B.C. to raise minimum wage by 50 cents an hour and promise $15 an hour by 2021

The new B.C. NDP government will raise the minimum wage by 50 cents an hour in September, and move to a $15-an-hour rate by 2021 — a long-sought move by labour and anti-poverty groups but one met with wary concern in the business sector.

On Sept. 15, the minimum wage will increase to $11.35 an hour, a commitment from the previous Liberal government the NDP will implement. The government will also increase liquor servers’ wages by 50 cents to $10.10 an hour.

Minister of Labour Harry Bains said on Tuesday that the hike this fall is just a “stepping-stone”.

“Raising the minimum wage is only one way the new government will make life more affordable for British Columbians, but it’s an important start,” he said.

Bains said the government listened to business owners and recognized the need for a gradual strategy for increasing wages to minimize the impact on businesses.

“It’s predictable. It’s incremental. (Business owners) can look at their structure and costs ahead of time knowing full well what their costs will be,” he said.

The NDP did not provide a timeline for the gradual implementation of the $15-an-hour rate. It plans to set up a commission that will consult with stakeholders and determine how to increase the hourly minimum wage to $15.

A wage hike to $15-an-hour by 2021 is too much, too soon, for small businesses, said Richard Truscott, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s B.C. and Alberta spokesman.

“To get to $15 an hour you’re looking at much larger increases the next four years to get there. We’re talking a dollar or more depending on the implementation schedule,” he said.

Large corporations can use economies of scale or automation to mitigate higher labour costs, but many small businesses would not have the resources to absorb the hike and may have to resort to cutting jobs, foregoing hiring, scaling back on employee hours, or passing along the cost to consumers with higher prices.

“There are adjustments that have to be made. It’s not going to be an easy pill to swallow,” said Truscott, calling on the government to consider a longer phased-in period, perhaps six years, similar to Seattle.

Anita Guberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, said her group supports a minimum-wage increase tied to the consumer price index, but said small businesses will be impacted by the wage hike.

“We need to be cautious and sensitive and help small business,” said Huberman. “I understand the path (the government is) going down, taking care of citizens, but they also have the opportunity here to take care of business.”

Huberman and Truscott said the government can use other policy levers to soften the blow on small businesses, whether that’s in the form of tax cuts or backing off on other policy changes such as the carbon tax increase or changes to employment rules.

When asked whether the government is considering any mitigating measures, Bains said that will be under consideration when Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan put together the budget.

Machiko Purse, who works at a hotdog stand in downtown Vancouver, said a $15-an-hour minimum wage is much-needed.

“Vancouver is a very expensive city. Many people are living paycheque to paycheque.” She did wonder, however, whether the cost of goods would also go up, and added “maybe there won’t be much change.”

Originally from Japan, Purse, 42, said she can only afford to make ends meet because her husband also works. “But if I’m a single mom and I have a 10-year-old daughter, it is not possible to live on a minimum wage.”

Connor McRae, an ESL teacher in Vancouver, said he sees both sides of the argument, but his gut reaction is that a $15-an-hour minimum wage is a good thing. “I’d say it comes down to principles and what are your ideals,” he said. “It’s taking care of our people, same thing if you think people deserve the right to health insurance, they deserve the right of a minimum wage that’s livable.”

By CHERYL CHAN

(Vancouver Sun)

Aggressive tick whose bite makes people allergic to red meat is arriving in Canada

By Marcy Cuttler, CBC News

Les Waters doesn’t know where a lone star tick bit him, but the dedicated hunter knows the bite caused a severe allergy that prevents him from eating his beloved red meat. (Marcy Cuttler/CBC)

Les Waters will never forget his reaction after he ate a hamburger at a restaurant in January 2015.

“It’s like your throat swells up, you can’t breathe, your blood pressure drops, and you black out,” said the 63-year-old man from Harcourt, a small community in eastern Ontario.

Waters, an avid hunter and meat lover, learned he had developed a rare allergy to everything made from beef, pork and lamb.

A bite from a tiny tick, recently spotted in Canada, is to blame.

The culprit, the lone star tick, is named for the white dot or lone star on the back of the female. Native to the southeastern United States, it has slowly migrated north, hitching a ride on birds, deer, and domestic animals.

Waters is not sure where the tick found him, but he suspects it might have been on a hunting trip in northern Quebec. The lone star tick has been found in neighbouring New Brunswick.

“The two we have which were contributed to us by people in New Brunswick, one fed from a human and one fed from a dog,” said Prof. Vett Lloyd, a biologist at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B.

Dr. Lloyd says the lone star tick, unlike other ticks, is aggressive. “It is one of the few that will actually chase their prey. Once they know that you’re there, they will trundle towards you,” she said.

The lone star tick, which is moving from the southeastern United States into Canada, is named for the white dot on the back of the female. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control/Associated Press)

How these ticks cause the allergy that affects Waters, which was first identified in the 1990s, is complicated.

When the tick bites a person, it spits alpha gal into the blood.

That’s a compound present in beef, pork and lamb, and humans usually digest it harmlessly. But when it appears elsewhere in a person’s body, for example in the bloodstream, it causes a strong reaction.

The body develops antibodies to fight back, and the battle causes symptoms that range from a general rash to a severe anaphylactic reaction. There is no treatment yet.

It took almost two years for Waters to get a diagnosis from an allergist, and much of the work was through his internet sleuthing.

Part of the problem is that the effects of this allergy, unlike food allergies, don’t appear immediately. “It comes hours after I eat something. They [the doctors] had no clue, basically. Now they know about it. Not all of them, but they’re getting better at it,” he said.

‘A novel allergy’

Dr. Gordon Sussman, an allergist in Toronto, says, “It’s a novel allergy that sort of changes our concept because you can see reactions occurring several hours later. It’s going to change the way we investigate allergies.”

Lloyd says that while sightings of the lone star tick are rare in Canada, that might soon change.

“There’s going to be more of them simply with climate change, with the environment warming. Ticks that were comfortable in the south are going to be more comfortable in the north,” she said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is aware that the lone star tick is expanding its range and is identifying Canadian locations that may soon fall within it.

A boring diet

As for Waters, who loves to hunt, there’s an irony in developing this allergy. “I have all sorts of wild game in my freezer and I just have to give it away now. I’m just going to have to give this up,” he says.

He carries an EpiPen now and avoids red meat, although the temptation is always there.

Waters calls the allergy “an annoyance.”

Still  for the diehard carnivore, it’s a tough transition. “The taste of a good burger, a nice moose steak or some venison loin chops. You get very bored with the fish or the chicken over and over,” he said.

How to be a wedding guest on a budget

By, Carla Hindman,

From wedding showers to engagement parties to wedding ceremonies, the cost of celebrating the couple-to-be can put a strain on your budget during the summer wedding season. According to WeddingBells Canada, weddings are a $5-billion business in Canada, with more than 160,000 weddings taking place every year and 67% of weddings occurring between June and September.

Are weddings also a financial burden for guests? For a few years in my late twenties, it seemed like as soon as summer hit, I was spending every weekend at a wedding, and spending all my dollars while I was at it! Though I loved celebrating with my friends, between travel and gifts, the pressure from all the partying was putting a strain on my bank account. If you’re heading to a few weddings this summer, here are some tips to get you through the season without paying the high cost of love:

Build a budget: Before wedding season, take inventory of upcoming weddings and build a budget based on your current financial situation. Do you have wiggle room for the extra dollars you may need to fork out on expenses beyond the main event? If not, consider making adjustments to your spending habits leading up to wedding season. Need help building a budget? Practical Money Skills has a calculator that can help you build or even rework a budget.

Wedding Attire:  Want to look your best on someone else’s big day? It’ll cost you. RetailMeNot says that Wedding guests spend an average of $325 for wedding attire, with men outspending women (men spend an average of $334). Don’t be afraid to recycle your outfits. For men, simply changing a shirt and tie combo can make for a quick and less costly new look. Women can save by exploring dress rental stores with options that will keep them on trend. Another option is to stick with a classic little black dress, but switch up accessories for a different look. If you really want to wear something new, you can make a little extra cash by selling your old suits and dresses at a consignment shop or online. Also, be on the lookout for buy, trade and sell groups on social media sites – often they have gently used attire that could help you celebrate in style.

