Tag Archives: plan

Biden to announce $2-trillion infrastructure plan that would transform U.S. economy

U.S. President Joe Biden wants $ 2 trillion US to re-engineer America’s infrastructure and expects the nation’s corporations to pay for it.

The president travels to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to unveil what would be a hard-hatted transformation of the U.S. economy as grand in scale as the New Deal or Great Society programs that shaped the 20th century.

White House officials say the spending over eight years would generate millions of new jobs as the country shifts away from fossil fuels and combats the perils of climate change. It is also an effort to compete against the technology and public investments made by China, the world’s second-largest economy and fast gaining on the United States’ dominant position.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the plan is “about making an investment in America — not just modernizing our roads or railways or bridges but building an infrastructure of the future.”

Biden’s choice of Pittsburgh for unveiling the plan carries important economic and political resonance. He not only won Pittsburgh and its surrounding county to help secure the presidency, but he launched his campaign there in 2019.

The city famed for steel mills that powered America’s industrial rise has steadily pivoted toward technology and health care, drawing in college graduates from western Pennsylvania in a sign of how economies can change.

Mostly aimed at transportation

The Democratic president’s infrastructure projects would be financed by higher corporate taxes — a trade-off that could lead to fierce resistance from the business community and thwart any attempts to work with Republicans lawmakers.

Biden hopes to pass an infrastructure plan by summer, which could mean relying solely on the slim Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate.


Construction workers are pictured on the northeast cables of New York’s George Washington Bridge, which is undergoing a multi-year reconstruction. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

The White House says the largest chunk of the proposal includes $ 621 billion for roads, bridges, public transit, electric vehicle charging stations and other transportation infrastructure. The spending would push the country away from internal combustion engines that the auto industry views as an increasingly antiquated technology.

Another $ 111 billion would go to replace lead water pipes and upgrade sewers. Broadband internet would blanket the country for $ 100 billion. Separately, $ 100 billion would upgrade the power grid to deliver clean electricity. Homes would be retrofitted, schools modernized, workers trained and hospitals renovated under the plan, which also seeks to strengthen U.S. manufacturing.

Could spur economy

The new construction could keep the economy running hot, coming on the heels of Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package — economists already estimate it could push growth above six per cent this year.

Separately, Biden will propose in the coming weeks a series of soft infrastructure investments in child care, family tax credits and other domestic programs, another expenditure of roughly $ 2 trillion to be paid for by tax hikes on wealthy individuals and families, according to people familiar with the proposal.

Funding the first $ 2 trillion for construction and “hard” infrastructure projects would be a hike on corporate taxes that would raise the necessary sum over 15 years and then reduce the deficit going forward, according to a White House outline of the plan.

Biden would undo the signature policy achievement of the Trump administration by lifting the corporate tax rate to 28 per cent from the 21 per cent rate set in a 2017 overhaul.

To keep companies from shifting profits overseas to avoid taxation, a 21 per cent global minimum tax would be imposed. The tax code would also be updated so that companies could not merge with a foreign business and avoid taxes by moving their headquarters to a tax haven. And among other provisions, it would increase IRS audits of corporations.

Critics take aim

White House officials led by National Economic Council director Brian Deese offered a private briefing Tuesday for top lawmakers in both parties. But key GOP and business leaders are already panning the package.

“It seems like President Biden has an insatiable appetite to spend more money and raise people’s taxes,” Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the GOP whip, said in an interview.

Scalise predicted that, if approved, the new spending and taxes would “start having a negative impact on the economy, which we’re very concerned about.”

The business community favours updating U.S. infrastructure, but it dislikes higher tax rates. An official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who insisted on anonymity to discuss the private talks said the organization fears the proposed tax hikes could undermine the gains from new infrastructure.

The Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs, would rather have infrastructure funded with user fees such as tolls.

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CBC | World News

Canada and New Zealand both have hot housing markets, but only 1 has plan to cool things down

The idea that Canadian residential real estate prices are rising at an unsustainable pace is no longer just a subject for Twitter rants and COVID-era chats with family. The international media are paying attention.

The New York Times described “a soon-to-burst real estate bubble.” Reuters declared “Canada’s red-hot housing market has become a bonfire.”

