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Canadian aero suppliers face labor crunch as travel rebounds

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Canadian aerospace firms are struggling to hire back workers to meet resurgent travel demand in the latest evidence of a post-pandemic labor crunch, industry executives said.

The squeeze has emerged as a warning signal for aviation’s recovery internationally and accelerates a shift in the workforce toward fast-growth sectors like electric vehicles, they said.

As suppliers in the aerospace-making hub of Quebec return to hiring mode, several interviewed by Reuters said they feared the exodus of talent could get more acute with an aging workforce and some training programs facing lower enrollment.

“Some companies are growing faster, others slower. But everyone is looking for workers,” said Suzanne Benoit, president of Quebec aerospace trade group Aéro Montreal.

Canada’s flagship business-jet maker Bombardier is experiencing a “competitive job market” as it goes back to recruiting, a spokeswoman said.

Aerospace joins a list of sectors facing challenges to adjust to the sudden revving up of the North American economy.

In the United States, statistics showing lower employment in manufacturing have raised concerns about supply constraints.

And in Canada, where lockdowns stayed in place longer, economists are predicting a rush of hiring in June.

Demand could push wages up for workers in popular categories like machinists, although some suppliers are also recruiting skilled immigrants from Mexico, Tunisia and Morocco.

Montreal, the world’s third-largest aerospace center, fears a delay in its economic recovery if jobs can’t be filled.

“The risk … is that we won’t have enough workers to carry out contracts so we will have to refuse contracts,” Benoit said.

Nancy Venneman, president of engineering firm Altitude Aerospace Canada, said pressure could pile up further in the fall when customer projects like product upgrades and aircraft modifications delayed by the pandemic return.

Aerospace was one of the world industries worst-hit by the pandemic as traffic plummeted in 2020, grounding fleets. But it has set ambitious plans to restore output in coming years.

Some suppliers for Europe’s Airbus have warned they may struggle to meet production goals.

Boeing has warned of supply constraints after a “more robust” recovery than expected.

And this week, American Airlines canceled 1% of its July flights amid a labor shortage at some hubs.

Aerospace and defense companies announced 115,089 job cuts for the U.S. market from March 2020 to May 2021, compared with 18,337 announced in 2018 and 2019 combined, according to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

SECTOR COMPETITION

Mario Sévigny, co-founder of MSB Group, which produces components for private jetmakers like Bombardier and General Dynamics Corp’s Gulfstream, said it would take six to nine months to meet a potential production increase due to scarce labor.

While a Canadian program protected some jobs by defraying part of workers’ salaries, it didn’t cover the entire amount which led to layoffs. Some local employers like a unit of Airbus criticized the level of support from Ottawa.

The Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC), which accounts for over 95% of aerospace activity in Canada, said more than half its members had to lay off employees.

Aerospace is, meanwhile, competing for young workers with fast-rising industries like electric transport.

The average age of an aerospace manufacturing worker in Canada is 54, according to AIAC.

The École nationale d’aérotechnique, Quebec’s largest aeronautics college which offers training in fields like aviation maintenance, said registrations in its three-year programs aimed largely at recent high school graduates dropped 20% for the fall 2021 session.

While aerospace has faced previous crises, the duration of COVID-19’s impact has driven workers elsewhere, Benoit said.

Some went to transport companies that make electric buses, like fast-growing Lion Electric Co and Nova Bus, a division of Sweden’s Volvo Group.

Hugue Meloche, chief executive of components maker Meloche Group which supplies the locally-produced Airbus A220 jet, needs to hire about 70 people a year over five years.

“We are losing a lot of workers who are going to other sectors that weren’t affected by the pandemic,” he said.

(Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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EU regulator endorses use of Moderna's COVID-19 shot for children – Al Jazeera English

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European Medicines Agency gives all clear for vaccine to be used in children aged between 12 and 17.

The European Union’s medicines regulator has recommended authorising Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged between 12 and 17, marking the first time the shot has been approved for people under 18.

In a decision on Friday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said research in more than 3,700 children of 12 to 17 years of age showed that the shot produced a comparable antibody response to that seen in 18- to 25-year-olds.

Use of the vaccine, Spikevax, will be the same in adolescents as in people over 18, the EMA said.

Formal approval by the European Commission – the EU’s executive arm – is needed to start rolling out the vaccine for teenagers. The body typically follows EMA recommendations.

Until now, the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech has been the only option for use in children as young as 12 in North America and the EU.

Vaccinating children has been considered important for reaching herd immunity and in light of the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Most children with COVID-19 develop only mild symptoms or none. Yet children remain at risk of becoming seriously ill and can spread the virus.

‘Benefits outweigh the risks’

Moderna said in May that its vaccine was found to be safe and effective in teenagers. Hundreds of millions of doses of the shot have already have been administered to adults.

The EMA said common side effects in teenagers after vaccination with Spikevax were similar to those seen in older people.

But due to a smaller study size, the trial could not detect new uncommon side effects or estimate the risk of known ones such as myocarditis and pericarditis.

“The overall safety profile of Spikevax determined in adults was confirmed in the adolescent study; the CHMP (Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use) therefore considered that the benefits of Spikevax in children aged 12 to 17 outweigh the risks,” the EMA said.

Heart inflammation such as myocarditis and pericarditis has been listed by the EMA as a possible but rare side effect from use of mRNA vaccines such as Moderna’s and Pfizer’s in adults.

Spikevax is already being used in the EU for people over 18, and in the United States and Canada.

Moderna has also sought authorisation in the US and Canada for its use in adolescents.

But with global vaccine supplies still tight, much of the world still is struggling to immunise adults, let alone children.

Agencies including the World Health Organization have urged rich countries to donate their doses to the developing world – where fewer than 2 percent of people have been vaccinated – rather than moving on to inoculate their less vulnerable populations.

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Ontario reports 170 new COVID-19 cases, over 8.4 million fully vaccinated – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
Ontario is reporting a slight decrease in new COVID-19 cases on Saturday from the previous day.

Officials marked 170 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, with three additional deaths.

The province reported 192 new cases on Friday and 185 on Thursday.

The seven-day rolling average now stands at 159, compared to 151 a week ago.

Provincial labs processed more than 19,131 test specimens, generating a positivity rate of at least 0.8 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health.

The province’s COVID-19-related death toll stands at 9,311.

Another 150 people recovered from the disease yesterday, resulting in 1,424 active cases across the province.

Right now, there are 125 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 132 patients being treated in intensive care, according to the Ministry of Health.

The hospitalization data presented by the province has been skewed over the past several weeks, which may be explained by a delay in patient reporting.

Where are the new cases?

Officials are reporting 44 new cases in Toronto, 26 in Peel Region, 17 in Hamilton, 15 in the Region of Waterloo and 13 in Grey Bruce.

Update on COVID-19 variants of concern

The Ministry of Health is reporting 107 new cases of the Alpha variant Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to ​​145,255.

Officials reported 12 new cases of Delta variant, B.1.617.2 and the case total is now 3,897.

Four cases of the Beta variant, B.1.351 were also recorded. So far, there have been a total of 1,489 cases of the Beta variant reported in Ontario.

As for the Gamma variant, P.1, 10 new cases were recorded today. The total number of Gamma variants recorded in Ontario is now 5,140.

Vaccination update

The province said it administered 124,261 doses of COVID-19 vaccines Friday.

Throughout Ontario’s seven-month vaccination campaign, over 18.8 million needles have gone into arms.

As of Saturday, 8,480,761 people have received both doses and are considered to be fully vaccinated.

Backstory:

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.

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New Brunswick to move to Green phase on July 30; reports three new COVID-19 cases Friday – CTV News Atlantic

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HALIFAX —
New Brunswick will move into the Green phase of its recovery plan on July 30, lifting all public health restrictions and opening the province to travel, Premier Blaine Higgs announced Friday.

“This morning, Cabinet and the all-party cabinet committee on COVID-19 agreed that New Brunswick’s mandatory order will not be renewed on July 30. This will lift all mandatory travel and public health restrictions that have been in place since the pandemic began,” said Higgs during Friday’s news update.

As of 11:59 p.m. on July 30, the following restrictions will be removed in the province.

  • Lift all mandatory travel and public health restrictions that have been in place over the course of the pandemic.
  • Lift all provincial border restrictions; provincial border checks will cease, and registration will no longer be required to enter New Brunswick from anywhere in Canada.
  • Lift all limits on gatherings and the number of people within facilities. Capacity limits in theatres, restaurants and stores will no longer be required.
  • End the requirement to wear face masks in public.

