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Closure of bus depots part of industry-wide struggle: CEO – BC News – Castanet.net

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Maryanne Titian, 69, says she and her husband John both have diabetes, and he is also waiting on a kidney transplant while she has suffered mild heart attacks.

The couple uses buses to get to medical appointments at least once a month that are hours away.

Since the closure of several bus depots on Vancouver Island this year, they are often left waiting outside in poor weather conditions for hours.

“It’s hard,” Titian said. “My husband and I are both not feeling well, we get sick really easy.”

“This time of year, it’s windy, it’s raining, it’s snowing in some places,” she said.

The closure of bus depots on Vancouver Island is part of a wider decline in services across Canada that are leaving some vulnerable people at risk.

The largest shift came in 2018, when Greyhound Canada announced it was cancelling service in most of Western Canada, citing plunging demand.

The provincial government stepped in to fill some of the gaps in northern British Columbia, including along the so-called Highway of Tears between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

The service BC Bus North, operated by Pacific Western Transportation, now provides transportation along the route where at least 18 women have gone missing or have been murdered, several of whom were last seen hitchhiking. It also serves Valemount, Dawson Creek, Fort. St. John and Fort Nelson.

A hodgepodge of other companies also entered the void left by Greyhound in parts of Western Canada and northern Ontario but haven’t matched the service provided by Greyhound.

While Greyhound announced it was pulling out of the Island months before the rest of Western Canada, its disappearance still has ripple effects on the local bus businesses, the CEO of one company said.

John Wilson of Wilson Group, which operates much of Vancouver Island’s bus services through its companies Wilson’s Transportation and Tofino Bus, said Greyhound played a key role in bringing passengers and freight from across the country.

“That connectivity across the country has stopped,” Wilson said, adding that apart from internal freight services, the company now almost entirely relies on passenger revenue.

Wilson Group is partnering with companies like Ebus, which has taken up and added stops along Greyhound’s Kelowna-Kamloops route, to try to reconnect the Interior with Vancouver and Vancouver Island, but gaps still remain, he said.

Ride sharing services and the consumer’s own decisions to drive are also affecting the bottom line, he said.

To compensate for declining demand, Wilson closed five bus depots this year in Port Alberni, Courtenay, Tofino, Parksville and Port Hardy, he said.

“Unfortunately, we had to make some tough decisions around closing some stations,” Wilson said.

Passengers are now primarily picked up at the curbside, although Wilson said the company is in discussions with some local businesses to allow passengers to wait inside.

Bus companies across North America are facing similar challenges, he said, and eliminating bricks and mortar operations are one of the ways they can reduce overhead without cutting routes.

While online bookings may not be accessible to many seniors or individuals without credit cards, between 80 and 85 per cent of passengers now book online, reducing the need for ticketing agents, he said.

Wilson said the company’s call centre remains open and he encouraged passengers experiencing barriers to reach out directly, adding the company will do its best to accommodate them.

“We definitely think it’s a small minority,” he said. “At the same time, they need to be looked after and we want to look after them. We’re doing the best we can to maintain the service levels as far as our schedules are concerned by reducing our overhead.

But the other option is to reduce runs, which hurts people even more, I think.”

Back in the Interior, the province agreed to provide the BC Bus North service on an interim basis and federal funding covering half the costs expires at the end of March 2021. BC Transit led a competitive procurement process for service providers on the current routes and the request for proposals closed in August.

The Ministry of Transportation said in a statement that the contract is being finalized and additional information will be available in the coming weeks.

There will be no disruption to the current BC Bus North service, it said.

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Ottawa to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supply dwindles – CBC.ca

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The City of Ottawa says it has to delay second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for some people who have already received their first shot due to a temporary shortage of vaccines. 

Anthony Di Monte, general manager of emergency and protective services, said Wednesday some long-term care home and retirement home staff, residents and essential caregivers will have to wait up to 27 days, or nearly a week longer than the 21-day period that’s recommended.

For others who received their first vaccine, they may have to wait up to 42 days, he said. 

The federal government announced on Friday Canada would be getting fewer COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech over the next few weeks because the company has to make changes to a production line in Belgium to grow its manufacturing capacity.

In Ottawa, that means the city will be getting no new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next week, said Di Monte. The supply the city does have will be focused on ensuring that those who are due for a booster will get their second shot as soon as possible.

The first dose of vaccines have already been administered to more than 92 per cent of long-term care home residents in Ottawa at all 28 facilities. Residents at one at-risk retirement home and one congregant living setting have also been vaccinated, said Di Monte.

“Our next step is to administer the second dose to those individuals who have already received their first dose of the vaccine. Depending on the vaccine supply we receive from the province, which we know will be minimal in the next few weeks, we will then shift our focus to the high-risk retirement homes,” said Di Monte.

Ottawa has 36 high-risk retirement homes and so far, only the one has received doses of the vaccine. 

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, said delays beyond 21-day gap are permitted under guidelines established by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

“The recommendation is of course to follow the dosing schedule as much as we can,” she said. “But in the context of limited supply … jurisdictions can maximize the number of individuals that are getting the benefit from the vaccine by going ahead with the first dose and delaying the second dose.”

While there isn’t data to show what effects waiting up to 42 days may have on the COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, typically delays in booster shots do not affect the durability of vaccines, she said.

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Declining case numbers show Alberta restrictions working, Dr. Deena Hinshaw says – CBC.ca

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Declining numbers of cases and positive tests for COVID-19 in Alberta show that restrictions put in place last year have been effective, the province’s top doctor says.

Alberta reported 21 more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and 669 new cases of the illness.

Laboratories conducted about 14,900 tests over the past 24 hours putting the positivity rate at about 4.5 per cent.

“It’s very encouraging to see our positivity rate steadily declining since the peak in December,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday at a news conference. 

“And I would say that the data that we have indicates that the restrictions put in place in November and December have achieved, so far, their intended outcome.”

It’s critical that the province maintain enough restrictions to continue to drive those numbers down, Hinshaw said, given the high number of people still being treated in hospitals.

“We need to build on our collective success by going slowly toward allowing some additional activities and not experiencing a rebound if we open too quickly,” she said.

Hospitalizations remain high

Hospitals in the province are treating 744 patients for the disease, including 124 in ICU beds.

“It is important to remember that it is the number of people currently in hospital that I am providing, not all those who have ever needed hospital care since the spring,” Hinshaw said.

“To put this into context, over the last 10 years, we have had an average of just over 1,500 total hospital admissions for influenza annually. For COVID-19, the comparable number comes from less than a year of data. More than 5,000 people have needed hospital care since the pandemic began for COVID-19 in Alberta.”

A total of 5,086 people with COVID-19 have been treated in hospitals since the pandemic began last March.

That represents about 4.3 per cent of the total cases, which now sits at 118,436.

Of those, 106,387 were listed as recovered and 10,565 were active. 

Of the patients hospitalized with the illness so far, 816 have ended up in ICU beds.

Far greater toll on older people

Slightly more than one per cent of all people infected have died.

Alberta Health data shows the illness has taken a far greater toll on older people. To date, 1,265 of the 1,484 reported deaths (85 per cent) have been people aged 70 and older.

A total of 109,089 people under the age of 70 have contracted the illness. In all, 218 of them have died, a rate of .0.19 per cent.

To date, 9,347 people aged 70 or older have become sick. In all, 1,265 of them have died, a rate of 13.5 per cent.

Older people also have a much higher chance of ending up in hospital. Those in their 20s who contract the illness have about a one in 100 chance of being hospitalized. Those aged 60 and older have about one in six chance.

Here’s a breakdown by age of those who have been infected, and those who had symptoms serious enough to require hospitalization.

  • Under one, 644 cases, 34 hospitalized, 10 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 5.3 per cent)
  • one to four, 3,671 cases, 14 hospitalized, two in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 0.4 per cent)
  • five to nine, 5,094 cases, eight hospitalized, two in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 0.2 per cent)
  • 10 to 19, 13,606 cases, 68 hospitalized, nine in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 0.5 per cent)
  • 20 to 29, 22,025 cases, 241 hospitalized, 25 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 1.1 per cent)
  • 30 to 39, 22,470 cases, 388 hospitalized, 40 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 1.7 per cent)
  • 40 to 49, 18,678 cases, 489 hospitalized, 92 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 2.6 per cent)
  • 50 to 59, 14,075 cases, 721 hospitalized, 164 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 5.1 per cent)
  • 60 to 69, 8,788 cases, 879 hospitalized, 239 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 10.0 per cent)
  • 70 to 79, 4,370 cases, 952 hospitalized, 172 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 21.8 per cent)
  • 80+, 4,977 cases, 1,291 hospitalized, 60 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 25.9 per cent)

A total of 95,243 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province.

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Ottawa to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supply dwindles

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The City of Ottawa says it has to delay second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for some people who have already received their first shot due to a temporary shortage of vaccines.

Anthony Di Monte, general manager of emergency and protective services, said Wednesday some long-term care home and retirement home staff, residents and essential caregivers will have to wait up to 27 days, or nearly a week longer than the 21-day period that’s recommended.

For others who received their first vaccine, they may have to wait up to 42 days, he said.

The federal government announced on Friday Canada would be getting fewer COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech over the next few weeks because the company has to make changes to a production line in Belgium to grow its manufacturing capacity.

In Ottawa, that means the city will be getting no new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next week, said Di Monte. The supply the city does have will be focused on ensuring that those who are due for a booster will get their second shot as soon as possible.

The first dose of vaccines have already been administered to more than 92 per cent of long-term care home residents in Ottawa at all 28 facilities. Residents at one at-risk retirement home and one congregant living setting have also been vaccinated, said Di Monte.

“Our next step is to administer the second dose to those individuals who have already received their first dose of the vaccine. Depending on the vaccine supply we receive from the province, which we know will be minimal in the next few weeks, we will then shift our focus to the high-risk retirement homes,” said Di Monte.

Ottawa has 36 high-risk retirement homes and so far, only the one has received doses of the vaccine.

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, said delays beyond 21-day gap are permitted under guidelines established by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

“The recommendation is of course to follow the dosing schedule as much as we can,” she said. “But in the context of limited supply … jurisdictions can maximize the number of individuals that are getting the benefit from the vaccine by going ahead with the first dose and delaying the second dose.”

While there isn’t data to show what effects waiting up to 42 days may have on the COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, typically delays in booster shots do not affect the durability of vaccines, she said.

 

Source:- CBC.ca

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