B.C. NEWS

Faster pathway helps increase trained health care assistants

More supports are on the way for seniors, as the Province helps make it easier and faster for qualified health care assistants trained in Canada to work in British Columbia. “We’re bringing in changes that will make it easier for qualified health care assistants trained in other Canadian provinces to find work in B.C., without compromising our safety standards,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “This faster pathway will help bring relief to the many communities that need health care assistants, especially those in the Peace River region and East Kootenays.” B.C. health care assistants – or equivalents – living in other provinces will no longer need to live in B.C. before applying to the BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry. The registry is a list of credentialed health care assistants who are working for or wish to work for publicly funded employers in B.C. Additionally, eligible applicants will not be required to take the Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS). This will make it easier and more affordable for health care assistants to be registered to work in the province. Once out-of-province, Canadian-trained health care assistants qualify for the new faster pathway, they will be immediately enrolled in a standardized orientation program. This new pathway, which is expected to take effect on January 15, 2020, will continue to ensure that health care assistants from Canadian provinces and territories meet B.C.’s high standards of providing care. In 2019, 19% of B.C.’s population is 65 or over. In 15 years, this is expected to rise to 25%. There are currently an estimated 24,600 health care assistants employed by health authorities and affiliated employers in B.C.

Office pilot helps people work close to home

A new mobile office pilot program for government workers who live in the Westshore will help reduce congestion, get commuters out of gridlock and give people more time with their families. “Making life better for people and tackling climate change means rethinking how we work and get around,” said Premier John Horgan. “After years of demand, our government is moving forward with this pilot project – the first of what we hope will turn into more mobile work spaces, allowing people to live and work in their community and reducing our emissions to help build a brighter future for British Columbians.”   Premier Horgan was joined by Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin, Westshore mayors and local BC Public Service employees to celebrate the project and get a tour of the space. Participants got to learn more about the mobile workspace and see some of the design features and layout that will be used once the office renovation is complete. The new office, which will be located on the second floor of the Westhills Building at 1311 Lakepoint Way, is the Province’s first mobile-only model. The office is being launched as a pilot, with the goal of expanding the model to other offices in the future. Design plans will have office space for about 100 workers, bike storage and showers that promote active transportation options for the ride into work. Over 2,000 B.C. government employees – more than 20% of the BC Public Service employees in Victoria – live in the Westshore communities of Colwood, Langford, View Royal, Metchosin, Sooke and the Highlands. Many have long advocated for an office space close to home due to the time and money they spend commuting.

BC Liquor Stores partners with Richmond firm to ditch plastic bags

The Government of British Columbia has selected Richmond-based Bulldog Bag Ltd. to provide paper bags to all 197 government-owned and operated BC Liquor Stores as part of a commitment to the environment and sustainable business practices. The Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) currently distributes 22 million plastic bags per year to BC Liquor Stores throughout the province. As there will be a charge per paper bag, the move is intended to encourage consumers to shop using their own reusable bags. LDB will give away one free reusable bag per customer for a limited time, while supplies last. More than 40% of plastic products are used only once. Single-use plastic bans have been advocated for in different forms in different jurisdictions to address the growing problem of plastic pollution. David Eby, Attorney General and Minister responsible for the LDB, says: “Too often, single-use plastics end up polluting our oceans, waterways, parks and forests. At a minimum, the action taken today will mean that there will be 22 million fewer plastic bags in the landfill.” Bulldog Bag Ltd. was selected to manufacture and supply the paper bags, which have the strength to withstand a load of 7.5 kilograms – approximately equivalent to six bottles of wine or a six-pack of beer and two bottles of wine. The move to paper bags will begin in November 2019, with locations on Vancouver Island making the switch on November 25. Stores in Metro Vancouver aim to make the transition on February 3, 2020, with the rest of the province converting by March 9, 2020. The new paper bags will contain a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content and are 100% recyclable and compostable.

