Enhanced Care Confirms Improved Crash Benefits

Care, recovery and wage-loss benefits for people injured in crashes will be even more generous than originally proposed, under the new Enhanced Care coverage regulations.

“Extensive consultation with medical, health-care and disability advocacy stakeholders has strengthened Enhanced Care, which will ensure people get the care they need, when they need it and for as long as they need it,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “The regulations we’ve finalized prove that, along with more affordable auto insurance, British Columbians will have much better benefits starting May 1.

Highlights of the Enhanced Accident Benefits include:

  • No overall limit to the medical and rehabilitation benefits available under Enhanced Care. Originally, the intentions paper released in February 2020 proposed a new maximum accident benefit of at least $7.5 million. The current maximum in accident benefits is $300,000.
  • Treatments such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic care, dental care, counselling, medical equipment and other supports and services.
  • If needed, help with daily living activities like cleaning, meal preparation and personal care during recovery will be covered to higher maximum benefit amounts than before.
  • Enhanced Care will provide all the care people need if they are injured in a crash. But people will continue to choose their own doctors and preferred health-care providers to lead their care.
  • More compensation if a serious or life-altering injury is suffered from a crash than was originally proposed in February 2020. A new benefit will provide approximately $265,000 in lump sum cash compensation if a person is catastrophically injured in a crash – up approximately $15,000 from the original sum proposed – or up to approximately $167,000 in lump sum compensation if a person suffers a serious, but non-catastrophic, permanent impairment.
  • A higher maximum income replacement benefit amount if unable to work due to injuries sustained in a crash. The maximum wage loss replacement will increase to 90% of net income based on a maximum gross annual income of up to $100,000 – up from the $93,400 maximum benefit amount proposed last year. There will also be optional income top-up coverage available for higher-wage earners.
  • New grief counselling and caregiver benefits, plus much more substantial death benefits for a surviving spouse and eligible dependants.

Since government outlined its initial proposed suite of Enhanced Accident Benefits a year ago, government and ICBC have conducted more than 50 engagement and consultation meetings with members of the medical, health-care, disability advocacy and road safety advocacy communities. A report summarizing this process and how it helped to develop and inform the final benefits and amounts is available here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/organizational-structure/crown-corporations/enhanced-care-coverage-summary-report.pdf

“Providing insurance coverage that truly makes available all of the care and support you need if you are injured in a crash – especially for those who suffer the most serious, life-altering injuries – is at the very heart of our new care-based model,” said Nicolas Jimenez, president and CEO of ICBC. “Importantly, you will choose your own doctor and health-care provider to lead your care, and they will work with ICBC to develop your customized recovery plan and get you back on the road to recovery.”

Drivers who are responsible for crashes will still pay higher auto insurance premiums. Although there will be a ban on most lawsuits related to bodily injury caused by a vehicle, dangerous drivers convicted of certain Criminal Code offences, such as impaired driving, could still be sued in a civil claim for certain damages and may be prevented from receiving some Enhanced Care benefits.

Enhanced Care is also making auto insurance more affordable for British Columbians. When it comes into effect on May 1, customers who buy full basic and optional insurance from ICBC will save 20% on average. Most customers will also be eligible for a one-time, pro-rated Enhanced Care refund.

Learn More:

ICBC’s Enhanced Care coverage: http://icbc.com/enhancedcare

Enhanced Accident Benefits engagement and consultation report: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/organizational-structure/crown-corporations/enhanced-care-coverage-summary-report.pdf

Additional Background Information:

Enhanced Accident Benefits for anyone injured in a crash
Enhanced Care is a new way of doing auto insurance in B.C. – one that lowers the cost of insurance, while providing all British Columbians with access to significantly improved care and recovery benefits if they’re injured in a crash, regardless of whether they were responsible or not. Enhanced Care coverage benefits will be available to British Columbian drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians who are injured anywhere in Canada and the United States.

More care for the most seriously injured

Enhanced Care will help give ICBC’s most seriously injured customers peace of mind that their benefits will last for as long as they need them. New and expanded benefits will be available to anyone who suffers a permanent or life-altering injury from a crash.

Permanent impairment compensation will provide approximately $265,000 to anyone catastrophically injured in a crash (for example, a spinal cord injury that leads to paraplegia), in addition to all the care benefits they will need over their lifetime. Those with serious, but non-catastrophic, permanent impairments could also be eligible for compensation up to approximately $167,000, depending on the severity of the impairment.

Enhanced Care will also provide a new recreation benefit for a customer who suffers a permanent impairment and incurs additional costs, because of their injury, to continue participating in recreational activities. Examples of this benefit may include funding a sled for sled hockey or a ticket for someone to accompany the customer to the theatre if they now need help to attend.

