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Canadians' hesitancy about COVID-19 vaccine dropping, new poll suggests – CBC.ca

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A new survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institute suggests Canadians are more willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine immediately rather than take a “wait-and-see” approach. 

Those who responded to the poll also said they were less concerned about contracting COVID-19 than they were in the fall and earlier this winter, hinting at a spark of optimism about the pandemic.  

Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, said the results offer both comfort and concern for public health officials, especially in places like B.C. where the daily number of COVID-19 cases has been rising in the past two weeks.

“I think people are perhaps indicating that their guard is a little bit lower than it was even two months ago,” Kurl said. “And that’s something that public health officials are really going to have to grapple with.” 

Lower vaccine hesitancy

The online survey was conducted between March 1 and March 4, among a representative randomized sample of 1,748 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Specifically, 66 per cent of respondents said they would get a vaccine as soon as possible, opposed to a low of 39 per cent who gave the same answer in September. 

The number of Canadians who say they refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine remains relatively stable since last summer. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters )

And only 16 per cent said they would wait to get the vaccine, compared to a high of 38 per cent in September. 

The number of respondents who said they would not get the vaccine at all remained relatively steady at 12 per cent, compared to 14 per cent in July. 

Concerns dropping

As for worries about contracting the virus, 62 per cent of respondents cited varying degrees of concern — a drop of nine per cent compared to January but still relatively high compared to last February, at 30 per cent, and even June at 46 per cent. 

The survey suggests Canadians are more concerned about friends or family contracting COVID-19 — 79 per cent said they had varying degrees of concern, compared to less than 10 per cent who said they weren’t concerned at all. 

Seniors are among some of the first people to be vaccinated across the country. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

But while the number of respondents who are willing to get the vaccine sooner grows, the poll suggests more people are critical of the government’s actions to secure and distribute it. 

More than half of survey respondents said “Canada has done a poor job in securing sufficient doses for Canadians,” compared to only 23 per cent who gave the same response in December. 

However, just over half of the respondents also agreed that the amount of time they expect to wait for a vaccine is “not ideal but OK given the circumstances.”

Dropping confidence in government

Asked how confident they were in the federal government’s ability to effectively manage vaccine distribution, 54 per cent of respondents said they weren’t confident, compared to only 36 per cent in December. 

On a related topic, there was a steady decline of Canadians who said the federal government had done a good job handling the pandemic over time — 48 per cent, opposed to a high of 70 per cent in April. Confidence in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the pandemic has similarly declined.

In B.C., Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has consistently had high approval ratings during the pandemic. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In B.C., confidence in Premier John Horgan’s handling is stronger — 66 per cent said Horgan has done a good job, compared to only 44 per cent of Canadians saying the same of Trudeau.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s approval rating among British Columbian respondents was even better. While it has declined from a high of 89 per cent last April, it still sits at 76 per cent as of this month. 

Rollout fair, says majority in B.C.

However, Kurl warns those approval ratings can be highly variable. 

“Approval numbers around these types of questions or metrics are really only as good or as bad as your performance in the recent past,” she said. 

The majority of respondents in B.C., 63 per cent, also said they watch provincial or federal health media briefings from chief medical officers as their top choice for information about the virus. 

Most of them also agreed that the vaccine rollout is fair, a good plan overall, and clear and easy to understand. The majority, 53 per cent, also said they believe it had been well thought out. 

However, only 42 per cent said they believe the vaccine rollout will meet its targets and timelines.


CBC British Columbia is hosting a town hall on March 10 to put your COVID-19 vaccine questions to expert guests, including Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. You can find the details at cbc.ca/ourshot. Have a question about the vaccine, or the rollout plan in B.C.? Email us: bcasks@cbc.ca

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Molson Coors’ JV Truss launches 6 pot-infused drinks in Canada

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(Reuters) – Miller Lite beer-maker Molson Coors Beverage Co’s cannabis joint venture Truss Beverage Co on Wednesday launched six pot-infused beverages in Canada, as it hopes that summer demand will offset recent sales hits from COVID-19 lockdowns.

Coronavirus restrictions in major provinces including Ontario have forced weed stores to shut for extended periods, and are expected to hit cannabis companies’ results for the March quarter.

The summer season, which tends to represent peak demand for beverages, will be crucial for companies to undo the damage.

Truss, jointly run by Canadian pot producer Hexo Corp, launched five CBD-infused beverage brands in August last year and claims to have already won a 43% market share in the category in Canada. (https://bit.ly/3wThh2D)

“Summer … is the biggest opportunity for the beverage category; it is the inflection point for consumers to try out our products,” Truss Beverage’s Chief Executive Scott Cooper told Reuters in an interview.

“Cannabis-infused beverages are still new and tend to be an impulsive purchase, so having the store open is important to the trial and awareness of the category,” he added.