“We came to this decision because we have reached our goal of 75 per cent of our eligible population having received their first vaccine, and are now at 81 per cent,” said Higgs on Friday. “We know that there will be new cases, but thanks to the amount of people that are already vaccinated, we do not think that our health care system will be threatened.”

As of midnight on July 30, all provincial border restrictions will be lifted, provincial border checks will cease, and registration will no longer be required to visit New Brunswick from anywhere in Canada.

However, travellers will still be subject to Canada’s federal restrictions on International travel.

“We will be living with COVID-19, so we encourage New Brunswickers to continue to practise protective health measures such as hand-washing, coughing in your elbow, staying home when sick and wearing a mask if you so choose,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “This virus is still with us and we should all expect to see cases as normal travel returns. If you have symptoms, get tested.”

During Friday’s news update, Higgs and Russell emphasized that some facilities and businesses may choose to maintain their own policies on protective health measures, even after restrictions are lifted. 

“When we move to Green, not everyone will feel ready to jump back into life as if nothing happened. We all will have to adapt to this new environment in our own way,” said Higgs. “For some, the return to normal will be at a fast pace. Others may want to ease out of the safety measures we have been surrounded by for so long. There is no right way to do this. Everyone must do what feels best for them while remaining safe.”

THREE NEW CASES ANNOUNCED FRIDAY

New Brunswick is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, along with one recovery, as the active number of cases in the province rises to 10.

Two of the new cases were identified in the Saint John region (Zone 2), involving two people ages 19 and under, are both related to travel.

One new case was identified in the Fredericton region (Zone 3), involving an individual in their 20s, and remains under investigation.

New Brunswick has had 2,350 cumulative cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

In total, 2,293 people have recovered, and 46 people have died in the province from COVID-19.

There is currently no one hospitalized in New Brunswick due to COVID-19.

“We are approaching having one-million COVID-19 vaccines in the province, a very important milestone in our fight against the virus for our province and the country,” said Russell. “While we are well on our way to getting as many New Brunswick’s vaccinated as we can, we must remember that the COVID-19 virus still exists and can still spread. While case numbers have been low, we are still encouraging anyone having symptoms to make an appointment to get tested.”

On Thursday, 727 tests were conducted in the province. A total of 376,470 tests have been conducted since the beginning of the pandemic.

The number of cases is broken down by New Brunswick’s seven health zones:

  • Zone 1 – Moncton region: 490 confirmed cases (six active cases)
  • Zone 2 – Saint John region: 300 confirmed cases (two active cases)
  • Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 449 confirmed cases (two active cases)
  • Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 754 confirmed cases (no active cases)
  • Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 185 confirmed cases (no active cases)
  • Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 133 confirmed cases (no active cases)
  • Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 39 confirmed cases (no active cases)

THOUSANDS OF VACCINE APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE

In a release issued Tuesday, New Brunswick health officials say there are thousands of first and second dose Pfizer and Moderna appointments available at regional health authority clinics and participating pharmacies.

Vaccination clinics are taking place every day this week with appointments available in each region. New Brunswickers who have yet to be immunized with two doses of vaccine are encouraged to book an appointment through a participating pharmacy or at a Vitalité or Horizon health network clinic.

New Brunswick’s COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the amount of vaccines that have been administered to date.

As of Friday, 997,798 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in New Brunswick. The province says 81.2 per cent of the eligible population has received at least one dose, with 62.7 per cent now fully vaccinated.

All eligible New Brunswickers can book their second dose appointments if at least 28 days have passed since their first dose.

To receive their second dose, New Brunswickers are asked to bring a signed consent form, their Medicare card and a copy of the record of immunization provided after receiving their first dose.

Appointments for people who have not yet received their first dose continue to be available to all New Brunswickers aged 12 and older at regional health authority clinics and through participating pharmacies.

Public Health is also reminding New Brunswickers to keep a copy of their Record of Immunization form as their official proof of vaccination.

YELLOW LEVEL REMINDER

All of New Brunswick remains under the Yellow level of recovery under the province’s order, which will be lifted effective 11:59 p.m. July 30.

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