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Why some young Canadian adults resist COVID-19 booster jab | – Global News



Banin Hassan says there is only one reason she would consider getting another shot of a COVID-19 vaccine to boost her first two doses.

“If they make it mandatory and restrict activities or travel from my life again, I would consider it ’cause I love to travel,” says the Hamilton-based consultant, who is 27.

“Other than that, there isn’t anything that would change my mind.”

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COVID-19 vaccine and booster tracker – How many Canadians are vaccinated?

Canadian government data shows young adults lag other age groups in getting boosted. About 35 per cent of people between 18 and 29 have received a third dose. That goes up to 42 per cent for 30- to 39-year-olds. On average, 72 per cent of Canadians 40 and older have received theirs.

A Calgary-based doctor who has studied vaccine hesitancy says he is not surprised young adults are behind.

“Even before the booster, with the second and the first dose, we did see much lower uptake in the 25 (group) compared to the 65-plus community,” says Dr. Jia Hu, who leads a group that advises on how to increase uptake.

Hu is the CEO of 19 to Zero, made up of doctors, nurses, economists and other experts, who aim to help governments, companies and communities across Canada build trust in vaccines.

“One thing that allowed us to get vaccine uptake rates higher in the 30-range was vaccine mandates, because I don’t think there’s hesitancy in this population (about the shots themselves),” Hu says. “In that age group, people are less concerned about COVID causing severe illness. Mandates let them live life again.”

Hassan’s partner, Humam Yahya, 28, acknowledges the benefits vaccines provide in reducing severe illness, but questions the need to keep getting shots.

“You just get a booster every eight months or 10 months and there’s no end date to it,” he says. “You’re just taking these vaccinations … and I’m sure they have great benefits, but also we don’t know the long-term side-effects.”

He says he was fearful at first about getting COVID-19 because he has asthma.

“I sheltered myself a lot. But then a lot of friends that did get COVID, their side-effects and what they got was nowhere near what I thought it would be, so I lost a lot of fear there.”

Click to play video: 'Booster dose uptake lagging in Manitoba'

Booster dose uptake lagging in Manitoba

Booster dose uptake lagging in Manitoba – Apr 21, 2022

Hassan adds some distant family members died early in the pandemic. More recently she’s observed close family members and friends who had COVID-19, but with mild symptoms.

“My father has kidney failure and he’s on his fourth dose. I’m fully understanding of him needing to do that because his health is a bit more compromised. I would even encourage him to continue getting it. For me, I don’t find COVID a high risk at this point,” Hassan says.

She and Yahya say some friends, particularly women, had bad reactions to the vaccine, so the couple is wary of too many doses.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Ontario data shows decline in booster vaccination'

COVID-19: Ontario data shows decline in booster vaccination

COVID-19: Ontario data shows decline in booster vaccination – Apr 9, 2022

Liza Samadi, 25, a pharmacy assistant from Hamilton, says she hasn’t gone for a booster because it’s not mandatory.

“I was really lazy,” she says with a laugh.

“I just kept delaying, but then I ended up getting COVID (in January) so I was, like, ‘OK, I guess I’m pretty boosted enough for now so there’s no need for me to get it.’”

Samadi says her whole family has had COVID-19, so they’re not in a rush to get boosted, but would go for a third shot if it became mandatory.

Hu says he “strongly, strongly, strongly” recommends all Canadians get boosted because protection from two doses wanes after about six months “and the booster gets you right back.”

He does say that while booster uptake in young adults is too low, he doesn’t believe 18- to 29-year-olds with COVID-19 will overwhelm hospitals.

But he adds: “Do I think some 25-year-olds still might get hospitalized and die?”

“Yeah, I do.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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Inquest to begin in N.B. police shooting of Indigenous woman during wellness check



FREDERICTON — The lawyer for the family of an Indigenous woman fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B., during a wellness check two years ago said a coroner’s inquest opening Monday offers a chance for her loved ones to get long-awaited answers.

Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia who had recently moved to New Brunswick to be closer to family, was killed on June 4, 2020.

Lawyer T.J. Burke says the Edmundston police department lacked the tools needed to de-escalate situations without using deadly force.

“In my opinion, the City of Edmundston suffers for the lack of technology,” he said in an interview last week. The city, he said, had “focused more on purchasing carbine weapons than they did on individual officers’ use-of-force weapons, such as Tasers.”

