The federal government has said it’s not OK for the Blue Jays to play ball in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ottawa informed the team of the decision on Saturday, citing concerns over the public health risks associated with Major League Baseball’s plan for a 60-game season.
Marco Mendicino, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, told CBC News Network that the circumstances did not warrant a border-crossing exemption, particularly in light of the amount of cross-border travel needed and the risks that remained. The plan called for the Blue Jays and visiting teams to cross the Canada-U.S. border regularly
“Look, I’m a baseball fan,” Mendicino said. “But we’re not taking decisions as fans. We’re taking decisions on the evidence of science that we receive and protecting the health and safety of Canadians.”
For weeks, senior federal officials have privately expressed concerns about the Blue Jays playing games in COVID-19 hot spots before returning to Toronto while also hosting teams from states U.S. where positive cases are growing fast.
Mendicino said the government is willing to restart plans if the Blue Jays make the playoffs and the risk of the virus spreading has diminished.
The Blue Jays are set to open their season on July 24 at Tampa Bay as Florida continues to set new daily records for COVID-19 cases.
In a statement issued Saturday afternoon, the team thanked municipal, provincial and federal leaders and public health officials “for their detailed consideration and partnership throughout this process.”
“From the onset of discussions with league and government officials, the safety of the broader community — our fans — and the team remained the priority of everyone involved, and with that, the club completely respects the federal government’s decision,” Mark Shapiro, the Blue Jays’ president and CEO, said in the statement.
“Though our team will not be playing home games at Rogers Centre this summer, our players will take the field for the 2020 season with the same pride and passion representative of an entire nation. We cannot wait until the day comes that we can play in front of our fans again on Canadian soil.”
The club is in the process of finalizing the best home location for the remainder of the 2020 season and will share an update as soon as it is available, the statement said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a statement Saturday afternoon saying he respected the decision.
“This is Toronto’s team and Canada’s team and wherever they play, we are 100 per cent behind them and look forward to an exciting, successful 2020 season,” Tory said.
Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, may have foreshadowed the decision on Friday when he voiced concerns about the frequent travel at a public health briefing.
“The teams — and the Blue Jays included — would be, during the regular season, travelling back and forth across the international border. And that, I think, is an issue,” Njoo said.
The rejection means the Blue Jays will have to find an alternative stadium for home games. The team’s home opener is scheduled for July 29 against the Washington Nationals.
One option is to play in Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., which would eliminate the need for cross-border travel. The Blue Jays were already planning to have one of their minor league teams play there.
But the team’s preference was clearly to play in Toronto. The team revised its plan for home games from an initial proposal that didn’t call for a modified quarantine for players and team officials during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Njoo said the team initially wanted players to be able to live in their condos or in-season residences and be part of the community. The revised proposal mandated the Blue Jays and visiting teams stay in a hotel connected to Rogers Centre, as the Toronto club is currently doing during training camp.
Provincial approval was in place
The Ontario government gave its approval for the Blue Jays to play in Toronto under those conditions, with the province warning that the agreement would be rescinded if the protocols put in place are broken.
But because the plan would involve multiple crossings of the Canada-U.S. border, the final decision always rested with the federal government. Canada currently requires individuals to quarantine for 14 days after crossing the international border.
Ottawa has given permission for the NHL to restart its season, with 24 teams set to arrive in Toronto and Edmonton later this month. Njoo said Friday the federal government was more comfortable with the setup the NHL is using because all players and staff will be isolated from the general public, and the teams won’t leave Canada until they finish play.
Source: – CBC.ca
Pfizer officially requests Health Canada approval for kids' COVID-19 shot – CTV News
Pfizer-BioNTech has asked Health Canada to approve the first COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 years old.
The vaccine was developed in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech and is now marketed under the brand name Comirnaty. It was authorized for people at least 16 years old last December, and for kids between 12 and 15 in May.
Pfizer already submitted clinical trial data for its child-sized dose to Health Canada at the beginning of the month. The company said the results were comparable to those recorded in the Pfizer-BioNTech study in people aged 16 to 25.
Health Canada said it will prioritize the review of the submission, while maintaining high scientific standards for safety, efficacy and quality, according to a statement from the department.
“Health Canada will only authorize the use of Comirnaty if the independent and thorough scientific review of all the data included in the submission showed that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the potential risks in this age group,” the statement read.
The doses are about one-third the size given to adults and teens age 12 and up.
As soon as the regulator gives the green light, providers will technically be able to start offering the COVID-19 shot to kids, though new child-sized doses might need to be procured.
Pfizer has delivered more than 46 million doses to Canada to date, and an analysis of the available data on administration from provincial and federal governments suggests there are more than enough Pfizer doses already in Canada to vaccinate kids between five and 11 years old.
But simply pulling smaller doses from the vials Canada already had stockpiled across the country may not be advised, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said at a media briefing late last week.
“We also understand from Pfizer that this actual formulation has shifted, this is a next generation formulation, so that is something that needs to be examined by the regulator,” Tam said Friday.
Canada signed a new contract with Pfizer for pediatric doses last spring.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has also been tested on children as young as six months old. Topline data for children under five years old is expected as soon as the end of the year.
Health Canada said it expects to receive more data for review from Pfizer for younger age groups, as well as other manufacturers for various age ranges in the coming months.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has noted rare incidents of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, after receiving an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
As of Oct. 1, Health Canada has documented 859 cases associated with the vaccines, which mainly seem to affect people under 40 year old. On balance, the risk appears to be low, according to Tim Sly, a Ryerson University epidemiologist with expertise in risk management.
“Of course, no one considers any complication in a child to be acceptable, and a tremendous amount of caution is being taken to look for and identify all problems,” said Sly in a recent email exchange with The Canadian Press.
COVID-19 infection also produces a very high risk of other cardiovascular problems, he said.
Aside from protecting kids against more serious symptoms of COVID-19, the vaccine would also reduce the risk of a child passing the virus on to a vulnerable family member and make for a better school environment with less stress about transmission.
Once the vaccine is approved for kids, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization will weigh in on whether the benefits of the shot outweigh potential risks for young children.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2021.
– With files from Mia Rabson
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77 per cent of Canadians aged 55-69 worried about retirement finances: survey – CTV News
More than three quarters of Canadians nearing or in early retirement are worried about their finances, at a time when more and more Canadians plan to age at home for as long as possible, a new survey has revealed.
The survey from Ryerson University’s National Institute on Ageing (NIA),conducted in collaboration with HomeEquity Bank, found that 77 per cent of Canadians within the 55-69 age demographic are worried about their financial health.
Additionally, 79 per cent of respondents aged 55 and older revealed that their retirement income — through RRSPs, pension plans, and old age security — will not be enough to be a comfortable retirement.
“Determining where to live and receive care as we age has been an especially neglected part of retirement financial planning,” Dr. Samir Sinha, NIA director of health policy research, said in a news release.
“These are vital considerations that can also be costly. With the vast majority of Canadians expressing their intention to age at home, within their communities, it is essential that we find both financial and health care solutions to make this option comfortable, safe and secure.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic revealed some shortcomings in the long-term care system, 44 per cent of respondents are planning to age at home, but many don’t fully understand the costs involved, the study notes.
Nearly half of respondents aged 45 and older believe that in-home care for themselves or a loved one would cost about $1,100 per month, while 37 per cent think it would cost about $2,000 per month.
In reality, it actually costs about $3,000 per month to provide in-home care comparable to a long-term care facility, according to Ontario’s Ministry of Health.
Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald, the NIA’s director of financial security research, said it’s important Canadians understand the true costs of aging while they plan for their future.
“Canadians retiring today are likely going to face longer and more expensive retirements than their parents – solving this disconnect will need better planning by people and innovation from industry and government,” she said.
To help with their financial future, the researchers suggest Canadians should delay receiving any Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan payments as the monthly payments increase with year of deferral. For example, someone receiving $1,000 per month at age 60 would receive $2,218.75 per month if they wait until age 70 to begin collecting.
The researchers also suggest leveraging home equity and purchasing private long-term care insurance as ways to help with financial stability for the later years.
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