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Sask. reports 7 more coronavirus deaths, 332 new cases – CTV News

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REGINA —
Seven more people have died related to COVID-19 in Saskatchewan, the Government of Saskatchewan reported Saturday.

Four deaths were recorded in the north central zone, including one person in their 70s and another three people above the age of 80; and two deaths were recorded in the Regina zone, including one person in their 60s and another above the age of 80. One person in their 50s from the southeast zone also died.

Saskatchewan has reported 191 total COVID-19-related deaths.

The province also reported 332 new COVID-19 cases, along with 189 new recoveries. There are now 3,186 active COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan.

Of the new cases, nine are from the far northwest zone, eight are from the far north central zone, 17 are from the far north east zone, 44 are from the northwest zone, 18 are from the north central zone, 30 are from the northeast zone, 74 are from Saskatoon, two are from the central west, 14 are from the central east, 57 are from Regina, eight are from the south central zone and 32 are from the southeast zone.

Another 19 new cases are pending residence information. The province said it has removed three duplicate cases from the count, including two in the northwest zone and one from the central east zone.

A total of 179 people are in hospital in Saskatchewan related to the virus, with 30 people in intensive care.

The province said 3,049 COVID-19 tests were processed in the province on Friday.

Saskatchewan’s seven-day average for daily new cases is 289, or 23.9 new cases per 100,000 population.

The province said there will be limited details in publicly reported COVID-19 numbers on Sunday, Jan. 10, due to a delay in results. Full details from the weekend will be released on Monday, Jan. 11.

VACCINE UPDATE

As of Jan. 9, the province said 6,964 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Saskatchewan.

In Regina, 2,069 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered, along with 788 second doses.

Saskatoon has seen 2,681 doses of the Pfizer vaccine administered. Another 482 doses have been delivered in Prince Albert.

For the Moderna vaccine, 1,040 total doses have been administered, including 482 in the far northwest zone, 65 in the far north central zone and 493 in the far northeast zone.

INMATE AT SASK. PENETENTIARY DIES FROM COVID-19 COMPLICATIONS

A Saskatchewan Penitentiary inmate died in hospital Friday as a result of complications related to COVID-19, Correctional Service Canada said in a news release.

“As in all cases involving the death of an inmate, CSC has notified the coroner who will review the circumstances of the death,” the release said.

This is the fourth federally-sentenced inmate to die with a COVID-19 diagnosis, CSC said.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday decisions to end the required wearing of masks — such as those by the governors of Texas and Mississippi — amounted to “Neanderthal thinking,” given the rising death toll from the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked if he had a message for Texas and Mississippi, Biden told reporters, “I think it’s a big mistake. Look, I hope everybody’s realized by now, these masks make a difference.”

Cases in the U.S. have declined from peaks seen earlier this year, but remain above 50,000 a day — even after the government has distributed more than 100 million doses of vaccine, putting shots into more than 50 million arms, according to federal data.

The U.S. alone has seen more than 28.7 million reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 518,000 recorded deaths, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

Biden’s comments about masks came as the Senate delayed the start of debate on the president’s $1.9-trillion US COVID-19 relief bill until at least Thursday after reaching a deal to phase out $1,400 payments to higher-income Americans in a compromise with moderate Democratic senators.

The Democratic-controlled Senate is hoping for a final vote later in the week on passage of Biden’s top legislative priority. Before the bill hits the chamber floor, Democrats are negotiating limits to a measure Republicans have attacked as wasteful.

The bill would pay for vaccines and medical supplies, boost jobless assistance and send a new round of emergency financial aid to households, small businesses, and state and local governments. Democrats aim to get it to Biden to sign into law before March 14, when some current benefits expire.

“The plan that we are going to vote on this week is going to provide real, robust relief for all of us,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have denounced the bill.

On Wednesday, McConnell called it a “vast catalogue of liberal spending” and a partisan “smorgasbord of borrowed money” packed with “crazy provisions” unrelated to the pandemic, which has killed more than 517,000 Americans and left millions more jobless.

-From Reuters, last updated at 7 a.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | The science behind delaying the 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccines:

Federal government scientists have put their support behind delayed second doses of COVID-19 vaccines — which several provinces were already doing — and ongoing research shows some of the benefits of the adapted strategy. 2:04

As of early Thursday morning, Canada had reported 875,564 cases of COVID-19, with 29,930 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,105.

In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday — but health officials also reported the most recoveries ever recorded in a single day in the province, bringing the number of active cases to 149.