Investigators with Quebec’s police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, concluded last year that the shooting occurred after an intoxicated Moore approached the officer with a knife in her hand.

Patrick Wilbur, regional director of New Brunswick’s Public Prosecutions Services, said in a report released last June that a former boyfriend of Moore called police at 2:06 a.m. to request the wellness check as a result of his concerns over a series of messages he had received over a period of a few hours.

The former boyfriend, who lives in Quebec, told investigators that at one point it appeared as if the messages were being written by a third party, and he contacted police out of concern for Moore’s safety.

According to Wilbur’s review of the investigation report, police arrived at Moore’s apartment at 2:32 a.m. and the officer knocked on a window and shone a flashlight on himself to show he was in full police uniform. The review says Moore came out of the apartment and moved in the direction of the officer holding a knife.

Prosecutors concluded the officer shot at Moore to defend or protect himself and that his actions were reasonable under the circumstances. They ruled out any criminal charges.

However, during the investigation, the officer said he regretted not giving himself an exit from the confrontation on the balcony outside Moore’s third-floor apartment. Wilbur wrote in his report that officers should always avoid cornering themselves in when responding to a call.

Wilbur said that while the officer had other deterrent measures, such as pepper spray and a baton, the events unfolded quickly.

Burke said he believes police also need to look at other approaches during wellness checks, such as the use of social workers or a mental health worker to help resolve tense situations.

Last June, Burke said Moore’s family intended to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against the City of Edmundston and the officer who shot her. He says that lawsuit has now been finalized and will be filed very soon.

A coroner’s jury will be chosen Monday morning, and five days have been set aside for the inquest.

Coroner Michael Johnston and the jury will hear evidence from witnesses to determine the facts surrounding the death. The jury will then have the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.

While Burke will attend the inquest, he won’t have the opportunity to directly question or cross-examine the witnesses. A lawyer for the family can submit questions, but New Brunswick’s legislation only allows for questions to be asked by a Crown prosecutor during a coroner’s inquest.

“The legislation is archaic and it needs to change,” Burke said. “It essentially silences the victim in these types of matters.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2022.


Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press

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Gas prices continue to soar for weekend drivers, experts predict no immediate relief



National gas prices continued their staggering rise this weekend, with drivers in Vancouver told to brace for as much as $2.34 per litre at the pumps.

Figures on the fuel tracker GasBuddy showed the national average price of regular gas reached $1.95 per litre on Saturday afternoon, with provincial averages reaching $2.15 in Newfoundland and Labrador and $2.11 in British Columbia.

Gas Wizard predicted significant jumps in various cities Sunday, with Vancouver expected to see prices surge six cents to a national high of $2.34/litre. Montreal was projected to see a four-cent jump to $2.15, and Toronto was on pace for a six-cent increase that would take average prices to $2.09.

“These are mind-numbing, eye-popping prices that … is probably not sustainable for most Canadians on fixed incomes/middle class,” Gas Wizard analyst Dan McTeague, also president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, said Saturday.

“I think it’s fair to say most Canadians are taking a pounding on this and it’s not the ones who drive for kicks and giggles, it’s the ones that need this to get to work…. And it will be long term.”

St. John’s is expected to see the biggest leap Sunday at 13 cents to $2.24/litre. Prices in Edmonton are projected to be among the lowest at $1.70/litre.

Many experts have attributed soaring gas prices to market destabilization brought on by Russia’s attack on Ukraine, as well as recovering global demand as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

McTeague acknowledged those as factors, but characterized the spike as more of a supply issue that predates the war and is only being exacerbated now.

He called for a temporary suspension of the carbon tax and for Ottawa to offer an immediate energy rebate, noting that soaring gas prices have also increased the federal GST haul.

“They’re making money hand over-over-fist. It seems to me that it would be wise for them to at least consider some kind of a rebate, or at least a way to alleviate, through maybe a GST rebate, to insulate and help those on fixed incomes and those of course who are having a tough go of it,” said McTeague, a former Liberal member of Parliament.

On Friday, B.C. Premier John Horgan said reducing taxes would be a “short-sighted” plan that only offers a “modest amount” of relief.

He said he has asked the finance minister “to bring forward a basket of initiatives because this is not a short-term issue.”

