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'No doubt' Canada now in 4th wave of COVID-19 as cases spike across much of the country – CBC.ca

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With COVID-19 cases rising in multiple provinces after a summer lull, more signs point to Canada entering an expected fourth wave of the pandemic — one which could be dramatically different from earlier surges, thanks to rising vaccination rates, but not entirely pain-free.

The country’s seven-day average for new daily cases is now close to 1,300 — an increase of nearly 60 per cent over the previous week, with cases ticking back up mainly in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.

“We’re absolutely in the fourth wave,” said Dr. Peter Juni, who is the scientific director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. “There’s no doubt about that.”

But unlike previous waves, which overwhelmed various hospital systems and led to catastrophic death in long-term care facilities, there is hope this spike won’t be quite so dire.

High vaccination uptake across the country has changed the game: Roughly 60 per cent of Canadians are now fully vaccinated, and research continues to show leading vaccines offer high levels of protection from serious illness, even against the fast-spreading delta variant.

“We can effectively have more cases in our population without having as severe an impact on our health-care system,” explained Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist with the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

“But that doesn’t mean that we’re out of the woods.”

Multiple experts who spoke to CBC News stressed the need to keep precautions like mask-wearing in place to avoid the worst of what this wave could bring, while also striving to ensure as many Canadians as possible get their shots.

“The point is we can’t go back to normal,” said Juni. “Because we continue to have a challenge with the large proportion of people who remain unvaccinated.”

WATCH | Canada could be seeing the start of a delta-driven 4th wave:

Canada could be seeing the start of a delta variant-driven 4th wave

11 days ago

New Public Health Agency of Canada COVID-19 data shows an uptick that could be the start of a fourth wave, driven by the spread of the delta variant. 2:05

90% of cases among unvaccinated

Unprotected individuals around the world have proven vulnerable to the highly contagious delta variant in recent weeks, with surges of cases — including serious infections and deaths — in areas of low vaccine coverage, ranging from entire regions in Africa to certain U.S. states.

“This is going to overwhelmingly be a disease of unvaccinated Canadians and under-vaccinated populations,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician and member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force.

The latest available federal public health data shows roughly 90 per cent of all COVID-19 cases reported in Canada since the start of the country’s vaccination program in mid-December have been among unvaccinated individuals.

Just a tiny portion of cases — 0.5 per cent — have been reported among people who’ve been fully vaccinated, with a similar breakdown for hospitalizations and deaths in the same time period.

Compared to unvaccinated individuals, fully vaccinated COVID-19 cases were 70 per cent less likely to be hospitalized and 51 per cent less likely to die as a result of their illness, according to the latest federal update.

Bogoch stressed that as more and more people get vaccinated, the hope is the total number of people falling seriously ill or dying from infection will remain relatively low, even if overall COVID-19 cases continue to spike.

“We’ll still see positive cases in the vaccinated,” he explained. “But proportionally those won’t amount to hospitalizations.”



Pressure on health-care system still possible

Still, with around 40 per cent of the total population not yet fully vaccinated, that means millions of people — including all children in Canada under 12, who aren’t yet eligible — remain at risk. 

“If a large proportion of those individuals get sick in a short period of time, our health-care system is going to get stretched and we’ll be in trouble,” Bogoch said.

His warning comes as Canadians are facing a patchwork of pandemic precautions, with some provinces ditching many precautions entirely.

Almost all public health restrictions in Alberta were lifted on July 1, for instance, and the province plans to scale back isolation requirements, contact tracing and asymptomatic testing next week. And Saskatchewan followed suit by lifting most of its restrictions recently.

Juni said with the delta variant circulating widely, it’s not time for other provinces, like Ontario, to further loosen its rules. That doesn’t mean shifting back to a full lockdown, he added, but rather maintaining day-to-day precautions, like wearing masks and curbing large gatherings.

“If we now just let things rip, and have an approach similar to what Alberta does now, we could have 20,000 ICU admissions happen in a relatively short time frame of six to eight weeks,” he said.

