Kelly Ernst recalls standing on sidewalks, waving to needy families in Calgary’s northeast as they opened their doors to pick up food hampers.
Ernst, vice-president for vulnerable populations at Calgary’s Centre for Newcomers, said the memory speaks to how COVID-19 hurt the community, socially and economically.
Ernst said the Skyview Ranch neighbourhood is one of the most diverse in the country, with a high proportion of visible minorities and newcomers. Residents are often employed in precarious retail jobs or in warehouses, Ernst said. Others work at the city’s airport or in the municipal transit system, both of which were also affected by the pandemic.
“Some of the first people to be laid off during the downturn were people in these precarious jobs,” Ernst said, adding many were left looking for “some way to get through this whole thing.”
Almost seven in every 10 residents over age 15 in Skyview Ranch, received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit in the initial month that the pandemic aid was available, one of the highest concentrations among over 1,600 neighbourhoods The Canadian Press analyzed.
Federal data, obtained through the Access to Information Act, provides the most detailed picture yet of where billions of dollars in emergency aid went last year.
The data is broken down by the first three characters of postal codes, known as “forward sortation areas,” to determine the number of active recipients at any time anywhere in the country.
The Canadian Press used population counts from the 2016 census to calculate what percentage of the population over age 15 in each forward sortation area received the CERB in any four-week pay period.
Some forward sortation areas in the data from Employment and Social Development Canada were created after the 2016 census and weren’t included in the analysis.
Initial wave saw a largely rural-urban split
Over its lifespan between late March and October of last year, the CERB paid out nearly $82 billion to 8.9 million people whose incomes crashed because they saw their hours slashed or lost their jobs entirely.
Some three million people lost their jobs in March and April as non-essential businesses were ordered closed, and 2.5 million more worked less than half their usual hours.
The data from Employment and Social Development Canada show that 6.5 million people received the $500-a-week CERB during the first four weeks it was available, or more than one in five Canadians over age 15.
What emerges from that initial wave is a largely rural-urban split, with higher proportions of populations relying on the CERB in cities compared to rural parts of the country.
Neighbourhoods in Brampton, Ont., on Toronto’s northwest edge, had the largest volume of CERB recipients with postal-code areas averaging over 15,160 recipients per four-week pay period.
CERB usage also appears higher in urban areas that had higher COVID-19 case counts, which was and remains the case in Calgary’s northeast.
“As cities relied more on accommodations, tourism and food as drivers of economic growth, the more they would have been sideswiped by the pandemic, and larger centres have a higher concentration of jobs in these areas,” said David Macdonald, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, who has studied the CERB.
“More rural areas of the country and certain cities that have a higher reliance on, say, natural resources wouldn’t have been hit as hard.”
In Skyview Ranch, census data says 12 per cent lived below the poverty line in 2016, and about three in 10 owners and four in 10 renters faced a housing affordability crunch, meaning they spent 30 per cent or more of their incomes on shelter.
Many live in multi-generational households, which the local city councillor said caused additional concerns about students and working adults spreading the virus to grandparents.
“These are real worries and challenges that members of my community have been facing throughout a pandemic,” said Coun. George Chahal.
“The CERB program and the additional support to small businesses was a huge relief for the fear with many folks in my ward.”
The CERB program paid out $500 per week for people whose incomes had fallen to nothing as a result of the pandemic. The federal Liberals amended the program in April to set a monthly income threshold of $1,000.
Ontario town had the highest average number of residents accessing CERB
At the outset, there were 6,520 residents of Skyview Ranch on the CERB, about 69.4 per cent of the population 15 and up.
Then things improved. Businesses reopened and workers were rehired. The decline in the program’s use in Calgary’s northeast mirrored a nationwide drop in recipients overall, even though there were local increases here and there.
In all, there were 4.4 million recipients in the CERB’s second month, the biggest month-to-month change, 3.7 million in the third, and a steady decline to almost 2.3 million recipients by the time the CERB was replaced by a trio of new recovery benefits and a revamped and restarted employment-insurance system.
Over the lifetime of the CERB, the Ontario town of East Gwillimbury had the highest average number of residents accessing the program, at 24 per cent. The town with the lowest percentage was Winkler, Man., at 3.83 per cent.
In Skyview Ranch, the number of recipients in the last month of the CERB stood at 2,440, or about one-quarter of those over age 15.
There is still hardship in Skyview Ranch. The area has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases and incomes have dropped again as restrictions rolled in through December, part of a wider drop in the national labour market.
Chahal said there still is a need in the area for government aid like the federal recovery benefits.
“Maybe not for everybody,” he said, “but there are going to be a lot of folks who are going to be in need of assistance in the upcoming months as we move from this stage of the pandemic (and) into economic recovery.”
Nine areas of Ontario move into new tiers of coronavirus framework today; two go into lockdown – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, March 1, 2021 5:41AM EST
Last Updated Monday, March 1, 2021 6:31AM EST
TORONTO — New public health measures meant to limit the spread of COVID-19 went into effect across nine Ontario regions today, including two that are heading into lockdown due to rising case counts.
The Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka health units have seen infections rising in recent days, driven in part by transmission of more infectious variants of the virus.
The province activated what it describes as an “emergency brake” for those districts, moving them to the grey tier of Ontario’s colour-coded pandemic response plan.
The move will impose a variety of more stringent public health measures in those regions, including capping most indoor gatherings at 10 people, closing restaurants to in-person service and forcing non-essential retailers to operate at 25-per-cent capacity.
Seven other public health units will be easing restrictions as they move down a level in the provincial framework.
The Niagara Region is now classified as red, the Chatham-Kent, Middlesex-London and Southwestern units all move to the orange tier, Haldimand-Norfolk and Huron Perth transition to the yellow level, and Grey Bruce will become a green zone with the least restrictive measures in place.
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery – CTV News
The federal government hopes to start receiving doses of AstraZeneca’s recently approved COVID-19 vaccine this week as the flood of shots that flowed into Canada from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna last week partially subsides.
Health Canada announced on Friday that it had approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third COVID-19 shot to have received regulatory approval since the start of the pandemic.
Canada has ordered 24 million doses of the vaccine, with the majority to be delivered from the United States between April and September.
But two million jabs have been ordered from the Serum Institute of India, and Verity Pharmaceuticals, which is facilitating the institute’s application in Canada, has said the first 500,000 would reach Canadian shores this week.
A senior government official told The Canadian Press on background Sunday that the first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday, though the shipment has not been confirmed.
Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, also told the CBC on Sunday that the regulator had received additional information over the weekend from Johnson and Johnson, which is seeking approval for its own vaccine. Regulators in the U.S. gave it the green light over the weekend.
Sharma said Health Canada is hoping to approve Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in “the next couple of weeks,” but added any decision is contingent on the information presented by the company.
As it stands now, the Public Health Agency of Canada is currently only expecting delivery of about 445,000 vaccine doses this week, which is about 200,000 less than last week’s record high of 640,000 doses in a seven-day period.
The confirmed doses are all coming from Pfizer-BioNTech, as the two companies settle into a rhythm following a month-long delivery lull in January and much of February due to production upgrades in Europe. The pharmaceutical giants have pledged to deliver 4 million doses by the end of March.
Canada received 168,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine last week, but the company only delivers every three weeks.
Clinical trials showed the AstraZeneca vaccine to be less effective at preventing infection than the other two, but it is still keeping people from getting very sick or dying, Sharma said Friday.
Pfizer and Moderna both reported their products were 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in immunized patients compared to those who received a placebo. Efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine is believed to be around 62 per cent.
It’s not entirely clear yet how provinces and territories will incorporate the AstraZeneca vaccine into their inoculation efforts, but the product offers a more flexible option since shots can be shipped and stored in refrigerators rather than freezers.
AstraZeneca vaccines are to be given in two doses between four and 12 weeks apart. Sharma said there is some indication that waiting longer for a follow-up jab leads to a better response, but that data is not yet complete.
There have been some concerns raised about the AstraZeneca vaccine in recent weeks, including its effectiveness against virus variants of concern and whether there is enough data to show it works on older recipients.
Several European countries, including Germany and France, limited AstraZeneca’s vaccine to residents under the age of 65.