But while many Canadians worry, the government of New Zealand — a country often likened to Canada for its soaring home prices — is attempting a solution by making it harder to get a mortgage. There’s little doubt Bank of Canada officials are keeping a close eye on the New Zealand experience. There are some here who say we should follow suit.

Asked directly at his most recent news conference last month whether Canada would adopt the New Zealand plan, Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem appeared dismissive, implying getting the economy back on track after the pandemic recession was more important.

Economy needs growth

“Do we need measures right now with respect to housing?” said Macklem. “Right now, the economy is weak, we’re just out of the second wave. I think we need the support — we need the growth we can get.”

Just before that news conference, Macklem had told an Alberta audience there were “early signs” of overheating in the residential property market as some people seemed to be buying based on the assumption prices would continue to rise. However, much of the pressure was also due to people looking for more space during COVID-19 lockdown measures, he said.

Monday’s latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association will offer a fresh reading on whether the property boom is slowing.

Later today, the Bank of Canada is expected to announce it is holding interest rates steady at record lows, something critics here and in New Zealand say has helped inflame house prices, and not just in big cities. With signs the global economy is heating up, those concerns may intensify.


New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern received global kudos for trouncing the spread of COVID-19. Now, the country is trying to avoid the possibility of a property meltdown. (Praveen Menon/Reuters)

It is the fear of speculative investment in housing — based on high demand, low rates and rising prices — that has prompted action from the New Zealand government and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ), the Kiwi equivalent of the Bank of Canada.

After COVID-19, “the availability of affordable housing — that was the No. 2 issue identified as being most important,” national pollster Emanuel Kalafatelis told Radio New Zealand last weekend.

But, for the central bank, a more important concern is the effect on the entire economy if house prices are allowed to continue to soar only to come crashing down once interest rates begin to rise.

“We are now concerned about the risk a sharp correction in the housing market poses for financial stability,” RBNZ deputy governor Geoff Bascand said last month. “There is evidence of a speculative dynamic emerging with many buyers becoming highly leveraged.”

Fear of property ‘fire sales’

In an attempt to prevent a speculative bubble from growing, the RBNZ raised the minimum required for mortgage down payments on March 1, and will raise them again on May 1, including even stricter borrowing requirements for investors.

“A growing number of highly indebted borrowers, especially investors, are now financially vulnerable to house price corrections and disruptions to their ability to service the debt,” said Bascand, who is also in charge of financial stability at the central bank. “Highly leveraged property owners, in particular investors, are more prone to rapid ‘fire sales’ that potentially amplify any downturn.”

As of May, most buyers who plan to live in their home will be required to provide a down payment of 20 per cent. Investors will need to put down 40 per cent.

WATCH | Rising demand for single-family homes during pandemic: 

New numbers for Vancouver-area real estate highlight a trend seen in cities across Canada: an increased demand especially for single-family homes. The conditions created by the pandemic have persuaded some families to redirect their spending toward housing. 1:58

Jordan Dupuis, a New Zealander who came to Canada to complete a master’s degree in political science and stayed here to work, sees many parallels between the two countries, including prohibitive prices for young people who don’t already have a stake in the real estate market. Unlike Canada, New Zealand banned most foreigners from buying in its housing market back in 2018.

Dupuis, who lives in Toronto, said housing affordability seems to have become more of an issue in New Zealand. However, there’s a similar large “gap between average incomes and the average house price,” he said. Here in Canada, Dupuis used to own a house but sold it in favour of renting.

“The prospect for getting back into the market is very difficult right now,” he said.

No easy fix

Garth Turner, a business journalist, financial adviser and former federal cabinet minister who has long been critical of Canada’s heated housing market, says he believes this country will eventually be forced to follow New Zealand’s lead.

“We’re going to have to do something about this because the average family can no longer afford the average house, not just in Toronto and Vancouver, but in Owen Sound and Squamish and Halifax,” said Turner, author of a book and blog titled Greater Fool: The Troubled Future of Real Estate, where he warns about a potential sharp decline in real estate prices.

So far, the great property crash has not happened in Canada, but Turner says with prices and borrowing climbing ever higher, an eventual rise in rates could have the kind of effect the RBNZ is worried about in New Zealand.

