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N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Some of province's vaccine to be diverted to Northern Canada –



Public Health confirmed Friday that some of New Brunswick’s pending vaccine shipment will be diverted to Northern Canada.

Earlier Friday, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health told a news conference that the federal government will be diverting part of its shipment to Canada’s North. 

On Friday evening, New Brunswick Public Health communications director Bruce Macfarlane confirmed to CBC News that the same thing will happen in New Brunswick.

Macfarlane could not yet say how many doses will be diverted or when, noting “we just heard about this today.”

It is unclear what the diversion of some of the supply will mean for the province’s vaccine rollout plans.

At a live-streamed COVID-19 briefing last week, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said it was difficult to answer questions about vaccine rollout “when the supply is so much in question,” but said details would be available “in the coming weeks.”

Nova’s Scotia’s top doctor, meanwhile, said Friday that the province’s shipment of Moderna vaccine next week will be reduced by about half, to 3,000 doses from the planned 5,900 doses.

Strang said he also expects the province’s March shipment to be reduced.

“While we know this is concerning to hear, we also understand the federal government’s rationale,” Strang said.

“It is to address the complexities and unique challenges in our northern neighbours. To do that, they need the support and co-operation of all provinces.”

Every Monday, New Brunswick Public Health updates its figures for vaccine doses provided to people in the province. The most recent figure is 18,643 for doses administered so far. A total of 5,347 people have been fully vaccinated, the dashboard shows.

Five new cases reported Friday

Public Health reported five new cases of COVID-19 in three zones on Friday.

The department did not hold a live-streamed update today, but in a news release it noted the new cases break down in this way:

Saint John region, Zone 2, one case:

  • an individual 50 to 59 

Edmundston region, Zone 4, three cases:

  • an individual 19 or under 
  • an individual 40 to 49 
  • an individual 80 to 89 

Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case:

  • an individual 20 to 29

New Brunswick now has 156 active cases of the respiratory disease, and has seen 1,382 confirmed cases since the pandemic began. Ten people have recovered since Thursday, for a total of 1,203 recoveries.

There have been 22 deaths. Six patients are hospitalized, and two are in intensive care.

A total of 215,879 tests have been conducted, including 1,484 since Thursday’s report.

What to do if you have a symptom

People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online

Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included:

  • A fever above 38 C.

  • A new cough or worsening chronic cough.

  • Sore throat.

  • Runny nose.

  • Headache.

  • New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.

  • Difficulty breathing.

In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.

People with one of those symptoms should:

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Canadian banks, insurance firms owe $1.2B in employee vacation pay, class actions allege –



When Leigh Cunningham of Winnipeg left her 26-year career as an investment adviser with RBC Dominion Securities, she did some math and realized that for decades she hadn’t been receiving six per cent vacation pay on her full income.

Cunningham has launched a proposed $800-million class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of advisers. 

She alleges that RBC, which last week reported soaring profits, has systematically short-changed workers by failing to provide proper vacation pay to advisers whose compensation is based mostly on commissions and bonuses.

“It’s just wrong,” Cunningham told CBC News. “We are helping as employees to create that profit.”

Cunningham’s lawsuit was served to RBC in December but not made public until now.

It is one of five proposed class actions launched against banks and insurance companies since early 2019 seeking a total of $1.2 billion for vacation pay that’s allegedly owed current and former employees.

The allegations include that employers would calculate vacation pay based only on an employee’s base salary, without including commissions and bonuses that can make up a large portion of a worker’s compensation.

If successful, experts say these suits could open the floodgates on major employers that fail to pay salespeople and commissioned staff in accordance with various provincial and territorial employment standards laws across Canada.

‘I need my money. Plain and simple.’

RBC, named in three of the five proposed class actions, declined to discuss specifics, but did issue a statement to CBC News.

“RBC takes pride in ensuring that everyone who works at any RBC company is fairly compensated,” RBC Insurance communications director Greg Skinner wrote in an email. 

“The policies that apply to the employees involved in the action state that their compensation includes vacation pay and statutory holiday pay.”

When contacted for comment regarding the proposed class-action lawsuits over vacation pay, RBC said in a statement that it takes pride in ensuring its employees are fairly compensated. (Reuters)

Maureen Barrett of Brampton, Ont., resigned her position as an insurance salesperson for RBC in 2017, after almost a decade with the company. 

She, too, is now a lead plaintiff, but in a different proposed class-action lawsuit seeking $80 million from RBC Insurance on behalf of its salespeople.