Annual grants support vital community services

British Columbians in 54 municipalities will benefit from new and updated public infrastructure and critical services, thanks to grants in lieu of property taxes totalling more than $16 million. “We’re proud to support the important work local governments do every day to create jobs, strengthen our local economies and deliver the services British Columbians rely on,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Minister of Citizens’ Services. “These annual grants play a critical role in helping local governments with planning – they use the funding to provide vital services and infrastructure that help improve people’s lives.” Each November, the Province pays grants in lieu of property taxes to municipalities and regional districts for services they provide in their communities, such as parks, sewers, roads and fire protection. The grants are for properties owned by the provincial government, such as office buildings, warehouses and courthouses. Municipalities use these grants to fund and maintain priority public services and local infrastructure projects. Grant calculations are determined under the Municipal Aid Act. Provincially owned properties are exempt from taxes under the federal Constitution Act. However, for certain properties, such as government buildings, the Province pays a grant in lieu of taxes. Other provincially owned properties, such as roads and parks, are exempt from paying grants in lieu of taxes under the Municipal Aid Act. Schools and hospitals are also exempt under the law as they are not owned by the provincial government.

24th Road Safety Campaign: Operation Red Nose

In less than a month, the safe ride service will be deployed in 100 Canadian communities from November 29 to December 31.  Operation Red Nose will be present again this holiday season to offer a safe ride home to those who don’t feel fit to drive.  Those who wish to take part in this collective effort can sign up to volunteer by downloading a Volunteer Application Form at operationrednose.com.  With this year’s slogan “A call that goes a long way!” Operation Red Nose emphasizes the importance of its safe ride service and its positive spin-offs for the community.  A call to Operation Red Nose allows one not only to safely get from point A to point B during the festive season, but also to support local youth or amateur sports organizations which host the safe ride service in their community.  Throughout the holiday season, Operation Red Nose will also be running its radio and TV public service announcement. In 2019, Operation Red Nose will be present in a hundred communities across Canada. The success of the organization relies on the participation of volunteers. Because of their generosity, more than 70,000 Canadians were safely driven home in 2018, which also allowed Operation Red Nose to turn over more than 1.9 million dollars to local youth and amateur sports organizations. Whether alone, with friends, or with colleagues, British Columbians are invited to volunteer in 2019, and take part in improving road safety in their community. This year, the Red Nose mobile application will provide users a more complete experience. The interface will allow users to find information more rapidly, and more information will be available regarding local hours of operation.  When a local organization is not in operation, the application will be able to show when it will operate again. 

Strengthening supports to grow Indigenous tourism in B.C.

A new partnership between the B.C. government and Indigenous Tourism BC will help grow opportunities for people and tourism businesses around the province. “Indigenous tourism supports good jobs and economic development in communities across the province and provides opportunities for locals and visitors to learn about Indigenous culture and history,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “I am proud to reaffirm our commitment to working in partnership with Indigenous Tourism BC through the Indigenous Tourism Accord, as we continue on the path toward reconciliation and create a better future for everyone in our province.” The Indigenous Tourism Accord, signed at the International Indigenous Tourism Conference in Kelowna on November 14, outlines a commitment to work together in areas such as: * skills development; * revitalization of Indigenous cultures, protocols and languages; * better co-operation across provincial ministries; and * more collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous tourism operators. “Strategic and respectful Indigenous tourism development not only provides economic benefits through employment and entrepreneurship, but also grants visitors unique opportunities to learn about local history and culture,” said Brenda Baptiste, chair, Indigenous Tourism BC. To prepare for growth in this sector, the B.C. government is also investing $440,000 to conduct labour market research and develop an Indigenous tourism labour market strategy that will address skills training for tourism operators and businesses in Indigenous communities. Indigenous Tourism BC will lead this work through the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training’s Sector Labour Market Partnership Program. Indigenous tourism contributes $705 million a year to B.C.’s economy and employs 7,400 people in more than 400 businesses.

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