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B.C. Briefs

Action urged on threatened wildlife

 

A task force report that calls on B.C. to bolster its protection of species at risk doesn’t go far enough, environmental groups say.

Critics call the 16 recommendations vague and lacking teeth.

The Species At Risk Task Force report concludes the extremely large number of species assessed at risk – 1,900 and rising – means B.C. should shift from a focus on individual species to a broader ecosystem-based approach.

It warns the species-by-species approach “is leading us down a path of increasing complexity, overlapping initiatives and unsupportable costs even as the numbers of at-risk species continues to grow.”

It does not propose a provincial endangered species law equivalent to the federal Species At Risk Act – a tougher legislative approach that conservation groups prefer.

“We are disappointed that instead of calling for a law they recommend tinkering with B.C.’s antiquated patchwork of existing regulations,” Wilderness Committee policy director Gwen Barlee said.

Threats to wildlife highlighted in the report include climate change, degraded ecosystems and challenges in protecting species on private land.

Species at risk in B.C. include grizzly bears, spotted owls, phantom orchids, Vancouver Island marmots and killer whales.

 

Law-makers eye pesticide ban

 

A provincial committee has convened to consider a possible blanket ban on home use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes throughout B.C.

Liberal MLA Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid, a cancer survivor, heads the bipartisan special committee now weighing the potential to outlaw the sale of pesticides and the possible impact on farmers and forestry.

Dozens of B.C. cities already have local bans on residential use but MacDiarmid said the ability to buy a herbicide or insecticide in one area and use it in another means there are grounds to consider a B.C. standard.

“There’s a real patchwork around the province,” she said.

Retailers currently sell pesticides even in cities where their use is banned.

The Canadian Cancer Society argues long-term exposure to residential pesticides poses a cancer threat to children.

NDP leader Adrian Dix this spring proposed a ban on the sale of high-risk pesticides, leaving residents only able to use lower risk alternatives.

 

Teachers demand extra leave

 

Public school employers say contract demands tabled by the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) would cost the system nearly $2.2 billion more each year.

The demands include doubling bereavement leave pay to 10 days paid.

The union also wants teachers to be able to take 26 weeks off each year as a fully paid leave of absence to provide compassionate care to any person.

The BCTF also wants wage parity with other provinces, although it hasn’t yet tabled an exact pay hike demand.

Teachers salaries range from around $47,000 to over $75,000 a year.

Salary parity would mean a 21 per cent raise for most teachers to match levels in Alberta and cost an estimated $618 million, according to the BC Public School Employers Association (BCPSEA).

Other top cost drivers in the proposals include extra prep time at $417 million and $445 million for a retirement bonus that would give departing teachers an extra five per cent payout for every year they’ve worked in the school system.

The proposals leave a wide gulf between the teachers’ federation and the BCPSEA, which aims to keep overall teacher costs frozen.

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