Connect with us


Quiet tables, Zoom calls, and cardboard cutouts: How Canadians are celebrating a pandemic Christmas – CTV News



With many provinces under lockdown or facing gathering restrictions amid a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians were forced to find creative ways to include family and friends in their Christmas celebrations.

For several weeks, officials across the country have urged Canadians to reconsider get-together plans for the holiday season as infections surged nationally from a seven-day average of about 3,000 cases on Nov. 1 to more than 6,000 on Dec. 2, separating Canadians across provincial and regional borders.

With an avoid all non-essential travel advisory still in place for international destinations, most people are also separated from family abroad.

But that didn’t stop folks from gathering on Zoom calls, where dozens of extended family members exchanged holiday wishes. Some even fashioned cardboard cutouts of their missing family members to include them in Christmas morning traditions.

Despite rising case numbers, a recent poll found that about one-third of Canadians still planned to visit friends and family for the holidays.

The survey, taken late last month by Angus Reid in partnership with research firm Cardus, found that 30 per cent of the nearly 5,000 respondents said they would visit loved ones locally and 10 per cent said they planned to leave their community or province to do so.

For those who followed the advice of officials, isolating at home with their immediate household, Christmas looked much different than years past.

“Just the two of us for Christmas dinner,” read one tweet. “It did make dinner very quiet but @lesleyanneb6 made sure the Christmas Crafts from our Grandchildren made it to the table.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


The U.S. is vaccinating nearly 1M people per day. How does Canada compare? – Global News



As the United States moves to vaccinate around one million people per day against the novel coronavirus, Canada appears to be falling short.

As of Sunday, Canada had administered 816,557 vaccine doses. In comparison, the U.S. had administered 20,537,990, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On a per capita basis, the U.S. has so far inoculated 5.2 per cent of its population, while Canada stands at 1.1.

In total, 1,119,225 doses of the vaccine have been delivered to the provinces and territories as of Jan. 21. However, only 72.9 per cent of those doses have been administered.

Click to play video 'Tracking the global race to vaccinate against COVID-19'

Tracking the global race to vaccinate against COVID-19

Tracking the global race to vaccinate against COVID-19

This is much more than the States however, where the U.S. government has administered 49.6 per cent of the 41,411,550 million doses delivered throughout the country.

Story continues below advertisement

While Canada’s neighbours to the South were off to a sluggish start, the CDC told the Associated Press that U.S. was steadily ramping up vaccinations, with health officials administering 1.6 million vaccine doses on Friday.

Last Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser for COVID-19, called the president’s goal of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days an “absolutely a doable thing.”

Canada has secured access to more vaccines than any other country in the world — enough to inoculate its entire population three times over — thanks to agreements with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Medicago, Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson.

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

Did Canada make a wrong turn?

Not necessarily, experts say.

Delivery shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines have been delayed while the pharmaceutical giant expands its European manufacturing facility, which could temporarily slow the rate at which doses are administered. The delays, announced Jan. 15, will see Canada’s vaccine deliveries chopped in half for another three weeks.

But Colin Furness, an epidemiologist teaching at the University of Toronto, told Global News that administering doses faster doesn’t always equal a slower mortality rate.

Story continues below advertisement

“My sense is that speed is being prioritized over equity in the U.S. — fast at the expense of fair,” Furness speculated.

“The more equity you embed in the distribution process, the longer it will take — you have to organize your priority list and then seek out those who qualify.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Fauci says Biden administration not ‘starting from scratch’ on vaccine rollout'

Coronavirus: Fauci says Biden administration not ‘starting from scratch’ on vaccine rollout

Coronavirus: Fauci says Biden administration not ‘starting from scratch’ on vaccine rollout

Many of those at highest risk of infection from COVID-19 have clustered in long-term care homes, he said, but frontline health-care workers, caregivers and essential workers are also high on the list.

“By contrast, if you prioritize those who own a car and can pay, you can generally make the process much faster,” Furness said.

Canada’s capacity for vaccination isn’t the problem — just last year, the federal government said they were able to inoculate almost 42 per cent of Canadians for the flu in a single season.

Story continues below advertisement

However, storage requirements for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine present an issue.

Read more:
‘Massive undertaking’: Roadmap of Canada’s coronavirus vaccine roll-out

Ryan Imgrund, a biostatistician who works with Ottawa Public Health, previously said the slow vaccine rollout could be attributed to Pfizer’s additional storage needs, which require deep freezing at ultra-low temperatures of -70C.

Imgrund called the slow rollout “embarrassing.”

We just haven’t had great planning on this,” he said.

“I know health care professionals that volunteered weeks and even more than a month [ahead] to go to help with the vaccine rollout. And they haven’t even been contacted.”

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

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline sees fortunes shine after KXL’s demise



Keystone XL

By Rod Nickel and Steve Scherer

WINNIPEG/OTTAWA (Reuters) – The expansion of Canada‘s government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline assumes greater importance for the oil sector after the cancellation of rival Keystone XL reduced future options to carry crude, potential buyers say.

Trans Mountain Corp, a government corporation, is spending C$12.6 billion ($9.9 billion) to nearly triple capacity to 890,000 barrels per day (bpd), a 14% increase from current total Canadian capacity.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government bought the 68-year-old pipeline in 2018 when previous owner Kinder Morgan faced legal hurdles to expand the 1,150-kilometre (715-mile) line running from Alberta to the British Columbia coast. Ottawa has always said it would find new owners.

This week, U.S. President Joe Biden revoked the presidential permit for TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline (KXL), undoing efforts by former President Donald Trump to build the line that would have supplied U.S. refiners with 830,000 bpd of Canadian oil.

That decision has made the case for completing Trans Mountain’s expansion stronger.

“This pipeline is even more valuable now,” said Joe Dion, chief executive of Western Indigenous Pipeline Group, one of several First Nations groups interested in buying Trans Mountain.

“Everybody thought Trudeau wasn’t going to get things done in Canada, and he’s the one who successfully got a pipeline over Trump.”

Trans Mountain takes on more strategic importance with KXL cancelled, but it does not mean his group would pay more for it, Dion said.

Trans Mountain has completed 22% of the expansion project, called TMX, which is scheduled for service in December 2022. Suncor Energy Inc, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and BP PLC are among the committed shippers who have secured 80% of its additional capacity long-term.

“All eyes are on TMX,” said Delbert Wapass, executive chair of Project Reconciliation, a First Nations coalition that hopes to buy 51% this year.

Sharing Trans Mountain’s profits would help improve living conditions on First Nations, he said.

Canadian companies have long struggled to secure top price for their crude as pipeline congestion forced them to sell at a discount.

However reduced fuel demand due to pandemic travel lockdowns and advancing pipeline expansions have eased the flow. Even without KXL, Canada may have surplus export pipeline capacity once TMX enters service, said Matt Taylor, director of infrastructure research at investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt, who expects modest oil production growth to 2025.

Ottawa plans to sell the pipeline once there are fewer risks to completion and consultations wrap up with First Nations, said Finance Ministry spokeswoman Katherine Cuplinskas. TMX has faced stiff opposition over spill concerns.

A second government source said it bought Trans Mountain for its strategic importance, as its Pacific Ocean connection enables shippers to move oil to Asia, as well as the United States, which buys most Canadian crude.

Now its importance is even greater, the source said.

Enbridge Inc, which runs North America’s Mainline oil network, also stands to gain from KXL’s demise. It intends to sell long-term contracts for most of the Mainline’s capacity, pending regulator approval, rather than continue to ration it on the spot market.

KXL’s cancellation frees up long-term commitments by shippers who may now sign Mainline contracts, Taylor said.

($1 = 1.2710 Canadian dollars)


(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Steve Scherer and Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Continue Reading


Canada’s taxpayers’ watchdog says complaints have spiked amid coronavirus pandemic – Global News



Canada’s taxpayers’ ombudsperson says his office has seen a steep spike in complaints compared to one year ago, delivering an early warning about how complicated returns should be handled this year.

Francois Boileau says the number of complaints from taxpayers about the Canada Revenue Agency was up 93 per cent in December from the same month in 2019.

Urgent requests, for people in dire financial straits, are up 120 per cent since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, he says.

Read more:
Canadian dentists push for clarity about vaccine priority: ‘We’re doctors too’

Boileau says the statistics paint a portrait of the difficult circumstances some Canadians find themselves in as a result of COVID-19, and the need for the agency to improve services for the coming tax season.

Story continues below advertisement

He says too many Canadians still spend hours trying to get through to a call centre agent.

Boileau adds that delays are especially frustrating for people who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit last year and are now trying to sort out whether they have to repay some of the aid.

Just a few weeks ago, the CRA sent out letters to 441,000 people questioning their eligibility for the CERB, and warning they may owe back some of the payments. The Liberals have promised leniency for people who will have problems paying the money back, but have yet to say what options will be available.

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

Boileau noted that some callers continue to complain about waiting five hours or more to speak with an agent.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Feds deploy mobile health units to GTA hospitals'

Coronavirus: Feds deploy mobile health units to GTA hospitals

Coronavirus: Feds deploy mobile health units to GTA hospitals

He says he is worried the CRA won’t be able to meet response-time standards as the calendar ticks closer to what will likely be a complicated tax season due to the pandemic.

Story continues below advertisement

“I hope it (won’t) be,” Boileau says. “They are preparing for it. They know what’s going on and they’re taking all the necessary steps.”

While the pandemic has been a focus of Boileau in his first few months as ombudsperson, his office continues to work away on a review of how the CRA has handled the processing of Canada Child Benefit payments.

Boileau’s predecessor, Sherra Profit, launched the review of the CCB in late 2019 after three years of flagging overly stringent eligibility rules that prevented payments to some of Canada’s most vulnerable families.

In some cases, newcomer families to Canada haven’t receive child benefits because they can’t get needed documents, such as a note from a school or family doctor. In other situations, women fleeing domestic violence have felt like they need to get their partner’s signatures on forms and other information about custody _ despite the government promising that wouldn’t be the case.

Boileau says some of these situations add complications for the CRA, which has to take time to sort things out.

Read more:
Canada reports 146 more COVID-19 deaths as feds approve rapid PCR test

“It takes time and time is of the essence with the CCB,” he says.

“It’s really touching the lives of citizens, taxpayers that are in a vulnerable state of mind.”

Story continues below advertisement

Boileau says his officials are currently reviewing answers from the agency to some additional questions, although there is no firm timeline on when the review will be complete.

The office of the federal auditor general is doing its own review of the CCB, which it expects to publish this year. According to the auditor general’s website, the review will focus on whether recipients were eligible for the benefits, and that payments are made in a timely and accurate manner.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading