BC Ferries says employee absenteeism has more than doubled since before the pandemic, contributing to some recent service cancellations and delays. Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs, says it normally hovers around five or six per cent — but crew members have been calling in sick and it’s up to 11 per cent. She says that means 400 to 500 employees may be unavailable at any given time. Marshall says the company has hired about one-thousand new employees since January — and recalled about two-thirds of the 150 people who were previously put on leave without pay due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
RCMP in northwestern B-C are asking anyone with information or dash-cam footage to come forward after a man in his 40s died from injuries sustained when he was struck by a pickup truck along Highway 16, west of Houston. The Mounties say officers arrived to find first responders attending to the man from Winnipeg, who died a short time later in the hospital in Smithers. They say investigators are especially looking to talk with the occupants of a vehicle that stopped behind the incident around the time it happened, shortly after 6:30 Saturday evening, between Irrigation Lake Road and Snake Nation Road. That vehicle was also described as a pickup.
Defense lawyers are expected to cross-examine a woman today who claims she was sexually assaulted by former Vancouver Canuck Jake Virtanen. The 23-year-old woman told the opening day of Virtanen’s BC Supreme Court trial that he sexually assaulted her in a Vancouver hotel room in September 2017. The woman, whose identity is covered by a publication ban, testified she told Virtanen multiple times that she did not want to have sex with him. Virtanen, who is 25 years old, was charged with one count of sexual assault in January following an investigation by Vancouver police.
The heat and wildfires in B-C last year combined with mild temperatures in the earlier months of this year have left fruit growers with a sour taste. Derek Lutz, owner of Lutz Orchards in Summerland, says his crop is 30 to 40 per cent lower than what it normally is this time of year, and he’s worried extreme weather becoming “the new normal.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stopped at Lutz’s farm yesterday as he toured through several communities in the southern Interior. Earlier in the day, he made a stop at the B-C Tree Fruits Cooperative in Kelowna, where he helped with packing a few bags of the fruit.
The BC Wildfire Service has warned that warmer and drier weather expected throughout this week could fuel potentially volatile conditions, as crews battle an out-of-control wildfire burning just west of the village of Lytton. Environment Canada’s forecast for the area at the north end of the Fraser Canyon shows clear skies with daytime temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius this week. The blaze has destroyed at least six properties and forced more than 100 people from their homes on the west side of the Fraser River, northeast of Vancouver. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth told a news conference earlier Monday that the fire’s western flank was pushing toward Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park, where the wildfire service says it’s working with a representative of Lytton First Nation to identify and protect areas of cultural value.
The federal emergency preparedness minister says Ottawa is providing 870-million dollars to support recovery efforts after last November’s widespread flooding. Bill Blair says the money is the first payment for part of a commitment Ottawa made in the immediate aftermath of the severe weather, with more to come. The BC government requested about five billion in financial aid and Blair says the money will come from the disaster financial assistance program. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says it usually takes some time for provinces to access the assistance, so the advanced payment is important, and the money will be used to ensure BC is “building back better.’