#CanadaParliament; #Covid19pandemicResponse; #FederalBudget
Ottawa/Canadian-Media: With Canada's House of Commons set to reconvene on Monday for the first time this year, it is still unclear if MPs will meet virtually with no members physically present in the Commons or whether they'll continue to follow last year's hybrid model.
House of Commons. Image credit: Twitter handle
"We have been having discussions with the other parties about the return of Parliament on Monday. Those discussions have been constructive," read a statement from the office of Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez.
The resuming of the Parliament on Monday amid the soaring COVID-19 pandemic in parts of the country would also see Ottawa's preparation for its first federal budget in two years.
In a panel interview on CBC Radio's The House, Conservative MP Michael Chong and Liberal MP Arif Virani debated over the priorities to be included in the budget over Canada's pandemic response.
"We need to see some action from this government," NDP deputy House leader Heather McPherson told The House in the same interview. "I mean, we have seen things like child care, we have seen things like pharmacare, over and over and over again in these Liberal throne speeches. But we haven't seen the action taken. If [the Liberals] continue to help deliver for Canadians, then we'll continue to work with them."
Chong said that his party is "looking for two measures in the upcoming budget that we believe is really important, one of which the government has indicated it's supportive of, and that is the changes to the Canada Child Benefit that would help Canadian families, particularly working women and single mothers," said Chong and added that his party is also looking for additional measures to help small businesses affected by the second wave of pandemic restrictions.
Liberal MP Arif Virani said he was looking b to immediately working to close a loophole in the federal sickness benefit that allows Canadians quarantining after personal travel to claim sick pay.
Virani, who is also the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, said the new Biden administration in the United States also changes what's on the government's to-do list.
"We've now got a co-operative administration that understands the importance of greening the planet," Virani said, "as well as working on issues that are germane to both of our nations."
These issues include a rise in systemic discrimination and online hate, the latter of which he's been tackling with Justice Minister David Lametti, said Virani.
"We're looking for progress on a number of files, but it starts with the pandemic and addressing the pandemic," he said.
#USPresident; #JoeBiden, #JustinTrudeau; #CommonIssues; #BIdenFirstOverseasCall
Ottawa/Canadian-Media: Canada PM Justin Trudeau spoke with newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden by phone on Friday various issues including the COVID-19 response, economic recovery, climate change, continental security, working with Indigenous peoples and international relations, according to a readout of the call from Trudeau's Office.
Trudeau On Phone with Biden. Image credit: screenshot
It was the first opportunity for Trudeau to build a new Canada-U.S. relationship with Biden.
When Trudeau expressed his disappointment with Biden's early move to effectively cancel the Keystone XL pipeline by revoking its permit, Biden acknowledged the hardship the decision would create in Canada.
Biden added that although the project was projected to carry some 800,000 barrels of oil per day from the tar sands of Alberta to several US states through Native American lands, he wanted to make a U-turn on the climate policy of former US President Donald Trump, and to make good on a campaign promise in restoring a decision made by the former Obama administration.
Biden also said he had reinstated the country to the Paris Agreement during his first of executive orders.
Trudeau and Biden also discussed another potential area of conflict between the two countries: Biden's commitment to including 'Buy American' provisions that privilege U.S. companies in future infrastructure spending plans.
Biden acknowledged the deep supply chain connections between the Canadian and the U.S. economies and assured Trudeau that Canadian officials would be consulted as the policy is developed, said the official said.
"Reflecting on the extraordinary and deeply interconnected economic relationship between the two countries, and with a view to promoting and protecting it, the Prime Minister and President agreed to consult closely to avoid measures that may constrain bilateral trade, supply chains, and economic growth,' the PMO readout said.
There was also an agreement between the two leaders to meet again next month, the readout said, but whether the meeting would be in-person or virtually was not specified in the readout.
#Canada; #PfizerVaccineDosesDelay; #Covid19Pandemic, #ProvincesHitHard
Ottawa/IBNS: After learning on Thursday from Pfizer, delays in COVID-19 vaccines' shipments would be even worse than previously thought, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, spoke to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla by phone on Thursday.
Pfizer vaccine. Image credit: Yahoo
Ontario Premier Doug Ford had already spoken to Pfizer Canada CEO Cole Pinnow on Wednesday.
Ford said earlier this week, that although he doesn't blame the federal government for delays of COVID-19 doses, he wanted Trudeau to do more to push back about it.
Until Thursday, all calls between the federal cabinet and Pfizer had been handled by Canada's Procurement Minister Anita Anand.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander now overseeing the vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada said Thursday that only 79,000 doses, one-fifth of what was once expected would be delivered in the first week of February.
Being unsure of what will follow the week after, Fortin said Canada's receipt of doses over three weeks is going to be just one-third of what had been planned.
Many provinces were forced to cancel vaccination appointments due to the delayed doses and reconsider timing for second doses.
Fortin said the delay in doses would hit some provinces harder than others because of limits on the way the Pfizer doses can be split up for shipping.
The delicacy of the vaccine requires ultra frozen temperature until shortly before injecting it.
These specialized coolers, with GPS thermal trackers, are packed and shipped directly to provincial vaccine sites.
Pfizer has promised, said Fortin, that a delay in delivery of doses would not affect the delivery of promised four million doses to Canada by the end of March
With the current known delivery schedule, said Fortin, the company will have to ship more than 3.1 million doses over 7 1/2 weeks to meet that commitment.
Last week Fortin had said that a factory expansion at Pfizer's Belgium plant was going to slow production, cutting Canada's deliveries over four weeks in half to enable Pfizer to ship hundreds of millions of more doses worldwide over the rest of 2021.
In the meantime, Canada has been Promised by Moderna to deliver two million doses by the end of March.
#CanadaGovGen; #JuliePayetteResigns; #WorkplaceHarrasement; #PrivyCouncilOffice
Canada/Canadian-Media: The revelation of a damaging 'toxic' workplace environment at Rideau Hall by the review of the completed report by an independent consulting firm hired by the Privy Council Office, led to the resignation of Canada's Governor General Julie Payette and her secretary, Assunta di Lorenzo on Thursday.
Julie Payette. Image credit: Twitter handle
During Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's meeting with Payette on Wednesday night to discuss the report's contents of toxic workplace harassment at Rideau Hall, Payette indicated her intention to resign,
Payette announced her departure in a media statement and apologized for what she called the "tensions" at Rideau Hall in recent months, saying that everyone has "a right to a healthy and safe work environment."
"While no formal complaints or official grievances were made during my tenure, which would have immediately triggered a detailed investigation as prescribed by law and the collective agreements in place, I still take these allegations very seriously," she said in the statement and added, "We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better and be attentive to one another's perceptions."
The launch of the unprecedented third-party review in July by the Privy Council Office was in response to a CBC News report when a nearly dozen public servants and former employees confidentially told CBC that Payette had belittled, and publicly humiliated Rideau Hall staff.
Payette's longtime friend and second-in-command, Di Lorenzo is also accused of bullying staff.
"Every employee in the Government of Canada has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and we will always take this very seriously," Trudeau said in a statement a. "Today's announcement provides an opportunity for new leadership at Rideau Hall to address the workplace concerns raised by employees during the review."
Richard Wagner, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada is reported to fulfill the duties of the Governor-General on an interim basis.
#StatisticsCanada; #ContactFreeCensus; #Covid19Pandemic
Canada/Canadian-Media: Statistics Canada said in a press release published this week that in its attempt to perform a contact-free or physically distanced census during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is looking to hire approximately 32,000 field staff to survey the Canadian population this spring.
Statistics Canada. Image credit: Twitter handle
Statistics Canada said that this would be the first time that it would be conducting a census in the middle of a public health emergency.
Every attempt will be made, said the agency to complete the census online, by phone, or on paper.
Only in the rare cases, where these methods are either unsuccessful, or unavailable, in-person interviews and door-to-door canvassing will be conducted, said the agency.
Demographic information on every person living in Canada would be collected by the census, said Statistics Canada to be used by governments, businesses, associations, community organizations, and others to facilitate them to make evidence-based decisions at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.
"More than ever, these data are necessary," said Geoff Bowlby, director-general of the 2021 census. "If you look at the current pandemic, the census data have been instrumental in determining how we should respond to the pandemic."
#Canada; #Covid19VaccineDelivery; #PfizerBioNTech
Canada/Canadian-Media: Pfizer-BioNTech's delivery of Covid 19 doses to Canada for the next week canceled, said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military
commander leading vaccine logistics for the federal government on Jan 19.
Image: Pfizer Covid19 vaccine. Image credit: Yahoo.com
Fortin said Canada would be receiving only get 82 percent of the expected vaccine doses for this week
On Jan 19, Pfizer had issued a public statement saying that the company is looking to ramp up vaccine production and deliver up to two billion doses over 2021.
"To accomplish this, certain modifications of production processes will be required," the company said. "Pfizer is scaling up manufacturing operations in our Puurs, Belgium manufacturing facility to increase dose availability and output and, as a result, there will be a temporary impact on some shipments until mid-February in order to quickly enable increased production volumes afterwards," and added that it anticipates to balanced the supply disruptions and be able to keep its delivery schedule for the first quarter of the year.
Fortin said that Canadians should expect only 50 percent of the promised Pfizer-BioNTech doses for the remainder of January.
During his daily briefings on Jan 19, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that although deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to Canada would be disrupted for a short-term, he is confident the country is on track to vaccinate every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated by September.
"This situation with the Pfizer delay is temporary. Our vaccination objectives for the first quarter of the year, January to March, are not changing," Trudeau said.
"The total number of doses committed to us is still the same," he said, adding that "every Canadian" who wants to be vaccinated will get the shot "by September."
Pfizer pausing its production lines, to temporarily reduce vaccine deliveries to Canada, minister says
#Ottawa; #Pfizer; #TemporaryReductionOfDosesToCanada; #AnitaAnand; #DanyFortin
Ottawa/Canadian-Media: Temporary reduction of shipments of its vaccine to Canada by Pfizer the global pharmaceutical giant, would further complicate the slow rollout of doses, said Anita Anand Public Services and Procurement Minister today in a public health briefing.
Pfizer vaccine. Image credit: Unsplash
Anand said she learnt last night that is due to Pfizer's pausing some production lines at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, in order to expand long-term manufacturing capacity.
"This expansion work means that Pfizer is temporarily reducing deliveries to all countries receiving vaccines manufactured at its European facility, and that includes Canada," Anand told reporters at a public health briefing.
"Pfizer believes that by the end of March it will be able to catch up, such that we will be on track for the total committed doses for Q1," she added, referring to the first quarter of the calendar year.
Anand stressed that this is a "temporary reduction" and not a "stoppage," and added,
"It's going to be temporary, it's not a loss, and we will make up those doses," she said, adding deliveries will be disrupted for "two or three weeks."
Canada's allotment will be reduced by 50 percent for four weeks as 400,000 doses have been pushed to a later date, and that Canada will experience the "most profound impact" during the week of Jan. 25, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics, said.
He said the shipment next week of roughly 208,000 doses will proceed as planned.
"As numbers increase, Pfizer indicated that they intend to offset the impact of their production dip," he said. "It will hurt in the short-term but ... the manufacturer is committed to the doses it has promised us."
The delay will allow the company to significantly scale up its manufacturing operations, a spokesperson for Pfizer Canada said, by producing up to 2 billion vaccine doses this year, — up from the previous target of 1.3 billion.
"As part of the normal productivity improvements to increase capacity, we must make modifications to the process and facility. Although this will temporarily impact shipments in late January and February, it will provide a significant increase in doses available for patients in late February and March," the spokesperson said.
Anand said the federal government still expects to receive roughly four million doses of the Pfizer product in the first three months of this year. Moderna is expected to deliver another two million doses of its vaccine.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured Canadians in his news conference today that the government's long-term goal of getting everyone who wants a shot vaccinated by the end of September would not be derailed by this delay.
"This kind of issue is out of our hands and that's why we pursued an aggressive procurement strategy in the first place," Trudeau said, adding Canada is not entirely dependent on Pfizer for shots.
Regulators at Health Canada are currently reviewing other promising vaccine candidates, such as those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical division, Janssen.
#Canada; #PHAC; #NewModeling; #Covid19VaccineRollout; #CommunityTransmission
Canada/Canadian-Media: Canada "remains on a rapid growth trajectory," which could lead to Canada's death toll increase to 2000 in the next 10 days according to to new modelling released by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and may soon exceed levels seen during the first peak.
Theresa Tam. Image credit: Screenshot
If people increase their contacts during a time of widespread community transmission, suggests the report, he number of daily COVID-19 cases could more than triple to 30,000
The modelers said that, based on current case counts, as many as 100,000 more people could contract the virus over the next week and a half, PHAC said.
"Quick, strong and sustained measures are needed to interrupt rapid growth and maintain COVID-19 control," PHAC said in its report. "Reducing COVID-19 activity is urgently needed as rollout of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines begins."
Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer told a news conference that the priority groups of high-risk Canadians being protected by vaccine rollout, will not have a big impact on the numbers in the short term.
"In terms of the national projections and the transmission in communities, you're not going to see that in the initial months, which is why I think our message ... is [to] absolutely get on with the public health measures," she said.
"Do all of those things, don't do non-essential travel. All that really counts. It works. And when you can suppress that projection, the vaccines have a longer runway."
Data which would impact on the numbers mid- and long-term by vaccine rollout is being determined government and external experts, said Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo and added,
"But at the present time, it's really difficult to say. There are so many factors involved. Even today, we're seeing issues in terms of vaccine supply, how vaccines are being rolled out across the country," he said.
"There's other factors in terms of the increasing rates of infection in various parts of the country. So there are many different factors in play."
Right now, the highest infection rates per 100,000 people is being reported are by Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec.
Saskatchewan's rate of active cases continues to be the highest in Canada for the fourth consecutive day.
As of Thursday, the rate of active cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan was 329 per 100,000 people. The national average is 207 per 100,000 people.
"Our case numbers have been going up," Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer said today during a news conference. "We're also the second-highest in Canada in terms of our average cases over the last seven days."
The province falls just behind Quebec.
According to the release of the latest modeling data by Saskatchewan, the forecast, shows the province could see around 900 new infections a day by Jan. 25 even if residents closely follow public health guidelines.
Adoption of stronger community level public health measures across Canada, since the holidays, and some areas have shown slow growth.
"However, we have yet to see the widespread and sustained declines in daily case counts that would indicate we are bringing the pandemic under control nationally," she said.
#Canada; #ModernaCovid19Vaccine; #InnoculationTimeline
Canada/Canadian-Media: The federal government of Canada's option not to opt to buy up to 16 million more doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine was conveyed by Canada's Procurement Minister Anita Anand's office to CBC News late Sunday, media reports said.
Moderna Covid19 Vaccine. Image credit: Facebook page
Initially in December it was announced by the federal government to exercise its option for an additional 20 million doses20 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, with an option to receive up to 56 million total were ordered by Ottawa.
The terms of these options have not been disclosed by the federal government of Canada.
The government has not disclosed the terms of those options. Canada doesn't need to approve additional vaccine candidates, said Anand Jan 10 to meet its goal of inoculating everyone who wants a COVID-19 shot by September and added that the target of inoculating could be reached ahead of schedule.
"We will be on track, without doubt, to ensure inoculations for all Canadians who want it by the end of September, if not sooner," Anand told CBC Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton.
"That is the goal that I am pursuing every single day, moving up that end of September timeline so that we can see ourselves through to the other side of this pandemic as quickly as possible," CBC News reported.
#CorrectionalServicesCanada; #Covid19VaccineRollout; #NACI
Canada/Canadian-Media: As per the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) announced that it is beginning vaccination of older, medically vulnerable federal inmates against COVID-19 as part of the first phase of the vaccine rollout.
Covid 19 Vaccine. Image credit: Pixaby
The rollout of vaccinations by CSC expects would begin to highest-risk inmates in federal correctional institutions starting on January 8, 2021 and is planning to vaccinate approximately 600 inmates in the first phase.
With the availability of further supply of the vaccines, it will eventually be offered to all federal inmates based on NACI prioritization guidance.
Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, CSC has an obligation to provide essential health care to federally incarcerated inmates and vaccines will be administered to federal inmates by CSC health care professionals.
CSC has been working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and has begun receiving doses of the Moderna vaccine, which was recently approved by Health Canada and are working closely with provinces to ensure vaccines are prioritized for these workers in the first phase.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, CSC has implemented rigorous infection prevention and control measures at its sites. Vaccines provide an additional measure to limit the spread of the virus and is key to further protect everyone.
“The health and safety of our employees, inmates, and the public is a top priority for the Correctional Service of Canada. This is very welcome news, as we know vaccines are a critical way to limit the spread of COVID-19. We will continue working with our public health partners, unions and stakeholders to roll out measures that help protect everyone during this public health pandemic,” Anne Kelly, CSC Commissioner.