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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

  • Health Canada issues recall for disposable masks with graphene.
  • Alberta chief medical officer of health describes P1 variant outbreak as ‘significant.’
  • Researcher says coronavirus variants could require annual vaccinations, like the flu.
  • Daughter of COVID-19 victim pleads for stricter restrictions as cases surge in southern Alberta.
  • Situation in Ontario ICUs like a never-ending ‘fire’ amid COVID-19 3rd wave, says nurse.
  • Essential but forgotten? Youth working in grocery stores, cafés feel the strain.
  • Have a question about the COVID-19 pandemic? Send your questions to COVID@cbc.ca

Canada’s confirmed count of COVID-19 cases passed the one-million mark on Saturday — 14 months after the country’s first known case was recorded — while the number of vaccine shots administered surpassed six million.

The federal government’s goal was to have six million doses arrive in Canada by the end of the first quarter of the year — a target it met last week.

“We’re expecting millions and millions more doses over the next weeks and months,” Procurement Minister Anita Anand told CBC News on Friday. She reiterated that 44 million vaccine doses are expected to arrive by the end of June.

When asked about the official number of cases, an infectious diseases specialist with Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont., said, “It’s actually probably more than a million.”

“It’s anywhere from five to 10 times more than that, because a lot of the time, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, we weren’t actually catching a lot of the cases that were happening,” Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti told CBC News on Sunday.

“Many cases are mild and are not getting tested,” he said. “The point is, this is a respiratory virus … and their job is essentially to infect people, and they do so very very efficiently.”

The two milestones are emblematic of where the nation stands with COVID-19, ramping up its vaccination drive as more contagious variants of the virus fuel the pandemic’s third wave in several parts of Canada.

Alberta, for instance, is investigating what the province’s chief medical officer of health described as a “significant” outbreak of the P1 variant of concern, which is now the dominant strain in Brazil.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a tweet that the outbreak can be traced back to a returning traveller.

“Health officials are working hard to limit future spread and reaching out directly to those at risk of exposure,” she said. “AHS (Alberta Health Services) will ensure that anyone at risk is isolated, offered testing twice and connected with supports if needed.”

WATCH | Should vaccines be redirected to Canada’s COVID-19 hot spots?

Dr. Amit Arya, a palliative care physician, says Ontario’s new shutdown doesn’t get to the root of the problem. He says we need to focus our attention on vaccinating people at warehouses and at homes in hotspots rather than vaccinating by age groups. 7:16

Hinshaw said officials will provide an update on the investigation on Monday.

That province logged an estimated 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, roughly half of which are variants of concern.

Hinshaw said 35 per cent of the province’s active COVID-19 cases are due to those variants, which are more contagious and can cause more serious illness.

WATCH | Doctors bring COVID-19 vaccines to homebound seniors:

Ontario’s Covid-19 science table is pushing for more mobile vaccine units to vaccinate seniors in their homes after new data reveals that 25 per cent of Ontario seniors 75 and older have still not received their first shot because they’re either unwilling or unable to leave home for medical reasons. A look at two doctors leading the charge. 2:03

Meanwhile, the United States had administered 161,688,422 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 207,866,645 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The tally is for Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines, the agency said.

The CDC said 104,213,478 people had received at least one dose while 59,858,146 people are fully vaccinated as of Saturday.


What’s happening across Canada

Health officials in British Columbia on Saturday announced 2,090 new cases of COVID-19 in the last two days, but did not provide information about deaths, variants of concern or the number of active cases.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix again urged people to stay within their local health authority region to prevent the spread of the respiratory illness.

A total of 856,801 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. to date, including 87,455 second doses.

WATCH | 2 doctors on how to deal with Canada’s coronavirus 3rd wave:

Infectious disease specialists Dr. Lynora Saxinger and Dr. Zain Chagla discuss the latest restrictions in several provinces and how they’re feeling about where we are in the third wave. 7:54

In Saskatchewandrive-thru vaccination sites have opened in Prince Albert and North Battleford, and re-opened in Regina Saturday.

