Another age bracket of Albertans will be able to book appointments for the AstraZenica COVID-19 vaccine starting Thursday, after more than 11,500 bookings were made Wednesday.
According to Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Albertans who were born in 1958, as well as First Nations, Metis and Inuit people born in 1973, will be eligible for an AztraZenica immunization.
The province is rolling out eligibility for its current 58,000 doses of the third vaccine to be approved in Canada based on birth year.
“If you are eligible to get the vaccine, please do so. And encourage your friends and neighbours to do so as well. The more people who become immunized, the less the virus will be able to mutate, and the less it will impact our communities.”
Those eligible are encouraged to book online or book in off-peak times, as 811 demand and call volume is expected to be high.
Senior Toronto scientists question 4-month delay of 2nd dose
Hinshaw said as of Wednesday, nearly 138,000 seniors over the age of 75 who are not living in designated supported living or continuing care facilities – which were included in Phase 1A of Alberta’s vaccine rollout – have either gotten their shot or have their appointment booked.
So far, 309,000 doses of vaccine have been administered to Albertans, with 91,000 people being fully immunized against COVID-19 with two doses.
Hinshaw said it “can be tempting to let your guard down after immunization,” but stressed that more research needs to be done before health officials can determine how being vaccinated impacts viral transmission.
“Even if you have been vaccinated with one or two doses, all public health orders in place still apply,” she said.
Hinshaw stressed that while it’s recommended those with chronic health issues try to get a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine rather than AstraZenica, the AstraZeniva vaccine is “not unsafe” for those who suffer from chronic conditions.
“If an individual who has a chronic condition wishes to receive AstraZenica and they’re in the appropriate age group, they could choose to do so,” she said.
“There is no requirement to prove that an individual is healthy if they wish to receive AstraZenica vaccine and they are in the eligible age group.”
Those looking to book an AstraZenica vaccine appointment are encouraged to weigh their options and make the best decision for them, Hinshaw said.
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine ‘not unsafe’ for chronic conditions: Hinshaw
Bookings for Phase 2A of the vaccine rollout is scheduled to start Monday, March 15, and will be open to those 65 to 74, no matter where they live, as well as First Nations, Metis and Inuit people 50 and older. Staff and residents of licensed supportive livings are also included.
However, Global News called 10 pharmacies in Edmonton currently providing immunizations, and several were already scheduling Phase 2A appointments. Hinshaw said some pharmacies have already started taking those appointments because they have stores of Pfizer vaccine that could be set to expire soon.
“We have also indicated to pharmacies that if they have doses of vaccine (that) will be expiring, that they should using those so that we don’t waste that produce,” she said.
“And so there may be pharmacies that have appointments open that haven’t been taken by those 75 plus, and then they would naturally go on to that next eligible category in order to not waste the vaccine.”
Alberta Health later said in an email that while pharmacies are taking those bookings, people are being asked to “be patient” and wait until Monday.
Hinshaw said the province is still working through the expression of interest process of getting doctors’ offices and clinics added to the list of places where vaccines can be administered. She said pharmacies have been the dominant provider of flu vaccines in Alberta, which means they already have the infrastructure in place for storage and tracking of vaccines that few clinics currently have.
Hinshaw said roughly half the current supply of AstraZenica vaccine has to be used up before April 2, with the remainder having a longer shelf life.
With the current uptake in appointments, she doesn’t forsee any issue with having those vaccines in Albertans’ arms before their expiry date.
“With respect to whether Albertans might be waiting for an mRNA vaccine — the Pfzer or the Moderna – it’s difficult to say. I do think that we have good evidence, certainly real-world evidence out of the U.K., that the AstraZenica vaccine is effective at preventing severe outcomes in the individual who receives it,” Hinshaw said.
“So I would encourage Albertans who are eligible for vaccine to look at the options and then choose the vaccine that they’re able to get as soon as they can.”
16-week gap between shots
Starting Wednesday, appointments for first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses in Alberta will be spaced up to 16 weeks apart, but one infectious diseases researcher said that may not always be the case.
The change in timing comes after a recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), which cited evidence showing there was some protection against severe outcomes after the first dose.
