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COVID-19 Update: Four Alberta doctors launch lawsuit over vaccine policy | 1,592 cases, 25 deaths reported over three days | Sask. won't impose more restrictions – Calgary Herald

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Watch this page throughout the day for updates on COVID-19 in Calgary

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With news on COVID-19 happening rapidly, we’ve created this page to bring you our latest stories and information on the outbreak in and around Calgary.

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What’s happening now

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Share your COVID-19 stories

As Alberta grapples with a fourth wave of COVID-19 at the start of another school year, we’re looking to hear your stories on this evolving situation.

  • Are you or a loved one seeking medical care outside the country after facing a cancelled surgery here?
  • Are you someone who has decided to get vaccinated after previously being skeptical of the vaccines?
  • Are you a frontline heath care worker seeing new strains on the health system?

Send us your stories via email at reply@calgaryherald.com or by using this online submission forum .


Lawsuit launched against AHS for mandatory vaccination policy by four Alberta doctors

Alberta Health Services.
Alberta Health Services. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

Four Alberta doctors are launching a lawsuit against Alberta Health Services and its president in opposition to the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for staff.

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The plaintiffs include two rural family physicians, a Calgary anesthesiologist and a Calgary pediatric neurologist.

“Any medical procedure performed on a patient without their informed consent amounts to assault,” the statement of claim says.

Lorian Hardcastle, an associate professor in the faculty of law and Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, said the claims about assault and informed consent seem “frivolous.”

“This isn’t a case where someone is being forcibly vaccinated. They’re being told that they either vaccinate or don’t work there,” said Hardcastle.

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Alberta reports 1,592 new cases, 25 deaths

Here are COVID-19 numbers released today by Alberta Health:

  • Alberta reported 1,592 new cases over the past three days.
  • There are 9,481 active cases, down from 10,037 on Friday.
  • There are 182 people in ICU, down nine people from Friday.
  • There are 821 people in hospital, down 68 people from Friday.
  • There were 25,901 tests completed for a positivity rate of about 6.1 per cent.
  • 86.6 per cent of eligible Albertans have received one dose, 78.9 per cent are fully vaccinated.
  • Of Alberta’s total population, 73.7 per cent have one dose, 67.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.
  • Of those currently in hospital, 75.15 per cent are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, and 24.85 per cent are fully vaccinated.

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Canadians hoarded cash during the early months of the pandemic

Canadian dollar bank notes.
Canadian dollar bank notes. Photo by 3d illustration/Getty Images

OTTAWA – The pandemic may have seen a rise in the use of credit and debit cards, along with payment options like Square, but Canadians aren’t giving up on cash.

In fact, the Bank of Canada, which prints bills, says there was $17 billion more dollars out in circulation last year than before the pandemic — suggesting Canadians are sitting on a hoard of cash.

Bank of Canada spokesperson Raewyn Passmore said Canadians still use and appreciate physical currency and they don’t see a big shift away from cash coming anytime soon.

“Cash remains popular among Canadians, and in the foreseeable future, the bank will continue to supply Canadians with bank notes they can use with the highest confidence.”

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The Bank of Canada believes people were holding onto their money in 2020. The amount of money out in circulation was $83 billion before the pandemic, but that swelled to over $100 billion by the end of 2020.

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Saskatchewan won’t impose more COVID-19 measures: Premier Scott Moe

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. Photo by Troy Fleece/Postmedia/File

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he will not bring in additional COVID-19 measures because it ultimately takes away people’s personal freedoms.

Moe made the comment while delivering a state of the province address in Saskatoon to members of the city’s chamber of commerce.

Some medical experts and the Canadian Medical Association have been calling for restrictions on gathering sizes as hospitals continue to admit a high number of COVID-19 patients.

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Also see: Military to support Saskatchewan with up to six critical care nursing officers


Jobs, COVID-19 on the agenda as fall legislature session begins today

The Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Nov. 5, 2020.
The Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Nov. 5, 2020. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia, file

Alberta’s government says it plans to focus on jobs and diversifying the economy while keeping an eye on its COVID-19 response as the fall sitting of the legislature is set to start today.

There are between 18 and 20 bills the government hopes to pass before Christmas, including one that focuses on building infrastructure, and environmental legislation aimed at conservation and recreation.

