As soon as B.C. announced the age-based COVID-19 vaccination plan, a Sikh temple in Surrey knew they would have to find a way to help seniors in the community who don’t speak English get access to the shot. Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib started offering help to Punjabi-speaking community members “from day one,” according to president Narinder Singh Walia. The Fraser Health website offers information about how to book a vaccine in many languages, but the online booking system is only available in English. Waits on the phone can be long, getting through can be difficult, and there’s no guarantee whoever picks up will speak a language other than English. Several Punjabi-speaking seniors told OMNI news that they have shown up to appointments only to be turned away because they inadvertently booked before they were eligible. Since they decided to spread the work on social media and through ads in Punjabi, Walia says three volunteers at the temple have been fielding hundreds of calls. On Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister acknowledged the critical role community-based efforts have played in making sure seniors who do not speak English can get immunized. saying “I know there are many, many groups in the community are reaching out to help her seniors and I would encourage people to continue that.’

 

B-C has recorded its highest daily COVID-19 case total since November with 800 new cases. The province also reported five new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities linked to the virus to 1,446. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says while a third to 40 per cent of transmission is happening in workplaces, some is occurring in social settings and she’s urging everyone to stay outdoors. At the same time, she’s loosening visiting restrictions in long-term care homes and allowing indoor religious services for upcoming holidays including Easter, Passover, Ramadan and  Vaisakhi.

 

The B-C government is more than doubling the fines for those promoting and attending events against COVID-19 public health orders, to 575 dollars from 230 dollars. The penalty for those caught hosting such an event remains at 2,300 dollars. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says most people are following the rules, but it’s become clear in the last few months that the risk of paying the ticket isn’t enough of a deterrence for some. The 230-dollar fine will continue to apply to a range of other COVID-19 violations, such as not wearing a mask

 

Advocates say undocumented workers in B-C fear that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 could mean getting arrested if someone reports that they lack proper identification. The B-C Health Ministry says undocumented and migrant workers don’t need to present medical cards before being immunized, but it didn’t say whether non-government identification could be used. The ministry says information provided for immunization will not be shared with other organizations, and more details on documents that will be asked for when provincewide online booking starts April 6th. Byron Cruz, a spokesman for Sanctuary Health in Vancouver, says undocumented workers are eager to get vaccinated but they also need  assurances that no one would be at risk of being deported based on their immigration status.

A shipment of nearly 600-thousand doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that was expected to arrive in Canada tomorrow has been delayed. Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada received more than a quarter of a million doses of the Moderna shot yesterday, and a second shipment will arrive no later than April 1st. She says the company has a backlog in its quality assurance process, but the delay will not affect the company’s next scheduled delivery early next month

 

Managers of the Pacific Inn – home to a former hotel and now filming studio – are yet again finding a new purpose for the property known by many on the Semiahmoo Peninsula as the Pink Palace. General manager Margarett Lange told Peace Arch News Wednesday (March 24) that there’s a plan in the works to use the Pacific Inn parking lot this summer for a weekend farmer’s market. Lange said she’s yet to receive approval from the city, but the plan includes a 100-vendor market from May 1 to Oct. 10. The operation is to run Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There’s some flexibility, she added, as the market will be on private land as opposed to public land.

 

The return of warm weather has more Canadians pounding the pavement, and running shoes are the latest product to be plagued by a pandemic-related supply crunch. Some athletes are being forced to look beyond their usual sneakers, or wait weeks for their preferred style or brand. Ben Nelson, shoe buyer for The Runners Shop in Toronto, is recommending runners stop worrying about what colour or brand their shoes are, and focus on what feels good on their feet.

 

WestJet is adding 11 domestic routes across Western Canada, just a day after announcing renewed services to Atlantic Canada and Quebec City. WestJet chief executive Ed Sims says the airline is optimistic ahead an expected increase in demand for summer travel. The new flights are set to begin in June. 

 

Transit users in Metro Vancouver will start paying more for their ride this summer. Starting on Canada Day, adult TransLink riders will be paying anywhere from five to 15 cents more per trip, depending on their zones. TransLink says the increase is less than was initially planned, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to raise fares was passed unanimously by the transit provider’s board of directors on Thursday.

 

Jude Hannah hopes the joke is not on her and others this April Fool’s Day, when she’s “penciled in” to hold her 97-year-old mother’s hand for the first time in more than a year. The B.C. government’s relaxation of long-term care visitation rules starting Thursday, April 1. That day and onwards, residents in long-term care and assisted living will be able to have frequent, routine opportunities for social visitation, according to a news release.