Connect with us

News

Labour unions in Canada could play big role in averting Biden’s ‘Buy American’ rules – Global News

Published

 on


Canada’s largest private-sector unions could be among those with their hands on the helm next year when the time comes to navigate the shoals of Joe Biden‘s proposed Buy American rules.

The president-elect, a self-proclaimed “blue-collar Joe,” makes no secret of his affinity for organized labour, or of his plan to ensure U.S. workers and companies are first in line to reap the benefits of his economic recovery plan.

Read more:
Trudeau stresses free trade at Asia Pacific leaders summit

“I want you know I’m a union guy. Unions are going to have increased power,” Biden said he told corporate leaders during a meeting this week on his strategy for the economy.

“They just nodded. They understand. It’s not anti-business. It’s about economic growth, creating good-paying jobs.”

Story continues below advertisement

That working-class solidarity could be good news for Canada, where prominent unions like the United Steelworkers and the United Food and Commercial Workers have members on both sides of the border.

“We’re going to be a voice, and rightfully so,” said Ken Neumann, the national director of the Canadian branch of the United Steelworkers, 225,000 of whose 850,000 North American members live and work north of the border.

“Our union has a long-standing relationship with president-elect Biden ? and he knows who the Steelworkers are, so we are going to work hard to say that Canada should not be excluded.”

UFCW International president Marc Perrone was among the U.S. labour leaders who took part in Tuesday’s economic panel with Biden. The union boasts 1.3 million members across North America, including more than 250,000 in Canada.


Click to play video 'Trudeau says he’s already had conversations with U.S. President-elect Biden’s team on Keystone XL'



2:42
Trudeau says he’s already had conversations with U.S. President-elect Biden’s team on Keystone XL


Trudeau says he’s already had conversations with U.S. President-elect Biden’s team on Keystone XL

“We are currently monitoring the situation and working through our international office to ensure that the views and concerns of our members — on both sides of the border — are front and centre,” UFCW Canada president Paul Meinema said in a statement.

Story continues below advertisement

Following that meeting, Biden was jarringly clear: no government contracts will be awarded to companies that don’t manufacture their products in the United States, reprising similar rules he oversaw as Barack Obama’s vice-president in 2009. The United States was struggling back from the financial crisis and deep recession that followed.

Canada successfully negotiated waivers to those rules 10 years ago. It’s also likely that Biden’s unequivocal rhetoric is meant primarily for U.S. ears, considering the extent of domestic tensions in America’s superheated postelection atmosphere.

But those tensions are real, and protectionism is now more of a force in the U.S. than it was in 2009, regardless of which party is in power, said Dan Ujczo, an Ohio lawyer who specializes in international trade.

“There’s almost a universal view that whatever needs to be done has to include some type of a Buy American provision,” said Ujczo, chairman of Dickinson Wright’s Canada-U.S. practice group.

Read more:
Biden says U.S. government contracts must ‘buy American’ to be approved

The narrow results of the Nov. 3 election suggest there are plenty of working-class Americans in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio who hold no strong allegiance to either party, he said.

“Those are the voters that are still up for grabs by either Democrats and Republicans, and Buy American resonates there. So to me, that is a significant difference — the tide has become even stronger for Buy American.”

Story continues below advertisement

Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, formerly the Canadian Auto Workers and Canada’s largest private-sector union, said he’s confident Biden’s presidency will herald a new era in relations between the two countries.

“I think the United States is going to head in a much better direction as it relates to the safety of the people,” Dias said of the administration’s incoming efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’ll be a kinder, gentler nation within the confines of the United States, and frankly, I think the relationship with Canada will improve.”

Indeed, COVID-19 — which has laid bare the supply-chain dependency that exists between the two countries — may offer Canada its best chance to forge closer ties, Ujczo said.

Since getting the virus under control will be Biden’s top priority once he takes office, a shared approach to the production and distribution of personal protective equipment like face masks, gloves and gowns will make a lot of sense — to say nothing of the shared border, which has been closed to non-essential travel since March.


Click to play video 'Biden moves ahead with transition of power plans'



2:29
Biden moves ahead with transition of power plans


Biden moves ahead with transition of power plans – Nov 9, 2020

“There’s the political space right now to come together and say, ‘Let’s look at how we create a Canada-U.S. market for PPE, for vaccination, et cetera,” Ujczo said.

Story continues below advertisement

“If you start there, then you can say, ‘We don’t need Buy American for that,’ and then it’s an easier conversation that has to go to the next thing.”

Canada, of course, has its own protectionist sentiments.

Dias, Neumann and others say Canada should be taking a page from the U.S. playbook and doing more to ensure that their Canadian members reap the benefits when taxpayer dollars are spent on infrastructure in their own country.

