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COVID-19: People in Canada should wear face masks indoors

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Federal health officials urged Canadians to wear face masks indoors and continue following other public health precautions during a COVID-19 update on Thursday morning.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said multiple layers of personal protection will be necessary in the coming weeks to reduce the impact of a fall surge of influenza, RSV and COVID-19 cases on hospitals and vulnerable people.

“Although no individual layer of protection is perfect, when used consistently and together, vaccine plus layers can provide excellent protection against COVID-19 as well as other infectious diseases we may encounter,” Tam said.

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Dr. Tam called on Canadians to ensure they are up to date on their COVID-19 boosters and flu shots, to maintain good hand hygiene and wear well-fitting face masks indoors and in places with poor ventilation, where physical distancing is not possible.

As of Oct. 9, the Government of Canada reports only 49.6 per cent of Canadians have received one booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 14.3 per cent have received a second booster dose.

Tam said COVID-19 vaccine uptake among the youngest children is also relatively low, sitting at about 6.5 per cent.

“If it has been six months since your last COVID-19 vaccine dose or booster, get vaccinated with a bivalent Omicron-targeting booster,” she said.

“Keep up with the handwashing, wearing a good-quality, well-fitting face mask when indoors, especially if you can’t avoid being in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces.”

Amid a rise in respiratory infections across the country, a recent poll by Nanos Research found seven in 10 Canadians would support, or share some support, for the return of face mask mandates in indoor public spaces if recommended by officials.

A CONFLUENCE OF VIRUSES

Tam was joined by Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo, who provided an update on the latest positivity rates for the respiratory viruses circulating most widely in Canada right now.

Njoo warned that emerging Omicron variants BQ.1.1 and BF.7 are gaining ground as COVID-19 transmission continues across the country.

At the same time, he said, other respiratory viruses have surpassed seasonal levels as the respiratory virus season gets underway early in Canada.

“At the national level, RSV activity began to increase several weeks ago, with lab positivity above expected levels for this time of the year,” he said.

Njoo said influenza transmission has crossed the seasonal threshold of five per cent lab test positivity following a recent steep increase in infections. Children and teenagers account for half of those recent infections, he said.

All of this adds up to increased strain on emergency departments, particularly in children’s hospitals, which health-care professionals have warned are operating at or over 100 per cent occupancy.

“These surveillance indicators point to the need for stepped up precautions as SARS-CoV-2, influenza and other seasonal respiratory viruses could continue to co-circulate in the weeks ahead,” Njoo said.

ACCESS TO CHILDREN’S TYLENOL, ADVIL

Njoo said immunity to RSV and other respiratory viruses is low this year among children who weren’t exposed during the previous two years due to physical distancing and other public health precautions.

However, health-care professionals have identified the ongoing shortage of pain and fever medications such as children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen as another driver of emergency room visits and hospital admissions, since parents aren’t able to treat their children’s symptoms at home.

Tam suggested there might be some good news on that front, as Health Canada works to secure supplies of the over-the-counter medications.

“I do know that our Health Canada colleagues are working extremely hard with different partners, including manufacturers,” she said, “and that they’ve also enabled the importation of supplies, such as ibuprofen from the United States and acetaminophen from Australia.”

With files from CTVNews.ca Writer Melissa Lopez-Martinez

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The Holocaust strikes our very being

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Holocaust

To be a Jew is not something special,
being a human being is normal.
Dealing with prejudice, hatred, and oppressive action,
now that’s something special for the Jewish Nation.

Oppression, hatred, and genocide besides,
is not just a Jewish person’s situation.
Armenian, Cambodian and Jewish Peoples deal,
with a national eradication event.

People of the world unit,
genocide is an international delight.
Oppress your people, crush opposition too.
The elites of the world are making exceptions for you.

Don’t be weak, allowing excuses to be made,
but lift your hands in justice’s cruel wave.
Hatred knows no reasonability, it knows no mercy.
Hatred, oppression, and prejudice need no exception.

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Long ago Jews were murdered by the millions,
Cambodians died at the hands of their neighbors.
Palestine still walks within the borders of other nations,
and peace is nowhere to be found, my friend.

If your arms are in righteous ways demand justice for all,
for the people who hate will not see our peaceful ways.
A gun, a bayonet, and a saber be brought,
for the right to justice begins today,
and ends with blood if the opposition has any say.

Gandhi spoke of peaceful ways,
while Martin Luther Jr surrendered his life. to the cause.
Young blacks die each and every day,
while the power of prejudice wins the day.

My first lifts in anger that is for sure,
while the average person just shrugs this day.
But the goose-stepping troops may one day march on,
and the ignorance that prevails will let them carry on.

Open our eyes to the wrongs before us,
clear our minds and accept what bothers us.
Injustice is a prevailing horrid thing,
and ONLY YOU CAN BRING IT TO AN END.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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Parliamentarians kick off return to House of Commons with debate on child care

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Parliamentarians kick off return

The economy was top of mind for members of Parliament as they returned to the House of Commons Monday, with the Liberal government kicking off the new sitting with a debate on child care.

Families Minister Karina Gould tabled Bill C-35 last December, which seeks to enshrine the Liberals’ national daycare plan into law — and commit Ottawa to maintaining long-term funding.

The federal government has inked deals with provinces and territories in an effort to cut fees down to an average of $10 per day by 2026.

During a debate today, Gould said all parties should support the bill, and the national plan has begun saving families money.

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But Conservative MP Michelle Ferreri said the plan is “subsidizing the wealthy” while failing to reduce wait times for child-care spaces and address labour shortages in the sector.

Ferreri told MPs that the Conservatives would be presenting “strong amendments” to the legislation.

The debate comes amid concerns about a possible recession this year, with both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre saying their focus will be on the cost of living.

But Poilievre’s Tories may have little room to manoeuvre in the legislature.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters upon his return to the House of Commons that he does not believe there is any room to work with the Conservatives during the upcoming sitting.

Instead, the NDP says it plans to push the Liberals to fulfil the terms of the parties’ confidence-and-supply agreement, such as the planned expansion of federal dental care.

Under the deal signed last March, the NDP agreed to support the minority government on key House of Commons votes in exchange for the Liberals moving ahead on New Democrat policy priorities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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Singh meeting with Trudeau about private health care ahead of sit-down with premiers

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Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he will sit down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday afternoon to discuss private health care ahead of next week’s summit with premiers.

Trudeau is expected to meet with provincial and territorial leaders in Ottawa next Tuesday to discuss a new health-care funding deal.

“The deal will be a failure if it doesn’t include major commitments to hire more health-care workers,” Singh said Monday, adding that the funding should be kept within the public system.

The last time Trudeau and Singh met one-on-one, as outlined in the confidence-and-supply agreement between the Liberals and the NDP, was in December.

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Singh said now is the time for the Liberal government to make clear that funding private health-care facilities will not improve the shortage of health-care workers Canada is facing.

While health care falls under provincial jurisdiction, Singh believes the federal government could be using the Canada Health Act more aggressively to challenge for-profit care.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government announced earlier this month that it’s moving some procedures to publicly funded, private facilities to address a growing surgery wait-list, which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan have already made similar moves.

“We think the federal government should be making it very clear that the solution to the current health-care crisis will not come from a privatization, for-profit delivery of care. It’ll only come by making sure we hire, recruit, retain and respect health-care,” Singh said.

“Health care is already dramatically understaffed, and for-profit facilities will poach doctors and nurses — cannibalizing hospitals, forcing people to wait longer in pain and racked with anxiety.”

The New Democrats say they’re also concerned that private facilities will upsell patients for brands and services not covered by the province, and tack on extra fees and services.

On Saturday, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said his Liberal government will ensure people don’t use their credit cards for health-care services and health care will remain universally public.

Singh is also expected to request an emergency House of Commons debate on the privatization of health care Monday afternoon.

If the request is granted, the debate could go ahead as early as Monday evening.

Health care is a top priority for the leader as members of Parliament return to the House Monday following a holiday break.

Singh spent some of that time away holding roundtable discussions on health care in British Columbia to discuss emergency room overcrowding and worker shortages.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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