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May proclaimed MS Awareness Month and other brief city council news

Mayor Lori Ackerman and the rest of Council present Sherri Mytopher with the MS Society of Canada with the proclamation that May is MS Awareness Month in Fort St. John. Photo by Chris Newton.
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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Mayor Lori Ackerman proclaimed May to be MS Awareness Month at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Sherri Mytopher, who serves as a board member with the MS Society of Canada’s Northern Regional Chapter, gave a brief presentation about the struggles of her and 100,000 other Canadians who live with Multiple Sclerosis every day. According to Mytopher, Canada has one of the highest incidents of MS among developed nations. 

The MS Society will also be hosting an MS Walk in Fort St. John on Sunday, May 27th at Centennial Park.

North Peace Drug Awareness Society acknowledged

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The North Peace Drug Awareness Society was also given an acknowledgement by city council for their nearly 20 years of work in the Fort St. John area. Mayor Lori Ackerman spoke about the Society’s work in running the D.A.R.E. Program in Fort St. John, as well as other various drug awareness and education initiatives. 

In 2004, the Society was approached to take on the contract of the RCMP’s Police-Based Victim Services Program. Since then, the Society was responsible for 1 – 2 employees who ran the program. Society Chair Rick Ekkel thanked the City for its years of support and partnership in their work with the program.

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City concerned about cost of new employer health tax

Fort St. John City Council is going to be collaborating with the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the North Central Local Government Association on sending a message to the provincial government that the new Employer Health Tax won’t be cheap to implement. According to a report to Council from Human Resources Rashid Hasan, the City will pay $127,800 in MSP premiums of its employees covered under a collective agreement each for year in 2018 and 2019. 

For 2019, it is estimated employer health tax of 1.95% will cost the City $396,566 in addition to the estimated MSP premiums of $127,800 – a total cost of $524,366 and a 4.44% increase in the tax rate. In 2020, MSP premiums will be phased out, and the employer health tax is estimated to cost $406,480.75 – a 3.44% increase in the tax rate compared to the rate set for the 2018 budget.

Council passed a resolution to write a letter to the provincial government outlining their concerns, and to also have the issues brought up at the NCLGA Annual General Meeting in Fort Nelson next month.

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