More drive-thru sites are anticipated to open this week across the province.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority website said the Lloydminster site is expected to open on Sunday, the Saskatoon drive-thru site is anticipated to open on Monday and the Yorkton and Weyburn sites are anticipated to open Tuesday. 

Manitoba logged 181 new cases and one additional death over the past two days.

Meanwhile, the province has now administered more than 200,000 vaccine doses.

Ontario logged 3,009 new cases as a new provincewide “shutdown” took effect to try to curb soaring infection rates.

The restrictions force gyms and personal care services to close, but allow essential and non-essential retailers to remain open, with their capacities limited to 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

WATCH | ICU doctor says Ontario’s ’emergency brake’ is not enough:

Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, says the current restrictions are not enough to protect people who are getting sick in the third wave of the pandemic. Warner says the provincial framework won’t stop young people from getting sick and ending up in intensive care units. With permission, Dr. Warner spoke of one patient in particular who was very ill. She has since died. 5:23

Quebec confirmed 1,282 new cases and three new deaths.

A group of physicians, infectious disease specialists and other health experts say the Quebec government needs to shut down the Montreal region, before the spread of coronavirus variants spirals out of control.

New Brunswick registered nine new cases, of which seven are in the hard-hit Edmundston region. Hundreds of residents of the region are scheduled to be vaccinated at community clinics over the weekend.

Nova Scotia saw four new infections, bringing the province’s active case total to 32.

In the Northwest Territories, an outbreak has been declared at the Diavik Diamond Mine about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife after a second worker tested positive for the virus within a week. 


What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday morning, more than 130.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.84 million.

In Europe, Pope Francis said Easter Sunday mass under pandemic precautions. Only 200 or so faithful were allowed inside St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate mass and hear the Urbi et Orbi blessing.

Italian State Police vehicle is seen in an empty St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sunday. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images)

Normally, thousands would gather outside in St. Peter’s Square, with more than 100,000 sometimes assembling to receive the Pope’s special Easter blessing after the mass.

But this year, like last year, crowds are banned from gathering in Italy, and at the Vatican. So Francis scheduled his noon Easter address on world affairs to be delivered from inside the basilica.

In South Asia, India’s COVID-19 tally rose to 12,485,509 by Sunday evening local time as 93,249 new cases were reported from across the country over the past 24 hours, according to figures released by the federal health ministry.

In addition, 513 new deaths were registered in the past 24 hours, taking the country’s death toll to 164,623.

The latest number of new daily confirmed cases marks a record high since late September of last year.

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Oil Prices Rise Further On Large Crude Inventory Draw – OilPrice.com

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Oil Prices Rise Further On Large Crude Inventory Draw | OilPrice.com


Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Crude oil prices went up today on bullish news from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which reported a 6.4-million-barrel draw in crude oil inventories and another draw in fuel inventories.

A week earlier, the EIA had estimated a modest 1.3-million-barrel decline in crude oil inventories but a sizeable draw in gasoline pushed prices higher, signaling that strong demand has not wavered amid the latest surge in Covid-19 infections.

For the week to September 10, the EIA reported another draw in gasoline inventories, at 1.9 million. This compared to a draw of 7.2 million barrels a week earlier.

Production of gasoline last week averaged 9.3 million bpd, which compared with 10.1 million bpd a week earlier.

Middle distillate inventories shed 1.7 million barrels in the week to September 10, which compared with a draw of 3.1 million barrels for the previous week.

Production of middle distillates averaged 4.2 million bpd last week, compared with 4.2 million bpd during the previous week.

A day before the EIA reported inventory moves, the American Petroleum Institute had estimated crude oil stocks had shed close to 4 million barrels, pushing prices higher. Since the start of the year, according to API numbers, U.S. crude oil stocks have declined by 70 million barrels.

