The prime minister and his NATO counterparts are gathered for top-level discussions about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine today. Justin Trudeau says NATO is united in its condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and equally in its support for Ukrainians who, he says, are fighting for the values that underpin democracies. That invasion, which was launched one month ago, has left Europe facing its biggest security threat since the Second World War, and, Trudeau argued yesterday, a larger threat to the globe.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pleading with NATO leaders meeting in Brussels to do more to help his country, calling for military assistance without limitations. He repeated his request for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukrainian airspace and chastised NATO members for failing to provide a clear response to his previous plea, or subsequent requests for fighter jets and tanks. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be facing pressure at the summit to boost Canada’s defence budget.
A report from the Union of B-C Municipalities says data shows enough homes are being built to match the province’s growing population, but the number of affordable houses and rental properties is lacking. The B-C Housing Minister is sharply criticizing the report and says he was hoping to see more about how municipalities could help to deliver more housing and what they feel the province could do to help them. The Union president says the report finds resolving the province’s affordable housing crisis is more complex than just telling local governments to increase permit approvals to build more homes.
B-C’s Health Ministry is reporting one COVID-19 fatality, pushing the death toll to two-thousand 975. Hospitalizations also ticked up by four since Tuesday for a total of 258 patients, with 49 in intensive care. The ministry says COVID-19 rapid tests are now available at participating pharmacies for people aged 18 and up, but should only be used by those experiencing symptoms of illness. It says one test kit containing five rapid antigen tests is available for people with B-C personal health numbers every 28 days.
The 44th Vancouver Pride festival will be “business as usual” this July 31, including the Sunset Beach Festival and Pride Parade. The festival is one of Vancouver’s marquee summer events. The parade draws an estimated 400,000 people to the Downtown core. The 2020 and 2021 parades were cancelled due to the pandemic. The theme of this year’s festival is “Together Again.”
A former Surrey MP has his eye on running for city council. The next civic election is Oct. 15. Jasbir Sandhu was the NDP MP for Surrey North from 2011 to 2015, he served as the NDP’s critic for public safety under Jack Layton and sat on three standing committees. He said he hasn’t yet decided if he’ll run for mayor or councillor, “but more likely councillor” if he does.
Conservative backbencher Marc Dalton is the fourth M-P to enter the party’s leadership race. The two-term M-P from Maple Ridge/ Pitt Meadows a is promising to push for an inquiry into the government’s pandemic response, including what he calls “coercive” measures it used to get people vaccinated. He also says the probe would look at what government knew about what he referred to as vaccine injuries.
In an effort to make mental and physical health services more accessible, some B.C. psychologists are working to allow treatment out of family doctor offices. Dr. Simon Elterman, a registered clinical psychologist says allowing patients a “one stop shop” for health care could be life saving. The BCPA is proposing a Primary Care Psychologist program that would place psychologists in family doctors’ offices in British Columbia, giving patients access to mental healthcare on the spot.
The provincial government has announced a new 34-milion-dollar COVID-19 recovery fund for non-profit groups. It says that includes 30-million dollars from the provincial budget in February and an additional four-million from the Vancouver Foundation. The new fund is aimed at supporting organizations that have seen their staff, volunteers, programs and operations disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The fund will be administered by the Vancouver Foundation and United Way and is expected to launch in June.
The City of Prince George, B-C, is apologizing for the harm it caused to vulnerable people when it removed their structures from a homeless camp. The city also says it is withdrawing its appeal of court decisions that had refused to issue injunctions against homeless encampments. Prince George says it is now re-evaluating its approach and response to homelessness and the sites where people camp.
R-C-M-P say they are investigating a shooting in Surrey that left a 19-year-old man with non-life-threatening injuries. Police say they received a report last night of shots being fired in the Guildwood area. They say the victim fled in a vehicle and was taken it hospital after he was later located in Newton. Corporal Vanessa Munn says that although the investigation is in the early stages, evidence indicates it was a targeted shooting between parties known to each other.
A former Vancouver police officer convicted of sexual assault last October has been sentenced to one year in jail. The B-C Prosecution Service says Jagraj “Roger” Berar is also required to submit a D-N-A sample and will be listed on the national sex offender registry for 10 years. Berar was charged in November 2019 after a months-long investigation into the sexual assault of a woman in Whistler in July of that year. He was still a member of the Vancouver police force at that time but is no longer with the department.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is recalling a brand of oysters produced and sold in B-C and says other recalls may be ordered as it investigates a possible norovirus contamination. The agency says Stellar Bay Shellfish brand Chef Creek Oysters — harvested on March 3rd in Deep Bay north of Qualicum Beach — have been sold in B-C and may have been distributed in other parts of Canada and sold at restaurants and hotels. Anyone with that brand of oysters is being told to throw them out or return them to the store where they were purchased. The C-F-I-A says there have been several reported norovirus-like illnesses linked to the oysters, with symptoms ranging from diarrhea and vomiting to fever, headache, and chills.
Justin Trudeau has wrapped a trip to Brussels by announcing sanctions against 160 more Russian officials for their role in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. But the prime minister sidestepped questions about whether his government will inject substantial new money into the Canadian Armed Forces. NATO members are pledging to draw up plans by June for boosting spending on their respective militaries. Trudeau said Canada agreed to that commitment, but he was light on the specifics. He referred back to the Liberal government’s previous promises to invest billions of dollars in the military in the form of new equipment and personnel.