“It’s sad to see that we have bridges in our country that are built with Chinese steel,” Neumann said. “I mean, what don’t we get?”

Don’t assume that the end of the Trump era will automatically usher in a new era in the U.S., even after Biden takes office, warned Michael Froman, who was U.S. trade representative during Obama’s second term.

Read more:
Biden outlines plan to ease economic inequity in U.S amid coronavirus pandemic

“There is actually a high risk of miscalculation by our trading partners ? who sort of assume that everything is going to be sweetness and light going forward,” Froman told a panel discussion Wednesday.

“The issues that have been at issue between ourselves and our trading partners are very much likely to remain a focus in need of getting resolved, not swept under the carpet.”

Advertisement

© 2020 The Canadian Press

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

News

CDC shortens quarantine recommendation for U.S., raising questions in Canada – CBC.ca

Published

 on


The recommended quarantine time for close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case is being reduced by up to a week in the United States, but while some of Canada’s health experts say a similar approach could be useful here, others aren’t so sure.

The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Wednesday it had shortened the recommended length of quarantine after exposure from 14 days to 10 — or seven days with a negative test result.

Health Canada was still recommending a 14-day quarantine period as of Wednesday, but Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at McMaster University in Hamilton, says cutting that time in half would be beneficial.

“It would be super important for the sake of incentivizing people to actually quarantine after exposure,” he said.

“And there’s a lot of different things that could theoretically open up — getting health-care workers back to work, getting kids back to school — a lot of ways where this could ease the burden of potential exposure in society.”

The CDC had previously said the incubation period for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could extend to 14 days, but the organization now says most people become infectious and develop symptoms between four and five days after exposure.

Chagla says the 14-day window was likely inspired from SARS data, where the incubation period was longer.

While isolation and quarantine are sometimes used interchangeably, Chagla says there’s a difference in the terms. Isolation is for those who have tested positive, while quarantine is for people who may or may not actually have the virus, like close contacts of positive cases or those travelling into Canada. Isolation recommendations for positive cases vary, but are typically 10 days after symptom onset.

Typical course of infection

Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, says a change in quarantine guidance reflects our evolving understanding of COVID-19.

“If you’re exposed, it takes a couple days for you to become infectious, so [seven to 10 days] should be enough to tell whether you’ve got the virus,” Tuite said. “But of course, that’s assuming your experience is reflective of the typical course of infection.”

The key to the CDC’s new guidance for Tuite is having the option to end quarantine at seven days with a negative test result. She suspects that’s in place to stop people who have the virus but no symptoms from ending the quarantine period too early.

A positive test at Day 7 would mean that person should continue to isolate, Tuite said, while a negative result would mean they could safely end quarantine, knowing enough time has passed since exposure to confidently assume they won’t still get sick.

Testing capacity challenges

Dr. Don Sheppard, the founder and director of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4), says the CDC’s plan makes sense scientifically, but there would be logistical issues in testing every COVID contact in Canada who wanted to end their quarantine at Day 7.

“It’s impossible to do that,” he said. “It’s either 14 days of proper isolation, or it’s seven days with a negative test, and right now our system cannot offer seven days plus testing to the public at large.”

WATCH | Could the 14-day isolation period be shorter? (At 01:18:45):

Canadians put their questions about the worsening COVID-19 pandemic to experts during an interactive two-hour special, hosted by Adrienne Arsenault and Andrew Chang. 1:39:27

Testing capacity does exist in certain situations, Sheppard said, like for health-care workers and other front-line staff that need a quicker quarantine to get back to work. He cautioned, however, that taking a test on Day 7 still means isolating for an extra day or two while awaiting results.

Quarantine also needs to be done solo in order to work, Sheppard added, warning that the CDC guidance isn’t meant as a loophole for holiday gatherings if your family isolates together for seven days before an event.

Supports for people to quarantine

He used an example of military recruits in the U.S. who were told to quarantine for 14 days before reporting to camp. A handful of positive tests (0.9 per cent) were caught upon arrival, suggesting true quarantine hadn’t been followed.

Those recruits were sent home while the rest underwent another group quarantine. When tested again two weeks later, the positivity rate had grown to 1.3 per cent.

“Why? Because there were people incubating and they turned positive. And those people infected others in their groups,” Sheppard said.

“So if you don’t do strict, single-person isolation, you don’t actually break the cycle of transmission, you just pass it around in your group.”

Tuite says that further illustrates the usefulness of a shortened quarantine period.

A mother with young children, or someone who shares a small apartment with another person will find it harder to properly quarantine for longer periods, she said, as will someone who can’t afford to take a full two weeks off work.