Meanwhile, production is set to rise as the inventory of drilled but uncompleted wells in the U.S. shale patch declines. This, however, should not be a problem for prices since demand is strengthening, too.

[embedded content]

In its latest monthly oil report, the International Energy Agency forecast a 1.6-million-bpd rebound in global oil demand next month as the Delta variant of the coronavirus releases its grip on economies. It would then continue to grow through the rest of the year, the agency said, before beginning to slow down next year.

“The market should shift closer to balance starting from October if OPEC+ continues to unwind production cuts. Even so, it is only by early 2022 that supply will be high enough to allow oil stocks to be replenished,” the IEA said in its report.

This would provide stable support for prices over the next few months, and it is support that will be needed as U.S. shale drillers ramp up along with OPEC+ to offset depletion from legacy wells.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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Canada's inflation explained: How the surge affects you and what you can do about changing prices – The Globe and Mail

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A man shops at a halal grocery store in Toronto this past May. Rising inflation has had varied effects on the price of consumer goods across Canada.

Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

What is driving inflation?

Probably the biggest factor in this year’s inflation surge is simply the reality that consumer prices fell to unusual lows last year, and it’s against these low prices that we are measuring the current price environment. This is what economists are talking about when they refer to “base effects.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, huge swaths of the global economy were shut down and consumers were told to stay home; demand for many goods and services plunged and prices slumped. Since inflation is typically calculated as a year-over-year change, it’s against these lows that we have been comparing the current prices, which have increased substantially as pandemic restrictions have eased. The pronounced weakness of the year-earlier comparisons have magnified the price gains in the annual inflation rate.

But there’s more to it than just a statistical quirk. The rapid reopening of many sectors of the economy has unleashed a flood of demand from consumers, which has been exacerbated by the unusually large stockpiles of household savings that built up during the pandemic.

Around the world, manufacturers, transporters and retailers have had tremendous trouble keeping up with demand. In addition, the pandemic has shifted consumer preferences to different products – home office equipment, bicycles, bigger houses in the suburbs, just to name a few – and suppliers haven’t been able to keep pace with these rapid shifts. The result has been supply shortages in numerous consumer goods as well as the raw materials to make them – driving up prices.

How does the current Canadian inflation rate compare historically?

The August consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate is 4.1 per cent, up from 3.7 per cent in July. The last time the rate was higher was in March, 2003 (4.2 per cent), during a temporary surge that was another case of base effects – namely, a slump in year-earlier gasoline prices.

But from a broader historical perspective, 4.1 per cent is, comparatively, nothing. Inflation was north of 10 per cent in the mid-1970s and again in the early 1980s. In the early 1990s, when the Bank of Canada formally adopted maintaining low and steady inflation as its primary monetary policy objective, inflation still hovered around 5 per cent. But since the central bank set its inflation target at 2 per cent in 1995 – using interest rates to help steer inflation toward that rate – inflation has averaged very close to that target.

What types of products or services are most affected by inflation?

Main upward contributors to the 12-month change in the consumer price index

Aug. 2020 to Aug. 2021

Homeowners’ replacement cost index

+14.3%

Gasoline

+32.5%

Food purchased

from restaurants

+3.2%

Other owned accommodation expenses

+14.3%

Purchase of passenger vehicles

+7.2%

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Main upward contributors to the 12-month change in the consumer price index

Aug. 2020 to Aug. 2021

Homeowners’ replacement cost index

+14.3%

Gasoline

+32.5%

Food purchased

from restaurants

+3.2%

Other owned accommodation expenses

+14.3%

Purchase of passenger vehicles

+7.2%

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Main upward contributors to the 12-month change in the consumer price index

Aug. 2020 to Aug. 2021

Homeowners’ replacement cost index

+14.3%

Gasoline

+32.5%

Purchase of

passenger vehicles

+7.2%

Other owned accommodation expenses

+14.3%

Food purchased

from restaurants

+3.2%

MURAT YÜKSELIR /

THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

The August CPI data from Statistics Canada show that goods (up 5.8 per cent year over year) have seen much higher inflation than services (up 2.7 per cent). The big contributor has been gasoline, up more than 32.5 per cent from a year earlier, when prices were severely depressed by pandemic shutdowns. Home replacement costs were up almost 14.3 per cent, reflecting the surge in prices for homes in the past year.

