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Friday, December 4, 2020
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Richmond school placed in ‘hold and secure’ after report of male claiming he had a gun

AT approximately 1:10 p.m. on December 4, a school in the 10300-block of Seacote Road was placed into a hold and secure at the initiative of Richmond RCMP following reports of a male in the area who allegedly said he had a gun.

Richmond RCMP were contacted after a child at the school reported to staff that an adult male had allegedly threatened him by saying he had a gun.

Richmond RCMP frontline and Youth Section officers flooded the area. The male was quickly located and taken into custody. Officers determined the male did not have a gun.

Based on the investigation, officers determined charges would not be sought and the male was released from custody.

Police said no further information would be released at this time.

711 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths in B.C.

“We can still be festive, we can still have fun, but let’s ensure it is only with our immediate household”

DR. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, on Thursday announced 711 new COVID-19 cases, including seven epi-linked cases, for a total of 36,132 cases in British Columbia.

There were 11 new COVID-19-related deaths, and the total number of deaths in the province now stands at 492.

There are 9,050 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 338 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 76 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

Currently, 10,957 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and 25,658 people who tested positive have recovered.

There have been 143 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 427 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 10 in the Island Health region, 81 in the Interior Health region, 50 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

There have been two new health-care facility outbreaks at Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Lodge and at Richmond Hospital, and the outbreak at Youville Residence is over.

Henry and Dix said: “We continue to face a significant surge in community transmission and new cases of COVID-19, which means following the provincial health officer’s (PHO) orders and using all our layers of protection is necessary for every person in our province right now.

“The virus is not letting up and neither can we. This weekend, let’s stay small and stay local, so we can slow the spread of the virus in our province.

“We can still be festive, we can still have fun, but let’s ensure it is only with our immediate household.

“Today, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) released the results of the Your Story, Our Future population health survey on a new SPEAK survey dashboard, funded by the BCCDC Foundation for Public Health. The survey was the largest-ever Canadian population health survey, with almost 400,000 British Columbians taking part.

“What the survey dashboard shows us is that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all. It also reminds us that each of us can make a difference, and the efforts we make will help us get through this pandemic.”

PHSA’s authority to spend internal capital without deputy minister’s approval limited

Adrian Dix

HEALTH Minister Adrian Dix on Friday in a statement regarding concerns raised about decisions and spending at the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) said: “On Monday, November 30, 2020, specific concerns about decisions and spending at the PHSA were raised through the media. In response to the concerns, I directed the deputy minister of health to assess the PHSA’s decisions and conduct relating to specific concerns, and to provide recommendations on actions, changes to policies or other such changes that could be taken.”

He said the concerns to be assessed were that:

* the PHSA undertook unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations to the 14th floor of PHSA headquarters at 1333 West Broadway, Vancouver;

* the PHSA made inappropriate human resource decisions relating to hiring, appointments, continuity planning, severance and salary continuance;

* the PHSA authorized excessive catering expenses for PHSA executives and staff from mid-March 2020 to mid-June 2020; and

* concerns relating to the procurement of problematic respirators and appropriateness of followup with the vendor.

Dix said that on Thursday, December 3, he received and accepted recommendations made by the deputy minister. These include:

* limitations on the PHSA’s authority to spend internal capital without the deputy minister’s approval;

* a review and refresh of policies relating to internal capital planning, to be completed by the Ministry of Health;

* limitations on the PHSA’s authority to make senior executive changes without the deputy minister’s approval;

* a review of business meeting expense policies for the PHSA and each regional health authority to ensure expense policies are reasonable from a taxpayer’s perspective; and

* the hiring of an independent third-party advisor to provide a report to the deputy minister of health that will fully clarify and review concerns about the appropriateness of the PHSA’s handling of a problematic purchase of personal protective equipment and other related concerns, to help restore public confidence in the PHSA and its leadership.

Dix said: “I have made it clear that it is critical that the public has confidence in the PHSA and the management of B.C.’s health system in general.”