“This is a ticking time bomb in Canadian society right now,” Turner said in an interview.

One of the problems with the New Zealand plan is that while it may act to calm the soaring market, higher down payments are one more barrier making it difficult for young buyers to get a home of their own.

As Jordan Dupuis observed, whether in New Zealand or in Canada, putting a lid on home prices when interest rates are so low, when everyone wants a little more space and people with money are willing to bid prices up, is not a trivial task.

“If it had an easy fix, we would have fixed it by now,” he said.

Follow Don Pittis on Twitter @don_pittis

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CBC | World News

Ontario reveals more details on COVID-19 vaccination plan, but most won’t get a reservation for months

An online portal for booking appointments for COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario is set to launch on March 15, the head of the province’s immunization task force said Wednesday, but it will likely be months longer before many people are able to get a reservation.

The announcement from retired general Rick Hillier comes as members of the general public in both Alberta and Quebec will be able to start booking appointments this week.

Hillier said the delay in launching Ontario’s version is because the focus until that point will be on populations that don’t require an appointment, such as patient-facing health-care workers and essential caregivers for long-term care residents.

“I would have liked to have it earlier, quite frankly,” Hillier told reporters, adding that health authorities are working “furiously” to test the system.

When the online portal, along with a telephone booking system, launch in March, Ontarians aged 80 and over will be the next priority. Hillier cautioned that anyone who is not in that age group, or who is not trying to make a reservation for a person in the 80-plus age group, will not be able to book an appointment in the weeks that follow.

Officials expect to begin vaccinating people 80 years and over by the third week of March. 

The proposed schedule in the following weeks, Hillier said, will look something like this as long as supplies of vaccine stay steady:

  • April 15: vaccinations begin for people 75 years old and over.
  • May 1: vaccinations begin for people 70 years old and over.
  • June 1: vaccinations begin for people 65 years and over.
  • July 1: vaccinations begin for people 60 years and over.

Essential workers, meanwhile, should begin getting their shots the first week in May, Hillier said, with the final decision about who qualifies in that category still to come from cabinet. The task force has already submitted its recommendations, he added.

Hillier wouldn’t say when those 60 years old and under who are not essential workers should expect to start getting shots. 

“A great question, we don’t need to answer it right now. Early summer is when we might be able to discuss that issue,” Hillier said.

WATCH | Retired general Rick Hillier on Ontario’s vaccine rollout timeline:

Ontarians aged 80 and over will be able to get their COVID-19 vaccinations in the third week of March, said retired general Rick Hillier, the head of Ontario’s vaccine task force as he outlined a series of dates for the vaccine rollout. 1:07

He also did not provide even a rough timeline for when people under 60 with underlying medical conditions or those living in higher-risk neighbourhoods might expect to be given a first dose of vaccine.

Hillier did say, however, that where Ontarians can expect to get a shot will be based on their postal code. They will be delivered through a combination of mass vaccination clinics, community centre programs pharmacies.

Asked why Ontario’s platform wasn’t launched sooner considering Alberta and Quebec residents will be booking vaccines imminently, Ford said at a news conference Wednesday that he respectfully disagrees the province is lagging behind.

Ford pointed to Alberta’s system crashing Wednesday on its first day of operations and said Quebec hasn’t administered a single second dose of the vaccine thus far.  

In a series of tweets, Dr. Isaach Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and member of the task force, said that primary care providers will help staff vaccination sites and will eventually be able to offer shots at their own clinics once additional vaccines are approved for use by Health Canada.

Several options on the horizon are more stable than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently available, Bogoch said. Approval of further vaccines could “significantly speed up” the rough timeline offered by Hillier.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford watches a health-care worker prepare a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Each public health unit will eventually be expected to give out up to 10,000 doses per day, though some larger health units should be doing considerably more, Bogoch said. For example, Toronto Public Health expects to have capacity for up to 400,000 shots per week, with most administered at nine mass vaccination sites, he added. 

As of Feb.14, all residents of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes — generally defined as those that provide memory care — who wanted a vaccine had been given their first shot.

So far the province has administered a total of 602,848 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and 251,590 people have gotten both doses.