Truss said its latest beverage line included watermelon, lemonade, sparkling tonic and honey green iced tea flavors, and are expected to be rolled out to retailers over the next few months.

 

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna and Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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Canadian retail titan W. Galen Weston dies at 80

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(Corrects April 13 story to remove references to Primark in paragraph 3 and what had been paragraph 6, to reflect that Primark is actually owned by a different Weston family)

By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) -W. Galen Weston, patriarch of one of Canada‘s wealthiest families and retail titan, has died at age 80, according to a statement by the family on Tuesday.

Weston was the third generation of his family to lead George Weston Limited, an already-prosperous retail empire founded by his grandfather, which he expanded significantly.

The family company, now run by his son, Galen Weston, owns Selfridges in the United Kingdom, as well as the Canadian grocery chain Loblaw Co Ltd, pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart, and real estate company Choice Properties.

Weston passed away peacefully at home after a long illness, the statement said.

He was born in Buckinghamshire, England, and moved to Dublin at 21 to escape a domineering father, the Irish Times reported in 2014, where he met his wife, Irish model Hilary Frayne. They married in 1966.

In the 1970s Weston returned to his family’s base of operations, Canada, to revive the family’s struggling Loblaws supermarket chain, and helped turn it into one of the largest food distributors in the country.

“In our business and in his life he built a legacy of extraordinary accomplishment and joy,” Galen Weston, chairman and CEO of George Weston Ltd, said in a statement.

“The luxury retail industry has lost a great visionary,” Alannah Weston, Weston Sr.’s daughter and chairman of Selfridges Group, said.

The Weston family is among the wealthiest in Canada, with Forbes estimating their total wealth at $8.7 billion.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in VancouverEditing by Matthew Lewis)

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Canada’s migrant farmworkers remain at risk a year into pandemic

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By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Pedro, a Mexican migrant worker, knew he had to leave the Ontario cannabis operation where he worked when so many of his coworkers caught COVID-19 that his employer began to house them in a 16-person bunk house alongside the uninfected.

Pedro moved in with friends in the nearby farming town of Leamington, Ontario, at the end of October. He asked to be identified under a pseudonym because he fears that speaking out will affect his chances of employment.

“I didn’t know where to go, where to get help. So I was left behind, hopeless,” he said, speaking through a translator. About a week later, Pedro landed another job, working with peppers in a greenhouse. Conditions are better, he said.

But he added: “To be honest, I don’t think all employers are taking precautions.”

Pedro is one of about 60,000 migrant farmworkers – many from Central America and the Caribbean – who come to Canada as part of an annual migration of people that ramps up in spring. They grow and harvest the country’s food supply and have continued to work in the midst of a pandemic.

They feed the country and are a crucial part of a C$68.8 billion ($54.8 billion) sector, making up about one-fifth of the country’s agricultural workforce, according to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

As the pandemic crippled travel last year, agricultural employers were unable to fill one-fifth of the temporary foreign worker positions they needed, costing Canadian farmers C$2.9 billion due to labour shortages, according to research commissioned by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council.

These workers are also uniquely at risk. They live and work in crowded settings, and language barriers coupled with precarious immigration status tied to their employment prevent them from speaking out about unsafe conditions.

Last year they were hit hard by COVID-19, with 8.7% of migrants in Ontario testing positive. This year they are returning as Canada is in the grip of a third wave. While governments and employers say they are taking steps to keep these workers safe, advocates and workers contacted by Reuters say the dangers remain – except that now, those dangers are known.

Graphic on COVID-19 global tracker: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/

SAME CRISIS

Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, argues the same factors that made workers more vulnerable to COVID-19 last year – crowded workplaces, congregate living, visas that tie them to an employer and make them fearful of speaking out – still exist.

“We are walking into the same crisis yet again, the only difference being that we already know how bad it is.”

Keith Currie, vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, said employers are doing their best, but some transmission of the virus will occur.

“Because they’re living on the farm, they’re in contact with each other when they’re working … despite all our efforts, it spreads. Just like it does elsewhere in society.”

Some 760 farmworkers have been infected so far this year in Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, according to provincial data. Ontario put agriculture workers in Phase 2 of its COVID-19 vaccinations, which begins this month, and has set up a clinic at Toronto’s airport offering vaccines to migrants on arrival.

But advocates worry migrant workers might lack requisite identification, especially if they are undocumented.

Advocates argue not enough is being done to keep these workers safe from the pandemic. They say rules such as the requirement to get – and pay for – a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of coming to Canada place an undue logistical and financial burden on migrants.

Last month the federal government announced new measures meant to protect migrant agricultural workers, including beefed-up inspections.

But the migrants interviewed by Reuters argued what will protect them is more stable status that does not tie them to an employer.

“Hopefully this year, the government of Canada gives us status,” said Teresa, a migrant worker from Baja California.

($1 = 1.2559 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Denny Thomas and Matthew Lewis)

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