More than 1,000 vehicles expected at Saturday rally to support farmers in India

At Wednesday's rally in Surrey in support of farmers in India. Photo: Shagun Bansal

SURREY RCMP on Friday advised the public of probable traffic congestion that is expected in Cloverdale on Saturday, December 5 in connection with rallies organized in support of farmers in India.

It is anticipated that more than one thousand vehicles will converge at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds and then form a convoy travelling to the Indian Consulate General in Vancouver beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Those wishing to avoid the rally and any associated traffic concerns are asked to choose alternate routes. It is specifically recommended to avoid the 176th Street corridor, between 60th Avenue and Highway 1, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Surrey RCMP said they respect the rights of participants who are exercising their freedom of peaceful assembly. “However, we are reminding all participants that BC Provincial Health Orders are currently in effect which have placed restrictions and prohibitions on events and gatherings,” they added.

“We are asking rally participants to please stay in their vehicles and not intermingle or congregate with other participants. If you have to step out of your vehicle, please wear a mask and maintain social distancing.”

Members of Surrey RCMP will be in the area assisting with any traffic safety concerns and will be monitoring the situation.

Meaz Nour-Eldin wanted in Surrey kidnapping investigation arrested in Montreal

MEAZ Nour-Eldin has been arrested on a Canada-wide warrant, in connection to a kidnapping investigation that began on July 4, 2019, Surrey RCMP announced on Friday.

Through investigation, and with the assistance of the Service de Police de la Ville de Montreal (SPVM) and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Surrey RCMP Serious Crime Unit (SCU) discovered Nour-Eldin was hiding out in Montreal. In the late evening of December 1, officers closed-in on Nour-Eldin and arrested him on the outstanding arrest warrant.

Surrey RCMP SCU said it is working with the SPVM, OPP, BC Prosecution Service, and BC Sheriffs Service to have Nour-Eldin returned to BC to face the kidnapping charges.

“The Surrey RCMP Serious Crime Unit thanks the Service de Police de la Ville de Montreal and Ontario Provincial Police for their assistance with locating and the arrest of Nour-Eldin,” said Superintendent Elija Rain, Surrey RCMP Investigative Services Officer. “We also extend our gratitude to the BOLO Program, the public, and the media for assistance throughout the course of this investigation.”

For any inquiries about the BOLO Program, visit their website.

Police are still seeking to arrest Dylan Petrin who is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant in connection to this investigation and for murder chargers out of Winnipeg. Anyone with information about Petrin’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502, or Crime Stoppers, if they wish to remain anonymous, at 1-800-222-8477 or www.solvecrime.ca.

Safe Restart funding supports reliable public transportation, affordable fares

Joyce Murray

THE Province and the federal government announced on Friday that people throughout B.C. will continue to have access to safe, reliable and affordable public transportation as the province restarts. Agreements for Safe Restart funding have been signed with TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries.

“We British Columbians rely on TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries to provide us with safe, accessible and affordable transit service,” said Joyce Murray, federal Minister of Digital Government and MP for Vancouver Quadra. “Through the Safe Restart Agreement, our federal government is providing critical funding to ensure British Columbians who count on these transit services can continue to rely on them to go to work and for other essential errands and visits.”

Contribution agreements with the three transportation agencies have been finalized. These agreements set out specific details and requirements of the three agencies as they share in the $1.038 billion from the Government of Canada and Province of B.C. under the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement.

“This significant, one-time funding demonstrates our commitment to the public transportation people rely on,” said Rob Fleming, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “This ensures these essential services are maintained across the province and that fares will remain affordable – providing certainty for people as we recover from these challenging times.”

With these agreements, people will have certainty the public transportation they rely on will remain available and affordable as part of BC’s Restart Plan. At BC Ferries, this means no fare increase this fiscal year ending March 31, 2021, and future increases over the next three years will be limited to rate caps established prior to the pandemic. Minimum service levels and additional sailings to meet community needs will be maintained through at least the next three years.

