Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Response to the Budget in the BC Legislature

Dear Saanich South,

Yesterday I rose in the House to present my response to the government's Budget. It is now up on youtube in six clips:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Healing Invisible Wounds

Traumanoun – a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disordernoun – a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock, typically involving a disturbance of sleep and constant vivid recall of the experience, with dulled responses to others and to the outside world.

This week, the Wounded Warrior Run BC (WWRBC) team is running from Port Hardy to Victoria to help raise financial support and awareness of the mental health challenges faced by people experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They are a part of Wounded Warriors Canada, a non-profit helping members of the Canadian Forces who have been wounded or injured in service to their country.

On Friday, February 21, 2014, the run will wrap up at Saunders Subaru, at the end of a run in excess of 600km and 6 full days long. The team will be visiting Legion branches all the way down the length of Vancouver Island. I encourage people to support their efforts – summed up in their motto: Not all wounds are visible. Honour the fallen. Help the living.

It is worth remembering that not all invisible wounds are inflicted in war. Many of our neighbours and friends are lying awake at night, jumping at the sound of a door closing and reliving terrible and terrifying experiences. Too many of these people will succumb to the need to numb the anxiety or the pain of memories, turning to substances which will ultimately only exacerbate their condition. Far too many of them will not seek help because of the associated stigma, fear of reliving the experience, concern around the cost or time that treatment may take, and other reasons.

As many as 1 in 10 Canadians are affected by anxiety disorders, like PTSD; that number may be even higher for our Canadian Armed Forces personnel. What we need is a continuum of mental health services to help people recognize the signs of PTSD and then provide the supports to help them overcome it.

Although our system in British Columbia does not cover the full continuum and access to services is not as open as it could be; there are still some organizations doing very good work with PTSD sufferers.

Below, is a basic list of symptoms experienced by people after a traumatic event. This is not a comprehensive list, only the more common signs. If the symptoms don’t go away, please seek help – ask your doctor or call one of the organizations listed at the end of this post.

PTSD symptoms can include:
·         Feeling upset by things that remind you of the trauma
·         Nightmares, vivid memories or flashbacks of the event
·         Wanting to avoid places or things that remind you of what happened
·         Feeling numb or lose interest in things you used to care about
·         Feeling that you are always in danger
·         Feeling anxious, jittery or irritated
·         Having trouble sleeping or focusing

At the end of this post, you will see links to several organizations, both civilian and military, that provide a range of services and supports to people dealing with the mental health issues categorized as anxiety disorders, of which PTSD is only one.

If you, or someone you know, is showing signs of PTSD, please reach out for help. We all deserve to feel safe.


PTSD Services and Information:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wounded Warriors Run

Dear Saanich South,

I recently attended a launch for the Wounded Warriors BC Run at Saunders Subaru in Colwood. 

The focus of the run is to fundraise and increase public awareness of Wounded Warriors Canada. 
Wounded Warriors Canada is a non-profit organization that helps Canadian Forces members who have been wounded or injured in their service to Canada. They help find therapeutic programs and solutions for military men and women in need. Currently, their primary focus is on mental health and, particularly, the staggering impact of PTSD and Operational Stress Injuries.
To provide increased financial support and public awareness for Wounded Warriors Canada, the “Wounded Warrior Run BC” was created. A team of five dedicated runners will relay run the length of Vancouver Island for six consecutive days, starting Sunday, 16 Feb 2014 and finishing Friday, 21 Feb 2014. The journey will begin in Port Hardy and end in Victoria at Saunders Subaru, covering more than 600 km.
The Saunders Family donated $1000 at the launch to start off the fundraising. They are a very generous family who always step up. My personal thanks goes out the Bob and family for being wonderful community leaders.

PTSD can impact anybody who has experienced trauma. This includes our First Responders. Many people say the hardest part of having PTSD is admitting you need help. 

To donate or for more information, visit http://woundedwarriorrunbc.com.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Family Day Rally to save the ALR - Feb 10

Dear Saanich,

The BC Government's decision to include the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in its core review of government services represents a profound threat to our precious farmland.

The ALR was created in 1973 and includes 4.7 million hectares of farmland.

As former Agriculture Critic and farmer,  I personally challenge Premier Clark to explain to the people of BC why dismantling and weakening the ALC is in the best interest of the people in this province. 

I am so proud of BC farmers and farmland defenders. They are coming together at a large rally at the BC Legislature this Monday, February 10 at 12pm. 

I can't think of a better way to spend "Family Day" - protecting farmland for our children!

I'll be there and I hope you will too!


Monday, February 3, 2014

School kids used as political pawns

Dear Saanich South,

Last week a BC Supreme Court Judge exposed the rotten underbelly of the BC government's relationship with teachers and the public education system.

The BC Supreme Court reviewed secret cabinet documents and concluded that the B.C. government failed to negotiate with the BC Teachers Federation in good faith and in fact deliberately tried to provoke a full-scale strike at B.C. schools. The judge fined the province $2 million dollars in damages.

Premier Christy Clark was the Education Minister when this scheme was hatched in 2002. In my opinion, she owes BC an apology for trying to push children, their families and our school system into chaos for political gain.

A child who entered kindergarten when Premier Clark was first made education minister will graduate this year having spent all their years in school in larger classes with fewer supports because of her legislation.

Legislation that the BC Courts have twice found unconstitutional.

After an apology, the fair-minded way forward for the government is clear: release the cabinet documents to come clean about what has been done in the past, stop wasting taxpayer dollars on legal appeals, and start figuring out how to rebuild our education system.

More information here:

Please feel free to share your opinion with me: lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca