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Quebec manufacturing and construction sectors warn against new COVID-19 lockdowns – CTV News Montreal

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MONTREAL —
Quebec’s manufacturing and construction associations say there will be major damage to Quebec’s economy if the government imposes a strict COVID-19 lockdown similar to what occurred last spring.

Veronique Proulx, CEO of Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Quebec, reacted Tuesday to multiple media reports saying Premier Francois Legault is set to close non-essential manufacturing businesses to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“The worst scenario for us would be to go back to the same situation we had last spring,” Proulx said in an interview. She said Quebec manufacturers lost $4 billion in sales when they were shut during the first wave of the pandemic and she expects a similar situation if manufacturers are forced to close again.

Legault is scheduled to hold a news conference late Wednesday and was meeting with opposition leaders Tuesday. According to multiple reports, the province may, for the first time since the spring, order “non-essential” manufacturers and the construction sector to close and extend the current closure of schools.

Quebec reported 2,508 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and 62 more deaths, including 17 that occurred in the previous 24 hours. Health officials said COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by 23, to 1,317 — the highest number since late May — and 194 people were in intensive care, an increase of six.

The province says 2,529 doses of vaccine were administered Monday, for a total of 32,763. The test positivity rate in Quebec was 11 per cent on Jan. 3, the most recent date for which data is available, with 20,716 tests conducted.

Quebec has reported 215,358 cases of COVID-19 and 8,441 deaths linked to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Proulx said that if Quebec were the only jurisdiction in North America to order factories to close, it would put the province’s manufacturing industry — which employs 450,000 people and accounts for 14 per cent of the provincial GDP — at a severe disadvantage.

“If we’re shutting down and consumers continue to buy, as they did during the last shutdown, they’ll be buying from Amazon and they’ll be buying from other manufacturers who can actually continue to produce,” she said.

“The market share that these foreign companies are gaining is there to stay; it’s very difficult for Quebec manufacturers to win them back.”

Proulx said manufacturers have put measures in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, adding that while there may be room for stricter rules in some parts of the industry, she said hasn’t seen the data that supports shutting down the whole sector.

About 27 per cent of active COVID-19 outbreaks in Quebec workplaces were identified in the manufacturing industry during the week ending Dec. 19, according to the most recent government data. Those outbreaks were tied to 1,336 infections @out of a total of 3,367 infections linked to active workplace outbreaks that week.

Retail stores accounted for about 22 per cent of workplace outbreaks during the same period, while the construction sector was responsible for about 9 per cent.

Guillaume Houle, spokesman the Association de la construction du Quebec, said Tuesday his organization wants the government to keep construction sites open.

He said the small number of outbreaks in his industry — which employs about half a million people in Quebec — suggests the measures currently in place are working. Houle, however, said the industry is open to having new discussions with health officials and unions about stricter measures that would allow sites to stay open.

With construction contributing around $1 billion to Quebec’s GDP every week, Houle said the economic cost of another shutdown would be “unprecedented.”

But Eric Boisjoly, director general of the construction wing of one of Quebec’s main labour federations, said measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 on work sites aren’t being enforced as much as they were when the industry reopened in the spring. He said the problem is more acute on smaller sites.

Workers, however, won’t be happy if construction sites are closed, he added. One of the big challenges, he explained, is uncertainty, because workers don’t know what kind of support will be available if they aren’t able to work.

Karl Blackburn, the president and CEO of Quebec’s largest employer group, the Conseil du patonat du Quebec, said his organization wants the government to take a more targeted approach.

He’d like to see the government identify specific problem areas and use a “surgical” approach to deal with the spread of COVID-19 in those sectors.

That would avoid the need for a full lockdown that could be “catastrophic” for Quebec’s economy, he said.

Blackburn said he’d also like to see stricter sanctions for people and organizations that don’t follow public health rules.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2021.

   ——

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Pfizer tells Canada it will not receive any Covid-19 vaccine doses next week – CNN

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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Canadians that vaccine deliveries would pick up again in a few weeks and that the overall goal, to have every willing Canadian vaccinated by September, would remain on track.
But it was Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford who bluntly voiced the frustration of many provincial leaders as Pfizer continues to cut its vaccine delivery schedule to Canada.
“We got to be on these guys like a blanket, I’d be outside that guy’s house. Every time he moved, I’d be saying, ‘Where’s our vaccines?’ Other people are getting them, the European Union is getting them, why not Canada? That’s my question to Pfizer, we need your support,” said Ford during a Tuesday news conference.
Canada’s supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine comes from the European allotment and not from nearby manufacturing facilities in the US, since the Trump administration made it clear vaccines would not be exported.
“There’s a plant, a Pfizer plant, six hours in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with the Americans,” Ford said. “My American friends help us out, we need help once again as we did with the PPE. You have a new President, no more excuses we need your support, and we look forward to your support and that’s a direct message to President (Joe) Biden, ‘help out your neighbor.'”
Ford made a direct plea to President-elect Joe Biden for a million vaccines for Canada.
The incoming Biden administration is unlikely to release vaccine doses for export in the short term as Biden transition officials have stated they are uncertain of the current supply of vaccines available in the US.
Canadian government officials made it clear Tuesday that the shortfall in deliveries from Pfizer would result in a “major reduction” in vaccinations in the coming weeks.
“There will be a considerable impact across all provinces,” said Major Gen. Dany Fortin, the Canadian commander in charge of the vaccine rollout, adding, “the overall impact over the next month is in the range of a 50% decrease of expected allocation.”
The pandemic curve in Canada is beginning to show signs of bending downward after weeks of lockdowns. But hospitalizations remain high, and officials say the overall death toll during this second wave could eventually be more dire than the first.
“We’re all contributing to reducing the burden on the health system, supporting our health care workforce in the difficult task of planning and implementing mass vaccine rollout and giving vaccines a longer runway to begin to work as access expands to reach all Canadians,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer during a Tuesday news conference.
Tam added on average, about 140 virus-related deaths are reported in Canada each day.

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COVID-19: No Moderna or Pfizer vaccine deliveries for B.C. in last week of January – Vancouver Sun

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Article content continued

The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said that 40 per cent of B.C.’s Moderna doses had been used so far. Moderna vaccine is stored at a higher temperature than Pfizer’s so is easier to deliver outside Metro Vancouver.

So far, 80 per cent of the roughly 92,000 doses delivered in B.C. have been from Pfizer and the rest from Moderna.

There were 465 cases of COVID-19 reported on Monday and 12 deaths.

There are 4,331 active cases, with 329 being treated in hospital, including 70 in intensive care.

There were no new outbreaks in health care facilities or in the community. An outbreak at The Emerald at Elim Village in Surrey is over with no deaths, leaving 58 active outbreaks in health care facilities.

B.C.’s provincial state of emergency was extended until Feb. 2.

There have been 693 tickets with fines issued, that include 548 for people refusing to comply with a directive, 119 for unlawful gatherings and 26 for violation of provincial health officer liquor rules.

Authorities have issued 85 tickets for people who breached the mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone entering B.C. from outside Canada.

dcarrigg@postmedia.com

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Pfizer to halt COVID vaccine deliveries to Canada next week, making worse already slow rollout – National Post

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Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner said the Liberals had to come clean about the full details of the rollout, so Canadians could see how it stood up to scrutiny.

“When they say that every Canadian will have a dose of vaccine by September, what assumptions have they made on approval, timelines, and availability of other vaccine candidates and if those don’t come to pass what’s plan B?”

She said she wanted the government to succeed, so Canadians could get back to a normal life, but that clearly had not happened.

“I really don’t take any pleasure in saying that they haven’t delivered.”

According to the Bloomberg news service, as of Monday, Canada was 12th in the world on vaccines delivered on a per capita basis. Behind countries like Israel, the U.K. and the United States and the United Arab Emirates, as well as several small European countries.

Israel is the world leader so far having administered first doses to more than 25 per cent of its population primarily using the Pfizer vaccine. Several reports indicated the country had paid more for the vaccines than other countries. it also had agreed to share anonymized patient data from its health system with Pfizer.

The United Kingdom has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine and made it a major part of its rollout. The vaccine, which is not yet approved in either Canada or the United States, does not need to be kept frozen and is easier to distribute. Some countries, like the United Arab Emirates, that are ahead of Canada are using a vaccine from Sinopharm, a Chinese state company.

Trudeau was asked Tuesday why Canada hadn’t ordered more doses for the first quarter of the year. He said there were only so many doses available from the two approved candidates Pfizer and Moderna, before the vaccines were approved and manufacturing could ramp up.

“The challenge is, as of December 1, 2020, there were none of these vaccines being produced anywhere in the world for general use. They were all in testing and trials in the scientific community,” he said.

• Email: rtumilty@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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