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Posts Tagged "plan"

1Oct

Minister’s statement on Registered Disability Savings Plan Awareness Month

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Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, has released the following statement in recognition of Registered Disability Savings Plan Awareness Month:

“October is Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) Awareness Month in British Columbia. More than 31,000 people with disabilities have opened an RDSP in B.C., giving our province the highest per capita enrolment rate in Canada. This month is an opportunity to further increase awareness of RDSPs and how they can help to ensure a stable and independent financial future for people with disabilities.

“Right now, 40% of eligible people have signed up, which means there are still tens of thousands of British Columbians who are qualified but don’t have an RDSP yet. We want to make sure that every eligible person knows about this savings plan and how to access the resources and support to sign up.

“RDSPs are an excellent savings tool that help people with disabilities, and their families, plan a financially secure and independent future without affecting disability assistance. Anyone under the age of 60 who qualifies for the disability tax credit can open an RDSP. The federal government matches up to $3 for every dollar deposited through the Canadian Savings Grant program — up to $3,500 annually to a lifetime maximum of $70,000. People with low incomes can also receive a Canada Savings Bond of up to $1,000 annually, to a lifetime maximum of $20,000, even if they aren’t able to contribute. 

“Reducing poverty is a major challenge for our province. The RDSP is a valuable tool that can help to address poverty for people with disabilities. It’s an opportunity for people with disabilities to have some peace of mind, knowing they will have savings available as they age. I encourage everyone to visit RDSP.com to sign up or help someone start an RDSP today.”

Quick Facts:

  • More than 926,100 British Columbians aged 15 to 64 years, almost 25% of the population, identify as having a disability.
  • The federal government launched the RDSP in 2009.
  • B.C. continues to lead Canada with the highest per capita uptake of RDSP in the country:
    • 40% of eligible people now hold an RDSP (31,000 British Columbians).
    • The average value of an RDSP in December 2017 was $24,300 — $2,050 above the national average.

Learn More:

Registered Disability Savings Program: www.rdsp.com

Registered Disability Savings Plan action group and guide: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/family-and-social-supports/services-for-people-with-disabilities/supports-services/registered_disability_savings_plan_guide.pdf

B.C. government accessibility initiatives: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility

B.C. government services for people with disabilities: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/services-for-people-with-disabilities/supports-services

30Sep

B.C. teen vaping plan coming within the month, says minister

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https://vancouversun.com/


B.C. will get an action plan to curb teen vape use within a month, says Health Minister Adrian Dix.


VICTORIA — B.C.’s plan to tackle the alarming increase in teen vaping and e-cigarette use will come within a month and likely include a new licensing system similar to tobacco sales, says the province’s health minister.

Adrian Dix said he is concerned by the rising number of cases across North America of youth who have suffered lung damage and other health problems after using e-cigarettes.

“We’re going to act soon,” Dix said Monday. “I think it’s a serious situation. We’re disappointed, despite our considerable efforts, that the federal government didn’t act before the election. But we remain optimistic they will (act). People expect us to act very soon and we will lay out our plan certainly within the next month.”

Although B.C.’s fall legislative session begins next week, the government does not necessarily need a new law, said Dix.

Instead, cabinet could change regulations under a 2015 law that made it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 19, he said. That could be accompanied by public health advertising campaign.

“We need to restrict certain kinds of vaping products, that’s pretty clear,” he said. “We need to raise the standard of vaping products, we need to address issues collectively, the federal and provincial government around advertising, because we need to ensure people understand the risks of vaping — that harm reduction may still mean harm, and if you aren’t a smoker, you shouldn’t vaping.”

There are roughly 90,000 businesses in B.C. currently selling e-cigarettes and vape products, including local corner stores, convenience stores and gas stations. They do not require a license, and health inspectors are stretched thin to catch anyone selling illegally to minors.

A government licensing program would bring the number of retailers down closer to the 6,000 B.C. stores licensed to sell tobacco, with the addition of extra licenses available for dedicated legal vaping stores and cannabis outlets, said Dix.