Up until Wednesday, doses were being spaced out up to six weeks in Alberta, which is already more than the two- and three-week recommendations of manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna.
However, it is not clear how long the province may follow the NACI recommendation of up to 16 weeks.
“It’s certainly possible that the door has been left open to be able to revert back to the timelines that were on the box, on the label, and that we have more data for,” said Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious diseases researcher at the University of Alberta.
“That said, from the standpoint of getting as many people as quickly as possible, it does make sense to hold off on those first doses initially, based on the data that has emerged. But I think as supply ramps up and starts to catch up with demand, I think certainly there could be a situation where that recommendation is relaxed.”
Schwartz said it may be possible to see large windows where people can select their date for a follow-up appointment.
Alberta labs confirmed an additional 399 new COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours, from roughly 10,400 tests, putting the province’s positivity rate at 3.7 per cent.
A total of 254 people were being treated in the province’s hospitals, with 37 of them in intensive care units.
Two deaths were reported on Wednesday.
A woman in her 70s in the Calgary zone with no known comorbidities died. A woman in her 80s in the Central zone also died. Her case included comorbidities, according to Alberta Health.
Alberta identifies 47 COVID-19 variant cases Wednesday
Forty-seven new cases of variants of concern were also detected in the province, bringing the total number of cases since Dec. 15 to 734.
Hinshaw said the percentage of variant cases in Alberta’s total case numbers has risen slightly in six weeks, from three per cent in late January to nine per cent currently – which is significantly lower than other jurisdictions, which have seen their cases rise from three to four per cent to nearly 50 per cent in the same time frame.
“This means that our health measures — both the overall restrictions, as well as the targeted measures for variant cases – are working to slow the growth. And if we continue to work together, we can continue to limit the spread.”
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Enterprise charges customer more than $3,300 for damage incurred after truck returned – CBC.ca
Samuel Wardlaw expected to pay $200 for his truck rental. Instead, Enterprise Rent-A-Car added more than $3,300 to his bill — for damage that occurred after he dropped it off.
He’d only used the truck for five hours, to move some belongings to his new apartment.
But a week later, an unexpected email from the rental giant said he was responsible for damage that occurred on the Enterprise lot after hours.
- Have a question or something to say? CBC News is live in the comments now.
The email didn’t explain what had happened or why he was responsible — but it struck fear in Wardlaw, 29, a delivery driver for a lumber company.
“I was anxious about what the price was going to be,” he said. “So to see over $3,300 in damage? I was totally shocked.”
Enterprise said later that, after Wardlaw parked the truck and put the keys in a secure drop box, as instructed by an employee, someone stole its catalytic converter, a part of the exhaust system that contains valuable metals.
Enterprise pointed to a clause on page 7 of its rental contract that says drivers who drop off a vehicle after hours are responsible for any damage or theft until it’s checked in by an employee.
“It’s their truck, their lot, their catalytic converter. Everything about it is within Enterprise’s control,” said Wardlaw. “For them to say it’s my liability is pretty ridiculous.”
After Go Public got involved, Enterprise said in an email it had “decided not to pursue the claim.”
The company did not explain why and said no one was available for an interview.
Go Public has checked the terms and conditions for the three major companies that account for an estimated 95 per cent of all car rentals in Canada: Enterprise (which owns National and Alamo), Avis (which owns Budget) and Hertz (which owns Dollar and Thrifty).
All the contracts contain similar clauses, claiming drivers are responsible for any damage or theft from the time they drop off a vehicle until it is checked back in.
A consumer advocate and lawyer says Enterprise and other car rental giants give the impression there’s no downside to dropping off a vehicle after hours.
“We’ve all been there — the car company says, ‘No problem, stick the keys through the slot in the door,'” said Jennifer Marston, who works with the free legal clinic Pro Bono Ontario.
“But how many times do they say to you, ‘If anything happens when the car is parked on the lot, you’re responsible’? That’s never happened to me.”
‘Just put the keys through the drop off slot’
Wardlaw says when he arrived to pick up the truck, there was little discussion about the terms and conditions in the 30-page (English and French) contract.
“They told me that since they were going to be closed at 12 o’clock that day and I would be returning at around 1 p.m., to just put the keys through the drop off slot when I returned the vehicle,” he said.
Marston says big car rental outfits can’t hide behind lengthy contracts they know most people won’t read and may not understand when they contain ambiguous or unusual terms.
“They wrote it. They had the opportunity to put more effort into making it clear and they didn’t,” she said.
She says legal precedent exists due to an Ontario case which found Tilden Rent-A-Car was required to bring unexpected terms to the attention of the consumer if it wants them to be enforceable.
“When there’s an onerous term in the contract, a heavy term that puts a big burden on someone, if it’s buried in the fine print, then the company in a consumer transaction like this has the responsibility to bring that to the consumer’s attention,” said Marston.
The companies also have to meet a standard of proof when holding customers responsible for damage, said Marston.
When Enterprise told Wardlaw a thief had stolen that catalytic converter, it sent photographs of the damage, but they weren’t time-stamped.
“We don’t know when those photos were taken,” said Marston.
“Maybe they were taken a week later. The burden is on the company to prove that.”
She says people caught in a dispute need to know one thing — the rental company isn’t the judge.
“They will send you a letter saying you’ve caused this damage, you owe this amount of money. But they’re actually not the ones who get to decide that,” said Marston.
“That’s just their position as one of the parties to a legal claim. And you have the opportunity to respond,” she said, with the understanding that the matter might end with a collection agency or small claims court.
Go Public has learned that the same Enterprise location in north Toronto had half a dozen catalytic converters worth $24,000 stolen from its trucks shortly after Wardlaw’s incident.
- Read stats about the growing problem of catalytic converter thefts
The company declined to say what it is doing to prevent further thefts and damage.
Marston says the companies should ensure their vehicles are being stored under safe conditions.
“The rental company could secure the perimeter. They could install security cameras. They can install anti-theft devices on vehicles,” she said.
“These options aren’t available to the consumers, so why should the consumer bear the loss?”
‘This is absolute BS’
Stuti Narula of Toronto says an Enterprise employee also told her to drop off the keys when she returned a car after hours, to a location in the city’s north end last December.
The next day, an Enterprise employee called to say she was responsible for a scratch on its passenger door — and owed $1,000.
Narula says the car was in perfect condition when she returned it, but — as with Wardlaw — an employee said she was liable for any damages incurred before it was checked back in and that the matter would be sent to a collection agency if she didn’t pay up.
“This is absolute BS,” said Narula. “If I have to be held liable for any damages to the car, I might as well keep it in my careful custody until the office opens the next day.”
She says the drop-off location had closed-circuit cameras, but she was told she couldn’t see footage.
WATCH | Enterprise charges customer more than $3K for damages incurred after truck returned:
Narula also says she was told the damage was discovered after an employee drove the car to a car wash — and she questioned whether that’s when the damage occurred.
“I’m entitled to know what investigation Enterprise carried out at its end before slamming the damage cost on me,” Narula wrote in an email to the car rental giant.
After fighting Enterprise for several months, Narula reluctantly asked her car insurance company to submit a payment, but she’s sworn off ever renting from Enterprise again.
Enterprise wrote in an email to Go Public that allowing customers to return vehicles after hours is a “convenience” and that “it is important to understand that the rental transaction is not complete until the vehicle has been inspected.”
Wardlaw says he’s relieved he’s no longer expected to pay his damage bill, but says Enterprise has lost him as a customer, too.
“Basically, from the moment I called them, they were arguing with me. I didn’t feel that there was any interest in resolution — other than to have me pay the full amount.”
Protect yourself ‘after hours’
- Ideally, return your vehicle during operating hours and have an agent check it over and sign off on rental.
- If you must drop off the vehicle after hours, note whether there are security cameras on the lot and try to park within view.
- Set your smartphone to add a date and time stamp to photos and take pictures of the sides, front, back and roof of vehicle and — if possible — the underside, wheel wells, interior and trunk.
- Take a photo of the mileage on the odometer.
- Hold onto photos for at least six months.
Submit your story ideas
Go Public is an investigative news segment on CBC-TV, radio and the web.
