BC Government

Public transit in PG getting high customer satisfaction


In Monday night's meeting in front of city council BC Transit representatives Chris Fudge and Shilpa Panicker along with the new transit planner, Josephine Macharia told council about the future of transit in Prince George. The team went over short and long term changes to the transit system in Prince George as well as the current state of affairs. Chris Fudge stated that customer service in Prince George is high and this is a result of the good work done by the staff. Prince George transit has been characterized by some students as under par with a lack of transit options on weekends and statutory holidays. This has left students feeling stranded on campus in many situations creating a divide between UNBC and the community of Prince George. Transit has been a focus for many of the city councillors at UNBC with Lyn Hall making election promises to improve transit. Action of public transit has been slow with a 5 year plan being put in place and no action on that plan happening for two years.

In the long term transit in Prince George will have some changes, with the introduction of rapid transit lines (buses that make few stops) and frequent transit lines (buses that come every 15mins). These changes are however over the long term which could be over the ten years. In the next 5 years expect transit to expand into the statutory holidays and a increase in the hours of operation of the buses. All of these changes though planned will be based on the fiscal situation of BC Transit which has been experiencing funding challenges. Lyn Hall stated that he would like to see an earlier implementation of these short term changes sooner rather than later.

Ridership has been down over the last couple years going from 2,032,972 in 2013-2014 to 1,877,966 in 2015-2016. This decrease in ridership has made it difficult for the city and BC transit to improve the services here in Prince George. Funding from the provincial government has been frozen for the last two years and created a financial pinch for BC Transit. Prince George makes up 53.31% of the funding for public transit and the province makes up 46.69%. In order to improve the service Lyn Hall believes that the city needs to be lobbying the provincial government to get the improvements that are needed done.

It is unclear when the longer hours and the service on statutory holidays are gonna happen BC transit has been reluctant to place any time horizons on the expansion. So for the time being prepare for the same as usual with the transit in Prince George.




B.C Schizophrenia Society receives $3 million


The BC Government is providing $3 million worth of funding to the BC Schizophrenia Society to help them expand their provincial wide caregiver services. This funding will help the BCSS work with people who suffer from schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, depression and other severe mental illnesses. Prince George has a branch of the BCSS that has worked in the community for a number of years. Health Minister Terry Lake said "Caregivers provide immeasurable support to loved ones who are dealing with serious mental illness, and by helping take care of their own mental wellness, we are also helping them provide love and support to those struggling with these illnesses."

The caregiver network gives tools and knowledge to family members of people who are affected by these mental conditions.  Groups like the BCSS have shown to be extremely cost-effective and beneficial to family members. BCSS also builds community capacity to respond to the needs of caregivers, and various other stakeholders in the community.

According to the Government of BC, the Ministry of Health invests approximately $1.42 billion every year in mental health and substance use services. This is an increase of 67% since from 2000-01.

According to the BCSS website, Schizophrenia is mental illness that affects 300,000 Canadians. It most often appears in men in their late teens or early twenties, while it appears in women in their late twenties or early thirties. Finding the causes for schizophrenia proves to be difficult as the cause and course of the illness is unique for each person.

By Grant Bachand (Twitter) @grantbachand

Premier begins trade mission to Asia


Premier Christy Clark along with 78 representatives from the private sector will begin a trade mission in Asia which will last from May 23-31st. They team will be visiting South Korea, Philippines, and Japan. It is the governments hope to open new trade doors in the Philippines.  Growing LNG exports will be a major push in both South Korea and Japan. “This trade mission is about developing new trade and investment opportunities with Japan and Korea, while looking at what the future holds in Southeast Asia as we develop a stronger trade presence in the Philippines,” said Premier Clark.

The businesses that are joining the premier have a wide range of specialties from international education, to LNG and digital media. These trade missions fall in line with the BC jobs plan especially LNG advocacy. The Northern BC economy has seen LNG play a bigger part year over year.

Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will most likely also be a big part of the talks. The TPP is currently in ratification process with the government of Canada currently looking at whether to ratify. The former Harper Government negotiated the TPP on behalf of Canada. The TPP is expected to grow BC exports by $350 million according to the government of BC.

Justin Trudeau is also currently in Japan as well making pitches to Japanese automakers to invest in Canada. Japan was at one time Canada's second largest trading partner. Now our biggest Asian trading partner is China, which has seen in the last couple years an economic slowdown, and a series of market troubles.

According to the Observatory for Economic Complexity (OEC) by MIT exports in 2014 had Japan make up 2.6% ($11.7 billion), South Korea 1.5% ($6.4 billion), and the Philippines .25% ($1.11 billion) of Canada's total exports. Canada's biggest trading partners are the USA at 55% ($242 billion), and China 11% ($50.6 billion).

By Grant Bachand (Twitter) @grantbachand