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Fraser Health says it will no longer be closing the maternity department at Peace Arch Hospital.  President and C-E-O Doctor Victoria Lee says significant new scheduling commitments from the hospital’s pediatric group and other partners have averted a staffing crisis.  Last week, the health authority said it would be indefinitely diverting expecting parents-to-be to Langley Memorial Hospital beginning January 28th.  The health authority says there could still be sporadic single-day diversions when necessary.


The B-C Education Ministry is distributing 200-thousand COVID-19 test kits to elementary and high schools in an effort to keep them open.  The ministry says the number of teaching and non-teaching staff will determine how many tests a school gets.  It says the rapid antigen tests are to be used by staff, teachers and administrators with symptoms of COVID-19 to help limit transmission.  The tests are being sent to school districts as well as independent and First Nation schools.


Following some rapid-fire changes to COVID-19 isolation rules posted on the BC CDC website, the agency has issued an apology.  This week, British Columbians wondering how long to isolate after a positive test result got different advice depending on when they checked the website.  On Tuesday, the guidance was five days for anyone who tested positive, regardless of age or vaccination status. After a few more changes, the guidance Wednesday depended on age and vaccination status.  Now, unvaccinated adults require the longest period of isolation, with 10 days advised. That’s cut in half for those under 18 only being told to isolate for five. This includes children under five who are not eligible for the shot.  Those who are fully vaccinated, regardless of age, are being told to isolate for five days.  By Thursday, the website had been updated again — not to change the guidelines, but to acknowledge the confusion caused by the multiple changes.  “We apologize for the web posting and changes that occurred…We recognize this approach led to confusion.”


The City of Surrey may soon begin to charge journalists and taxpayers a fee to access government information.  Surrey council has voted through a corporate report by city staff to charge $10 for Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.  A FOI essentially asks a government for information taxpayers are paying for. Examples of this include asking how much money is going toward constructing a city-owned building, requesting government emails, and viewing expense reports. of politicians.  These requests, which have historically been made by members of the media or tax-paying residents, have usually been free.  Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says the city needs to start charging, because it’s seeing an increase in FOI’s being filed.


Mayor Doug McCallum could be facing strong competition in the next civic election as a popular federal politician considers running for the city’s top job.  Long-running Member of Parliament Sukh Dhaliwal says that many people have been encouraging him to challenge McCallum in October’s poll.  The names of provincial politicians have also surfaced as possible contenders in the civic election this October, though few people have officially declared their plans.  MLA Jinny Simms said last month that she had received calls asking that she challenge for the mayor’s job. MLA Harry Bains, meanwhile, ruled out a run on social media.  One person who is 100 percent is Surrey Coun. Brenda Locke who has already thrown her hat in the ring.


R-C-M-P are warning of a so-called “bail money scam” that starts on the phone and ends with the fraudsters going to victims’ homes to collect cash.  Police say the scam typically begins with a call from someone pretending to be a relative, lawyer or police officer claiming they need thousands of dollars to secure a loved one’s release from jail.  The caller may claim this is the only phone call allowed from jail and say you cannot talk to anyone about it, then they arrive to pick up the money or send a courier.  R-C-M-P say that if you get a bail money scam call, don’t share your personal information, hang up the phone and call your local police.


A rookie police officer attended a different type of emergency this week after running toward the sound of screaming in a parking lot.  The Constable was at the Chilliwack General Hospital for an unrelated report when she heard a woman yelling.  R-C-M-P say the officer, who joined the detachment six months ago, arrived just in time to help a woman deliver a baby.  They say both baby and mother are doing well, while the officer called it an amazing experience.


British Columbia health officials announced on Friday that there have been 2,364 new COVID-19 cases reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 308,079. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said that there are 33,997 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Of the active cases, 924 (+33) COVID-positive individuals are currently hospitalized, a new record for BC, and 130 (+11) are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

New cases and total active cases are broken down by health region as follows:

  • Fraser Health: 686 new cases, 15,768 total active cases
  • Vancouver Coastal Health: 499 new cases, 8,121 total active cases
  • Interior Health: 655 new cases, 6,490 total active cases
  • Northern Health: 190 new cases, 1,581 total active cases
  • Island Health: 334 new cases, 2,024 total active cases
  • Outside of Canada: No new cases, 13 total active cases

There have been nine new COVID-19-related deaths in British Columbia, for a total of 2,529 deaths in the province.


January will go down as one of the deadliest months in the pandemic to date. Data from Health Canada shows new deaths climbed above 100 per day this week for the first time in almost a year. Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says Omicron (OH’-mih-kron) is a dangerous strain of COVID-19 and it’s important not to trivialize the virus. But Tam says there is evidence that the Omicron wave is peaking in Canada, but says it’s still too early to start celebrating since hospitalizations and the number of patients needing critical care are still rising.   


What used to be considered a blip is now becoming a trend for Netflix. While it’s nowhere near going under, there are some signs of leakage when it comes to its subscriber base. During the October-December quarter, the streaming giant added another 8.3-million subscribers worldwide — about 200-thousand fewer than the company expected. Netflix is expected to add 2.5-million subscribers the first quarter of this year but it had been expecting a gain of four-million new subscribers. 


More than 80 transit workers in Whistler have served 72-hour strike notice, saying they do the same job as bus drivers in Vancouver and Victoria and it’s time to close the gap in wages. The drivers, members of Unifor, voted in favour of job action in August but haven’t been able to reach a deal on issues ranging from wages and benefits to pensions and job security. Unifor national president Jerry Dias says increasingly unaffordable housing costs in Whistler will eventually snowball into a staffing crisis unless the drivers get a fair contract that keeps them from being priced out of the housing market. B-C Transit operates buses in Whistler and Pemberton under contract to Whistler Transit. 


A Metro Vancouver man has been convicted of manslaughter in a Surrey shooting that happened nearly two years ago. Robert Tomljenovic — who was 26 at the time — was charged with second-degree murder but was convicted yesterday of the manslaughter of 21-year-old Pritpal Singh. He was arrested about a week after the April 7th, 2020, shooting and police originally said they believed it was a targeted attack, but later determined the men did not know each other and the shooting appeared random. Tomljenovic — who was also convicted of robbery with a firearm in connection with Singh’s death — will be sentenced in B-C Supreme Court in New Westminster at a later date. 


Canada’s top doctor says COVID-19 hospitalizations and the number of patients needing critical care are still rising. Dr. Theresa Tam says with so many health workers getting sick themselves, there remains an immense strain on the country’s health system. But Tam says there are positive signs the Omicron (OH’-mih-kron) wave is peaking in Canada. She says case rates, the share of tests coming back positive, and wastewater surveillance are all pointing towards a slowing spread of COVID-19. Still, Tam warns against trivializing the virus because it is still capable of causing serious harm.