NDP house leader Christina Gray told reporters at the legislature Friday the Opposition would be holding the government accountable for the health-care crisis.

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Military to support Saskatchewan with up to six critical care nursing officers

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. Photo by Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press/File

The Canadian Armed Forces says it’s prepared to support Saskatchewan with up to six critical care nursing officers, who it says will be deployed to intensive care units.

The military also says it will provide medical air transport for in-province and out-of-province critical care patient transfers, as capacity allows, and may also supply a pair of Multipurpose Medical Assistance Teams to backfill the province’s nurses.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair tweeted late Friday the federal government had approved a request for pandemic aid in Saskatchewan, including military support.

Blair also noted that Ottawa is also in talks with the province to provide additional help from the Canadian Red Cross and other health resources.

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B.C. lifting COVID-19 restrictions but not everyone ready to resume usual gatherings

People look at some cookware products at the Vancouver Fall Home Show at Vancouver Convention Centre on Oct. 14, 2021. After the cancellation last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the convention operated this year under health safety protocols.
People look at some cookware products at the Vancouver Fall Home Show at Vancouver Convention Centre on Oct. 14, 2021. After the cancellation last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the convention operated this year under health safety protocols. Photo by Liang Sen/Xinhua via ZUMA Press

British Columbia is lifting capacity restrictions on gatherings across much of the province today, though some say not everyone will be ready to party like it’s early 2020 while still wearing a mask.

Residents in swaths of the province will be allowed to attend events like hockey games, concerts and weddings without any limits on numbers, but capacity will be capped at 50 per cent in areas where vaccination rates are low, including parts of the Fraser, Northern and Interior health regions.

Heidi Tworek, a professor who specializes in health communications at UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, said employers, businesses expecting more customers and even individuals inviting someone over for dinner should expect a range of reactions because the lack of regular contact with people after nearly two years will have impacted some people’s mental health.

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Also see: Ontario lifts capacity limits in restaurants, gyms, casinos


Internal government analysis shows depth of reliance on now-defunct recovery benefit

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference in Ottawa on Oct. 21, 2021.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference in Ottawa on Oct. 21, 2021. Photo by REUTERS/Blair Gable

The majority of Canadian residents who received the federal Canada Recovery Benefit were continuous or repeat recipients of the now-ended aid program, an internal government analysis reveals.

The assessment from Employment and Social Development Canada found that by early June, 1.5 million, or about 75 per cent of the 1.8 million unique recipients of the benefit, were continuous or repeat beneficiaries.

Among them were some 627,000 recipients who applied and received the benefit for months at a time, never once taking a break.

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the briefing note to the top official at the department under the access to information law.

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Experts who reviewed the document suggested the analysis hints at the level of need for the income-support program, which came to an end over the weekend.

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Traveller returning home unable to use digital proof of vaccination at Vancouver airport

A B.C. man has been ordered to quarantine for two weeks after a CBSA officer refused to accept the digital version of his B.C. Vaccine Card

New Westminister resident Charles Wangersky recently returned to Vancouver airport with his wife and adult son after a trip to Florida for a family funeral. Wangersky said the border agent gave his son an order to self-quarantine as he didn’t have a scanner to read his QR code.

“There was a great deal of back and forth, trying to find his records with his personal care number, but in the end, they left him with a form to quarantine for two weeks,” said Wangersky. “Basically, he’s supposed to have absolutely no contact with anyone, until his two weeks are up.”

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Parents more hesitant to vaccinate kids than themselves, researcher says

Charles Muro, 13, receives a COVID-19 vaccination in Hartford, Connecticut, on May 13, 2021.
Charles Muro, 13, receives a COVID-19 vaccination in Hartford, Connecticut, on May 13, 2021. Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

OTTAWA — Jennifer Hubert jumped at the opportunity to get her COVID-19 vaccine, but she’s not looking forward to having to make the decision about whether to vaccinate her three-year-old son Jackson.

She recognizes the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, but said she also understands her son is at a much lower risk for serious illness than older adults.

“To me it’s not a clear benefit,” she said.

While many parents were overjoyed at the news that Health Canada is considering approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine for kids age five to 11 in Canada, parents like Hubert are feeling more trepidatious, and public health officials said they are going to have a much more nuanced conversation with parents about vaccination than they did with adults.

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While 82 per cent of eligible Canadians aged 12 and up are already fully vaccinated, a recent survey by Angus Reid shows only 51 per cent of parents plan to immediately vaccinate their kids when a pediatric dose becomes available.

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Sunday

Fauci says vaccines for kids aged 5-11 likely available in November

FILE PHOTO: Brendan Lo (13) receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Northwell Health’s Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York, U.S., May 13, 2021.
FILE PHOTO: Brendan Lo (13) receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Northwell Health’s Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York, U.S., May 13, 2021. Photo by REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

WASHINGTON — Vaccines for kids between the ages of 5 and 11 will likely be available in the first half of November, top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Sunday, predicting a timetable that could see many kids getting fully vaccinated before the end of the year.

“If all goes well, and we get the regulatory approval and the recommendation from the CDC, it’s entirely possible if not very likely that vaccines will be available for children from 5 to 11 within the first week or two of November,” Fauci said in an interview with ABC’s This Week.

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials are reviewing the Pfizer/BioNTech application seeking authorization of its 2-dose vaccine for younger children, with its panel of outside advisers scheduled to weigh in on Oct. 26.

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Saturday

Two Calgary-area restaurants reprimanded for not following vaccine passport rules

Two Calgary-area restaurants including the Purple Perk have been reprimanded by Alberta Health Services for not following provincial health orders in Calgary on Saturday, October 23, 2021.
Two Calgary-area restaurants including the Purple Perk have been reprimanded by Alberta Health Services for not following provincial health orders in Calgary on Saturday, October 23, 2021. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia

Several Calgary-area restaurants have been reprimanded by Alberta Health Services for not following provincial health orders.

Closure notices posted online show Purple Perk, located at 2212 4 St. S.W. in central Calgary, has had its food handling permit suspended until the business is able to show it has implemented the provincial restrictions exemption program and follow orders from the chief medical officer of health around masking and social distancing. The suspension will be reviewed on Nov. 2.

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Meanwhile, Olifunt Bistro in Carstairs has been forced to close its indoor dining area only after customers were observed not being checked for proof of vaccination and staff were seen not wearing masks, according to a closure order dated on Oct. 21.

A closure order and permit suspension remain active against Without Papers Pizza on 9th Avenue S.E. after the restaurant was found to not be following public health orders earlier this month. The restaurant has been vocal on social media about its opposition to the province’s vaccination requirements for certain businesses.

Read more .


Saturday

Alberta hopeful to receive Johnson & Johnson vaccines in short order

Alberta is still working to procure Johnson & Johnson vaccine for vaccine hesitant Albertans.
Alberta is still working to procure Johnson & Johnson vaccine for vaccine hesitant Albertans. Photo by Dado Ruvic /REUTERS

Alberta officials are hopeful to receive an initial supply of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government soon, but there is still no timeline on when the doses will arrive.

Premier Jason Kenney said three weeks ago his government had requested an inventory of the single-shot vaccine from Ottawa in a bid to bolster sluggish immunization rates in some areas of rural Alberta. Kenney projected those shots could be available in the first week of October.

Alberta Health said Friday the province has requested up to 20,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also known as Janssen.

Read more .

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Ontario passes new rules aimed at work-life balance for employees – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Ontario government has passed new laws it says will help employees disconnect from the office and create a better work-life balance.

On Tuesday, the government said it passed the “Working for Workers Act,” which requires Ontario businesses with 25 people or more to have a written policy about employees’ rights when it comes to disconnecting from their job at the end of the day.

These workplace policies could include, for example, expectations about response time for emails and encouraging employees to turn on out-of-office notifications when they aren’t working, the government says.

According to the act, between January 1 and March 1 of each year an employer must ensure it has a written policy in place for all employees with respect to disconnecting from work.

“We are determined to rebalance the scales and put workers in the driver’s seat of Ontario’s economic growth while attracting the best workers to our great province,” Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, said in a statement Tuesday.

The act also bans the use of non-compete clauses, which prevent people from exploring other work opportunities and higher salaries at other jobs.

According to the government, Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada, and one of the first in North America, to ban non-compete agreements in employment.

McNaughton says the new laws not only protects workers’ rights, but also will help to attract top talent and investments to the province.

