September 2023 Citizenship and Immigration Report

By Victoria Shelkovnikova, Citizenship and Immigration Convenor

This information about the population of Canada has details available at this link:

Canadian Provinces by Population 2023


Province 2022 Population  2016 Population 2011 Population Growth Rate
Ontario 15,262,660 13,448,494 12,851,821 2.13%
Quebec 8,751,352 8,164,361 7,903,000 1.16%
British Columbia 5,368,266 4,648,055 4,400,057 2.43%
Alberta 4,601,314 4,067,175 3,645,257 2.08%
Manitoba 1,420,228 1,278,365 1,208,268 1.77%
Saskatchewan 1,205,119 1,098,352 1,053,960 1.56%
Nova Scotia 1,030,953 923,598 921,727 1.85%
New Brunswick 820,786 747,101 751,171 1.58%
Newfoundland 528,818 519,716 514,536 0.29%
Prince Edward Island 172,707 142,907 140,204 3.21%
Northwest Territory 45,602 41,786 41,462 1.47%
Yukon 43,964 35,874 33,897 3.45%
Nunavut 40,586 35,944 31,906 2.04%












September 2023 Child and Family Report

By Valerie Hutton, Child and Family Convenor

A number of news articles and information affecting children, youth and families drew my attention in recent months. For this report, I focus on one in particular, as I feel it has the potential to impact youth and their families all across the province, and certainly in Vancouver and the lower mainland in the broadest sense.

The Foundry program in BC is a groundbreaking initiative that plays a crucial role in supporting youth across the province. As a comprehensive network of integrated youth service centers, Foundry provides a wide range of essential services and resources to young individuals between the ages of 12 and 24.

By addressing the unique challenges faced by youth, such as mental health issues, substance abuse, and social isolation, Foundry aims to ensure their overall well-being and empower them to thrive in all aspects of life.

Through its innovative and inclusive approach, the Foundry program has become a beacon of hope for young people, offering a safe and supportive environment where they can access the necessary care, guidance, and opportunities for a brighter future.

Foundry’s mission is to support young people in living a good life. This mission was co-created by a diverse group of youth, families, caregivers, staff and service providers. The phrase “living a good life” was inspired by First Nations and Métis youth who participated in a Talking Circle with Foundry, and it acknowledges the diverse nature, experiences and perspectives of health and wellness.

At the very core of the service is that young people should have a voice in their care and that finding the right support shouldn’t be difficult.

Foundry’s integrated services make it possible for young people to access five core services in one convenient location: mental health care, substance use services, physical and sexual health care, youth and family peer supports, and social services.

Young people can access the integrated services by walking into one of the 16 local Foundry centres, exploring the online tools and resources at, or by connecting virtually through the free Foundry BC app.

Foundry also represents community agencies, government, donors, youth and young adults, and families coming together to improve the wellness of BC’s young people. This network is made up of community-based health and social service centres and online tools and resources for young people and their families. Foundry has engaged over 140 partners across BC. Foundry Central Office, hosted by Providence Health Care, leads the provincial initiative and supports the development of local centres. Each Foundry centre is operated by a lead agency that brings together local partners, service providers, young people and caregivers. Foundry’s online platform,, is powered by BC Children’s Hospital.

Together, these partners provide safe, non-judgmental care, information and resources, and work to reach young people earlier – before health challenges become problematic. Foundry brings health and social services together in a single place to make it easier for young people to find the care, connection and support they need.

Foundry is committed to working with their partners to change lives, communities and our systems, because young people are our future.

Next month I will provide more information and links for other children, youth and family news about programs and supports that you might find of interest.


September 2023 Civic Affairs Report

By Bernie Florido, Civic Affairs Convenor


BC has instructed the City of Surrey to move forward with the Surrey Police Service. This decision comes in response to Surrey’s inability to prove that going back to the RCMP would be safe and wouldn’t drain officers from other regions. To help transition, BC has allocated $150 million and has designated Jessica McDonald as a strategic implementation advisor.

BC Wildfires

Wildfires in BC have caused severe property damage and displacements, while available funding for wildfire risk reduction programs remains underutilized. Minister Ralston initially criticized local governments for this, but later clarified that some communities are actively engaged and funding is accessible. Enhancing wildfire protection for communities will be a key topic at the upcoming UBCM convention with proposals for increased prevention spending and automatic funding distribution. However, experts argue that current funding levels are insufficient for meaningful progress in wildfire resilience, a viewpoint supported by wildfire ecologist Robert Gray.

Port Moody

Port Moody experienced stagnant population growth from 2016 to 2021 caused by an anti-development council. Mayor Meghan Lahti acknowledges that their previous resistance to development attracted unwelcome attention from the provincial government. Port Moody holds potential for growth especially around SkyTrain stations. However, disputes over projects like a proposed seniors housing tower highlight the tension between development and preserving the neighbourhood character. Port Moody seeks a delicate balance with several major developments in progress, but the challenge lies in finding the right harmony between growth and addressing community concerns.



September 2023 Health Report

By Kerry Gibson, Health Convenor

With the cabinet shuffle in the federal government came a new Minister of Health, Mark Holland. Other than a brief stint at the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Minister Holland is a career politician with no significant experience in health care. However, he is seen by recently consulted ministerial colleagues as ambitious, less risk-adverse than his predecessors, and a bit of a bulldog which could potentially be beneficial in setting Canada’s health care system back on track…at least until the next election cycle.

Babylon/Telus, Amwell, and Teledoc (Canada’s top three virtual care providers) continue to lay off employees and show significant losses in the past year as their limited technological offerings fail to live up to quality-of-care standards. The tech companies that do seem to be growing favourably are the ones that offer peripheral products/services to support telemedicine such as system management software, medical personnel agencies, and translation services. However, between venture capital investment flatlining and internal technological capabilities failing to meet compliancy and quality, these start-ups will not have the necessary market or funding to succeed without intervention or a shift in economic climates.

PEI just announced free tuition for licensed practical nursing, paramedicine, and resident care worker students with a two-year return-of-service agreement. BC does offer limited paid employer-sponsored health care assistant/support worker training with no prior experience in the field, but the program has not expanded to include advanced levels of medical training, which does not address the shortfall in medical professionals.

MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) continues to be a topic in the press as health care and social work professionals are being called out for recommending the program to veterans and persons with disabilities as a “viable option” to resolving care and pain concerns. Registration into the program of persons with disabilities has been alarmingly high, as people have lost hope in any quality of life without the care they require. Young mother and quadriplegic/diabetic Rose Finlay registered for the program in protest to being informed that her care support application would take eight months to be assessed. Her struggles have received national attention, with no results other than qualifying to end her life in record time instead of receiving medical support for a set-back in her health. Prior to her current health crisis, Rose lived independently and without financial support, running her own company. With care, she would be able to return to the quality of life she previously enjoyed.


June 2023 Health Report

By Kerry Gibson, Health Convenor

Current inflation and market instability will have dire long-term consequences for health tech innovation and private sector plays that the Canadian health industry relies on since investors are pulling back. This will also affect NGOs in the health and social services fields as funders are favouring a more conservative approach. The pandemic created extraordinary interest in investment into health care. However, much of that investment was pushed into hype stock rather than strategic investments with longevity. Many tech companies that had large raises did not yet have a proven technology, but were operating as a lucrative pump and dump investment scheme. Now, with markedly reduced investment overall, and with women-led companies only receiving 1% of investment funding, health care and research for women is going to fall even further behind.

The conversation and controversy regarding privatization of health care continues as Ontario passes Bill 60, which theoretically uses private clinic capacity for publicly funded procedures. Certain allowances have already been made in BC and Quebec, and Alberta is considering how much private involvement to allow in the public sector. However, BC is already having second thoughts as the private entities are upselling creating an inequitable service rather than a universal one. The need for additional capacity is indisputable, but stringent policy, process, and procedural regulations must be piloted particularly to protect marginalized, remote, and lower-income populations.

