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Thursday, December 3, 2020
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Escaped federal offender taken into custody by Abbotsford Police

ON Thursday at 2:55 p.m., Abbotsford Police officers responded to a report of shots fired at Abbotsford Way and Marshall Road.

It was determined that Correctional Service of Canada officers were escorting a federal offender to a medical appointment when he escaped from their custody. While attempting to apprehend the escapee, a correctional officer discharged their firearm. No injuries were sustained as a result of the firearm discharge.

With the assistance of Abbotsford Police officers, Lower Mainland District Integrated Police Dog Services and RCMP Air One Helicopter, the escapee was taken into custody without incident. There is no further risk to the public.

Abbotsford Police Major Crime Detectives have assumed conduct of this investigation.

Anyone who was in the area at the time of this incident, or has CCTV, dashcam video or information about this investigation is asked to contact the Major Crime Unit at 604-859-5225.

BC Liberals: Government needs to improve care that children and youth with special needs deserve

Karin Kirkpatrick

KARIN Kirkpatrick, BC Liberal Critic for Children and Family Development and MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano, reacting to the report by the Representative for Children and Youth, Left Out: Children and youth with special needs in the pandemic, on Thursday said in a statement: “The pandemic has hit all British Columbians hard but this report by the Representative for Children and Youth illustrates just how much of an extra burden that families with special needs have carried.

“Reading the stories contained within the report … is heartbreaking and highlights the need to take immediate action. The government should not just accept the eight recommendations but commit to immediately implementing them.

“In particular, the minister needs to ensure all pandemic-related benefits for children and youth with special needs families be extended for one year till the fall of 2021. This is essential to protecting the physical and mental health of these children and ​their parents.

“The call of a pandemic election meant ​that when supports expired in September, there was no recourse for months and no services. The government needs to act quickly to provide the support that evaporated earlier this fall.

“As well, the government needs to follow through on the recommendations from the 2018 report, Alone and Afraid. There was supposed to be a comprehensive plan in place by the fall of 2019 and funding by April 2020. That hasn’t happened.

“Government needs to stop the delays, break down the silos between ministries and improve the care that children and youth with special needs deserve. This report too clearly shows that parents were turned away from the help they needed, not just by the Ministry of Children and Families but other ministries like education and social services, which should have been assisting them through the pandemic.

“No child deserves treatment that leaves them out in the cold. They deserve the backing and respect of the government, not just during a pandemic.”

TransLink was target of ransomware attack on some IT infrastructure

Kevin Desmond

TRANSLINK CEO Kevin Desmond on Thursday announced that TransLink was the target of a ransomware attack on some of its IT infrastructure. This attack included communications to TransLink through a printed message.

In a statement, Desmond said: “TransLink employs a number of tools to prevent, identify and mitigate these types of attacks. Upon detection, we took immediate steps to isolate and shut-down key IT assets and systems in order to contain the threat and reduce the impact on our operations and infrastructure. We are now working to resume normal operations as quickly and safely as possible.

“We will be conducting a comprehensive forensic investigation to determine how the incident occurred, and what information may have been affected as a result. We want to assure our customers that TransLink does not store fare payment data. We use a secure third-party payment processor for all fare transactions, and we do not have access to that type of data. 

“Customers can once again use credit cards and debit cards at Compass vending machines and Tap to Pay fare gates. Customers who recently purchased monthly passes or stored value will soon see the credit loaded onto their Compass Card. All transit services continue to operate regularly, and no transit safety systems are affected.

“We are sharing as much as we can at this point considering that this is an active investigation. We feel it is important to keep our customers and employees as informed as possible in the circumstances. We are also sharing this update in order to alert other organizations about the dangers of this ransomware attack.

“We apologize to our customers for this inconvenience and appreciate their ongoing patience. We will provide further updates as more information becomes available.”

694 new COVID-19 cases and 12 more deaths in B.C.

DR. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, on Thursday announced 694 new COVID-19 cases, including four epi-linked cases, for a total of 35,422 cases in British Columbia.

There were 12 new COVID-19-related deaths, and the total number of deaths in the province now stands at 481.

There are 9,103 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 325 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 80 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

Currently, 10,849 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and 24,928 people who tested positive have recovered.

There have been 114 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 465 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 10 in the Island Health region, 82 in the Interior Health region, 23 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

There have been three new health-care facility outbreaks at Baillie House, Gateway Lodge and University Hospital of Northern British Columbia. The COVID-19 community cluster in the broader Salmo area is now contained.

Henry and Dix added: “Our focus with COVID-19 is to understand the risks: where, how and with whom transmission is occurring, and based on this information, put measures in place to protect everyone in the province.

