Friday, January 29, 2010

Save Citizen’s Counselling

Hi Everybody,

Citizen’s Counselling is an incredible service that offers free or low-cost counselling. It is 99% powered by volunteer energy – why can’t our government come through with just a little bit of support to keep these volunteers doing their valuable work?!

Here is a letter from a number of south Island MLAs that was sent today to Howard Waldner, President and CEO of VIHA. You can send your own message to and/or to the Times Colonist at


Howard Waldner, President and Chief Executive Officer
Vancouver Island Health Authority
1952 Bay Street
Victoria, British Columbia
V8R 1J8

January 29, 2010

Dear Howard Waldner:

We are writing to express our concern over VIHA’s recent decision to terminate its contract with the Greater Victoria Citizens’ Counselling Centre. The $80,000 annual contract allowed the Centre to provide affordable counselling to over 1,200 people a year living in the region and it’s our understanding that demand for the Centre’s services has increased by 25% this year alone. Counselling is provided by individuals who have taken the Centre’s intensive 10-month training program, are professionals with advanced degrees and training, or are practicum students obtaining graduate degrees in counselling. All offer their services on a volunteer basis and work under the supervision of the Centre’s contracted professional supervisors.

We have all heard from constituents who have benefited from the services provided by Citizens’ Counselling and are upset and angered by VIHA’s decision. These individuals required counselling support and, due to personal finances, would not have been able to receive assistance were it not for Citizens ‘ policy which states that every person has the right to access quality counselling services regardless of ability to pay. To that effect, the Centre has a sliding fee scale based on family income.

The Centre has now been forced to close its doors as they have been unable to find a private insurance carrier to replace the insurance previously provided under VIHA’s contract. Until the Centre has insurance all counselling sessions will be cancelled.

We urge you to re-consider your decision to cancel the contract for the Greater Victoria Citizens’ Counselling Centre, especially during these difficult economic times, when individuals and families are experiencing increased stresses. Early intervention saves the health system money in the long-term. Citizens’ Counselling has been operating in our region since 1969 and it’s crucial they remain open to provide this essential service.

We look forward to your reply regarding our request.



Carole James, MLA, Victoria-Beacon Hill
John Horgan, MLA, Juan de Fuca
Rob Fleming, MLA, Victoria-Swan Lake
Maurine Karagianis, MLA, Esquimalt-Royal Roads
Lana Popham, MLA, Saanich South

cc: Brenda Wilson, Executive Director, Greater Victoria Citizens’ Counselling Centre

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Children with Autism Deserve Better

Please join me for a candle light vigil on the steps of the Legislature.

Monday, Feb.1st 2010, 4:30-5:30pm

We are coming together to grieve and find inspiration as we suffer the loss of EIBI programs for children with autism. EIBI is vitally important treatment that has proven long-term benefits. The benefits include significantly improved quality of life for these special kids and millions of dollars saved in health care costs.

The BC government is shutting down the last EIBI programme on Jan. 31st.

Premier Gordon Campbell and Minister Mary Polak promised to make helping children with special needs a priority. They have failed us.

To appreciate what is happening and read intimate first-hand accounts of local parents with children who have autism, please visit

Best, Lana.

Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bike Rally at the Legislature

Hi Everybody,

Check out my new website,!

On  Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 at 12:00pm! Let's fill the Legislature grounds with cyclists and show this government they'll be a political price to pay if they ram through this new tax on cycling.

The next session of the BC Legislature will begin the 1st week of March. I believe the government will likely try to rush the HST through this spring. They promised to implement by July.

As you know, if it passes as is, you will be paying 7% more tax on a bicycle purchased in BC.  This is more than you have paid in almost 30 years. You’ll also have to pay 7% more for stuff like helmets and locks, as well as paying 7% more for repairs.

The Liberal Government has got its head in the sand. Cycling is a sustainable transportation choice and should be encouraged, not punished with new taxes.

Approximately 40% of emissions in BC come from transportation. Global warming is a crisis: creating disincentives for cycling is unacceptable!

It is critical the BC Government hears from all of you!

And 1000 bikes on the lawn of the legislature will get their attention!

My hope is that bike shops, cycling associations and cycling enthusiasts all over BC will help me organize a critical mass at the legislature on March 3. Please contact me at or 250 479 4154 or visit the facebook event page.

March 3rd will also be the day that I will present the petition that you have hopefully signed.  We’re already at more than 1700 signatures! But I would like to increase that tenfold before the rally. Click here to sign the petition (if you haven’t already done so). Please encourage others to do the same.


Lana Popham, MLA

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Victoria Film Festival!

This year's Victoria Film Festival is only 16 days away, January 29 - Feb. 7. More fun than Hansard! You can see the programme guide by clicking here.

