Behind The Headlines, Episode 1, Dec 6, 2020

This is the inaugural episode of's weekly program called “Behind the Headlines”, hosted by Susan Millar. Its intent is to peak behind the local headlines to provide a deeper understanding of local issues.

In this program, a number of people are interviewed. First, it's Peter Julian, our Member of Parliament, who speaks to the NDP's role in ensuring that the Liberal government meets the needs of ordinary people during the pandemic. He also speaks at length about the need for tax reform so that the very wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share of taxes, which, if instituted, would handily fund many important aspects of Canadian life including health care, pharmacare, schools, seniors residences, child care and more. As Peter Julian mentions, the Canadian tax system is the least progressive of all of the wealthy western countries and most Canadians off all ages and party affiliations support major tax reform.

Next, it is City Councillor, Jaime McEvoy, who is to be a regular contributor providing information on the Covid cases in our area. He talks about the fact that the Fraser Health Authority, where we live, has become the epicentre of the second wave of the pandemic in British Columbia. He talks about who is being struck down and reasons why. As an historian, who has studied the 1918 flu pandemic, he talks about the similarities in the public response to the pandemic both then and now and paints a picture of life in New Westminster during the 1918 pandemic.

Next, viewers hear from Jeff Norris, CEO of the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation. He talks about the impact of the second wave on the hospital and how it is responding. He says that the hospital has never been as busy as it right now, but everyone seems up to the task. He also speaks to the importance of keeping the morale up of hospital workers, by writing notes of thanks to those you know on the front-lines, or sending messages of thanks via the foundation which will post them on screens in the hospital.

Jennifer Miller, who is the Manager of Public Engagement for City Hall, is next up. She speaks about a new online platform that the city has put up so that New Westminster citizens can find out about city initiatives and programs and let their views be known through various tools, including surveys, discussion boards etc. The platform called BeHeard is also meant to be an avenue for citizens to communicate amongst themselves.

Cyrus Sy, who is to be our Education correspondent, follows Jennifer Miller. He speaks to the parental anxieties for their children as the second wave of Covid hits New Westminster schools.While our city schools have fared better than others in the region, he says, a number of parents are very concerned about the cohort system in the schools, the lack of distancing in classrooms and the fact that masks are not mandated in them. Cyrus Sy is on both a local Parent Advisory Council and the District PAC, so he has an inside view of what is concerning parents.

Finally, Laura Grady of the New Westminster Arts Council, who is in charge of the organization's sponsored craft fairs, laments the shutting down of the upcoming fairs because of the second wave of the pandemic. However, the Arts Council has set up an online Holiday Gift Guide through which people can connect with local artisans and buy from them. She also tells viewers about a  photo exhibit that is on this December, a partnership with The Hospice Society, the River Market and the Arts Council...a beautiful exhibit which looks at the theme of loss and healing.

The host reminds viewers that is looking for people who might be interested in being involved and to connect through the website. 

by: Susan Millar

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