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COVID-19 bookings for vaccine appointments begin Monday in B.C. – Vancouver Sun

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The booking of appointments Monday marks the start of a massive rollout to the general population, but information is, so far, limited.

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Health authorities in B.C. are establishing vaccine clinic sites and have been hiring phone agents to begin booking appointments on Monday for the first time for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Up until now, the limited supply of vaccine in the province has been targeted at front-line health care workers, long-term care home residents and staff, and Indigenous people in remote communities.

The booking of appointments Monday marks the start of a massive rollout to the general population, but information is, so far, limited.

The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has noted on its website a dozen communities where clinics will be set up for the public, including Vancouver, Pemberton and Madeira Park on the Sunshine Coast, but not any specific locations.

Vancouver Island Health and Northern Health officials said last week they were finalizing locations that will be posted on their websites soon.

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Interior Health didn’t respond to questions from Postmedia News, but was expected to release more details about its rollout plan at a press conference Sunday.

Only Fraser Health has posted specific clinic locations in 11 communities on their website through their online booking system, including in Surrey, Langley and Hope. The vaccine clinic sites are at hospitals and existing COVID-19 testing sites.

All five health authorities in B.C. will use a phone-in system, where those aged 90-and-over can begin booking appointments on March 8 for a March 15 start. Indigenous people age 65-and-over will also be able to begin booking appointments.

All health authority websites say that when people book appointments they’ll be given a clinic location.

Vancouver Island Health spokesman Andrew Leyne said they have contracted 35 Telus phone agents to assist 10 to 15 Island Health phone agents to answer booking calls. The agents will take calls 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, Leyne said in a written response.

Other health authorities didn’t answer questions from Postmedia on how they would ensure they could handle calls, including how many people would be available to answer phones and book appointments.

Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health authorities — which together account for 82 per cent each of COVID-19 cases and deaths in B.C. — didn’t respond to questions from Postmedia or make anyone available for an interview.

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B.C. Ministry of Health officials said Friday that some health authorities had referred questions from Postmedia to them.

“The full list of clinic locations will be posted online in the coming days,” Health Ministry public affairs officer Marielle Tounsi said in a written statement.

The Health Ministry said vaccine booking was being staggered so as not to overwhelm the system, and it was important for people to wait until it’s their turn to call.

In the written response, Tounsi also said mobile clinics will be used to reach people.

In the following two weeks, those 85-and-over and those 80-and-over will also be able to book appointments.

Those aged 80-and-over and Indigenous people 65-and-over not in care homes comprise about 240,000 British Columbians, among 4.3 million people who the province hopes to vaccinate by the end of September.

This first rollout to the public will be a test of the phone booking system and of the clinic locations.

Unlike other jurisdictions, including Alberta and Washington state, only the Fraser Health Authority has set up an option to book an appointment online.

In Alberta, the phone and online systems were initially overwhelmed when launched in late February to book appointments for those 75-and-over. Washington state also experienced early technical problems with their online appointment booking system. The state has up to 1,200 sites where vaccines can be administered, including pharmacies and doctors’ offices.

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B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix is confident the province will be able to handle the ramped-up rollout to the public. He noted last week the health authorities organize immunization clinics every year, for childhood diseases and for influenza, and that already COVID-19 vaccine clinics had been held in more than 1,000 sites.

“There will be a massive number of clinics, but we’re also going to where people need us to deliver this if they can’t come to us,” said Dix.

He said he expects a full list of 172 mass-vaccination clinics to be used starting in April will be announced this week.

ghoekstra@postmedia.com

twitter.com/gordon_hoekstra


Where can I get vaccinated?

Vaccination clinics will be set up in gyms, arenas, convention halls, and community halls. Residents of rural communities may be able to access mobile clinics, which can also provide vaccinations to people who are homebound with mobility challenges.

Click the links to find your closest clinic location:

• Fraser Health immunization clinic locations
• Vancouver Coastal Health immunization clinic locations
• Interior Health immunization clinic locations
• Island Health immunization clinic locations
• Northern Health immunization clinic locations


More on B.C.’s vaccine rollout:

COVID-19: Here’s how to get your vaccination shot in B.C.

COVID-19 in B.C.: Can I choose my vaccine? Efficacy, timing explained


Get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.


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3 Ways to Incorporate CBD Into Your Spring Wellness Plan

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Canada’s cannabis market has grown significantly since it first became legal in 2018 — when the federal government legalized the plant for recreational use. Since that time, the market has developed into a variety of avenues. From edibles to beverages and beyond, the number of legal products available continues to grow.

As spring weather takes over from the cold winter months, there is an opportunity for novice and experienced CBD users to incorporate this newly legal plant into their diets and wellness routines. Let’s take a look at three popular ways to incorporate CBD into your spring diet.

1.   Food & Drink

The food and beverages we consume have a significant impact on our overall health and wellness. The incorporation of edibles is one of the fastest-growing avenues of legal CBD production in Canada. Consumers are gravitating towards the discretionary and efficiency functions of edibles.

As more licenced businesses begin to set up shop across the country, the variety of products available shows genuine promise — whether it’s with gummies or a sweet chamomile herbal tea, this is where Canada’s entrepreneurs are shining.

The CBD properties in edibles are becoming a go-to for many consumers looking to regulate their appetites, improve muscle function, and treat mood irregularities. Incorporating CBD into your spring diet may be a gradual process, particularly if you’re new to the experience. The easiest way to experiment is with the smallest dosage recommended and gauge your body’s reaction — as time goes on, you may be able to incorporate a higher dosage into your food or drink.