There were also three new cases of COVID-19 reported Wednesday in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, with one new case reported in Prince Edward Island.

In Quebec, officials announced next steps around easing restrictions on Wednesday, saying the province will be moving more regions into the lower “orange” pandemic-alert level, including Quebec City and the Eastern Townships, starting on March 8.

Premier François Legault said the greater Montreal area will remain in the highest “red” level, because of fear of novel coronavirus variants.

The province reported 729 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 19 additional deaths. Health officials said hospitalizations dropped to 618 and the number of people in intensive care dropped to 120.

WATCH | How businesses and schools use rapid COVID-19 tests:

Many businesses and schools across Canada are utilizing rapid COVID-19 tests and onsite testing technology to help catch asymptomatic cases and prevent spread of the virus. 7:41

In Ontario, health officials reported 958 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with 17 more deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 668, with 274 patients in the province’s intensive care units.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 51 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Wednesday. In neighbouring Saskatchewan, health officials reported 121 new cases and two additional deaths.

In Alberta, meanwhile, health officials reported 402 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 additional deaths. The province said there were 251 people in hospital with the illness, with 48 in intensive care units.

British Columbia on Wednesday reported 542 new cases of the illness, along with seven more deaths. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 246, with 64 COVID-19 patients in intensive care.

The update came as health officials in the province said it was pleased with a national vaccine panel’s endorsement of its approach to wait up to four months before a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine is offered.The Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health has also given its nod to the province’s four-month interval between shots, up from 42 days.

Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut on Wednesday.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

A French Urgent Medical Aid Service member walks past stretchers in an Air Austral company’s plane in Sainte-Marie on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion on Thursday before evacuating four COVID-19 patients to Paris. (Richard Bouhet/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Thursday morning, more than 115.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, with more than 65.1 million listed on the Johns Hopkins University tracking site as recovered. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million.

In the Americas, Brazil’s second-biggest city of Rio de Janeiro will be the latest to adopt new COVID-related restrictions on Friday, including a night curfew, in a bid to slow a deadly second wave that is ravaging the South American country.

The city of 6.7 million people will impose a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and order restaurants to close at 5 p.m., while certain businesses, such as clubs, will be shut altogether, according to information published in the city’s official bulletin on Thursday.

While COVID-19 deaths and infections are falling globally, that is not the case in Brazil, where a record 1,910 people died from the virus on Wednesday. In response, various states and cities have adopted new restrictions on commerce in recent days, including the Federal District, home of capital Brasilia, and Sao Paulo state, Brazil’s most populous.

The new restrictions in Rio are due to last through March 11.

In Europe, the medicines regulator said on Thursday it has started a real-time review of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute for possible approval in the region.

Germany’s health minister says the country’s independent vaccine committee has formally approved giving the AstraZeneca shot to people age 65 and over.

Minister Jens Spahn said the decision was, “good news for older people who are waiting for a vaccination. They will get vaccinated faster.”

The vaccine made by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca is one of three authorized for use in the 27-nation European Union. But several countries, including Germany, initially restricted it to people under 65, or in some cases under 55, citing a lack of data on its effectiveness in older people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeing a resurgence of cases in central and eastern Europe as well as a rise of new cases in several western European countries, the head of its European office said.

Caretaker Paul Bascombe marks safety signs for physical distancing at The Prince of Wales School on Thursday in Dorchester, England. England’s schools will reopen to pupils from March 8. (Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

Chancellor Angela Merkel and German state leaders have agreed to a phased easing of coronavirus curbs along with an “emergency brake” to let authorities reimpose restrictions if case numbers spike again, while France is preparing for a possible easing of restrictions from mid-April.

Italy will administer a single vaccine dose to those who have already been infected with COVID-19, the health ministry said.

In Africa, Kenya received over a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, while Rwanda said it was the first in Africa to secure shots from Pfizer.

Egypt, meanwhile, expanded its vaccination rollout to include the elderly and people with chronic diseases after several weeks of vaccinating medical staff.

An Egyptian medical worker checks people’s temperatures on the first day of vaccination against COVID-19 in Cairo on Thursday. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

In the Middle East, Iran remained the hardest-hit country in the region, with more than 1.6 million cases COVID-19 and more than 60,000 reported deaths.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Sri Lanka’s drug regulatory body has approved the Russian Sputnik V vaccine as the second available for use in the Indian Ocean island nation.

South Korea’s central bank says the country’s economy shrank for the first time in 22 years in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic destroyed service industry jobs and depressed consumer spending.

