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3 new COVID-19 related deaths in Sask.; 334 new cases – CTV News

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REGINA —
Saskatchewan reported three new COVID-19 related deaths on Thursday, in addition to 334 new cases of the virus. 

Two of the deaths were recorded in the Regina zone; one person was in their 70s and the other was in the 80 plus age group. The third death was a person from the North Central zone, also in the 80 plus age group

The 334 new COVID-19 cases are located across the province, with the majority in the Saskatoon (83), North Central (65), Regina (49) and South East (33) zones. 

There are 176 people in hospital, 29 of those people are in intensive care.  

The new infections brings the number of active COVID-19 cases in the province up to 2,947. 

VACCINATIONS 

As of Thursday, a total of 4,832 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the province. This includes 2,069 first doses of the Pfizer shot in Regina and 233 second doses; 2,407 Pfizer shots in Saskatoon; and 123 doses Moderna vaccine in the Far North West zone.

Prince Albert has received 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which will all be used as initial doses. Vaccinations for health care workers and long term care home residents began this morning in the city.

The province says it has confirmed there will be 11,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arriving each week in February. According to the province, 100 additional doses of the Moderna shot have been earmarked for Saskatchewan. This brings the Moderna delivery expected on February 1 to 5,400 doses.

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B.C. focuses on second doses of COVID-19 vaccine after Pfizer delay: top doctor – News 1130

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — B.C. is still on track to vaccinate the most vulnerable people despite a reduction in deliveries from Pfizer, the provincial health officer says.

Dr. Bonnie Henry explained the supply issue will have the biggest impact over the next week after which deliveries of vaccines will start to pick up again.

She said this will slow down getting the shots to some hospitals, but the province will continue on schedule for giving the first dose to those most at-risk.

“We have, however, been able to rearrange and look at the process that we have to make sure that we are continuing with providing the first of two doses to those at highest risk, and that we are able to start second doses at day 35, in accordance to our plans that we announced a few weeks ago,” she said during Monday’s briefing.

“It is a bit of a setback, but it is only a delay.”

RELATED: COVID-19 outbreak at Port Moody care facility

She said the province expects to receive extra doses at the end of February and into early March, when it will look at expanding its program.

Until then, the plan is still to give people their second dose before focusing on getting others their first dose.

Henry added 87,346 people have received a COVID-19 shot since immunizations started.

She stressed that while immunizations are underway, the risk remains high across the province as transmission continues.

Since Friday, 31 people lost their lives to the virus, with the deaths in every health authority. The total since the start of the pandemic climbed to 1,078.

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Another 1,330 infections were reported over the weekend.

There was also a jump in cases in non-resident Canadians, which Henry explained is mostly farmworkers coming for the season. Henry noted there are quarantine accommodations.

She again said the arrival of coronavirus mutations requires caution and following health measures.

“The biggest risk and the biggest variants we have right now is all of us, our human behaviour, the choices that we make every day,” she said.

Henry added the investigation is ongoing after someone tested for the South African variant in B.C. without knowing how they contracted it.

RELATED: South African COVID-19 variant not immune to vaccines but source of B.C.’s first case remains a mystery

Health Minister Adrian Dix noted it has been almost a year since the first COVID-19 joint release from the province, noting it hasn’t been easy.

“We’ve seen through the course of the pandemic a lot of worry, a lot of fear, a lot of loss, a lot of uncertainty. While COVID-19 gives each of us every reason to experience those feelings, each and every day, I also saw from that day something else, something reassuring – resolve, spirit, strength compassion, and well fear and uncertainty. I think are part of every day in a pandemic. What has kept us going to seeing how British Columbians in every part of our province refuse to let fear and uncertainty rule,” he said.

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Unifor members approve pact that will see GM invest $1B in CAMI plant – CBC.ca

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Unifor members have voted to approve General Motors Canada’s plan to invest $1 billion in an electric vehicle plant in southern Ontario.

The union’s 1,900 Local 88 members voted online Sunday on a tentative deal with the automaker to transform GM’s CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., into a hub for producing electric commercial delivery vans.

The union said members voted about 91 per cent in favour of the deal and that work will begin immediately to ready the plant to begin van production in November.

The industry has been hit hard over the last decade as automakers cut jobs in the province and production work flowed to the U.S. and Mexico. Unifor has spent much of the last year striking deals with GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler that will pump $6 billion into Canada’s auto manufacturing industry.

