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Tam says pandemic now at 'most challenging' stage, calls on Canadians to give vaccines time to work – CBC.ca

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Canada has entered a “challenging” stage of the pandemic and Canadians must do all they can to follow public health measures and give vaccines time to work, said Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam.

Taking part in a question-and-answer session on Facebook today, Tam said that now is not the time for Canadians to have mass gatherings — with the country heading into a third wave and hospital intensive care units filling up.

“We need to give it our best effort right now because the vaccines need time to take hold. There’s many people who are not vaccinated right now in Canada, so I would say this period is one of the most challenging periods,” she said.

“This resurgence may not be the same as previous ones. We’ve now got variants that are more transmissible so there is less room for errors.”

Tam said this summer is beginning to look like “hope” because the projections for vaccine deliveries suggest that every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated will have had their first dose by “probably around June, the end of June.”

According to the federal government, Canada will be getting more than one million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine each week until the end of May, rising to two million doses a week in June. That supply will be augmented by an additional 3.2 million doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of April.

Canada is also getting two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the very short term, although Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending provinces pause its use for under 55s because of safety concerns.

More early Pfizer doses possible

On Tuesday, Pfizer-BioNTech agreed to move up delivery of five million vaccine doses to Canada from late summer to June following negotiations with the federal government — a move that Tam said buoyed her confidence. 

Fabien Paquette, Pfizer’s general manager in Canada, told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics that it’s possible additional doses of the vaccine will be shipped early as the year goes on.

“As an organization we try to always improve and accelerate the deployment of doses in Canada, so we’re really happy that we were able to bring five million more doses in June rather than the second half of the year,” Paquette told host Vassy Kapelos. 

“We are trying to bring more doses and actually accelerate the pace of immunizations for Canadians,” he added. 

Tam said the pace of the vaccine rollout suggests the country will be able to get every Canadian fully vaccinated with two doses of a vaccine by some point in the fall.

“I am looking forward to the fall, once everyone has had two doses of the vaccine, and that we would pass what I call the crisis phase of the pandemic,” she said.  

Tam said she expects the country can begin to get back to something like normal by the time the leaves start changing colour — providing nothing else goes wrong.

“Of course, this virus is very good at giving us surprises so we’ll be watching its evolution and the variants very carefully. But I definitely have hope,” she said.

Watch: Fabien Paquette on additional Pfizer doses and vaccinating the young:

Pfizer Canada Vaccines Lead Fabien Paquette says the company will submit data from their new study to Health Canada for approval, in the coming weeks. The company announced today that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has shown to be safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12. 7:54

You can watch full episodes of Power & Politics on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.

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Canada’s manufacturers ask for federal help as Montreal dockworkers stage partial-strike

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MONTREAL (Reuters) – Canada‘s manufacturers on Monday asked the federal government to curb a brewing labor dispute after dockworkers at the country’s second largest port said they will work less this week.

Unionized dockworkers, who are in talks for a new contract since 2018, will hold a partial strike starting Tuesday, by refusing all overtime outside of their normal day shifts, along with weekend work, they said in a statement on Monday.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Quebec’s 1,125 longshore workers at the Port of Montreal rejected a March offer from the Maritime Employers Association.

The uncertainty caused by the labour dispute has led to an 11% drop in March container volume at the Montreal port on an annual basis, even as other eastern ports in North America made gains, the Maritime Employers Association said.

The move will cause delays in a 24-hour industry, the association said.

“Some manufacturers have had to redirect their containers to the Port of Halifax, incurring millions in additional costs every week,” said Dennis Darby, chief executive of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME).

While the government strongly believes a negotiated agreement is the best option for all parties, “we are actively examining all options as the situation evolves,” a spokesman for Federal Labor Minister Filomena Tassi said.

Last summer’s stoppage of work cost wholesalers C$600 million ($478 million) in sales over a two-month period, Statistics Canada estimates.

($1 = 1.2563 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal. Additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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Canada scraps export permits for drone technology to Turkey, complains to Ankara

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OTTAWA (Reuters) –Canada on Monday scrapped export permits for drone technology to Turkey after concluding that the equipment had been used by Azeri forces fighting Armenia in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said.

Turkey, which like Canada is a member of NATO, is a key ally of Azerbaijan, whose forces gained territory in the enclave after six weeks of fighting.

“This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey,” Garneau said in a statement, adding he had raised his concerns with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier in the day.

Ottawa suspended the permits last October so it could review allegations that Azeri drones used in the conflict had been equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, the Canada-based unit of L3Harris Technologies Inc.

In a statement, the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa said: “We expect our NATO allies to avoid unconstructive steps that will negatively affect our bilateral relations and undermine alliance solidarity.”

Earlier on Monday, Turkey said Cavusoglu had urged Canada to review the defense industry restrictions.

The parts under embargo include camera systems for Baykar armed drones. Export licenses were suspended in 2019 during Turkish military activities in Syria. Restrictions were then eased, but reimposed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Turkey’s military exports to Azerbaijan jumped sixfold last year. Sales of drones and other military equipment rose to $77 million in September alone before fighting broke out in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, data showed.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Gareth Jones and Peter Cooney)

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Investigation finds Suncor’s Colorado refinery meets environmental permits

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By Liz Hampton

DENVER (Reuters) – A Colorado refinery owned by Canadian firm Suncor Energy Inc meets required environmental permits and is adequately funded, according to an investigation released on Monday into a series of emissions violations at the facility between 2017 and 2019.

The 98,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in the Denver suburb of Commerce City, Colorado, reached a $9-million settlement with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) March 2020 to resolve air pollution violations that occurred since 2017. That settlement also addressed an incident in December 2019 that released refinery materials onto a nearby school.

As part of the settlement, Suncor was required to use a third party to conduct an independent investigation into the violations and spend up to $5 million to implement recommendations from the investigation.

Consulting firm Kearney’s investigation found the facility met environmental permit requirements, but also pinpointed areas for improvement, including personnel training and systems upgrades, some of which was already underway.

“We need to improve our performance and improve the trust people have in us,” Donald Austin, vice president of the Commerce City refinery said in an interview, adding that the refinery had already undertaken some of the recommendations from the investigation.

In mid-April, Suncor will begin a turnaround at the facility that includes an upgrade to a gasoline-producing fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) at Plant 1 of the facility. That turnaround is anticipated to be complete in June 2021.

Suncor last year completed a similar upgrade of an automatic shutdown system for the FCCU at the refinery’s Plant 2.

By 2023, the company will also install an additional control unit, upgraded instrumentation, automated shutdown valves and new hydraulic pressure units in Plant 2.

Together, those upgrades will cost approximately $12 million, of which roughly $10 million is dedicated to Plant 2 upgrades, Suncor said on Monday.

 

(Reporting by Liz Hampton; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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