Governments across Canada and the U.S. are wrestling with the rise of teen vaping, as well as the wide variety of flavoured vape juices that appear designed to appeal to young children.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that usually contain nicotine-infused liquid, which is combined with vapour when the user inhales. They have been marketed as a way to reduce cigarette addiction, but an increase in lung problems recently has caused some states, like Michigan and most recently Washington State, to ban flavoured vape juice.

Dix said the federal government has draft regulations on e-cigarette standards and flavours, and he hopes Ottawa will enact a national standard quickly.

Opposition Liberal critic Todd Stone, who brought in a private member’s bill earlier this year on flavoured e-cigarettes, said he is frustrated that B.C. is taking so long.

“The strongest action we could take is to ban that flavoured juice,” he said. Stone suggested limiting sales to vape shops, tobacco stores and pharmacies.

“This is a public health crisis that has really only emerged in the last 18 to 24 months,” he said. “It’s really come on fast and it’s getting worse by the day. I don’t take much comfort at all in waiting for Ottawa to act.”

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11Sep

Vancouver passes a culture plan for the next decade — with no major increase in funding | CBC News

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The City of Vancouver has passed a new arts and culture plan for the next 10 years that is bold in ambition, if not in funding. 

Entitled “Culture | Shift,” the plan aims for “blanketing the city in arts and culture” and prioritizes affordable and accessible spaces, cultural equity, accessibility, reconciliation and decolonization. 

The full report can be read here

But while there are dozens of recommendations in the report, the amount of additional money budgeted over the next four years is just $3.2 million and would leave cultural service funding as a smaller percentage of the city’s budget in 2023 than it was in 2010. 

“It seems like not a like a lot of money to me,” said Vancouver Coun. Adrianne Carr, who nonetheless voted in favour. “Is the amount of money being recommended sufficient?”

Cross-collaboration

Jessica Wadsworth, co-chair of the Vancouver Arts and Culture Advisory Committee, said “we wanted to make a reasonable request, but certainly we can ask for more.” 

The City of Vancouver wants to add 800,000 square feet of new cultural spaces over the next 10 years. (Boombox)

However, she applauded the overall plan — which came after months of consultation with hundreds of artistic groups — and said the lack of major funding increases was mitigated by the city’s commitment to move more efficiently across different departments. 

“The collaboration with urban planning, with people that do business with real estate and development … I think that collaboration is worth more than the dollars,” she said.  

The city hopes to build 800,000 square feet of cultural space in the next decade, including 400 spaces that double as housing. In addition, the report calls for a a music task force, as well a hired person within city hall to lead its music strategy.

But the committee was equally as excited around the decolonization and equity recommendations, which included developing Indigenous grant programs and increasing investment and leadership opportunities for Indigenous arts and culture. 

“If we articulate land acknowledgements, than we should decolonize arts and culture,” said Megan Lau, the committee’s other co-chair.

“If we say Vancouver values culture, we have to find a way for artists … of every type to make a living wage.”

Drummers who call themselves Star Child at the Squamish Nation 32nd Youth Pow Wow in West Vancouver on Sunday, July 14, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

‘Mission creep’

The plan was applauded by most councillors, who said it was a necessary step to ensure artists could continue to live in Vancouver. 

But Colleen Hardwick abstained from the vote, saying that while she had worked in the creative sector for over three decades, the plan was a sign of the city’s “mission creep.” 

“I’m supportive of the creative industries. I eat, live and breathe it. But I’m also very mindful … that we have to live within our means,” she said.

“We are continuing to ask for more and more on things that fall outside the scope of local government.”

However, all other councillors voted in favour. 

“This isn’t mission creep,” said Pete Fry. “This is how we build pride in our city. This is how we build the economy, [and]  how we build a city for everyone.” 

Vancouver’s new plan looks to “blanket the city in arts and culture,” with an emphasis on reconciliation, decolonizing, cultural equity and accessibility. (City of Vancouver )

12Aug

Lyft confirms plan to launch ride-hailing service in Vancouver

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Lyft plans to start serving the ride-hailing market in Metro Vancouver in the fall of 2019.