WATCH | Canada needs to increase COVID-19 vaccinations, experts say:

Canada needs to increase COVID-19 vaccinations, experts say

23 days ago

Canada has edged ahead of the U.S. for per capita COVID-19 vaccinations, but experts warn the uptake needs to increase for better community protection. 1:59

Dr. David Naylor, who led the federal inquiry into Canada’s national response to the 2003 SARS epidemic and now co-chairs the federal government’s COVID-19 immunity task force, said an overwhelmed health-care system is still “much less likely” given the clear weakening between case counts and hospitalizations, thanks to vaccines. 

But he agrees there could be “serious pressure” on hospitals if case counts get high enough, at a time when front-line staff are already exhausted. 

“That pressure will also impede efforts to clear a huge backlog of delayed health-care services right across Canada,” said Naylor.

Also concerning, he said, are unanswered questions around how COVID-19 can impact the human body — whether that’s lingering symptoms following an infection or potential long-term effects on children and teens. 

Rising vaccination rates, alongside public health measures like mask-wearing, may ward off the worst outcomes of a fourth wave, even as delta spreads. But medical experts warn pressure on Canada’s hospital system remains a possibility if cases continue to spike. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Encouraging vaccinations ‘crucial’ 

Alongside basic precautions, what’s most crucial right now is encouraging more Canadians to get their shots, said University of Saskatchewan infectious diseases specialist Dr. Alexander Wong, in order to protect anyone who’s not yet vaccinated or at a higher risk — including children, older adults with weaker immune systems and immunocompromised individuals of any age.

That could mean implementing vaccine mandates or proof-of-vaccination certificates, he said.

Manitoba has already launched an immunization card and app, granting special privileges to fully vaccinated residents, while Quebec’s health minister announced Tuesday that a vaccination passport system will be implemented on Sept. 1 to combat rising cases.

WATCH | How convenient COVID-19 vaccine clinics help convince some to get the shot:

How convenient COVID-19 vaccine clinics help convince some to get the shot

2 days ago

As health officials work to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19, there’s hope that convenient pop-up clinics could help some decide to get the shot. 2:01

“With early signs of a delta-driven wave beginning and the fall approaching, efforts to increase the proportion of fully vaccinated Canadians and reinforce individual precautions per local public health advice are crucial to reducing virus spread and lowering the risk of a resurgence that could lead to health-care capacity being exceeded this coming fall and winter,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, in a statement on Tuesday.

What’s not an option, multiple experts agree, is letting this virus simply run its course.

“The reproduction number in many places across the country is above one, and so that means that we are in a period of exponential growth,” said Tuite. 

“What that tells us is that if we don’t do anything, we’re going to continue to have increased growth in cases.”

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BENANTHONY LAVOZ AND DELON OM GET RAW WITH “The Gentleman and Scholar”

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Toronto, ON – Canadian Latin Pop sensations BenAnthony Lavoz and Delon Omdropped their new EP “The Gentleman & Scholar.”  Coming off the success of their summer hit single “One More Time” the pop sensations went dark for their new project. The multi-talented artists wanted the lyrics of their new EP to describe the struggles we keep to ourselves, the ones that lead us to walk in the darkness.  Lavoz and Om brought in some heavy hitters to produce “The Gentleman and Scholar.  The EP was produced by David Neale (Karl Wolf, Danny Fernandes, Peter Jackson) and multi-platinum Grammy award winning producer, Sensei Musica (Fat Joe, Pitbull, and Shakira).  The project serves as an emotional outlet for Lavoz and Om, who bring to the table a genuine connect and passion.  The Gentleman and Scholar” reminds us that there are many parts that make up who we are, but at the heart of it all … is our truth.  Do we own it, or do we hide?   One of the singles on the EP, Follow the Leader” features Canadas own Danny Fernandes.  The three artists connected over their dark pasts to create the song about vulnerability, redemption and finding a new and forgiving path to walk. 

 

BenAnthony Lavoz, a Toronto native and Latin Grammy award winner has performed with Prince Royce, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny and Ozuna. Delon Om, is a former Canadian Idol contestant, song writer and music producer signed to Ultra Records. Oms single, Someone Special To Me” was featured in the critically acclaimed documentary This is for Toronto.”  Together they produced an EP that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit, in hopes that lessons learned, and paths walked will give others hope and encouragement to step out of the dark and into the light.   

 

The Gentleman and Scholar” is raw and ready.  Step into the light on all music platforms today…

https://open.spotify.com/album/3UVffFHFUTktYpTCGN1Ba7?si=OsBEakH7Si2mb_Y1HseJoA&dl_branch=1

 

FOLLOW Delon OM: 

INSTAGRAM: @delon_om 

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5rQzEmQuzhHIyn1N1g12s6?autoplay=true 

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5DcyrsEUpnb2r3X786nKyQ/featured 

 

FOLLOW BENANTHONY LAVOZ: 

INSTAGRAM: @benanthonylavoz 

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3PSLZvxcutlF9L42d4Y9YJ?autoplay=true 

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIXjnthAd2L7d7NImU6atBA 

 

 

  

Media Inquiries:  

Sasha Stoltz Publicity & Management:
Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804

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Front-line workers shoulder burden of vaccine mandates – CBC.ca

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This story features an audience member, like you, who got in touch with us. Send us your questions. We are listening: ask@cbc.ca.

Service industry workers in Canada say they’re bearing the brunt of anger, frustration and general confusion from clients over new vaccine mandates that they had nothing to do with creating, but are now responsible for enforcing.

At the entrance to Wienstein & Gavino’s, an Italian restaurant in downtown Montreal, hostess Abigail Trevino is standing at the ready to greet clients and ask them for their proof of vaccination.

“I try to defuse the situation usually with a joke, saying that I feel more like a bouncer than a hostess these days,” said Trevino. “Usually people laugh at that and it’s enough to break the tension.”

For the most part, she said, people have been understanding of Quebec’s vaccine passport system, which came into effect on Sept. 1. Occasionally she’s had customers who were annoyed or frustrated, but no one who was outright aggressive.

“I had someone get quite visibly annoyed with me, but he did actually come back and apologize afterwards and say, ‘I realize that you don’t make the rules; I’m sorry I lost my temper.'”

‘Doubled the workload’

The challenge, more than anything, has been the extra work. “It’s basically doubled the workload,” Trevino said. 

From troubleshooting technical issues with smartphone QR codes and apps, to answering phone calls from people asking what kind of proof is accepted, Trevino said her responsibilities as a hostess have suddenly expanded.

While she agrees with the vaccine passport in principle, she’d like to see more recognition from the government about the added burden it places on businesses and their employees, when they’re already dealing with staff shortages.

“We’re doing a lot of extra work for no extra money, and it eats into the time it takes to seat people. It slows everything down,” said Trevino.

“It would be nice if people could be a little bit nicer to restaurant workers, because I understand that it’s frustrating for people to have to pull out their ID and they’re not always expecting it.… [But] if people could just be patient and understanding, and realize that we don’t make the rules.”

At the Hearty Hooligan, a vegan restaurant in Hamilton, management said their top concern is to make sure front-line staff feel safe. (Submitted by the Hearty Hooligan)

Across the border in Ontario, people have had less time to get used to vaccine certificate requirements, which came into effect on Wednesday.

The rules apply to venues including indoor areas at restaurants and bars, gyms and recreational facilities, and entertainment venues.

The Hearty Hooligan, a vegan restaurant in Hamilton, warned customers of the changes last week through a post on its Instagram account.

“Providing proof of vaccination when you are looking to dine in is the law,” the post states. “Front-line workers have taken a lot of abuse throughout this pandemic and we will not tolerate any harassment over these policies.”

The Hearty Hooligan warned its customers that vaccine requirements would be coming into effect with this Instagram post. (The Hearty Hooligan/Instagram)

But in response to that, head chef Matthew Miles said they’ve faced an onslaught of angry comments from people accusing them of everything from discrimination to supporting tyranny.

When the mask mandate first came into effect, Miles said they had customers enter the restaurant without masks, arguing about their rights. They’re bracing for more of that type of attitude.

To help protect staff, the restaurant installed a bell near the front till that rings directly to the kitchen, so that employees can call for extra help if there’s a conflict.

“Our issue right now is mainly the safety of our front-line staff. We want them to feel supported and we want them to feel safe in their workspace,” Miles said.

Inspections and fines

In response to those concerns, a spokesperson for the Ontario health minister said bylaw officers are responsible for enforcing the new requirements and inspectors will be visiting establishments to offer help and support to staff. 

Workers in Ontario are being asked to call 911 if they feel threatened for denying entry to someone who refuses to comply. 

In Quebec, people who try to get into places requiring a vaccination passport without one risk receiving fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000. Businesses that don’t enforce vaccine passport rules can also face fines between $1,000 to $6,000.

Alberta’s new proof-of-vaccination program is not mandatory, but some of the businesses that have chosen to adopt it say they’re ready to call police if people refuse to co-operate.

Quebec’s vaccine-passport system went into effect Sept. 1, followed by a two-week education period. People are required to show digital or printed proof of vaccination for many non-essential activities and businesses. Other provinces are just beginning to roll out their systems. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Outside the restaurant and bar industry, workers in a range of sectors are now adding enforcement of public health restrictions to their list of tasks.

Nadia Ali, a 19-year-old Carleton University student who works part time as a lifeguard, recently learned she would have to screen swimmers for proof of vaccination.

The pool where she works is in an Ottawa condo building, and Ali said some residents have been angry about the changes.

“One lady came in and she told me this was unjust and discrimination, and that she wouldn’t be coming here again,”  Ali said. “I just told her, ‘I’m sorry but I just enforce the rules, I didn’t make them.'” 

Her management has been supportive, she said, and if a resident was ever aggressive, she would ask for help from the front desk. So far, it hasn’t come to that. 

More than anything, Ali said, it’s a lot of hassle and extra work. She hopes the process will get smoother with time.

Extra anxiety

It all comes down to employees being put in an unfair position that they never signed up for, according to Toronto-based employment lawyer Muneeza Sheikh.

“What we are doing, essentially, is we’re placing employees in a combative scenario when that isn’t part of their job duty,” she said.

Sheikh said some of her clients have hired new staff altogether — if they can afford it — to enforce vaccine mandates. But for establishments that don’t have or can’t afford security, she said the vaccine requirements put them in a difficult position.

“There are Canadian employees who have a significant amount of anxiety around going to work now around this vaccination passport and how it’s going to be implemented,” she said.

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Britain offers Canadian military help to defend the Arctic – CBC.ca

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Britain is signalling its interest in working with the Canadian military in the Arctic by offering to take part in cold-weather exercises and bring in some of its more advanced capabilities — such as nuclear-powered submarines — to help with surveillance and defence in the Far North.

In a recent exclusive interview with CBC News, the United Kingdom’s top military commander said his country is “keen to cooperate” and learn more about how to survive and fight in a cold, remote setting.

Gen. Sir Nick Carter said Britain would also like to “cooperate in terms of helping Canada do what Canada needs to do as an Arctic country.”

The offer was quietly floated months ago in government circles. Experts say, however, that successive Canadian governments have been reluctant to allow anyone — even close allies — to become too deeply embedded in the region. 

WATCH: Gen. Sir Nick Carter discusses the prospect of military cooperation with Canada in the Arctic

U.K. is keen for closer cooperation with Canada in the Arctic

16 hours ago

Gen. Sir Nick Carter, Britain’s chief of the defence staff, says the U.K. is keen for closer cooperation with Canada in the Arctic. He said the British military wants to learn from Canada’s experience and can bring capabilities to help better defend the region. 0:28

Much of that reluctance has to do with contested claims to Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic. Concern over Canada’s exclusion from the recent security pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia may lend fresh urgency to the U.K.’s proposal, however.

CBC’s interview with Gen. Carter was conducted before the AUKUS pact was announced.

