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5,300 Moderna vaccines will go to First Nations communities starting this week –



Thousands of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to First Nations communities around Manitoba, starting as soon as this week, the provincial government announced Thursday.

The province expects a shipment of 7,300 Moderna vaccine doses to arrive this week, 5,300 of which will be immediately available to First Nations.

“I think it brings some hope, really, to all of us that we’re going to get through this soon, rather than later,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs organization (SCO).

Over the last couple of weeks, a team of First Nations health experts has collaborated with the provincial vaccine implementation task force to identify priority communities and populations to receive the first doses.

The team includes representatives from SCO, as well as the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakinak (MKO) and Indigenous health researchers from the University of Manitoba. 

“We are pleased at the partnership and spirit of collaboration that has developed and will continue as the delicate decisions around the deployment of this vaccine are made,” Dr. Barry Lavallee, health lead for MKO and CEO of Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin, said in a news release.

Melanie MacKinnon, the head of Ongomiizwin at the U of M and a member of the First Nations advisory team, told CBC News that more details about the distribution of the vaccine — including which communities would get priority access — would be announced this weekend.

Daniels said the emphasis will be on isolated communities, such as Little Grand Rapids, Poplar River and Pauingassi in the south, as well people in long-term care homes, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

Health workers get priority

Arlen Dumas, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said front-line health workers will get first priority. 

“It’s going to go primarily to all of the people on the ground, the front-line workers, the people who will be giving the vaccine,” he said.

Although the province launched its vaccination program on Dec. 16 with the arrival of the first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the storage requirements for it meant that remote and northern communities had to wait for the Moderna vaccine, which can be transported more easily.

The provincial government says it has committed to making planes available to take the vaccine to priority locations. 

First Nations hit hard

In an interview with CBC News on Tuesday, Lavallee said Manitoba could alleviate pressure on the province’s health system by prioritizing Indigenous people, which make up a disproportionate number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions.

First Nations currently make up a third of those in hospital with COVID-19 and more than 40 per cent of intensive care unit patients. Out of Manitoba’s 63 First Nations, 54 have had COVID-19 cases. 

Lavallee also said it was the work of First Nations health scholars, as well as pressure from First Nations leaders that convinced the provincial government to invite Indigenous experts to the table. 

The province says it is prioritizing health-care workers and elder-care facilities in First Nations communities, as well as offering joint training for First Nations immunization teams, access to its best practices and guiding documents and collaborating on an immunization promotional campaign.

A dedicated vaccination site will also open in Thompson to serve northern and remote communities, including First Nations. This will allow the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be shipped north, along with the Moderna vaccine.

By the end of March, Manitoba is set to receive a per-capita allotment of 228,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, as well as an extra 9,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine dedicated to First Nations.

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TD Bank CFO Ahmed to head securities unit, move seen as CEO succession play



TD Bank Group on Thursday named Chief Financial Officer Riaz Ahmed chief executive of its securities unit and head of wholesale banking, a move some investors interpreted as a sign he will succeed CEO Bharat Masrani.

For Ahmed, 58, the change marks a return to his TD roots. He began his career at the bank in 1996 as an investment banker in the securities division, following which he served as its CFO and chief administrative officer. He has been part of TD Bank‘s executive team for nine years, and CFO for over five.

“Cross-training in the capital markets role … increases the likelihood of (Ahmed) succeeding Masrani when he retires, but I doubt it would be soon, as that would create unnecessary turnover atop TD Securities,” said Brian Madden, portfolio manager at Goodreid Investment Counsel.

“Maybe Masrani announces his retirement next year (or the following) and leaves early in 2023” or 2024.

Masrani’s compensation arrangements anticipated his retirement in 2020, TD said in its 2019 shareholders meeting proxy circular. But he was granted stock options worth C$1.9 million ($1.5 million), vesting in five years, on the condition that he remain available to serve as CEO throughout that period.

Ahmed replaces Bob Dorrance, who will retire on Sept. 1 after about 16 years at the bank, Canada’s second-biggest lender by market value said in a statement.

When asked about TD’s succession plans, a spokesperson said: “Today we are celebrating Bob Dorrance’s incredible career and accomplishments, and the appointment of top executives to critical, leadership roles.”

At a time when diversity, particularly in executive and board ranks, has come under increased scrutiny, Ahmed’s appointment as CEO would mean TD, the only one of Canada’s six biggest lenders to have a non-Caucasian at its helm, would retain that aspect.