Sharma said there were a limited number of people over 65 involved in the clinical trials, but that data, coupled with the real-world experience in the United Kingdom, shows strong evidence seniors are protected.
Canada’s vaccine program is ramping up after the lengthy slowdown in deliveries.
More than 300,000 people were vaccinated in the last week, almost one-fifth of the total doses injected since the first immunizations began Dec. 14.
About 700,000 people had received one dose as of Friday afternoon, and more than 500,000 are now fully vaccinated with two doses.
Quebec is set to expand its vaccination effort to the general public on Monday by allowing seniors 85 or older to begin booking appointments. The age threshold has been lowered to 80 for seniors in the Montreal area.
The AstraZeneca vaccine works differently than the other two already in use in Canada.
Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna use messenger RNA technology, using RNA encoded with the piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as the spike protein. The mRNA trains the body to fight off a COVID-19 infection.
AstraZeneca is a viral vector vaccine, which takes a cold virus, modifies it so it can’t reproduce itself, and adds the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. When injected, it too provokes the body to develop infection-fighting antibodies and cells to combat the virus.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, March 1 – CBC.ca
What’s the latest?
Details of how to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment and where to go for that vaccine in Ottawa should be released today. Vaccines for those over age 80 in specific Ottawa neighbourhoods begin Friday.
Ontario’s website for booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments will begin a “soft launch” in six public health units this week, three of them in eastern Ontario. The wide launch is expected March 15.
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How many cases are there?
As of Sunday, 14,705 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. There are currently 504 known active cases, 13,762 resolved cases and 439 deaths.
Public health officials have reported more than 26,100 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 24,500 resolved cases.
Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 130 people have died of COVID-19, and 160 people have died in western Quebec.
Akwesasne has had more than 240 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and seven deaths. Kitigan Zibi has had 21 confirmed cases and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had six, with one death.
What can I do?
Restaurants, gyms, personal care services, theatres and non-essential businesses are open across eastern Ontario. Most sports can also resume.
Social gatherings can have up to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. Organized events can be larger.
People are asked to only have close contact with people they live with, be masked and distanced for all other in-person contact and only travel for essential reasons, especially between differently coloured zones.
Both Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and the EOHU are orange under the province’s colour-coded pandemic scale.
Renfrew County’s health unit has given multiple warnings that private gatherings are a problem and could cause stricter rules.
That area’s new curfew hours are 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m.
Like in Ontario, people are asked not to see anyone they don’t live with in person and travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged.
Distancing and isolating
This means it is important to take precautions now and in the months to come like staying home while symptomatic — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don’t live with, even with a mask on.
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OPH says residents should also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who’ve been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Quebec and Ontario; the latter recently updated its rules, including in schools.
Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get help with errands.
Symptoms and vaccines
COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children can develop a rash.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
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About 81,700 doses have been given out since mid-December, including about 49,100 doses in Ottawa and 13,300 in western Quebec.
Ontario’s first doses generally went to care home residents and health-care workers. and it’s now expanding.
Ontarians who are eligible can book appointments online or over the phone starting March 15. Vaccines are expected to be widely available in August.
Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check with them for specifics.
More details on those logistics are expected today.
Reminder: we are currently using automated phone calls to contact Ottawa’s home-care patients in some higher-priority neighbourhoods who are soon able to get their vaccine.<br><br>If you get a call, kindly answer & follow the instructions. Thank you. <a href=”https://t.co/oVsPNDAhNU”>https://t.co/oVsPNDAhNU</a> <a href=”https://t.co/877neMALl3″>pic.twitter.com/877neMALl3</a>
Many eastern Ontario vaccine clinic locations are in the same communities as test sites and none are open yet for the general public.
WATCH | Why you’re asked to not cherry-pick vaccines:
Quebec is giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers.
It moves to older adults outside care homes starting March 10 in western Quebec’s six clinics, then essential workers and finally the general public. People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone.
Quebecers should get their second dose within 90 days.
Where to get tested
In eastern Ontario:
Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.
People without symptoms but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Casselman, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester.
People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or in Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred.
Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions.
In western Quebec:
Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.
There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki and Petite-Nation.
Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis:
Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who’s been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and now vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.
For more information
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