Wedding Gifts: Wedding gifts can also take a big slice out of your budget. According to the RetailMeNot survey, 54 per cent of Canadians prefer to give cash. But cash is not always king for your budget. Consider bringing together a group to pitch in for a big-ticket item and don’t forget to look for sales while shopping the gift registry. Giving the newlyweds an experience, like a cooking class or a honeymoon excursion, is also a great idea for a present. Most of all be thoughtful. If your friends have invited you to share their day, hopefully they’ll be more thrilled with your presence than your present!

Travel expenses: Travelling to and from a wedding can be costly. If possible, travel with a group to cut down on fuel and hotel costs. Heading to a destination wedding? A WeddingBells survey estimates that one in four weddings that occur between November and April will be destination weddings. Explore using your rewards or loyalty points on airfare and hotel costs.

Bottom Line: Weddings are expensive, even if you’re not the one walking down the aisle. With planning and budgeting you can enjoy wedding season without breaking the bank.

By, Carla Hindman, Director of Financial Education, Visa Canada

http://www.practicalmoneyskills.ca

Vancouver Celebrates Vaisakhi 2017

Vancouver:  Khalsa Diwan Society, Vancouver celebrated Vaisakhi festival on Saturday, April 15.  Thousands of people lined on the parade route to see and be part of the celebration.  The Vaisakhi festival went from 9 am to 5 pm with hundreds of people offering free food and gifts.

The Vancouver parade started from the KDS Ross Sikh Temple at 8000 Ross Street in Vancouver at 11 am at the Ross Sikh Temple and proceeded down Marine Drive, up Main, along 49th Avenue, south at Fraser, east along 57th Avenue and then down Ross Street back to the temple.

Vancouver Celebrates Vaisakhi Parade

Vancouver:  Khalsa Diwan Society, Vancouver celebrated Vaisakhi festival on Saturday, April 15.  Thousands of people lined on the parade route to see and be part of the celebration.  The Vaisakhi festival went from 9 am to 5 pm with hundreds of people offering free food and gifts.

The Vancouver parade started from the KDS Ross Sikh Temple at 8000 Ross Street in Vancouver at 11 am at the Ross Sikh Temple and proceeded down Marine Drive, up Main, along 49th Avenue, south at Fraser, east along 57th Avenue and then down Ross Street back to the temple.

Musician Tara Kye was the first white woman to ride with the Sikh Motorcycle Club in a Vaisakhi parade.CHARLIE SMITH

City councillor Raymond Louie says he supports NDP candidate and former councillor George Chow in Vancouver-Fraserview.
CHARLIE SMITH
There was no shortage of B.C. New Democrats at the parade, including leader John Horgan (third from left).
CHARLIE SMITH
New Democrat candidates David Eby (left) and George Heyman (right) joined MP Don Davies (second from left) and community leader Amarjit Toor for a photo.
CHARLIE SMITH
Chief Adam Palmer, Balbir Sidhu, and Deputy Chief Steve Rai were among tens of thousands in the Vaisakhi parade.
CHARLIE SMITH
It wasn’t just Indian food that was available for free along Southeast Marine Drive.
CHARLIE SMITH

The Khalsa Diwan Society is a pioneer Sikh society formed on July 22nd, 1902 in Canada, America; it was formally established in 1906. In 1908, the Society purchased and built the first Sikh Gurdwara at 1866 West 2nd Avenue, Vancouver British Colombia (BC) in Canada. The Gurdwara was inaugurated on January 19th, 1908. This is believed to the first Sikh Gurdwara in the whole of the American continent. This Gurdwara Sahib served the Greater Vancouver Sikh community until new Gurdwara Sahib was occupied on April 25th, 1970.

Women above 60 hypersensitive to metals used in joint replacement

Washington D.C. [USA], April 20 (ANI): A study finds that women aged 60 or more are at higher risk of complications after total hip or knee replacement surgery because they are hypersensitive to metals used in joint implants.

The results suggested that immune sensitisation to implant metals was 49 percent in women, compared to 38 percent of men.

Prior to blood testing, 29 percent of women were in pain after joint replacement and said they had allergic skin reactions to metals, compared to four percent of men.

“These findings may explain, at least in part, the sex disparity in the outcomes of certain TJA [total joint arthroplasty] implant designs,” said lead researcher Nadim J. Hallab and colleagues from Rush University Medical Center, Chicago.

The team analysed 2,613 patients who were evaluated for unexplained joint pain after total hip and/or knee replacement.

All had metal-containing joint replacement components and none had signs of infection, inflammation or other findings that would explain their pain.

The patients were of the average age of 62; 60 percent of the patients were women.

The research appeared in journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Average time since joint replacement was about three years, and in most cases less than two years.

All the patients underwent a blood test–the

Lymphocyte Transformation Test, or LTT–to evaluate immune cell sensitisation to metals.

The LTT can assess whether the patient has developed hypersensitivity to one or more of the metals contained in the implant components, such as cobalt, chromium, or nickel.

The results show a “remarkable and significant” increase in immune cell sensitivity to metals in women compared to men with unexplained pain after total hip or knee replacement.

“This supports both our hypothesis and previous reports that females may have a higher risk of adverse responses to implant metals,” authors concluded. (Ends)

Soyuz space capsule carrying American, Russian blasts off to ISS

Baikonur [Kazakhstan], Apr 20 (ANI): Russia’s Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft has been launched to International Space Station (ISS) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The spacecraft carries two crew members including NASA (U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration) astronaut Jack Fischer and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, reports the Sputnik.

The launch was carried out from the Russian-leased launch facility of Baikonur, carrying 70 kilograms of food products.

The Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft has an upgraded navigation system, new communications system and a modernized docking system. The spacecraft also has a larger solar cell area, which enables it to generate more energy.

The launch of the Soyuz capsule was initially scheduled for March 27 but was postponed to conduct more safety checks.

Will Smith to be Genie in Disney’s Live-Action ‘Aladdin’?

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 20 (ANI): Looks like the former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air will soon be seen in the role of Genie in the upcoming live-action remake of Aladdin.

According to Deadline, Will Smith is in early talks to voice Genie in Disney’s live-action ‘Aladdin, reboot from director Guy Ritchie.

It is a part of the studio’s strategy of bringing its classic animated titles to life, and the most recent one was ‘Beauty and the Beast.’

On this note, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ has already grossed over one billion dollar worldwide.

Like ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Aladdin’ will also be a live-action musical and that would fit well with Smith, who is not only an actor but was known to the world for his musical prowess as ‘The Fresh Prince’ rapper before he hit the little or big screen.

The shoot will supposedly start in the United Kindoms in July and wrap by early next year- long, six-month shoot. (ANI)

Julia Roberts is Most Beautiful Woman of the World

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 20 (ANI): Julia Roberts is 2017’s Most Beautiful Woman of the World, according to PEOPLE magazine.

It’s been 26 years since the ‘Pretty Woman’ star was first on the cover of the magazine’s ‘World’s Most Beautiful’ issue. Now for the fifth time in record, she is ruling the issue.

“I am very flattered,” she reacted, adding, “I think I’m currently peaking.”

On a related note, ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’ fame Jennifer Aniston was last year’s most beautiful woman for the magazine.

350-plus new campsites throughout B.C. open for 2017 camping season

VANCOUVER – Visitors will soon have more camping opportunities throughout British Columbia with the completion of more than 350 new campsites in BC Parks and forestry recreation sites, in time for the upcoming camping season.

“Camping is an important way of life for Canadians to connect with family and friends. People come to experience British Columbia’s outdoors, to enjoy our world-class scenery and to camp in our provincial campground facilities. This campsite expansion allows us to address the increasing local regional demand for overnight access to the outdoors, while building a first class experience for our visitors.” says Joss Penny, chair, Camping and RVing BC Coalition.