As members of NATO, both Britain and Canada have taken part in winter warfare exercises in Norway. Gen. Carter said he believes that cooperation could be expanded to the benefit of both countries. The British Army has for many years conducted armoured and combined warfare training at Suffield, Alta.

Keeping a closer eye on the Arctic

The Arctic is becoming more of a focus for NATO and Canada’s closest allies. The potential threat posed by the reactivation of Russia’s northern Cold War-era bases, as well as the interest of possible adversaries such as China, figured promptly in speeches and panel discussions at the recent NATO leaders summit last June.

Canada’s former Conservative government placed a premium on increasing Canada’s military presence in the Far North; it built a naval refuelling station and set in motion the construction of Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, which are just being delivered.

Then-prime minister Stephen Harper looks down the shoreline in the Arctic port of Nanisivik, Nunavut on August 10, 2007. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Those measures offer Canada’s military limited capabilities, however. Underwater and satellite surveillance of the region is still in the planning and early implementation phases.

Carter said the U.K. has capabilities that could help keep closer tabs on the Arctic’s rapidly melting seas and inlets, but it would be up to the Canadian government to decide.

“We would absolutely defer to Canada’s expertise in this,” Carter told CBC News.

“I think we have military capabilities, certainly in the maritime domain and in terms of our science that would be useful to Canada and I think operating alongside Canada in that regard is going to be clearly good for both countries.”

Going nuclear

What Britain has — and Canada lacks — is a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, which can operate under ice for extended periods of time.

When Canada bought its current diesel-electric submarines from Britain in the late 1990s it embarked on a project to retrofit them with fuel cells that would have delivered better, longer under-ice performance. The plan fell through and was quietly shelved.

In the late 1980s, the Conservative government of former prime minister Brian Mulroney proposed buying 12 nuclear-powered submarines with the goal of using them for Arctic defence. The end of the Cold War and subsequent defence cuts caused the plan to be shelved.

The University of Calgary’s Rob Huebert, one of the country’s leading experts on Arctic defence, said that after a hiatus of almost a dozen years, the British rejoined the biennial American high Arctic military exercise in 2018 with their nuclear-powered submarines.

Back in March, the Russians deployed three ultra-quiet nuclear subs to simultaneously punch through the Arctic ice in the same location — a demonstration that set the defence community buzzing.

Three nuclear submarines owned by Russia maneuvered to break through several feet of Arctic ice at the same time in March 2021. (Russian Defence Ministry)

“We do not have the capability of engaging Russian submarines or Chinese submarines, if and when that ever becomes a reality,” said Huebert, speaking about the Canadian navy’s Arctic inventory. “That’s the No. 1 capability that the British bring to the Arctic.”

CBC News asked Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office to comment on the notion of closer cooperation with the British in Canada’s Far North. The query went unanswered.

Huebert said successive Canadian governments have been reluctant to let the allies become more deeply involved in the region, beyond the Operation Nanook exercise held each summer.

“We’re fearful any type of involvement with NATO would undermine our sovereignty,” said Huebert, noting that both the United States and Britain do not recognize Canada’s claim to the Northwest Passage.

Canada needs to show the flag: defence expert

The British offer of cooperation and assistance is a wake-up call for the Liberal government on several different fronts, said Dave Perry, a vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

It is, he said, a reminder that Canada needs to be more present in the region.

“There have been [Canadian] commitments to increase the situational awareness there, but that has a long way to go and the thing for Canadians to remember is that it is our actual territory and our backyard,” he said. 

“I think it is great to work with other people, but we should be doing what we can to make sure we have a home field advantage.”

With Australia planning to acquire nuclear submarines — which conceivably could operate in the Arctic as well — Perry was asked if Canada will have to rely more on its allies to monitor and defend its territory.

“I think the AUKUS deal is an indicator that there are some countries with whom we have been intimately familiar and intimately allied with. Some of our best friends on the planet are firming even tighter, smaller clubs,” he said.

“The United States under successive administrations is being far less benign about allies that they look at as pulling — or not pulling — their weight … The United States is looking for people who will pull their weight.”

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