Income Replacement Benefit

People who miss work because of injuries sustained in a crash will also receive an Income Replacement Benefit to help cover wage loss for the period of time they are unable to work. They will have access to 90% of their net income in income replacement, based on a maximum of up to $100,000 in gross income. Anyone who earns more than $100,000 in gross income per year will have the option to buy additional coverage to increase their income replacement. ICBC will offer an optional product that provides additional coverage in increments of $10,000, up to a maximum of $200,000 in gross income. Since this is an optional product, other insurers may also choose to sell an income replacement benefit top-up product.

Income replacement will also be available to any student who is unable to work following the scheduled completion of their current studies due to injuries sustained in a crash. Their income replacement will take into account their level of education by providing an income top up over and above the industrial average wage, in consideration of their level of studies. Students in post-secondary, trade and bachelor’s degree programs would be eligible for an additional 15% on top of the industrial average wage after two years, while those in post-graduate studies would be eligible for 50%.

Other benefits of Enhanced Care coverage:

Enhanced Care will provide a number of other increased and new benefits to support any British Columbian injured in a crash, including:

Support during retirement years: Enhanced Care provides care for life if people need it. Any customer who is receiving an income replacement benefit will continue to receive support from ICBC during their retirement years. The new Enhanced Care retirement income benefit will be available to customers at the later of when they reach 65 years of age or five years after they started receiving the income replacement benefit. The retirement income benefit will pay 70% of the customer’s pre-collision net income, based on a maximum of up to $100,000 in gross income.

Support for students, minors, family caregivers and businesses: Students, minors, family caregivers and people who work without pay in a family business will have access to new benefits, such as compensation for time lost from their studies or reimbursement for the costs of hiring a replacement worker to carry on a family business.

Benefits, expenses and counselling after a fatal crash: A new grief counselling benefit will be available under Enhanced Care. It will pay up to approximately $3,800 per person per deceased in counselling expenses for each grieving family member in the event of a fatal collision. Benefits available to a surviving spouse will increase to between $66,000 and $500,000 from $30,000 today, depending on variables such as the deceased person’s age and annual income. Benefits available for the deceased person’s dependants will also increase significantly, while funding for funeral costs will increase to up to approximately $9,000 from the current limit of $7,500.

Increased care at home: Assistance with activities of daily living under Enhanced Care – like bathing, eating, meal preparation and house cleaning – will increase to up to approximately $6,000 per month for the severely injured and $10,000 per month for those requiring 24-hour care. Another new benefit will help to fund a caregiver if injury prevents someone from fulfilling their regular caregiving duties – for example, to dependants under age 16.

Enhanced Care will also fund necessary alterations to a vehicle or home, such as a ramp, stairlift or bathroom modification.

Enhanced Care stakeholder support

Engagement with experts and people with lived experience of being injured in crashes has been, and will continue to be, an integral aspect of Enhanced Care.

Supporting Interior Arts Organizations to Keep Their Lights on

In the Interior, 97 arts and culture organizations have received $2.3 million through the B.C. government’s StrongerBC plan for economic recovery. This includes $73,400 awarded to Theatre BC in Kamloops, as well as $20,817 to Theytus Books in Penticton, $15,000 to the Arts Council of the North Okanagan in Vernon, and $12,000 to the Arts Council for the South Shuswap in Blind Bay.

“Arts and culture organizations have been working hard to adjust their businesses while adhering to provincial health orders,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “Our government values the arts as part of our economic recovery, and we’re here to help them weather the storm. I know this funding comes at a critical time and will help sustain the sector until we can all gather to enjoy arts and culture again.”

As part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan, the BC Arts Council provided the Expanded Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement to organizations that receive annual operating funding or project grants. Organizations can use the funds to pay for operating costs, like rent and utilities, paying artists and protecting or restoring jobs, such as theatre technicians, production designers or arts administrators.

For example, the Vernon Public Art Gallery is using its supplement to keep its doors open to the public and employ its regular staff by offsetting the gallery’s lost revenue. The Tiny Lights Festival in Ymir does not just run a festival, it is also the primary program provider for youth in the community. The festival is using its supplement to continue to support artists in innovative ways and keep its core team going to provide arts programming.

To make sure organizations got access to funding as soon as possible, the BC Arts Council started rolling out funding in November 2020. The funding is now fully allocated. In total, the Province is providing $15.7 million in supplements to 556 arts and culture organizations in communities throughout B.C.

Quotes:

Bob D’Eith, Parliamentary Secretary for Arts and Film

“By supporting the organizations who employ and support artists and arts and culture workers, we are making the sector more resilient and, in turn, keeping our communities vibrant. We know there’s more to do, and I look forward to working directly with the sector to chart our path to recovery.”

Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston –

“Arts and culture are incredibly important to enrich people’s lives. It is how we tell our stories, reflect on society and celebrate. I’m thrilled that the Creston Valley Arts Council with the Yaqan Nukiy Heritage Society are creating a documentary that showcases the stories and teachings of Robert Louie Sr., the last fluent speaker of the Lower Kootenay Band dialect, as an act of reconciliation. The Tiny Lights festival in Ymir is going to continue supporting musicians, artists and cultural practitioners in new ways to create and collaborate while developing their artistic practice. Those are just two of the many great projects that people in the Interior will be able to enjoy with the BC Arts Council’s support.”

Carla Stephenson, executive director, Tiny Lights Festival

“We are so relieved and grateful to receive a supplement from the BC Arts Council. This much-needed funding is allowing us to keep the heat on, the internet flowing fast and our internal team light burning bright. This allows us the opportunity to continue to support B.C. artists and audiences this year.”

Dauna Kennedy, executive director, Vernon Public Art Gallery

“As an organization that welcomes the public into our gallery, the closure challenged us to be creative and find innovative ways to serve the community. During these uncertain times, the funding from the BC Arts Council is helping us to expand our reach into the homes of people who are unable to visit in person while providing the necessary funding to keep the gallery open with health and safety protocols in place.”

Legislation Strengthens Transparency, Modernizes Local Election Financing

Government is strengthening local election campaign financing rules to increase accountability and transparency for elections, ensuring people are at the centre of local politics.

The changes will modernize and strengthen the tools available to investigate and enforce campaign financing rules.

“In 2017, one of the government’s first initiatives was landmark legislation to put an end to big money in politics. We are continuing our work to make sure people are at the heart of decision-making,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “The changes we are proposing reflect the feedback we heard coming out of the 2018 local government elections, and they will make elections at the local government level more transparent and equitable for everyone.”

When passed, this legislation will strengthen local election campaign financing rules and will more closely align the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act rules with those established for provincial elections in the Election Act, while continuing to account for the unique nature of local elections. These changes include:

  • establishing a pre-campaign period that increases the length of time election advertising is regulated from 29 days to 89 days;
  • limiting sponsorship contributions to $1,200 to match the provincial campaign contribution limit set in 2017;
  • requiring elector organizations to register with Elections BC; and
  • providing Elections BC with new investigative tools to support investigations and additional penalties to fine people who do not comply with the new campaign financing rules.

Elector organizations, also known as civic or local political parties, will be required to register with Elections BC and complete annual financial reports just like provincial political parties. Elector organizations will be banned from accepting non-campaign contributions to pay for operational expenses, such as office supplies and staff salaries, in non-election years. This means they will have to fund all expenses through campaign contributions.

The legislation responds to analysis and consultation following the 2018 local government general elections. Key stakeholders were also consulted, such as:

  • Elections BC;
  • the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM), which represents B.C.’s 189 local governments and the Islands Trust;
  • First Nations that utilize the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act; and
  • the B.C. School Trustees Association, which represents boards of education.

“These changes strengthen the rules governing local government election finance by increasing transparency,” said Brian Frenkel, president, UBCM. “Local governments endorsed a call for these changes in 2020, and we appreciate the government’s response well in advance of the next local government general election.”

Changes will apply to all local elections starting with the 2022 general local elections and any byelections that follow, including elections for councillors, mayors, electoral area directors and school trustees. Any byelections already underway or scheduled before 2022 are not affected.

However, the new rules relating to sponsorship contribution limits will be made retroactively, effective from March 4, 2021, to prevent banned sponsorship contributions from being made between the time legislation is introduced and royal assent.

Quick Facts:

  • During B.C.’s local elections, held every four years, there are 1,660 elected positions voted on in 250 local government bodies in communities ranging in size from less than 200 people to more than 600,000 people.
  • Elector organizations endorse candidates in local elections. They are often referred to as civic political parties.

Learn More:

Local Elections Campaign Financing Act:
https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/14018

2017 announcement on local election reforms to take big money out of politics:
https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017MAH0011-001832

Background information is available at https://archive.news.gov.bc.ca/releases/news_releases_2020-2024/2021MUNI0018-000381.htm

New Measures To Curb Gun Violence

Gang members will have fewer options to buy, transport or possess real and imitation firearms under new legislation devised to make British Columbia’s streets safer.

