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Tuesday, April 13, 2021
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Burnaby RCMP respond to Simon Fraser Hills Park neighbourhood concerns

BURNABY RCMP has responded to the community’s concerns surrounding several incidents that have recently occurred in the area of Simon Fraser Hills Park.

On Wednesday, March 31, Burnaby RCMP received a report of an 18-year-old man offering marijuana to a youth. At the time of the complaint, there was no information provided to police to cause immediate fear of injury to any of the parties involved.

With the information provided by the complainant, including a license plate number, police were able to identify a suspect and visit his home. Charges under the Cannabis Control and Licencing Act are being considered. No one was injured as a result of this incident.

On Sunday, April 4, the Burnaby RCMP received several reports of gunshots in the area of Simon Fraser Hills Park. A total of 10 RCMP officers responded and arrested the same 18-year-old man in possession of a C02 airsoft gun. Firearms offences and uttering threats charges are being considered. No one was injured as a result of this incident.

Since these two incidents, Burnaby RCMP say they have received a number of complaints where the same 18-year-old is reported to have been causing a disturbance in the Simon Fraser Hills Park area.

“The Burnaby RCMP Youth Section is actively engaged with this 18-year-old and his family, meeting and speaking with him regularly,” says Cpl. Brett Cunningham of the Burnaby RCMP. “Given a number of complaints near the Stony Creek Community School, the Burnaby RCMP Youth Section is also in close conversation with the Burnaby School District.

“We understand that these incidents have generated a lot of discussion and want to reassure the community that police are actively involved in a resolution. We ask that you continue to report all suspicious and concerning activity as we continue to work with our community partners who are already engaged with the individual in question. Community safety is our primary concern.”

Burnaby RCMP say they have been made aware of online social media conversations identifying the individual in the March 31 investigation and the April 4 investigation as being a gang member. Burnaby RCMP have also been made aware of conversations identifying him as having attempted to lure or abduct children. Burnaby RCMP say they would like to reassure the public that they have no information to believe the 18-year-old has any gang affiliation, nor do they have any information to believe he has attempted to abduct a child.

Burnaby RCMP say they will continue to gather information and evidence while continuing to assess any risks to the public while they come to a resolution.

People aged 60+ can now register for COVID-19 vaccine

Photo: Pfizer Facebook

NEARLY one million British Columbians have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 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. A full list of participating pharmacies is here: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/pharmacy (https://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. An average of approximately 40,000 vaccinations are expected to be administered each day as the program continues to ramp up.

Teachers’ associations across VCH region call for vaccination of all school-based workers

Photo: Pfizer Facebook

PRESIDENTS from the teachers’ associations in school districts throughout the Vancouver Coastal Health region are calling on the province to vaccinate K–12 school staff as COVID-19 caseloads rise to record levels in British Columbia.

BC’s health officials promised to vaccinate essential workers, including teachers, by the end of April. That promise is not being fulfilled beyond some school districts in Fraser Health, such as Surrey. Teachers say it is time for Vancouver Coastal Health to follow suit and vaccinate school staff in districts with high numbers of school exposures.

“We have been collaborative, we have been patient, and we have been understanding,” said Liz Baverstock, President of the Richmond Teachers’ Association, on Friday. “During spring break, the province committed to vaccinating K–12 staff. We have already seen the province change the vaccination strategy in other ways, so we are asking BC to shift its current vaccination plan and focus on vaccinating all K–12 staff and other essential workers whose jobs require them to interact closely with the public.”

Essential workplaces, including schools, are exempt from the new Public Health Act WorkSafeBC closures, which allow for a workplace to be closed when three or more workers test positive for COVID-19. If schools are essential and keeping schools open is a priority, then everyone who works in schools must be vaccinated. After health care, the education sector has had the most COVID-related WorkSafeBC claims. Schools will have to close if too many staff are sick, says the presidents.

“Teachers have continued to work directly with students in full classrooms since September,” said Carolyn Pena, President of the North Vancouver Teachers’ Association. “With the sharp rise in cases and the widespread prevalence of variants now in BC, the risk to the health of teachers and their families is escalating. Access to vaccinations is vital to ensuring the health and safety of teachers, so that schools can continue to support students.”

“Given that variants seem to infect much younger people, and that they are more contagious, those who work in schools should be given priority,” said Renée Willock, President of the West Vancouver Teachers’ Association. “We have heard reports of Pfizer and Moderna being used to target localized hot spots in BC, and we’d like to see that extended to school staff.”

The provincial government has opted to keep schools open. Now they need to ensure that schools can remain open by vaccinating the adults who work in schools. The pandemic has shifted, the case numbers are climbing, and the vaccination strategy must change, said the presidents.

1,262 new COVID-19 cases and 2 more deaths in B.C.

Over one million doses (1,025,019) of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C.

DR. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, on Friday reported 1,262 new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 109,540 cases in British Columbia.

There have been two new COVID-19-related deaths, for a total of 1,495 deaths in the province.

There are 9,574 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 15,673 people under public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. A further 98,336 people who tested positive have recovered.

Of the active cases, 332 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 102 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.

There have been 358 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 638 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 54 in the Island Health region, 132 in the Interior Health region, 79 in the Northern Health region and one new case of a person who resides outside of Canada.

Henry and Dix said: “Over one million doses (1,025,019) of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., 87,606 of which are second doses.

“This is a significant milestone for all of us, and we will continue to work to get vaccines into arms as soon as we can. Today, people 65 and older, Indigenous peoples 18 and over, and individuals who have received their ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ letter may register for their vaccine.

“The outbreak at Eagle Ridge Hospital is now over.

“There are currently 4,111 cases of COVID-19 that are confirmed variants of concern in our province. Of the total cases, 105 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 3,082 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 55 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 974 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.

“No matter what our age, or where we may be, our province is not yet protected from COVID-19. This is why we all need to follow all of the public health orders.

“Avoid indoor gatherings outside of your household and avoid travel. Get tested if you have even mild symptoms and use all of your layers of protection. This is how we will slow the spread and get ahead of the virus strains that are in our communities right now.

“Bending the rules only delays our ability to put the pandemic behind us, so let’s ensure we are not looking for exceptions to the orders we have in place, but rather looking to how we can help each other to stay small, stay local and stay strong in the face of COVID-19.”

Higher wages coming for B.C.’s lowest paid workers

Harry Bains

ON June 1, B.C. liquor servers will get a pay boost as the lower liquor server minimum wage is replaced with the general minimum wage of $15.20 an hour.

“I’m proud to put an end to the discriminatory minimum wage for B.C. liquor servers, which disproportionally affects women,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “Many of these low-income workers are the most vulnerable in workplaces, including young women as liquor servers and minorities in low-wage jobs. Raising the minimum wage will bring equity and fairness for workers and make a big difference in the lives of thousands of British Columbians.”

This move delivers on a commitment made in 2018 to bring an end to the alternative liquor server minimum wage in B.C., 80% of whom are women.

June also marks reaching the goal of a $15.20 an hour minimum wage through regular, measured and predictable increases, which was recommended by the Fair Wages Commission in 2018. At that time, B.C. had one of the lowest minimum wages in the country and was one of the most expensive provinces to live in.

Nearly 300,000 workers will get a much-needed pay boost, with the general minimum wage increasing to $15.20 an hour.

“Many low-income workers have been essential workers during the pandemic, and it’s only fair they receive the scheduled increase coming to them,” Bains said.

The minimum wage rates for live-in camp leaders and resident caretakers are also increasing effective June 1:

* general minimum wage increases to $15.20 an hour from $14.60 an hour;

* liquor server minimum wage of $13.95 an hour is being replaced with the general minimum wage of $15.20 an hour;

* live-in camp leader minimum wage, per day, increases to $121.65 from $116.86; and

* resident caretaker minimum wage, per month, increases to $912.28, plus $36.56 per suite for those who manage nine to 60 residential suites and to $3,107.42 for 61 or more suites.

As outlined in Bains’ mandate letter from Premier John Horgan, future increases to the minimum wage, starting in 2022, will be based on the rate of inflation to provide predictability going forward.

Quick Facts:

* Over 13% of all workers in B.C. earn less than $15 an hour.

* Prior to 2011, liquor servers in B.C. were covered under the general minimum wage.

Surrey RCMP seeking witnesses, information regarding indecent act

SURREY RCMP are looking for witnesses and information to assist with advancing an indecent act investigation.

Shortly before 4 p.m. on April 8, two youths were on a walking path near 100 Avenue and Park Drive, when they encountered an unknown man who appeared to be performing an indecent act. The youths told the man they were calling police and he ran away. He did not approach, interact with, or physically harm the youths.

The man was described as South Asian, wearing a white hooded sweater with a black puffy jacket on top, and grey sweat pants. The man had a small black dog with him that looked like a poodle.

Investigators are now asking anyone in the area who may have witnessed this incident, or anyone with information that may help identity the suspect, to come forward.

Anyone with information about this incident 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.

Vancouver Police identify victim in Downtown Eastside homicide

VANCOUVER Police on Friday identified the victim in the city’s fourth homicide of 2021.

