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Canada falls to 20th in the world for vaccine doses administered – CBC.ca

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Canada has fallen behind other developed nations in the number of shots administered per capita as supply disruptions derail planned vaccinations.

According to data collated by the University of Oxford-based Our World in Data, Canada now ranks 20th globally, well behind allies like the United States and the United Kingdom but also middle-income countries like Poland and Serbia.

Canada’s vaccination effort has also been outpaced so far by those in Bahrain, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and the United Arab Emirates, among others.

While a laggard compared to many other wealthy nations, Canada has administered more shots per capita than G7 partners like France and Japan.

Japan, with a population of 126 million people and just 5,400 COVID-19-related deaths, hasn’t yet started its vaccination campaign. Unlike Canada, Japan is planning to produce 90 million shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine domestically.

Some observers have blamed France’s “technocratic” system with its maze of red tape — a patient needs to consult with a doctor before they get a shot — for the slow rollout there.

While the U.S. is grappling with distribution issues of its own — the press there has said President Joe Biden is “inheriting a complete disaster,” and an “absolute mess” from the last administration — the Americans have so far vaccinated 24.5 million people with at least one dose.

Even when accounting for population size, the U.S. has vaccinated 3 times more people per capita than Canada. The CBC’s vaccine tracker estimates just over 900,000 doses have been administered in Canada to this point.

The U.S., with a population roughly nine times bigger than Canada, has fully vaccinated 3.8 million Americans with the two-dose regime of either the Pfizer or Moderna products, compared to about 150,000 people in Canada.

The U.K., a world leader so far, has administered at least one dose to 11.3 per cent of its people, nearly five times more per capita than Canada.

That country’s vaccination efforts have been helped by an early approval of the product from Swedish-British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. Health Canada regulators are still reviewing the company’s promising vaccine for safety and efficacy.

Canada was among one of the first countries in the world to authorize the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for use but other nations have since caught up, as Canada contends with shortages because of a plant shutdown in Belgium.

Pfizer plant back online, Canada’s shipments still delayed

Pfizer is making upgrades to its Belgian plant so it can manufacture up to two billion doses this year to meet the insatiable demand.

In order to complete those upgrades, some production lines were idled and Pfizer didn’t have enough vials to go around in the short term to meet its previously promised delivery schedule.

WATCH | COVID-19 vaccine shortage forces provinces to rethink rollout:

Canadian provinces are being forced to rethink their vaccination rollouts due to the shortage of doses from Pfizer, with some jurisdictions now considering stretching out the time between shots, despite questions over whether that would reduce vaccine effectiveness. But the federal government maintains it will vaccinate all willing Canadians by September. 2:02

A Belgian newspaper reported Thursday those upgrades are now complete, but a spokesperson for Pfizer confirmed Canada’s deliveries won’t return to a more normal level until next month.

“We expect the supply constraints of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to last in Canada until mid-February when we will be able to increase allocations to catch up,” the spokesperson said.

“While the precise percentage allocation may fluctuate, Pfizer Canada remains on track to meet our quarterly delivery objectives to Canada by the end of the first quarter of 2021.” 

Confusion over first quarter deliveries

While the delivery schedules may fluctuate, the government insists its medium-term targets are more certain.

However, a government planning document released to the provinces Wednesday caused confusion as the delivery charts indicate Canada would only receive 3.5 million Pfizer doses by the end of March, 500,000 less than anticipated.

The confusion stems from just how many doses are included in each vial shipped. Amid manufacturing delays, Pfizer is pushing the government to recognize that six doses can be extracted from each vial, but the current Health Canada standard is only five.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Health Canada is still reviewing the request to formally change the label and is examining whether that sixth dose can be extracted consistently.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, insisted Thursday that, regardless of how many are in each vial, Pfizer is still contractually obligated to send 4 million doses to Canada in the first quarter of this year.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Jan. 7, 2021. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

He said the 3.5 million figure floated to the provinces was just for “planning purposes” in the interim, and the country will still hold Pfizer to its previous commitments.

Fortin said the pharmaceutical giant has assured Canada that it will reach 4 million doses delivered, no matter which vial standard is recognized. If Health Canada accepts that six doses can be extracted from each vial, Pfizer will send more product to cover any gaps, Fortin said.

