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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada – The Record (New Westminster)

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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):

5:45 p.m.

Alberta continues to record more than 500 new COVID-19 cases per day.

The province’s chief medical health officer says in a series of tweets that 555 new cases have been identified.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says that 184 of those are variants of concern.

Hinshaw says the new cases were identified from 11,405 tests, for a test-positivity rate of 4.8 per cent.

She says there are two additional deaths today.

4:30 p.m.

Saskatchewan health officials say the province will get 5,850 fewer doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine due to a damaged thermal shipper.

The news comes as the province reports 178 new COVID-19 cases, driven in large part by 105 new cases in the Regina zone where variants of the virus have been spreading.

The province’s daily pandemic update says the remaining 30,420 vaccine doses that were part of the same shipment as the one where the thermal shipper was damaged are still expected to arrive in the coming days.

The update says the Ministry of Health and the Saskatchewan Health Authority are reviewing distribution plans to minimize any impact.

Saskatchewan also reported one additional virus-related death today.

2:50 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador is down to just five active cases of COVID-19 after a weekend without any new infections.

All five are in the eastern zone of the province, meaning much of the province outside of the Avalon peninsula currently has no active cases.

Meanwhile, Labrador-Grenfell Health will start vaccinations for first responders Monday after the rest of the province held clinics for these groups over the past week.

Pre-registration is underway for people 70 years of age and older for vaccinations.

2:40 p.m.

New Brunswick is stepping up a program to vaccinate high school teachers against COVID-19.

It’s expected that this week 4,500 staff from high schools provincewide will receive a first dose at a clinic in one of 16 locations.

Schools will be closed to students on the days that local clinics are being held to allow for high school staff to be vaccinated and plan for the full return to school.

The province reported one new case of COVID-19 today, with 49 active cases in the province.

2:20 p.m.

Manitoba is reporting seven additional deaths in people with COVID-19, some of which date back as far as November.

The province’s daily pandemic update explains that the deaths were reported to public health officials this month.

Today’s update says there were 90 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba as of 9:30 this morning.

Manitoba’s five-day test-positivity rate is five per cent provincially and 3.6 per cent in Winnipeg.

There are 135 people in hospital who either have COVID-19 or had it but are no longer infectious.

11:15 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 648 new cases of COVID-19 as well as five more deaths linked to the pandemic.

Three people died in the last 24 hours, while the other two died between March 14 and 19.

Hospitalizations declined by four to 501, but the number of people in intensive care increased by three to 102.

Health workers gave 28,543 doses of vaccine on Saturday, for a total of 944,793 since immunizations got underway.

10:50 a.m.

Six new cases of COVID-19 are being reported in Nova Scotia today as March break winds down in the province.

Four of the cases are in the province’s central zone, which includes the Halifax area, and two are in the eastern zone.

All of the infections are related to travel or previous cases, with those infected going into self isolation.

As of today, Nova Scotia has 21 active cases of COVID-19.

10:45 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 1,791 new COVID-19 cases and 18 more virus-related deaths today.

Toronto and nearby Peel Region — two COVID-19 hot spots — account for nearly half of the new infections.

Looser pandemic measures allowing restaurants to open their patios took effect in both regions yesterday.

Ontario’s immunization campaign is set to ramp up tomorrow, with the provincial vaccine booking portal slated to start taking appointments from those 75 or older.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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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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