“As vaccines become available, they will be our first step to protect people from severe illness and death. But right now, we must use all of our layers of protection, combined with the orders and restrictions, to slow the spread and keep people safe.

“We understand that the orders have an impact on our daily lives and well-being, and we are working to balance that with the need to protect our communities and those who are most vulnerable.

“What we know is that gatherings of any kind are higher risk for all of us right now because we have seen the virus move quickly and easily between us. That is why, other than work or school, we need to stay small and stay local right now.

“Thank you to the many people throughout our province who are doing their part and helping to protect all of us. You may feel that you are just one, but remember that you are part of our B.C. COVID-19 team, and through your effort you will help us get through this pandemic.”

BCGEU calls for action in conjunction with Representative for Children and Youth report

A report released on Thursday by B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth has identified gaps in support arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of British Columbians, who rely on these supports, have identified problems accessing vital treatments, therapies, respite and specialized recreational activities. The report comes after the representative’s office conducted surveys in November 2020 and received responses from nearly 550 families of children and youth with special needs, the BCGEU said.

According to the report, “many families of children and youth with special needs aren’t able to access any supports, because their children’s needs or diagnoses do not meet CYSN eligibility criteria. The criteria excludes children and youth with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and complex behavioural needs.”

Among the calls to action, the BCGEU [B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union] supports moves to:

  1. Rapidly develop and roll out a family-engaged, plain-language communication strategy in the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), modelled on the family-engaged model used by Community Living BC throughout the pandemic.
  2. Review the virtual service provision of child development services to CYSN families during the pandemic’s first wave to identify promising practices and weak points for improvement.
  3. Streamline approval processes for all CYSN funding streams and emergency benefits, with an objective of reducing paperwork for families and confirming that all approval processes are viable even during the mass disruption of a pandemic.

“Additionally, the BCGEU is calling for better communication with MCFD and for more attention paid to caseloads. We have tried to engage the ministry to address the shortcomings that cause workers to leave their jobs or suffer from burnout,” said Judy Fox-McGuire, Vice President of BCGEU’s component 6, which represents social workers.

“MCFD was to have had a comprehensive plan in place by fall 2019, and to have sought necessary funding by April 2020,” she said. “This has not happened. To date, a draft framework has been produced with no specific action plan and no evidence of new funding on the horizon. The COVID-19 pandemic has further revealed the deep inadequacies, inequities and frailties of CYSN services.”

The mandate letter given to MCFD minister Mitzi Dean calls for the ministry to improve support for families of children with special needs, ensuring that the new Child and Youth with Special Needs framework is designed to serve the needs of a broad range of families.

The BCGEU said it is looking forward to having those conversations with the ministry and offering the perspective of front-line workers on the implementation of that framework.

Fraser Health to open COVID-19 test collection centre in South Surrey on December 8

FRASER Health will open a new COVID-19 test collection centre in South Surrey on December 8 as part of its planned expansion to provide timely access to COVID-19 testing for those who are experiencing even mild symptoms.

The new site will be located at 3800 King George Highway at TransLink’s South Surrey Park and Ride at the junction of Highway 99. It will offer increased access to testing, and will process between 500 and 700 tests per day when operating at full capacity. A partnership between Fraser Health and the South Surrey-White Rock Division of Family Practice, the site will offer drive-in testing seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

An online booking tool can be used to secure appointment times when the new site opens. Drop-ins without appointments are available throughout our region.

Since Fraser Health expanded COVID-19 testing in June, its capacity has increased more than sevenfold from an average of 600 to 700 tests a day to greater than 5,000 tests per day at its COVID-19 test collection centres across its region. Fraser Health said it will monitor and continue to increase its COVID-19 test collection capacity, and continue to work with its partners to shorten the wait time to receive test results.

Fraser Health said that at this time, it is critically important for people living in the region to use the COVID-19 assessment tool and get tested as soon as you have COVID-19-like symptoms, even mild ones. Don’t wait, and book or drop by one of the COVID-19 test collection centres which are operated in partnership with local Divisions of Family Practice. People living in the Fraser Health region can find information about test collection centres by visiting Fraser Health’s website.

Surrey Hospitals Foundation: COVID-19 clinical research team, study on a virtual rehabilitation clinic

A healthcare worker at Surrey Memorial Hospital’s ICU unit.

THE Surrey Hospitals Foundation is supporting COVID-19 medical research in Surrey with an investment of $150,000, and has received a $150,000 matching grant from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR). The combined funds will go towards enhancing COVID-19 research initiatives and capacity to advance innovative life-saving protocols and interventions in Surrey.