“We are putting expert advice into practice to reduce shootings related to gangs and the drug trade. These new measures targeting illegal and imitation firearms will give police additional tools and help make our communities safer,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “At the same time, we recognize most firearm owners in B.C. are law abiding. As such, these changes should have little to no impact on them.”

If passed, the Firearm Violence Prevention Act (Bill 4) will implement recommendations from the Illegal Firearms Task Force to:

  • penalize drivers who transport illegal firearms;
  • authorize the impoundment of vehicles used to transport illegal firearms or flee police;
  • prohibit people from having real or imitation firearms in specific locations, like schools and hospitals, where they have no legitimate purpose. These restrictions will complement existing laws concerning firearm possession, use, handling and storage;
  • stop the sale of imitation and low-velocity guns to youth and make it illegal for youth to fire or display these weapons anywhere a provincial, federal, First Nations or municipal law prohibits discharging firearms;
  • curtail gang members’ use of shooting ranges and strengthen user-related record keeping; and
  • protect from civil liability social workers and health professionals who, in good faith, breach client confidentiality by reporting information to police to prevent gun violence.

“These recommendations targeting illegal and imitation firearms will provide police with the necessary tools to advance investigations and combat gun violence in our communities,” said Dwayne McDonald, assistant commissioner, BC RCMP Criminal Operations – Federal, Investigative Services and Organized Crime. “Denying criminals access to these weapons, as well as further regulating armoured vehicles, body armour and aftermarket compartments, are key steps in enhancing public safety.”

Bill 4 will also strengthen existing laws concerning armoured vehicles, body armour and aftermarket compartments criminals typically install in their vehicles to hide and transport illegal firearms and drugs. The proposed legislation will allow government to collect fingerprints from people applying for armoured vehicle and body armour permits, to verify the results of criminal record checks. It will also prohibit installing aftermarket compartments.

Quick Facts:

  • The Illegal Firearms Task Force report, released in 2017, provided recommendations to help government respond to the public threats posed by illegal firearms. All 37 recommendations covered a broad scope of initiatives in relation to provincial and federal governments, local communities and First Nations in B.C. Most have either been completed or have some ongoing work.
  • Other ongoing efforts to suppress gang activity include strengthening co-ordination and information sharing across the justice sector, using laws and regulations in new ways to disrupt gang members’ movement and activities, and engaging communities, families and others to help keep young people out of gangs and help members exit gang life.

Learn More:

Illegal Firearms Task Force report:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/law-crime-and-justice/criminal-justice/police/publications/government/iftf_final_report_pdf.pdf

State of Emergency Extended to Continue BC’s Covid-19 Response

The Province of British Columbia has formally extended the provincial state of emergency, allowing health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) to support the Province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on March 16, 2021, to allow staff to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns and COVID-19 outbreaks.

“Vaccines have already saved the lives of some of our most vulnerable, and yesterday we announced the next phase,” said Premier John Horgan. “Every single day we’re making progress, thanks to the hard work of public health experts, front-line health-care workers, essential workers and British Columbians who are committed to doing their part to keep us all safe. We’re going to get through this together.”

The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from B.C.‘s health and emergency management officials. The original declaration was made on March 18, 2020, the day after Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer (PHO), declared a public health emergency.

“We need to keep following public health orders so we can all get through this next period safely until more vaccines are ready,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “In the meantime, orders will continue to be enforced for those who refuse to do their part and risk undoing the progress we’ve made so far.”

The Province continues, with the support of police and other enforcement officials, to use measures under the EPA to limit the spread of COVID-19, including issuing tickets to owners, operators and event organizers who host an event or gathering contravening the PHO’s orders.

On July 10, 2020, the COVID-19 Related Measures Act came into force, enabling provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue as needed should the provincial state of emergency end.

Learn More:

On Dec. 16, 2020, enforcement measures were expanded.
Details are available here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020PREM0108-002083

On Nov. 24, 2020, a mask enforcement order was introduced under the EPA, requiring masks for people over the age of 12 in public indoor settings, unless they are exempt.Details are available here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020EMBC0061-001960

For information on all recent orders and guidance, as well as general COVID-19 information for all British Columbians, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19

For more information and latest medical updates on COVID-19, follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on the centre‘s website: http://www.bccdc.ca/

Facts about B.C.’s state of emergency

Between Aug. 21, 2020, and Feb. 26, 2021, 1,336 violation tickets were issued, including:
• 199 $2,300 tickets to owners or organizers contravening the provincial health officer’s (PHO) order on gatherings and events;
• 38 $2,300 violation tickets for contravention of the PHO Food and Liquor Serving Premises Order; and
• 1,099 $230 tickets issued to individuals who refused to comply with direction from law enforcement.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General is continually working to align Emergency Program Act (EPA) enforcement orders with those of the restrictions enacted by the PHO.

Additionally, since the pandemic began, police agencies in British Columbia have issued 101 violation tickets to individuals who were in contravention of the Federal Quarantine Act, totalling $328,442.

The purpose of the Quarantine Act is to protect public health by taking comprehensive measures to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases.

Since the start of the pandemic, WorkSafeBC has conducted 23,130 COVID-19 related work site inspections.

On Dec. 16, 2020, the Province announced enhanced enforcement measures to keep British Columbians safe and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. This included strengthening COVID-19 fine collection measures and asking provincial enforcement officers to support police and increase enforcement by issuing violation tickets during their normal course of duties or when in public places.

Declarations of provincial states of emergency may be issued by the minister responsible under the EPA.
The provincial government can extend the period of a declaration made by the minister responsible for further periods of up to 14 days at a time.

Food Hub Network Expands to New BC Communities, Including Kamloops

The BC Food Hub Network is growing, creating opportunities for producers and food processors while connecting more British Columbians to local food.

The Province is investing up to $5.6 million to expand the BC Food Hub Network to Victoria, Bowser, Cowichan Valley, Abbotsford, Kamloops, Creston and the Kootenay-Boundary region.

“COVID-19 has created a number of challenges for small businesses and families wanting to find good, safe, local food,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. “With each new food hub, we’re giving more small- and medium-sized businesses room to grow, creating jobs and helping communities connect with local food. I’m proud of the work our government and our community partners are doing, and I’m excited to watch the BC Food Hub Network continue to grow.”

Food hubs offer small businesses access to facilities, equipment, research, innovation and business development services without requiring an extensive financial investment.

Each food hub is unique, created in collaboration with the community in which it is built. The food hub in Bowser will focus on seafood innovation, while Victoria, Cowichan Valley, Creston and Kamloops will work with local farmers and food processors to help grow their businesses.

The Kootenay-Boundary area food hub will consist of two locations, including Rock Creek and Greenwood. The Rock Creek location will focus on meat processing, while the location in Greenwood will include a bakery test kitchen and equipment for baking, packaging and labelling new or existing products.

Three food hubs are already operating in Vancouver, Surrey and Port Alberni, with additional hubs in Quesnel and Salmon Arm opening later this year.

Funding for the new food hubs joining the BC Food Hub Network is part of the province’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan that protects people’s health and livelihoods while supporting businesses and communities.

The BC Food Hub Network is part of the Province’s Feed BC initiative, increasing the use of B.C. food and bringing more opportunities to all aspects of B.C.’s food system. Feed BC is a priority for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, which is committed to encouraging more agriculture and seafood production, and food and beverage processing in British Columbia.

Quick Facts:

  • B.C.’s food and beverage processors produce over $10 billion worth of value-added products each year.
  • The BC Food Hub Network supports the establishment of a network of regional shared food processing and innovation hubs. The hubs increase value-added processing opportunities for producers and processors and advance innovation in B.C.’s food and beverage processing sector.
  • With the addition of the seven new food hubs, the food hub network includes 12 food hubs around the province.

Learn More:

BC Food Hub Network: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/growbc-feedbc-buybc/bc-food-hub-network

StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/

Commissary Connect: https://commissaryconnect.com/bc-regional-food-hub/

Plenty and Grace: http://plentyandgrace.ca/

The Dock+: thedockplus.ca 

B.C. Moves to Phase 2 of COVID-19 Immunization Plan, Protects Seniors

More than 400,000 people in British Columbia will be immunized from March to early April as the Province moves into Phase 2 of the largest immunization rollout in B.C.’s history.

“At every step of the way, we are putting the health and safety of British Columbians first,” said Premier John Horgan. “B.C. was one of the first provinces to lay out our vaccine plan, and now we’re moving to Phase 2 to reach even more of our seniors and Elders. We’re getting vaccine into arms as fast as we can given early supply delays from manufacturers, and we’re seeing it start to make a difference for people and their communities throughout our province.”

Those in Phase 2 receiving their first vaccine dose in March and early April include:

  • seniors and high-risk people residing in independent living and seniors’ supportive housing (including staff);
  • home-care support clients and staff;
  • Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years and older); and
  • seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years and older).

“The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for all of us, and I’m proud of our health-care workers who continue to work around the clock to safely and efficiently deliver the vaccine to British Columbians throughout the province,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We are all eager to put the pandemic behind us, and today marks a major step towards keeping British Columbians safe from COVID-19.”

On March 1, 2021, first-dose immunizations begin for those living and working in independent living centres and seniors’ supportive housing, as well as home-care support clients and staff. Health authorities will directly contact those in this priority group to book appointments – no need to call.

Beginning March 8, 2021, seniors aged 80+ and Indigenous peoples aged 65+ who are not living in independent living or seniors’ supportive housing can make one call to book their appointment through their local health authority call centre according to a staggered schedule. (For Interior Health, call 1 877 740-7747, 7 am to 7 pm, seven days a week.) This is to avoid long waits and system overload. Immunization clinic locations will be confirmed at time of booking, with vaccinations starting as early as March 15, 2021:

  • March 8, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1931 (90 years+) and Indigenous people born in or before 1956 (65 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment;
  • March 15, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1936 (85 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment; and
  • March 22, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment.

“This immunization process is a massive undertaking and I thank the regional health authorities, the thousands of health-care workers and medical staff, our colleagues in the Ministry of Health and the many community partners who help us to deliver care and who have been working tirelessly throughout this pandemic for their dedication and support,” said Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead for B.C.’s immunization plan. “Phase 2 is right on schedule, and we are working closely with each of the regional health authorities to make sure that they have the tools and resources needed to safely and efficiently book appointments.”

Health authority contact information, complete call-in schedules, hours of operations and step-by-step instructions on how to call to book an appointment for yourself, for a family member, for a friend or neighbour will be available on March 8, 2021, here: www.gov.bc.ca/bcseniorsfirst

“We can now see the light at the end of what has been a difficult and challenging time for us all. To get us through, we need to continue to work together and support each other,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “We are working hard each and every day to make sure that everyone who wants a vaccine gets one, and my new provincial health officer order significantly expands the range of health professions and occupations who can support our immunization clinics, including dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics, firefighters and retired nurses.”

For health professionals who want to sign up to support B.C.’s immunization efforts as immunizers, visit: https://forms.hlth.gov.bc.ca/registry-covid-19

Immunizing other priority groups identified in Phase 2, many of whom have already received their first dose, is also underway, including:

  • Indigenous communities, Indigenous Elders, hospital staff, community general practitioners and medical specialists not immunized in Phase 1;
  • vulnerable populations living and working in select congregate settings; and
  • staff in community home support and nursing services for seniors.

In mid-April, Phase 3 will begin mass vaccination of people aged 79 to 60 years, and people aged 16+ who are extremely clinically vulnerable, at community immunization clinics throughout B.C. Mobile clinics will be available in some rural communities and for people who are homebound due to mobility issues.

In Phase 3, British Columbians will register and book their appointments to receive their first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine through an online registration tool. People born between 1942 and 1946 (ages 79-75), and Indigenous peoples born between the years of 1956 and 1960 (ages 64-60), will be able to register for an appointment online or by phone by March 31, 2021.

As of Feb. 26, 2021, 252,373 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 73,808 of which are second doses.

Learn More:

To learn about B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan and the Phase 2 rollout, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/bcseniorsfirst
And: www.gov.bc.ca/covidvaccine

For the presentation deck on the Phase 2 immunization rollout, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Covid_ImmunizationDeck.pdf

For technical immunization information, visit the BCCDC: www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine

For more information on what to expect when you go to get vaccinated for COVID-19, visit: www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine/getting-a-vaccine

B.C.’S Covid-19 Response, March 1st Update

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the COVID-19 response in British Columbia:

“Today, we are reporting on three periods: Feb. 26 to 27, we had 532 new cases, Feb. 27 to 28, we had 508 new cases and in the last 24 hours, we had a further 438 new cases.

“This results in a total of 1,478 new cases, for a total of 80,672 cases in British Columbia.

“There are 4,464 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 8,210 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 74,776 people who tested positive have recovered.

“Of the active cases, 236 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 65 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.

“Since we last reported, we have had 327 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 857 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 88 in the Island Health region, 92 new cases in the Interior Health region, 114 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

“There have been 42 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in our province, for a total of 158 cases. Of the total cases, 10 cases are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 137 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant and 21 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant.

“To date, 275,681 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 83,777 of which are second doses. Immunization data is available on the COVID-19 dashboard: www.bccdc.ca

“There have been eight new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,363 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost loved ones to COVID-19.

“There have been four new health-care facility outbreaks at Glacier View Lodge (Island Health), Chilliwack General Hospital, Royal Columbian Hospital and Surrey Memorial Hospital. Outbreaks continue at Kelowna General Hospital, Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre, and The Florentine in Interior Health.

“The outbreaks at St. Paul’s Hospital, CareLife Fleetwood, George Derby Centre, Eden Gardens, Wexford Creek and Noric House are now over.

“Today, we begin Phase 2 of our COVID-19 immunization program, which will immunize more than 400,000 people in B.C. between March and early April.

“Phase 2 continues to focus on high-priority, higher-risk individuals, in advance of the age-based general population immunizations that will follow.

With the additional supply from the newly approved AstraZeneca/Serum Institute of India viral vector vaccine, combined with setting the second dose interval at 16 weeks, everyone moves up the line, meaning more people will be vaccinated more quickly.

“Every day we are one step closer to widespread community immunity and post-pandemic life. Let’s ensure we are continuing with our efforts until we get there.”

Learn More:

Provincial health officer orders and guidance:

Orders: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics/covid-19-novel-coronavirus

Guidance on new restrictions: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/restrictions

Vaccine and outbreak info:

For vaccine information, visit the BCCDC dashboard: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/data Or: www.bccdc.ca

For data regarding ongoing outbreaks in long-term care, assisted-living and independent-living facilities in B.C., visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/data#outbreak

The latest updates, guidance and information on COVID-19, and where to get tested:

The latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and to find a testing centre near you: http://www.bccdc.ca/
Or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.

Non-health related information:

Financial, child care and education support, travel, transportation and essential service information: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.

COVID-19 exposure events, updates and information by health authority:

BCCDC (flights, work sites, etc.): http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/public-exposures
Interior Health: https://news.interiorhealth.ca/news/public-exposures/

Bill Sundhu to Seek Nomination for Federal New Democrats in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo

This morning, Bill Sundhu announced that he will be seeking the NDP nomination for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.

“We are at a historic crossroads in Canada”, he said. “The government policy decisions we make this year will affect us for decades. There’s so much at stake. Our economy. Our Health care. Our environment. The strength of our democracy.

“Now more than ever, we need a bold, new vision and leaders in Ottawa to fight to make things better for all Canadians – a Canada where no one is left behind.

“That’s why I’ve decided to again seek the nomination to be the Candidate of the New Democratic Party of Canada for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo in the next federal election.

“These are tough times for a lot of people. We can’t go backwards, to the old “normal”. We need to build a new normal – where we take better care of another. Pre-pandemic, nearly 50% of Canadians were $200 away from being unable to pay their bills. Successive Liberal and Conservative cutbacks and privatization left us unprepared for a health and economic crisis. Workers and families struggle with affordability. Too often, they pay their fair share of taxes but fall further behind – while billionaires make off like bandits.

“Already, the Conservatives are using the current crisis to demand more austerity – a disaster for millions. They continue to play from the Republican playbook – a divisive and dangerous brand of politics. Extreme wealth inequality and insidious forces tear at our social fabric and undermine our democracies.

“After 20 years of the same representation in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, we cannot afford the failed policies and divisive politics of the past. We deserve better. Together we can be a society where wealth doesn’t determine the dignity of lives, where health care is truly universal, where seniors are protected, where everyone has a decent standard of living, where children do not go hungry, and where the environment is protected – a country that works for us all – and not just those at the top.

“We as Canadians have the values, the drive and the talent to recover and to do great things. It starts with a shared commitment that we have a duty to take care of each other. This duty to each other is the foundation of the human rights and democratic values I have stood for all of my life.

“I was proud to run as the federal NDP Candidate in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo in 2015. Our volunteers and campaign team were the most diverse and representative ever in this riding. And we came close to winning. We can re-imagine Canada. Canada can be a place where we all succeed, together. If we take care of each other, and invest in one another, it can be that place. We have the opportunity to begin that change here in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.

“Today we need principled, forward-looking parliamentarians, parliamentarians who are able reach across the aisle, listen to all voices, make responsible decisions based on evidence and the greater good, and to get things done! We need servants of the public and not servants of the “party”. We need a new vision, a new voice – a unity of purpose.

