Many BC Families Missing Out on Free Money for Kids’ Education

A provincial savings grant isn’t reaching those who could benefit most. Which isn’t doing much for inequality.


B.C. families can receive a one-time payment of $1,200 into their kid’s registered education savings plan when their child is between six and nine years old.

A British Columbia program aimed at helping pay for post-secondary education and encouraging families to save fails to reach four out of 10 people who are eligible.

The low participation rate leaves millions of dollars unclaimed and has observers suggesting there are much better ways to fund education.

“When you hear that there is $1,200 available as a grant for post-secondary education that’s universally available, that sounds great, but we know that the take-up rate for that grant is very low,” said Alex Hemingway, an economist and public finance policy analyst with the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“It sounds nice, but in fact it’s very likely that those who need it most are going to be least likely to get registered and get that funding,” he said. “That means we’re spending public money in a way that’s not going to be distributed as fairly as we would like.”

Families have a three-year window between when a child is six and nine years old to apply for the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant. All they have to do is open a registered education savings plan at a financial institution and the government will deposit $1,200, which can then grow tax free. MORE


CLEARCUT CARBON: A Sierra Club BC Report On The Future Of Forests In British Columbia

Carbon sequestration dead zone map

In our latest report, we’ve found that ending clearcutting of forests is as important for B.C. climate action as phasing out fossil fuels.

Areas clearcut across B.C. between 2005 and 2017 total 3.6 million hectares, a combined area larger than Vancouver Island. These areas are “sequestration dead zones”: clearcut lands that release more carbon than they absorb (see map).

For thirteen years after clearcutting, the carbon released into the atmosphere from decomposing organic matter and exposed soils is more than the carbon captured by the growth of young trees. In other words, it takes thirteen years for young trees to have a net effect of capturing carbon. In the meantime, clearcut areas remain “sequestration dead zones.”

This report includes a number of recommendations for forest conservation and reform of the provincial forestry sector to support a stable climate and healthy communities.

Read the executive summary


In the wake of Indigenous rights declaration, B.C.’s lawyers make ‘distasteful’ arguments in First Nations title case

The province is arguing the Nuchatlaht, who have never ceded control of their traditional territory in Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island, abandoned their land — while the nation reminds the court their land was stolen.

Nuchatlaht Traditional Territory Nuchatlitz Inner Basin Nootka Island Troy Moth
The Nuchatlitz Inner Basin on Nootka Island in the Nuchatlaht First Nation’s traditional territory. The nation is currently engaged in legal proceedings to claim title to their land. Photo: Troy Moth

On the same day the B.C. government passed legislation embracing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in late November, lawyer Jack Woodward was in court representing the Nuchatlaht First Nation in a historic land title case.

“I was on my feet the day it came into force, so I could present it to the court,” Woodward told The Narwhal.

“It had its first test before the ink was dry.”

But Woodward — renowned for his role in drafting Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, which enshrined Indigenous rights in the 1980s — said the newly minted law has meant very little to the Nuchatlaht case and arguments being used by B.C.’s lawyers in courts.

The province claims the Nuchatlaht do not have legal claim to their lands because the nation abandoned its territory, Woodward said.

“The province is completely wrong on the facts … They did not abandon Nootka. The lands were stolen and they were forcibly ejected,” Woodward said.

“I said to the judge that not only are these pleadings disgraceful, objectionable and distasteful, they are now illegal.”

Jack Woodward, lawyer for the Nuchatlaht

Jack Woodward, lawyer for the Nuchatlaht. Photo: Daniel Pierce

New rules reinforce inherent Indigenous right to land

B.C.’s new law acknowledges that UNDRIP’s principles are specifically written with concern that “Indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of … their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources.”

The declaration also recognizes the “urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples … especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources.”

Article eight of UNDRIP says governments must use “effective mechanisms” to prevent the dispossession of Indigenous lands and resources.

The Nuchatlaht’s traditional territory lies on the west coast of Vancouver Island, encompassing  a large part of Nootka Island, Nuchatlitz Inlet and part of Esperanza Inlet. While the nation argues it maintained strong ownership over its traditional territory once European settlers arrived, in more recent history the land was parceled out under B.C. laws, giving industry — and in particular, logging companies — access to the land. MORE


DrinkingwaterPhoto: CTV News

A new report is raising alarms over water shortages in B.C. affecting people and salmon.

The report is dubbed “Tapped Out,” was released by the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, and calls on the province to dedicate more resources to improve monitoring and measuring, along with more stable funding for water management and water governance.

Science and Policy advisor and lead author, Tanis Gower, says about 63% of B.C.’s population lives in water-stressed areas, and while areas with the highest level of water stress covers only 3.7% of the province — 23% of the population lives in those places:

” In our report we found that there were 8 different regions of most concern. So we are talking in the areas around Kamloops, Kelowna, Nelson, and on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Watersheds like the Okanagan, and the Nicola and the Cowichan.”

Gower says B.C.’s population has doubled since the 1970’s and some of the water stressed areas have higher than average growth rates.

The report says there is an urgent need for increased efforts and funding to safeguard water for people, and the survival of wild salmon.

Tapped Out may be viewed HERE

B.C. government-commissioned review will assess lack of money-laundering prosecutions

Investigation: Money-laundering prosecutions rare, difficult in B.C.; convictions of B.C. residents more likely in the United States

Peter German, left, with Attorney General David Eby. Eby said Monday German has been asked to consider why there are few successful prosecutions for money-laundering in B.C. NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

B.C. Attorney General David Eby revealed Monday his government’s second review of money laundering, this one studying real estate, is also examining the lack of money-laundering prosecutions.

Postmedia published the results of an investigation that showed successful money-laundering prosecutions in B.C. are rare and convictions of B.C. residents are more likely in the U.S.

“It confirms some of what I have heard anecdotally from people involved in law enforcement … that it is difficult, if not impossible, to get convictions for money laundering in Canada,” Eby said Monday of the findings.

“And there is a concern that some of the prosecutions are being farmed out to the United States, instead of going ahead in Canada where they should have gone ahead, because of that,” said Eby. MORE

Money laundering key focus

Photo: Twitter

Money laundering in British Columbia has become a top issue for the federal and provincial governments with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau vowing a “crack down” Friday, while the province considers a public inquiry.

“The importance of dealing with money laundering concerns is something that is clearly on our agenda,” said Morneau at a news conference in Victoria. “We need to be very clear, we crack down on any issues around money laundering.”

Last year, an international anti-money laundering organization said in a report that up to $1 billion annually was being filtered through some B.C. casinos by organized crime groups. The B.C. government also cited an RCMP intelligence report that estimated up to $1 billion from the proceeds of crime was used to purchase expensive Metro Vancouver homes. An RCMP official said Friday the Mounties are searching their data bases to find the report the government has cited.  MORE


As the carbon tax debate heats up in Ottawa, Canada should look to B.C.

‘At partisan times like these that we must remind ourselves that when it comes to climate policy—like climate science—we can choose what we listen to and broadcast: evidence and expertise or political soundbites.’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with B.C. Premier John Horgan in Vancouver in 2017. PMO Photo by Adam Scotti.

As one factually dubious claim after the other continues to make headlines, an entire decade of real-world evidence from B.C. is sitting on the shelf collecting dust.

And so it is at partisan times like these that we must remind ourselves that when it comes to climate policy — like climate science — we can choose what we listen to and broadcast: evidence and expertise or political sound bites.

Because there is independent research, and plenty of it. There’s the research that found that B.C.’s revenue-neutral carbon tax has cut emissions by 5 to 15 per cent from what they would be otherwise. There’s also the research that says B.C.’s tax demonstrably reduced gasoline demand as well as natural gas use — and actually increased employment. MORE

John Horgan announces policy reforms to rebuild coastal forest sector

BC Premier John HorganPremier John Horgan says his government plans to rebuild the solid wood and secondary timber industries by ensuring more logs are processed in British Columbia.

Plans are in the works to rebuild the wood and secondary timber industries in British Columbia by ensuring more logs are processed in the province, said Premier John Horgan.

The forest sector revitalization plan will be done through incentives and regulation changes, he said in a speech at the annual Truck Loggers Convention on Thursday.

The policy changes include increasing penalties for late reporting of wood waste, and reducing the waste by redirecting it to pulp and paper mills.

The actions will reverse a systematic decline that has taken place in the coastal forest sector over the past two decades, he said, adding the plan will be implemented through a series of legislative, regulatory and policy changes over the next two years.

More timber can be processed here in B.C. and to accomplish that the government will reform raw log export policy, discourage high grading and curtail the export of minimally processed lumber, he said. MORE

Alberta Has Spent $23 Million Calling BC an Enemy of Canada

Tyee FOI reveals pro-pipeline PR strategy, spiraling costs.

so_close.pngImage of a full page ad paid for by Albertans as part of a national campaign with the underlying theme: ‘This is not B.C. vs. Alberta, this is B.C. vs. Canada.’ The ad copy accuses, in bold face type, that the B.C. government’s “disregard for the rule of law puts our national economy in danger” and urges British Columbians accept the Transmountain expansion to “bring this country back together.” Source: KeepCanadaWorking website.

The Alberta government has spent more than $23 million — twice as much as previously revealed — in a campaign designed to turn the rest of Canada against B.C., The Tyee has learned.

The “KeepCanadaWorking” ad and PR campaign’s top “principle” states, “This is not B.C. vs. Alberta, this is B.C. vs. Canada,” according to documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request.

Having pegged their effort on driving a wedge between one province and the rest of the country, the CPE team lists two more principles: “It’s senseless to pit the environment against the economy,” and, “This is a good thing.”

582px version of Alberta-campaign-slide.png
Slide from an Alberta government internal presentation on how messages would be framed for its $23 million campaign in support of expanding an oilsands pipeline to B.C., obtained by The Tyee via a Freedom of Information request.


Oil and Gas Commission Confirms Fracking Caused Earthquakes Felt by Hundreds

Fort St. John tremors measured magnitude 3, 4 and 4.5, rattling residents.

Image result for andrew weaver fracking

In an industry bulletin, the [BC energy] regulator also revealed that CNRL well operators expected that “induced seismicity was likely to occur, but events larger than magnitude 3 were not expected.”

Instead the company triggered events measuring magnitude 3.0, 4.0 and 4.5 on Nov. 29 that rattled homes and were felt by hundreds of citizens, as well as construction workers at the Site C dam site.

All hydraulic fracture operations within the lower Montney formation will remain suspended” at the CNRL well pad “pending the results of a detailed technical review,” said the bulletin.  MORE