The Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate target for the first time since slashing its benchmark rate to its rock-bottom level at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The central bank increased its key rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 0.5 per cent in a bid to help fight inflation which is at its highest level since 1991. The higher rate is expected to prompt the country’s big banks to raise their prime lending rates, a move that will increase the cost of loans such as variable-rate mortgages that are linked to the benchmark. The Bank of Canada cut its key interest rate to the emergency level of 0.25 per cent in March 2020 in an effort to help the economy weather the economic shock of the pandemic.
Dr. Bonnie Henry seemed optimistic in yesterday’s COVID update, as cases and hospitalizations have been declining. She says a further reduction in restrictions is being considered. Although they did not announce more changes yet, they say the decrease in cases, ICU patients, and deaths may lead to some announcements in spring and summer. The current measures are set to expire Mar. 16, but could be extended. Henry says unlike other places, B.C. will remain a “mask positive” place.
The young woman who was killed while working as a security guard at UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna last weekend is being remembered as a “beloved daughter, sister, and friend” who came to Canada from India to pursue her dream of helping others by becoming a paramedic. The victim has been identified as Harmandeep Kaur. The 24 year old moved to Vancouver in 2015, and received her permanent residency last month. An online fundraiser was launched to help her family travel to Kelowna and pay for the funeral. Police say a suspect was identified and apprehended under the Mental Health Act. He remains in hospital and could face murder charges.
Russia renewed its assault Wednesday on Ukraine’s second-largest city in a pounding that lit up the skyline with balls of fire over populated areas, even as both sides said they were ready to resume talks aimed at stopping the new devastating war in Europe. The escalation of attacks on crowded cities followed an initial round of talks between outgunned Ukraine and nuclear power Russia on Monday that resulted in only a promise to meet again. It was not clear when new talks might take place — or what they would yield. Roughly 874,000 people have fled Ukraine and the U.N. refugee agency warned the number could cross the 1 million mark soon.
About 42 per cent of B.C. drivers admit to still using their phone while driving at least 10 per cent of the time, according to a new ICBC survey. The survey also found that 93 per cent of respondents recognized the risk associated with texting behind the wheel. Texting and driving became illegal in the province in 2010. Roughly 76 deaths each year in B.C. are related to distracted driving. The fine for distracted driving is $368, as well as penalty points against the driver.
British Columbia health officials announced today that there have been 442 new positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 349,213. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said that 517 (-6) COVID-positive people are currently hospitalized, and 73 (-10) are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.
New cases are broken down by health region as follows:
- Fraser Health: 111 new cases
- Vancouver Coastal Health: 69 new cases
- Interior Health: 105 new cases
- Northern Health: 59 new cases
- Island Health: 98 new cases
- Outside of Canada: Zero new cases
There have been 10 new COVID-19-related deaths in British Columbia, for a total of 2,883 deaths in the province.
The Surrey Board of Trade calls on the federal government to remove the unnecessary and restrictive rules affecting the travel industry. “Today the Surrey Board of Trade joined other national business leaders and sent a letter to Canada’s Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, to ensure that the tourism and hospitality industries can survive this year by removing unnecessary and restrictive rules affecting the travel industry,” said Anita Huberman, President & CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. The Surrey Board of Trade is asking the federal government to:
- Remove pre-departure testing entirely for fully vaccinated travellers on or before April 1st, which is when the regulations will be updated. Continuing to test, targeting solely the travel sector, is unnecessary and not rooted in science.
- Remove the $5,000 fine If someone who has tested positive in the last ten days crosses the land border into Surrey, they may be subject to a $5,000 fine.
- Remove COVID-19 testing at the border Travel is no riskier than many other domestic activities, and there is no scientific reason to single it out. Canada’s current COVID-19 travel restrictions are obsolete and out of step with countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Denmark, which have removed all testing requirements at their respective borders for fully vaccinated travellers.
- Remove the confusion There is confusion around the rules and fear of getting stuck abroad has established an environment of uncertainty for travellers. Travellers who are fully vaccinated should no longer be subject to out-of-pocket testing expenses and outdated measures.
Surrey is a border city and soon will be the largest city in British Columbia. The economic reliance (families and businesses who are on both sides of the border) on moving across the border is important to recognize and understand.
The Surrey school district says the Ministry of Education has started shipping rapid antigen tests kits to school districts to distribute to students. According to the district, each student will be provided with one box of five rapid COVID-19 antigen tests kits for their family’s use. A release adds the kits will be distributed by the student’s school and parents or guardians of elementary students are required to pick the kits up at the school. On Feb. 1, the Ministry of Education announced that 300,000 rapid test kits would be delivered in phases.
Surrey RCMP is asking for the public’s assistance with locating a man who has gone missing in Surrey. 25 year old Jimsher SIDHU was last seen on the afternoon of March 1, 2022 in the 13100 block of 99 Avenue in Surrey. He has not been seen or heard from since. Jimsher SIDHU is described as a 25 year old South Asian male, 6’3” tall, 250 lbs. He has short black hair and brown eyes. There is no clothing description at this time. (See attached picture) Police and family are concerned for his wellbeing. Anyone with more information is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 and quote file# 2022-24319. If you wish to make an anonymous report please contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or www.solvecrime.ca.