StrongerBC Program Creates New Jobs, Opportunities

The Province is providing more than 5,000 youth and young adults across British Columbia with access to skills training and well-paid jobs through the almost $45-million StrongerBC Future Leaders Program.

“This pandemic has set back many young people from starting their careers. We’re providing first-rate training and in-demand jobs that can lead to fulfilling, long-term careers,” said Premier John Horgan. “Providing young adults with opportunities for stable, good jobs can change the direction of their lives, while helping British Columbia come back stronger and more resilient.”

The StrongerBC Future Leaders Program provides youth and young adults with training, internships, job co-ops and jobs in the growing tech sector, environment and natural resource fields. Four B.C. ministries will invest in this initiative, including the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

“Young people continue to be disproportionally impacted in this pandemic. They have experienced higher rates of unemployment and the nature of the economy has been changing rapidly,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “This new program creates opportunities that young people need. It takes an inclusive approach that is tailored to the future economy, to ensure that Indigenous, Black, people of colour, women and people facing socio-economic barriers are able to participate in our growing economy and help build a stronger B.C.”

Young people face significantly higher unemployment early in their careers as they try to build experience for the future. Youth are also often the first to feel the impact of economic shifts. During the pandemic, youth unemployment peaked at 29%, over 15 percentage points above the provincial average. As of March 2021, youth unemployment sits at 12.1%, above the general unemployment rate in B.C. of 6.9%.

The Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation is investing $22 million to fund a minimum of 4,500 training spots and paid internships in two programs, in partnership with Innovate BC and the Digital Technology Supercluster.

The first program, the Innovator Skills Initiative program, is delivered in partnership with Innovate BC. The second program, the Canadian Tech Talent Accelerator program, is delivered by NPower Canada, in partnership with the Digital Technology Supercluster and Microsoft.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development will invest more than $11 million for over 220 jobs in the Natural Resource Youth Employment program and the Recreation Sites and Trails program.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is creating opportunities for up to 180 young people to help tackle marine debris and plastic pollution in coastal communities. An investment of $5 million in the Clean Coast, Clean Waters program is aimed at youth employment, including youth in Indigenous communities.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy will invest $4.6 million to create 37 positions with BC Parks and 46 positions with the Conservation Officer Service, to work in a variety of fields to gain experience and help protect the environment.

The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training has invested $1 million into Mitacs for key internal program placements. This funding is in addition to the $1.18 million provided in 2019-20, for a total investment of $2.18 million over two years.

Additional information about all these programs is presented at the end of this article.

Mitacs is a national not-for-profit organization that builds partnerships between undergraduate and graduate student researchers, post-secondary institutions, industry, other not-for-profit organizations and communities. The internships will focus on addressing challenges in the sectors that include health, technology and others.

To further demonstrate government’s commitment to youth in British Columbia, Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston, has been appointed as the premier’s special advisor on youth.

As Special Advisor on Youth, Anderson will serve as the point person for young people across government, providing a platform for them to engage directly with the Province. Anderson will work with youth to ensure the government develops a better understanding of the needs and perspectives of young people throughout British Columbia.

Anderson will work with Kahlon to develop and chair a provincial youth economic advisory council to help shape government efforts to build an economic recovery that values B.C.’s future leaders.

“Our youth are the future of this province, and our government is working hard to give them every support they need to succeed. The job opportunities that come from this program will help young people thrive in every corner of the province,” Anderson said. “I am honoured to take on the role as the premier’s special advisor on youth, and I am excited to engage with young people to ensure that their values and perspectives are reflected in the decisions our government makes.”

The StrongerBC Future Leaders Program is part of B.C.’s Budget 2021 and existing supports and services. Budget 2021 will work to ensure the pandemic does not disrupt the future success of B.C.’s youth. It will do so by creating employment and training opportunities that enable them to participate in innovative, sustainable and inclusive recovery for all British Columbians.

Quotes:

Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development –

“Our government is committed to creating opportunities for young people to develop the skills they need to find meaningful employment in whatever fields they choose. This program will provide young people throughout the province with an opportunity to gain valuable work experience while learning how we manage and protect B.C.’s natural resources.”

George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy –

“Finding meaningful employment is a continuing challenge for many young people across B.C. as we continue to deal with the pandemic. Through mentoring and hands-on experience working on a range of important stewardship activities, young people will gain practical knowledge and career development. We want to do everything we can to support young people in British Columbia who want to protect and enhance the rich environment we all value.”

Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training –

“Hands-on learning opportunities are a vital part of building our knowledge-based economy. By supporting Mitacs and the approximately 500 internships it will facilitate across B.C. this year, we are ensuring students and industry can connect on meaningful work that will support the technology, health and business sectors. These opportunities mean that everyone can prosper and thrive as we create a stronger B.C.”

Jared Davis, youth employment program participant, Fort St. John –

“The youth employment program gave me the opportunity to gain experience as a conservation officer – a job that I have enjoyed immensely. In this role, I have been able to enjoy the beautiful landscape of British Columbia and build skills that have benefited me in both my professional and personal journey. I look forward to what the future holds and the doors this opportunity will open for me.”