“It really comes down to having the means to do it,” she said. “Can you survive for two weeks if you’re not getting income? Can you isolate in a household with multiple people?

“We need to have support in place so that people can quarantine, and that doesn’t change whether it’s for a week or 14 days. But it becomes much more challenging when it’s for longer periods.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

News

Alberta asks federal government, Red Cross for field hospitals as COVID spreads – CBC.ca

Published

 on


As COVID-19 cases soar in Alberta and hospital capacity is stretched, the province has reached out to the federal government and the Canadian Red Cross for help, CBC News has learned.

A federal source with direct knowledge of the situation says Alberta has asked the federal government and the Red Cross to supply field hospitals to help offset the strain COVID-19 is having on the health-care system.

The source said Alberta would likely receive at least four field hospitals — two from the Red Cross and another two from the federal government. The source, speaking on condition of confidentiality, said there was no request for human resources to staff the hospitals and no request for support from the military. 

The source said a formal request has still not been sent by the province, but officials have been discussing in detail the level of support Alberta could receive. 

A health-care official walks down the halls of a pandemic response unit at Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary on Nov. 14, 2020. The temporary structure was set up early in the pandemic to deal with a potential flood of cases. (Submitted by AHS/Leah Hennel)

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu is scheduled to speak with Alberta Health Minster Tyler Shandro on Wednesday to discuss the requests and what other supports Ottawa can offer the province during the pandemic. 

A provincial government official confirmed to CBC News that a request had been made for field hospital help, but said the request represented contingency planning only at this point.

The official said Alberta Health Services is gathering resources and materials it may need, but there is no plan yet to staff or construct the hospitals.

An official from Public Safety Canada said they have not received any requests for field hospitals from any other provinces or territories.

Alberta continues to set new daily COVID-19 infection records and leads the country in the number of active cases per capita. It has also sometimes led the country in total active cases. For example, on Tuesday, there were 16,628 active cases in Alberta, compared to 14,524 in Ontario — a province with more than three times as many people.

On Tuesday, the province reported 1,307 new cases and a test positivity rate of 8.4 per cent. Alberta has reported more than 1,000 cases each day for nearly two weeks. 

There were 479 people in hospital and 97 in ICUs on Tuesday, but the province will update those numbers on Wednesday afternoon at a news conference to be attended by both Premier Jason Kenney and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

  • CBC News will carry that news conference live here at 3:30 p.m. MT/5:30 p.m. ET.

The last time Kenney appeared at a COVID-19 update was on Nov. 24 when he introduced new restrictions on social gatherings, among other measures, in an attempt to stem the rising tide of cases while continuing to focus on the province’s economic health. 

He said those restrictions would be revisited on Dec. 15 and stricter measures could be imposed if cases continue to rise. 

Critics have called those measures insufficient

Since then, doctors have warned of overburdened hospitals and ICUs and the province has taken the step of double-bunking some patients in ICU rooms as part of its plans to deal with a surge

On Nov. 27, Alberta Health Services sent a memo to staff asking them to conserve oxygen supplies as demand increases.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

News

What does the Pfizer vaccine approval in the U.K. mean for Canada? – CTV News

Published

 on


TORONTO —
Following news that the United Kingdom has authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for use, questions are emerging about what the new approval could mean for other countries looking to secure a vaccine candidate in the race against the novel coronavirus.

Britain gave the green light to the COVID-19 vaccine candidate from American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech on Wednesday and expects to start its first vaccinations in the country within days.

Canada’s Minister of Health Patty Hajdu took to Twitter on Wednesday to say that the U.K.’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine is “encouraging” and that Health Canada will complete its review of the candidate “soon.” She did not provide further details.

“Making sure a COVID-19 vaccine is safe before approving it is Health Canada’s priority, and when a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready,” Hajdu tweeted.

Chief medical advisor at Health Canada Dr. Supriya Sharma said at a public briefing on Nov. 26 that Canada plans to make a decision on the Pfizer vaccine around the same time that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency do.

Those decisions are expected to be made sometime in December, with FDA having set a meeting on Dec. 10 during which they will make a final call on the vaccine.

However, Health Canada has its own approval processes, designed to ensure vaccines are safe and effective.

Sharma said Canada’s review of Pfizer’s vaccine, which began on Oct.3, is the most advanced out of the current candidates, but still ongoing.

“While significant time and resources are being devoted to expediting the scientific review of COVID-19 vaccines, the decision on whether they will be authorized will ultimately depend on assessment of the data, including the complete information from clinical trials, which is still coming in,” Sharma said.

Sharma said Canada “will only authorize a vaccine if its benefits clearly outweigh its risks.”