Here are a couple of their funny promo videos....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A New Year!

It's a new year and many of us have made resolutions to do something fabulous. Maybe it's to be more organized, to be more fit, to eat better, to drink more water, etc.

My resolution this year is to be more aware of how many disposable coffee cups I use – and use less!

It turns out they are bad for the environment and they are bad for our health. So using fewer disposable coffee cups is like two resolutions in one!

Don't get me wrong, I have a reusable one, and I use it. But there are times when I don't have it with me and I am desperate for a cup of coffee to go. So I accept a disposable one.

I have often dismissed this wasteful habit because I assumed that these cups would be recycled.

Only recently I have learned that they can't be.

Here is an excellent article from the Environment Canada website:

Sustainable Sips- The Hottest Trend in Coffee Culture!

If you need a cup of coffee to kick start your day, you are not alone!
Coffee is the number one beverage of choice in Canada and over 14 million Canadians savour the tempting taste of coffee everyday!

Before wrapping your mitts around your next steamy mug of java, skim through these tips and learn how to make the environmental impact of your coffee consumption a ‘skinny’.

Canadian coffee drinkers consume 3 cups of coffee a day, on average! Coffee helps fuel our busy lifestyles, with the majority of mugs taken ‘to go’ and served in disposable cups. These cups may be convenient, but their environmental impact lasts much longer than the morning, noon and evening caffeine boost they deliver!

Disposable Dilemma

Disposable cups are filling up our landfills and this is creating an extra large problem. Canadians use more than 1.6 billion paper and polystyrene cups each year!
Don’t let the words paper and polystyrene fool you, these cups are not recyclable.
Polystyrene cups take many years to biodegrade and produce toxic ash when they are incinerated. Polystyrene is recyclable on its own, but the production process infuses the material with chemicals that are not accepted in the blue box.
Less than fantastic plastic. Paper cups are insulated with a plastic coating called polyethylene. Polyethylene is not recyclable, so every paper cup must be tossed into the landfill.
Paper cups pile-up! Once these cups are laid to rest, they emit carcinogenic chemicals and methane through decomposition. One study reveals that 114.5 million kilograms of paper cup waste is dumped into the landfills each year. This is approximately the weight of 22 900 elephants!

Why aren’t paper cups made from recycled paper? Recycled paper has a variety of great functions, though it does not meet health regulations for a beverage container and is too flimsy to support hot liquids.

Go sleeveless! Cup sleeves may keep your coffee steaming a bit longer, but in doing so they are contributing to global warming. According to one study, each paper cup and paper sleeve combined with production and shipping creates about 0.11 kilograms of C02.

Life Cycle

The career of a disposable cup is short lived, but the environmental effects keep brewing. One study reports that North Americans use about 900 million Styrofoam cups each year, which if piled-up would fill one hundred, 75-storey office buildings!
Here are just a few of the negative impacts of disposable cups:
Paper and polystyrene cups are draining our energy and natural resources. To produce the 1.6 billion cups that Canadians are consuming each year it takes 190,235,800 tonnes of wood!
Cups must be transported from the producer to the coffee shop which emits greenhouse gases.
Disposable cups are only used for one beverage, about 30 minutes, and then tossed the garbage.
Brimming bins! When the garbage bins are full they are emptied by gas guzzling dump trucks and taken to the landfill.

Sustainable Solutions

Coffee is part of our daily routine so let’s make it a habit to sip sustainably!
Lug a mug! Carry a reusable coffee mug made of ceramic, plastic or stainless steel to divert excess waste created from disposable cups.

Is it break time yet? Reusable cups require more energy to produce, but each mug eventually reaches a breaking point where it is more environmentally friendly than a paper cup. After 24 uses a stainless steel mug breaks even with a paper cup!
One study reports that coffee drinkers use reusable cups about 13.5 million times, which prevents 266 727.27 kilograms of waste from ending up in the landfill!
Smart sleeves! Keep your mug cozy with a reusable sleeve and eliminate 2 kilograms of waste per year. There are many stylish sleeves available that are made from a variety of materials such as bamboo, silicone or felt.

Keep a reusable mug at work, at home and in your car so that you will have one close at hand for your next caffeine craving! If you do forget your mug (it’s okay- you haven’t had coffee yet…) don’t double cup or use a paper warmer. If it is cold, your mitt will do the trick!

Have more money for coffee! Many coffee shops offer you a discount if you fill your own reusable mug.

Use a reusable mug for a fresh start tomorrow morning, or better yet at your next coffee break! Disposable cups are leaving ugly coffee stains on the planet. Take action and fill up a reusable mug to give you and the environment a boost!