Preliminary data released by the Bank of Korea on Thursday showed that the country’s gross domestic product last year contracted 1 per cent from 2019. It marked the first annual contraction for the country’s economy since 1998, when it was in the midst of a crippling financial crisis.

The economy would have been even worse if not for the country’s technology exports, which saw increased demand driven by personal computers and servers as the pandemic forced millions around the world to work at home.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 8:20 a.m. ET

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Canadian banks, insurance firms owe $1.2B in employee vacation pay, class actions allege – CBC.ca

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When Leigh Cunningham of Winnipeg left her 26-year career as an investment adviser with RBC Dominion Securities, she did some math and realized that for decades she hadn’t been receiving six per cent vacation pay on her full income.

Cunningham has launched a proposed $800-million class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of advisers. 

She alleges that RBC, which last week reported soaring profits, has systematically short-changed workers by failing to provide proper vacation pay to advisers whose compensation is based mostly on commissions and bonuses.

“It’s just wrong,” Cunningham told CBC News. “We are helping as employees to create that profit.”

Cunningham’s lawsuit was served to RBC in December but not made public until now.

It is one of five proposed class actions launched against banks and insurance companies since early 2019 seeking a total of $1.2 billion for vacation pay that’s allegedly owed current and former employees.

The allegations include that employers would calculate vacation pay based only on an employee’s base salary, without including commissions and bonuses that can make up a large portion of a worker’s compensation.

If successful, experts say these suits could open the floodgates on major employers that fail to pay salespeople and commissioned staff in accordance with various provincial and territorial employment standards laws across Canada.

‘I need my money. Plain and simple.’

RBC, named in three of the five proposed class actions, declined to discuss specifics, but did issue a statement to CBC News.

“RBC takes pride in ensuring that everyone who works at any RBC company is fairly compensated,” RBC Insurance communications director Greg Skinner wrote in an email. 

“The policies that apply to the employees involved in the action state that their compensation includes vacation pay and statutory holiday pay.”

When contacted for comment regarding the proposed class-action lawsuits over vacation pay, RBC said in a statement that it takes pride in ensuring its employees are fairly compensated. (Reuters)

Maureen Barrett of Brampton, Ont., resigned her position as an insurance salesperson for RBC in 2017, after almost a decade with the company. 

She, too, is now a lead plaintiff, but in a different proposed class-action lawsuit seeking $80 million from RBC Insurance on behalf of its salespeople.

“I need my money, plain and simple,” Barrett told CBC News. “There’s no bells and whistles around it, you owe me my money. I’ve worked for it.”

Barrett’s claim alleges she only ever received vacation pay on her base salary of $37,500 and that RBC Insurance systemically failed to include in the calculation the commissions and performance bonuses that routinely made up a large share of her compensation.

“We need to make sure that this is rectified for those who are taken advantage of,” she said. “That’s how I feel. When this happened, when I found out that this took place, I felt as if I was taken advantage of.”

Maureen Barrett of Brampton, Ont., is lead plaintiff in a suit against RBC Insurance over vacation pay she alleges is owed to bank employees who are paid in large part on commission. (Submitted by Maureen Barrett)

Barrett says she moved to a new job as a salesperson with a smaller company, and was paid the proper amount of vacation pay from the start.

The Bank of Montreal is facing a similar class action launched by former BMO private wealth adviser Paul Cheetham in Vancouver.  

BMO declined to comment on the suit.

Allstate Insurance is also facing a $160-million claim launched by home and auto insurance salesperson Sung Taek Lee in Toronto.

It said the claim is “completely without merit” and that it will defend its case “in due course.”

“Allstate compensates its employees in full compliance with all provincial employment legislation,” it said in a statement.

The class actions have yet to be certified by the courts, and so none of the allegations have been tested by a judge or jury.

A wake-up call for major employers, lawyer says

The class actions on behalf of large groups of employees have emerged following recent court decisions that upheld individual employees’ rights to outstanding vacation pay as part of severance packages.

Toronto investment banker David Bain sued his former employer, UBS Securities Canada Inc., after he lost his job in 2013 when the company shut down part of its Canadian operations.

In 2018, Ontario’s Court of Appeal upheld his right to $87,472 in vacation pay for his years of service, calculated as a percentage of his base salary as well as his bonuses.

These kinds of rulings have been a wake-up call for major employers, according to Toronto lawyer James Heeney, who specializes in employment law and is not involved in any of the class-action lawsuits.