Ahmed’s appointment comes after TD’s wholesale banking unit recorded an 8% revenue decline in the second quarter from a year ago, contributing to the bank’s overall underperformance versus some rivals.

Kelvin Tran, currently executive vice president for enterprise finance, will replace Ahmed as finance chief.

Dorrance, who has headed TD Securities since 2005, will stay on as chairman of TD Securities and serve as special adviser to Masrani.

TD shares were flat at C$87.12 on Thursday afternoon, compared with a 0.2% gain in the Toronto stock index. The shares are up 21% this year, versus a 15% gain in the benchmark.

($1 = 1.2303 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather in Toronto; Additional reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in BengaluruEditing by Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis)

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AIB agrees to life and pensions joint-venture with Canada Life



Allied Irish Banks on Wednesday said it would form a joint venture with Canada life as it seeks to plug gaps in its life, savings and wealth products.

The joint venture will be equally owned by Canada Life, a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco Inc.

“The move to create this joint venture is aligned with AIB’s stated ambition to complete its customerproduct suite and diversify income,” AIB said in a statement.

“Through this strategic initiative AIB intends to offer customers a range of life protection, pensions, savings and investment options enhanced by integrated digital solutions withcontinued access to our qualified financial advisors.”

The Irish lender highlighted Canada Life’s “deep experience” of the Irish bancassurance market through Irish Life Assurance, which is also a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco.

AIB currently operates under a tied agency distribution agreement with Irish Life, and will enter into a new distribution agreement with the new joint venture company.

Chief Executive Colin Hunt highlighted the need to plug gaps in AIB’s life, savings and wealth products when he set out the bank’s medium-term targets last December.

AIB expects its equity investment in the joint venture will be around 90 million euros ($107.51 million), equating to around 10bps of CET1.($1 = 0.8372 euros)

(Reporting by Graham Fahy;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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Interac: Canada’s Latest Payment Solution Phenomenon



Few can argue that digital payment methods aren’t central to modern-day society. In recent times, increasing numbers of payment solutions have come to the forefront, offering consumers more choice regarding their transaction preferences. Canada, in particular, has embraced a wide-ranging selection of secure, forward-thinking options. Of those available throughout the country, Interac has piqued the interests of local consumers the most. So, let’s look at why this payment solution is an especially popular option throughout Canada. 

Usable Across Various Markets 

It speaks volumes about Interac’s versatility in that it’s usable across a variety of different industries. Since being founded in 1984, the Canadian interbank network has become integral to numerous markets, including local air travel. Air Canada, which has been operating since 1937, has expanded their accepted payment methods, and now passengers can pay for their flights using Interac. According to the airline’s official website, the Interac Online service lets consumers pay for their tickets via the internet directly from their bank account. 

Not only that, but Interac is also available at Walmart. In November 2020, the two organizations partnered together to expand in-store and online payment options. Walmart has adapted well to the digital trend, with American Banker reporting that they’ve opened Interac Flash sale points throughout their stores. 

Source: Unsplash

Aside from the above, Interac has also taken the digital world by storm. Following its rapid rise to prominence, the solution has also altered the online casino industry, with platforms like Genesis Casino now accepting the transaction type. The provider, which features Interac Canadian casino options, uses the popular payment method to enhance transaction speeds of deposits and withdrawals, as well as security. Players can use Interac Online and Interac e-Transfer to make deposits or withdrawals from their desktops or mobiles as the platform is fully optimized. 

A Reflection of Modern-Day Society 

In recent times, Interac recorded a 55 percent increase in transactions between April and August 2020 compared to the same period the previous year, as per BNN Bloomberg. These figures somewhat reflect the current state of e-Commerce and modern consumerism. Following the rise of Interac and other payment methods, it’s now less troublesome for consumers to complete in-store and online purchases. 

Source: PxHere

There’s an ever-growing perception that land-based businesses need to adapt within the digital era and accept forward-thinking payment methods. According to Cision, Interac is of utmost importance to the Canadian economy, and a year-on-year increase in Interac Debit payments of 333 percent reflects that. Not only that, but Interac e-Transfer payments are growing at 52 percent each year. This Interac-oriented trend appears unlikely to fade over the coming years, with the network being selected as the country’s provider for a new real-time payment system, as per Lexology. 

Consumer Habits are Changing 

There can be no doubt that consumerism has changed drastically over the past decade. The popularity of Interac suggests that a cashless future may be on the horizon, with increasing numbers of shoppers enjoying the security of online payment methods. While it’s currently unclear if that will happen, Interac appears to be prevalent for the long run.

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