Fortin said that Canada is expecting 79,000 Pfizer doses next week, 70,000 doses for the week of Feb. 8, 335,000 the week of Feb. 15 and 395,000 doses the week of Feb. 22. Moderna will deliver 230,400 doses next week with 249,600 doses to follow three weeks later.

Thus, Canada is expected to receive 1,359,000 by the end of February, enough to vaccinate 679,500 people.

The opposition Conservatives have been pressing the government on why Canada has been bested by small countries like the Seychelles on vaccinations so far. “That is not normal for a country that claims to have the best vaccine portfolio in the world,” Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus said in the Commons.

The government has said it still expects hundreds of thousands of doses to flow in the months ahead. “This is a completely temporary situation, as we are working hard to ensure that every Canadian who wants a vaccine gets one,” Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said.

The opposition Conservatives have been criticizing the Liberal government on the pace of Canada’s vaccination program. (File photo from Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Under questioning from the opposition, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said “there is no more urgent issue for this government than getting Canadian vaccinated.”

She reminded MPs that Canada has vaccinated more people than our Five Eyes partners of Australia and New Zealand. Those two countries haven’t yet begun their vaccination programs but COVID-19 is almost non-existent there.

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Why Can’t The Federal Government Eliminate Systemic Racism In The Canadian Military?

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“Racism in Canada is not a glitch in the system; it is the system.

By Harinder Mahil

A recently released report indicates that systemic racism is rampant throughout the Canadian Armed Forces which is putting the country’s national security at risk. 
 
The report released by Defence Minister Anita Anand says that the military has not acted on dozens of previous studies and reviews on racism in the ranks over the past two decades. The report says the military is not doing enough to detect and prevent white supremacists and other extremists from infiltrating its ranks.
 
I have read numerous stories about the racism in the military over the years but never thought it was such a big problem. I am shocked at the extent of the problem as identified in the report.
 
The report concludes that more and more Canadians will have no interest in joining the military until it fixes its long-standing issues of racism, abuse of power, gender discrimination and sexual misconduct.
 
“Unless it is rapidly reined in and addressed, the impact of this toxicity will linger for years, affecting the reputation of the Defence Team to the point of repulsing Canadians from joining its workforce”
 
The report says military leadership must accept that some members will either leave or need to be removed.
 
The report comes after a yearlong review by a panel of retired Armed Forces membersand follows numerous incidents linking some military personnel with violent extremism and hate groups, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
 
“Racism in Canada is not a glitch in the system; it is the system,” reads the report by the Minister of National Defence’s Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination.
 
There has been increasing pressure on the military to do more to crack down on hateful ideologies within its ranks.
 
“A common thread was evident throughout these consultations: membership in extremist groups is growing, it is becoming increasingly covert, and technological advances such as Darknet and encryption methods pose significant challenges in detecting these members,” the report said.
 
White men account for 71 per cent of Canadian military members but only 39 per cent of the country’s civilian workforce. The report notes Indigenous Peoples, visible minorities and women are significantly under-represented in Canada’s armed forces.
 

Over the last two decades the military has been seeking recruits from the Indigenous and visible minority communities. Why would Indigenous and visible minority communities’ members join the military if they are discriminated against by others especially those who have links with neo-Nazis?

 
I am of the opinion that the report only scratches the surface of the problem. It talks about consultations but who is consulted. 
 
If the military is serious about dealing with the problem it should monitor the social media posts of its members and weed out those who harbour white supremacist views and recognize those who are likely to be drawn towards extremist groups.
 

Harinder Mahil is a community activist and President of the West Coast Coalition Against Racism (WCCAR).

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Government’s changing vape strategy shifts focus away from cigarettes, advocates fear

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OTTAWA — In the eight years or so since he opened his first vape shop in Ottawa, Ron Couchman said a great sense of community has been lost.

A former cigarette smoker himself, Couchman said he remembers when his store operated almost as a support group for people trying to find a healthier alternative to cigarette addiction.

“We could teach other people how to vape when people were struggling to get off cigarettes, we’d play board games and have movie nights,” Couchman said.

As provincial and federal legislation started to clamp down on those activities, he said the camaraderie has faded.

Couchman is a passionate advocate for the potential of vaping to help people leave more harmful tobacco habits behind. At one point the federal government appeared to be onside with that, he said, but that seems to be changing.

“The last few bouts of legislation (have) really swung the other way to the point that it’s serving as a disincentive to quit smoking,” he said.

The government is in the midst of its first review of the 2018 legislation that legalized vaping, and appears to be veering away from the narrow path between treating vapes as a harm reduction tool, or a danger in and of themselves.

The harms of vaping relative to smoking tobacco cigarettes are still something of a mystery, but the government’s website suggests it’s safer than inhaling cigarette smoke.

Advocates on both sides of the issue say regulations have become tougher on vapes and have more or less abandoned the product as an alternative to cigarettes, leaving them to wonder how the government plans to deal with cigarette smoking in Canada.

“They bet heavily on harm reduction as a way to address tobacco. It hasn’t worked for them, and they didn’t have a more comprehensive plan,” said Cynthia Callard, executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

Health Canada’s goal is to reduce the number of people who smoke tobacco to just five per cent by 2035, from about 14.8 per cent in 2019.

An audit of the department shows tobacco smoke is declining in popularity, but mainly because young people aren’t picking up the habit and existing smokers are dying.

Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Canada, with approximately 48,000 people dying from smoking-related illnesses every year, the government says.

Vaping remains relatively unpopular for adults over the age of 25, with just three per cent reporting that they vaped within the last month in 2020, according to the results of the Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey. That’s about the same it was in the 2017 Canadian Tobacco Alcohol and Drugs Survey.

But vaping has spiked among youth between 15 and 19 years old, to 14 per cent in 2020 up from six per cent in 2017.

In response, the government clamped down on vaping with a range of regulations, banning promotion and advertising of the products in certain spaces and putting limits on the amount of nicotine that can be in them. It’s also expected to restrict which flavours can be sold.

In their most recent budget, the Liberals proposed an excise tax on vape products as of Oct. 1.

Now, it’s as if Health Canada is fighting the war on two fronts, Callard said.

The department has been focusing resources on youth vaping, leaving anti-smoking groups like Callard’s concerned that a tobacco strategy may be falling by the wayside.

The recent audit shows the department has been taking on projects to reduce tobacco use, but it won’t be enough to meet their own targets.

Meanwhile, advocacy groups like Rights4Vapers say smokers are being punished for making a healthier choice.

“It is probably the only addiction currently where we continue to use fear and shame to get individuals to quit,” said Maria Papaioannoy, the group’s spokesperson and a vape store owner.

The strategy does appear to be at odds with the harm-reduction approach the government has embraced when it comes to to drug use, said David Sweanor, chair of the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics.

“We’ve seen the success replicated numerous times simply by giving people alternatives, which is consistent with what we’ve done with things like clean needles, safe injection sites,” said Sweanor, who contributed to the 1988 Tobacco Products Control Act.

The government must table its legislative review this year. The discussion paper the department released touches almost exclusively on how to toughen vaping regulations, Sweanor said, though that’s not what the legislation was primarily set out to do.

“Is it accomplishing what it’s supposed to be accomplishing? Are there ways that you can improve it?” he said.

“Instead, what we got is a document that takes very few aspects of, primarily, their anti-vaping strategy.”

In the paper the government says the review will focus on vaping regulations because the vaping products market in Canada has changed so much in the years since the law was passed.

The review gives the opportunity to examine whether the act offers the government enough authority to address the rise in youth vaping, the paper said.

“A full assessment of whether the measures taken since the legislation was introduced in 2018 have been effective in responding to the rise in youth vaping will benefit from more time and data. Subsequent reviews will continue to monitor youth use along with other dimensions of the Act,” the document reads.

Advocates for and against using vaping as a way to transition people away from harmful cigarette smoke agree, tobacco is being left out of the conversation.

“Tobacco remains the fundamental problem,” said Callard. “It’s tobacco that continues to kill.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.

 

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

 

 

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Multiple reports say Marner’s SUV was stolen in an armed carjacking in west Toronto

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There are multiple reports that an SUV belonging to Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner has been stolen in a carjacking in the city’s west end.

The Toronto Sun, Global News and City TV all quoted unnamed police sources as saying Marner’s black Range Rover was taken outside a movie theatre in Etobicoke.

Police confirmed there was a carjacking without any injuries, but would not give any information out on the victims or witnesses.

The Sun says Marner was shaken but not hurt.

Police tweeted they were called to The Queensway and Islington Avenue area around 7:46 p.m. for reports of a man robbed of his car.

Authorities are looking for three suspects armed with two handguns and a knife, who took off in the stolen vehicle.

Marner and the Leafs were eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday in a seventh and deciding game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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