PNG

The ride-hailing company Lyft intends to operate in Vancouver, according to a prepared statement released by the company on Monday.

Lyft, which competes globally in the ride-hailing market with Uber, has also appointed Peter Lukomskyj as its general manager in B.C. The managing director of Lyft in Canada is Aaron Zifkin.

In the prepared statement, Lukomskyj thanked the NDP government and provincial Green party for allowing ride-hailing in B.C.

Last month, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena revealed its long-awaited regulations on licensing and insurance for ride-hailing, saying it was now possible for ride-hailing companies to enter the market this fall “with vehicles on the road later this year, while ensuring the safety of passengers and promoting accessibility options in the industry.”

“British Columbians have been asking and waiting for these services after more than five years of delay by the former government,” Trevena said at the time. “We took action to allow for the services people want and we’re delivering on that promise. Our plan has made it possible for ride-hailing companies to apply to enter the market this fall.”

Ride-hailing companies have to apply to the Passenger Transportation Board for permission to operate, with applications being accepted starting Sept. 3. The board also sets guidelines for fares, boundaries and numbers of vehicles.

All drivers will have to have a Class 4 commercial driving licence in order to drive for one of these companies.

At the time of Trevena’s announcement, Zifkin said this ruling would limit the number of drivers available in the Vancouver market.

“Ninety-one per cent of the drivers on our platform drive less than 20 hours a week. These are people like single moms, students in school and people trying to supplement their incomes. As soon as you introduce that Class 4 commercial licence, these people tend not to apply for that type of work,” Zifkin said.

In Monday’s statement, Lukomskyj said the company would work with all levels of government in the region — including the Ministry of Transportation and the Passenger Transportation Board — “to be a part of the province’s transportation network and help create a frictionless experience for British Columbians.”

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Lyft was founded in the U.S. in 2012 and operates in Toronto and Ottawa.

9Jul

‘Displacement to nowhere’: Surrey tent city residents vow to fight city’s plan to dismantle encampment

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A homeless encampment in Surrey will need to be dismantled for safety reasons, according to the city, but the campers that call the wooded area home say they plan to stay.

Residents of what’s known as the “Sanctuary” tent city on King George Boulevard between Bridgeview Drive and 132 Street say bylaw officers told them last week that the site would need to be dismantled by this Tuesday.

Video taken by homeless advocates shows bylaw officers in a truck near the site Tuesday morning.

“Eventually it might happen, but not this morning” a bylaw officer told members of Alliance Against Displacement when asked if they were there to begin removing the tent site.

The City of Surrey’s Acting Manager of Public Safety Operations, Kim Marosevich, told CTV News by phone Tuesday that the city is monitoring the situation closely and is concerned about structures on site as well as the use of open flame and propane.

“We’re concerned about safety on the property,” Marosevich said.

Residents living on the site told CTV News on Tuesday they do use fire for cooking, but say it’s used safely and they have fire extinguishers and shovels.

“When I do make a fire it’s so small and minute, it’s just enough to cook on,” said Jennifer Rouse, who moved into the camp after previously living alone in a tent in Newton. “This is my home so I take very good care of it. If anything were to happen to it, it would devastate me.”

According to the Alliance Against Displacement, the camp has been up and running for several years and about 50 people are currently living there.

Many of the campers, including Wanda Stopa, who moved to the site about five months ago, say they ended up there after being displaced from a stretch of 135A street in Whalley that served as a homeless encampment for years before being cleared out by the city.

 

“The amount of stress you go through every day is unreal,” Stopa said Tuesday. “A person shouldn’t have to live like that. They shouldn’t be treated the way we’re treated by bylaw. It’s just not right.”

The city says it’s working with the Surrey Outreach Team to try and support residents and find safe housing for the residents before the camp is dismantled.

But Dave Diewert with Alliance Against Displacement says housing options for the homeless in Surrey are limited and modular housing brought to the area simply cannot support the number of homeless people in the city.

“This is a displacement to nowhere,” Diewert said. “This is an absolutely crucial site for survival, for organization, for support, for human community in the midst of what is a terrible housing crisis in Surrey.”

