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Ontario opens vaccines to those 75+, expands pharmacy pilot – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press


Published Monday, March 22, 2021 5:52AM EDT


Last Updated Monday, March 22, 2021 11:51PM EDT

TORONTO – Ontario pledged to further expand its COVID-19 vaccine rollout Monday, but questions remained about the dwindling supply of doses and the government’s ability to deliver on its promised timelines.

Premier Doug Ford said Ontario was expecting to receive about 300,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week, but it will only receive 90,000. And it has yet to find out when the next shipment of Oxford-AstraZeneca will arrive.

“It makes things very, very challenging,” said Ford, who has frequently complained about the lack of adequate vaccine supplies from the federal government.

On Monday, people aged 75 years and older began booking their vaccine appointments through a provincial online portal and a call centre, while pharmacies in three public health units started administering the AstraZeneca shots to those aged 60 and older.

Ford said the pharmacy pilot project, running at 327 locations in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor-Essex, would be expanded in the coming weeks to include Peel and York regions if the province received more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Initially, only people aged 60 to 64 could book the pharmacy shots based on federal guidance that has since been updated.

But as more people became eligible for the pharmacy doses on Monday, appointments became more scarce.

Hamilton resident Heidi Flemming tried in vain on Monday to book vaccination appointments for her Toronto-based parents, aged 70 and 73. There were no spots available at Shoppers and Costco, she said, and other pharmacies didn’t answer their phones.

She eventually got her parents waitlisted for shots, but an emailed confirmation from Pharmasave didn’t indicate how long the wait might be and noted that “vaccines are in limited supply.”

“They have been trapped in their one-bedroom apartment since August,” Flemming said in a social media message. “It is really unreasonable that they can’t get access quickly and easily.”

Meanwhile, people aged 75 and older who had booked vaccine appointments trickled in at a sports complex in Mississauga, Ont.

Pobeda Cristiano, who turns 79 next week, scored an appointment at the site after having difficulty using the booking portal and phone line.

“I started getting a headache,” she said about booking online.

She drove to the location and staff helped her get in line.

Others had an easier time with the booking portal. Bob Barbil, 78, booked his appointment online in the morning and had received the shot by noon.

“(It was) excellent. No waiting and lots of people who volunteer,” he said.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said about 90,000 appointments had been booked in the first few hours after it opened to the wider demographic group Monday morning.

Despite the issues, Jones said she was “confident” that expected supply increases over the next several weeks would speed up the process.

Health Minister Christine Elliott pledged on Monday to get an AstraZeneca shot on camera, joining a growing roster of politicians doing so to restore public confidence in the vaccine.

“If I can convince one other person to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine and that helps protect them and their health and safety and that of their families, I’m more than happy to do that,” Elliott said.

Concerns about that vaccine first arose when initial trials did not include many seniors, and more recently after several European nations suspended use of the vaccine following repots of some cases of blood clots in patients. The European Medicines Agency has since concluded the vaccine did not raise the overall risk of clots, and Health Canada has declared it safe.

Ontario is eager to speed up its vaccination campaign as it enters a third wave of infections.

Health officials said Monday that current data indicates variants represent more than 46 per cent of new cases. Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer, said people infected with virus variants seem to be presenting more at hospital ICUs and those cases are showing higher levels of mortality, a pattern that has been seen elsewhere in the world.

Those trends were reported days after the province loosened public health restrictions on restaurants by allowing up to 50 people to dine indoors in the “red” zone of its pandemic framework — the strictest level short of a lockdown.

Williams said that decision, which was met with criticism and alarm from the physicians, was made after restaurants raised concerns about the smaller limit. He said it’s businesses’ responsibility follow the guidelines.

“I was OK to allow this variation to come in if there was checks and balances,” he said. “It’s, in a way, an agreement, a contract with the public to say, ‘You really want to have this, you can get it, but you’ve got to follow all the rules very carefully.”’

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the decision was “surprising” given that there are inadequate protections for workers to take time off if they become sick.

“I think it’s a recipe for the possibility of a massive third lockdown and that’s the last thing these small businesses need,” she said.

On Monday, the province also announced plans to spend $1.2 billion to assist public hospitals in recovering from the financial pressures of COVID-19.

More than half of the funds will cover “historic working funds deficits” and $572 million will address losses from revenue sources affected by the pandemic, such as parking and retail services.

Ontario reported 1,699 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and three more deaths linked to the virus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2021.

– With files from Denise Paglinawan in Mississauga

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Canadian Business During the Pandemic

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In 2019 the world was hit by the covid 19 pandemic and ever since then people have been suffering in different ways. Usually, economies and businesses have changed the way they work and do business. Most of which are going towards online and automation.

The people most effected by this are the laymen that used to work hard labors to make money for there families. But other then them it has been hard for most business to make such switch. Those of whom got on the online/ e commerce band wagon quickly were out of trouble and into the safe zone but not everyone is mace for the high-speed online world and are thus suffering.

More than 200,000 Canadian businesses could close permanently during the COVID-19 crisis, throwing millions of people out of work as the resurgence of the virus worsens across much of the country, according to new research. You can only imagine how many families these businesses were feeding, not to mention the impact the economy and the GDP is going to bear.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said one in six, or about 181,000, Canadian small business owners are now seriously contemplating shutting down. The latest figures, based on a survey of its members done between Jan. 12 and 16, come on top of 58,000 businesses that became inactive in 2020.

An estimate by the CFIB last summer said one in seven or 158,000 businesses were at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic. Based on the organization’s updated forecast, more than 2.4 million people could be out of work. A staggering 20 per cent of private sector jobs.

Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s senior director of national research, said it was an alarming increase in the number of businesses that are considering closing.

We are not headed in the right direction, and each week that passes without improvement on the business front pushes more owners to make that final decision,”

He said in a statement.

The more businesses that disappear, the more jobs we will lose, and the harder it will be for the economy to recover.

In total, one in five businesses are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the pandemic, the organization said.

The new sad research shows that this year has been horrible for the Canadian businesses.

 

The beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the CFIB, in a statement.

She called on governments to help small businesses “replace subsidies with sales” by introducing safe pathways to reopen to businesses.

There’s a lot at stake now from jobs, to tax revenue to support for local soccer teams,”

Jones said.

Let’s make 2021 the year we help small business survive and then get back to thriving.”

The whole world has suffered a lot from the pandemic and the Canadian economy has been no stranger to it. We can only pray that the world gets rid of this pandemic quickly and everything become as it used to be. Although I think it is about time, we start setting new norms.

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Shopify shares edge up after falling on executive departures

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By Chavi Mehta

(Reuters) -Shopify Inc shares edged higher on Thursday, recovering partially from the previous day’s fall, with analysts saying the news of planned senior executive departures may have limited impact due to the company’s deep talent pool.

Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday the company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all leave their roles.

“We remain confident it (Shopify) can continue to execute at a high level, despite the departures,” Tom Forte, analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co said, pointing to the company’s “deep bench of talented executives.”

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the past year as many businesses went virtual during the COVID-19 lockdowns, turning it into Canada‘s most valuable company.

Shopify declined to comment further on Lutke’s statement suggesting current company leaders would step in to fill the three roles. After chief product officer Craig Miller left in September, Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

The Ottawa-based company is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

Jonathan Kees, analyst at Summit Insights Group, called the timing of the departures “a little alarming” but said the specific roles make it less concerning, given that the executives leaving are “more back-office roles.”

Lutke said each one of them had their individual reasons to leave, without giving details.

“I am willing to give Tobi’s explanation the benefit of the doubt,” Kees added.

Toronto-listed shares of Shopify were up 3.5% at C$1526.41 on Thursday, giving it a market value of C$188 billion ($150 billion). It ended down 5.1% on Wednesday.

“While we would refer to the departure of three high-level executives as ‘significant,’ we would not refer to it as a ‘brain drain,'” Forte added.

($1 = 1.2541 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Dan Grebler)

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Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company: CEO

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By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) – Three of e-commerce platform Shopify’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, chief executive officer and founder of Canada‘s most valuable company Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all transition out of their roles, Lutke said, adding that they have been “spectacular and deserve to take a bow.”

“Each one of them has their individual reasons but what was unanimous with all three was that this was the best for them and the best for Shopify,” he said.

The trio follow the departure of Craig Miller, chief product officer, in September. Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the last year as many businesses went virtual during COVID-19 lockdowns. It has a market cap valuation of C$182.7 billion ($146 billion), above Canada‘s top lender Royal Bank of Canada.

It is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

“We have a phenomenally strong bench of leaders who will now step up into larger roles,” Lutke said, but did not name replacements.

Shopify said in February revenue growth would slow this year as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores and warned it does not expect 2020’s near doubling of gross merchandise volume, an industry metric to measure transaction volumes, to repeat this year.

Chief talent officer, Brittany Forsyth, was the 22nd employee hired at Shopify and has been with the company for 11 years. She said on Twitter that post-Shopify she would be focusing on Backbone Angels, an all-female collective of angel investors she co-founded in March.

Shopify shares fell 5.1% while the benchmark Canadian share index ended marginally down.

($1 = 1.2515 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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