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Maritime propane supply runs low amid CN Rail shutdown



Indigenous pipeline protests in central Canada have choked off the supply of propane by rail into the Maritimes, leading to rationing and fears of running out of supply.

On Thursday evening, CN Rail, the country’s largest railway, announced it was shutting down its entire network east of Toronto because Tyendinaga Mohawk demonstrators near Belleville, Ont., had so far refused to dismantle their blockade.

Up to 85 per cent of propane arrives in the Maritime provinces by railcar and the supply is running out, said Nathalie St. Pierre, president of the Canadian Propane Association.

“You currently have about five days before you’re getting pretty close to running out, so that has a significant impact,” St. Pierre said after talking with dealers in eastern Canada Thursday afternoon.

“We’re talking about thousands of people using propane as their main fuel to heat their homes. We’re talking about lots of industries relying on propane, whether they’re commercial or institutional businesses and seniors homes. It’s getting really critical.”


Demonstrators add a sign to a trailer at the closed train tracks during a rail blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory on Thursday. They are protesting in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)


Given the dependency on rail, the region is always vulnerable to a stoppage. It happened last November during a week-long CN Rail strike. But the president of Halifax-based Wilson Fuels said at least during the strike, some rail cars were moving into the region.

“Since the blockade, there have been no movements of railcars and propane. Because it’s pressurized, it’s hard to store large quantities of propane on hand. The market really requires regular movements of propane, so this has really put us in a difficult situation,” said Ian Wilson.

Wilson is demanding the federal government step in and end the blockades, which have been organized to show solidarity for the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the construction of a 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline through northern British Columbia.

“While some people see this as some form of legitimate protest I strongly disagree. I would say it’s more akin to terrorism frankly, because the definition of terrorism is using violence and intimidation against civilian populations to further your political views and I mean I think that’s an apt description of what’s going on,” he said.

There have been no reports of violence at the blockade sites.

‘There has to be a resolution’

St. Pierre was more diplomatic, but said the blockades must end.

“We don’t deny the right for people to protest,” she said. “It’s impeding a lot of people to get the products that they need, not just propane, but other types of commodities that they rely on. And so given that the infrastructure of rail is so important in Canada, obviously there has to be resolution of this conflict as soon as possible.”

Wilson said in light of lower inventory, rationing is taking place and the priority is customers using propane for heating.

“That’s going on in order to make things last,” he said.

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What side effects do Canadians report after getting COVID-19 vaccine? – News 1130



VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C. is ramping up its vaccine efforts in the coming weeks, planning to get more people immunized faster by extending the length of time between first and second doses. That means you may be able to get the jab sooner that first thought.

So what has the experience been like for the many people who have already been vaccinated?

Looking at the latest poll from Leger, there is a range of experiences reported.

In Canada, most of those immunized against COVID-19 so far (55 per cent) have received the Pfizer vaccine. When it comes to side effects, respondents most commonly report pain in the arm, at 68 per cent.

About a quarter report tiredness and fewer than two-in-10 say they got a headache after rolling up their sleeve.

In descending order, other reported effects from the COVID-19 shot include muscle soreness, swelling, chills, and fever.

Only about three per cent report they were hospitalized, though the poll doesn’t go into why.

There is a significant portion of those polled who say they had absolutely no side effects at 17 per cent.

Meanwhile, 41 per cent of Canadians surveyed reported some sort of pain associated with the side effects. Thirteen per cent say the side effects were “very painful” while 28 per cent say they were “somewhat” so.

Across the country, 59 per cent seem to be on the other side of that; 44 per cent say the side effects were not very painful while 15 per cent say they weren’t painful at all.

Read the full survey:


On Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced B.C. would be extending the interval between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months. The extension will apply to all three vaccines currently approved in Canada, made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.

“The important thing that we have learned is that these vaccines work, they give a very high level of protection, and that protection lasts for many months,” Henry said.

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“In combination with the new vaccines that we have available, this gives us a very important and very real benefit to everybody here in B.C. That means we can move everybody up the list and more people will be protected sooner,” B.C.’s top doctor added, noting delaying the second shot “provides very high, real-world protection to more people sooner.”

Word of the extension came as the province unveiled dates for when the most senior British Columbians will begin to have access to the vaccines.

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2020 was the worst year on record for Canada's economy. It shrank by 5.4% –



Canada’s economy shrank by 5.4 per cent last year, official data from Statistics Canada showed Monday, making 2020 the worst year for the country’s economic output since record keeping began.

The data agency said Tuesday that Canada’s gross domestic product — the total value of all goods and services it produced — grew by 2.3 per cent during the last three months of the year, but that was nowhere near enough to offset the record-setting plunge it experienced during the the middle half of 2020.

Since bottoming out in the spring and early summer, economic activity has slowly, steadily grown.

For comparison purposes, Canada’s economy contracted almost twice as much as the U.S. did during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the U.S. seeing far more cases per capita.

Preliminary data suggests the U.S. economy shrank by 3.5 per cent last year.

More to come

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AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer? Take whichever COVID-19 vaccine you're offered, experts say – The Globe and Mail



A man receives his COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on March 1, 2021.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Canadians tempted to shop for a preferred COVID-19 vaccine have been given simple advice from experts who have examined the country’s three available options: Take what is offered as quickly as possible.

The vaccine study and approval processes have swamped the public with numbers about vaccine efficacy, how long immunity may last, details about the difference between innovative and traditional vaccine platforms and shifting schedules for administering doses.

The bottom line for Canadians who are accustomed to using consumer skills to find the best option is simple, according to Tania Watts, an immunologist at the University of Toronto: “I would take what is offered as it decreases your likelihood of severe disease and death.”

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While no direct head-to-head study has been conducted on the COVID-19 vaccines, current data suggest the AstraZeneca shot is just as effective as the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines at preventing serious illness and death. However, it may be less effective at preventing mild illness.

This difference was enough for an independent committee of experts to draw a distinction between AstraZeneca’s vaccine and the two others in recommendations that were published online Monday by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The committee determined there were not enough data to recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for Canadians who are 65 and older, a position also taken by some European countries.

The new recommendations also make clear that those who have previously been prioritized for vaccination, including front-line workers and Indigenous Canadians, should receive the mRNA vaccines as a first choice. In cases where an mRNA vaccine is not available, AstraZeneca should be given when “the advantages of earlier vaccination outweigh the limitations of vaccinating with a less efficacious vaccine” and when the recipient provides informed consent after a discussion about “current local vaccine options.”

When asked if the committee’s more restrictive recommendations for the AstraZeneca vaccine might prompt some people to hold off from taking it when offered, vice-chair Shelley Deeks said, “Vaccine acceptance is one consideration for the committee. … However we also need to ensure that we examine the available data and make evidence-based recommendations.”

Dr. Deeks, a physician and the surveillance medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, added the committee would continue to revise its recommendations as data become available and more vaccines are authorized. This could occur in a matter of days if the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine is approved by Canadian regulators.

The Public Health Agency of Canada responded to the recommendation with a statement saying “the best vaccine for a Canadian is the one they can get.” The agency noted the AstraZeneca shot showed no safety concerns in clinical trials or among seniors already vaccinated in other countries, and is showing some benefits in older populations including reduced chance of hospitalization.

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Last month, University of Edinburgh researchers reported that the vaccination of more than 1.1 million individuals in Scotland with the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines had reduced the risk of hospitalization because of COVID-19 by up to 94 per cent and 85 per cent, respectively.

British Columbia announced Monday it will start a second-track vaccination campaign for essential workers using the refrigerator-stable vaccines such as the AstraZeneca shot. Older and vulnerable populations will continue to receive the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which require deep freezing and more preparation.

Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, said essential workers will have the option to continue waiting their turn for mRNA vaccines if they do not want the AstraZeneca dose.

“There will be a little bit of choice but not a whole lot,” Dr. Henry said. “We encourage people to get the vaccine available to them.”

In Quebec, Daniel Paré, the head of the province’s vaccination program, said Monday that people will not get to choose which vaccine they get, although they will be informed of which dose is coming before they get the needle.

“With a global shortage of vaccine, we use the vaccine that is safe and effective and available,” Mr. Paré told Montreal radio 98.5.

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Dr. Watts at the University of Toronto said concentrating the mRNA vaccines on older and immunocompromised people may make sense because those vaccines have higher efficacy than AstraZeneca’s. People in those categories also have a weaker immune response, she said.

All three vaccines share some unknown factors, such as how long immunity lasts, how long the booster shot can wait and whether they can be used interchangeably in second doses, she said.

Jennifer Gommerman, also an immunologist at the University of Toronto, agreed mRNA vaccines “may be a better choice for groups with less immune response.”

“But for the rest of us, in the name of herd immunity, I would take what’s given as it contributes to the war on COVID,” she said. “All the vaccines prevent severe COVID requiring hospitalization. If you are offered a vaccine, you take it.”

The initial COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada and around the world raise questions about how people react to the shot, how pregnant women should approach it and how far away herd immunity may be. Globe health reporter Kelly Grant and science reporter Ivan Semeniuk discuss the answers. The Globe and Mail

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

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