“And that’s why I am running for parliament. ”

Contact and further Information:

Bill Sundhu
Tel: (Office) 778-471-5777
Tel: (Mobile) 250-574-2124
Email: bwsundhu@gmail.com
Twitter: @bsundhu
Facebook: Bill Sundhu
Website: https://billsundhu.ca
Mail: P.O. Box 3311, Kamloops, BC, V2C 6B9

Professional History:

• 2007-Current, Barrister and Solicitor, Private Practice (Kamloops)
• 2002: Recipient Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
• 1996-2007: Judge, Provincial Court of British Columbia
• 1994-1996: Medical and Health Care Services Appeal Board of British Columbia
• 1984-1996: Barrister and Solicitor, Private Practice (Williams Lake)
• 1984: Call to Bar and Admission as Member of Law Society of British Columbia

Education:

• 2011: Certificate, Harvard Negotiation Institute, Harvard Law School
• 2010: Masters Degree, International Human Rights Law, University of Oxford
• 2014 & 1988: Certificate, Honours & Accelerated French, Institute for American Universities, France

• 1983: Bachelor of Laws, University of Windsor
• 1980: Bachelor of Arts (International Relations), University of British Columbia

Organizations and Activities:

• Board of Governors, University of British Columbia
• List of Counsel, International Criminal Court, The Hague, the Netherlands, (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity)
• Criminal Law Duty Counsel for the Haida Gwaii Court Circuit
• Appointee, International Panel of Experts, Training Tunisian Judiciary,
• Human Rights Institute, International Bar Association (2013-2014)
• The Law Society of British Columbia
• Tribunal Hearing Panel Member, Complaints & Discipline, Law Society of B.C. (2011-18)
• Canadian Bar Association, Yale County Rep (2016-19), Indigenous Reconciliation Committee
• Executive-Member, National Criminal Justice Section, Canadian Bar Association (2008-15)
• Rotary Club of Kamloops
• Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association
• Amnesty International
• Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice
• Member Kellogg College, University of Oxford
• World Society of Victimology

General Background & Activities:

Bill was born in New Westminster and raised in Williams Lake to a pioneering South Asian family. Bill and his spouse are the proud parents of two children and have made Kamloops their home for the past 25 years.

Bill Sundhu is a lawyer and activist involved publicly in human rights, justice, diversity and equality issues, including the Canadian justice system and international human rights law. He is a lecturer, public speaker and frequent commentator on legal and human rights matters.

Languages: English, French and Punjabi.

Economic Rebound Predicted for 2021-22

British Columbians can expect a slight rebound and moderate growth in the economy in 2021 with further growth in 2022, following unprecedented economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new projections from the Economic Forecast Council.

“Like all provinces, people in B.C. have weathered a year unlike any other. The pandemic has required significant changes to the way we conduct day-to-day business, and those changes have affected workers, businesses, households and the economy as a whole,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance. “I am encouraged to hear the economic forecasts signal our government is on the right path and poised to seize the opportunities that recovery will offer, but we also need to be realistic about the long road ahead. Our priority will continue to be responding to the needs of people, businesses and communities, during the pandemic response and into recovery.”

The Economic Forecast Council estimates B.C.’s real gross domestic product (GDP) declined by 5.1% in 2020. The council predicts growth of 4.7% in 2021 and 4.3% in 2022.

Since the economic low point of the pandemic in April 2020, British Columbia has had nine consecutive months of job growth. The province’s unemployment rate remains above pre-pandemic levels but is below the national average. The Province has retained its status as the only province with triple-A credit ratings by the three international ratings agencies, further signalling prudent fiscal management.

At the onset of the pandemic, the B.C. government responded to support people, businesses and communities, through measures like worker benefits, income and disability assistance top-ups, and temporary tax reductions and deferrals. In September 2020, the Province announced targeted investments through the StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan to help get British Columbians back to work, while supporting the infrastructure, services and shared growth needed for B.C.’s economic recovery.

The Economic Forecast Council discussed current events and issues affecting British Columbia’s economy and forecasts, including:

  • COVID-19 impacts over the short and medium term, as well as industry-specific impacts, gender-based analysis and other intersections across the economy;
  • government policies to support economic recovery and maintain fiscal discipline;
  • policies and vaccination timelines in B.C., Canada and the rest of the world;
  • housing affordability and resilience in homebuying;
  • LNG and other industry opportunities; and
  • uncertainty surrounding the global outlook and restrictions around trade.

The Economic Forecast Council consists of 13 independent forecasters from banks, financial institutions and independent organizations across Canada. The council gathers once a year with the minister of finance to offer economic advice in advance of each year’s budget and fiscal plan.

The council’s economic forecasts will be presented with the B.C. government’s updated forecasts in Budget 2021.

 Quick Facts:

  • The Ministry of Finance’s Fall 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update, released Dec. 17, 2020, showed prudent real GDP projections of a 6.2% decline in 2020, followed by a 3.0% gain in 2021.
  • B.C.’s Fall 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update forecast the provincial deficit at $13.6 billion for 2020-21.

Learn More:

For more information on StrongerBC, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/

For information about BC’s Restart Plan, visit: http://gov.bc.ca/restartbc

For information on services and benefits available to help people and businesses throughout the pandemic, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/COVIDgovernmentbenefits