“The stakes going into these negotiations were high with the (Chevrolet) Equinox program ending, and there wasn’t a time during these difficult negotiations that we were not thinking about our members and their families,” said a statement by Mike Van Boekel, chair of Unifor’s master bargaining committee.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias credited the deal to hard work by the local bargaining unit and collaboration with the Ontario and federal governments despite complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To achieve this level of commitment for auto manufacturing shows what can happen when we have a collective vision to secure this sector and create good jobs for Canadians,” Dias said in a statement.

With the Ingersoll plant wrapping up Chevrolet Equinox production in 2023, the plan also comes as GM is trying to transform its business to focus more on electric vehicles.

Last week, the automaker unveiled an updated logo focused on electric vehicles and made headlines at the CES technology trade show. GM Canada president Scott Bell said it was a good sign that Canada was identified as the home of the new electric van just three days after GM announced the new venture.

“GM Canada engineers in Markham and Oshawa were instrumental in the early stages of ideation and testing of this truly innovative solution for the massive global delivery industry,” Bell said in a statement.

“With more than $2 billion in new combined investments announced for Oshawa, St. Catharines and Ingersoll, we are standing up as one of Canada’s most confident investors.”

Bell said the mayors of the Ontario communities, as well as the union and nearby universities, helped move along the Canadian investments. He also said GM’s vision aligns with the Canadian government’s “leadership in addressing electricity prices, industrial taxes.”

Federal Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement on Monday that the government will work with the company on the project and that it is “prepared to support the future of Canada’s auto sector.”

The investments from GM and other automakers, said Champagne, “demonstrate clearly that our government’s policies, working alongside our partners in industry and labour, are driving historic private sector investment.”

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Alberta cancels 11 coal leases, pauses future sales – CTV Toronto

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After weeks of public pressure, Alberta has cancelled 11 coal leases and is pausing future sales in former Category 2 lands, Energy Minister Sonya Savage announced Monday.

“We have listened carefully to the concerns raised in recent days, and thank those who spoke up with passion,” she said in a statement.

“I want to be absolutely clear: Under the current terms, just as it was under the 1976 coal policy, coal leases do not allow for exploration, development or production without a comprehensive regulatory review.

“A lease holder has no more right to set foot on lease property than any other Albertan. The same rules apply now, as before.”

The cancelled leases are a small portion of the coal exploration leases the government has issued since revoking a policy that protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies — home to endangered species as well as the water source for millions downstream — since 1976.

The decision came as more than 100,000 signatures had been collected on two petitions opposing increased mining on two related fronts.

One, sponsored by environmental groups on Change.org, was addressed to the provincial government and had 77,000 signatures Monday afternoon — an increase of about 10,000 over the weekend.

Another, sponsored by a private citizen and addressed to federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, had nearly 28,000 names opposing the Benga coal project in southern Alberta, which is undergoing a federal-provincial environmental review.

As well, a Facebook site called Protect Alberta’s Rockies and Headwaters has more than doubled its membership over the last week to more than 10,000. The Benga review has received more than 4,000 statements of concern from members of the public, the vast majority opposing the project.

Alberta’s NDP Environment Critic Marlin Schmidt issued a statement soon after the announcement was made.

“Today’s backpedaling from the UCP on their removal of protections for Category 2 public lands is a small victory for the thousands upon thousands of Albertans who have spoken up against this UCP government’s reckless decision to rip up Peter Lougheed’s coal policy,” he said.

“While the UCP government has agreed to cancel the 11 most recently issued coal leases, there are another eight leases they sold last May that remain in effect.

“Further, they still have not committed to reinstating the coal policy and to consulting before making further changes. Without these commitments, these precious wild spaces are still under threat.”

Katie Morrison, the conservation director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) said in an interview that the move was “actually not that significant of a change,” saying it still leaves 420,000 hectares of land unprotected, including the area around Grassy Mountain, which has been the source of media interest because of comments from country musicians Corb Lund, Paul Brandt and kd lang opposing mining.

“It’s a step that they’re feeling the pressure,” Morrison said, “but I think it still shows they are still not listening to Albertans.”

“Albertans are saying we don’t want you doing open pit coal mining. We want the coal policy back and this announcement in no way addresses those concerns of Albertans.”

Savage said the pause “will provide our government with the opportunity to ensure that the interests of Albertans, as owners of mineral resources, are protected.”

“Coal development remains an important part of the Western Canadian economy, especially in rural communities, but we are committed to demonstrating that it will only be developed responsibly under Alberta’s modern regulatory standards and processes,” she said.

“This decision has no impact on existing coal projects currently under regulatory review.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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