Until then, he encouraged residents to reduce travel costs where possible.

“We need to do that by all of us taking the steps that we can to reduce the amount we spend and also ensuring that we’re working together. If you’re going to the grocery store and you know you’ve got a neighbour that needs something, ask if you can pick it up for them and reduce the number of trips that we take,” he said.

“Right now I encourage people to think before you hop in the car — do you need to make that trip?”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2022.


Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

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Royal couple to begin three-day Canadian tour amid increasing skepticism of monarchy



Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, are set to begin a three-day tour of Canada this week that will focus on Indigenous reconciliation and climate change — and on connecting with a Canadian public that is increasingly skeptical of the monarchy.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will stop in St. John’s, N.L., Ottawa and the Yellowknife area during a visit that “will highlight an emphasis on learning from Indigenous Peoples in Canada as well as a focus on working with businesses to find a more sustainable way of living with global warming,” according to Clarence House, the couple’s official London residence.

In line with those priorities, they will attend a reconciliation event in St. John’s and will visit the First Nation community of Dettah in Yellowknife. There will also be a visit to the Dettah ice road as well as discussions on the importance of sustainable finance in building an economy with net-zero carbon emissions.

The visit, which begins Tuesday, will be the 19th trip to Canada for Prince Charles and the fifth for Camilla.

It is a joyful occasion for royal fans, who are looking forward to the couple’s first visit to Canada since 2017. Robert Finch, the head of the Monarchist League of Canada, believes the tour in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee — her 70 years on the throne — couldn’t come at a better time.

“We’re just coming out of a pandemic that’s taken its toll on all of us, and we’re in the midst of more uncertainty economically, geopolitically, what have you,” he said in a phone interview. “So it’s nice to get those things that are kind of positives and the things that celebrate and bring people together.”

Besides the more serious meetings, the trip involves plenty of pomp and photo ops, including visits to local businesses, ceremonies to celebrate the Jubilee and a viewing of the RCMP musical ride — a performance on horseback.

Both supporters and critics of the monarchy say the visit will be a test of Charles’s ability to win over the Canadian public at a time of increasing scrutiny of the monarchy.

Opinion polls have suggested that support for the monarchy in Canada has been steadily dropping in recent years.

An online poll from Angus Reid released in late April that surveyed a representative sample of 1,607 Canadian adults found that just over half — 51 per cent — felt the country should not remain a monarchy in coming generations, compared with 26 per cent who thought it should.

While the Queen was still viewed favourably by a majority of respondents, only 29 per cent viewed Charles that way, and only 34 per cent supported keeping a constitutional monarchy under his rule.

There is no margin of error for online polls, but Angus Reid said that for comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size would be accurate within 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Finch doesn’t put much stock in the results of polls that suggest Canadians are ready to ditch the monarchy, due in part to the way the questions are framed. “Republicanism is just not, in my view, a winning proposition, and if it were, one of the major political parties in the country would have adopted it,” he said.

But he did say this tour could be one of the most important royal visits ever — partly because of the focus on Indigenous reconciliation but also because of the chance for Charles to cement his role as future king at a time when his aging mother is stepping back.

He admitted Charles “has work to do” to appeal to the Canadian public, largely because his mother is so beloved. “She’s going to be a tough act to follow,” he said.

Patrick Taillon, a law professor at Université Laval in Quebec City who once challenged the laws of British succession in court, said the visit comes as both Canada and the United Kingdom are preparing for an eventual transition to Charles as king.

That moment, he said, “is likely to put the conversation on the nature of our institutions, and the choice of being a monarchy, to the forefront” in Canada.

Taillon said that while Canadians once saw the monarchy as a part of their identity — one that differentiated them from Americans — that’s increasingly no longer the case.

He said the recent royal tour of the Caribbean by Prince William and his wife, Kate, which drew criticism for perpetuating images of Britain’s colonial rule, as well as the allegations of mistreatment described by Meghan Markle, who along with her husband, Prince Harry, stepped back from royal duties in 2020, show the institution has failed to evolve with the times.

While he acknowledges that Canada’s Constitution is notoriously difficult to alter, he said change is inevitable, sooner or later. Quebec, where anti-Crown sentiment is fiercest, has been ready to move on for a long time, he added.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2022.


Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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