Canada’s health and long-term care sectors are bracing for staff shortages and layoffs as deadlines for vaccine mandates loom across the country, with unions pushing federal and provincial governments to soften hardline stances.
For hospitals and nursing homes, a shortage of workers would strain the already overburdened workforce dealing with nearly two years of the pandemic. The uncertainty sparked by vaccine mandates underscores the challenges on the road to recovery.
Devon Greyson, assistant professor of public health at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said officials are steering into uncharted waters with mass vaccine mandates, and it’s not clear how workers will respond.
“A shortage of workers can mean people’s health and well-being. It’s scary,” Greyson said.
However, he said, “we’re in an ethical situation where it’s also scary not to ensure that all health workers are vaccinated. So it’s a bit of a catch-22.”
To tackle staff scarcity, at least one province is offering signing bonuses to nurses. Provinces including Quebec and B.C. have made it mandatory for health-care workers and nursing staff to be vaccinated to continue working in their respective fields.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also unveiled one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the world last week, saying unvaccinated federal employees will be sent on unpaid leave and making COVID-19 shots mandatory for air, train and ship passengers.
Layoffs have started to hit, with one hospital in southern Ontario last week letting go 57 employees, representing 2.5 per cent of staff, after its vaccine mandate came into effect. A long-term care home in Toronto put 36 per cent of its staff on unpaid leave after they refused to get vaccinated, CBC News reported.
British Columbia will place staff in its long-term care and assisted-living sector on unpaid administrative leave if they fail to get at least one shot by Monday.
Some 97 per cent of long-term care staff in Vancouver and the surrounding areas have at least one dose as of Oct. 6, the province said. But only 89 per cent of staff has at least one dose in northern B.C., although the data was still being updated.
The province recently changed the deadline, giving more time for people to receive their second vaccine dose. “It is because we know we have a very limited health-care resource,” Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, said.
Quebec is offering $15,000 bonuses to help attract and retain about 4,300 full-time nurses. Some 25,000 health-care workers who are yet not fully vaccinated ahead of an Oct. 15 deadline risk suspension without pay, said Christian Dubé, the province’s health minister.
About 97 per cent of all staff in the University Health Network, which operates medical facilities in and around Toronto, has been vaccinated ahead of Oct. 22, with efforts underway to find backup for the remaining.
Daniel Lublin, a Toronto-based employment lawyer, called the mandates “very political” and based on the majority view that vaccines are good. “The fallout is that it’s another segment of the Canadian workforce that is going to be faced with job loss if they choose not to vaccinate.”
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), which represents 215,000 federal workers, said while the union supports the government’s vaccination stance, its members who do not get inoculated should not be punished.
“Especially when remote work options are available that do not jeopardize the health and safety of co-workers and allow our members to continue to serve Canadians,” said PSAC national president Chris Aylward.
Treasury Board, which oversees the public administration, is engaged with PSAC and other labour representatives about the implementation of the mandate, a federal government source said.
Louis Hugo Francescutti, an emergency room physician in Edmonton, said he worked with several people who were continuing to refuse vaccination, even though it would cost them their jobs when the mandate takes effect on Oct. 31.
Alberta has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Canada, and its hospitals have been overwhelmed by the fourth wave.
“We’re so under the water right now that losing a couple of people who don’t want to get vaccinated — it’s going to be sad, [but] the impact will be minimal,” Francescutti said.
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday, more than 237.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.8 million.
In Europe, Italy reached the target of fully vaccinating 80 per cent of the population over the age of 12, according to official data, achieving a goal Rome had set as a safety cut-off point, government data showed on Sunday.
In Asia, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says state borders will be reopened after a months-long ban in a move expected to rejuvenate tourism and the economy.
In the Americas, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious diseases expert, says families can feel safe trick-or-treating outdoors this year for Halloween as COVID-19 cases in the country decline, especially for those who are vaccinated.
In Africa, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled a record 16.4 trillion naira ($49.8 billion Cdn) budget for 2022, with a projected 25 per cent year-on-year rise in government spending as the economy struggles with the impact of the pandemic.
Biden says United States would come to Taiwan’s defense
The United States would come to Taiwan‘s defense and has a commitment to defend the island China claims as its own, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday, though the White House said later there was no change in policy towards the island.
“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said at a CNN town hall when asked if the United States would come to the defense of Taiwan, which has complained of mounting military and political pressure from Beijing to accept Chinese sovereignty.
While Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
In August, a Biden administration https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/us-position-taiwan-unchanged-despite-biden-comment-official-2021-08-19 official said U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed after the president appeared to suggest the United States would defend the island if it were attacked.
A White House spokesperson said Biden at his town hall was not announcing any change in U.S. policy and “there is no change in our policy”.
“The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,” the spokesperson said.
Biden said people should not worry about Washington’s military strength because “China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we’re the most powerful military in the history of the world,”
“What you do have to worry about is whether or not they’re going to engage in activities that would put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake,” Biden said.
“I don’t want a cold war with China. I just want China to understand that we’re not going to step back, that we’re not going to change any of our views.”
Military tensions between Taiwan and China are at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said this month, adding that China will be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.
Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy.
China says Taiwan is the most sensitive and important issue in its ties with the United States and has denounced what it calls “collusion” between Washington and Taipei.
Speaking to reporters earlier on Thursday, China’s United Nations Ambassador Zhang Jun said they are pursuing “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan and responding to “separatist attempts” by its ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
“We are not the troublemaker. On the contrary, some countries – the U.S. in particular – is taking dangerous actions, leading the situation in Taiwan Strait into a dangerous direction,” he said.
“I think at this moment what we should call is that the United States to stop such practice. Dragging Taiwan into a war definitely is in nobody’s interest. I don’t see that the United States will gain anything from that.”
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington, Michelle Nichols in New York and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Stephen Coates)
Alec Baldwin fires gun on movie set, killing cinematographer, authorities say
Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on a movie set in New Mexico on Thursday, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, authorities said.
The incident occurred on the set of independent feature film “Rust,” the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office said in a statement.
“The sheriff’s office confirms that two individuals were shot on the set of Rust. Halyna Hutchins, 42, director of photography, and Joel Souza, 48, director, were shot when a prop firearms was discharged by Alec Baldwin, 68, producer and actor,” the police said in a statement.
A Variety report https://bit.ly/3nnyldg said the shooting occurred at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a production location south of Santa Fe in New Mexico.
No charges have yet been filed in regard to the incident, said the police, adding they are investigating the shooting.
Baldwin’s representatives did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Karishma Singh)
Trudeau 'confident' other countries will accept Canadians' proof of vaccination – CBC.ca
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he’s “very confident” countries around the world will accept Canadians’ proof of vaccination.
Today, the federal government announced that Canadians will be able to use a standardized provincial or territorial proof-of-vaccination documentation to travel internationally — although it will be up to foreign governments to accept them or not.
Government officials, speaking on background during a briefing this morning, said they worked with the provinces to come up with a “pan Canadian” format and are confident it will be widely accepted.
They added the government is working with other countries to ensure acceptance abroad.
“We are very confident this proof-of-vaccination certificate that will be federally approved, issued by the provinces with the health information for Canadians, is going to be accepted at destinations worldwide,” Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa today.
The standardized COVID-19 proof of vaccination includes the holder’s name and date of birth, the number of doses received, the type of vaccine, lot numbers, dates of vaccination and a QR code that includes the vaccination history. Canadians can also request the proof by mail.
The documentation was designed with what the government calls a “common look” featuring the Government of Canada logo and the Canadian flag.
The government said that as of today, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon are issuing the standardized proof of vaccination.
Trudeau said all the provinces and territories have agreed to issue the accepted credentials ahead of the holiday season.
“Not every province has yet delivered on that but I know they are all working very quickly and should resolve that in the weeks to come,” he said.
In Ontario, for example, fully vaccinated residents can download a QR code built to the SMART Health Card standard, which includes the Government of Canada “wordmark” or logo.
WATCH | Canadians will be able to use their provincial vaccine certificates for international travel
The SMART Health Card standard is a set of guidelines, approved by the International Organization for Standardization and endorsed by Canada, to store health information and is used by a number of tech companies, including Apple.
The government said it’s talking to other countries to encourage them to recognize those who have received mixed vaccine doses as being fully vaccinated.
“This includes sharing Canada’s evidence and experience with mixed schedules of Health Canada-authorized vaccines for both AstraZeneca/mRNA and mixed mRNA doses,” says a government release.
“Initial outreach has focused on the ongoing exchange of technical and scientific information to advance this time-sensitive work.”
Proof can be used for domestic travel too
The standardized proof of vaccination can also be used when the requirement for proof of vaccination to travel domestically kicks in at the end of the month, although travellers can continue to use their old provincial proof of vaccination if their province is not yet issuing the standardized credentials.
As of Oct. 30, all travellers aged 12 and older taking flights leaving Canadian airports or travelling on Via Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains must be fully vaccinated before boarding. Marine passengers on non-essential passenger vessels like cruise ships must also complete the vaccination series before travelling.
Mike McNaney is president of the National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents Canada’s largest air carriers — including Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet. He said he welcomes the standardized approach and urged the government to ease off on other pandemic measures.
“With aviation becoming one of the only sectors requiring fully vaccinated employees and customers, it is imperative that the government work with us and determine what other travel measures can now be amended in keeping with global practices,” he wrote in a media statement.
“Such as elimination of blanket advisories against travel, elimination of mandatory PCR testing pre-departure for fully vaccinated international travellers coming to Canada, and enabling children under 12 to be exempt from de facto home quarantine.”
Officials said they considered other options, including federally issued credentials, but decided that would have “limited value” given that provinces and territories administered the shots and held the data.
They also said the global health travel advisories will soon adopt a destination-based approach, so that Canadians can better prepare travel plans.
Dispute over mandatory vaccine rule for MPs continues
Trudeau’s announcement comes as a fight brews over making vaccination mandatory for MPs ahead of Parliament’s return next month.
Earlier this week, the House of Commons’ governing body introduced a new mandatory vaccination policy for MPs and anyone else entering the House of Commons.
Conservatives said they oppose the “secret” move by the Board of Internal Economy and object to the idea of more virtual sittings of the chamber.
“While we encourage everyone who can be vaccinated to get vaccinated, we cannot agree to seven MPs, meeting in secret, deciding which of the 338 MPs, just elected by Canadians, can enter the House of Commons to represent their constituents,” said a statement from the party Wednesday.
WATCH| ‘It’s not too much to ask’ — Trudeau discusses mandatory vaccination rule for MPs
While the Conservative Party says that it supports vaccination as the “most important tool to get us out of this pandemic,” it did not require all of its candidates in the federal election to be fully vaccinated. It also didn’t reveal how many of its candidates were vaccinated.
Both the Liberals and NDP required that their candidates be vaccinated during the election campaign, though they did not extend that requirement to staff members. The Bloc Québécois said during the campaign that all of its candidates were vaccinated. The Green Party told CBC that both of its MPs have been fully vaccinated.
“It is puzzling to me that there are people out there that think that just because they are members of Parliament they do not need to keep themselves, their loved ones or their constituents safe, when the vast majority of Canadians have done the right thing,” Trudeau said Wednesday.
“It is on Mr. O’Toole to explain why he thinks people should not be fully vaccinated if they want to serve as members of Parliament, and why indeed he doesn’t even think there should be a hybrid model so those who aren’t fully vaccinated can still speak up for their constituents in the House of Commons.”
Guilt, grief and anxiety as young people fear for climate’s future
Dollar set for another week of losses even as Fed tapering looms
Pandemic opens doors to switch jobs in Japan, but pay not rising much
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Real eState19 hours ago
Calgary housing market sees best Q3 since 2014, says real estate board – CBC.ca
Tech18 hours ago
Where is Google’s foldable phone? Everything we know so far – The Verge
Media24 hours ago
Donald Trump announces launch of media company, social media site – CTV News
News24 hours ago
Canada/U.S. border reopening draws mixed reviews in Oroville – pentictonherald.ca
Business23 hours ago
Zombie apocalypse shuts down major Calgary bridge — for filming – CBC.ca
Health16 hours ago
Canada government, provinces agree COVID-19 vaccine travel passport – officials
Tech23 hours ago
Freedom Mobile is cheapest Canadian carrier for Pixel 6/6 Pro – MobileSyrup
Tech16 hours ago
MacBook Pro's M1 Max GPU is Over 3x Faster Than M1 in First Metal Benchmark – MacRumors