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Posts Tagged "life"

20Jul

A day in the life at Oppenheimer Park’s homeless camp | CBC News

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In the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, at least 100 people are living in tents at Oppenheimer Park located between Powell and Cordova streets, two blocks east of Main Street.

Each resident of the park has a unique story about how they ended up homeless and what they plan to do next. This is a day in the life of one of these residents, 51-year-old Stephen James Robinson who goes by the name “Red.”

Meet Stephen James Robinson, nicknamed “Red” because of his red hair. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Waking up in the zone. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

It’s 9 a.m. and Red wakes up in his “zone” — which consists of two tents and all his belongings — to the sounds of garbage trucks and angry neighbours. 

A city worker throws a bike into the back of a truck. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Two fire marshalls inspect inside a tent. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red says he’s afraid to leave his tent to go to the bathroom or to eat breakfast because he may return to find all his possessions have vanished. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Every day, workers from the city’s Transient Crew along with members of the fire department accompanied by members of the Vancouver Police Department come to the park to inspect the park for fire hazards.

On Thursdays, the inspection is thorough. They arrive with garbage trucks and pickup trucks and spend hours throwing away any items that are deemed a fire hazard or simply unattended. 

Fire marshalls and member of the VPD discover an unattended motorized bike inside one of the tents. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

City worker uses a pitch fork to push an entire tent into a garbage truck. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

According to Fiona York, coordinator and administrator for the Carnegie Community Action Project, weekly city inspections cost the city over $100,000. She questions why this money isn’t spent creating housing. 

Red begins to clean up his tent for inspection. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red has lived in Oppenheimer Park for two months, but has been homeless off and on since he was 35 years old. Over the years, Red has come to know many of the city workers and developed a good rapport with them. Even so, he knows he must clean up his tent to avoid having everything taken away.

Red cleans up his space on a daily basis. He also cleans up most spaces he visits in the Downtown Eastside, picking up litter and abandoned items or raking urban soiled areas to clean away dead brush. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red throws garbage into a bin. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red says he doesn’t like living in the park but that he feels he has no choice at the moment. He has been homeless for so long that “sometimes it feels weird to be inside.”

Like many people living in the park and on the streets in Vancouver, Red says there isn’t a single factor that led to his current circumstances. He says it has been a combination of many events including an old hip injury and a home invasion. But now that he is here, he is trying to make the best of it. 

There are more than 100 people living in tents in Oppenheimer Park. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Even so, Red finds joy in the little things. As he cleans up his tent he finds a piece of missing jewlery and gets excited at the discovery that it was not lost forever. 

Red finds a grasshopper. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

He also comes across a grasshopper and spends some time admiring the little creature.

Red is not afraid of pushing buttons and likes to make other people laugh. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red sits in his garden. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red finds joy in what he calls “urban recovery” which involves tidying pretty much any city space he comes across. His favourite piece of urban recovery is his garden. 

Stuffed owl sits in a branch on Red’s garden. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red says the garden is a little damaged, “just like all of us.” (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A horse shoe hangs upside down in the garden. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red puts sparkling plastic stars in a small tree. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Stew from the City of Vancouver’s Urban Issues Crews has known Red for the past 15 years and says he has “met so many good people out of this horrible situation”. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red adds more items to the garden as he awaits inspection. It takes several hours for the city workers to get to his tent and when they do they greet him by name. 

Red speaks with the clean up crew. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red sits proudly in his tidy tent. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Once the workers arrive, they inspect Red’s area and throw away one mattress. Overall, Red is pleased that he passed inspection with flying colours due to his three-hour clean-up.  

It’s 1 p.m. and the inspection is over so Red can leave his tent to go get lunch. 

On the way to lunch, Red stops for a snack at a blackberry bush on the side of the street. He says he stops here every day to eat berries and also do a bit of urban recovery. There is dead brush on the ground that he clears to reveal soil beneath. 

Cheers! (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Across the street from the berries is the Evelyn Saller Centre on Alexander Street where Red enjoys most of his meals. Conveniently for Red, most of the places he needs to go today are within a few blocks from each other.

Red drinks from a glass of milk. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

In Red’s words, he is a “very animated character.” (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

In the cafeteria at the Evelyn Saller Centre, meals are only $2. Today’s lunch features burritos with rice, sour cream, salsa, a fruit cup, slaw, soup, coffee, apple juice and water. The cost of the food is charged to his account on file that is connected to his disability funds. This allows Red to come here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner most days (when he isn’t watching his tent).

Red leaving the Carnegie Centre Outreach. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

After lunch, Red visits the Carnegie Centre Outreach where he picks up a copy of his Canadian citizenship, ID that he needs in order to apply for assistance such as housing services. 

Red uses his computer and phone mainly for entertainment such as watching YouTube or listening to music. He says that being homeless is really boring, so having access to entertainment is a treat. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red takes this document over to Orange Hall on East Hastings Street to check in on his housing placement and charge his electronics.

Julie Anderson goes in for a fist bump. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Julie Anderson works at Orange Hall which offers services such as providing secure and affordable accommodation for Vancouver tenants. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

As Red uses the outlet in the lounge to charge his electronics, Julie Anderson, a team assistant at Orange Hall, comes to pay a visit. Julie and Red first met while playing on the same rugby team have known each other for over 30 years. 

Anderson and Red joke back and forth outside Orange Hall on Hastings Street. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

When asked where Red is on the housing “list,” Anderson explains that’s a common misconception. There is actually a sophisticated database that lists each person’s individual needs and how those might be best paired with available housing. 

Red walks past the sign at Crab Park in Vancouver. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

When asked if she has any advice for people struggling with homelessness, she urges people to get connected to resources like Orange Hall. If they don’t, they’re invisible to helping agencies and therefore more vulnerable. 

Red says goodbye to Anderson and heads north. He has decided he needs an escape from the streets so he heads to Crab Park.

Red sits on a log at the beach. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Red says he much prefers the beach to the streets. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

He says he once lived on the beach under an umbrella for six  weeks. During that time he would clean away the large rocks to reveal the beach sand underneath — some of his proudest urban recovery work. 

Red waves goodbye at the end of the day. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

After the beach, Red will go back to the Evelyn Saller Centre. He has to arrive before 5:50 p.m. when the doors close. There, Red will have dinner and then enjoy some TV and indoor activities such as bingo.

At 11 p.m., when the centre closes, he’ll head back to his home in Oppenheimer Park. 

As Red waves goodbye, he says he would like the public not to be afraid to come visit him in Oppenheimer Park and say hello. 


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30May

Life expectancy stops increasing in Canada due to B.C. opioid overdose deaths: stats

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8Apr

Gambling for his life: Addiction to online gaming nearly cost one B.C. man everything

by admin

On the morning of Aug. 21, 2017, Tyler Hatch put his dogs in their crates and wrote two suicide notes — one to his parents, the other, his wife.

He downed a bottle of sleeping pills with four beers, then fixed a belt around his neck.

After alerting 911 (so his wife wouldn’t have to deal with his dead body when she got home from work), Hatch hung up the phone and waited for death.

Through the fog of asphyxiation he heard the the faraway ring of a phone. It was 911 calling back.

Hatch managed to answer. “I’m glad I did.”

He didn’t want to die, he wanted help.

That awful day was the beginning of a journey toward self-worth that would include facing up to a gambling addiction that cost him a half-million dollars, getting treatment, filing a lawsuit against the B.C. Lottery Corp., and later withdrawing the suit.

Hatch now wants to make two things clear: He takes full responsibility for his actions, and if his story can help others, he’s eager to share it.

In a bright Yaletown office, Hatch, who now specializes in digital forensics, opened up about his path through depression, gambling addiction and recovery.

His game was blackjack, his dealer was online, his hand was $500.

“It was just me against my computer,” said Hatch.

The whole time he was gambling, Hatch, 42, believed he was in control — he even signed up for voluntary self-exclusion periods of three to six months, meant to help gamblers put the habit on hold.

The problem started years before, when the Surrey-born lawyer began to feel stressed by the demands of his career in commercial litigation. He dealt with the pressure by self-medicating — fast food, a few too many beers after work. “I would dread the next day coming, so I would stay up late.”