Easha Acharya, youth employment program participant, Victoria –

“As a result of my participation in the youth employment program, I was hired in a temporary position as a policy analyst with the B.C. government. Working with the government has been a rewarding experience and has provided me the opportunity to apply my education in ways that I never imagined. The youth employment program proved to be a beneficial pathway to start building my career, and I appreciate the opportunities it has provided me.”

Quick Facts:

  • Many of the job postings will be posted on the B.C. government job postings website and through partner organizations.
  • For more information on where jobs will be posted, view the attached backgrounders.

Learn More:

To learn more about the StrongerBC Future Leaders Program, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/economic-recovery/youth

To learn more about the premier’s special advisor on youth mandate, visit: http://news.gov.bc.ca/files/4-13-21_mandate_letter.pdf

To learn more about current B.C. government job postings, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/careers-myhr/job-seekers/current-job-postings

To learn more about the Innovate BC Innovator Skills Initiative, visit: https://innovatebc.ca/what-we-offer/get-funding/student-hiring-grant/

To learn more about the Digital Supercluster Canadian Tech Talent Accelerator, visit: https://www.digitalsupercluster.ca/canadian-tech-talent-accelerator/

To learn more about Npower Canada, visit: https://npowercanada.ca/

To learn more about youth employment opportunities with BC Parks, visit: https://bcparks.ca/yep/

To learn more about Mitacs, visit: https://www.mitacs.ca/en

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

StrongerBC Future Leaders program: Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation
The Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, in partnership with Innovate BC and the Digital Technology Supercluster, will invest $22 million for a minimum of 4,500 training spots and internships in two programs.

The Innovator Skills Initiative program, under B.C.’s Crown agency, Innovate BC, will receive $15 million for a minimum of 3,000 internships for those under-represented in the labour market to get their first job in the tech sector or a tech-enabled position in another sector. The program is expected to start accepting applications in summer 2021. Applications will be open until the funds are disbursed.

The StrongerBC Future Leaders program will be expanded to include those who have completed some form of recognized industry-approved training. Funding will be provided to eligible businesses hiring Indigenous, Black, people of colour and under-represented young people into an internship program with the aim of providing long-term employment opportunities.

An additional $7 million is being invested with the Digital Technology Supercluster to support the expansion of the Canadian Tech Talent Accelerator program within B.C. This funding will enable the Canadian Tech Talent Accelerator program to support 1,400 to 2,000 Indigenous, Black, people of colour and under-represented B.C. youth in a 15-week, online skills training program.

The Canadian Tech Talent Accelerator program is delivered by NPower Canada and supported by Microsoft. The program helps young adults develop skills to prepare them for a range of different job opportunities and support them to earn industry certification through the junior data analyst program. Additional information is available through NPower Canada’s website. Youth can apply to the program starting May 5, 2021.

StrongerBC Future Leaders program: Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development will provide approximately $11.4 million under the StrongerBC Future Leaders program for about 220 seasonal employment opportunities at various locations throughout British Columbia.

These ministry jobs will help people gain valuable work experience. The jobs will also improve recreation sites and trails in and around many communities throughout the province.

The funding is divided between two ministry programs:

  • $8.7 million for about 160 jobs in the ministry’s Natural Resource Youth Employment program; and
  • $2.7 million to build on the Recreation Site and Trails Youth Employment program that started in 2020 with $500,000. The additional funding for Recreation Sites and Trails will create about 65 jobs.

People hired for the Natural Resource Youth Employment program will work on projects such as community wildfire prevention, invasive species management and improving forest management and health.

Jobs will be located around the province and will be a combination of new positions over the next nine to 12 months, including summer and fall co-op positions, intern positions and auxiliary hires. The postings will include new opportunities and/or recall/eligibility lists. Opportunities will be made available through post-secondary institutions and the B.C. government job postings website.

Recreation Sites and Trails projects will include maintenance and improvements to various forestry campsites and trails throughout the province, including upgrades to hiking, mountain biking and all-terrain vehicle trails. Jobs will be located around the province. Opportunities will be posted on the B.C. government job postings website.

StrongerBC Future Leaders program: Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Young people who may be looking for careers in natural resources, shoreline protection, parks planning and other environmental fields will have opportunities through the newly announced StrongerBC Future Leaders Program for positions with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

The program focuses on diversity and inclusion, hiring young people from under-represented groups who may face employment barriers.

Up to 180 young people will be tackling the growing problem of marine debris and plastic pollution as part of the Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative supporting coastal communities, including Indigenous communities where youth will be employed in stewardship activities, shoreline cleanups, traditional food gathering and infrastructure repairs. New funding of $5 million will support projects that focus on youth employment.

A $4.6-million investment will provide youth employment in BC Parks and the BC Conservation Officer Service. Thirty-seven young people will work with BC Parks, including 26 regional intern positions and 11 co-op positions with the BC Parks Provincial Services Branch. Young people employed in positions with BC Parks will receive mentoring from staff and will work in a variety of specialized fields including parks planning, community engagement and education, conservation, recreation services and administration.

Forty-six young people will work with the Conservation Officer Service. In these positions, participants will develop new skills to assist in career planning, such as protecting the natural environment and working on projects to strengthen ties with Indigenous communities.