The act also removes “unfair” work experience requirements for foreign-trained immigrants trying to work in their professions. 

It also introduces a mandatory licencing framework for temporary help agencies and recruiters to help prevent labour trafficking.

“This legislation is another step towards building back a better province and cementing Ontario’s position as a global leader, for others to follow, as the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family,” McNaughton said.

A government spokesperson told CTV News Toronto that while the act has not yet received royal assent, it is expected to later this week.

Timelines for when each law under the Working For Workers Act will come into effect have not been announced yet and the government said it there will be a initial grace period for businesses.

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Asian factories shake off supply headaches but Omicron presents new risks

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Asian factory activity grew in November as crippling supply bottlenecks eased, but rising input costs and renewed weakness in China dampened the region’s prospects for an early, sustained recovery from pandemic paralysis.

The newly detected Omicron coronavirus variant has also emerged as a fresh worry for the region’s policymakers, who are already grappling with the challenge of steering their economies out of the doldrums while trying to tame inflation amid rising commodity costs and parts shortages.

China’s factory activity fell back into contraction in November, the private Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) showed on Wednesday, as soft demand and elevated prices hurt manufacturers.

The findings from the private-sector survey, which focuses more on small firms in coastal regions, stood in contrast with those in China’s official PMI on Tuesday that showed manufacturing activity unexpectedly rose in November, albeit at a very modest pace.

“Relaxing constraints on the supply side, especially the easing of the power crunch, quickened the pace of production recovery,” said Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group, in a statement accompanying the data release.

“But demand was relatively weak, suppressed by the COVID-19 epidemic and rising product prices.”

Beyond China, however, factory activity seemed to be on the mend with PMIs showing expansion in countries ranging from Japan, South Korea, India, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Japan’s PMI rose to 54.5 in November, up from 53.2 in October, the fastest pace of expansion in nearly four years.

South Korea’s PMI edged up to 50.9 from 50.2 in October, holding above the 50-mark threshold that indicates expansion in activity for a 14th straight month.

But output shrank in South Korea for a second straight month as Asia’s fourth-largest economy struggles to fully regain momentum in the face of persistent supply chain disruptions.

“Overall, with new export orders flooding back to countries previously hamstrung by Delta outbreaks and the disruption further down the supply chain still working through, there is plenty of scope for a continued rebound in regional industry,” said Alex Holmes, emerging Asia economist at Capital Economics.

India’s manufacturing activity grew at the fastest pace in 10 months in November, buoyed by a strong pick-up in demand.

Vietnam’s PMI rose to 52.2 in November from 52.1 in October, while that of the Philippines increased to 51.7 from 51.0.

Taiwan’s manufacturing activity continued to expand in November but at a slower pace, with the index hitting 54.9 compared with 55.2 in October. The picture was similar for Indonesia, which saw PMI ease to 53.9 from 57.2 in October.

The November surveys likely did not reflect the spread of the Omicron variant that could add further pressure on pandemic-disrupted supply chains, with many countries imposing fresh border controls to seal themselves off.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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ANZ faces class action for “unfair” interest charged from credit card customers

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Australia and New Zealand Banking Group has been sued by a law firm for charging interest on some purchases by credit card holders which were repaid on time for nearly a decade, the parties said on Wednesday.

The law firm, Phi Finney McDonald, filed a class-action suit in the federal court against Australia’s No. 4 lender for charging interest between July 2010 and January 2019 on purchases that should have been interest-free.

“The terms of ANZ’s contract made it impossible for a typical consumer to understand that they would be charged retrospective interest, even on purchases which they repaid on time,” the law firm said in a statement.

Australia outlawed charging retrospective interest in January 2019.

The lawsuit alleged “unfair contract terms and unconscionable conduct” by the bank, but did not specify the damages it was seeking against ANZ in the federal court.

ANZ said in a statement it would review the claim that its contract contravened the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act.

The lawsuit is the latest in a string of legal actions faced by Australia‘s top banks, ranging from breach of consumer protection credit laws to charging financial advice fees to dead customers.

Scrutiny of Australian lenders and financial institutions has ramped up significantly since a Royal Commission inquiry in 2018 found widespread shortcomings in the sector, forcing companies and regulators to take swift action.

 

(Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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