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British Columbia has announced a new three-year action plan that includes building more housing for those fleeing violence, adding 75 new sexual assault support programs, establishing new free virtual counselling as well as new 24/7 crisis lines and new policing standards. Amy FitzGerald, executive director of the BC Society of Transition Houses, says the organization welcomes the investments, but it is still not enough. She says the society’s research shows that only four per cent of the 80-thousand women and children who access their services move on to long-term, safe and affordable housing. This comes as the federal government has also pledged 61.9 million dollars over four years for the plan under a new Canada-British Columbia bilateral agreement, which was struck Friday.

The BC RCMP is seeking to return or dispose of thousands of pieces of evidence seized during the investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton, prompting concerns from a group of advocates and family members of his victims. The group, which is holding a news conference later today, says they have sent a letter to the federal public safety minister, the Commissioner of the RCMP, as well as BC’s attorney general and the solicitor general opposing the court application requesting permission to dispose of the exhibits. In 2007, Pickton was found guilty on six counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of women who disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. In 2010, after the Supreme Court upheld his sentence, 20 other first-degree murder charges were stayed because Pickton was already serving the maximum sentence.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry are holding a news conference later today to update BC residents about respiratory illness in BC. In its latest update released Thursday, the BC Centre for Disease Control says COVID-19 test positivity, cases, hospitalizations and deaths have decreased between early October to December 2nd. But it says adult and pediatric emergency department visits for respiratory symptoms have increased since late October. The CDC says Influenza A is behind a rise in flu activity, accounting for 88 per cent of tested cases this flu season.

William’s Lake RCMP are appealing to the public for information after a 32-year-old man brought an infant who had died to the hospital. Police say they also discovered a second child with non-life threatening injuries who was brought to the hospital for assessment. They say the man and a 33-year-old woman were arrested, but have since been released. The RCMP say the Ministry of Children and Family Development has been informed and has launched an investigation.

Workers at a Hudson’s Bay store in Kamloops have walked off the job after being unable to reach an agreement with their employer. The union representing the workers says it issued a 72 hour strike notice to the company on Wednesday after being in talks since July, and the job action officially began at 9:30 yesterday morning. It is asking shoppers to avoid the Aberdeen Mall location until a deal is struck. Hudson’s Bay says in a statement that it appreciates the hard work of its store associates and remains committed to the bargaining process and reaching a resolution.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it has detected the presence of avian influenza at a non-poultry, non-commercial location in the central Okanagan. It is now the 52nd place in BC where the contagious viral infection has been detected at commercial or backyard bird operations since October. This comes after the CFIA confirmed the presence of the flu at a commercial poultry farm in Abbotsford on Saturday. Commonly known as bird flu, avian influenza can affect several species of food producing birds as well as pet birds and wild birds.