and sports programs and commuter transit passes.

NDP

The NDP platform doesn’t include promises to cut taxes but it does seek to reduce cellphone and internet bills and to make post-secondary education more affordable. The party would require carriers to introduce basic internet and cellphone plans, and would order caps on phone and internet bills. The NDP would cap and reduce post-secondary tuition and would eliminate interest on student loans and increase access to student grants. It would work toward making post-secondary education part of the public system.

Greens

The Greens call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and a “guaranteed livable income” to replace supports such as disability and social assistance payments. The party’s affordability plan also promises universal access to post-secondary education. That means free tuition for Canadian students and forgiving existing student debts held by the federal government. For seniors, the party would increase the Canada Pension Plan’s target for income replacement to 50 per cent of pre-retirement income from 25 per cent.


Seven-year-old Kenji Kirby waves the flag as she attends a Canada Day citizenship ceremony with her mom and dad in Vancouver on July 1.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

Immigration policy

Liberals

The Liberals would work with the U.S. to “modernize” the Safe Third Country Agreement. They would increase immigration to 350,000 a year by 2021 — up from 310,000 in 2018 — and would create a program to allow communities, chambers of commerce and labour councils to directly sponsor immigrants, with a minimum of 5,000 spaces. The party would make applying for Canadian citizenship free for permanent residents. 

Conservatives

The Conservatives would renegotiate the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which requires refugee claimants to request protection in the first safe country where they arrive. They would stop border crossings at unofficial points of entry. The Conservatives would improve language training and credential recognition so it is easier for immigrants to use their skills in Canada. The party would promote private sponsorships of refugees and prioritize “people facing true persecution.” They would set immigration levels “consistent with what is in Canada’s best interests.”

NDP

The NDP would suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement. It would work with provinces to address gaps in settlement services and improve foreign credentials recognition. The NDP would end the cap on applications to sponsor parents and grandparents, and address backlogs that delay reunification. The party would regulate immigration consultants, give status to caregivers brought to Canada and expedite their reuniting with families. They would set immigration levels to “meet Canada’s labour force needs and recognize people’s experiences, contributions and ties to Canada.”

Greens

The Greens would terminate the Safe Third Country Agreement. The party would include “environmental refugee” as a refugee category. It would create a system to evaluate immigrants’ education to help them get accreditation and jobs. It would also eliminate the temporary foreign workers program, increase immigration to address labour shortages, process the estimated 200,000 people in Canada who don’t have official status, and regulate immigration consultants. The Greens have not announced immigration levels but would “attract immigrants and establish a system that is fair.”

MORE: Federal election 2019

2Oct

Adaptability key to woman with cerebral palsy’s success as a structural engineer | CBC News

by admin

When Julia Halipchuk walks onto a construction site, it’s clear she’s one of the people in charge.

With a hardhat atop her head and an IPad showing construction designs in-hand, she surveys the day’s work.

But she wasn’t always that confident on a construction site. When she first began her job hunt as a structural design engineer, she searched for one based predominantly in an office.

Halipchuk has cerebral palsy, a breakdown in the neural pathways that can affect speech and movement. In Halipchuk’s case, it affects the right side of her body; she doesn’t have proper use of her hand and walks with a limp.

Because of her condition, she wasn’t sure she could fulfil the responsibilities required of an on-site engineer.

“It probably was rooted in a little bit of fear or cautiousness to make sure that I’m not putting myself out for rejection,” said Halipchuk from inside a gutted St. Andrew’s-Wesley United church in downtown Vancouver — her latest project where she’s the lead design engineer.

Julia Halipchuk’s current project is the structural restoration of St. Andrew’s-Wesley United church in downtown Vancouver. (Don Marce/CBC)

Yet despite her fear, she kept getting hired for jobs that required her to be on site.

And through her work, Halipchuk has learned the importance of identifying both her limitations and capabilities and effectively communicating what they are to her superiors.

In Canada, the employment rate for people with disabilities varies depending on the severity of the condition. While 76 per cent of people with mild disabilities are employed, that figure drops to 31 per cent if the disability is severe, according to Statistics Canada’s most recent numbers.

Adapting at work

Structural engineers are responsible for designing the bones of the building that eventually create the shape of the structure.

Half of Halipchuk’s work is spent in the office creating the construction designs; the other half is spent on site supervising the construction. 

However, working on site presents several challenges for Halipchuk, chief among them ladders.

“That’s probably my biggest weakness,” she said, due to the fact she isn’t able to maintain a proper three-point contact with her cerebral palsy.

To deal with this challenge, she had to find a way to adapt.

“As long as it’s not a tall vertical ladder, I’ve managed to find a way to climb it in a way I know I feel safe,” said Halipchuk.

Julia Halipchuk admits ladders present one of her biggest challenges on a construction, but says she has adapted how she climbs them. (Don Marce/CBC)

When on a ladder, Halipchuk will use her right arm to hook onto a ladder rung and stabilize herself. And when the ladder is too high and vertical, she says she will often swap duties with a colleague, allowing her to focus on groundwork.

Clear communication

 “It’s actually been quite easy to adapt to it,” said Hardeep Gill, Halipchuk’s supervisor at Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd.

He says working with Halipchuk hasn’t been any different than working with any other colleagues who might have limitations due to their stature or because of a fear of heights.

Gill says she’s always been clear about what her restrictions are.

“If you have that open conversation with someone, there’s a very high chance that [the company] will accommodate that,” he said.

“Something that you have in your mind might not even be that big of a deal [for the company].”

Julia Halipchuk works alongside her supervisor, Hardeep Gill, while on site at a structural restoration of St. Andrew’s-Wesley United church in Vancouver. (Don Marce/CBC)

Halipchuk knows deciding what career to pursue when you have a disability is difficult, but — based on her experience — she says start with some aspect of life you find interesting.

“You will find people and companies that will make a place for you in their workforce,” she said.

13Sep

Ross Chilton: Untapped talent pool is key to British Columbia’s future

by admin

https://vancouversun.com/


Persephone Brewing Co. CEO Brian Smith in the brewery’s hop yard in Gibsons in 2016. The company grows hops for its beer and has several acres dedicated to eggs and vegetable crops as part of a social enterprise that employs people with developmental disabilities. (Simon Hayter/PNG FILES)


Simon Hayter / PNG

All British Columbians deserve a meaningful job. We all want to be happy and proud of our workplace culture. We want our employers to thrive and succeed.

That is why it is good news that more and more B.C. businesses are employing people with intellectual disabilities. September is Disability Employment Awareness Month and Community Living B.C. has found that in 2019 more than 5,000 adults living with intellectual disabilities are now reporting an income. That’s up from 2,200 in 2013, although it still represents only 25 per cent of people who Community Living B.C. serves. This is an issue we continue to address with our partners through our Community Action Employment Plan.

This progress is thanks to the hard work of many, including change-driven business champions such as those in the B.C. network called the President’s Group. It’s due to visionary service agencies like those in the B.C. Employment Network. And it’s because of individuals who live with disabilities who are changing perspectives about what is possible.

Positive, dramatic change — the kind that moves businesses and communities from good to great — happens when we become aware of the biases that hold us back. When we see what people, businesses and communities can do, rather than what they can’t. When we see possibilities, rather than limits.

Daynna is the mother of a son who lives with autism and receives services from Community Living B.C. Last year, she was thrilled when a B.C. software company saw the potential of her son. “Soon after, we got the call: Tyler had a job! A paying job!,” recalled Daynna. “This was so amazing for Tyler and our whole family. It was hard to hold back the tears.” Inclusive hiring has the power to transform the future for individuals and their families.

It can also have a dramatic change our workplaces. The facts show that employees who live with disabilities are dedicated, loyal and perform as well as their colleagues. They foster a learning culture, enrich staff connections and improve workforce skills. They help create better, happier workplaces.

And according to accessibleemployers.ca, inclusive workplaces are two times more likely to meet or exceed financial targets, six times more likely to be innovative and six times more likely to effectively anticipate change. How can that be? It’s because companies that see possibilities are the companies that succeed.

Employment is a key element of the government’s poverty reduction strategy and there are resources to help B.C. companies make it happen. The government provides services and supports through Work BC and Community Living B.C. funded agencies for those looking for work and for employers seeking to hire inclusively. Programs like Ready Willing and Able and networks of leading B.C. businesses like the President’s Group, provide other resources and mentors.

This is important, because there are still large numbers of people who live with disabilities whose talents remain untapped. With clear evidence of their potential, and many helping hands, what’s holding us back? We have it within us to drive dramatic positive change for people, businesses and entire communities. It’s just a matter of seeing the possibilities.

Ross Chilton is CEO of Community Living B.C., the provincial Crown corporation that funds supports and services for adults with developmental disabilities, as well as individuals who have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and who also have significant difficulty doing things on their own.

23Mar

Sustainability key to the draw of Duet

by admin


NU Duet is a project from Adera in Coquitlam. [PNG Merlin Archive]


RAEF Architectural Photographer / PNG

Adera has been in operation for 50 years and the company is celebrating the milestone with the launch of Duet, a 72-home project that will be noteworthy for sustainability in multi-family residential living. Eric Andreasen, Adera’s vice-president of marketing and sales, says the quality of the building is set to be a big selling point.

“We’ve always been a leader in sustainability and we’ve only built in wood in 50 years,” he said. “We’re taking that concept to the next level with ‘SmartWood’, which will allow us to beat code when it comes to sustainability. Financially, it’s cheaper to operate on a monthly basis and it’s also helping the planet.”

“Duet will also incorporate what we’ve trademarked as QuietHome,” Andreasen added. “This is a propriety system of floor design and dividing walls that means our buildings perform better than the competition when it comes to the acoustics. Sound transmission is significantly reduced.”

The sales centre for Duet in Burquitlam Plaza at 552 Clarke Road features a demonstration of Adera’s noise-reducing technology. Potential buyers can compare noise levels in specially constructed rooms built either to standard code or using QuietHome.

Duet also features cross-laminated timber — or CLT — in the floors and elevator shafts of the building. A carbon-sequestering material that uses wood from sustainably managed forests, CLT performs as well if not better than concrete in numerous ways, according to Andreasen. Adera has installed an example at the Duet sales centre so that visitors will be able to experience it for themselves.

Andreasen said the location of the six-storey residential building less than three blocks from the Burquitlam SkyTrain station on the boundary of Burnaby and West Coquitlam is also likely to prove popular with a wide range of buyers. In its neighbourhood plan for the area, the City of Coquitlam envisioned a walkable, complete and transit-oriented neighbourhood with a mix of housing types and access to shopping, jobs and amenities. Duet is part of that transformation, according to Andreasen.

“It’s a very attractive part of the greater Vancouver area right now in terms of the value it offers and the accessibility it provides to downtown,” he said. “Duet will give people an affordable place to live, but also allows them to go anywhere with the SkyTrain or West Coast Express very easily – rapid transit on your doorstep.”

“In times when people are getting a bit more discerning about where they spend their money, they want to make sure they’re buying from somebody who’s been around and has the experience they can count on,” Andreason added. “Over 50 years we’ve worked with the very best trades and consultants in the industry and we’re confident in the product that we’re going to build.”

As for the homes themselves, kitchens will feature quartz slab countertops with porcelain tile backsplashes and single-handle faucets with pull-down sprays in matte black finishes. The appliance packages are a combination of KitchenAid and Fisher & Paykel.

Homes at Duet come in two colour schemes, but there’s plenty of opportunity to customize. Adera’s I.D. By Me program allows buyers to personalize kitchens, bathrooms and living areas according to their liking. Options under the program include custom millwork, upgrades to the kitchen appliances, swapping out the tub for a shower with pivoting glass door and adding space-saving custom closet organizers.

Duet will include a common kitchen and lounge, secure bike lockers, a storage locker for every home and electric vehicle-charging stalls. The interior designer for the project is Cynthia Florano Designs and the building was designed by Integra Architecture Inc.


Duet is a project from Adera in Coquitlam. [PNG Merlin Archive]

PNG

“One of our architectural influences has always been West Coast modern design and we’ve also leaned on natural materials like cedar,” Andreasen said. “You’ll see from the renderings that Duet has a feature corner with extensive use of natural materials that makes the building look really quite impressive.”

Homes at Duet have one to three bedrooms, range in size between 479 and 1,050 square feet and prices start at $394,900. Andreasen said he expects buyers from a wide range of demographics.

“A lot of people grew up in Burnaby and West Coquitlam and have maybe since been living in Yaletown or Kitsilano,” he said. “Many we’ve spoken to are actually coming back to the area or still have family there. Our demographic is going to be people who work downtown and need easy access to it but also want to be able to afford a home in this marketplace where it’s very expensive to own real estate.”

“We’re also seeing moms and dads who are looking at Duet on behalf of their kids, who may be students at SFU, which is very close by,” Andreasen added. “We’ve had a significant amount of interest already and there’s only 72 homes to choose from. We expect people will get in pretty quickly.”

Duet

Project location: 707 Como Lake Avenue, Coquitlam

Project size: 72 homes with one to three bedrooms; 479 —1,050 square feet; prices starting at $394,900

Developer: Adera

Architect: Integra Architecture Inc.

Interior designer: Cynthia Florano Designs

Sales centre: #106 – 552 Clark Road Coquitlam

Sales centre hours: noon — 5 p.m., daily

Sales phone: 604-937-9688

Website: Adera.com/Duet

 


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19Feb

Budget at a glance: 10 key takeaways from B.C.’s 2019 provincial budget

by admin

Finance Minister Carole James laid out a mostly stay-the-course provincial budget Tuesday in Victoria, albeit, with some surprises.

Here are the 10 biggest takeaways from B.C.’s 2018-19 provincial budget.

New child-care benefit…

A new child tax benefit was announced that helps most parents of kids 18 and under. (Zoe Duhaime)

The biggest announcement is likely the new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit. It replaces the Early Childhood Tax Benefit and offers some families a substantial increase both in monthly benefits and eligibility.

The new benefit covers all children under 18. The old benefit ended once a child turned six.

For instance, a family with income of $25,000 or less will receive a refundable tax credit of $1,600 for a first child, $1,000 for a second child and $800 for each subsequent child. 

Those dollar figures decrease with the family’s income.

Families with two children earning $114,500 or more will get no benefit while families making $97,500 with one child receive nothing.

The benefit can be applied for starting in October 2020. James said the delay is to align the province’s system with the federal tax code.

… But no daycare

The budget had little to say about one of the NDP’s key promises in 2017: universal, affordable child care.

The 2019 budget only mentions last year’s commitment to $1 billion to create child-care spaces and reduce daycare costs to parents over three years. 

The government has spent an additional $9 million each year on daycare beyond the $1 billion, however, as a result of increasing demand.

Interest-free student loans

The provincial portion of student loans will now be interest-free effective immediately. The announcement covers both current and existing student loans.

The government estimates borrowers will save an average of about $2,300 over its 10-year repayment periods.

Increases to disability, income assistance rates

The government increased disability and income assistance rates. (Zoe Duhaime)

People receiving income assistance or disability assistance will get $50 more each month starting in April.

In total, a single, employable person on income assistance will now be eligible for $760 per month. A person with disabilities will now receive $1,183 per month.

The NDP had previously increased these payments $100 per month since forming government. Benefits for a single, employable person will become the second-most generous in Canada, after Manitoba, and benefits for persons with disabilities are now the third-most generous after Alberta and Saskatchewan. 

Lottery funds for First Nation communities

A new 25-year agreement will see the province assign seven per cent of gaming revenue in B.C. to First Nations communities.

Each community will receive between $500,000 and $2 million each year from the agreement. 

The funds will come from gaming revenue that would normally go into general revenue.

ICBC still a big concern

ICBC’s financial health remains a concern. (Zoe Duhaime)

James highlighted the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia as a possible threat to the provincial bottom line. 

The Crown corporation has produced losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars in several recent financial quarters, and the budget document highlights the insurer as a source of “particular risk” if the situation does not improve.

James said problems outside of B.C., like U.S. trade issues or the slowing growth of the Chinese economy, are other threats to the province’s continued growth.

Housing moderation

Funding for 200 new units of temporary modular housing was announced. Funding for 2,000 units has already been announced. (Zoe Duhaime)

The province announced 200 extra temporary modular housing units are in the budget, as well as a new $10-million rent bank for those needing short-term help to stay housed. 

There was no progress on the NDP’s promised $400 per year renters’ rebate, but James said work on the file was ongoing. 

Clean B.C. rebates

Funding for Clean B.C. was announced in the 2019 budget. (Zoe Duhaime)

The province committed $900 million over the next three years to fund the rebates and incentives in the Clean B.C. program.

Those include rebates of up to $6,000 on new zero-emission vehicles, $14,000 for home improvements to improve energy efficiency and $700 for high-efficiency natural gas furnaces.

Clean B.C. is the provincial plan to reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 2007 levels by 2030.

Wildfire efforts but no structural changes

New funds were announced for fighting wildfires. (Zoe Duhaime)

Base funding for wildfire management was increased from $64 million per year to $101 million. The government says that money will improve wildfire control and communications in communities hit by fire.

The province will still use statutory spending to fight fires if the costs exceed that amount from, for example, contingencies and surpluses. Recent fire seasons have needed this extra funding.

Transit stays on track

New money was announced for handyDART service. As well, some new money was announced for highway improvement projects.


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