The popular volunteer-run organization made the announcement in a news release Saturday.
“Exactly one year to the day that Vaccine Hunters Canada started operations, we are humbled to be quietly closing our doors,” the group said, thanking Canadians for their support.
“While Canada’s fight against COVID-19 isn’t over, we are happy that millions of Canadians are fully vaccinated with vaccines now being readily available for anyone who is looking.”
Vaccine Hunters Canada launched in March 2021 with an objective to help Canadians find vaccines.
The platform grew on social media, with accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Discord. Its Twitter page has close to 265,000 followers.
Vaccine Hunters Canada grew in popularity to the point where the City of Toronto partnered with the team to help get shots into arms.
The group has received praise from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.
“A year ago we were in a much different place than we were today…Vaccines were just introduced and that was a really amazing sort of beacon of hope for many people because for a year we’d all been at home with the worry of COVID around us,” Sue Motahedin, who worked as one of the volunteers told Global News’ Kabilan Moulitharan in an interview Sunday.
She said a year ago, public health units across Canada had different approaches to their vaccine distribution networks.
“Our role was really stepping in and helping people figure out what was going on in their own communities, who were eligible, who they could connect to, to find a vaccine, how to book a vaccine…There was a lot of confusion because this was new,” Motahedin said.
She said that with a team of volunteers across Canada the organization was able to help people make sense of a lot of the COVID-related information that the government and public health were sharing with the public.
“It was changing daily. And we did our best to make sure that as many people as possible saw the energy and effort that were put in trying to reach people,” said Motahedin.
‘It’s become a movement:’ Trudeau meets with volunteers behind Vaccine Hunters Canada
In August 2021, five months into its launch, the organization that gained 100 volunteers started winding down its operation as it pivoted towards automated services.
“Thank you for all your support over the last year,” Vaccine Hunters Canada said on Saturday.
“The heart behind VHC is helping your community and finding ways to help others.
“We hope that everyone can find ways to work with their neighbours, communities and families to make this world a better place.”
To date, Canada has an 85 per cent full vaccination rate, 89 per cent of eligible Canadians have at least received one dose and almost 47 per cent have got their booster shots.
— with files from Global News’ Kabilan Moulitharan and Aaron D’Andrea.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
How much money is needed to retire in Canada
Canadians now believe they need $1.7 million in savings in order to retire, a 20 per cent increase from 2020, according to a new BMO survey.
The eye-watering figure is the largest sum since BMO first started surveying Canadians about their retirement expectations 13 years ago. It’s also a drastic increase from the $1.4 million in savings Canadians expected to need for their nest eggs just two years ago.
The results reflect Canadians’ concerns about current economic conditions, particularly inflation and higher prices, said Caroline Dabu, head of wealth distribution and advisory services for BMO Financial Group.
“If you look at the average Canadian, they’re feeling the rising inflation costs,” said Dabu.
“And so, not surprisingly, we are seeing that Canadians are feeling they absolutely will need more to retire.”
Canada’s annual inflation rate hit a four-decade high of 8.1 per cent in the summer of 2022 and has since fallen to 6.3 per cent as of December 2022. BMO Economics expects the country’s CPI to decline to around three per cent by the end of the year.
The sharp increase to Canada’s inflation rate in 2022 exceeded wage gains, eroding purchasing power for most families and heightening fears about the future. The BMO survey found that just 44 per cent of Canadians are confident they will have enough money to retire as planned — a 10 per cent decrease from 2020.
But while the $1.7 million figure may sound overwhelming to working-age Canadians, Dabu said the number says more about the economic mood of the country than it does about real-life retirement necessities.
“Certainly when we’re working with clients, we find that many overestimate the number that they need to retire,” she said.
“It really does have to be taken at an individual level, because circumstances are very different … But $1.7 million, I would say, is high.”
While rising inflation may require tweaks to a retirement plan — such as contributing slightly more to savings each month if you’re a young worker, or making cash flow adjustments if you’re nearing the end of your working career — Dabu said these changes don’t necessarily have to be drastic.
When it comes to retirement planning, Dabu said, knowledge is power. By working with a professional financial advisor and making a plan that encompasses individual circumstances and goals, Canadians can come up with their own retirement savings number.
“In the survey, we note that 53 per cent of Canadians didn’t know how much they will need to retire,” Dabu said.
“That increased confidence comes from knowing the exact number that I need to save for, and how I’m going to get there.”
The BMO survey also found that approximately 22 per cent of Canadians plan to retire between the ages of 60 and 69, with an average age of 62.
Millennial and generation z Canadians are the most nervous about their ability to save and invest right now, the survey found. However, all age groups — 74 per cent of survey respondents — said they are concerned about how current economic conditions will affect their financial situation, and 59 per cent said economic conditions have affected their confidence in meeting their retirement goals.