Any fare changes for BC Transit and Translink are capped at affordable levels through to BC Transit’s fiscal year end of March 31, 2024, and TransLink’s fiscal year end of December 31, 2024.

“Our public transportation systems must continue to be strong, affordable and able to get people where they need to go – to work, to school, to get groceries and more,” said George Heyman, Minister Responsible for TransLink. “This funding will support these services so they are here for us as we get back to normal.”

The Province has worked closely with the agencies to fully understand the financial impacts on their operations arising from the pandemic, including additional COVID-19 safety measures and measures to keep fares affordable.

Kevin Desmond, President and CEO, TransLink, said: “We thank our provincial and federal partners for this important relief funding. This package will help cover the substantial net revenue losses we are currently incurring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and allow us to keep fares affordable for our customers during this time. This commitment shows transit is an essential part of a smooth economic recovery.”

Mark Collins, President and CEO, BC Ferries, said: “The federal and provincial Safe Restart funding will assist the long-term sustainability of the ferry system and the coastal communities that we serve. This investment in the ferry system ensures commuters get to work, children get to school, visitors get to coastal communities when safe to do so and goods get to market.”

Erinn Pinkerton, President and CEO, BC Transit, said: “The funding from the Government of Canada and Province of B.C. will allow BC Transit and our local government partners to continue providing transportation services our customers can rely on despite the impacts of COVID-19. Thank you to our customers, employees and partners for their ongoing support of public transportation in British Columbia.”

Serious collision in South Surrey

ROAD closures are in effect on 190th Street and 28th Avenue in both directions in Surrey as a result of a serious collision with life-threatening injuries.

The collision involving a semi-truck and a car took place at approximately 10:40 a.m. on Friday. The driver of the car has life-threatening injuries and has been transported to the hospital in critical condition.

This investigation will continue with the assistance of the Critical Collision investigation Team and the Integrated Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Team. Road closures are expected to remain in effect for several hours.

Anyone with who was a witness to this collision or anyone with related dashcam video is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502.

South Asians allegedly involved in shooting incident in Richmond downtown core

AT approximately 4:35 p.m. on Thursday, December 3, Richmond RCMP attended the 4500-block of No. 3 Road for possible shots fired.

Multiple Richmond RCMP units quickly attended the area and located evidence confirming shots had been fired. In speaking with witnesses, officers learned there had been a physical altercation during which one male allegedly discharged a firearm.

The only description provided for the parties involved was South Asian males. All fled the area in vehicles. The vehicles are described as a black Jetta, a white Audi and a white Mercedes.

The motive of this incident is unknown, however, it appears to have been targeted, police said.

“This is a busy time of the day in the downtown core”, said Cpl. Adriana Peralta on Friday. “It’s fortunate the reckless actions of this individual did not result in an innocent bystander being injured.”

Richmond RCMP Watch General Investigation Unit has conduct of this file. Anyone with information is asked to call Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212 and quote file number 2020-33038. Should you wish to remain anonymous, please contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Jobs Minister says B.C.’s economy continuing upward swing, but BC Liberals criticize government

Ravi Kahlon

RAVI Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economy Recovery and Innovation, in response to the release of Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey for November, said on Friday: “From the outset of this pandemic, our government understood that the key to building a foundation of a strong recovery is a strong public health response focused on keeping people safe.

“The Labour Force Survey for November showed B.C.’s economy continuing its upward swing, with another 23,900 jobs gained throughout the province.

“Since the pandemic’s most severe impact on the economy in April, B.C. has had substantial job growth for seven consecutive months, bringing our total employment to 98.5% of pre-pandemic levels. This is the highest job recovery rate of any of Canada’s four largest provinces.

“Additionally, B.C.’s unemployment rate has fallen to 7.1%, well below the national average of 8.5%.

“However, we know there are businesses still struggling and it’s going to be many months before vaccines can get to everyone in British Columbia. Until then, we are focused on building a foundation of recovery that works for everyone in this province.

“B.C.’s recovery plan includes funding and measures to strengthen health care, create good jobs and opportunities for people, and help businesses come back stronger.

“Thousands of B.C. businesses will receive direct supports from the various measures outlined in our economic recovery plan.

“These supports provide direct funding to hard-hit communities and businesses, making it easier for them to invest in the people and capital they need.”

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

For non-health related information, including financial, child care and education supports, travel, transportation and essential service information, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/Covid-19
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.

HOWEVER, the BC Liberals noted that numbers released by Statistics Canada show that 37,400 fewer British Columbians were working last month compared to pre-pandemic levels in February, with nine per cent of jobs lost to the pandemic yet to be recovered. It also continues to highlight the disturbing trend of women being disproportionally impacted by the pandemic with November’s employment gains dominated by men over 25.

Todd Stone, BC Liberal Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation called on the NDP government to immediately focus on accelerating job recovery especially for women and bridging gaps in supports urgently needed by people and businesses.

“Women are bearing the brunt of job losses and we expect immediate action, not more delays from John Horgan and the NDP who have been in power throughout the pandemic. This government must be held accountable for the lack of progress in delivering an effective job creation plan,” said Stone. “Having 37,400 fewer jobs compared to the pre-COVID benchmark is far too many. Now is the time for innovation, not more excuses from the NDP after having already delayed B.C.’s economic recovery for two months with an unnecessary election. They must come up with a sector by sector plan to support industries devastated by impacts from the pandemic, in particular tourism.”

The NDP government has so far failed to give the tourism industry the lifeline they’ve been asking for. 

“The NDP government hasn’t done enough to help B.C.’s hard-hit tourism sector, which is in dire need,” said Teresa Wat, BC Liberal Critic for Tourism, Arts and Culture. “Thousands of tourism operators have struggled without a recovery plan from the government. Today’s numbers don’t capture business closures resulting from the most recent, province-wide health orders. The tourism industry is heading into a bleak winter if the NDP continues its delay strategy.”

After missing the deadline for the Second Quarterly Update, the new Finance Minister recently stated she was considering delaying her first provincial budget by weeks.

“The holiday season is in front of us and people can’t wait for the government to deliver on much-needed supports,” added Stone. “It is critical for the fall economic update and the 2021 budget to be delivered on schedule as families, non-profits and small businesses need a robust and responsive economic program not only to financially survive, but thrive. We need investment in child care programs so that women can return to the labour force. No British Columbian wants to see this economic nightmare further dragged into the new year.” 

India warns Canada of serious damage to bilateral relations over Trudeau’s comments

Justin Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

New Delhi (IANS): In a major diplomatic offensive, the Indian government on Friday warned the Canadian government of serious damage to bilateral relations if it continued to interfere in India’s domestic matters.

The ministry of external affairs on Friday summoned the Canadian High Commissioner and slammed the Justin Trudeau government over its recent support to farmers’ agitation in Punjab and Haryana.

An official statement said that the Canadian High Commissioner was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs and informed that comments by the Canadian Prime Minister, some cabinet ministers and MPs on issues relating to Indian farmers “constitute an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs.”

“Such actions, if continued, would have a seriously damaging impact on ties between India and Canada,” the statement warned.

The ministry said the comments by the Canadian leadership “have encouraged gatherings of extremist activities” in front of India’s High Commission and consulates in Canada that raise issues of safety and security.

“We expect the Canadian Government to ensure the fullest security of Indian diplomatic personnel and its political leaders to refrain from pronouncements that legitimise extremist activism,” the government said.

The Canadian Prime Minister, earlier this week while extending his support to the farmers protest, had said, “I would be remiss if I didn’t start by recognising the news coming out of India about the protests by farmers. The situation is concerning, and we are all very worried about family and friends. I know that’s the reality for many of you.”