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Canadian vaccine mandate to lead to inflation, empty shelves, trucking executives say

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Canadian consumers should soon see higher prices and some empty shelves in supermarkets and other retail outlets because of disruptions stemming from a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers, top trucking executives warned this week.

The mandate, imposed by Ottawa to help curb the spread of the virus, has cost six Canadian trucking companies about 10% of their international drivers, and many are hiking wages to lure new operators during what they said is the worst labor shortage they have experienced.

Within the next two weeks, consumers will see “there’s not as many choices on the shelves,” said Dan Einwechter, chairman and chief executive officer of Challenger Motor Freight Inc in Cambridge, Ontario.

“Eventually the prices will be passed on from the sellers of those products, because we’re passing on our increases to them,” he said.

Canada’s inflation rate https://www.reuters.com/business/canadas-annual-inflation-rate-hits-48-dec-highest-since-sept-1991-2022-01-19 hit a 30-year high of 4.8% in December and economists said the vaccine mandate may contribute to keeping prices higher for longer. In the United States, inflation surged https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-consumer-prices-increase-strongly-december-2022-01-12 7% on a year-on-year basis in December, the largest rise in nearly four decades.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has championed vaccine requirements for federal employees, has resisted pressure from industry to delay or drop the mandate that was announced in November.

The vaccine requirement to enter Canada started on Jan. 15, and the one to enter the United States begins on Saturday.

Since more than two-thirds of the C$650 billion ($521 billion) in goods traded annually between Canada and the United States travels on roads, truckers were deemed essential workers until now and traveled freely even when the border was closed for 20 months.

Trudeau defended the mandate on Wednesday, saying Canada was “aligned” with the United States, its largest trading partner.

“We will continue to make sure that we are getting what we need in Canada while, as always, putting the safety and health of Canadians as our top priority,” Trudeau said.

As many as 32,000, or 20%, of the 160,000 Canadian and American cross-border truck drivers may be taken off the roads by the mandate, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) estimates. The industry was short some 18,000 drivers even before the mandate, CTA said.

“We raised our base rate for cross-border drivers effective Jan. 1 by almost 20% … and it didn’t gain us any drivers,” said Rob Penner, president and CEO of Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Bison Transport. “There’s more freight than there is people right now.”

Canada’s transport ministry said in a statement the measure was not negatively affecting the supply of goods, while cross-border truck traffic had not varied significantly since the mandate came into effect.

BAD TIMING

The six executives who manage nearly 9,200 trucks between their companies and have a combined 173 years in the industry say strong demand for freight during a labor shortage will inevitably translate into higher prices for consumers.

“We’ve been oversold by 5% or 10%, depending on the day, for the last four or five months … The timing of all this couldn’t have been worse,” said Mark Seymour, CEO of Kriska Transportation Group in Prescott, Ontario.

Canadian firms see labor shortages intensifying and wage pressures increasing, according to a Bank of Canada survey https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/firms-see-increasing-labor-shortages-wage-pressures-bank-canada-survey-2022-01-17 released on Monday. Investors increasingly expect https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/even-omicron-slams-canada-bets-january-rate-hike-rise-2022-01-18 the central bank to raise interest rates next week for the first time since 2018.

Fresh foods are particularly sensitive to freight problems because they expire rapidly, though all imports from the United States could be affected, the trucking managers said.

“We have to move the milk, we have to move food. But the rates are going to be much higher,” said Doug Sutherland, president of Sutherland Group Enterprises in Salmo, British Columbia.

“Inflation is going to be the biggest impact of what’s going on here.”

($1 = 1.2478 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Paul Simao)

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Older adults face higher risks for long COVID, shots don’t prevent it: U.S. study – Global News

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New U.S. research on long COVID-19 provides fresh evidence that it can happen even after breakthrough infections in vaccinated people, and that older adults face higher risks for the long-term effects.

In a study of veterans published Wednesday, about one-third who had breakthrough infections showed signs of long COVID.

A separate report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that up to a year after an initial coronavirus infection, 1 in 4 adults aged 65 and older had at least one potential long COVID health problem, compared with 1 in 5 younger adults.

Long COVID refers to any of more than two dozens symptoms that linger, recur or first appear at least one month after a coronavirus infection. These can affect all parts of the body and may include fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog and blood clots.

Read more:

Omicron COVID-19 variant likely to re-infect ‘over and over again,’ experts say

Coronavirus vaccines that help prevent initial infections and serious illnesses provide some protection against long COVID but mounting research shows not as much as scientists had first hoped.

The veterans study published in Nature Medicine reviewed medical records of mostly white male veterans, aged 60, on average. Of the 13 million veterans, almost 3 million had been vaccinated last year, through October.

About 1%, or nearly 34,000, developed breakthrough infections. Lead author Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly noted that the study was done before the highly contagious omicron variant appeared at the end of the year and said the rate of breakthrough infections has likely increased.

Breakthrough infections and long COVID symptoms were more common among those who had received Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot compared with two doses of either Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Whether any had received booster shots is not known; the first booster wasn’t OK’d in the U.S. until late September.


Click to play video: 'WHO Director General re-elected for five more years: ‘Luck brought me all the way here’'



1:15
WHO Director General re-elected for five more years: ‘Luck brought me all the way here’


WHO Director General re-elected for five more years: ‘Luck brought me all the way here’

Overall, 32% had long COVID symptoms up to six months after breakthrough infections. That’s compared with 36% of unvaccinated veterans who had been infected and developed long COVID.

Vaccination reduced the chances for any long COVID symptoms by a “modest” 15%,” although it cut the risk in half for lingering respiratory or clotting problems, said Al-Aly, a researcher with Washington University and the Veterans Affairs health system in St. Louis. These symptoms included persistent shortness of breath or cough and blood clots in lungs or veins in the legs.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Kristin Englund, who runs a center for long COVID patients at the Cleveland Clinic, said the Nature Medicine study mirrors what she sees at her clinic. Long COVID patients there include people who were vaccinated and received boosters.

“As we have no clear treatments for long COVID, it is important for everyone to get vaccinated and use other proven methods of prevention such as masking and social distancing in order to prevent infections with COVID and thus long COVID,” Englund said.


Click to play video: 'Monkeypox patterns of transmission ‘not typical,’ but virus is ‘containable’: WHO'



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Monkeypox patterns of transmission ‘not typical,’ but virus is ‘containable’: WHO


Monkeypox patterns of transmission ‘not typical,’ but virus is ‘containable’: WHO

The CDC report, released Tuesday, used medical records for almost 2 million U.S. adults from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to last November. They included 353,000 who had COVID-19. Patients were tracked for up to a year to determine if they developed any of 26 health conditions that have been attributed to long COVID.

Those who had COVID were much more likely than other adults without COVID to develop at least one of these conditions, and risks were greatest for those aged 65 and older. Information on vaccination, sex and race was not included.

Breathing problems and muscle aches were among the most common conditions.

Older adults’ risks were higher for certain conditions, including strokes, brain fog, kidney failure and mental health problems. The findings are worrisome because those conditions can hasten older adults’ needs for long-term care, the report authors said.

They stressed that routine assessment of all COVID patients “is critical to reduce the incidence” of long COVID.

© 2022 The Associated Press

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Monkeypox: Cases in Canada climb to 16, PHAC says – CTV News

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The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says it has now confirmed a total of 16 cases of monkeypox in the country, all in Quebec.

The latest update on the spread of the viral disease came in a statement issued Wednesday evening.

The statement says Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory continues to receive samples from multiple jurisdictions for confirmation testing.

“At this time, cases of monkeypox are being identified and treated by local health clinics,” the statement said.

“There is ongoing planning with provinces and territories to provide access to approved vaccines in Canada that, if required, can be used in managing monkeypox in their jurisdiction.”

The PHAC says it has given Quebec a small shipment of the smallpox vaccine Imvamune from Canada’s National Emergency Strategic Stockpile, with other jurisdictions able to receive some supply.

In April, Public Services and Procurement Canada submitted a tender to purchase 500,000 doses of the Imvamune vaccine between 2023 and 2028.

There is currently no need for mass immunizations, the PHAC says.

“I know Canadians are concerned,” Duclos said in a statement Tuesday. “The Government of Canada is prepared to respond to emerging public health events and takes precautions to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases.”

The national laboratory received its first samples during the week of May 16, before announcing the first two cases of monkeypox identified in Quebec on May 19. That number rose to five cases the following day.

Since then, other possible cases of monkeypox have emerged in Canada. On Wednesday, Toronto public health authorities said they identified two new suspected cases in the city, along with one probable case currently under investigation.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that was first discovered among colonies of monkeys used for research. Historically, it has also been transmitted from animals to humans, with the first human case recorded in 1970. The virus can spread through close contact with an infected animal, human, or contaminated material.

The federal government is prepared to help provinces and territories develop their own means of testing for the disease in order to monitor it more easily, Duclos said.

“Our surveillance system is working, as is our testing system, though we will continue to refine both, including supporting provinces and territories in building their own testing capacities so cases can be identified and traced even more efficiently,” Duclos’ statement read.

The government will also provide updated guidance on preventing infection, as well as procedures around isolation and case management. Canadians can expect the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to provide additional guidance in the coming weeks as well.

In his statement, Duclos emphasized that the emergence of monkeypox is not the same as COVID-19, which quickly spiralled into a worldwide pandemic.

“I want to re-iterate to Canadians that this is a different situation than we saw ourselves in with the emergence of COVID-19,” Duclos’ statement read. “While global understanding of the monkeypox virus is still evolving, we do have a supply of vaccines, which we will be sure to maintain, and we are working hand-in-hand with our provincial and territorial counterparts to roll out our response plan as quickly as possible.”

In an effort to avoid contracting the disease, Canadians are advised to physically distance from those around them, frequently wash their hands and wear masks in crowded environments.

With files from CTV News and The Canadian Press

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Quebec bill would give Alzheimer’s patients access to medical aid in dying

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MONTREAL — Quebec has tabled a bill that would extend the province’s assisted death legislation to people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said today that Bill 38 would allow people with severe and incurable diseases to consent to an assisted death before they become mentally or physically incapable of doing so.

The bill comes after a special legislative committee recommended last December to expand end-of-life care.

Quebec’s medical aid in dying law requires that patients give written consent to an assisted death within 90 days of the procedure.

Patients with severe Alzheimer’s, however, are usually incapable of offering clear and informed consent and are therefore prohibited under law from accessing medical aid in dying.

Bill 38 was tabled late in the legislative session and will only be adopted before the summer break — and the fall election — if it receives unanimous support from all five parties.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 25, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

 

The Canadian Press

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