The funding enables the hiring of an essential research team including a Clinical Research Coordinator, Clinical Research Nurse, and a Clinical Research Assistant at Surrey Memorial Hospital, headed by Clinical Research Lead Christopher Condin, under the guidance of Kate Keetch, Director of Evaluation and Research Services at Fraser Health.

With original seed funding of $25,000 from TELUS Friendly Future Foundation, the Surrey Hospitals Foundation is also helping fund a COVID-19 research study on the viability of a virtual rehabilitation clinic.

“We are facing a healthcare crisis with COVID-19 and it is absolutely critical for us to invest in COVID-19 research to improve the health outcomes of patients,” says Jane Adams, President and CEO of the Surrey Hospitals Foundation. “We are so grateful to the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research for this timely grant and we are proud to support COVID-19 research initiatives and the establishment of this COVID clinical research team in Surrey.”

Dr. Greg Haljan is the head of Surrey Memorial Hospital’s critical care department and is also the Regional Medical Director of Research for Fraser Health. He will be leading the COVID-19 research study to examine whether a multi-disciplinary virtual recovery program providing pulmonary rehabilitation for COVID-19 survivors improves rehospitalization, patient quality of life and health outcomes.

He hopes to launch a COVID-19 virtual rehabilitation program at Surrey Memorial Hospital led by critical care physicians and experts. It has the potential to transform outcomes both during recovery from the pandemic and beyond, and to create measurable improvements in the quality of patients’ lives by extending the impact and reach of physiotherapy services and post-discharge care.

“Research has shown that 17 per cent survivors of similar critical illnesses, including SARS and influenza, etc., are re-admitted to hospital within one month of discharge, 30 per cent by three months and 40 per cent by six months, and COVID-19 numbers could be very similar,” says Dr. Greg Haljan, Head of the Department of Critical Care at Surrey Memorial Hospital and Regional Medical Director for Research for Fraser Health. “We need to prevent the onset of COVID-19 hospital re-admissions by developing a patient-centric, virtual critical care rehabilitation program led by critical care physicians and experts.”

“In the midst of this second wave of COVID-19, and given that Fraser Health has the highest number of cases, it is essential that we build up our COVID-19 research capacity so that we can contribute to vital evidence-based knowledge needed to combat the pandemic,” says Dr. Kate Keetch, Director, Department of Evaluation and Research Services at Fraser Health. “Our critical care physicians, including Dr. Haljan, are the most experienced in COVID-19 treatment and care, and helping support them to do cutting-edge, patient-centred research and knowledge translation as part of their clinical care, is why I head into work every morning.”

Previous research indicates that early mobility and rehabilitation, after being discharged from hospital, reduce mortality and acute care utilization in multiple critical illness survivor cohorts. Even 14 days of quarantine without hospitalization impacts fitness and mobility. Pulmonary rehabilitation improves the full spectrum of cardiopulmonary, cardiovascular, neuromuscular, and mental health domains, including surprisingly, depression, anxiety and cognition.

Province doubles rebates for home, workplace EV charging

Bruce Ralston

BRITISH Columbians can receive double the amount per rebate to buy and install electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at home and at work.

The rebates are offered through CleanBC’s Go Electric EV Charger Rebate and EV Ready programs.

“B.C. has the strongest uptake in electric vehicle adoption across Canada, and we’re positioning ourselves to become leaders in the EV industry,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “We’re doubling the previous rebate amounts for home and workplace charging and adding new offers to support charging stations. We’re making it easier and more affordable for people to make the switch to electric vehicles and supporting new jobs for electricians and trades workers across B.C.”

To help with the up-front costs that come with EVs, customers can access double the previous rebates available through the EV Charger Rebate program. Homeowners can get a rebate of up to 50% of purchase and installation costs of an eligible EV charger to a maximum of $700. Workplaces and residents living in condominiums or apartments that purchase and install eligible EV chargers can receive a rebate up to 50% of costs to a maximum of $4,000 per charger. Applications for new offers will be accepted starting on Friday, December 4.

Up to five hours of free support services from an EV charging station advisor are available for condominiums, apartments and workplaces that need help moving from idea to installation.

“Making electric vehicles more affordable is good for the climate, helps people and supports businesses looking for ways to reduce costs and pollution,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “People in British Columbia recognize that cleaner transportation means healthier communities and expanded opportunities as part of CleanBC.”

The Province is supporting the adoption of EVs at apartment and condominium buildings through the EV Ready program. EV Ready provides rebates for the development of EV Ready plans and the installation of electrical modifications and upgrades needed to support widespread future access to EV charging for residents.

The increased investment in EV charging infrastructure aligns with the Province’s StrongerBC economic recovery plan to help B.C. businesses and organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19 by supporting the certified electricians and trades people required to upgrade and install the charging equipment and encouraging cleaner transportation throughout the Province.

Quick Facts

* The CleanBC Go Electric EV Charger Rebate program is administered by BC Hydro and FortisBC in their respective electricity service areas and provides a single point of service for provincial and local government rebates.

* The Zero-Emission Vehicle Act, passed on May 30, 2019, requires all new light-duty cars and trucks sold in B.C. to be zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

Learn More:

To learn more about home and workplace EV charging station rebates, eligibility and application processes, including the EV Ready program, visit: https://goelectricbc.gov.bc.ca/

30-year-old female dead after shooting and crash in Surrey

ON Thursday, December 3, just after 5:30 a.m., the Surrey RCMP responded to a report of a single vehicle collision in the alleyway of the 13700-block of 75A Avenue. A 30-year-old female was located with critical injuries, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. Despite all efforts by first responders, the woman succumbed to her injuries.

Early information indicates a second vehicle was involved in this shooting and police are currently combing the area for any potential evidence, including video surveillance. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) will be investigating in partnership with the Surrey RCMP.

Police say this does not appear to be a random act.

834 new COVID-19 cases and 12 more deaths in B.C.

“We strongly recommend and ask everyone in B.C. to not travel right now, unless it is absolutely essential for work or medical care”

DR. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, on Wednesday announced 834 new COVID-19 cases, including three epi-linked cases, for a total of 34,728 cases in British Columbia.

There were 12 new COVID-19-related deaths, and the total number of deaths in the province now stands at 469.

There are 8,941 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 337 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 79 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.

Currently, 10,201 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and 24,424 people who tested positive have recovered.

There are 174 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 529 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 20 in the Island Health region, 66 in the Interior Health region, 45 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

There are three new health-care facility outbreaks at Royal City Manor, West Coast General Hospital and Saanich Peninsula Hospital. The outbreaks at Cottage-Worthington Pavilion, Discovery Harbor Care and Orchard Manor are over.

There are two new community outbreaks at Cove Shelter and Millennium Pacific Greenhouses.

Henry and Dix added: “We recognize that COVID-19 is taking a toll on all of us. After many months of restrictions on who we can see, where we can go and what we can do, we are all feeling the fatigue.

“Many, many people are doing all they can to help in our COVID-19 response. Yet, this is the time for all of us to do that little bit more, to do our part to slow the spread in our communities until vaccines are available – in a few short weeks.

“This virus moves quickly and easily between us. We are continuing to see unchecked transmission in many places, despite the efforts of our public health teams and contact tracers. That is why, during this second surge, the need to follow the provincial health orders is so important.

“We need to stay local, we need to stay small and we need to avoid those public settings that, right now, are a risk for all of us.

“We strongly recommend and ask everyone in B.C. to not travel right now, unless it is absolutely essential for work or medical care. This includes travel within B.C. and between provinces.

“A provincial health officer (PHO) order cannot stop you from getting into your car or onto a plane, but I am asking in the strongest of terms to not travel unless it is absolutely necessary.

“If a family member is planning to return home for the holidays, then it is critical they follow all of the orders and guidelines here in B.C., which means no socializing and no gatherings of any kind.

“From the outset, we have spoken about the importance of getting outside and staying active. However, we remind everyone that no matter where those activities are taking place, there is to be no travel and no spectators.

“We have seen that if we maintain our distance, we can be outside, we can go to parks and play games without close contact.

“However, we continue to see that indoor group activities – whether for fitness or team sports – are much higher risk right now. The details of sports activities have been added to the order on events and gatherings. This order is available on the PHO website.

“The order requires that right now, all indoor group high intensity fitness activity is prohibited. This includes: hot yoga, spin, aerobics, bootcamp, dance classes, dance fitness, circuit training, and high-intensity interval training.

“Low intensity fitness activity like yoga, Pilates, tai chi, stretching and individual fitness activity is also suspended until new guidelines are available to resume these activities safely.

“These new guidelines will be available next week and will require some changes to COVID-19 safety plans. Approval is not needed for the updated plans, but monitoring and enforcement will be targeted to these locations and activities.

“All indoor adult team sport is also prohibited. This includes basketball, cheerleading, combat sports, martial arts, floor hockey, floor ringette, ice hockey, ringette, netball, skating, soccer, squash and volleyball.

“Structured child and youth programs and sport are permitted, but must meet and follow the ViaSport Phase 2 requirements.

“We know the restrictions put an added burden on what is an already difficult time for all of us, but they are what is required right now.

“Despite the fatigue, let’s stand strong against this virus. We are asking everyone in B.C. to please do a bit more right now and help everyone to see us through to the light ahead.”