The BMO survey was conducted between Nov. 4 and 7, 2022 by Pollara Strategic Insights via an online survey of 1,500. The survey’s margin of error is plus/minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2023.
Driver arrested after city bus hits daycare in Laval, Que., at least five injured
A 51-year-old man drove a city bus into a daycare in Laval, Que., on Wednesday morning, authorities said, killing two children and injuring six more.
Pierre Ny St-Amand, an employee of the Société de transport de Laval (STL), was arrested at the scene.
He has been charged with several crimes, including two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm.
Around 8:30 a.m., the Laval city bus crashed into the Garderie Éducative de Sainte-Rose in the Sainte-Rose neighbourhood on Terrasse Dufferin. There is a bus stop for the 151 line on the roundabout near the daycare.
A neighbour who witnessed the crash said he and a group of parents tried to rescue children pinned under the bus and managed to subdue the driver, who was acting erratically.
Laval police spokesperson Erika Landry said two children are confirmed dead, one at the scene. Urgences-santé confirmed 12 people were injured, including six other children who were recovering in hospital but are expected to survive. One adult was also taken to hospital to be treated for shock.
Dr. Marc Girard, the director of professional services at Sainte-Justine Hospital, said at an afternoon news conference that the hospital received four victims, all preschool-age children, two boys and two girls.
The children were conscious when they arrived at the hospital, but were suffering from various traumatic injuries, Girard said. They are now recovering and in stable condition, he said.
Sébastien Rocheleau, director of medical services at the Laval regional health authority, said the Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital received three patients from the daycare. One child died. The other two are under observation and their injuries are not considered life-threatening.
Driver was in ‘another world,’ resident says
Hamdi Ben Chaabane, who lives in the neighbourhood and was one of the first on the scene, said the bus must have been travelling 30 or 40 km/h when it struck the daycare.
“From what I saw, it wasn’t an accident,” he said.
After the bus struck the daycare, the driver emerged and began acting erratically.
“He opened the door. He took off all his clothes. He was totally naked,” Ben Chaabane said. “We don’t know why he did that. We dove on him. We tried to subdue him.”
He described the driver as being “in another world.”
“It was a nightmare. It’s horrible. He didn’t stop yelling. He wasn’t saying words,” Ben Chaabane said.
When the group tried to pry children out from underneath the bus, Ben Chaabane said they reached one child, who was only lightly injured, but were unable to reach a girl who was stuck deeper beneath rubble.
He said they continued trying to reach the trapped children until firefighters arrived and told them to leave because the roof of the daycare was caving in.
According to the Stéphane Boyer, the mayor of Laval, the person who was arrested has worked for the STL for 10 years but didn’t have any prior incidents on his record.
“There is a hypothesis that this was an intentional act but it will have to be confirmed by the investigation,” Boyer said, adding that it was unclear if the suspect had any connection to the daycare.
“It’s chaos,” said Julia Moreno, a mother whose child was in the daycare when the bus struck it. “There are injured children. It’s terrible.”
Nathalie Vaillancourt, another mother whose child was inside, said the bus destroyed the front facade of the daycare. Both mothers said their children were unscathed.
Urgences-santé dispatched seven ambulances, a “tactical medical vehicle” — which responds to unusual medical situations, often alongside police — and a rapid response team.
“It’s terrible what happened this morning in Laval,” Premier François Legault told a group of reporters at the National Assembly. “All my thoughts are with the children, with the parents and with the employees.”
Legault said Public Security Minister François Bonnardel, Family Minister Suzanne Roy and Christopher Skeete, the MNA for the Sainte-Rose riding, will be in Laval to assess the situation.
Laval’s mayor said psychologists would be available for those affected.
“It’s a tragic act,” Boyer said. “Obviously there are lots of parents right now wondering if their child was affected. I really want to be there for the families, show support.”
The STL said in a statement it was devastated by the “tragedy in Laval.”
“Our hearts go out to the families and employees affected by this tragedy,” the statement said. “The Service de police de la Ville de Laval is currently conducting an investigation in which we are actively collaborating.”
The bus drivers’ union released a statement this afternoon saying its members are in shock and wholeheartedly support the parents and the daycare workers affected by this “tragic event.” The union says it is co-operating with the authorities investigating the event.
The CISSS de Laval, the regional health board for that city, is inviting anyone who needs psychological help due to Wednesday’s events to contact the province’s telehealth services.
“Anyone who needs psychological help can dial 811, option two. They will be listened to and directed to the right resources,” the health board tweeted.
With files from Chloë Ranaldi, Sarah Leavitt, Radio-Canada
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