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Alberta maps out next stages of vaccine eligibility, reports 65 new variant cases of COVID-19 – Calgary Herald

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Once Phase 2A is complete, the province will shift to Phase 2B — likely in April — which would open eligibility for adults with severe underlying conditions

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Alberta has laid out its plan for the next stages of vaccine eligibility, as another 65 variant cases of COVID-19 were detected in the province Monday.

Appointments for Phase 2A of the province’s vaccine rollout opened Monday morning, with 8,000 eligible Albertans signing up for their time slots within the first several hours. Bookings through Alberta Health Services for those eligible will expand to include Albertans born in 1948 or earlier and First Nations, Métis and Inuit individuals born in 1963 or earlier at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Phase 2A will continue expanding until bookings are available for Albertans born between 1947 and 1956, and Indigenous individuals born in 1971 or earlier. As well, staff and residents of licensed seniors supportive-living facilities who were left out of the first phase will be eligible.

More than 437,000 Albertans qualify for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines under Phase 2A.

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“I’m so grateful for everyone who is signing up. I know many others are eager for their turn, and we were asking everyone to please be patient,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, during Monday’s press conference.

Once Phase 2A is complete, the province will shift to Phase 2B — likely in April — which would open eligibility for adults with severe underlying conditions. Hinshaw said they have carefully considered the list of qualifying conditions and released the full list on Monday, which is available at alberta.ca/covid19-vaccine.

The list includes chronic heart disease, vascular disease, asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen, diabetes, immunosuppression, pregnancy, severe mental illness, substance use disorders, learning disabilities, and organ, bone marrow or stem cell transplant recipients. Chronic kidney, liver, neurological and respiratory diseases also made the list.

Each of these conditions has specific stipulations that are listed online. For example, mild or well-controlled asthma isn’t considered a severe underlying condition of respiratory disease.

However, people with underlying conditions will not need a note from a doctor or pharmacist when they book or attend their appointment.

“We will be operating on the honour system, which is the same approach being taken by Ontario and other provinces,” said Hinshaw.

She encourages people to consult with their doctor or pharmacist if they have any questions about whether or not they qualify.

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Phase 2C is expected to launch in late April, Hinshaw said, as she provided updated information about those who will be eligible in this stage.

Included in this phase are residents and support staff at specific congregate living and work settings that are at risk for outbreaks, including correctional facilities, homeless shelters, meat-packing plants and group homes. This would include front-line police, transport and court sheriffs who work closely with eligible congregate populations.

Health-care workers such as pharmacists, dentists and other regulated health-care professionals, including students undertaking placement practicums in clinical areas and health-care workers on First Nation reserves, will also become eligible. And the vaccine will also be offered to caregivers of Albertans who are most at risk of severe outcomes such as designated family or support people of those in long-term care and up to two caregivers for children under 16 who have chronic conditions but can’t receive the vaccine themselves.

“Together, these phases represent a vast group of Albertans. More than 660,000 Albertans will be eligible under Phase 2B and another 400,000 will be able to book in Phase 2C,” said Hinshaw.

It will take some time to provide a vaccine to everyone who wants one in these stages, Hinshaw said.

“Vaccines save lives and their benefits far outweigh any risks. I continue encouraging everyone to book an appointment to be immunized,” she added.

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“Until then, we must continue protecting each other. We must not let our guard down.”

Alberta detects 65 variant cases, 255 people in hospital

Alberta detected another 65 variant cases on Monday, all of them the B.1.1.7 strain that was first identified in the United Kingdom.

This brings the total of B.1.1.7 cases in the province to 967, while there have been 16 cases of the B.1.351 variant identified in South Africa and two of the P.1 strain discovered in Brazil.

Of the 985 variant cases reported to date, 474 remain active.

Alberta reported 364 new cases, which came from 6,618 tests for a positivity rate of about 5.5 per cent. There are 4,811 active cases provincewide.

The province’s R-value averaged 1.07 last week, meaning the transmission rate was increasing.

As of Monday, there were 255 people in hospital, including 42 in intensive-care units. This a slight increase from the 248 hospitalizations and 38 ICU admissions reported the day before.

Three COVID-19 deaths were reported Monday, including a woman in her 90s from the Calgary zone, a man in his 60s from the South zone and a man in his 80s from the Edmonton zone. The provincial death toll sits at 1,949.

Alberta has now administered 368,124 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and 91,593 people have received both shots.

