Crypto-backed mortgages still raise red flags, says B.C. regulator – BC News

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The Canadian Press – Jan 13, 2022 / 11:52 am | Story: 356930

The British Columbia government is providing a $1-million grant to expand access to resources aimed at preventing overdose deaths in the construction industry.

Sheila Malcolmson, the minister of mental health and addictions, says the program dubbed the Tailgate Toolkit was developed on Vancouver Island last year in partnership with people in the industry who have experience with illicit drug use.

She says it’s now set to be expanded across the province, offering training for supervisors, access to peer-led support groups and resources to help raise awareness of treatment options and combat the stigma surrounding drug use.

Rory Kulmala, CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association, says harm reduction co-ordinators are also sent to job sites for tailgate talks and they’ve delivered resources to more than 350 workers since launching last August.

Malcolmson says men make up almost 80 per cent of all deaths from illicit drugs in B.C., while nearly 20 per cent of those who died and whose professions were recorded worked in trades, transport or as equipment operators.

She says the program encourages conversations about drug use and addiction, reducing the stigma that can deter people from asking for help and that drives them to hide their substance use and consume drugs alone.

“In this climate of the terribly increasing toxicity of illicit street drugs, using drugs alone often means dying alone,” Malcolmson said Thursday.

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Graeme Wood, BIV – Jan 13, 2022 / 11:35 am | Story: 356927

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says there should be a “low threshold” for keeping kids home and away from school — a matter that’s raising concern with a school advocacy group.

B.C.’s top doc does not include congestion and runny nose on an official list of COVID-19 symptoms students should monitor in determining if they should be tested.

This week, Henry twice spoke publicly on the matter of isolating sick children from school.

“If they have symptoms, keep them at home. And for everybody who’s vaccinated, for everybody we’re really looking at that five-day [isolation] period,” said Henry on Monday at a televised town hall with Health Minister Adrian Dix.

“But for children it can be really mild, and if it’s mild and it goes away in one or two days, then they’re fine to go back to school.”

Asked by media on Tuesday at a press conference, Henry reiterated, “I think what we need to have is a low threshold for keeping kids home.

“A little bit of a running nose and a cough, sometimes it’s hard to know,” said Henry.

The B.C. Ministry of Health did not respond to Glacier Media for clarity on the matter.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) updated its guidelines for seeking testing on Jan. 6, amid surging demand outpacing low supplies of publicly available testing and testing centre closures.

The centre says a person should get tested and stay home if they have one of the following symptoms: fever above 38 C; loss of taste or smell; chills; cough; difficulty breathing. If they have one of the following symptoms, they are asked to stay home until they feel better, or, if they have two, then they should seek a test if the symptoms do not resolve in 24 hours: sore throat; loss of appetite; extreme fatigue; headache; nausea or vomiting; body aches; diarrhea.

These guidelines run contrary to reported findings of symptoms of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

An analysis by King’s College London using a U.K. symptom tracker and reported by TheConversation.com “showed no significant difference in the overall symptom profile of Delta and Omicron, with the top five symptoms in both time periods being a runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing and a sore throat.”

Furthermore, the loss of taste and smell is being less reported with Omicron infections.

Dr. Andy Pekosz, a virologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, stated similar findings to Business Insider this week.

And the U.S. CDC continues to list congestion as a symptom.

It’s unclear why Henry would omit runny nose from a list of symptoms.

Jennifer Heighton, a Burnaby elementary school teacher and advocate with Safe Schools Coalition BC (SSC), theorizes Henry’s policies are driven by economics over public health.

“They’re almost encouraging it to happen out of convenience. I think it sounds like she’s worried about them missing school and parents needing to stay home,” she says. “We at SSC do not feel economics should not be driving conditions; it should be safety of students, family and staff before economics.”

Heighton’s group has demanded immediate air ventilation upgrades in schools, testing and tracing in schools, quicker vaccinations and respirator masks for all students.

The BCCDC notes if a child is a close contact of a COVID-19-positive person they must isolate for 10 days (since no child in B.C. is fully vaccinated and such is the requirement for unvaccinated close contacts).

No firm numbers are available yet, but student attendance is reported to be slightly below normal across the board for B.C. schools resuming classes this week after the holiday break.

“We’ll have a better sense, a much clearer picture over the next couple of days,” Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said Tuesday.

Some parents have said they won’t be sending their children to school while COVID-19 cases remain high. Others who are sending their kids are worried about transmission as close to 600,000 students returned to class Monday.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. Wednesday surged to 500 — the highest count since April 30, and only 15 away from an all-time record.

With a file from Jeff Bell, Times Colonist

Graeme Wood, BIV – | Story: 356925

B.C.’s mortgage regulator continues to sound warnings about anyone considering purchasing a home with cryptocurrency.

The BC Financial Services Authority says there is nothing prohibiting buyers from using such unregulated digital currencies, however there are limited protections and persisting unknown risks in doing so.

The concept garnered significant media attention in December when Toronto-based lender Ledn announced a $70-million investment for building a Bitcoin-backed mortgage product.

“This mortgage will enable Ledn clients to use their Bitcoin holdings to purchase a property while continuing to benefit from potential price appreciation of both assets,” the company wrote.

A client wishing to take out a Bitcoin mortgage needs to own as much Bitcoin equivalent to the property value or purchase price. The company will issue a loan equal to 50% of the combined value of both assets.

The authority warns that real estate brokerages and lawyers are unable to receive cryptocurrency deposits and hold them in trust for a real estate transaction.

“The buyer and the seller would need to negotiate for a third party to hold the deposit, which brings an increased level of risk. In a trust account, the funds are protected should the deal collapse. If the deal were to collapse using a digital currency, your client may have to find the other party and sue them to recover the deposit,” notes the authority, which oversees the financial services sector, including pension plans, mortgage brokers, real estate services, real estate development marketing, and financial institutions (credit unions and insurance and trust companies).

Other potential risks include how the currency may be used to disguise the source of money derived from criminal activities and thus be a vehicle for money laundering.

The authority also notes there are big swings in the currencies, making closing costs more of a gamble.

From its website the authority lists two examples of risks:

“There are reports that bitcoins have been used in some jurisdictions in real estate scams involving identity theft and title fraud. In some cases, a fraudster steals the identity of a property owner, and advertises their property for sale online for bitcoins. The buyer registers title and immediately takes out loans against the property, fleeing with the funds and leaving the actual homeowner in debt.

“In other cases, identity thieves have targeted properties already listed in the MLS and created fraudulent secondary advertisements to sell the same home for bitcoins.”

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Julie MacLellan / New Westminster Record – Jan 13, 2022 / 10:47 am | Story: 356917

If your child has a runny nose, should they stay home from school?

It’s a simple question – but the official answer isn’t clear cut.

With B.C.’s COVID-19 case counts soaring in the face of the Omicron surge and students now back in classrooms, parents are faced with the constant question: When should I keep my child home?

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry noted at B.C.’s Jan. 11 COVID-19 briefing that fully vaccinated people are less likely to spread COVID-19 to others.

However, five to 11 year olds in B.C. are not yet fully vaccinated, since the first children…



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