Opportunities with the BC Conservation Officer Service include supporting public education and outreach with roles such as wildlife safety response officers who promote wildlife safety and the importance of removing food attractants to reduce the potential of human-wildlife conflict.

Twenty-eight young people will join the Conservation Officer Service Aquatic Invasive Species program to help conservation officers check watercraft as part of the Province’s Invasive Mussel Defence program.

The postings for BC Parks regional intern positions will be included on the B.C. government job postings website. Applicants must be enrolled in full-time studies at an accredited post-secondary educational institution within the past six months to qualify. The BC Parks Provincial Services Branch co-op positions are posted with local academic institutions. Applicants must be registered with the co-op program.

Conservation Officer Service positions will initially be drawn from an existing list of candidates with a potential second phase of hiring later this spring. For more information on the Conservation Officer Service and job opportunities, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/natural-resource-law-enforcement/conservation-officer-service

For information on youth employment opportunities with BC Parks, visit: https://bcparks.ca/yep/

The Clean Coast, Clean Waters program will have a separate community-based hiring process. As the program gets underway in the coming weeks, partner agencies will be able to provide further details to young people interested in applying to the clean-up program. Government will announce the partner agencies and provide further information on the work opportunities available in the near future.

Mitacs internships help student researchers tackle real-word problems
The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training’s investment in research internships will connect post-secondary students throughout British Columbia with industry partners to gain real-world experience that will help them move on to good careers while helping build B.C.’s post COVID-19 economy.

The ministry has invested $1 million into key internal program placements to help hundreds of students create innovative solutions for the B.C. businesses, not-for-profit organizations and communities that are addressing challenges in the health, technology and other sectors. This is in addition to the $1.8 million provided in 2019-20, for a total investment of $2.18 million over two years.

The paid internships are administered through Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization that builds partnerships between undergraduate and graduate student researchers, post-secondary institutions, industry, not-for-profit organizations and communities.

Examples of current internships include:

  • a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Northern British Columbia who is working with BC Biocarbon to research a carbon-neutral replacement for coal in high-temperature combustion uses;
  • a PhD student from Simon Fraser University who researched the characterization of stabilized lithium ion batteries for Nano One Materials Corporation that developed a scalable process for producing low-cost, high-performance cathode powders used in lithium ion batteries; and
  • a University of Victoria student who researched the impacts of small vessels on cetaceans, such as whales, dolphins and porpoises, in the Salish Sea with the Wild 4 Whales Foundation.

Mitacs has designed and delivered research and training programs in Canada since 1999. It works with 70 post-secondary institutions and more than 6,000 companies, as well as federal and provincial governments, to build partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada.

This funding builds on government’s commitment to building B.C.’s knowledge economy. Other investments include 2,900 new tech-related spaces in post-secondary institutions throughout B.C.; a $15.75-million graduate scholarship fund (the largest investment in the province’s history in terms of grad scholarships); ongoing capital project investments to improve learning spaces across the post-secondary landscape; and the new B.C. Access Grant.

More information about Mitacs:

  • Since 2017, government has invested $17.8 million for Mitacs internships.
  • Over the past 20 years, Mitacs has supported more than 20,000 research projects, trained more than 33,000 student and post-doctoral career-skills participants and supported more than 3,600 international research collaborations.
  • Since 2007, provincial funding has supported approximately 3,500 research projects, more than 3,700 interns and more than 8,200 internships (an intern can complete more than one internship) in B.C.
  • Government funding supports three Mitacs programs to benefit students and industry:
    • Accelerate: Provides a minimum of four-month collaborative research internships with industry for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.
    • Elevate: Provides two-year collaborative post-doctoral fellowships with industry, with a special focus on advancing research management and professional skills.
    • Globalink: Provides travel funding for internships between Canada and several international partners, such as Brazil, France, India and Mexico. This program is largely on hold due to the impacts of COVID-19.

People Aged 60+ Can Now Register for COVID-19 Vaccine; Pharmacy Vaccinations Available in Kamloops — April 10 Update

Nearly one million British Columbians have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The Province’s Get Vaccinated program is ramping up and is calling on everyone aged 60 and older to register.

People born in 1961 and earlier (60+), Indigenous peoples 18+, and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable can now register to book their vaccine appointment through B.C.’s new Get Vaccinated system in one of three ways:

  • online, 24/7, at gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated
  • through a provincial call centre between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at 1 833 838-2323 or
  • in-person at the nearest Service BC location.

There are three steps to register to book a vaccine appointment:

  1. Register: First, register when it’s your turn and get a confirmation code.
  2. Book: Book a vaccine appointment when you get an email, text or phone call telling you you’re eligible to book based on your age.
  3. Get vaccinated: Visit a vaccine clinic to get your vaccine dose.

Registration is the first step. Once people are registered, they will be contacted when it is their turn to book a vaccine appointment. To preserve system capacity, wait until your age group is called to register.