The City of Surrey could not give a timeline of when it would move in to dismantle the site, calling the situation “fluid”, and noting they are working with multiple agencies to make sure the campers have somewhere else to go.

Residents are not only vowing to stay at the camp, they are also asking the city for amenities including water, garbage pickup and washroom facilities as they wait for what they consider adequate housing solutions.

“People are still in shelters. People are still in the bush. We need real solutions. We need real housing,” Diewert said.




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17Jun

Plan to ban single-use plastics has First Nations with long-term drinking water advisories worried | CBC News

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A plan to ban single-use plastics in Canada has First Nations with long-term drinking water advisories that rely on bottled water concerned about how they will be affected.

Single-use plastics, as defined by the United Nations Environment Programme, are disposable plastics from packaging that are often intended to only be used once. These include grocery bags, food packaging, straws, cutlery and bottles.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government intends to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021.

“My family would have less plastic waste if we didn’t rely on bottled water for fresh drinking water on reserve,” read a tweet by Courtney Skye following the announcement.

She lives in Six Nations of the Grand River in southern Ontario, where only part of the community is connected to a water line fed by a state-of-the-art UV water treatment plant.

The rest of the community, including Skye’s family, has cistern water tanks attached to their houses for water to use for washing clothes and showering. There are stations where bottles can be bought or refilled with water for drinking and cooking.

“There is a need for First Nations’ perspective on a lot of different issues,” she said. “People should be questioning and looking for it when they’re seeing these types of announcements made on things that affect the whole society.”

According to Indigenous Services Canada, there are currently 58 long-term drinking water advisories in effect on reserves, which the federal government plans to end by March 2021. Since 2015, 84 long-term advisories have been lifted.

‘A terrible thing to have no water’

June Baptiste is a councillor for Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation in B.C. which currently relies on bottled water brought into the community for clean drinking water. Any ban on single-use plastics that would affect access to bottled water would not go over well in the community, she said.

“That would be a terrible thing to have no water out there, without no water plant,” she said.

Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation has running water connected to its homes, but Baptiste said it is contaminated with heavy metals that leave the water yellow and smelling like sulfur. 

Even when the water is boiled, it remains discoloured and foul-smelling, she said.

The community is hoping to get a chlorinated water treatment plant soon, but Baptiste is unsure of the project’s timeline. If the community didn’t have access to single-use plastic water bottles, she said it would be a disaster.

“How would they get water out to us? They would definitely have to build that water plant right away.”  

Emergency water supply

Even communities with water treatment plants sometimes rely on bottled water in emergencies — like when the water treatment plant in Carry the Kettle Nakoda First Nation in Saskatchewan burned down this winter.

The Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation’s water treatment plant burned down in February. (Submitted by Jay Bouchard)

It’s estimated that it will be another six months before the water treatment plant is operational again. In the meantime, water is being trucked in from nearby communities and poured into a reservoir to feed the community’s plumbing, while bottled water is being used for drinking.

“If we don’t continue to have this water available to people, then there’s going to be a real cry for water that is going to be devastating to communities in the future,” said Tim Haywahe, a resident of the community.

Indigenous Services Canada said in an email they are committed to lifting all long-term drinking water advisories on reserve by March 2021.

“With every advisory lifted, that means one more community that no longer has to rely on bottled water,” the statement said. 

“For all initiatives to reduce plastic waste, the government of Canada’s approach will take into consideration accessibility and health and safety. Accessibility and health needs of the public will be taken into account before any targeted action on single-use plastic products is taken.”

The statement added that a ban is not the only option, as recycling rates can be “dramatically improved.”




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3May

TransLink launches consultation on 30-year regional transit plan

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Kevin Desmond is the CEO of Translink.


Jason Payne / PNG

For the next four months, TransLink will be asking those who live and work in Metro Vancouver for their ideas for how the region’s transportation system should be developed over the next 30 years.

It will be the largest public engagement in the transit authority’s history.

“We want to hear from people across the region, of all ages and backgrounds,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond in a news release.

“Regardless of how you get around, we want to hear from drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. With Metro Vancouver experiencing rapid growth, the impacts of climate change, new technologies, and shifting demographics over the next 30 years, we want input from the broadest cross-section of people possible.”