This is the first phase of the 1,900 new campsites announced by Premier Christy Clark in November 2016 as part of the BC Parks Future Strategy, the Province’s commitment to public recreation opportunities. Campsite expansion is occurring in all regions of the province, and the majority will be where demand is greatest – in the Kootenays, Okanagan, the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

“We’re pleased these new campsites will be open for the upcoming camping season, and these are only the first phase of campsites to come. We know people are passionate about BC Parks, and that demand for camping opportunities is high. This campsite expansion will help provide more camping opportunities where demand is greatest, which will improve the overall visitor experience, and help to support a strong and secure parks system for future generations,” Mary Polak, Minister of Environment.

“These investments will increase the number of camping opportunities in B.C. to help meet the growing demand. By offering recreation sites, we’re able to provide a range of camping experiences,” says Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations .

 

Quick Facts:

 

* B.C.’s provincial parks receive more than 21 million visits each year.

* Parking is free in all provincial parks, making them more accessible to families.

* BC Parks manages the third-largest parks system in North America behind the United States National Park Service and Parks Canada.

* British Columbia has the highest percentage of its land base dedicated to protected areas of all provincial Canadian jurisdictions.

* B.C. offers a range of camping experiences in provincial parks as well as recreation sites.

* Over the past five years, the Province has invested approximately $60 million in park facilities, delivering projects directed at attracting young families, offering new recreation opportunities and increasing attendance.

 The new campsites, which will be available for the 2017 camping season, are:

* Blanket Creek Provincial Park near Revelstoke – 58 sites

* Halfway Hot Springs Rec Site near Nakusp – 20 sites

* Six Mile Bay Rec Site near Mackenzie – 20 sites

* Okanagan Lake South Provincial Park near Summerland  – eight sites

* Badger Lake Rec Site near Heffley – 30 sites

* Scuitto Rec Site near Kamloops – 17 sites

* Garibaldi Provincial Park near Squamish – 20 sites

* Chek Canyon Rec Site near Squamish – 32  sites

* Stave West -Sayres Lake Rec Site near Mission – 60 sites (Phase 1)

* Desolation Sound Provincial Park  near Powell River – 34 sites

* Rathtrevor Provincial Park near Parksville – 30  sites (Phase 1)

* Goldstream Provincial Park near Victoria – four sites

* Pye Mountain Rec Site  near Sayward – 20 sites

* Maple Grove Rec Site near Lake Cowichan – 22 sites

The new campsites are a mix of BC Parks and forestry recreation sites which supports maintaining a range of camping opportunities (rustic and less rustic) in the highest demand areas.

The construction of BC Parks campsites also includes associated infrastructure, such as roads, water and sewer expansion, electrical upgrades, outhouse facilities and shower and toilet buildings. New campground developments also incorporate accessible design standards.

The recreation site expansion will include associated roads, campsites with picnic tables and fire rings, signage and outhouse facilities.

The majority of the new BC Parks campsites will be available for reservation via the Discover Camping Reservation Service. To reserve your spot, please visit: https://secure.camis.com/DiscoverCamping/Home.aspx

Recreation sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

As part of the BC Parks Future Strategy, the Province is investing up to $22.9 million to add more than 1,900 new campsites over five years. More than 800 of the new sites will be in provincial parks, while more than 1,000 will be in recreation sites.

Additional campsites will be announced as expansion continues.

The Province also recently announced a new investment of $35 million over the next three years, as part of the BC Parks Future Strategy. The funding will result in 28 more full-time park rangers, new programs to promote and protect the environment, and $10 million as an initial endowment to the new BC Parks Foundation. This increased budget is also part of the BC Parks Future Strategy.

To date, more than 11,000 BC Parks licence plates have been sold since the plates became available for purchase at Autoplan broker offices on Jan. 29, 2017.  The Province introduced this series of specialty licence plates – featuring images of a Kermode bear found only in British Columbia, the snowcapped Purcell Mountains, and a stunning view from Porteau Cove overlooking Howe Sound – in partnership with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Approximately $165,000 will go toward the Park Enhancement Fund as a result of the plate sales.