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Posts Tagged "support"

16Oct

Province asking for public input on how to better support people with disabilities | CBC News

by admin

There are almost one million British Columbians over the age of 15 living with some form of disability, and the provincial government is planning to develop new laws to better support their needs by 2020.

Shane Simpson, the minister of social development and poverty reduction, said the legislation will complement the Accessible Canada Act that passed in Ottawa in June and is designed to identify and remove barriers to accessibility.

Simpson is asking for public feedback until Nov. 29 to help inform similar provincial legislation. 

“We are going to have this law in place next year is my expectation,” said Simpson in an interview on CBC’s The Early Edition Wednesday, adding the legislation will create a standards board that will set rules focusing on five specific areas including: employment access, customer service delivery, information and communication accessibility, as well as transportation and built environment — which includes access to buildings and infrastructure such as sidewalks.

Simpson said he has heard already from individuals and organizations that finding employment is a top priority for many people living with a disability. 

 “We keep getting nods from people in the business community and now the trick is to get there,” he said. 

Employment a top priority

Justina Loh, executive director of Disability Alliance BC, said a lot needs to be done in terms of service delivery to help create full or part-time employment that is accessible to all British Columbians. 

“There are a lot of people with disabilities who want to work,” said Loh. “They just haven’t had the opportunity.”

Simpson said he is hopeful real change is coming in B.C. and wants to hear exactly what people want those changes to be.

“People who are living with disabilities know the kind of things that they want to see and they are the people we are trying to talk to in this process,” he said.

The public can provide feedback online, by telephone, and in-person at scheduled town hall events. 

Organizations and advocates can also submit formal submissions to the government online during the public consultation process.

Information is available here

28Aug

Support needed for overdose survivors living with brain damage, B.C. doctors say

by admin

It’s been three years since Valerie Wilson’s son suffered a brain injury following a drug overdose.

The Port Moody mother calls her son “fearless”. He was an ironworker by trade who taught himself how to ride a two-wheel bike as a toddler.

But the overdose affected his sense of balance, speech, and temperament, Wilson said, leaving him unable to pursue his former career and some of his favourite pastimes.

“He used to love high places. Now he has a fear of heights because he tends to fall over,” she said. “He lashes out at people but without the intent to be harmful — he’ll get incredibly angry about things that make no sense to be angry about.”

In the past year, B.C. has successfully brought overdose deaths down to the lowest level in years.

But medical experts and advocates say more needs to be done for survivors, who are sometimes left with brain damage that can worsen underlying addiction and substance use disorders.

Janelle Breese-Biagioni is a registered counsellor and the CEO of the Constable Gerald Breese Centre for Traumatic Life Losses, a charity she founded 30 years ago in memory of her late first husband, an RCMP officer who suffered a traumatic brain injury.

She said brain injuries, which can worsen the risk of substance use, depression or criminality, are an under-examined part of the overdose crisis that killed over 1,300 British Columbians last year.

“If we don’t include brain injury in this conversation, we will never have a 100-per-cent solution to the problem,” said Breese-Biagioni.

The province has said there were 446 fentanyl-related deaths between January and June of this year, compared to 1,334 for the entirety of 2018. This June saw the lowest monthly number of fentanyl-related deaths since September 2016, according to the B.C. Coroners Service.

But Dr. Delbert Dorscheid, a physician and researcher at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, said the number of people he sees with traumatic brain injuries has not been declining.

Fentanyl, the cause of the majority of illicit drug deaths in B.C., can interrupt blood and oxygen flow the brain.

He says provincial and federal governments do not track the prevalence of acquired brain injuries resulting from overdoses, the impacts of which range from mood swings to memory loss to paralysis.


Valerie Wilson with her son Dayton.

PNG

“They’re not feel-good stories, and they’re not stories the politicians want to promote,” he said. “It’s making the whole topic so black and white, life and death. But in between there’s a lot of grey. We are just not acknowledging the grey.”

Dr. Perry Kendall, the co-interim executive director at the B.C. Centre on Substance Use, speculates the number brain injuries caused by an overdose is “easily in the high hundreds.”

He says those impacted are often stigmatized for their substance use and may have had negative experiences in the health-care system, which he believes is partly why the issue hasn’t been addressed.

“Those who use drugs and are admitted to hospital often can’t wait to get out. They’re not having the best experience with health-care providers,” he said. “We kind of blame people for the symptoms of their illnesses.”

Breese-Biagioni said the impact of brain injuries can trap patients in a “vicious cycle” by worsening the symptoms of underlying mental health and substance use disorders.

She said current funding for counselling for affected persons only covers eight sessions, but she considers the minimum should be a full two years.

Debbie Dee, the executive director of the Powell River Brain Injury Society, has sponsored a motion at her town council to ask the Union of B.C. Municipalities to recommend adding brain injuries to the name and mandate of the provincial Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

She said it currently straddles so many ministries and mandates that action on it is almost impossible.

“Brain injury isn’t a mental health issue. It isn’t a substance use issue. It’s not an inclusion issue,” she said. “Where does it fit? It’s never fit anywhere.”

Dorscheid said improving relations with patients and securing research funding is key to understanding the problem and its extent.

“We would probably be able to reduce the burden of addictive disorders within our society if we found ways to treat people more compassionately and more completely,” he said.

Kendall believes the issue is part of a case for a non-toxic regulated drug supply, which he argues would greatly reduce the risk of overdoses in general.

But one problem Breese-Biagioni identified would not be solved by a safe supply — the situation of people already living with brain injuries, and their families.

Wilson is a member of Moms Stop the Harm, a national coalition of families impacted by the overdose crisis.

She supports implementing a safe drug supply, but says the grief she feels isn’t the same as other members of the group whose loved ones have passed away.

“They’re grieving the death of their children, and I still have mine,” she said. “I feel like a faker in some ways, right? It would be so much worse to lose him. But I still see him struggle. I do still have him, but I don’t.”

11Jun

People facing homelessness to get local support from grants

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People facing homelessness will receive help through grants that support strong, sustainable planning for local groups and organizations working on the front lines in British Columbia communities.

The Province is granting $6 million to the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) for a Homelessness Community Action Grant to help groups address homelessness in their towns and cities. The grants will also support organizations with a provincewide focus to explore better ways of meeting the needs of particular groups of people that have a higher risk of experiencing homelessness.

“Preventing homelessness is a critical part of TogetherBC: BC’s Poverty Reduction Strategy,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Through these grants, we will build partnerships with local organizations and help people facing homelessness to prevent it from happening in the first place.”

SPARC BC will distribute the Homelessness Community Action Grants to groups and organizations over the next three years as a one-time grant to successful applicants. The chosen projects will build on local resources and knowledge about homelessness and its causes, increase public awareness and support, and respond to gaps in services for people experiencing homelessness. 

“Local organizations and non-profits are at the front lines of the homelessness crisis, and they have been doing great work creating partnerships to address homelessness at a local level,” said Lorraine Copas, executive director, SPARC BC. “This grant will support the sustainability of the work as they continue to make positive change.”

Through the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, the Province is investing $291 million to build 2,000 homes throughout B.C. and providing annual operating funding to provide 24/7 staffing and support services. Nearly 1,400 of the homes are complete.

“Homelessness touches virtually every corner of our province and affects at least 8,000 individuals on any given night of the year,” said Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association. “Combined with the historic investments in affordable housing now rolling out and a rapid response to homelessness through new supportive housing, this additional $6-million investment has the potential to help communities co-ordinate their supports for people experiencing homelessness.” 

TogetherBC, the province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in early 2019 and included a newly created Homelessness Coordination Office that will work with partners across government and in the community to deliver a co-ordinated and proactive response to homelessness.

“Homelessness is a complex issue that requires many solutions. The issues people face are different across communities and demographics,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction. “We can only prevent homelessness by working together. This grant supports communities and organizations on the ground who are dedicated to finding local solutions to preventing poverty.”

Addressing poverty is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quick Facts:

  • The Homelessness Action Grant application form will soon be available on the SPARC BC website.
  • TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in March 2019 as a roadmap to reduce overall poverty by 25% and cut child poverty in half over five years.
  • Through the Building BC program, the Province works in partnership to build homes for people individuals and families, seniors, students, women and children leaving violence, Indigenous peoples and people experiencing homelessness.
  • More than 20,000 new homes are completed, under construction or in the approvals process in communities throughout B.C. as part of a $7-billion investment over 10 years in housing affordability.

Learn More:

Find out more about SPARC BC: https://www.sparc.bc.ca/

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy:
ttps://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/poverty-reduction-strategy/togetherbc.pdf

Homes for B.C., a 30-point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia:
https://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_homes_for_bc.pdf

Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program:
https://www.bchousing.org/partner-services/Building-BC/rapid-response-homelessness

A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online:
https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC


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10Jun

Renters facing eviction get support through rent bank funding to Vancity

by admin

Renters facing short-term financial difficulties will soon get more help and avoid evictions with new funding for community rent banks.

Rent banks provide emergency low-cost or no-cost loans to help renters facing eviction. As part of Budget 2019, the Province granted $10 million to the Vancity Community Foundation (VCF), a non-profit foundation associated with Vancity credit union, to develop a sustainable, provincewide rent bank system. Vancity has been supporting rent banks in communities for over a decade and will consult with existing rent banks to develop a sustainable provincial program.

“Preventing homelessness by helping people avoid eviction is key and rent banks play an important role,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The Province is contributing this funding to support a sustainable network of rent banks to help people in B.C., and I look forward to hearing about the consultation, and the plan that Vancity and the existing rent banks will have in place for the long term.”

VCF and Vancity are working with existing rent banks to better understand their operational needs, discuss best practices, identify service gaps and examine expanding the rent bank model to more communities throughout B.C.

Existing rent banks already have access to funding from the provincial grant to ensure their immediate needs are met and their work is sustainable. Following the consultation, funding will go toward expanding a B.C.-wide system so tenants experiencing short-term financial crisis can be supported, regardless of where they live.

“People with lived experience of these issues are guiding this work,” said Catherine Ludgate, senior manager of community investment, Vancity. “We are taking a consultative approach with the rent banks to assess how they can expand service across the province, so more people can access funds and avoid homelessness.” 

Rent banks support the goals of TogetherBC, the provincial poverty reduction strategy. Implementing a B.C.-wide rent bank system was a recommendation of B.C.’s Rental Housing Task Force, following consultations with landlords and tenants throughout the province.

The funding builds on other improvements government has made to support renters in B.C., including cutting the annual allowable rent increase, introducing stronger protection for tenants during renovations or demolitions and enhancing eligibility and benefits under the Rental Assistance Program for families with children and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters.

“Housing security is a priority for the BC Green Party and the provincial government,” said Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands and a member of the Rental Housing Task Force. “Rent banks offer a level of security for renters and landlords that doesn’t currently exist, and alongside the task force recommendations, will help to create a stronger, more supportive rental market for British Columbians.”

Addressing poverty and homelessness is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quotes:

Spencer Chandra Herbert, chair of the Rental Housing Task Force and MLA for Vancouver-West End —

“We know how expensive, disruptive and stressful evictions can be for everyone. We need to be proactive if we’re going to reduce homelessness. Rent banks help keep people in their homes and get back on their feet, while ensuring the rent gets paid. That’s why I helped found Vancouver’s Rent Bank. They work.”

Allison Felker, interim executive director, VCF —

“We’re using our financial tools and expertise to build capacity for rent banks, ensuring they have the ability to meet the needs of our communities.”

Kellie Carroll, executive director, the Network of Inner City Community Services Society and the Vancouver Rent Bank —

“The staff at the Vancouver Rent Bank are pleased that the funds that the provincial government is providing will contribute to the long-term sustainability of rent banks in B.C.”

Melissa Giles, director of programs, Mennonite Central Committee and the Fraser Valley Rent Bank —

“Through the funding, the Province has made clear the important role of rent banks in helping at-risk people receive the critical support they need to remain housed and off the streets. Working together as a coalition, we are committed to see these funds used efficiently in the support of existing rent banks and the expansion of the program into new communities in B.C.”

Learn More:

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/poverty-reduction-strategy

Renting in B.C.: https://www.renters.gov.bc.ca 

BC Housing Rental Assistance Programs: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance


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6Jun

TELUS grows Internet and Mobility for Good programs to support 25,000 more British Columbian families and youth

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More low-income British Columbian families will now have access to low-cost high-speed Internet, and more youth leaving foster care can now stay connected to their vital support networks through the expansion of TELUS Internet for GoodTM and TELUS Mobility for GoodTM, in partnership with the Provincial Government and Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.

“Across our province, there are countless families and children in need of support. Through programs like these, and in collaboration with the Provincial Government and Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada (CAFC), we are changing these realities to ensure that more British Columbians are connected to the tools, people and resources they need to be successful,” said Darren Entwistle, President and CEO of TELUS. “To date, we have offered thousands of families across British Columbia access to low-cost, high speed Internet through TELUS Internet for Good, and today we are proud to expand this program to more families receiving income and disability assistance through the Province, ensuring more kids have access to the Internet at home and to the same digital opportunities as their classmates.”

TELUS Internet for Good offers low cost, high-speed Internet to families with children currently receiving income or disability assistance from the provincial government. Eligible families will receive a letter from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction with a unique PIN code, enabling them to activate TELUS’ offer of Internet 25 for $9.95 per month for two years. The program also includes access to a low-cost refurbished computers, and online safety training.

“Many people can’t afford the basic technologies we often take for granted, like Internet access. We know that children who live in homes without Internet access have a lower graduation rate,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Through TogetherBC, BC’s Poverty Reduction Plan, our government is working in partnership with companies like TELUS to help people access technology so that they have the tools they need to be successful and participate in their community. Partnerships like this one are an important way to reduce poverty and connect people with opportunities.”

“We are also expanding Mobility for Good, which began in partnership with the provincial government to provide kids aging out of foster care a free smartphone and plan,” continued Entwistle. “Now, in partnership with CAFC, we are extending this vital lifeline to more than 9,300 youth in British Columbia, better preparing them to begin their independent lives feeling safer, more connected and better prepared for a successful transition to independence. Together, by leveraging technology, social innovation and human compassion, we are making a meaningful difference in the lives of underserved and vulnerable citizens across the province.”

TELUS Mobility for Good first launched in British Columbia in 2017 in partnership with the Provincial Government, followed by Ontario and Quebec in partnership with CAFC. Today, TELUS and CAFC also announced they are expanding this program to Manitoba and New Brunswick. With this expansion,TELUS and CAFC can provide 20,000 youth transitioning from care with the opportunity to access a smartphone and two-year TELUS mobile plan at $0 per month, including unlimited nationwide talk and text and up to 3GB of monthly data usage. While TELUS is providing the service to youth for free, the bills will appear in the youth’s name to help them build positive credit and gain the skills required to manage their finances in the future. At the end of the two-years, they will have access to a low-cost $35 per month plan for an unlimited duration. This program is administered by Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, the country’s leading charity dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth growing up in the child welfare system.

“With the touch of a screen, smartphones can connect you to a whole world of possibilities,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “We want youth aging out of government care to share in those opportunities. It’s why we have programs and partnerships like this to give them the tools they need to find a job, home or college, stay connected to their friends and support networks and succeed as independent adults.” 

“Without the support of permanent families, youth transitioning out of care are often ill-equipped for life on their own and a smartphone is critical to helping them stay connected and achieving independence,” says Valerie McMurtry, President and CEO, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada. “Working together with TELUS, we will be able to reach more vulnerable young people in British Columbia and meet an urgent need that enables youth to search for somewhere to live, look for job opportunities and stay in touch with friends and vital support networks.”

For more information on the TELUS Mobility for Good Program or to apply, please visit: www.cafdn.org/for-youth/telus-mobility-good/. For more information on TELUS Internet for Good and other giving initiatives, please visit telus.com/community.

About TELUS

TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies, with $14.5 billion of annual revenue and 14.0 million subscriber connections, including 9.7 million wireless subscribers, 1.9 million Internet subscribers, 1.2 million residential voice and 1.1 million TELUS TV customers. TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services, including wireless, data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, television, entertainment, video and home and business security. TELUS is also Canada’s largest healthcare IT provider, and TELUS International delivers business process solutions around the globe.

In support of our philosophy to give where we live, TELUS, our team members and retirees have contributed over $690 million to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and volunteered more than 1.3 million days of service to local communities since 2000. Created in 2005 by President and CEO Darren Entwistle, TELUS’ 13 Canadian community boards and five International boards have led the Company’s support of grassroots charities and have contributed $72 million in support of 7,000 local charitable projects, enriching the lives of more than 2 million children and youth, annually. TELUS was honoured to be named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation globally for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, becoming the first Canadian company to receive this prestigious international recognition. For more information about

TELUS, please visit telus.com


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30Apr

New funding will support food security programs throughout B.C.

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With a $3-million grant from the B.C. government, the Victoria Foundation will improve access to fresh, nutritious, affordable food for thousands of people who regularly experience food insecurity.

“Connecting more people to healthy food will make a huge difference in the lives of so many families,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This is a perfect example of how we can all work together to reduce poverty and make life better for British Columbians.”

From the $3-million provincial contribution:

  • Up to $2 million will be used to help purchase the Mustard Seed’s Food Security Distribution Centre, which is a hub to redistribute food across south Vancouver Island and home to the region’s Food Rescue Project. The building has been leased since 2017, and the purchase will provide long-term stability for the program.
  • The remaining funding will be used to offer grants to organizations in B.C. for food security projects that can help low-income individuals and families.

“The Victoria Foundation and Mustard Seed are partners in a far-reaching network of businesses, non-profits and community volunteers working together to tackle food insecurity in a sustainable way,” said Simpson. “Our government is proud to support these efforts and help them grow to reach every person who needs support.”

Food insecurity occurs when people do not have reliable and regular access to quality, healthy, culturally appropriate, affordable food. It affects the health of approximately 50,000 people in the capital region and around half a million people provincewide.

Through the new Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund, the Victoria Foundation will work with local non-profits throughout B.C. to identify community-specific needs and create food security projects that support health and wellness. More details on the fund will be available in late June 2019.

“Food security is central to the well-being of people, which makes it a priority for our region and the Province,” said Sandra Richardson, CEO, Victoria Foundation. “The new Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund will help us build and support other programs like the Food Rescue Project, because better food creates healthier individuals, families and communities.”

The Food Rescue Project operates in collaboration with more than 50 member organizations of the Food Share Network, an informal group of local non-profits, First Nations, school districts and organizations working toward a food-secure region. The Mustard Seed recovers about 1,815 kilograms (4,000 pounds) of fresh food daily from local grocery stores and redistributes it to network members, who in turn help feed 35,000 food insecure people in the capital region annually. The centre is the key piece in a food distribution network that decreases food insecurity and connects people with social service programs.

“The distribution centre will secure a permanent location for a food hub for the capital region,” said Derek Pace, executive director, Mustard Seed Street Church. “Purchasing the building gives us the stability we need to continue growing the network of donors who provide food each week and to continue to support and participate in the Food Share Network made up of those groups who distribute food to people in their communities. In addition to helping ensure that the Food Rescue Project remains sustainable, the centre will enable the community’s larger vision for food security, growing programs in food literacy, employment, environmental sustainability and the local food systems.”

The Victoria Foundation is actively working to find other donors to support the Mustard Seed’s purchase of the Food Security Distribution Centre and the Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund. Vancity has already committed $200,000 to support the purchase.

Learn More:

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/poverty-reduction-strategy

The Victoria Foundation’s food security initiatives:
https://victoriafoundation.bc.ca/food-rescue-project/

The Mustard Seed Street Church’s Food Rescue Project:
http://mustardseed.ca/food-rescue/

A backgrounder follows.


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4Mar

Trudeau has support of remaining 33 members of cabinet, survey shows

by admin

In the wake of Jane Philpott’s sudden resignation from the federal cabinet over what she said was her “lack of confidence” in the way the Liberal government has handled the SNC Lavalin affair, CBC News reached out to the remaining 33 members of cabinet to ask if they still support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

As of Monday evening, all remaining members of the federal cabinet were saying they continue to support Trudeau and the government. Some issued statements, others simply confirmed their support. Below is a list of statements from cabinet ministers who provided them to CBC News:

Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan

“I have full confidence in this prime minister and am committed to continuing on with the important work ahead for Indigenous peoples and all Canadians.”

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau

“Absolutely. I’m proud to work with a leader that is focused on jobs, growing the middle class and strengthening our economy.”

Minister of the Environment Catherine McKenna

“Yes, Minister McKenna has full confidence in the PM and will remain in cabinet,” said spokeswoman Caroline Thériault.

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patricia Hajdu

“My confidence in the prime minister remains untouched. I stand by him and believe in his ability to lead a government that delivers for all Canadians. I am sorry to see one of my Cabinet colleagues step down and I wish her the best.”

Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion Mary Ng

The minister told CBC that she supports Trudeau “100 per cent.”

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett

“I have absolute confidence in our government, and our prime minister, and will continue the vital work of advancing reconciliation and self-determination as the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations.”

Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Pablo Rodriguez

The Quebec MP said he backs Trudeau “totally,” 

Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier

“I support the prime minister and am proud of the work we have accomplished during the last three years to make life better for all Canadians.”

Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould

“I have full confidence in the Prime Minister and this government.”  

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen

“Minister Hussen has full confidence in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his vision for Canada,” said spokesperson, Mathieu Genest.

Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade Dominic LeBlanc

“I have full confidence in the prime minister. We will continue to take action to make life easier for Canadians, and create good, middle class jobs across the country.”

Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr

“The PM and this government as a whole has minister Carr’s full confidence. He remains committed to his role as minister and to the important work the PM has given him to carry out on behalf of Canadians,” said spokeswoman, Isabella Brisson.

Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie Mélanie Joly

”Of course, the Prime Minister has my full confidence.”

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities​ François-Philippe Champagne

“I absolutely have confidence in the prime minister and the plan he put in place for Canadians and I will continue to be a strong voice for rural Canada, for a strong and growing economy and for Quebec.”

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Jonathan Wilkinson

“I am proud of the progressive accomplishments made under the leadership of the prime minister. I have full confidence in the prime minister and our government.”

Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi

“I have full confidence in our government. Canadians elected us to build a strong middle class and provide opportunities for those who work hard every day to join the middle class. That is what we have focused on since day one and this is what we will continue to do under the strong leadership of PM Trudeau.”

Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan

“I fully support the prime minister and our government, and as minister of science and sport, will continue focusing on our important work for science and research, and on making sport safe for all.”

Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility Carla Qualtrough

“I have full confidence in the prime minister and our government, and I look forward to continuing to serve Canadians.

“I’m sad to hear of Jane Philpott’s departure from Cabinet. She was a valued member of the team around the table. I thank the Prime Minister for his faith in me as I take on the interim position of president of the Treasury Board and minister of digital government.”

All remaining members of the federal cabinet have told CBC News that they continue to support Trudeau and his government.


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2Feb

Vancouver woman fights strata to keep emotional support dog

by admin


Stephanie Kallstrom has filed a human rights complaint against her strata to keep her emotional service dog, Ember.


Francis Georgian / Postmedia News

A few months after adopting a border collie mix, Stephanie Kallstrom was able to stop using the anti-anxiety medications she had taken since her teens.

Now, the Vancouver woman is fighting to keep the dog — named Ember — despite her strata’s strict pet policy.

“She (Ember) changed my life,” Kallstrom said Saturday. “I assumed she’d be accommodated here because she’s been accommodated on airplanes, in hotels and at the hospital.”

Kallstrom’s downtown condo allows residents to keep up to two dogs, but she argues Ember shouldn’t be counted in that total because she acts as an emotional support animal (ESA). Kallstrom also has two small poodles.

In B.C., ESAs are not considered service dogs or guide dogs, which are legally allowed in strata properties. In January 2016, the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act came into effect, giving certified handlers “access rights equal to those enjoyed by all members of the public,” according to a provincial government press release.

It also provided a way for dog handlers whose dogs were not trained by an accredited school to apply for certification and have the animals tested by the Justice Institute.

But Kallstrom feels there should be some middle ground. While she plans to go through the process of getting Ember certified as a service dog, she’s concerned that other ESAs wouldn’t be able to pass the rigorous testing required.

“Many people need their ESAs as a vital part of their health, but they couldn’t pass,” she said. “There should be a specific certification for ESAs.”

A quick internet search brings up a host of sites claiming to certify ESAs. For less than $100 and the time it takes to answer a few questions, owners can obtain certificates, vests and collars to identify their animals.

“I realize there’s a lot of fake emotional support dogs out there,” said Kallstrom. “But there’s also a lot of legitimate ones, and there should be some way to tell the difference.”

Related

The Vancouver woman is open about her struggles with mental health, including post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression, which have dogged her since she was 10 years of age. After adopting Ember in Abbotsford in 2014, she was able to stop taking medication, a milestone witnessed by her doctor, who provided her with a letter recognizing the dog’s assistance.

As a result, Ember has been allowed on flights, in hotels and department stores. When Kallstrom had surgery at a Vancouver hospital, the dog was permitted in her room during recovery.

“She uses tactile stimulation to avoid a crisis and keep me safe,” she said. “She can sense what I’m feeling, and she’s there with a lick or a nudge or a paw.”

On Saturday, Ember sat quietly on Kallstrom’s couch, her nose resting on her paws, her large brown eyes tracking movements. Later, on a noisy city street, she walked calmly beside her owner.

The use of ESAs has increased dramatically in the last decade. A 2015 study by researchers at the University of California found a tenfold increase in the number of animals used for psychiatric services registered by animal control facilities in California between 2000 and 2002 compared to 2010 and 2012.

ESAs have also been the subject of dozens of news stories and viral videos. Last week, a Pennsylvania man made headlines when he said his emotional support alligator helped him deal with his depression. In January 2018, airline staff stopped an emotional support peacock from flying with its owner.

In January, both United Airlines and Delta Air Lines tightened their rules around ESAs, saying they will no longer allow ESA puppies and kittens under four months old and barring them completely on longer flights. The airlines cited complaints about allergies, soiled cabins and aggressive animals for the change.

The blurring of the line between legitimate service dogs and emotional support dogs can cause problems for people with certified service dogs, Tara Doherty, spokeswoman for Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADs), told Postmedia News in a previous interview.

“We’ve had reports of businesses not being open to certified service dogs because of their experiences with an ill-behaved dog,” she said. “It’s a significant concern because it creates a bad reputation for legitimate service dogs.”

Kallstrom has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to argue her case.

With Postmedia files

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23Jan

Post-pregnancy blues? Support helpline now offers counselling via text message

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A post-pregnancy support group is offering a new texting service to make getting help easier for new parents who might otherwise struggle to pick up the phone and call the helpline.

The Pacific Post Partum Support Society, based in the Lower Mainland, has been running a phone line help service for 45 years to help mothers, fathers and other caregivers through difficult times.

“Picking up the phone and actually talking to somebody can be challenging,” said society director Sheila Duffy. “Basically, we’re just making that the first point of contact easier.”

The society, a peer support and community-based program, offers telephone counseling and weekly support groups. They currently receive about 5,000 calls from British Columbians in need each year.

Postpartum depression can show up within the first year after birth and can last months or even years. (Michael Zamora/Associated Press)

‘We all need support’

An estimated one in six women and one in 10 men experience feelings of depression or anxiety when a new child arrives, according to the society.

“You don’t have to have a diagnosis of postpartum depression  [to reach out]. You could be just having a hard day and need to talk to somebody,” she told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC’s The Early Edition.

“Regardless of the severity, we all need support.”

Duffy said she hopes a texting option will reduce some of the barriers to seeking help whether that’s because of the degree of anonymity texting gives or simply its accessibility.

“You could be anywhere — you could be sitting in a coffee shop or you could be in the living room with a bunch of other people — and be able to get support,” she said.

In a pilot project, the society found that many of the people who initially reached out by texting later ended up talking to someone on the phone and receiving additional help.

“But even if it’s just through texts, it’s amazing how it’s possible to support somebody and to actually feel supported.” Duffy added.

For now, the texting lines will be monitored two days a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., but Duffy anticipates the project to grow with more funding.

The phone lines continue to be open Monday to Friday. Call or text 604-255-7999 to reach the society. 

A post-pregnancy support group is offering a new texting service to make getting help easier for new parents who might otherwise struggle to pick up the phone and call the helpline. 6:59


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7Jan

Daily Poll: Do you support a ban on smoking in multi-unit buildings?

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A smoking-ban petition launched by a Langley mom will be submitted to legislature in February. The petition seeks to ban all smoking inside multi-unit buildings.


Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

A smoking-ban petition launched by a Langley mom will be submitted to legislature in February.

The petition seeks to ban smoking in all multi-unit buildings, noting that while smokers have the choice of smoking outside their home, their neighbours don’t have the same option if second-hand smoke is infiltrating their apartment.

Naomi Baker has collected some 700 signatures for the petition, which is set to hit legislature in February or March.

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