The 30-year strategy, called Transport 2050, will lay out the region’s transportation vision, strategies and priorities. Previous regional strategies were adopted in 2013, 2008 and 1993.

The outreach campaign will involve soliciting feedback from those living in the 23 jurisdictions in Metro Vancouver and adjoining regions; meeting with First Nations, students, multicultural communities and new Canadians; and roundtables with elected officials, businesses, accessibility groups and the goods movement sector.

There will also be exhibits at public events and social media campaigns.

People will be asked about their values, concerns and priorities, ideas about the future of transportation, key issues affecting the region, and opinions on new modes of transportation.

“Transport 2050 is a great opportunity for people to have their say on decisions that will help shape communities and the Metro Vancouver region for many years to come,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson in a news release.

The public engagement will last until September, after which staff will evaluate the ideas and, in late 2020, create the final plan.

Take the survey at Transport2050.ca.

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18Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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18Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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18Mar

B.C. unveils first poverty reduction plan

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Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson.


CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

VICTORIA – B.C.’s New Democrat government unveiled the province’s first poverty reduction plan Monday, a strategy it says can reduce overall poverty in the province by 25 per cent within five years and cut child poverty in half.

Social Development Minister Shane Simpson said the plan “comprises programs, polices and initiatives across government, tying together investments made over three budgets into a thoughtful, bold and comprehensive plan to address poverty in B.C.

“It’s a strategy that at its heart is about people,” said Simpson. “It’s about the challenges they face every day just to get by.”

The poverty reduction plan has five pillars Simpson said, including a child opportunity benefit announced in the February budget and planned for 2020, a previously set path towards a $15 minimum wage, continued investments in child care subsidies, building upon two previous increases to the welfare and disability rates, and “leveraging” on federal supports.

Simpson also pointed to continued research on a pilot project for a basic living wage, which the NDP and Greens negotiated as part of their power-sharing deal in 2017.

As well, Simpson re-announced $10 million to rent banks that Finance Minister Carole James has said will go toward helping people get short-term loans for rent so they don’t become homeless.

Simpson reiterated the importance of government’s funding for 2,000 modular units for homelessness – first announced in 2018 – as well support for low-income people that make child care almost free depending on income level.

“This has been a priority for our government since our first day in office,” said Simpson.

“For too many years B.C. was the only province in Canada without a dedicated strategy for longterm poverty reduction. The result of that inaction was the second highest poverty rate in the country.”

The report also mentions government’s decision to eliminate bridge tolls in Metro Vancouver — a 2017 election promise that was one of the NDP’s first actions upon taking power.

The poverty-reduction plan calls for a 25-per-cent reduction in poverty, and a 50 per cent reduction in child poverty, within five years.

In terms of people, 557,000 British Columbians live in poverty, and the plan targets lifting at least 140,000 above the poverty line. For children, it equates to 50,000 of the roughly 100,000 already in poverty.

Of the 557,000 people in poverty, approximately 200,000 receive government welfare, disability or other services.

The NDP campaigned on the promise of a poverty reduction strategy in the 2017 election, arguing that British Columbia was the only province without one.

However, development of the plan has moved slowly over more than a year and a half. The government passed legislation enshrining the targets into law in October, but left the details until Monday.

The government passed legislation in October that enshrined those targets in law, but left the details until Monday.

Trish Garner, community organizer with the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition, said it’s exciting to finally have a poverty reduction plan, something that her organization has been advocating for since its inception a decade ago.

“From our perspective, it’s a strong start,” she said. “It really demonstrates a comprehensive framework, bringing in cross-ministry investments, but we are looking for more to build on this in the future.”

Specifically, Garner said, they want to see plans for raising income assistance rates, investing in more affordable transportation and rent controls. She said they weren’t expecting to see announcements on Monday, however they had hoped to see more detail about what will be done and when.

“It’s looking at the breadth of poverty, but it’s missing some vision around the depth of poverty and what we’re really going to do there,” Garner said.

— with files from Jennifer Saltman

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