On the other hand, prices for some things have declined significantly in the past year. Mortgage interest costs were down 9.3 per cent in August from a year earlier, reflecting deep rate cuts that the Bank of Canada made last spring to aid the economy in the face of the pandemic. The price of telephone services was down 14.2 per cent. Travel tours are down 20.8 per cent year over year.

Main downward contributors to the 12-month change in the consumer price index

Aug. 2020 to Aug. 2021

Passenger

vehicle

insurance

premiums

Mortgage

interest

cost

Travel

tours

Telephone

services

Fresh

vegetables

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Main downward contributors to the 12-month change in the consumer price index

Aug. 2020 to Aug. 2021

Passenger

vehicle

insurance

premiums

Mortgage

interest

cost

Travel

tours

Telephone

services

Fresh

vegetables

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

Main downward contributors to the 12-month change in the consumer price index

Aug. 2020 to Aug. 2021

Passenger

vehicle insurance

premiums

Travel

tours

Telephone

services

Mortgage

interest cost

Fresh

vegetables

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA

How can I adjust my spending to avoid the worst of inflation?

If you’re spending, be inflation-aware. Consider planning your renovation for next year or 2023 in hopes prices for building materials ease back. Lumber prices have come back down, but other costs may still be elevated. Prices for new and used cars have been on the rise as people resume driving farther than the local grocery store. Where possible, keep your existing ride for another year or so until the post-pandemic vehicle-buying rush dies down. Grocery inflation is expected to continue through the rest of the year. If you’re able to buy in bulk, you may be able to dodge some future price increases.

Is there a ‘winner’ in inflation?

There are some investments that have performed well in past periods of inflation. Gold is one example, while others are commodities like oil and metals. Real estate is also considered a good hedge against inflation. You can get exposure to real estate by investing in real estate investment trusts.

What will bring inflation down?

Time – at least for a significant portion of the increase. Over the next few months, the year-over-year price comparisons will become less stark, as the price recovery from the earlier COVID-19 shutdowns increasingly works its way into the year-earlier numbers. For example, the average national price of gasoline in August, 2020, was $1.06.6 a litre; by mid-February of 2021, it was $1.20. In addition, we can expect unusual price pressures caused by the sudden reopening of many sectors of the economy to ease, as the initial rush of demand moderates and activity returns to normal.

Many economists believe that the high prices themselves will help solve the inflation situation, as it adds incentive to producers to increase their capacity. This will take time, but as supply catches up with demand, price pressures will dissipate.

From a policy standpoint, the biggest weapon lies with the Bank of Canada. If inflation remains persistently high, the central bank will eventually step in and raise its key interest rate from the current record low of 0.25 per cent. The bank has already taken other actions to reduce the amount of stimulus that its monetary policy is injecting into the economy – specifically, it has gradually reduced the amount of government bonds that it has been buying on the open market since the COVID-19 crisis began.

Interest rates are considered the bigger weapon to slow inflation; but the bank has said that it doesn’t want to turn to rate hikes until the economy has returned to full capacity. Based on the bank’s latest projections, that is unlikely before the second half of next year. In the meantime, the central bank is willing to tolerate inflation in the 3-per-cent range – which actually represents the top end of its tolerance band around its target of 1-to-3 per cent, designed to give it some flexibility when inflation gyrates. But if inflation stays above that band for uncomfortably long, the bank may start leaning toward acting sooner rather than later.

A key question is how much of this is temporary, and how much may be permanent. While economists are generally confident that a substantial portion of the recent inflation surge will pass as things return to something approaching normal in the coming months, it’s clear that at least some of these price pressures may be longer lasting.

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Lumber crash leads to 'blowout' sales as prices crater – CBC.ca

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Homeowners who resisted the urge to renovate during the first 18 months of the pandemic may find now is their chance, as lumber prices that soared to dizzying heights in the spring have crashed back down to earth.

At family-run Peacock Lumber in Oshawa, Ont., owner Glen Peacock said retail prices have “collapsed” in recent weeks. An eight-foot-long, two-by-four inch piece of framing lumber that cost $12.65 on June 1 is now selling for $3.95, Peacock said — basically what it would have sold for before the boom.

“It was amazing it went as long as it did before people said, ‘This is too much money,’ ” Peacock said. “People who waited, if they could, to do their projects are going to be in a much better position.”

A pandemic-driven surge in home renovations and do-it-yourself projects sent shock waves through the home improvement and construction industries earlier this year. North American lumber prices hit record highs of more than $1,600 US per thousand board feet in May — three times higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The price roller-coaster had customers pre-ordering lumber months in advance to ensure supply and even resulted in a spate of opportunistic thefts from construction sites across North America.

But the ride has come back down even faster than it went up — and that means many retailers have been stuck trying to get rid of product they purchased at higher prices.

Many lumber yards have drastically cut back on production until the backlog of unsold wood moves. (Robert Short/CBC)

“With lumber prices falling as fast as they did, it forced everybody to sell their overpriced inventory at a loss,” said Joel Seibert, owner of Mountain View Building Materials just outside of Calgary. “What would have been the ideal situation would be for the price to take twice as long to come back down as it did to go up.”

Liz Kovach — president of the Western Retail Lumber Association, which represents retail lumber, building supply and hardware stores in Western Canada — said the pandemic price bubble burst with the arrival of summer. Warmer weather and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions across the country resulted in Canadians travelling more and spending less time on projects around the house, she said.

Retailers slashing prices

“It’s been a challenge on the retail side,” Kovach said. “We’ve seen a lot of blowout price sales, just so that they can move the materials.”

The plunging prices have already led to curtailments and reduced operations at sawmills. Vancouver-based Canfor Corp. said at the end of August that it will run all of its B.C. sawmills at 80 per cent capacity until market conditions improve. Conifex Timber Inc., also based in Vancouver, announced Aug. 20 that it would curtail lumber production at its Mackenzie, B.C., sawmill for a two-week period.

The rapid rise in lumber costs earlier this year added “tens of thousands of dollars per home” to new home construction costs, said Kevin Lee, chief executive of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. And while consumers may already be benefiting from lower prices at home improvement stores, homebuyers signing new construction purchase contracts are still seeing elevated prices.

WATCH | High lumber prices were adding up to $30K to the price of a new home:

Price of lumber skyrockets after pandemic disrupts supply chain

6 months ago

The pandemic has disrupted supply chains so much that the price of lumber has gone through the roof. 1:58

“Builders still have to clear their inventories of having purchased higher-priced lumber. It takes a while to clear the system,” Lee said. “Yes, lumber prices from the mills came down dramatically over the summer, but that’s unfortunately taken a while to reach the rest of the industry and consumers.”

Lee said when it comes to new home construction, pricing is being complicated by ongoing pandemic-related supply chain challenges. While difficulties related to lumber have eased, home builders are still dealing with delivery delays and price inflation on everything from plumbing and electrical products to kitchen cabinetry.

“It doesn’t compare to the three to five times price increases we saw with lumber, but I’d say on average, we’re seeing 10 per cent increases on everything, including the kitchen sink,” Lee said. “And we are still seeing delays on closings, just because of an inability to get products and materials.”

In a note to clients earlier this week, RBC Dominion Securities analyst Paul Quinn said with the arrival of fall, lumber markets are already beginning to tick slightly higher. Home centres are noticing increased traffic as customers try to finish projects before winter, Quinn said, and retail demand tends to be a leading indicator for lumber pricing.

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