“Many companies have caught up and changed the way that they pay people to be compliant, but many, many haven’t,” he told CBC News.

He says employment standards across Canada vary by province and by profession and need to be modernized.

He suspects the $1.2 billion worth of lawsuits and class actions over vacation pay could be just the beginning.

“If you look across the country, there’s at least hundreds of millions of dollars of liability, if not more, because there are just so many entities that have not caught up,” he said.

While the five proposed class actions have yet to be given a green light, lawyers for Leigh Cunningham of Winnipeg hope to be in court later this year to certify the action on behalf of RBC investment advisers.

She acknowledges advisers are usually well paid, but says she worked hard for her clients and is entitled to what is provided for under the law.

“If the law states that an investment adviser is entitled to receive a holiday and vacation pay, why should I be penalized?” she said.

“If you look at six per cent over 21 years … RBC Dominion Securities has really had the use of that six per cent of mine, my money.”

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Provinces, territories can wait 4 months to administer 2nd COVID-19 shot, NACI says – Global News

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Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending provinces and territories extend the time between first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses to four months amid vaccine shortages.

In new guidlines posted on the NACI website on Wednesday, the committee said “current evidence suggests high vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease and hospitalization for several weeks after the first dose, including among older populations.”

Read more:
Here’s what the provinces, territories have said about AstraZeneca’s vaccine and seniors

NACI said due to limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, “jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the interval for the second dose of vaccine to four months.”


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New COVID-19 guidelines released for pregnant women, future moms – Dec 25, 2020

“Extending the dose interval to four months allows NACI to create opportunities for protection of the entire adult population within a short timeframe,” the committee said. “This will not only achieve protection of the adult population, but will also contribute to health equity.”

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According to NACI, approximately 80 per cent of the eligible population could be offered a dose of one of the approved mRNA vaccines by the end of June if jurisdictions implement a four-month interval between shots this month.

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

While the NACI releases recommendations, it is ultimately up to the provinces to determine how they will administer the COVID-19 vaccines.

A number of provinces including British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba have already decided they will be extending the interval between COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Read more:
‘Risky’ or ‘incredible’? Experts split on delaying 2nd vaccine dose to expand coverage

Speaking at a press conference earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is monitoring the vaccine rollout approaches across Canada.

“We’re paying for the vaccines, we’re bringing them in and then we’re working with, obviously, public health experts, the National Advisory Council on Immunization, (and) working with provinces and chief medical officers across the country in order to deliver those vaccines to Canadians in the most rapid and most effective way to keep people safe to get through this pandemic quickly,” he said.

Asked whether the timeline to get all Canadians vaccinated could change, Trudeau said we are “seeing some of the science shift,” adding that “some proposals put forward, which are very, very interesting, which could result in rapider timelines.”

“But every step of the way, we’re going to be informed by the experts, by science, by the recommendations on the best way to protect Canadians, particularly vulnerable Canadians, and the best way to get through this as quickly as possible,” he said.

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‘Unchartered territory’

In a previous interview with Global News, Colin Furness, an epidemiologist with the University of Toronto, said veering from the recommended timeframes could be “dangerous” and “risky.”

“When the vaccines were validated or tested, they were tested according to a certain schedule,” he said. “When you lengthen it, you go into uncharted territory.”

Furness said changing the timeline could impact the vaccine’s effectiveness.

“It could be the same, (or) the effectiveness could be lower — that is, your body might actually start to shut down its immune response and so it wouldn’t have the same combined effect,” he said. “Or it’s possible that waiting will actually make the vaccines even more effective, that could happen, too.”

According to Furness, all options are possible until the vaccine’s long-term effects can be properly studied.


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Coronavirus: Canada to receive 945,000 vaccine doses this week, procurement minister says


Coronavirus: Canada to receive 945,000 vaccine doses this week, procurement minister says

Currently, all three vaccines approved for use in Canada require two doses to be administered.

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Health Canada approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna in December, and a candidate from AstraZeneca-Oxford last week.

However, Canada has fallen considerably behind even its closest allies when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

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

By Wednesday evening 2,072,757 COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in Canada, meaning approximately 2.78 per cent of the country’s population has been inoculated.

In comparison, the United States has fully vaccinated 7.9 per cent of its population, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. 

The federal government has maintained, though, that all Canadians who want a COVID-19 vaccine will have access to one by the end of September.

-With files from Global News’ Rachael D’Amore and Emerald Bensadoun

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

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