B.C.’s age-based program runs parallel to the pharmacy program for people between the ages of 55 and 65. Now, anyone between 55 and 65 years of age is eligible to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine in local pharmacies throughout the province. In Kamloops, vaccinations are currently available at:

  • Costco Pharmacy, 1675 Versatile Drive
  • Kipp-Mallery Pharmacy, 273 Victoria Street
  • Manshadi Pharmacy, #101 – 376 Tranquille Road
  • Rexall Pharmacy, 101 -1801 Princeton-Kamloops Hwy
  • Wal-Mart Pharmacy, Sahali Mall Shopping Ctr

A full list of participating pharmacies is here: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/pharmacy

More pharmacies will be added in the days to come.

Since the Get Vaccinated provincial registration and booking system started on April 6, 2021, nearly 650,000 British Columbians have registered and more than 170,000 have booked their shot.

Nearly 170 mass vaccinations clinics throughout the province are now operating.

Learn More:

To learn more about when it is your turn to be immunized, visit: www2.gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated.html

For technical immunization information, visit the BC Centre for Disease Control’s website: 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

Major Construction Gets Underway on Kicking Horse Canyon Phase 4

GOLDEN – Major construction is starting next week on the Kicking Horse Canyon Project – Phase 4, which will transform the most technically challenging section of Highway 1 in the province, making it safer and more efficient for people to travel on.

“Safe and efficient roadways are important to build strong communities and to support tourism and local economies,” said Ken Hardie, MP for Fleetwood–Port Kells, on behalf of Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “The final phase of the Kicking Horse Canyon four-laning project near Golden will improve users’ safety, make this stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway more reliable, protect wildlife and also create good jobs for local workers. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities.”

The project includes realigning and widening the final 4.8 kilometres of the Trans-Canada Highway through the canyon. Crews will realign 13 curves and widen the highway to four lanes with centre median barrier to divide the opposing lanes of traffic, which will significantly boost safety for travellers. As well, the highway shoulders will be widened to ministry standards to accommodate cyclists.

“We’re excited to be moving forward with major improvements on the Trans-Canada Highway to the Alberta border to make travel better and safer for people who live and work in the region,” said Rob Fleming, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “This is the fourth and final phase of the Kicking Horse Canyon, and we know this work will significantly upgrade this challenging section of Highway 1, especially for all of the commercial truck drivers who travel this corridor regularly. Once the work is completed, everyone who travels this route will benefit.”

Rockfall and avalanche hazards will be mitigated with bridges, rock catchment ditches and other measures to improve safety and reliability for people travelling along the corridor. Wildlife exclusion fencing and wildlife passage opportunities will help prevent collisions with wildlife.

“This is a very exciting project for our community,” said Ron Oszust, mayor of Golden. “Although we recognize that there will be some challenges along the way over the next few years, we will also see opportunities. Traffic reroutes will bring new travellers into our downtown core and most importantly, once completed, there will be a much safer and more accessible route into the community of Golden and the Province of B.C. for our residents and visitors.”

This stretch of highway carries more than 12,000 vehicles daily during the summer. Up to 30% of the traffic consists of commercial vehicles moving millions of dollars in goods to serve interprovincial and international trade.

Three phases of work have already transformed 21 kilometres of narrow, winding two-lane highway into a modern four-lane, 100 km/h standard. Construction of this fourth and final phase to complete the remaining – and most challenging – 4.8 kilometres is expected to be substantially complete in winter 2023-24.

Travellers are reminded that there will be a one-month extended closure of the Trans-Canada Highway from April 12 to May 14, 2021. Additionally, for the last half of May, there will be 24-hour closures on weekdays, except for the Victoria Day holiday. During these periods, through traffic on Highway 1 between Golden to Castle Junction will be routed via Highways 93S and 95, which will add up to 1.5 hours of travel time. Roadside signage will provide advance notification of the closure and alternative routes will also have signage.

This extended closure is intended to minimize travel disruptions during the peak summer and winter travel periods by having as much work as possible done at night and other off-peak periods.

During the extended closures, a “commuter pass system” will allow local commuters and essential local traffic to be escorted through the construction zone during two brief peak-period windows. Similar escorts will be provided for school buses so students will have uninterrupted access to school. Emergency vehicles in response mode will be provided escorted passage on short notice. Details of the pass system are available on the project website.

The ministry appreciates people’s patience during the work. Drivers are reminded to obey construction zone speed limits and the directions of traffic personnel. Updates on delays will be available online at: http://DriveBC.ca

The $601-million project is cost shared, with the Government of Canada contributing up to $215 million and the B.C. government providing the remaining $386 million.

This project is being delivered under the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) and is designed to maximize opportunities to develop and grow the skilled labour workforce in the province. The CBA prioritizes hiring and re-hiring local workers, Indigenous peoples, women, people with disabilities and members of other under-represented groups who are qualified to do the work in a safe, respectful environment. It increases opportunities for apprentices to work on site and gain the experience they need to move toward completing their certification.

Provincial construction sites have protocols and policies in place following the requirements of the provincial health officer to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures include physical distancing and other protocols to ensure worker and public safety.