2.   Improving Sleep

Developing a healthy sleep pattern is a crucial part of your mental and physical health. The conversation around CBD and improved sleep is ongoing, though it shows promise. Since CBD is a non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant, it could offer therapeutic benefits without the attached high that comes with the same plant’s THC compounds.

Oils are one of the most popular ways to incorporate CBD into a sleeping ritual — consumers can choose to add the oil directly to their skin or add a few droplets to their diffusers while they sleep. The way the CBD compound reacts to the body’s serotonin receptors and the brain’s receptors is continuously studied. Consumers can use the available research and reports to decide whether adding CBD to their nighttime routine is the right choice for their lifestyle.

3.   Fitness Routine

Incorporating CBD has been a growing fundamental practice for anyone looking to improve their physical fitness. We know CBD is one of the many chemical compounds found in cannabinoids. Still, Cannabinoids actually exist in our bodies via our endocannabinoid system — which is known to regulate various functions in our body from appetite and mood to sleep and memory.

For those looking to add a therapeutic remedy to their active lifestyle, topical CBD products could be the answer. Massage oil or body cream has the potential to improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, and aid in the recovery of soft tissue injuries.

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Rogers Communications revenue boosted by cable power

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(Reuters) -Canadian telecoms operator Rogers Communications Inc trumped first-quarter revenue estimates on Wednesday, buoyed by strong demand in its cable unit that provides internet and cloud-based services.

Total revenue rose 2% to C$3.49 billion ($2.77 billion) in the quarter, compared with analysts’ average estimate of C$3.35 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Telecom providers have benefited from a surge in demand for high-speed internet from the COVID-19 pandemic caused shift to remote working and entertainment.

Revenue from the media segment, which includes television, radio broadcasting and digital media, rose 7% to C$440 million, boosted by the return of live professional sports broadcasting.

Cable service revenue increased 5% during the quarter.

Rogers, which is looking to expand its 5G infrastructure, said in March it was buying Canadian telecom services provider Shaw Communications Inc for about C$20 billion ($16.02 billion).

However, the company’s wireless service reported a 6% drop in revenue, hit by lower roaming revenue from fresh pandemic-induced travel curbs.

Net income rose to C$361 million, or 70 Canadian cents per share, from C$352 million, or 68 Canadian cents, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 77 Canadian cents per share, while analysts had expected 66 Canadian cents.

U.S.-listed shares of Rogers, which did not provide second-quarter forecast due to pandemic-led uncertainty, rose nearly 1% in low pre-market trading volumes.

($1 = 1.2596 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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Canadian National challenges Canadian Pacific with $33.7 billion Kansas City bid

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By Shreyasee Raj

(Reuters) -Canadian National said on Tuesday it had offered to buy Kansas City Southern railroad for about $33.7 billion, and shares of U.S. company soared as investors anticipated a potential bidding war with Canadian Pacific.

Canadian Pacific had agreed a deal to acquire Kansas City Southern for about $25 billion last month. Either combination would create a North American railway spanning the United States, Mexico and Canada as supply chains recover from being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The acquisition interest in Kansas City Southern also follows the ratification of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement last year, that removed the threat of trade tensions which had escalated under former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Kansas City said it would evaluate Canadian National’s offer. If it found it could lead to a better deal, Canadian Pacific will be given the opportunity to raise its bid.

Canadian National’s cash-and-stock offer, worth $325 per share, is at a 26.8% premium to Kansas City Southern’s offer as of Monday’s trading close.

“We are surprised by this move given the healthy valuation Canadian Pacific had already offered to Kansas City Southern shareholders,” Stephens analyst Justin Long wrote in a note to clients.

Kansas City Southern shares rose 15.8% to $297.12, indicating most investors deemed it unlikely the company would stick with Canadian Pacific’s offer.

One investor that took a different view is Chilton Investment Co, which has a less than 1% stake in Kansas City Southern. Citing regulatory hurdles, it said it preferred a deal with Canadian Pacific.

“There’s more overlap with Canadian National deal which makes it harder to get (regulatory) approval. The Surface Transportation Board (STB) doesn’t like overlap,” Chilton CEO Richard Chilton said.

Canadian National CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest said his network and that of Kansas City Southern are “highly complementary networks with limited overlap.” They only run parallel for 65 miles, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Kansas City Southern has domestic and international rail operations in North America, focused on the north-south freight corridor connecting commercial and industrial markets in the central United States with industrial cities in Mexico. Calgary-based Canadian Pacific is Canada’s No. 2 railroad operator, behind Canadian National.

The STB updated its merger regulations in 2001 to introduce a requirement that Class I railways have to show a deal is in the public interest. Yet it provided an exemption to Kansas City Southern given its small size, potentially limiting the scrutiny that its acquisition will be subjected to.

Canadian Pacific agreed in its negotiations with Kansas City Southern to bear most of the risk of the deal not going through. It will buy Kansas City Southern shares and place them in an independent voting trust, insulating the acquisition target from its control until the STBLatest clears the deal. Were the STB to reject the combination, Canadian Pacific would have to sell the shares of Kansas City Southern, but the current Kansas City Southern shareholders would keep their proceeds.

Canadian National said it was willing to match these terms. It said its offer does not require approval from its own shareholders because of how much cash it has, eliminating a condition in Canadian Pacific’s offer.

Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment, which is Canadian National’s biggest investor with a 14.25% stake, said it fully supports the combination.

A private equity consortium led by Blackstone Group Inc and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) made an unsuccessful offer last year to acquire Kansas City Southern. But it was Canadian Pacific’s announcement of a deal with Kansas City Southern that spurred Canadian National into action, as it raised the prospect of losing out to its rival, according to people familiar with the matter.

(Reporting by Shreyasee Raj and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Anil D’Silva and David Gregorio)

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