“I need my money, plain and simple,” Barrett told CBC News. “There’s no bells and whistles around it, you owe me my money. I’ve worked for it.”

Barrett’s claim alleges she only ever received vacation pay on her base salary of $37,500 and that RBC Insurance systemically failed to include in the calculation the commissions and performance bonuses that routinely made up a large share of her compensation.

“We need to make sure that this is rectified for those who are taken advantage of,” she said. “That’s how I feel. When this happened, when I found out that this took place, I felt as if I was taken advantage of.”

Maureen Barrett of Brampton, Ont., is lead plaintiff in a suit against RBC Insurance over vacation pay she alleges is owed to bank employees who are paid in large part on commission. (Submitted by Maureen Barrett)

Barrett says she moved to a new job as a salesperson with a smaller company, and was paid the proper amount of vacation pay from the start.

The Bank of Montreal is facing a similar class action launched by former BMO private wealth adviser Paul Cheetham in Vancouver.  

BMO declined to comment on the suit.

Allstate Insurance is also facing a $160-million claim launched by home and auto insurance salesperson Sung Taek Lee in Toronto.

It said the claim is “completely without merit” and that it will defend its case “in due course.”

“Allstate compensates its employees in full compliance with all provincial employment legislation,” it said in a statement.

The class actions have yet to be certified by the courts, and so none of the allegations have been tested by a judge or jury.

A wake-up call for major employers, lawyer says

The class actions on behalf of large groups of employees have emerged following recent court decisions that upheld individual employees’ rights to outstanding vacation pay as part of severance packages.

Toronto investment banker David Bain sued his former employer, UBS Securities Canada Inc., after he lost his job in 2013 when the company shut down part of its Canadian operations.

In 2018, Ontario’s Court of Appeal upheld his right to $87,472 in vacation pay for his years of service, calculated as a percentage of his base salary as well as his bonuses.

These kinds of rulings have been a wake-up call for major employers, according to Toronto lawyer James Heeney, who specializes in employment law and is not involved in any of the class-action lawsuits.

“Many companies have caught up and changed the way that they pay people to be compliant, but many, many haven’t,” he told CBC News.

He says employment standards across Canada vary by province and by profession and need to be modernized.

He suspects the $1.2 billion worth of lawsuits and class actions over vacation pay could be just the beginning.

“If you look across the country, there’s at least hundreds of millions of dollars of liability, if not more, because there are just so many entities that have not caught up,” he said.

While the five proposed class actions have yet to be given a green light, lawyers for Leigh Cunningham of Winnipeg hope to be in court later this year to certify the action on behalf of RBC investment advisers.

She acknowledges advisers are usually well paid, but says she worked hard for her clients and is entitled to what is provided for under the law.

“If the law states that an investment adviser is entitled to receive a holiday and vacation pay, why should I be penalized?” she said.

“If you look at six per cent over 21 years … RBC Dominion Securities has really had the use of that six per cent of mine, my money.”

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Provinces, territories can wait 4 months to administer 2nd COVID-19 shot, NACI says – Global News



Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending provinces and territories extend the time between first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses to four months amid vaccine shortages.

In new guidlines posted on the NACI website on Wednesday, the committee said “current evidence suggests high vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease and hospitalization for several weeks after the first dose, including among older populations.”

Read more:
Here’s what the provinces, territories have said about AstraZeneca’s vaccine and seniors

NACI said due to limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, “jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the interval for the second dose of vaccine to four months.”

Click to play video 'New COVID-19 guidelines released for pregnant women, future moms'

New COVID-19 guidelines released for pregnant women, future moms

New COVID-19 guidelines released for pregnant women, future moms – Dec 25, 2020

“Extending the dose interval to four months allows NACI to create opportunities for protection of the entire adult population within a short timeframe,” the committee said. “This will not only achieve protection of the adult population, but will also contribute to health equity.”

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According to NACI, approximately 80 per cent of the eligible population could be offered a dose of one of the approved mRNA vaccines by the end of June if jurisdictions implement a four-month interval between shots this month.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

While the NACI releases recommendations, it is ultimately up to the provinces to determine how they will administer the COVID-19 vaccines.

A number of provinces including British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba have already decided they will be extending the interval between COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Read more:
‘Risky’ or ‘incredible’? Experts split on delaying 2nd vaccine dose to expand coverage

Speaking at a press conference earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is monitoring the vaccine rollout approaches across Canada.

“We’re paying for the vaccines, we’re bringing them in and then we’re working with, obviously, public health experts, the National Advisory Council on Immunization, (and) working with provinces and chief medical officers across the country in order to deliver those vaccines to Canadians in the most rapid and most effective way to keep people safe to get through this pandemic quickly,” he said.

Asked whether the timeline to get all Canadians vaccinated could change, Trudeau said we are “seeing some of the science shift,” adding that “some proposals put forward, which are very, very interesting, which could result in rapider timelines.”

“But every step of the way, we’re going to be informed by the experts, by science, by the recommendations on the best way to protect Canadians, particularly vulnerable Canadians, and the best way to get through this as quickly as possible,” he said.

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‘Unchartered territory’

In a previous interview with Global News, Colin Furness, an epidemiologist with the University of Toronto, said veering from the recommended timeframes could be “dangerous” and “risky.”

“When the vaccines were validated or tested, they were tested according to a certain schedule,” he said. “When you lengthen it, you go into uncharted territory.”

Furness said changing the timeline could impact the vaccine’s effectiveness.

“It could be the same, (or) the effectiveness could be lower — that is, your body might actually start to shut down its immune response and so it wouldn’t have the same combined effect,” he said. “Or it’s possible that waiting will actually make the vaccines even more effective, that could happen, too.”

According to Furness, all options are possible until the vaccine’s long-term effects can be properly studied.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Canada to receive 945,000 vaccine doses this week, procurement minister says'

Coronavirus: Canada to receive 945,000 vaccine doses this week, procurement minister says

Coronavirus: Canada to receive 945,000 vaccine doses this week, procurement minister says

Currently, all three vaccines approved for use in Canada require two doses to be administered.

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Health Canada approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna in December, and a candidate from AstraZeneca-Oxford last week.

However, Canada has fallen considerably behind even its closest allies when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Read more:
Coronavirus vaccine tracker: How many Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19?

By Wednesday evening 2,072,757 COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in Canada, meaning approximately 2.78 per cent of the country’s population has been inoculated.

In comparison, the United States has fully vaccinated 7.9 per cent of its population, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. 

The federal government has maintained, though, that all Canadians who want a COVID-19 vaccine will have access to one by the end of September.

-With files from Global News’ Rachael D’Amore and Emerald Bensadoun

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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COVID-19: National panel agrees with Dr. Henry on four-month vaccine delay – Vancouver Sun



The vaccine experts say extending the dose interval to four months can protect the entire adult population within a short time despite limited supply.

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Taking a cue from B.C.’s top doctor, a national panel of vaccine experts recommended that provinces extend the interval between the two doses of a COVID-19 shot to up to four months when faced with a limited supply, in order to quickly immunize as many people as possible.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued updated guidance Wednesday for the administration of all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in Canada.

Extending the dose interval to four months will create opportunities to protect the entire adult population against the virus within a short time frame, the panel said in releasing the recommendation.

As many as 80 per cent of Canadians over 16 could receive a single dose by the end of June simply with the expected supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the panel said.

  1. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control says new preliminary data shows that a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine reduces the risk of the virus by 80 per cent within two to three weeks of receiving the shot. The agency says in a statement that research led by Dr. Danuta Skowronski, the head of its influenza and emerging respiratory pathogens team shown here in a file photo, came to the conclusion after analyzing COVID-19 cases in long-term care homes.

    A look at the studies from Israel, U.K. that informed B.C.’s second-dose delay

  2. B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

    Longer interval between doses means restrictions can be lifted sooner: Henry

The addition of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to the country’s supply could mean almost all Canadians would get their first shot in that time frame, but the federal government has not yet said how many doses of that vaccine will be delivered in the spring and how many in the summer.

Article content

“The vaccine effectiveness of the first dose will be monitored closely and the decision to delay the second dose will be continuously assessed based on surveillance and effectiveness data and post-implementation study designs,” the panel wrote.

“Effectiveness against variants of concern will also be monitored closely, and recommendations may need to be revised,” it said, adding there is currently no evidence that a longer interval will affect the emergence of the variants.

The committee’s recommendation came hours after Newfoundland and Labrador said it will extend the interval between the first and second doses to four months, and days after B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the province was doing so.

Manitoba also said Wednesday it will delay second doses in order to focus on giving the first shot to more people more quickly.

Ontario previously said it was weighing a similar move but would seek advice from the federal government.

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