Learn More:

For more information on this project, visit: www.kickinghorsecanyon.ca

For job opportunities for the Kicking Horse Canyon project, visit: https://www.bcib.ca/

For more information on federal infrastructure funding, visit: http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca

For the most up-to-date highway travel information, check @DriveBC on Twitter or visit: http://DriveBC.ca

For travel restrictions and precautions due to COVID-19, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/traveller-information/travel-affected-by-covid-19

Cariboo Memorial Hospital Redevelopment Moves Forward

People in Williams Lake and the Cariboo-Chilcotin are a step closer to an expanded, renovated Cariboo Memorial Hospital (CMH) with Graham Design Builders LP selected as the project proponent.

“The selection of a proponent is a big milestone as we are even closer to getting work started on this important hospital expansion and renovation,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “This project will modernize the hospital and enable our government to deliver enhanced services for people in Williams Lake and across the Cariboo-Chilcotin.”

Following a competitive procurement process, Graham Design Builders LP was selected from three shortlisted teams to finalize a design early works agreement (DEWA), including detailed design of the project. Joining Graham Design Builders on the design team are Stantec Architecture Ltd. and Stantec Consulting Ltd.

The DEWA has been executed and Graham Design Builders LP is proceeding into negotiations for a Design-Build Agreement to oversee construction of CMH redevelopment.

“It will be a game changer for people who need mental health care that we’re redeveloping the Cariboo Memorial Hospital with them front of mind,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Together, we’re building a system where treatment for mental health is on par with any other health condition. I’m grateful to everyone involved in making this redevelopment a reality.”

The CMH redevelopment project will take place in two phases. Phase 1 is a three-storey addition to the hospital campus, while Phase 2 will be renovations to the existing facility.

“Cariboo Memorial Hospital serves patients and families across a large region and includes several Aboriginal communities, as well as an aging population,” said Susan Brown, Interior Health president and CEO. “This announcement today brings us one step closer to breaking ground on this important project, which we know will expand access to health-care services for people in Williams Lake across the entire Cariboo-Chilcotin region.”

Features of the project include a new emergency department and medical surgical unit, expanded ambulatory care and maternal and women’s health units, the addition of a mental-health and substance-use inpatient unit, a multi-purpose gathering room and space for the University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine program. New parking stalls will also be added to the site.

“The Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District is proud to be a funding partner for this important project that will benefit people across the Cariboo Chilcotin,” said Bob Simpson, chair, Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District. “CMH has served the needs of regional residents for many, many years and we look forward to seeing this project to modernize the hospital come to fruition.”

The cost of the project is $217.75 million and will be shared between the provincial government and the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District.

Quick Facts:

  • Graham Builders LP responded to a request for qualifications posted through BC Bid in April 2020. In October 2020, three short-listed proponents were asked to respond to a request for proposals. That was followed by a thorough evaluation under an independent fairness reviewer.
  • As detailed design work progresses, a timeline for construction will be developed. Once the addition to CMH is complete, Phase 2 renovations will begin.
  • As part of government’s commitment to environmental sustainability and green buildings, the addition at CMH will be designed and constructed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification at a minimum.

Province Shifts To Phase 3: Millions To Book Vaccine Appointments Online

All eligible adults in B.C. will soon be able to follow an easy, three-step process to register and book their vaccine appointments online, as the Province moves to Phase 3 of B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan ahead of schedule.

“British Columbians faced the countless challenges of this past year with incredible courage,” said Premier John Horgan. “Today marks a major milestone in our fight against COVID-19, and we ask everyone to wait their turn and follow three steps to help put this pandemic behind us.”

There are three easy steps to register to book your vaccine appointment:

  1. Register: First, register when it is your turn and get a confirmation code.
  2. Book: Book a vaccine appointment when you get an email, text or phone call telling you you are eligible to book, based on your age.
  3. Get vaccinated: Visit a vaccine clinic to get your vaccine dose.

Starting at 8 a.m. (Pacific time), on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, people born in 1950 and earlier (71 and older), Indigenous peoples 18 and older, and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable may register to book their vaccine appointment through the Province’s new ‘Get Vaccinated’ system in one of three ways:

  • online at: gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated
  • by telephone through a provincial call centre (toll-free) at 1 833 838-2323
  • in-person at the nearest Service BC location.

“We encourage everyone in B.C. to get their vaccine at their first opportunity, when it is their turn,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

Check in regularly to know when it is your turn to register: gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated

To preserve system capacity, please wait until your age cohort is called to register.

“With more vaccine supply, we are taking an important step into Phase 3 of our immunization plan, and I encourage anyone who has questions to go to the BC Centre for Disease Control website to learn more about the safe and effective vaccines we have here in B.C.,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “Every vaccine delivered makes all of us safer – let’s keep our momentum going and get everyone who wants one, their first dose by Canada Day.”

People aged 55 to 65 on the Lower Mainland continue to be eligible to book an appointment to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at a participating pharmacy near them:
www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/pharmacy
More news to expand B.C.’s AstraZeneca program through pharmacies in other regions will come in the days ahead.

“We have worked diligently and tirelessly to get this online registration, booking and tracking system ready for British Columbians,” said Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead, B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization program. “I want to thank the regional health authorities for delivering the clinics. Now, with the help of the new online and single phone number system, we’re ready to move onto the next phase of the largest vaccination program in B.C. history.”