“While we are working hard to give Canadians access to COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible, we will not compromise our safety, efficacy and quality standards. Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is our top priority,” Sharma said.

While Pfizer’s vaccine may be furthest ahead in Canada’s review process, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen’s vaccine candidates have also been submitted to Health Canada for approval.

Pfizer announced in November that results of clinical trials that showed its COVID-19 vaccine was 95 per cent effective and offered “significant protection” for older people. However, the candidate needs to be kept at -70 C during transportation and storage to remain effective, posing logistical problems.

VACCINE FAST-TRACKING

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday that news of Britain’s approving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is “exciting.” He expects other vaccine candidates to be approved in Western countries in the coming weeks.

Sharkawy said the approval adds to the “sense of optimism” around a successful coronavirus vaccine.

“If the data has been looked at very carefully by one regulatory body, like the MHRA in the U.K., then certainly the FDA and Health Canada should be able to do the same thing,” Sharkawy said

“I would be surprised if Health Canada did not follow suit with approval very, very soon,” he added.

However, in a statement to CTV News, Pfizer Canada said on Wednesday that “an approval in one jurisdiction does not equate to an approval in another.”

Despite being approved in the U.K., infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch says Pfizer’s vaccine candidate won’t land on Canadian soil anytime sooner.

Bogoch told CTV News Channel on Wednesday that regulatory bodies are “working at different paces” and said the U.K.’s approval does not mean that Health Canada should rush its own decision.

“I really hope that they do their job in a very fair manner without any external pressure, and I really hope that it doesn’t push them to do their job faster,” Bogoch said. “If it’s a day, a week, a couple of weeks longer, [that’s] fine, as long as they do a thorough job and ensure that Canadians get access to safe vaccines that are effective.”

Bogoch explained that Health Canada not only has to look at the data from a vaccine’s clinical trials, but the agency also has to consider the manufacturing process of that vaccine.

Bogoch said it is likely that Health Canada will approve the Pfizer vaccine in the “coming weeks.” However, once the vaccine arrives in Canada, Bogoch said the country needs to have programs already in place to ensure the shots are immediately rolled out.

“It’s not quite clear when the vaccine will land on our doorstep but when it does, we better work really, really hard right now to sort out how we’re going to ship this,” Bogoch said, adding that Pfizer’s temperature requirements do pose a challenge.

“This is that one where it requires [-70 C] freezing, so the logistics of getting this around the country are hard. I hope that process is underway because we might get access to this sooner than we think,” he said.

VACCINE ROLLOUT

Canada has secured access to a total of 414 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from different sources including 76 million from Pfizer, but just four million of those are expected to land in the country by the end of March.

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said on Nov. 26 that while there will be early prioritization of who gets vaccinated based on the limited initial supply, Canada will have enough doses to “provide access to every Canadian who wants one in 2021.”

However, Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine, says he is concerned that vaccine access may be limited throughout the next year if a proper rollout plan is not in place.

Bowman told CTV News Channel on Wednesday that there is “a lot of confusion and ambiguity” as to when provincial health authorities will have a COVID-19 vaccine so inoculations can begin.

Bowman’s remarks come on the heels of weeks of moving targets and changes in messaging from federal and provincial officials about Canada’s vaccine standing and timelines.

“So many of the people in Canada and the provinces, if they’re going to be prepared for this they do need dates and they do need numbers. How do you prepare without that?” Bowman said.

While he acknowledges that administering a vaccine nationally “isn’t easy,” he said there needs to be more transparency from government officials about current rollout plans to ensure that Canadians aren’t hesitant to get vaccinated once they can.

“We really, really need to build trust with Canadians right now so that when the vaccine is available that people are trusting of that,” Bowman said.

Speaking virtually at the Canadian Immunization Conference, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Canada’s vaccine rollout requires a “complex response” since the country has invested in a range of vaccine candidates that all have their own needs.

Tam said on Wednesday that Canada has ordered 126 freezers with various temperature capabilities for the vaccine, many of which she says have already been delivered.

She acknowledged that it is “very important” to be transparent with Canadians about the status of vaccine candidates and their subsequential rollout.

“It is important for all of us to get knowledgeable about the process of development and that the regulatory process is rigorous and that we would only provide vaccines that have gone through safety evaluations and efficacy evaluations,” Tam said.

Tam said the federal government will be using “behavioural insights” and other strategies such as sharing testimonials and using social media influencers to help address misinformation and “boost vaccine confidence among the population.”

However, Tam maintained that Canada will only approve a COVID-19 vaccine after thorough reviews are completed.

“We still have to look at the clinical trial results in depth. These initial vaccine candidates have reported good efficacy and provide hope for a new way forward in not just this pandemic, but for future,” Tam said.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending