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Feds extending Canada Recovery Benefit eligibility by 12 weeks – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
The federal government announced it will extend the Canada Recovery Benefit eligibility period by an additional 12 weeks, as some recipients face a cut-off by end of March.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said Friday that Ottawa will prolong the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) by the same amount.

“This crisis isn’t over, and neither is our support for everyone,” he said during a press conference.

While the CRB and the CRCB were set to be in place until the fall, recipients can only claim the benefits for up to a total of 26 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021. If an individual had been using the program since its launch, their support would tap out by the end of March.

The feds will also extend the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) from two weeks to a total of four weeks and broaden the claimant period for employment insurance from 26 weeks to 50 weeks.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough told reporters on Friday that extending the programs would cost the government approximately $12.1 billion — $6.7 billion to stretch the recovery benefits and $5.4 billion for the changes to employment insurance.

She noted the employment insurance announcement is contingent on passing new legislation and with that, the support of opposition parties.

“When we worked together in the past, we delivered key supports to help millions of workers. Canadians expect the same of all parties again,” said Qualtrough.

She also made a call-out to provinces to “do their part” to support workers as Canadians weather the second wave.

“Provinces still really have a leading role to play in supporting workers, not to duplicate our efforts, but to compliment, you know we’ve got good examples in B.C. and Yukon and I would just urge provinces to kind of step up for workers and do their part like some of their colleagues have.”

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), which had been raising the alarm about a nearing expiration date of government supports, says it welcomes the news.

“This will come as very good news for the millions of Canadians who still don’t have a job they can go back to and who were growing concerned about how they would pay their bills once their benefits ended next month,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff in a press release.

The CRB is an iteration of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, sunsetted in the fall. It provides $1,000 per two-week period and applies to those who lost their job due to COVID-19 or saw a 50 per cent reduction in average weekly income compared to the previous year.

The CRCB meanwhile provides $500 per week to those caring for family members – elders or children under 12 years old – because of COVID-19 and are therefore unable to work at least 50 per cent of their scheduled hours.

The CRSB is another $500 per week support that aims to help those unable to work 50 per cent of their work week because they are self-isolating due to contracting COVID-19 or being exposed to the virus.

As of Feb. 14, the number of Canadians who have applied to the three benefits above are as follows:

  • CRB: 1,715,090
  • CRCB: 333,760
  • CRSB: 392,280

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Canada set to receive more than 910000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canada is set to receive 910,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week as pharmaceutical companies ramp up deliveries to make good on their contractual obligations by the end of the month.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the country will receive nearly 445,000 shots from Pfizer-BioNTech for the second week running as the companies settle into a rhythm following a lengthy lull in January and much of February.

The remaining 465,000 shots are expected from Moderna, as the pharmaceutical firm steps up its delivery schedule from once every three weeks to once every two.

The influx of new shots comes as the federal government looks for vaccine-makers to finalize delivery of a total of eight million doses by March 31.

That includes 5.5 million from Pfizer-BioNTech — up from the four million originally expected — and two million from Moderna. Canada received 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine last week.

The federal government is not expecting any new deliveries from AstraZeneca-Oxford, nor does it anticipate receiving shipments of the newly approved vaccine from Johnson & Johnson until next month.

At that point, however, both manufacturers are on tap to deliver millions of shots per month.

That includes more than a million doses per week from Pfizer-BioNTech starting in the last week of March and into the following month.

“In April, we are anticipating a steep increase in vaccine availability,” Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military officer overseeing Canada’s inoculation distribution effort, said last week.

“This includes 23 million doses of both Pfizer and Moderna between April and June, and at least 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca Serum Institute of India vaccine arriving by mid-May.”

Johnson & Johnson, whose single-dose vaccine received Health Canada approval on Friday, is the fourth inoculation to receive the green light from the regulator.

It uses a modified common-cold virus to carry a piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 to convince the body to mount an immune response to prevent future infections.

Clinical trials found it to be 66 per cent effective against moderate COVID-19-related illness, 85 per cent effective against severe illness, and 100 per cent effective against death.

“We can be really increasingly optimistic in our outlook and that is really great,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said on Friday.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the government has now confirmed total deliveries of 36.5 million vaccine doses by Canada Day which would be more than enough to get a single dose to each adult Canadian by then.

That doesn’t include any of the 10 million doses purchased from Johnson & Johnson, and includes none of the 20 million doses coming directly from AstraZeneca.

Every vaccine except Johnson & Johnson’s is given in two doses, but provinces are moving to implement new guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization stating those shots should be spaced out up to four months apart rather than three or four weeks.

Provinces are making the move to get more people vaccinated with a first dose, after real-world evidence showed strong data that one dose is highly effective on its own.

Nearly 1.7 million Canadians have now received at least one dose, and the pace of vaccinations has accelerated in the last two weeks. In the past seven days alone, more than 457,000 people were vaccinated, 2 1/2 times as many as in a similar period two weeks before.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2021

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PM designates March 11 national day of observance for Canadians who died of COVID-19 – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
The federal government is designating March 11—the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic—a national day of observance to commemorate those who have died due to the virus.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the new day in a statement on Monday, saying it will also signify a reflection on the “significant impacts” all have felt due to COVID-19, from isolation and unemployment to losing time with friends and family.

“Early last year, our lives, and the lives of everyone around the world, were forever changed by the emergence of COVID-19,” Trudeau said. “Today – one year after the first known death of a Canadian to the disease – we now mourn the tragic loss of more than 22,000 parents, siblings, friends, and loved ones.”

The government is inviting Canadians to think this week about those who have died and the health-care and other essential workers who have been on the front lines of the fight against the novel coronavirus.

“During this crisis, Canadians have remained resilient. They have helped neighbours, given to organizations, put signs in their windows to support our health care workers, and lent a hand wherever possible,” read the statement.

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

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The latest:

Germany is looking to ramp up the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine after authorities last week gave the green light for it to be administered to people 65 and over.

Hundreds of thousands of doses have been gathering dust in recent weeks due to the restrictions on who could get the vaccine and misgivings among some who were eligible.

According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Germany has received 2.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca shot so far but administered just 721,000.

Berlin is opening a sixth vaccine centre Monday at the former Tempelhof airport in the centre of the city that will administer only the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told public broadcaster ZDF that he expects Germany to be able to administer up to 10 million shots a week by the end of the month.

LISTEN | Are all COVID-19 vaccines created equal?

Front Burner21:55Are all COVID-19 vaccines created equal?

How solid is the science behind delaying second COVID-19 vaccine doses? Are the shots from AstraZeneca-Oxford and Johnson & Johnson effective enough? Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch answers our most pressing questions about the latest vaccine news. 21:55

In Italy, the health ministry has now officially approved using the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for healthy people over age 65, citing limited vaccine supplies and the need to vaccinate people who might be vulnerable to complications.

The order was signed Monday. The European Medicines Agency had approved AstraZeneca for all age groups, but some nations like Italy and Germany initially limited it to under 65s due to what they called limited data.

Those limitations are one of the reasons why the 27-nation European Union has lagged so far behind Britain and the United States in vaccinating its people. Millions of doses of AstraZeneca have piled up across Europe, waiting to be given out.

Speeding up Italy’s vaccination campaign will enable the country to overcome the coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Monday, noting that his government would do whatever was necessary to protect lives.

“The pandemic is not yet over, but with the acceleration of the vaccine plan, a way out is not far off,” Draghi said in a speech to mark International Women’s Day, his first such public address since taking office last month.

Italy is approaching 100,000 COVID-19-related deaths and health officials have warned that the country faces a third wave of cases as a more contagious variant of the disease gains ground.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 10:55 a.m. ET


What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | The community volunteers helping B.C. seniors get COVID-19 vaccines:

Several community and religious groups in British Columbia are armed with computers and phones, ready to help local seniors sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations. 2:03

As of 10:50 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada had reported 887,910 cases of COVID-19, with 30,594 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,249.

Across the North, Nunavut reported no new cases on Monday but added two additional recoveries, bringing the number of active cases in the territory to 23. Health officials in Yukon and the Northwest Territories had not yet provided updated figures on Monday.

Ontario reported 1,631 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 10 additional deaths. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 626, with 282 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.

A stay-at-home order in Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay is lifting Monday as the province loosens pandemic restrictions. The three regions were the last ones still under the order, and are transitioning back to the government’s colour-coded pandemic response framework.

Toronto and Peel will enter the “grey lockdown” category, something local public health officials asked for in both regions.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova ScotiaPrince Edward Island and New Brunswick reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials reported one new case on Sunday.

In an interview with CBC’s chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said the province has a “very robust” public health nursing system and is ready to go for the broader vaccine rollout. But the premier also noted that he is open to conversations about sharing some of the province’s allocated vaccine supply with provinces dealing with higher caseloads.

King also said Sunday that he believes the so-called Atlantic bubble will be back in action by early spring.

In Quebec, people in many parts of the province will be able to eat in restaurants and work out in gyms starting Monday as five regions are downgraded from red to orange on the province’s colour-coded pandemic alert level system.

The province on Sunday reported 707 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 592, with 107 COVID-19 patients in intensive care.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 56 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and two additional deaths. Saskatchewan health officials, meanwhile, reported 116 new cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus and two additional deaths. In Alberta, there wasn’t a formal update from health officials over the weekend because of a system upgrade.

In British Columbia, health officials will provide updated figures that cover the weekend later Monday.

WATCH | Vaccines won’t be the end of masks, physical distancing, Tam says:

Dr. Theresa Tam says that a year into the pandemic, with COVID-19 vaccines helping Canada gain an upper hand, masks, physical distancing and travel restrictions won’t disappear immediately because vigilance is needed to beat the evolving virus. 1:53

From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 10:50 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

People in need wait to take a bag with free food at a non-profit association called ‘Pane Quotidiano’ in Milan, Italy, on Monday. The number of people in need has increased after the start of the pandemic. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Monday morning, more than 116.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 66.1 million listed on the Johns Hopkins University tracking database as recovered. The global death toll was approaching 2.6 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Vietnam administered its first COVID-19 doses Monday to the front-line workers who made the nation’s relative success in controlling the pandemic possible — health workers, contact tracers and security forces who handled quarantine duties.

The Southeast Asian nation of 96 million people has a goal to inoculate at least half of the population by the end of the year. Thousands of doctors, nurses and technicians working at hospitals designated to treat COVID-19 patients lined up in the morning and received the first jabs of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“I have been waiting for this day for a long time,” nurse Nguyen Thi Huyen said after she got her injection. Huyen has been caring for COVID-19 patients at a tropical disease hospital in Hanoi the past year. Health protocols have limited her time with family, among other challenges.

A health worker prepares a dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi on Monday. Vietnam has started the vaccination campaign with a hope to inoculate half of the population against COVID-19 by the end of the year. (Hau Dinh/The Associated Press)

The first batch of over 100,000 AstraZeneca doses in a 30 million order arrived two weeks ago. Separately, Vietnam expects to secure another 30 million doses of the same vaccine through the UN-backed COVAX program for vaccine equality.

The UN children’s agency said Afghanistan has received nearly half a million coronavirus vaccine doses via the global COVAX initiative. War-torn Afghanistan received 468,000 AstraZeneca vaccines on Monday, the first shipment through COVAX, UNICEF said in a statement.

The vaccines were made by the Serum Institute of India, and arrived in the capital of Kabul aboard an Emirates flight, UNICEF said. More vaccines will arrive in the coming weeks and months. India previously donated 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to Afghanistan.

Thailand will reduce mandatory quarantine from 14 to seven days starting in April for foreigners arriving in the country who have been vaccinated.

In the Americas, Dr. Anthony Fauci is projecting that U.S. high school students will be able to get vaccinated early in the next school year and that elementary school students should be in line for vaccinations in early 2022.

Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical officer and director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS News’ Face the Nation that vaccines for teens will be available “maybe not the first day but certainly in the early part of the fall.”

Currently, three vaccines are approved for use in the United States. The single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the two-shot Moderna vaccine are approved for individuals 18 and older. Pfizer’s vaccine is approved for 16 and up.

Trials are underway to determine the safety of vaccines on younger people. Teenagers contract the coronavirus almost twice as often as younger children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Ecuador and Paraguay have both received some 20,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine from Chile.

In the Middle East, Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife have tested positive for the coronavirus, the president’s office said Monday, with both having only mild symptoms of the illness.

In a statement, Assad’s office said the couple did PCR tests after they experienced minor symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 illness. It said that Assad, 55, and his wife Asma, who is 10 years younger, will continue to work from home, where they will isolate for between two and three weeks.

Both were in “good health and in stable condition,” the statement said.

Syria, which marks 10 years of war next week, has recorded nearly 16,000 virus cases in government-held parts of the country, including 1,063 deaths. But the numbers are believed to be much higher with limited amounts of PCR tests being done, particularly in areas of northern Syria outside government control.

The pandemic, which has severely tested even developed countries, has been a major challenge for Syria’s health-care sector, already depleted by years of conflict. A decade of fighting has resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions.

Syria began a vaccination campaign last week, but no details have been given about the process, nor have local journalists been allowed to witness the rollout. The health minister said the government procured the vaccines from a friendly country, which he declined to name.

After delays, Israel started vaccinating Palestinians who work inside the country and its West Bank settlements on Monday, more than two months after launching an immunization blitz of its own population.

Palestinian labourers who crossed into Israel at several West Bank checkpoints received their first doses of the Moderna vaccine from Magen David Adom paramedics. The vaccination drive orchestrated by COGAT, Israel’s military agency co-ordinating government operations in the West Bank, had been beset by postponements.

Some 100,000 Palestinian labourers from the West Bank work in Israel and its settlements, which are widely seen internationally as illegal and an obstacle to peace.

Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, the head of COGAT, said in a statement in Arabic that Israelis and Palestinians, “live in the same epidemiological space” and that it was a shared interest to vaccinate Palestinians.

Israel has administered over 8.7 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to its population of 9.3 million. Over 3.7 million Israelis — more than 40 per cent — have received two doses of the vaccine. But until Monday, Israel had provided few vaccines for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a move that has underscored global disparities and drawn international criticism.

Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza in 2005, but still maintains control over airspace, the seafront and a large amount of the movement in and out of the area.

Human rights groups and many Palestinians say that as an occupying power, Israel is responsible for providing vaccines to the Palestinians. Israel says that under interim peace accords reached in the 1990s, it does not have any such obligation.

Israeli officials have said the priority is vaccinating Israel’s own population first, while the Palestinian Authority has said it will obtain its own vaccines through a World Health Organization partnership with humanitarian organizations known as COVAX.

To date, the PA has acquired enough vaccine doses for only 6,000 people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which are home to nearly five million Palestinians. It received 2,000 doses from Israel and acquired another 10,000 doses of a Russian-made vaccine. Each is given in two doses.

Israel had also announced plans to share surplus vaccines with far-flung allies in Africa, Europe and Latin America, but the decision was frozen by legal questions. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with leaders of Denmark and Austria and said the three nations would join forces in the fight against COVID-19 with an investment in research and rollout of vaccines.

In Europe, British children returned to school on Monday after a two-month closure, part of what Prime Minister Boris Johnson said was a plan to get the country to “start moving closer to a sense of normality.”

As part of the plan, millions of high school and college students coming back to U.K. classrooms will be tested for the first few weeks. Authorities want to quickly detect and isolate asymptomatic cases in order to avoid sending entire schools home.

“We are being cautious in our approach so that we do not undo the progress we have made so far,” Johnson said as he urged people to get vaccinated. High schools and colleges can reopen in phases to allow for testing.

France could approve Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this week, in line with the timetable for its broader European Union approval, the president of the country’s health regulator said.

Hungarians on Monday awoke to a new round of strict lockdown measures aimed at slowing a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths powered by virus variants.

In Africa, Ethiopian Airlines is set to take a lead role in ferrying COVID-19 vaccines around the world and expects demand for the service to last for up to three years.

The deputy chief executive of South African bank ABSA died on Sunday due to COVID-19 complications, his family said.

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 9:55 a.m. ET


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