Alberta ICU numbers hold steady as province surpasses 3,000 COVID-19 deaths

(From Oct. 19) Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates the COVID-19 situation in the province for Oct. 19, 2021.

The number of people in Alberta ICUs remained fairly steady Tuesday into Wednesday as the province continued to grapple with the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, there were 280 patients in Alberta ICUs. Of those, 203 were receiving care for COVID-19. That’s compared to 283 ICU patients on Tuesday, with 218 of those people receiving care for COVID-19.

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“While the number of patients in ICU fluctuates constantly, the number of patients in ICU has increased by 0.3 per cent over the past seven days,” Alberta Health Services said in an update Wednesday.

As of about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Calgary zone was operating at 67 per cent capacity, the Edmonton zone at 79 per cent capacity, the Central zone at 88 per cent capacity, the South zone at 67 per cent capacity and the North zone at 89 per cent capacity.

Alberta has a baseline of 173 ICU beds and has added 203 additional spaces to combat the surge in admissions.

On Wednesday, the province reported an additional 786 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed over the past 24 hours, bringing the active number of cases to 10,824.

The province conducted 12,114 COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours.

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An additional 18 deaths were reported to Alberta Health over the past day. There have been 3,006 COVID-19 deaths reported in Alberta to date.

As of Wednesday, 86.2 per cent of eligible Albertans over the age of 12 had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Of the same group, 77.9 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 317,750 Albertans have contracted COVID-19 and 303,920 have recovered.

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

Winnipeg Jets assign Cole Perfetti to the Manitoba Moose

The Winnipeg Jets returned home from a season-opening road trip without a win, or their team captain. And on Wednesday the Jets assigned rookie forward Cole Perfetti to the AHL Manitoba Moose.

Blake Wheeler entered NHL COVID-19 protocols on Monday and remained in the Twin Cities to self-isolate for the mandatory 10-day period after testing positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Perfetti made his NHL regular-season debut in last Wednesday’s 4-1 loss at Anaheim, playing 9:49 with no points, no shots and one hit.

Winnipeg’s 2020 first-round draft pick was also in uniform for the 4-3 loss at San Jose on Saturday, but was made a healthy scratch for the trip-ending 6-5 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

The Jets will host Anaheim in a rematch on Thursday night at 7 p.m. in their 2021-22 home opener at Canada Life Centre.

Read more:
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In the two games he dressed, Perfetti averaged just a touch under nine minutes of ice time and was a minus two.

The 19-year-old Whitby, Ont., native played 32 games for Manitoba last season and scored nine goals while adding 17 assists for 26 points.

Read more:
‘Dream come true’ day for Winnipeg Jets rookie Cole Perfetti

Perfetti also represented Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the IIHF men’s championship in Riga, Latvia and the silver medallists at the world junior tournament in Edmonton.

The Moose are wrapping up their own three-game season-opening road trip tonight in Laval after gaining a split of a weekend doubleheader in Toronto. Perfetti will join his AHL teammates for Manitoba’s home opener at Canada Life Centre on Friday night at 7 p.m. versus Grand Rapids.

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

Kingston's nighttime Santa Clause Parade cancelled for 2nd year in a row

Downtown Kingston announced Wednesday that this year’s nighttime Santa Clause Parade will not be going ahead. This is the second year in a row the parade is cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BIA said the decision was made after considerable consultation with KFL&A Public Health.

“We understand this is a beloved event; we are as disappointed as you that the event can not go forward, but we are already looking ahead to next year and making 2022’s Santa Parade the best ever,” the BIA said.

Read more:
Kingston’s 2020 Santa Claus parade cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns

This year, Downtown Kingston says it’s been crafting new winter programming that will be COVID-friendly.

This includes a downtown holiday market, light displays, Santa’s Village, with a “version of Santa” on display 24/7 for photo opportunities, winter patios and a Window Wonderland contest for downtown businesses.

Click here for a full list of the BIA’s winter programming.

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

Ontario invests $3.1M to boost staffing at Peterborough, Lakefield long-term care homes

Five Long-term care homes in the riding of Peterborough-Kawartha will share in more than $3.1 million of Ontario funding, the area’s MPP announced Wednesday.

The funding aims to boost staffing levels in order for residents to receive additional care time from personal staff and support workers. The government says Ontario long-term care residents currently receive an average of two hours and 45 minutes of direct care.

Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith says the new funding is part of a $270-million commitment in 2021-2022 to increase the daily average to three hours per resident per day by the end of the fiscal year.

Read more:
Ontario invests $4.2M to boost staffing at long-term care homes in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock

Continuing the commitment, Smith says it will translate into $18,043,200 more than what the homes would receive by 2024 with the goal of providing residents with an average of four hours of direct care.

“For too long, governments of all stripes have neglected and underfunded our long-term care system,” Smith said. “We have now seen all too painfully the results of that inaction. Today, that changes. $18,043,200 more in annual funding will hire thousands of new nurses, personal support workers, attendants and physiotherapists for homes across our community. Our seniors will see four hours of direct care every day by our hardworking health care professionals.”

Long-term care homes receiving funding for additional staffing for direct care for residents include:

  • Extendicare Inc. in Peterborough: $619,816. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $3,796,272 annually more than their current funding.
  • Fairhaven in Peterborough: $911,908. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $5,585,316 annually more than their current funding.
  • St. Joseph’s at Fleming in Peterborough: $712,434. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $4,363,536 annually more than their current funding.
  • Riverview Manor Nursing Home in Peterborough: $345,530. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $2,116,320 annually more than their current funding.
  • Extendicare Inc. in Lakefield: $356,212. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $2,181,756 annually more than their current funding.

Fairhaven executive director Lionel Towns says the funding will have “transformative effects” on the care provided in long-term care homes and on working conditions of staff.

Read more:
Ontario announces funds to hire more than 4,000 long-term care workers

Carl Rodd, CEO of St. Joseph’s at Fleming, echoed the sentiment.

“Our residents, their families, and our entire care team are pleased with the Ontario government’s commitment to increase funding for long-term care,” he said. “This funding will support a staffing model that will allow an increase in direct care time for each of our residents.”

Dawn Baldwin, administrator at Extendicare in Lakefield says staffing has been a long-standing challenge.

“Residents’ care needs have become increasingly complex, and this path to continued funding increases will make a real difference in delivery of safe, quality care for those we serve,” she said.

MaryAnne Greco, administrator of Riverview Manor Nursing Home, says more qualified staff means more daily care for residents.

“All of the funding is to be spent directly on nursing, personal care and programs, with any surplus returned to government,” she said.

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

Legault's take on what it means to be a 'historic' English-speaker in Quebec problematic some say

Quebec Premier François Legault’s use and definition of the term “historic English-speaking community” is cause for concern, according to some in the province’s anglophone community.

Legault used the term during his inaugural speech on Tuesday where he outlined his government’s priorities after proroguing the province’s legislature.

In his speech, Legault spoke of Bill 96, calling it the most important piece of legislation since Bill 101 to bolster the French language in Quebec.

“I want to speak to the historic English-speaking community of Quebec,” he began.

“You are an integral part of Quebec. As a historic community you have your own institutions — schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, the media. Canada’s francophone minorities dream of mastering so many institutions.”

He then added that no other minority in the country is better served than the English-speaking community in Quebec.

“And we are proud of that.”

Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade called his speech patronizing.

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), an English rights advocacy group, agreed.

“The reaction that I’m hearing from English-speaking Quebecers is that it was a self-serving few seconds,” said QCGN director general Sylvia Martin-Laforge, “speaking to us and telling us we were the best treated minority in Canada.”

She added there was no attempt at outreach.

“It was telling us who we are once again, who we are and what we should be,” Martin-Laforge said.

On Wednesday, during a press conference, the premier was asked to clarify what he meant by “historic English-speaking community.”

“It’s defined in the Bill 101,” Legault answered. “It’s people who learned English or went to English schools in Canada.”

The answer is problematic, according to Martin-Laforge, because it limits who is considered part of the English-speaking community.

“They have a policy expectation around a definition of what is a historic anglophone,” Martin-Laforge said.

Read more:
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The fear is that access to services could be curtailed for those who identify as part of the English-speaking community but don’t qualify as part of the “historic” community.

“In health care, as with any other service, that eliminates from three to five hundred thousand English-speaking Quebecers,” Martin-Laforge said.

When asked if a person coming to Quebec from Jamaica, for example, would be eligible to receive services in English in the health system, Legault sidestepped the question.

“Like it is right now, somebody coming from Jamaica even if they speak English, they have to send their children to French schools,” he said.

“Again, it’s a question of survival for French in Québec.”

Bill 96 has yet to be passed into law, with parliamentary hearings having wrapped up on Oct. 8.

The QCGN is asking for the bill to be withdrawn, arguing it will do nothing to promote and protect the French language in Quebec.

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

Growing number of trucker vacancies adds to 'tremendous' supply chain pressures

WATCH: There are about 20,000 vacant truck driver positions this year, but that number could double by 2023, according to Trucking HR Canada and the Canadian Trucking Alliance. The shortage is one of the contributing factors amplifying supply chain pressures, and some say that will only get worse as the holiday season looms. Callum Smith reports.

There are about 20,000 vacant truck driver positions this year, but that number could double by 2023, according to Trucking HR Canada and the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

While supply chain pressures aren’t new, the growing shortage is one of the many contributing factors, especially at this time of year.

The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association says the problem could get worse before it gets better.

Jean-Marc Picard, the executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, says more women and young people are needed in the industry.