To date, nearly 770,000 eligible British Columbians – or one in six – have received their first dose of vaccine, and more than 87,000 have received their second dose. If B.C.’s vaccine supply is delivered as scheduled, everyone in B.C. who is eligible for the vaccine will receive their first dose by the end of June.

Learn More:

On April 6, 2021, gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated will be available in 12 different languages.

For language assistance with registration, call (toll-free) 1 833 838-2323, available in 140 different languages.

For technical immunization information, visit the BC Centre for Disease Control’s website: 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

To register online, visit: gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated and provide:

  • First and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Postal code
  • Personal Health Number (on the back of your B.C. driver’s licence, B.C. Services Card or Care Card)
  • An email address that gets checked regularly or a phone number that can receive texts

If you do not have a Personal Health Number, you can register by phone or at a Service BC office.

Information collected for the COVID-19 vaccination program will not be shared with other agencies. People will never be asked for their SIN, driver’s licence number or banking and credit card details.

To register by phone:

  • Call (toll-free) 1 833 838-2323.
  • Translators are available in 140 languages.
  • Call centres are open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Pacific time).

To register at a Service BC office:

People who have already received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, using one of the five regional health authority call centres, will use the online registration and booking tool or the Get Vaccinated call centre when it is time for them to book their second dose. Details on when people should register for their second dose will be available in May 2021.

B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan is based on scientific evidence, expert advice and guidelines from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and developed by B.C.’s immunization committee and public health leadership committee led by Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer. The plan is focused on preventing severe illness and death, protecting the health-care system by immunizing health-care workers and managing outbreaks.

Astrazeneca Vaccine Program To Be Expanded From the Lower Mainland To Kamloops

Over the last two days (April 1 and 2) there have been 149 new cases of COVID-19 in the Interior Health region. The outbreak at Cottonwoods Care Centre continues.

“To date, 856,801 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., 87,455 of which are second doses.

“We are working hard to deliver an easy-to-use provincial booking system for all British Columbians and know everyone is eager to book their appointment, beginning next week.

“Right now, vaccine bookings for people 72 and older, Indigenous peoples 18 and over, and individuals who are clinically extremely vulnerable continue throughout the long weekend. The AstraZeneca/COVISHEILD vaccine is also available to people between the ages of 55 and 65 on the Lower Mainland – B.C.’s highest transmission area.

“In partnership with the BC Pharmacy Association, we plan to expand the AstraZeneca vaccine program outside of the Lower Mainland by the end of next week to more communities throughout the province, including Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Parksville, Prince George, Quesnel, Terrace, Vernon and Victoria.

“An important reminder for everyone is that we should not be travelling outside our community or health authority for vacation or recreation right now. Consider day trips only or staying overnight in a local campground or hotel. We have seen too many cases of people travelling outside their health authority region and not using their layers of protection, leading to outbreaks and clusters in their home community.

“These outbreaks are avoidable, and right now we must stay within our local region — for the safety of your community and for others.”

Learn More:

For provincial health officer’s orders and guidance, visit:

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

Latest vaccine information:

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

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.

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

Mental health support:

Mental health and anxiety support: www.bouncebackbc.ca
Or: www.anxietycanada.com
Or: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/about-covid-19/mental-well-being-during-covid-19
Or: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/virtual-supports-covid-19

To share your feedback in the Personal Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, visit: https://www.bcchr.ca/POP/our-research/pics

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
Fraser Health: fraserhealth.ca/covid19exposure
Interior Health: https://news.interiorhealth.ca/news/public-exposures/
Island Health: https://www.islandhealth.ca/learn-about-health/covid-19/outbreaks-and-exposures
Northern Health: https://www.northernhealth.ca/health-topics/outbreaks-and-exposures
Vancouver Coastal Health: http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/public-exposures

For the latest videos and livestreaming of COVID-19 media availabilities, visit:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BCProvincialGovernment/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BCGovNews
YouTube: www.youtube.com/ProvinceofBC

 

GSAR Callouts Surge During COVID-19, Precautions Urged During Outdoor Recreation

British Columbia’s ground search and rescue (GSAR) groups have just wrapped up the busiest year in B.C. GSAR history.

As COVID-19 restrictions pushed people to explore outdoors, it also drew GSAR groups out to a record number of requests to assist the public.

“Our search and rescue volunteers in B.C. are world class, and they’ve continued to prove that through the challenge of a global pandemic,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “They jump into action in dangerous circumstances and inclement weather to protect public safety, and COVID-19 has only made their jobs harder. It’s our duty as British Columbians to protect them by ensuring we’ve taken safety precautions and are well-prepared for the unexpected when heading into the backcountry.”

Between April 2020 and April 2021, B.C.’s GSAR groups were deployed 1,959 times. This is an increase of nearly 25% when compared to callouts in previous years. Prior to this, B.C.’s GSAR groups attended an average of roughly 1,500 responses annually – more than the rest of Canada combined.