We tell your stories, shed light on wrongdoing and hold the powers that be accountable.
If you have a story in the public interest, or if you’re an insider with information, contact GoPublic@cbc.ca with your name, contact information and a brief summary. All emails are confidential until you decide to Go Public.
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Canada boosts U.S. natgas exports, drills more as global prices surge
Demand has jumped for relatively cheap Canadian natural gas, driving exports to the United States to three-year highs and prompting producers in Canada to boost capital spending and drilling activity.
Global natural gas prices have hit multi-year highs as world economies recover from last year’s slowdown during the pandemic. Now, natural gas stockpiles in Europe are dangerously low and demand in Asia has been insatiable, so utilities around the world are competing for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.
Canada‘s gas is remote, and prices at the AECO hub in Alberta are among the cheapest in North America, with production far from major U.S. demand centers and LNG export terminals in the U.S. Gulf Coast, some 2,500 miles (4,023 km) away. Canada has no LNG export terminals.
Still, at around C$5 ($4.12) per million British thermal units (mmBtu), AECO prices are well above their 2021 year-to-date average of C$3.38 ($2.73), and some of Canada‘s largest gas producers including Tourmaline Oil Corp are seeking to capitalize.
“A number of producers are accelerating capital into Q4 (fourth quarter) to add production volumes into the higher-priced winter market,” said Matt Murphy, an analyst at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co (TPH) in Calgary.
Gas receipts into TC Energy’s NGTL pipeline system hit an all-time high of 12.75 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in mid-October, according to TPH records dating from 2013. The NGTL system is the main artery shipping western Canadian gas to market, and can be used as a proxy for output from the region.
TPH is forecasting further gas receipt growth to 12.9 bcfd in December, with new highs in 2022.
Data provider Refinitiv said Canadian exports to the United States averaged 8.3 bcfd year-to-date, the highest over that time period since 2018. In 2020, Canadian exports hit their lowest level since 1993 because of the pandemic, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
The increase in drilling activity in Canada contrasts with a more cautious approach among U.S. gas producers, who are still being careful with their capital after the pandemic decimated demand in 2020 and left the industry on its knees.
The Canadian gas rig count is currently 70, up 75% from this time last year, while U.S. gas rigs are up about 32% to 98 over the same period, according to energy services firm Baker Hughes Co.
Tourmaline, Canada‘s largest gas producer, is accelerating drilling in the second half and bringing capital spending originally earmarked for 2022 into this year, according to a company presentation in September.
“The company will monitor natural gas supply/demand balances and schedule new production startups appropriately through the course of winter and the balance of 2022,” Tourmaline said.
The company expects to produce on average 500,000-510,000 barrels of oil equivalent next year, up from 440,000-445,000 in 2021.
Other major Canadian gas producers increasing activity include Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and ARC Resources, industry analysts said. ARC declined to comment and CNRL did not respond to a request for comment.
However, a shortage of skilled crews to operate drilling rigs in Canada could limit how much gas output climbs, and some producers remain cautious that increased supply may rein in prices.
“How do we do more even if we wanted to do more? We’re at a limit on the people that we have,” said Darren Gee, Chief Executive of Peyto Exploration and Development Corp.
($1 = 1.2363 Canadian dollars)
(Additional reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by David Gregorio)
Edward Rogers to take battle for Rogers Communications Inc. to B.C. Supreme Court – CTV News
The ousted chairman of Rogers Communication Inc. says he’ll go to the British Columbia Supreme Court in a bid to wrest back control of the company.
Edward Rogers made the assertion after holding a meeting that included five hand-picked directors, meant to replace members of the board that on Thursday removed him as its chair.
A statement from his camp says Edward Rogers was elected chair of the board at Sunday’s meeting.
An earlier statement from Rogers’ siblings and the board they endorse pre-emptively rejected any outcome of Sunday night’s meeting, saying that only the board as it existed Thursday has any authority.
The statement says it comes from a group representing the majority of the board.
But Edward Rogers remains chair of the Rogers Control Trust, the controlling shareholder, which, along with Rogers family members, owns 97 per cent of Class A voting shares.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2021.
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