Jean-Marc Picard, the executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, says more women and young people are needed in the industry.

Callum Smith / Global News file photo

“The supply chain is under tremendous pressure for different factors, and one of them is the driver shortage in trucking and the tightness of equipment,” says Jean-Marc Picard, the association’s executive director. “We’re getting close to the holidays here, so we’re probably going to see that even more exposed in the coming months.”

Picard says bringing more women and young people into the industry would help.

Recruitment is ongoing, but there are barriers.

One of the barriers is increased insurance rates for new drivers, while another is that they can’t drive in the U.S. until they’re 21.

Read more:
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But that’s not all. Just ask Art Jones, an owner-operator in the Moncton area for more than 30 years.

“In society in general, today, workers are not the same as before,” Jones, the owner of Road Wolf Trucking, says in an interview. “People like now to have more leisure time, people like to be home more.”

That’s something that doesn’t bode well with the typical demands of the industry, says the FedEx Ground contractor.

He says doing border drop-offs could be one way to alleviate that concern.

“If we leave Moncton today, and go to the Quebec border and do a switch with a guy from Montreal, you’re home tonight and he’s home tonight,” Jones says.

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He also says regulations also need to be streamlined because each province and state has its own.

The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association says some vessels are experiencing offload delay at U.S. ports, just another sign pressures are tightening.

Meanwhile, Picard says a looming challenge will be federal COVID-19 vaccination mandates for those who aren’t double-dosed.

He says truckers have similar vaccination levels to the general population; about 90 per cent with one shot and 80 per cent with two doses.

“You can’t lose drivers right now because of that,” he says. “It would just put too much pressure on the supply chain.”

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

COVID-19: Frustration that Kelowna's rink to stay at 50% capacity while others get full house

WATCH: The COVID-related capacity limits for many B.C. restaurants, bars and events are being lifted once proof of double-vaccination become mandatory on October 24th. Kamil Karamali reports.

Unless there’s a last-minute change of plans, the Kelowna Rockets won’t be allowed to fill the stands next week.

The province announced Tuesday that it was lifting the 50 per cent capacity restriction for hockey games and other indoor organized events as of Oct. 25 throughout much of B.C., but not Interior Health or parts of Northern health.

Interior Health communications staff said in an email that they expect to have an update on the status of restrictions in IH on Friday, but whether there will be a change remains to be seen.

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“The frustrating thing for me is that we were going beyond the government’s recommendation with rules for capacity and everybody having to show their vaccination cards a month before the province was,” Bruce Hamilton, Kelowna Rockets president and general manager, said.

“We have had no problems… I don’t understand why we can’t be the same as Vancouver or Victoria.”

Also, Hamilton pointed out that COVID-19 case numbers have continued to fall for weeks in the Central Okanagan.

Data from the BC CDC indicates that in the week spanning Oct. 3 to Oct. 9, there were 186 COVID-19 cases reported in the Central Okanagan. That’s a reduction of 16 per cent from the week earlier when there were 223 cases reported. It’s also 61 per cent fewer cases than the first week of September when the greater Kelowna area saw 478 cases.

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“From our perspective, we’re trying to work to find out why,” he said.

“Interior Health was great to work with when we had our hub, we did everything they asked us to do. And now we want an opportunity to get our business back and get the handcuffs off, safely.”

Hamilton pointed out that a significant number of the Rockets clientele are seniors, so ensuring their safety is a paramount concern and in the four games they’ve already held, there have been no problems.

So, he said, this has been surprising and disadvantageous to the overall downtown business community.

“March 11, two years ago, we were shut down and we never had a chance of opening until now,” he said, adding that casinos were in a similar position.

“We want to get back to operating and succeed and bring something back to the community. For a lot of people, this is their social life, and it helps the restaurant industry and downtown businesses 34 times a year.”

For areas like Vancouver, where restrictions have been lifted starting Oct. 25, capacity limits will end for indoor sporting events, indoor concerts, theatres, movie theatres, dance and symphony events, and indoor organized events and gatherings. Organized events include wedding receptions, organized parties and conferences.

“You go in and experience in the way that is safest for everyone. I am confident this will be a measure that will not increase risk and we will monitor it over time,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

The indoor mask requirement will remain in effect at all venues.

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

Thousands of N.B. health workers unvaccinated as provincial deadline looms

WATCH: The latest numbers from Horizon and Vitalite Health Networks indicate more than 3,000 of their workers are not fully vaccinated. The provincial government says workers must be vaccinated by Nov. 19 or be placed on unpaid leave. Tim Roszell reports.

It’s getting down to the crunch for New Brunswick government employees to either get vaccinated against COVID-19 or be placed on unpaid leave.

The province has set a deadline of Nov. 19 for workers to be fully vaccinated. Workers include school staff and volunteers, early childhood and child care providers, health and long-term care workers, among others.