Alberta Health Services transitioned bookings for the AstraZeneca vaccine through its Health Link’s phone line only until supply is fully depleted. Bookings remain open for Albertans born between 1957 and 1961 and Indigenous individuals between 1972 and 1976.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered reassurances on the safety of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Monday as the list of European countries suspending its use due to safety concerns grew.

Germany joined others in Europe pausing their use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over reports of blood clots in some recipients, even though European regulators say there’s no evidence the shot is to blame.

Health Canada regulators are constantly analyzing all the available information about vaccines and have guaranteed those approved in Canada are safe for use, Trudeau told reporters in Montreal.

— With files from The Canadian Press

sbabych@postmedia.com
Twitter: @BabychStephanie

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Canadian National challenges Canadian Pacific with $33.7 billion Kansas City bid

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By Shreyasee Raj

(Reuters) -Canadian National said on Tuesday it had offered to buy Kansas City Southern railroad for about $33.7 billion, and shares of U.S. company soared as investors anticipated a potential bidding war with Canadian Pacific.

Canadian Pacific had agreed a deal to acquire Kansas City Southern for about $25 billion last month. Either combination would create a North American railway spanning the United States, Mexico and Canada as supply chains recover from being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The acquisition interest in Kansas City Southern also follows the ratification of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement last year, that removed the threat of trade tensions which had escalated under former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Kansas City said it would evaluate Canadian National’s offer. If it found it could lead to a better deal, Canadian Pacific will be given the opportunity to raise its bid.

Canadian National’s cash-and-stock offer, worth $325 per share, is at a 26.8% premium to Kansas City Southern’s offer as of Monday’s trading close.

“We are surprised by this move given the healthy valuation Canadian Pacific had already offered to Kansas City Southern shareholders,” Stephens analyst Justin Long wrote in a note to clients.

Kansas City Southern shares rose 15.8% to $297.12, indicating most investors deemed it unlikely the company would stick with Canadian Pacific’s offer.

One investor that took a different view is Chilton Investment Co, which has a less than 1% stake in Kansas City Southern. Citing regulatory hurdles, it said it preferred a deal with Canadian Pacific.

“There’s more overlap with Canadian National deal which makes it harder to get (regulatory) approval. The Surface Transportation Board (STB) doesn’t like overlap,” Chilton CEO Richard Chilton said.

Canadian National CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest said his network and that of Kansas City Southern are “highly complementary networks with limited overlap.” They only run parallel for 65 miles, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Kansas City Southern has domestic and international rail operations in North America, focused on the north-south freight corridor connecting commercial and industrial markets in the central United States with industrial cities in Mexico. Calgary-based Canadian Pacific is Canada’s No. 2 railroad operator, behind Canadian National.

The STB updated its merger regulations in 2001 to introduce a requirement that Class I railways have to show a deal is in the public interest. Yet it provided an exemption to Kansas City Southern given its small size, potentially limiting the scrutiny that its acquisition will be subjected to.

Canadian Pacific agreed in its negotiations with Kansas City Southern to bear most of the risk of the deal not going through. It will buy Kansas City Southern shares and place them in an independent voting trust, insulating the acquisition target from its control until the STBLatest clears the deal. Were the STB to reject the combination, Canadian Pacific would have to sell the shares of Kansas City Southern, but the current Kansas City Southern shareholders would keep their proceeds.

Canadian National said it was willing to match these terms. It said its offer does not require approval from its own shareholders because of how much cash it has, eliminating a condition in Canadian Pacific’s offer.

Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment, which is Canadian National’s biggest investor with a 14.25% stake, said it fully supports the combination.

A private equity consortium led by Blackstone Group Inc and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) made an unsuccessful offer last year to acquire Kansas City Southern. But it was Canadian Pacific’s announcement of a deal with Kansas City Southern that spurred Canadian National into action, as it raised the prospect of losing out to its rival, according to people familiar with the matter.

(Reporting by Shreyasee Raj and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Anil D’Silva and David Gregorio)

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CEO shake-up at Canada’s Nutrien could pave way to M&A: shareholders

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By Rod Nickel and Maiya Keidan

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Investors expect the new chief executive of Canada‘s Nutrien Ltd to swing deals as part of a more aggressive growth strategy, after an abrupt shake-up at Canada‘s biggest agriculture company.

Nutrien, the world’s biggest fertilizer producer by capacity, surprised shareholders on Sunday by promoting its chairman, Mayo Schmidt, to CEO, replacing Chuck Magro, who had led the company since it formed from Agrium’s 2018 merger with Potash Corp.