He spiralled into a depression. In 2010, he had a breakdown.

Eventually, his doctor advised him he should not return to law. Hatch took a permanent disability settlement worth $5,000 a month.

Married with no children, and not working, still coping with depression, Hatch was at loose ends. He began to gamble casually online. There were no indications that gambling would become a problem. He was the guy who called it a day if he lost $100 at a casino.

Online, things were different.

“It’s not real money, it’s not a chip. It’s just a little blue dot on your computer screen. It doesn’t seem real.”

Hatch didn’t know it, but EGMs, or electronic gaming machines and VTLs (Video lottery terminals) are tied to higher rates of gambling addiction. Provinces with a higher proportion of EGMs have greater gambling addiction rates.

“I won all the time, massive amounts of money, ten grand within minutes,” said Hatch. But, like so many gamblers, he found it impossible to walk away with a win. “It wasn’t about winning or losing. It was about the rush of the game.”

Besides, he had something he was good at again.  He had a system. Sure, he lost more than he won, but he had a system, he kept spreadsheets, he was sure he could win back what he lost.

Hatch freed up more money by renegotiating his monthly disability for a lump sum settlement. In January 2016, he received a $550,000 payout.

Soon he was gambling $10,000 a week, the max allowed by BCLC online, and losing.

Hatch was also living a double life. No one knew what was happening. He didn’t understand it either. “I felt like I was consciously making a choice, I wasn’t aware of the compulsion.”

“My plan was to either win what I had lost back, or if I lost it all I was going to commit suicide.”

Within months, the money was gone. Hatch had hedged his bets, and lost.

The suicide attempt was a turning point. Friends and family supported his decision to enter a residential treatment centre. While in treatment, Hatch’s doctor noticed that one of the medications he was on, Abilify, was part of a class of dopamine agonists known to amplify compulsive behaviours, like gambling.

Now in recovery Hatch hopes others who recognize themselves in his story will reach out for help.

“There are a lot of free resources available,” says Hatch. “Talk to the people around you who want you to have a healthy, productive life. Talk to your friends, your family, your doctor.”

About 72.5 per cent of B.C. residents gamble in some form; 11.2 per cent identify as low to moderate and high-risk problem gamblers. At risk/problem gamblers are more likely to have mental health issues.

Life is amazing now, says Hatch. “I feel healthy. I don’t drink, I don’t gamble. I feel strong mentally.”

If you think you have a problem with gambling, go to www.bcresponsiblegambling.ca/resources-links/program-resources

[email protected]


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20Mar

Jail drugs: Ex-prisoner says no addiction help as life outside loomed

by admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'At least eight guys died in the 17, 18 months I was at Kent,' Rob MacDonald says of the Agassiz maximum security penitentiary.


‘At least eight guys died in the 17, 18 months I was at Kent,’ Rob MacDonald says of the Agassiz maximum security penitentiary.

Darren Calabrese /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rob MacDonald, who was released last week on supervision from the Atlantic Institution maximum security facility in New Brunswick after a 10-year stint in four facilities including Kent Institution in Agassiz.


Rob MacDonald, who was released last week on supervision from the Atlantic Institution maximum security facility in New Brunswick after a 10-year stint in four facilities including Kent Institution in Agassiz.

Darren Calabrese /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.

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9Mar

‘A matter of life or death’: Woman with lung disease wins complaint over neighbour’s smoking

by admin

The secondhand smoke in Ruth Bowker’s new home was so pervasive, she was forced to spend most of her time hiding in her bedroom, the only room she described as “consistently livable.”

The Abbotsford senior has pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic and progressive lung disease, and when she first viewed the condo as a potential buyer in 2015, there was no smoke smell, according to a decision from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. But before she and her husband took possession of the suite that November, two habitual smokers had moved in downstairs.

This week, the tribunal ruled the strata had failed to accommodate Bowker’s disability, and ordered it to pay her $7,500 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.

Bowker told the tribunal she was “horrified” to discover the smoke odour when she moved into her new place in the Clearbrook neighbourhood.

“Ms. Bowker began opening the patio doors even though it was late November, and purchased large fans to try to blow the smoke outside. She also bought two air purifiers. These measures were of little avail,” tribunal member Emily Ohler wrote.

Ohler said the condo complex’s strata “did very little” to help Bowker for a full year after she first complained about how the smoke was affecting her, and her health deteriorated during that time.

The lack of action from the strata, “prevented her from enjoying a regular existence within the confines of her home; it exacerbated her disability; it had a negative impact on her mental state; and it added to her already heavy mental load during a time she was dealing with her husband’s deteriorating health,” Ohler wrote.

‘But a person’s home is their castle’ 

The tribunal’s ruling provides an interesting discussion of how to balance individual property rights with the responsibility to accommodate a disability, and the need for strata councils to educate themselves on human rights law.

Bowker’s lawyer, Jonathan Blair, said the decision clarifies the legal obligations of strata councils, which tend to be made up of volunteers with little working knowledge of property law.

“It’s not necessarily legitimate for us to hold on to this sense of, ‘But a person’s home is their castle,’ as a defence against accommodating someone who’s facing a barrier. In the end, sometimes we have to give up … certain freedoms,” Blair said.

As Ohler points out, many cities and strata already place numerous legal limits on what people can do inside their own homes, including noise bylaws and rules against pets.

Bowker’s neighbour was defensive when she complained about the smoke, according to the decision. (Google Maps)

According to the decision, Bowker spoke to her neighbour, identified by the initials LR, shortly after she moved in. But the woman and her husband were defensive and Bowker wrote to the strata to complain on Dec. 15, 2015.

In turn, the strata wrote to LR and said any measures to minimize the smoke coming from her condo “would be greatly appreciated.” It also ensured some physical work was done on the two units in an attempt to contain the fumes.

But these steps did not stop the smoke from entering Bowker’s apartment, the decision says.

By the end of 2016, Bowker was still asking the strata for a solution, but the situation was getting dire. A doctor’s note submitted to the tribunal showed that she was beginning to have suicidal thoughts.

“She said, among other things, that her recent pulmonary function test showed a noticeable deterioration. ‘This is a matter of life or death for me, literally,’ she said,” Ohler wrote.

The strata sent a cease and desist letter to LR and her husband in December 2016, to no effect. A month later, the council threatened to fine her under a nuisance bylaw, but LR replied with a letter pointing out that her nicotine addiction was also a disability that could be protected under the Human Rights Code.

2 failed votes for non-smoking bylaw

According to the decision, the strata council brought a non-smoking bylaw to a vote at two annual general meetings in response to Bowker’s complaints. Both times, it didn’t garner the necessary 75 per cent of votes to pass.

But Ohler said the council did not properly explain to strata members why the bylaw was being proposed.

“It appeared to see the non‐smoking bylaw as a kind of lifestyle choice rather than as a part of its efforts to meet its legal responsibilities. At least in part, the result was that Ms. Bowker was subjected to inappropriate remarks and made to feel ostracized from the community,” Ohler said.

The strata held two votes on a proposed no-smoking bylaw, but both failed. (Sebastien Bozon/Getty Images)

She ordered the strata to stop discriminating against Bowker, but held off on ordering it to enact a non-smoking bylaw. That’s because the strata is waiting for a decision from the Civil Resolution Tribunal on whether LR violated the nuisance bylaw.

Ohler said Bowker and the strata could return to the tribunal if the CRT does not resolve the matter.

And Ohler added that while LR would likely have an argument that her nicotine addiction is protected as a disability, her rights would have to be balanced with Bowker’s if the question came before the tribunal.

“While a person addicted to nicotine may be able to go outside of their unit to smoke, a person with a smoke‐sensitive disability cannot be expected to go outside to safely breathe,” Ohler wrote.


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19Feb

Budget 2019 creates opportunities, makes life better for people

by admin


Making Life Better

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

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

Strong, Stable Economic Growth

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

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

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

Budget Outlook

Budget 2019 projects surpluses of:

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

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

Revenue Outlook

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

Expense Outlook

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

Capital Spending

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

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

Debt Affordability

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

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

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

Supplementary Estimates

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

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


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