Figures obtained by Global News suggest thousands of health and long-term care workers could be off the job next month without a sharp rise in vaccinations.

READ MORE: Distribution of COVID-19 rapid tests cut short in New Brunswick

Horizon Health Network said, as of Wednesday, 85.56 per cent of its 13,000 health-care workers have been fully vaccinated while another 1.95 per cent have had one dose. That leaves 12.49 per cent – roughly 1,623 workers – who have not been vaccinated at all.

Vitalité Health Network said 83 per cent of its 8,000 health-care workers are fully vaccinated, with another four per cent having had one shot. Thirteen per cent have not been vaccinated, which translates to 1,040 workers.

When added together, the single-dose and unvaccinated numbers show more than 3,000 health network workers who are not fully vaccinated. With the deadline less than a month away, those seeking a first dose would need to get it in the next couple of days to allow for the necessary waiting period between the two shots, or risk being placed on leave.

Long-term care is governed by the Department of Social Development.

Minister Bruce Fitch said the vaccination rate among long-term care workers was at around 60 per cent in July, but has risen steadily since.

Still, he said there are 300-700 workers who are not fully vaccinated, “depending on who you include in the numbers.”

Fitch said his department is working on contingency plans to deal with possible staffing issues.

READ MORE: Unvaccinated New Brunswicker says he’s running out of options with career on the line

“We’ve seen things such as Red Cross hiring additional people,” Fitch said. “There’s a number of different (contingencies) and some are obvious. (I) hope we don’t get to the point where, again, we have to ask people to come and pick up their loved ones. That would be the worst-case scenario.”

Fitch said there is no appetite to extend the deadline despite at least one request to do so.

“We need to have everyone vaccinated and that date is almost a month away, or just about a month away,” Fitch said. “And people have time to get their vaccination.”

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

Blue Grotto Nightclub in Kamloops, B.C. warns of COVID-19 exposure after positive cases

A COVID-19 situation is developing at the Blue Grotto Nightclub in downtown Kamloops, B.C., after a concert on Thursday, Oct. 14.

As of Wednesday, Oct. 20, the nightclub says three out of 51 attendees and four out of 13 band members have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Blue Grotto said that five staff members are being tested on Wednesday and the business encourages anyone who attended the Belvedere show and is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate and get testes as soon as possible.

Read more:
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“This is not an announcement to be taken lightly,” the Blue Grotto stated.

“We had 56 vaccinated people in for a four-hour show, seated and mask protocols followed. As for the status of the club, we will be reaching out to Interior Health for advice.”

The Blue Grotto emphasizes that the COVID-19 situation is likely, or able, to change.

Read more:
Downtown Kelowna nightclub listed for potential COVID-19 exposure

Interior Health said that no outbreak is being declared at Blue Grotto at this time.

“Interior Health does not provide specific details about individual cases — including locations — unless there are broader exposure risks. If there is a broader risk to other individuals or the community, Interior Health will issue a public notification. A public exposure is listed on this page when a public health investigation indicates that contact tracing has not been able to reach people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.”

Interior Health says anyone at risk of exposure to any case will be contacted directly by public health contact tracers.

A list of public exposures in Interior Health can be viewed online.

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

Toronto launching info campaign for parents ahead of COVID-19 vaccinations for children

Toronto Public Health is rolling out resources to help parents of young children prepare for the approval of COVID-19 shots.

The city’s top doctor says clinics for children aged five to 11 are being considered at mass vaccination sites, community clinics and schools.

Dr. Eileen De Villa says she’s hopeful vaccines will be approved for that age group in the coming weeks and the city is in planning mode with partners at pharmacies, hospitals, doctors’ offices and schools.

The city is also launching a toolkit for parents and guardians to share reliable information about COVID-19 vaccination and address questions about the shots.

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De Villa says the city will be running town halls and information sessions for parents in the coming weeks.

Her comments came days after Pfizer-BioNTech asked Health Canada to approve its COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11 — a request the regulator has said it will prioritize reviewing.

Shots can be offered to that age group once the regulator gives the green light.

De Villa says vaccination of children is a well-established practice that has become “clouded” through social media during the pandemic.

“It is important that those with questions are able to get reliable answers to them to fully understand the protection that comes with vaccination,” she said at a Wednesday news conference. “The vaccination of children aged five to 11 is safe, protective and necessary.”

De Villa said while it’s typically true that children don’t experience COVID-19 illness the same way adults do, “it is not guaranteed,” citing figures from Alberta that showed intensive care admissions among children had risen by 23 per cent since last month.

She also noted that infections among children can spread to others who are vulnerable to severe illness.

“If you have a child who will become eligible for vaccination in the coming weeks, please get them vaccinated,’ she said.

“You are protecting them, you are protecting your family and yourself and you are protecting grandparents and elders who could become sick.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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