BC is known for its innovation of creative solutions, but the bureaucracy disallows BC born companies to thrive locally and pushing the intellectual property, manufacturing, and distribution out of Canada to more welcoming economies. For instance, a Richmond-based company announced its new health care robot that is designed to do menial tasks in a hospital (sanitize, take out the garbage, deliver supplies, provide security, etc.), but with a $200,000 price tag, it is unlikely that Canadian health care staff will benefit from this technology. The provincial government might want to reconsider the terms and boundaries of public private partnerships (the current regulations are onerous and prohibitive) in order to welcome pilots for Made in BC innovation to be used as a proof of concept for local hospitals and clinics, benefitting both the company and its public partner.



June 2023 Civic Affairs Report

By Bernie Florido, Civic Affairs Convenor


The province has recently granted $2.2 million to revitalize Vancouver’s Chinatown. The funding will restore the iconic neon lights, renew storefronts, and upgrade the Chinese Cultural Centre. The goal is to revitalize the area for residents, visitors, and businesses, and to promote sustainable economic growth. The Vancouver Chinatown Foundation and community groups have been working towards revitalization, but previous efforts have been fleeting. Despite challenges, the community’s resiliency and determination continue to inspire. Chinatown’s business leaders recognize the importance of maintaining cultural heritage while welcoming new businesses.

BC Mayors Council

Members of the Mayors Council are going to Ottawa to urge the federal government to accelerate the launch of a permanent $3 billion public transit fund. They argue that the area’s higher immigration rates will increase the demand on TransLink’s infrastructure needs. The fund is currently set to start in 2026, but the mayors say the money will be needed as soon as next year. With 2.6 million people served, TransLink represents about 7% of Canada’s population. A proportionate share of the annual fund would be $205 million. The funding is expected to be used by TransLink to more than double its bus service by 2032 as part of its $21 billion plan called Access for Everyone under its Transport 2050 strategy. However, the mayors note that the federal government’s new immigration target of 500,000 people annually, up from 300,000, means faster population growth than planned, which will put additional pressure on the transportation network.


Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke has rejected a recommendation from Mike Farnworth, Public Safety Minister, to transition away from the RCMP and establish a Surrey Police Service. The government had cited chronic staffing shortages in RCMP detachments across the province, and the risk of further shortages if the RCMP was forced to transfer hundreds of officers back to Surrey if the SPS was eliminated. However, Mayor Brenda Locke criticized the government’s report as “disingenuous” and “half-baked” and stated her preference for retaining the Mounties. While the government offered financial support for the transition to SPS, it will not provide assistance if Surrey reverts back to the RCMP, which would include approximately $72 million in severance that would have to be given to SPS officers. The decision has left both SPS and RCMP officers in a state of limbo, and some councillors have called for a referendum on the matter.


May 2023 Health Report

By Kerry Gibson, Health Convenor

The Covid-19 Pandemic has shown us, once again, that crisis breeds innovation. The crisis is not only demonstrated by the virus, but in the systemic issues pre-existing in our health care infrastructure that were so greatly exposed under such stressors. However, the innovation that resulted may indeed be our pathway forward in building a more resilient system; innovation in thought, policy, process, and technology.

Dr. Ronald Wyatt, for instance, has been making headway highlighting the issue of and closing the gaps on institutional racism throughout the United States. His medical expertise, and that of his professional peers and researchers are bringing to the attention of the medical establishment the specific health needs and concerns of persons of colour, and the need to focus research spending in order to provide effective treatment. Also, his work has shown the impact racism plays on these demographics through discriminatory care. This type of work and research could be invaluable in a Canadian context whether borrowing the research for further development or expanding upon it particularly in the Indigenous context if the government is truly sincere about Truth and Reconciliation in more than virtue signaling but creating true change.

The United States has recently trended to the adoption of Food RX or Food as Medicine as a vital factor in preventative care propositions, financially supported by government, Medicare, and Medicaid initiatives. Canada has a vital agricultural industry, however food distribution is inequitable, resulting in remote communities unable to benefit from the same nutritional knowledge and access as urban centres. Therefore, greater investment in local and traditional food systems growth should be a key budget consideration for health care investment. This would also include a review of colonialist laws that prohibit Indigenous populations from benefitting from traditional fish and game harvests. The “catch a fish, eat a fish” legalities prohibit able harvesters from providing nutritional opportunities to the greater community through food banks, school and elders programs, and local hospitals that would benefit from a minimization of processed options. Regions such as Quebec have already made exceptions and are evaluating an evolution of legislation on hunting, processing, and distribution. The US SNAP program (food stamps) is even working with private partners such as InstaCart to not only enable persons with limited access to nutritious food the ability to pay through government credits or medical programs, and also these sites have registered nutritionists that create shopping lists for specific conditions where the patient can access the InstaCart app, click on either a “prescribed” shopping list from their physician or a list associated with their diagnosis (ie., Diabetes, heart disease, etc.) and the list will be auto-ordered, delivered quickly, and covered by the appropriate government program.

Although the Canadian Federal Government has pitched a CAD $46 Billion ten year health care investment proposal, the concern is distribution and allocation processes as well as the dire need to restructure Health Canada and other bureaucratic agencies that would allow more effective methods and means to be introduced from outside Canada or even private entities within Canada that would allow the alignment of Canada’s one-tier health care system with improved systems and tools that would ease the strain on traditional structures. For instance, the paramedicine program introduced on Vancouver Island in 2016 has shown great results with zero growth. With additional tools such as ZiphyKits and RPM technology and a province wide expansion, particularly given that paramedics across BC have been repositioning themselves for more lucrative opportunities, the government could re-engage that lost talent into full-time paramedicine, ease the burden on hospitals and clinics, reduce cost from readmission (or preventable admission), decrease overhead, increase cultural relevancy, and a multitude of other factors that would create a more equitable health care system at a reduced cost. Strategic investment would then allow time to build in other areas, such as medical student recruitment and retention, northern health care initiatives, and legislative advancements that would streamline relationships between private and public. Currently, most Made in BC tech firms are focussing their market growth in other geographies (Alberta, Ontario, US, Europe) as in BC there lacks a clear path and requires a significant investment to adoption of innovative technologies. Tech that has been adopted and implemented here in BC has been sourced from over-hyped sources with little due diligence (Babylon, whose Canadian rights were purchased by Telus Health, were not only pushed out of Alberta for lack of data compliancy and has appeared in many scathing articles in the UK regarding both the leaking of private medical records as well as the inaccuracy of its bots, but currently the majority of its executive and management staff have been jumping ship which shows considerable concerns that the public may not yet be aware of). With a non-biased approach, technology from all corners of the world could be tested, analyzed, and implemented without it being yet another BC Ferries government debacle. Then, a public procurement process could introduce these technologies to schools, institutions, hospitals, and any other agency that would benefit from the knowledge, experience, and implementation while remaining a one-tiered system. The current vetting process is an obscure one which is cumbersome for both government and innovator, which provides significant barriers to change and betterment.

May 2023 Civic Affairs Report

By Bernie Florido, Civic Affairs Convenor


In recent times, the city of Vancouver has been grappling with the issue of homelessness and encampments in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighborhood. However, the cleanup process initiated by the Vancouver police and city staff has been a subject of controversy among advocates for the homeless. The fire and police chiefs and Mayor Ken Sim stated that the encampment had to be dismantled due to the fire danger and increased crime. While some believe that the cleanups were necessary to maintain public health and safety, others argue that the process simply displaced people without providing long-term solutions to their problems.

Dean Kurpjuweit, the president of the Union Gospel Mission, stated that the shelter had been at capacity for a few months and had to go over its limit recently to accommodate everyone. The forced shutdown of the encampment only added to the existing pressure and the burden on the staff. While the cleanup process is a necessary step to address the issue of homelessness and encampments, it is imperative that long-term solutions are put in place to provide permanent housing for those who are homeless.

Metro Vancouver

BC is set to add six new electoral ridings, increasing the number of provincial constituencies from 87 to 93 ahead of the 2024 fixed election date. The changes to the electoral map are in response to rapid population growth, and are based on recent recommendations from the independent Electoral Boundaries Commission. The proposed increase includes four new electoral districts in the Lower Mainland, one on Vancouver Island, and another in Kelowna. The amendments to the Electoral Districts Act were introduced by the New Democrat government.

 Richmond (Vancouver Airport)

Vancouver Airport has released a $40 million action plan aimed at preventing the chaos that ensued over the winter holidays from happening again. This plan includes adding new staff, improving training, better leveraging technology, increasing communication, and investing in additional equipment. The airport will also install new weather monitoring equipment, new gate protocols, more winter weather equipment, and increase de-icing fluid storage.


