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B.C. passes 1st-in-Canada legislation

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British Columbia has become the first jurisdiction in Canada to recognize and uphold the rights of Indigenous communities to provide their own child and family services.

On Friday morning, the province announced the historic passing of the Indigenous Self-Government in Child and Family Services Amendment, almost one month to date since B.C. proposed overhauling its child-welfare system.

“The legislative amendments remove barriers and gaps within provincial legislation, enabling the Province and Indigenous Peoples to collaborate and ensure Indigenous Peoples can govern and provide services based on their own child and family laws,” the Ministry of Children and Family Development said in a news release.

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B.C. first proposed the changes, which Indigenous people have long-advocated for, on Oct. 26 under former premier John Horgan. The new act is meant to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care.

At the time they were proposed, Grand Chief Stewart Phillips of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs said the legislation couldn’t be passed soon enough.

“The colonial era of the Province controlling child welfare must come to an end,” Phillips said last month. “It brings me incredible joy to think about this change in my lifetime, and for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

According to Statistics Canada, Indigneous children made up nearly 54 percent of those under the age of 14 in foster care in 2021. Data shows only 7.7 per cent of children in that age group are Indigenous.

The numbers are even higher in B.C., according to provincial data that shows Indigenous children represent 68 per cent of those in care.

The amendments, which the province says are the most significant passed in more than 25 years, also creates a new Indigenous child welfare director within the ministry. This person will provide advice and guidance to the province on how to better support Indigenous children and youth, according to the release.

B.C.’s Cowichan Tribes and the Nations of Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw, Splatsin and Sts’ailes are currently working with the province to exercise their jurisdiction.The ministry says more First Nations are preparing to begin the process.

BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee acknowledges the end of this era will not put a stop to hardships Indigneous people face in this province.

“The forced removal of children for generations, through residential schools and the child-welfare system has been a deep source of pain and injustice” Teegee said when the amendments were proposed.

“Will it be easy to make all the changes needed when it has been entrenched for so long that First Nations have not been seen as good parents due to racism and stereotypes? No, it will not, but we will never go back to those days again, and together we will work to ensure that children grow up to be the people they wish to be with the love and support of our peoples in every part of their lives.”

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The Holocaust strikes our very being

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Holocaust

To be a Jew is not something special,
being a human being is normal.
Dealing with prejudice, hatred, and oppressive action,
now that’s something special for the Jewish Nation.

Oppression, hatred, and genocide besides,
is not just a Jewish person’s situation.
Armenian, Cambodian and Jewish Peoples deal,
with a national eradication event.

People of the world unit,
genocide is an international delight.
Oppress your people, crush opposition too.
The elites of the world are making exceptions for you.

Don’t be weak, allowing excuses to be made,
but lift your hands in justice’s cruel wave.
Hatred knows no reasonability, it knows no mercy.
Hatred, oppression, and prejudice need no exception.

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Long ago Jews were murdered by the millions,
Cambodians died at the hands of their neighbors.
Palestine still walks within the borders of other nations,
and peace is nowhere to be found, my friend.

If your arms are in righteous ways demand justice for all,
for the people who hate will not see our peaceful ways.
A gun, a bayonet, and a saber be brought,
for the right to justice begins today,
and ends with blood if the opposition has any say.

Gandhi spoke of peaceful ways,
while Martin Luther Jr surrendered his life. to the cause.
Young blacks die each and every day,
while the power of prejudice wins the day.

My first lifts in anger that is for sure,
while the average person just shrugs this day.
But the goose-stepping troops may one day march on,
and the ignorance that prevails will let them carry on.

Open our eyes to the wrongs before us,
clear our minds and accept what bothers us.
Injustice is a prevailing horrid thing,
and ONLY YOU CAN BRING IT TO AN END.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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Parliamentarians kick off return to House of Commons with debate on child care

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Parliamentarians kick off return

The economy was top of mind for members of Parliament as they returned to the House of Commons Monday, with the Liberal government kicking off the new sitting with a debate on child care.

Families Minister Karina Gould tabled Bill C-35 last December, which seeks to enshrine the Liberals’ national daycare plan into law — and commit Ottawa to maintaining long-term funding.

The federal government has inked deals with provinces and territories in an effort to cut fees down to an average of $10 per day by 2026.

During a debate today, Gould said all parties should support the bill, and the national plan has begun saving families money.

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But Conservative MP Michelle Ferreri said the plan is “subsidizing the wealthy” while failing to reduce wait times for child-care spaces and address labour shortages in the sector.

Ferreri told MPs that the Conservatives would be presenting “strong amendments” to the legislation.

The debate comes amid concerns about a possible recession this year, with both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre saying their focus will be on the cost of living.

But Poilievre’s Tories may have little room to manoeuvre in the legislature.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters upon his return to the House of Commons that he does not believe there is any room to work with the Conservatives during the upcoming sitting.

Instead, the NDP says it plans to push the Liberals to fulfil the terms of the parties’ confidence-and-supply agreement, such as the planned expansion of federal dental care.

Under the deal signed last March, the NDP agreed to support the minority government on key House of Commons votes in exchange for the Liberals moving ahead on New Democrat policy priorities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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Singh meeting with Trudeau about private health care ahead of sit-down with premiers

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Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he will sit down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday afternoon to discuss private health care ahead of next week’s summit with premiers.

Trudeau is expected to meet with provincial and territorial leaders in Ottawa next Tuesday to discuss a new health-care funding deal.

“The deal will be a failure if it doesn’t include major commitments to hire more health-care workers,” Singh said Monday, adding that the funding should be kept within the public system.

The last time Trudeau and Singh met one-on-one, as outlined in the confidence-and-supply agreement between the Liberals and the NDP, was in December.

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Singh said now is the time for the Liberal government to make clear that funding private health-care facilities will not improve the shortage of health-care workers Canada is facing.

While health care falls under provincial jurisdiction, Singh believes the federal government could be using the Canada Health Act more aggressively to challenge for-profit care.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government announced earlier this month that it’s moving some procedures to publicly funded, private facilities to address a growing surgery wait-list, which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan have already made similar moves.

“We think the federal government should be making it very clear that the solution to the current health-care crisis will not come from a privatization, for-profit delivery of care. It’ll only come by making sure we hire, recruit, retain and respect health-care,” Singh said.

“Health care is already dramatically understaffed, and for-profit facilities will poach doctors and nurses — cannibalizing hospitals, forcing people to wait longer in pain and racked with anxiety.”

The New Democrats say they’re also concerned that private facilities will upsell patients for brands and services not covered by the province, and tack on extra fees and services.

On Saturday, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said his Liberal government will ensure people don’t use their credit cards for health-care services and health care will remain universally public.

Singh is also expected to request an emergency House of Commons debate on the privatization of health care Monday afternoon.

If the request is granted, the debate could go ahead as early as Monday evening.

Health care is a top priority for the leader as members of Parliament return to the House Monday following a holiday break.

Singh spent some of that time away holding roundtable discussions on health care in British Columbia to discuss emergency room overcrowding and worker shortages.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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