Schmidt, raised on a Kansas farm, is best known for leading the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool grain cooperative’s acquisition of competitor Agricore United in 2007, creating Viterra Inc, one of Canada‘s biggest grain handlers. He subsequently bought Australia’s ABB Grain before leading the sale of Viterra to commodity trader Glencore PLC in 2012.

“Acceleration of M&A is a natural progression as we enter the next commodity supercycle,” said Michael Underhill, chief investment officer at Capital Innovations LLC, which owns Nutrien shares. “I would not bet against him.”

Nutrien shares were down 1.3% on Tuesday, after falling 3.5% on Monday. They have risen about 35% year over year, riding soaring corn prices, but gained only 2% since they began trading in 2018.

Some investors had grown uncertain about Nutrien’s growth strategy under Magro, said Mike Archibald, vice-president and portfolio manager at AGF Investments, which owns C$136 million ($109 million) worth of the company’s stock.

Archibald said now the strategy looks likely to shift to deals.

“The incoming CEO does have a history as a deal-maker so, to the extent he lives up to what he’s done in the past, we should expect sometime in the next 12 months that we’ll get something happening on the M&A front,” Archibald said.

POTENTIAL DEALS

Nutrien could try to acquire U.S. nitrogen fertilizer rival CF Industries, which has a $10-billion market capitalization, or accelerate the company’s roll-up of smaller farm retail stores, Archibald said. A CF spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Conversely, Schmidt could sell off the retail business to focus on fertilizer production, Archibald said.

Nutrien declined an interview request for Schmidt. A company spokeswoman said Schmidt’s plans include following the company’s climate change initiatives, which Magro unveiled this month.

Schmidt may also eye selling Nutrien’s phosphate fertilizer business, even though it recently got a boost from U.S. duties against Russian and Moroccan imports, said Brian Madden, senior vice-president at Goodreid Investment Counsel, a Nutrien shareholder.

The CEO change is positive, as Schmidt has an exceptional record of creating shareholder value, said Scotiabank analyst Ben Isaacson. He added that Nutrien could look to consolidate the nitrogen industry.

Schmidt would find it difficult to sell Nutrien itself, Madden said. There is no obvious domestic acquirer and the Canadian government rejected a foreign bid for Potash Corp in 2010.

“Schmidt has got cred in the ag world,” Madden said. But he added that abruptly changing chief executives is not how successions should occur at large companies.

 

 

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Maiya Keidan in Toronto; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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Canadian Business During the Pandemic

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In 2019 the world was hit by the covid 19 pandemic and ever since then people have been suffering in different ways. Usually, economies and businesses have changed the way they work and do business. Most of which are going towards online and automation.

The people most effected by this are the laymen that used to work hard labors to make money for there families. But other then them it has been hard for most business to make such switch. Those of whom got on the online/ e commerce band wagon quickly were out of trouble and into the safe zone but not everyone is mace for the high-speed online world and are thus suffering.

More than 200,000 Canadian businesses could close permanently during the COVID-19 crisis, throwing millions of people out of work as the resurgence of the virus worsens across much of the country, according to new research. You can only imagine how many families these businesses were feeding, not to mention the impact the economy and the GDP is going to bear.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said one in six, or about 181,000, Canadian small business owners are now seriously contemplating shutting down. The latest figures, based on a survey of its members done between Jan. 12 and 16, come on top of 58,000 businesses that became inactive in 2020.

An estimate by the CFIB last summer said one in seven or 158,000 businesses were at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic. Based on the organization’s updated forecast, more than 2.4 million people could be out of work. A staggering 20 per cent of private sector jobs.

Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s senior director of national research, said it was an alarming increase in the number of businesses that are considering closing.

We are not headed in the right direction, and each week that passes without improvement on the business front pushes more owners to make that final decision,”

He said in a statement.

The more businesses that disappear, the more jobs we will lose, and the harder it will be for the economy to recover.

In total, one in five businesses are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the pandemic, the organization said.

The new sad research shows that this year has been horrible for the Canadian businesses.

 

The beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the CFIB, in a statement.

She called on governments to help small businesses “replace subsidies with sales” by introducing safe pathways to reopen to businesses.

There’s a lot at stake now from jobs, to tax revenue to support for local soccer teams,”

Jones said.

Let’s make 2021 the year we help small business survive and then get back to thriving.”

The whole world has suffered a lot from the pandemic and the Canadian economy has been no stranger to it. We can only pray that the world gets rid of this pandemic quickly and everything become as it used to be. Although I think it is about time, we start setting new norms.

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