Robinson Blake Russ, a 37-year-old Vancouver resident, collapsed in on West Hastings Street between Carrall and Abbot streets on April 4.  He was taken to hospital where he later died from stab wounds. 

VPD continues to investigate the homicide and no arrests have been made.

“Investigators believe there were several people in the area at the time of Mr. Russ’ death,” said Constable Tania Visintin. “We are urging those people who saw what happened to come forward and speak to police.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Homicide Unit detectives at 604-717-2500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Melanie Joly and Navdeep Bains appointed co-chairs of Liberals’ national campaign committee

Mélanie Joly Photo: Twitter

WITH the 2021 Liberal National Convention underway online across Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada announced on Friday that Mélanie Joly (MP for Ahuntsic-Cartierville) and Navdeep Bains (MP for Mississauga—Malton) will serve as co-chairs of the party’s national campaign committee for the next federal election campaign, whenever it arrives. 

Navdeep Bains

“Today and every day, Liberals are focused on doing everything it takes — for as long as it takes — to keep Canadians healthy, safe, and supported through this global crisis, and that will continue to be our priority,” said Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. “At some point in the years ahead, we know that there will be an election with big questions about the kind of future we want to build together. The leadership of Mélanie Joly and Navdeep Bains will help build an effective and innovative campaign focused on our positive plan to protect people’s health, deliver support for the middle class and the most vulnerable, protect a healthy environment, and build a fairer and more equal Canada — for everyone.”

Over the past year, Liberal volunteers and organizers have hosted 10 Virtual Weekends of Action to check in on their neighbourhoods and communities, and more than 10,000 volunteers have reached out to well over one million Canadians to connect about their priorities. The party has also already nominated candidates in 133 ridings across Canada. 

Taking place virtually from April 8-10, the 2021 Liberal National Convention is now the largest policy convention in the history of the Liberal Party of Canada — with a focus on Trudeau’s real plan to deliver support for Canadians and keep Canada moving forward, the party said. More details are available at Lib2021.ca .

Surrey RCMP arrest man who allegedly spat in a security guard’s face

The suspect.

SURREY RCMP on Friday said thay had identified and arrested a man in connection with an assault at the Dollarama store in Guildford Mall (see previous news release).

Surrey RCMP began investigating this assault after receiving a copy of a video showing an unmasked man spitting in the face of a security guard.

On Thursday evening, Surrey RCMP frontline officers identified the suspect and made an arrest. A 43-year-old man of no fixed address was taken into custody and issued fines under the Emergency Program Act for failure to wear a facemask, and abusive and belligerent behaviour. An assault investigation is ongoing.

The man was later released. Criminal charges have not yet been laid so the identity of the man is not being released at this time.

Investigators are still asking for any witnesses, including the person who filmed the video, to come forward to help advance this investigation.

“Thank you to the media and the public for assisting us,” said Sgt. Elenore Sturko, Surrey RCMP Media Relations. “As a result of your help, our officers were able to make significant progress, including identifying a suspect, and making contact with the victim.”

“The video of the assault on the security guard was disgusting,” said Superintendent Manly Burleigh, Surrey RCMP Operations Officer. “This type of behaviour is unacceptable – we urge anyone that has experienced this type of violence to report the incident to police.”

Anyone with more information, including dashcam footage around the Guildford mall area between 5 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. on April 6 is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 and quote file 2021-50419.

If you wish to make an anonymous report, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or www.solvecrime.ca.

ICBC: COVID-19 rebate cheques out by end of April​​

ICBC said on Friday that it is on track to mail out all 2.86 million cheques by the end of this month to customers eligible for a share of $600 million in COVID-19-related rebates.

Two weeks ago, ICBC began mailing small batches of COVID-19 rebate cheques directly to eligible customers. Large-scale distribution through the vendor started April 6 and, as of Thursday, April 8, approximately 940,000 cheques had been issued.

ICBC said it is proceeding with its third-party vendor, with extra security measures in place, to print and distribute the vast majority of the remaining COVID-19 rebate cheques. This large mailout, originally scheduled to begin March 15, was delayed due to a cyberattack on the vendor.

Most customers who had vehicles insured for all or part of the six-month period between April 1 and September 30, 2020, are receiving a COVID-19 rebate averaging $190 per policy. The rebate is approximately 19% of the premium a customer paid for coverage during the six-month period. 

An investigation of the cyberattack confirmed that no ICBC customer information was obtained by unauthorized parties and there were no impacts to ICBC’s systems, which remain secure, the ICBC said.​