The city council of Surrey has approved a 12.5% property tax increase as part of a five-year budget plan to pay for policing services amid controversy over the transition from the RCMP to a municipal force. The council used the Growing Communities Fund to lower the tax increase, with the provincial fund providing $1bn in new grants to local governments across BC.

Delta, Tsawwassen, Musqueam, Richmond

Mayor George Harvie along with other officials wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier David Eby urging them to collaborate with local governments and First Nations to create a long-term strategy for dredging the lower Fraser River and its channels. They formed a working group to develop a pilot project and seek federal government support for a funding and management model. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority estimated that $2.5 million annually would keep watercraft navigation safe. The BC government gave a $2.1 million grant to Steveston Harbour Authority for dredging at Richmond harbor.

April 2023 Citizenship and Immigration Report

By Victoria Shelkovnikova, Citizenship and Immigration Convenor

Today I bring to your attention part of the 2022 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

 Gender-Based Violence Strategy

In June 2017, the Government of Canada announced It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, the federal response to gender-based violence. The initiative focuses on three main areas of action: prevention, support for survivors and their families, and the promotion of responsive legal and justice systems. Under this federal strategy, IRCC received $1.5 million in funding over five years (2017–22) to further enhance the Settlement Program, which delivers pre- and post-arrival settlement services to newcomers to Canada. The funding is being used to develop and implement a settlement sector strategy on gender-based violence through a coordinated partnership of settlement and anti-violence sector organizations. In response to the increase in gender-based violence in the pandemic context, IRCC consulted with service provider organizations to better understand the situation for newcomers. As a result, IRCC issued guidance and information to organizations on the continuation of services considered essential, which included providing support to clients experiencing gender-based violence.

Canada’s Assistance to Women at Risk Program

The Canada’s Assistance to Women at Risk Program is designed to provide resettlement opportunities to women who are at increased risk of discrimination and violence, including those who are in precarious situations where local authorities cannot ensure their safety. Some women may need immediate protection in the short-term, while others are in permanently dangerous circumstances. Gender-based persecution is one of the grounds upon which Canada grants refugee protection. In 2021, Canada resettled 995 vulnerable refugee women and children through this program.

Measures to support newcomers to leave situations of family violence


Measures to support newcomers to leave situations of family violence were introduced in 2019 and continued throughout 2021 to help individuals escape abuse. These measures included:

  • An expedited, fee-exempt, temporary resident permit for individuals who lack status, which also gives individuals a work permit and temporary healthcare coverage under the Interim Federal Health program. In 2021, 167 permits were issued under this initiative.
  • An expedited process for victims of family violence or abuse to apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. In 2021, 84 applicants under this process were approved.

Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot

Programming under the Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot (formerly the Visible Minority Newcomer Women Pilot) is designed to support employment outcomes and career advancement for racialized newcomer women through the delivery of settlement services. Extensions were provided to 11 projects, originally anticipated to end in March 2021, that was best suited to continue direct service delivery to support racialized newcomer women as the economy recovers.

 Permanent Residents Admitted in 2021 by Top 10 Source Countries

Rank Country Total Number Percentage (%) Males Females
1 India 127,933 32 73,075 54,858
2 China, People’s Republic of 31,001 8 13,418 17,583
3 Philippines 18,021 4 7,716 10,305
4 Nigeria 15,593 4 7,469 8,124
5 France 12,688 3 6,683 6,005
6 United States of America 11,951 3 5,990 5,956
7 Brazil 11,425 3 5,631 5,793
8 Iran 11,303 3 5,475 5,825
9 Afghanistan 8,569 2 4,274 4,295
10 Pakistan 8,476 2 4,274 4,202
Total Top 10 256,960 63 134,005 122,946
All Other Source Countries 149,039 37 73,506 75,530
Total 405,999 100 207,511 198,476

Source: IRCC, Chief Data Office (CDO), Permanent Residents Data as of March 31, 2022.







April 2023 Civic Affairs Report

By Elizabeth Gautschi, Civic Affairs Convenor

Metro Vancouver 2050

 The Metro Vancouver region’s Regional Growth Strategy, Metro 2050, was adopted on February 24, 2023. Metro 2050 is the result of three years of extensive review, collaboration, and engagement. It is the regional federation’s collective vision for how growth will be managed to support the creation of complete, connected, and resilient communities, while protecting important lands and supporting the efficient provision of urban infrastructure like transit and utilities.

 Metro Vancouver is a region of diverse and complete communities connected by sustainable transportation choices where residents take pride in vibrant neighbourhoods that offer a range of opportunities to live, work, play, and learn, and where natural, agricultural, and employment lands are protected and enhanced.

City of Delta

The City of Delta has been granted $16 million as part of the Province of British Columbia’s new Growing Communities Fund. The fund is intended to give communities across BC a one-time boost to support the delivery of services to residents. Delta’s Mayor Harvie announced that Delta Council intends to fulfill its commitment to fund necessary projects in the community such as a new turf field at Mackie Park and improved track facilities at both Seaquam Secondary School and Delta Secondary School. The mayor concluded his remarks by saying that “the funding will go towards building much-needed infrastructure that meets the demand of our residents right across the City for years to come.”

City of New Westminster

 At the March 13 Council meeting, the New Westminster City Council proclaimed March 2023 to 2024 A Year of Truth as part of the City’s ongoing reconciliation efforts. The City recognizes that reconciliation can only be successfully achieved after learning and acknowledging the full truth of our colonial history. Truth-seeking will come through opportunities for City staff and the community to learn and reflect over the next 12 months, with the expectation that this truth will be applied to the City’s continued decolonization and reconciliation work.

The concept for A Year of Truth was inspired by education and relationship-building work done by the previous City Council and the Summary Report on Actions Taken by the City of New Westminster Involving Indigenous Peoples presented to Council on October 3, 2022. The City emphasizes that this is only “a” year of truth, rather than “the,” because it may take several years to develop a deep enough understanding of the truth before reconciliatory acts can be undertaken in a meaningful way.

 City of North Vancouver

Development of the new Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre (HJCRC) is now underway in the heart of Central Lonsdale. Construction began with site preparation and excavation for the new centre, which will be located on the north side of East 23rd Street between Lonsdale Avenue and St Georges Avenue.

As the City’s largest ever capital program, replacement of the 56-year-old HJCRC includes an arena with a 500-spectator capacity, more aquatic space, indoor and outdoor fitness amenities, new skate park, preschool and youth spaces and a new facility for Silver Harbour Seniors’ Activity Centre. Underground parking will maximize the site’s buildable space.

City of Surrey

The City of Surrey will host the 12th annual Party for the Planet, BC’s largest Earth Day celebration, at Surrey Civic Plaza on Saturday, April 29, from 11 am to 7 pm. The signature Surrey event will feature a sustainable marketplace, live music, dance battles, and environmental workshops featuring Indigenous education.

This year’s free event will offer a plant sale hosted by Surrey Parks, which will sell native plants from $3 to $6. University Drive will include a rock-climbing wall, exhibitors, and plant-based food trucks. Local live music will be performed on the Earth Stage, the Community Stage will feature dance battles and lessons, and the Family Stage will showcase a variety of children’s entertainment. The sustainable marketplace will feature local vendors that sell eco-friendly products. There will also be a clothing swap where attendees can shop free, lightly-used clothing items.  A complete list of activities and performers can be found at

City of Vancouver

 Did you know that Vancouver has published a FIRST PEOPLES: A GUIDE FOR NEWCOMERS TO VANCOUVER?  Vancouver welcomes newcomers from all parts of the world. Newcomers are often at a disadvantage when it comes to learning about First Peoples because of language barriers, access to information, or the time to learn. Learning about the rich and diverse history and experiences of Canada’s First Peoples is key to building understanding between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal communities. First Peoples: A Guide for Newcomers aims to fill the need for clear information in simple language about the First Peoples in Vancouver. It introduces newcomers to three important topics: who are Aboriginal people (or First Peoples) in Vancouver and Canada; a brief overview of the relationship between the Government of Canada and First Peoples; and current initiatives and ways for newcomers to learn more about Aboriginal people in the community.