“B.C.’s 79 GSAR groups have been pushed to their limits,” said Chris Kelly, president, BC Search and Rescue Association. “COVID-19 has made risky work even more dangerous for each individual. I implore anyone heading out into the elements to do their part by planning ahead. Make sure you’re prepared for where you’re going – have a plan, have the right gear, know how to use it and take the training.”  

It is important to prepare for the unexpected when heading outdoors, regardless of weather. While spring begins to arrive in some of B.C.’s valleys, winter conditions persist in the alpine. Tragically, there were ten avalanche fatalities in B.C. in the last year.

“B.C.’s GSAR groups have done tremendous work over this past year,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “The best way to show your gratitude is to make sure you are prepared for your outdoor adventure. Even if you think it will be a short trip, it’s important to let someone know where you’re going, investigate the terrain and weather conditions beforehand, and bring supplies for an unexpected overnight.”

It is critical not only to be prepared before venturing into B.C.’s mountains and trails, but also to call for help immediately if needed. BC AdventureSmart advises people follow the “Three Ts”: trip plan, train and take the essentials. In addition, Avalanche Canada has extensive resources on its website, including information about avalanche conditions, terrain and an online avalanche tutorial, Avy Savvy.

Learn More:

AdventureSmart: https://www.adventuresmart.ca/
Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BCAdvSmart
Follow on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/BCAdvSmart/?hl=en
Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bcadvsmart?lang=en

Avalanche Canada: https://avalanche.ca

Avalanche Canada Avy Savvy: https://avysavvy.avalanche.ca/en-ca

PreparedBC is British Columbia’s one-stop shop for disaster readiness information. For tips on seasonal readiness, how to prepare an emergency plan and what to include in an emergency kit, visit PreparedBC: http://preparedbc.ca
Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PreparedBC/
Follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PreparedBC

New Grant Program Helps Set up B.C. Manufacturers for Growth, Innovation

The B.C. government is supporting innovation and diversification in the province’s manufacturing sector with a $10-million investment in small and medium-sized businesses.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Canada has been selected by the Province to deliver the Accelerating Manufacturing Scale-Up Grant program, which provides funding to eligible businesses to help them adjust to the economic changes created by the COVID-19 pandemic and better prepare for the future.

Grant applications will be accepted between April 15 and May 31, 2021.

“Innovation is essential for our economic recovery. So much has changed in the last year, and we need to work together to adapt,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “This program strengthens small and medium-sized manufacturers and helps them become more globally competitive now and in the years ahead.”

There are more than 11,000 small and medium-sized manufacturing companies in B.C. contributing $17 billion to the economy each year.

The B.C. government is making this investment to strengthen the province’s manufacturing businesses in all sectors to support B.C.’s economic recovery.

The program will provide 75% of project costs to a maximum of $250,000 for individual business projects, or up to $500,000 for projects by a group of businesses.

Projects will support the following activities:

  • demonstration or testing for prototypes of new technologies;
  • commercialization of new technologies, products or services;
  • improving market access or supply-chain competitiveness; and
  • identifying and applying operational improvements or increasing sustainability in supply chains.

“Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) has long identified under-investment in advanced manufacturing machinery and equipment as a major factor in Canada’s lagging productivity,” said Andrew Wynn-Williams, divisional vice-president for B.C., CME. “This program supports exactly the kind of investment needed to alleviate the challenge and promote growth in B.C.’s manufacturing sector.”

The program is led by PwC with financial support from the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.

The Accelerating Manufacturing Scale-up Grants program is part of the B.C. Supply Chain Resiliency and Value-Added Manufacturing Project, which commits more than $16 million in provincial funding to generate new economic opportunities.

The project includes the $6-million Supply Chain Resiliency Program, which supports grants of up to $400,000 to industry and trade associations, or up to $200,000 to groups of businesses collaborating on a single project, to build stronger and more resilient supply chains.

Both programs are part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan. The plan outlines the latest steps the Government of British Columbia is taking to help people, businesses and communities come out of COVID-19 stronger and better prepared.

Learn More:

For more information on the Accelerating Manufacturing Scale-Up Grant program, including the application process and eligibility, visit: http://bcmanufacturinggrant.ca/

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

Interior Rural, Remote, Indigenous Communities Receive Grants to Address Overdoses

Communities and organizations in the Interior Health region now have extra support to expand local overdose response and awareness efforts through a provincial grant program.

“People living in rural, remote and Indigenous communities are best equipped to address the overdose crisis on the ground in their communities,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I’m grateful for the wisdom and expertise of community leaders whose innovative projects are making a difference during two public health emergencies.”

The grant recipients are Acknowledging All Nations & Developing Unity, OneSky Community Resources, AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society (ANKORS), Shuswap Indian Band and Dudes Club Society.

People in rural and remote areas face obstacles when it comes to accessing substance-use services. Geographic remoteness may mean longer travel distances to access health care and treatment, and access to Naloxone and harm reduction services can be limited in areas with low populations.

Through the grants, actions such as connecting people to life-saving supports, reducing stigma, developing harm reduction policies, relationship building and knowledge sharing will be funded.

First Nations people and Indigenous communities are over-represented when it comes to overdose deaths and an increasingly toxic drug supply has magnified the impact of the overdose crisis. Data from January to October 2020 shows First Nations people died from overdose at a rate 5.5 times higher than other residents in B.C.

These funds are intended to address these inequities by supporting community groups, service providers and Indigenous-led organizations to carry out local actions specific to the needs of their community. More than $1 million in grants are being distributed to 23 rural, remote and Indigenous communities and organizations throughout B.C.

Equitable access to culturally safe and effective substance-use care is a key component of A Pathway to Hope: B.C.’s roadmap to creating a system of mental health and addictions care that works for everyone.

The funds are being administered by the Community Action Initiative and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. The grants build off the work done at the 2019 Rural and Indigenous Overdose Exchange to address the overdose crisis at the local level.

Quotes: 

Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston –

“Having family and friends nearby to support people recovering from addictions and other mental health issues can be so important. These First Nations and community organizations help people in our communities get the support they need while still having their close networks nearby.”

Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –

“Intergenerational trauma stemming from a history of colonization and racism has given way to a terrible reality that Indigenous peoples continue to be disproportionally impacted by the overdose crisis in the province. This crisis has only intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new funding will help those struggling connect with community-led, culturally appropriate programs, which is vital to support recovery and promote healing.”

Alexis Hekker, prevention education co-ordinator –

“Tawnshi! The news that ANKORS has been awarded this grant comes with so much excitement and hope! We continue to see the impacts that COVID-19 and the overdose crisis have on our Indigenous peoples at devastating levels. In 2020, we lost so many to fatal overdoses and many of them Indigenous women. As a Metis woman with lived experience, I see this as an opportunity to create some true positive change for our Indigenous peoples in the form of harm reduction services, education, support and connection. I can’t wait to see what ANKORS can do to support our Indigenous peoples further in the East Kootenays.”

Danielle Armstrong, health director, Shuswap Indian Band –

“Kuksetemc (thank you) so much for the great news on the success of this application. Our community is very overwhelmed and excited to be able to better support our membership for the next 12 months. Shuswap Band members have experienced great loss due to the opioid crisis over this past year and knowing we can bring in additional support to assist with the healing of our members is so amazing!  I look forward to sharing our success stories.”

Learn More:

A Pathway to Hope – B.C.’s roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for everyone: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/mental-health-and-addictions-strategy/bcmentalhealthroadmap_2019web-5.pdf

Building Pathways Forward Together – report from the 2019 Rural and Indigenous Overdose Exchange: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/overdose-awareness/rural-indigenous-overdose-action-exchange.pdf

Tender Issued for Trans-Canada Highway Four-laning Project

More work will get underway this spring through Chase on the next phase of the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) four-laning, a project that is increasing safety, reliability and efficiency for people living and travelling in the region.

The tender has been issued for the Chase Creek West to Chase Creek Bridge section. This project will widen 1.6 kilometres of the highway from two to four lanes, add a grade-separated interchange at Brooke Drive and extend improvements on Brooke Drive to Shuswap Avenue. Construction on this segment will begin later this spring and is anticipated to be complete in fall 2023.

“This project also creates good local jobs and supports an important trade corridor, which will help Canadian businesses and boost the economy,” said the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “It’s great to see advances in this four-laning project near Chase as part of B.C.’s larger initiative to improve traffic flow and safety on Highway 1 from Kamloops to the Alberta border.”

Work is already well underway on the Chase Creek Road to Chase West section, which will also reduce traffic congestion and improve safety in the region. It includes upgrades to highway intersections and frontage roads, along with construction of a pedestrian underpass and multi-use pathway.

“Improving this section of the Trans-Canada Highway by four-laning will increase the safety, reliability and capacity of the highway and will benefit everyone who travels this busy route, including commercial truck drivers,” said Rob Fleming, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We’ve also included walking and cycling paths to create a more livable and sustainable community that provides long-term benefits to people’s health and well-being.”

This project is being delivered through the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). The CBA is designed to maximize opportunities to develop and grow the skilled labour workforce in the province.

The CBA prioritizes hiring and rehiring local workers, Indigenous peoples, women, people with disabilities and members of other under-represented groups who are qualified to do the work in a safe, respectful environment. It increases opportunities for apprentices to work on site and gain the experience they need to move toward completing their certification. British Columbia Infrastructure Benefits is responsible for implementing the CBA for the project and will be the employer for the skilled trades workforce on the project.

The total budget for the Chase four-laning project is $260.3 million. This includes up to $12.1 million from the Government of Canada under the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component of the New Building Canada Fund.

During construction, every effort will be made to minimize disruption to local traffic. Updates will be provided via: www.DriveBC.ca

Provincial construction sites have protocols and policies in place following the requirements of the provincial health officer to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures include physical distancing and other protocols to ensure worker and public safety.

Learn More:

Highway 1 four-laning program: http://www.bchwy1.ca

Job opportunities for the Chase four-laning project: https://www.bcib.ca/

For more information on federal infrastructure funding, visit: http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca

For the most up-to-date highway travel information, visit: www.DriveBC.ca
Or @DriveBC on Twitter.

For travel restrictions and precautions due to COVID-19, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/drivingandcycling/travellerinformation/travel-affected-by-covid-19