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Dan Albas HOC

Yesterday the Conservatives added a no-confidence vote to the notice paper ahead of opposition day in the house. The motion was added in response to the ongoing protests across Canada concerning the Coastal Gaslink project.

A vote of no confidence, if supported, could spell the end of the government and lead to an election, however, MP Dan Albas confirmed at this point it just remains an option.

“During the Liberal Minority Parliament from 2004-06, the Conservatives always had confidence motion on the notice paper, but also the Liberals, when they were the opposition party, did the same thing,” said Albas.

“We have a job to do to represent the other side, and I’d just remind Mr. Trudeau that he didn’t win the popular vote, so he needs to bear in mind his responsibility as a leader to bring people in and deal with the issues straightforwardly,” added Albas.

Albas also recently discussed the situation in his latest MP report;

From my perspective, I feel it must be pointed out that in no democratic system of governance is there ever 100% agreement on any issue.

I would submit that different perspectives and differing solutions that can be meaningfully debated is part of a healthy democracy.

However, in this situation, I am greatly concerned.

It would seem that some believe that having all 20 different First Nations’ communities along the route signing letters of support for this LNG project by democratically elected band council's is not enough.

The activists and protestors seem to suggest that the five Hereditary Chiefs' in opposition must also fully support this project or it should be cancelled.

In other words, there is an expectation for 100% agreement.

This is a threshold that I believe very few if any, healthy democratic societies could ever hope to achieve. 

First Nations are very diverse and it is completely understandable that some will support projects they believe are in the best interests of their community.

It is also understandable that others will oppose certain projects. 

This is not unlike what we see with many B.C. municipalities who frequently take different positions on a variety of topics. 

Listening to former Chiefs, such as former Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Ellis Ross, I believe democratically elected Chiefs' and Councils' who support projects that can help lift their communities out of poverty must be respected by the democratic will of the community.

 

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Interior Health

BC’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry has provided an update on the five cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the province.

"Today, we are announcing the first individual confirmed to have COVID-19 in B.C. has recovered. This is indicated by the resolution of symptoms, followed by two successive negative test results 24 hours apart.”

"The four remaining B.C. patients with COVID-19 are recovering in isolation at home with support and monitoring from public-health teams. The fifth case identified on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, was confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory on Saturday, Feb. 15.”

Dr. Henry also noted that the most recent case, a woman in her 30s living in the Interior, remains in isolation but is doing well.

 

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downtown merritt

To better understand local issues to help municipalities and local organizations best support people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, the government is conducting a second provincial homeless count.

The Province is partnering with the Homelessness Services Association of BC (HSABC) and BC Housing to complete 16 community counts throughout the province in March and April. The government has provided $900,000 to support the community counts, pilot an extended count in two communities and support additional research on homelessness among Indigenous peoples.

Data from the counts will provide a better understanding of homelessness in British Columbia. This information will be used to improve supports and services, measure progress in addressing homelessness and increase public awareness.

"Homelessness in B.C. continues to be a struggle for people and the barriers that they face vary in different communities," said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. "Our second provincial homeless count is a way that, together, we can get a clearer understanding of what homelessness looks like in order to better support some of the most vulnerable people in B.C."

In total 26 BC communities will be conducting a homeless count this Spring. Merritt along with Kamloops and Kelowna will all be taking part.

 

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bc news

During this week’s Provincial Budget announcement, Finance Minister Carole James announced a new program to help BC students pay for their post-secondary education.

The BC Access Grant will provide up to $4,000 for students in post-secondary programs to help with tuition costs.

“With tuition fees at an all-time high, student debt in BC continues to grow as students and their families struggle to afford the education they need to enter the workforce,” said Tanysha Klassen, Chairperson of the BC Federation of Students (BCFS). “The BC Access Grant will help students access not only four-year programs but certificate and diploma programs that are key for many aspects of the workforce.”

The BC Access Grant will be $41 million annually, which is projected to assist 40,000 students each year; it will be funded through a combination of reinvestments of existing assistance measures and a new investment of $24 million over three years. Complementing the Canada Access Grant, the BC Access Grant will ensure eligible students receive as much as $4,000 in non-repayable financial aid in each year of their studies.

 

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NICOLA BANDS

Since the beginning of the year, the local school district has been working towards drafting a new Local Education Agreement with the five local first nation communities.

SD 58 Superintendent Steve McNiven recently discussed a possible timeline for that work.

“We’ve been out to some community meetings; we’re making process towards coming together and signing that document. I’m predicting March for when we bring our local Chiefs and board members together,” said McNiven.

Some of the feedback the School District has received from the bands is on priorities such as early learning and support, achievement rates, the transition to kindergarten, post-secondary transitions, and student planning and collaboration.

The district is continuing to meet with the bands in the hope of a signing ceremony by the end of March.

 

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