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69 Canadians giving up holidays to help with Australian wildfires – CBC.ca

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Sixty-nine Canadians are giving up their holidays at home to join the battle for the first time against the deadly wildfires devastating vast tracts of several Australian states.

The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre says 21 highly trained staff from a variety of agencies left Canada on Dec. 3 for a 38-day deployment in New South Wales after the centre received an official request for assistance.

On Thursday, a second group of 30 Canadians was sent in for a 38-day deployment in the fire zone and 18 more are leaving on Dec. 30 for about a month.

Kim Connors, executive director of the Winnipeg-based CIFFC, says Canada has called on Australian firefighters four times since 2015, and the “agreements are reciprocal in nature, so it was the first time that Australia has needed help from Canada.”

“Our Canadian firefighters and their families have volunteered their time to be away for the holidays, which is different for the northern hemisphere to be dealing with wildland fires over Christmas and New Year’s so we’re very proud of them for doing that,” he said in an interview.

The CIFFC says crews from the following provinces are assisting with a variety of tasks including roles in command, aviation, planning, logistics and operations:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Quebec.
  • Yukon.
  • Ontario.
  • Manitoba.
  • Saskatchewan.
  • Alberta.
  • British Columbia.

 “So they’re not on the front line, they’re in the overall management of the fires,” said Connors.

“They’ve been in a period of drought for quite a long period and it’s not a very good situation down there and obviously their summer is just started as our winter starts.”

Record high temperatures and strong southerly winds are fanning more than 100 fires in New South Wales alone.

Two volunteer firefighters have been killed and dozens of homes have been lost since Thursday in the massive fires, including the Gospers Mountain one that covered more than 460,000 hectares.

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Canada receives largest COVID-19 vaccine shipment to date | News – Daily Hive

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Canada has received its largest number of COVID-19 vaccine doses to date as February draws to a close.

At a press briefing on February 25, Major-General Dany Fortin said that 643,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines have been distributed across the country this week alone.

Fortin said that a total of 440,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine would be delivered each week in March, which will round out the company’s first-quarter commitment of 4 million doses.

Moderna, which sends vaccines to Canada every three weeks, is expected to deliver 466,000 doses the week of March 8, and another 846,000 doses the week of March 22.

These next two deliveries will complete the company’s first-quarter commitment of 2 million doses.

“This is all good news for Canadians who are hoping to get vaccinated,” he said. “As we head into spring, we are collectively gearing up for what we call the ramp-up phase.”

Fortin revealed that Pfizer has begun to finalize weekly shipment numbers for the second quarter of the year.

The company is expected to send approximately 769,000 vaccine doses each week for the first two weeks of April.

While numbers for subsequent weeks are still being confirmed, Fortin said a total of 10.8 million Pfizer doses should arrive in Canada between April and June.

The country is still working with Moderna to finalize the company’s shipment dates and dosage numbers for the second quarter.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said that 2.9% of the country has now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 1.1% have been given two doses.

“We are on track to have [a] significant increase into the spring, and again into the summer,” Fortin said.

“The projection is that we have seen 88 million vaccines, of both approved products, in-country by September.

To date, 1,682,106 doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada.

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'Good to go': Canadian pharmacies ready for next phase of vaccine rollout – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canada’s pharmacies say they’re primed and ready to start administering COVID-19 vaccines at their facilities across the country, as government officials prepare for the next phase of vaccine rollout.

Shoppers Drug Mart President Jeff Leger says he’s informed all levels of government that once given the green light, the company’s more than 1,300 locations and an additional 500 Loblaw pharmacies, would need just 48 to 72 hours to get their sites prepped for mass inoculations.

“Our stores have already been thinking about it, we’ve got the processes in place. We can move very quickly and we can move large volumes of people through our network,” Leger said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca on Tuesday.

He said a smooth rollout is contingent on provinces using a framework similar to that used during flu season.

“As long as we’re adhering to the same principles that we’ve done for flu vaccination…we’re good to go,” said Leger. “At the height of flu season we did as many as half a million in one week, we think we could do much more than that – really the constraint was supply.”

He added that this network of pharmacies can manage the finicky ultra-cold storage requirements of the Pfizer vaccine. Leger says he’s also confident the company’s large roster of pharmacists will be able to draw the now-approved sixth dose from vaccine vials using low dead space syringes – though he said they’re still waiting on the shipments of those syringes from provincial governments.

“The supply of those syringes, our understanding [is that] they’ll be coming from the federal supplies and provincial supplies so as long as the supply of those low dead space syringes hold up then there shouldn’t be a problem for that,” he said.

This comes as Health Canada announced its highly-anticipated approval of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate on Friday, now the third vaccine given a formal stamp of approval in Canada. The federal government has secured 20 million doses of this vaccine, set to arrive between April and September, plus an additional 1.9 million doses before the end of June from the global vaccine sharing network COVAX.

The federal government also maintains the country is still on track to meet is six million dose target of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

While the details of how and when pharmacies will be incorporated into vaccine rollout plans differ by province, Joelle Walker, vice-president of public affairs at the Canadian Pharmacists Association, said all have signaled use of the facilities at some point to reach the broader public.

“Pharmacies are very conveniently located. Most Canadians live within five kilometres of a pharmacy which makes them very accessible to people who can’t travel to major centres to get vaccinated,” she said during a phone interview with CTVNews.ca on Friday. “Most Canadians see their pharmacists more than any other provider and so it just makes them an obvious choice.”

Some provinces, including Alberta, have already laid out plans detailing how pharmacies will assist in administering vaccines. Forty-one Shoppers Drug Mart stores and Real Canadian Superstore locations in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer will be offering in-store shots to Albertans 75 and older as early as next week.

“This is a step that just makes sense. As anyone who has gotten a flu shot knows, pharmacists have a lot of experience in delivering vaccines. They have played an important role in our seasonal flu program for many, many years and they have the skills, they have the experience and they have the infrastructure in place to be an important part of our immunization program,” said Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro on Wednesday.

Many other provinces list pharmacies as designated vaccination sites in phase two, which for most is expected to begin in April.

Walker said she’s encouraged the federal government to work more closely with provinces to establish some level of national consistency on pharmacy involvement.

“It [would] make it easier for pharmacists to communicate that information to patients. Many people are saying ‘oh you know, in Alberta it’s over 75’ and not necessarily knowing that will be different in other provinces,” said Walker.

“That kind of consistency of information would really help bring that confidence to Canadians that there’s a process in place.”

As for tracking the second dose of any of the three approved vaccines, Walker said pharmacies are particularly well-equipped with this function as they remind Canadians daily to refill their prescriptions.

“The refill system in pharmacies is designed to do exactly that, to make sure their patients come back when they’re supposed to to pick up their refills.”

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Canadian firm develops biodegradable mask that's ready for production – CTV News

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TORONTO —
A private non-profit Canadian organization and its partners have created an eco-friendly biodegradable mask that is ready for manufacturing and public use, an innovation it says is the first of its kind in the world.

FPInnovations, a research and development centre that supports the Canadian forestry sector, said in a press release on Friday that the masks, which took only a few months to develop from research to market, are fully biodegradable, from the mask filtering materials, to the elastic ear loops and nose pieces.

“The development of a biodegradable mask clearly shows that stimulating the bioeconomy can contribute to a cleaner environment in Canada,” Stephane Renou, president and chief executive of FPInnovations said in a statement.

The project was highlighted by both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Natural Resources, Seamus O’Regan.

“We need to keep wearing our masks to keep each other safe. And now you can wear one without worrying about damaging the environment … This is Team Canada at its best,” O’Regan said in a video posted on Twitter.

A key element that makes this mask appealing is that its components can be easily assembled and produced on existing commercial mask-converting machines, the group behind the $3.3 million project said.

Third party labs have assessed the masks, it added, saying it “would set the standard” for non-medical grade masks for its filtration capabilities, breathability and biodegradability.

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