At a news conference Wednesday, Ford also announced Ontario will spend $ 115 million to provide tuition-free training to 6,000 prospective personal support workers. The programs, which are set to be up and running in April, will consist of paid placements with students completing in six months, rather than eight.

The government will also provide approximately $ 2,000 in financial assistance to some 2,200 students already completing studies in the PSW fields. 

Asked if the province will move to institute paid sick days for PSWs, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s minister of long-term care, didn’t answer directly. 

1,054 new cases of COVID-19

The news comes as Ontario reported another 1,054 cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths of people with the illness Wednesday morning. 

The additional cases include 363 in Toronto, 186 in Peel Region and 94 in York Region. 

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:

  • Simcoe Muskoka: 53
  • Windsor-Essex: 50
  • Thunder Bay: 45
  • Waterloo Region: 44
  • Ottawa: 40
  • Hamilton: 38
  • Durham Region: 35
  • Halton Region: 26
  • Niagara Region: 13
  • Middlesex-London: 10

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.)

The Ministry of Education also reported 112 school-related cases: 89 students, 18 staff members and five people who were not identified. As of yesterday, 16 of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly-funded schools were closed due to COVID-19.

Ontario’s lab network completed 54,852 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and logged a test positivity rate of 2.4 per cent. 

The seven-day average of new daily cases rose to 1,084. A steep drop in the seven-day average that began on Jan. 12 has levelled out.

According to the Ministry of Health, there were 675 people in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19 as of yesterday. Of those, 287 were being treated in intensive care and 182 needed a ventilator.

The nine deaths reported today bring Ontario’s official toll to 6,893. 

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CBC | Health News

‘Our plan is working,’ Trudeau says amid new vaccine delays

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that he understands why there is a “tremendous amount of anxiety” among Canadians with the constant flow of bad news about the inoculation campaign, but he doubled down on his promise to deliver six million shots by the end of March.

Trudeau asked Canadians to tune out the “noise” from some circles about the sorry state of the country’s vaccine efforts, saying the temporary “ups and downs” may be frustrating to “some people,” but they’re just that — temporary.

Speaking to reporters outside Rideau Cottage, Trudeau said he has been in regular contact with executives at three of the pharmaceutical companies that are supplying Canada with shots.

The two principal suppliers, Moderna and Pfizer, have assured him that they will still meet their contractual obligations to send six million shots, combined, despite dramatic declines in shipments over the last month, Trudeau said.

“I want to reassure Canadians that we’re on track,” he said, adding that as many as 20 million more doses will start to arrive in the spring as the federal government keeps its sights on vaccinating all people who want a shot by the end of September.

Asked if Canada had any legal recourse if the companies don’t meet their contractual obligations, Trudeau didn’t answer. Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos also declined to comment Friday on the government’s legal options if the companies fail to meet delivery targets for the first quarter of this year.

The two companies are grappling with manufacturing issues at their plants in Europe that have severely disrupted deliveries to markets outside the U.S. Inside the U.S. both companies are producing vaccines exclusively for the American market. 

While Canada’s Moderna supply will be curtailed this month — public health officials have conceded that they have no idea just how much product will arrive.

Meanwhile shipments in the U.S. have increased by about 35 per cent in the last week as Moderna looks to fulfil its obligations to a government that partially funded vaccine development.

AstraZeneca awaits green light

Trudeau said the pending approval of other promising vaccine candidates will be a much-needed jolt to the stalled vaccination campaign — Canada now ranks 33rd worldwide for shots administered per capita — and he spoke with the CEO of AstraZeneca this week, who told him vaccines would follow shortly after Health Canada’s green light.

Canada passed on the domestic manufacturing rights to that product, so the shipments will come from the company’s factories abroad. Canada has ordered up to 20 million doses of that product, which is already in use in Europe and the United Kingdom.

More than 1.2 million shots have already been delivered in Canada so far, with an estimated 1.3 million more shots slated to arrive this month.

That means more than 3.5 million shots have to be delivered in the month of March alone — some 885,000 a week — to meet the prime minister’s promised vaccination target, a daunting task for the country’s public health system. Trudeau said the country is now preparing for the onslaught of hundreds of thousands of shots.

“Our plan is working,” Trudeau said in French. “Temporary shipment delays are a hurdle but one that we were ready for.”

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CBC | Health News

How all-Canadian division coaches, players plan to guard against predictability this season

A degree of contempt is expected to grow between the seven teams in the NHL’s all-Canadian North Division, but the number of times the clubs play each will also breed some familiarity.

The shortened NHL season has each team playing a 56-game schedule within its division. Some of the Canadian clubs will see each other nine or 10 times.

During a 14-day stretch within the first month, the Vancouver Canucks will face the Montreal Canadiens five times, with a three-game series against Ottawa squeezed into the same period.

The Winnipeg Jets will face the Calgary Flames four times in the first nine days of February.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo ranks the all-Canadian division:

For the first time, all 7 Canadian teams will be in one division. Rob Pizzo predicts which four will make the playoffs. 5:47

Most players and coaches agree the games will have a playoff feel about them, but teams will also have to guard against becoming predictable.

“For all the teams you are going to have to come up with different sort of strategies and ways to mix things up, especially when you are seeing a team three times in a row,” said Flames captain Mark Giordano. “Little things like the way you kill penalties or the way you are on the power play, the way your faceoffs are drawn up. Teams are going to be able to scout that.

“You are going to have to change things up and have a lot of different plays in your book. It’s going to be exciting.”

Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice said having a Canadian division is “going to be fantastic. The message boards are going to be awesome, funny as hell.”

It also means coaches will be tested on their ability to make subtle changes without completely deviating from their schemes.

“You have to be real careful about how many times you are going to change your grip on your golf club because you are going to get a different trajectory every time,” Maurice said. “You have to play well, play hard, but I do agree you are going to have to be fairly creative in how you approach the game.”

Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green said teams are constantly adjusting for opponents.

“There are wrinkles that you throw into your team for a game, but there are certain things, certain staples that every team has that [indicates] how they play,” he said. “You don’t want to go change your whole system from game to game.

“I think it’s perfecting a system that works for your team. There are different things [you can do], faceoff plays, on special teams, certain things you can change.”

‘Different for everybody’

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid said players will have to adapt.

“You’re going to have to learn on the fly,” he said. “It’s going to be different for everybody.”

Vancouver forward Brock Boeser said the schedule reminds him of his college days playing for the University of North Dakota.

“You have to learn from game to game,” Boeser said. “You watch film, you have to adjust to what you didn’t do right in the game before and make sure you don’t make those mistakes again.”

WATCH | NHL season begins amid rising COVID-19 cases:

The NHL season returned to the ice on Wednesday with many questioning if it was the right decision amid rising COVID-19 cases. The league is hoping the season will go off without a hitch, as businesses that rely on the games are looking for ways to save their bottom line. 2:01

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said reducing the number of opponents will make coaches focus.

“It allows you to just zero in on a very small number of opponents, you get to know them very well,” he said. “It frees up so much more time just to focus on our own team.”

Edmonton’s Dave Tippett said the compressed schedule will keep coaches concentrating.

“Sometimes you get into the regular season, games flow into each other,” he said. “Every game [now] is going to be so important. The competition is going to be stiff.

“I think it’s going to be a playoff mindset coaches are really going to dig into. It’s going to push coaches to be better.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo breaks down 9 NHL talking points:

Rob Pizzo identifies the key things to watch as the season begins. 1:54

Vancouver forward Antoine Roussel, one of the Canucks who plays the game with an edge, said scores will be quickly settled.

“It’s going to be more edgy every night,” he said. “You see the same guys all the time.

“If something happens in game one . . . in game two you may have to answer the bell. The emotion and the fire in the games are going to step up, maybe linger longer.”

Playing more games against teams from the East will also give more exposure to young Canuck stars like Elias Pettersson and Quin Hughes.

“I don’t think our guys sometimes get the attention they deserve,” Roussel said. “They could be in better position to market themselves as the best players in the league.”

Vancouver forward Tanner Pearson said the shortened season means teams must always keep an eye on the standings.

“It’s going to be different for a points race,” he said. “You always talk about a four-point game when you play a division team. Now it’s more crucial than ever.”

WATCH | NHL world honours Willie O’Ree on MLK Day:

Sixty-three years after Willie O’Ree became the first black player in an NHL game, the league paid tribute to him on Martin Luther King Jr. Day even though many say the league is still struggling with diversity issues. 2:00

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CBC | Sports News

Biden unveils $1.9 trillion plan to get COVID-19 under control in U.S.

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden unveiled a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus plan Thursday to turn the tide on the pandemic, speeding up the vaccine rollout and providing financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses struggling with the prolonged economic fallout.

Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring.

Speaking from Wilmington, Del., Thursday evening, Biden said that “this will be on the most challenging operational efforts we have ever undertaken as a nation” but that “we will have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated.”

On a parallel track, it would deliver another round of aid to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic, said aides who described the plan ahead of Biden’s speech.

It includes $ 1,400 cheques for most Americans, which on top of $ 600 US provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill would bring the total to the $ 2,000 US that Biden has called for. The plan would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September.

And it shoehorns in long-term Democratic policy aims such as increasing the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children. The last item would make it easier for women to go back to work, which in turn would help the economy recover.

The political outlook for the legislation remained unclear.


U.S. president-elect Joe Biden speaks about his plan to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic during an event at the Queen Theater, on Thursday, in Wilmington, Del. (Matt Slocum/The Associated Press)

Narrow margins in House, Senate

In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer praised Biden for including liberal priorities, saying they would move quickly to pass it. But Democrats have narrow margins in both chambers of Congress and Republicans will push back on issues that range from increasing the minimum wage to providing more money for states, while demanding inclusion of their priorities, such as liability protection for businesses.

“Remember that a bipartisan $ 900 billion #COVID19 relief bill became law just 18 days ago,” tweeted Republican Sen. John Cornyn.

The emergency legislation would be paid for with borrowed money, adding to trillions in debt the government has already incurred to confront the pandemic. Aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Biden will make the case that the additional spending and borrowing is necessary to prevent the economy from sliding into an even deeper hole. Interest rates are low, making debt more manageable.

Biden has long held that economic recovery is inextricably linked with controlling the coronavirus. “Our work begins with getting COVID under control,” he declared in his victory speech. “We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality or relish life’s most precious moments until we get it under control.”


People wait in cars for a vaccination against the coronavirus at a new ‘vaccination superstation,’ on Monday, in San Diego, Calif. (Gregory Bull/The Associated Press)

$ 400B to combat pandemic

The plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

Under Biden’s multipronged strategy, about $ 400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic, while the rest is focused on economic relief and aid to states and localities.

About $ 20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $ 8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centres and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.

The plan provides $ 50 billion to expand testing, which is seen as key to reopening most schools by the end of the new administration’s first 100 days. About $ 130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen without risking further contagion.

The plan would fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers, to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on tracing the contacts of those infected with the coronavirus.

Call for Americans to mask, avoid gatherings

There’s also a proposal to boost investment in genetic sequencing, to help track new virus strains including the more contagious variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Throughout the plan, there’s a focus on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not shortchanged on vaccines and treatments, aides said.

With the new proposals comes a call to redouble efforts on the basics.


A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Englewood Health in Englewood, N.J., on Thursday. (Seth Wenig/The Associated Press)

Biden is asking Americans to override their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks, practising social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings, particularly larger ones. 

Biden’s biggest challenge will be to “win the hearts and minds of the American people to follow his lead,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician.

With the backing of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration has delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way. Yet a month after the first shots were given, the nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start with about 10.3 million people getting the first of two shots, although more than 29 million doses have been delivered.

Biden believes the key to speeding that up lies not only in delivering more vaccine but also in working closely with states and local communities to get shots into the arms of more people. The Trump administration provided the vaccine to states and set guidelines for who should get priority for shots, but largely left it up to state and local officials to organize their vaccination campaigns.

“This is going to entail coordination at all levels, as well as resources,” said Dr. Nadine Gracia, executive vice president of the nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health. “There is a commitment the [incoming] administration has articulated to address the needs of communities.”

Biden has set a goal of administering 100 million shots in his first 100 days. The pace of vaccination is approaching one million shots a day, but 1.8 million a day would be needed to reach widespread or “herd” immunity by the summer, according to a recent estimate by the American Hospital Association. Wen says the pace should be even higher — closer to three million a day.

It’s still unclear how the new administration will address the issue of vaccine hesitancy, the doubts and suspicions that keep many people from getting a shot. Polls show it’s particularly a problem among Black Americans. “It’s important to acknowledge the reasons why it exists and work to earn trust and build vaccine confidence in communities,” said Gracia.

Next Wednesday, when Biden is sworn in as president, marks the anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States.

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CBC | World News

CD Projekt Red Denies Any Plan to Offer Refunds for Cyberpunk 2077

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Earlier this week, CD Projekt Red released a lengthy statement in which it acknowledged many console players were upset with the game and appeared to offer refunds to any console gamer who was unhappy with the title.

Today, the company took it all back and blamed gamers for “misconceptions.” The SVP of business development, Michal Nowakowski, stated that the only refund CDPR was referring to were the various refund policies offered by Microsoft and Sony. He’s quite clear about it. Also, it’s all your fault for thinking CDPR actually was going to refund their game in the first place.

Anyone who has purchased any title on the PlayStation network or the Microsoft storefront can ask for a refund, and if it’s made within certain boundaries, usually related to time, usage and so on, can ask for that refund. Our procedure here with Microsoft and Sony is not different than with any other title released on any of those storefronts. I want to state that clearly, as there seem to be certain misconceptions.

One small point I’d like to draw your attention to: Nowakowski didn’t actually describe the Sony’s refund policy. Not really. Anyone can request a refund, but they almost certainly won’t get it. Sony will only give you your money back if you request a refund within 14 days and haven’t downloaded the game. Microsoft is supposedly more forgiving on this issue, but the company’s documentation only says that “we consider a variety of factors like time since date of purchase, time since release, and use of the product.”

Regardless, the PS4 outsold the Xbox by at least 2:1 last generation, meaning the overwhelming majority of console players are playing the game on the PS4. The comment above is not an accurate description of Sony’s return policies. It’s a description that would fit the PC world perfectly, however, and one wonders if there aren’t certain misconceptions about the difference between PCs and consoles floating in the halls of CD Projekt Red.

‘Certain Misconceptions’

Let’s examine CDPR’s original statement on this topic:

We would appreciate it if you would give us a chance, but if you are not pleased with the game on your console and don’t want to wait for updates, you can opt to refund your copy. For copies purchased digitally, please use the refund system of PSN or Xbox respectively. For boxed versions, please first try to get a refund at the store where you bought the game. Should this not be possible, please contact us at helpmerefund@cdprojektred.com and we will do our best to help you.

There are multiple explicit reasons to think CDPR was referring to a specific rebate program, not the platform-wide options offered by Microsoft and Sony. First, there’s absolutely no mention of either. CDPR might have written, “Customers who purchased digital copies of the game may request a refund, if they meet the criteria set out by Sony and Microsoft.” It did not. Furthermore, the company made this statement in a post laying out what CDPR was going to do to fix these problems. CD Projekt Red is the active entity in its own press release.

Second, there’s an explicit reference to boxed software being returnable. If there’s a store in the United States that allows people to return open software for a full refund, I don’t know about it. Most retailers explicitly only allow a refund on software if the product is sealed in its original shrinkwrap. This is generally known. CDPR’s statement that customers should try to return the game to the store they purchased it from further implies that some kind of special program is being put in place.

When they say “Please first try to get a refund from the store where you bought the game,” it implies that if this fails, there’s some other refund program available to deal with it. Why say “first” if there is no second option? To be clear, CDPR’s comments to investors specifically concern digital purchases, but if the company has no plan to deal with those refunds, it probably isn’t planning to deal with the bigger headache of validating personal purchases from diverse stories for refunds, either.

Third, the use of the phrase “you can opt to refund your copy.” This phrasing indicates that you,  the purchaser, will decide whether or not you receive a refund, not Sony or Microsoft. Sony and Microsoft do not reward refunds as broadly as Steam does. In the absence of a specific program to handle this mess, CDPR is effectively lying by omission to its own player base. Sony will only give refunds if you’ve never even downloaded the game. Given this, it might have been helpful to tell the PS4 playerbase not to even download the title if there’s any chance they want a refund for it.

Finally, the company literally chose to call its helpful email address “help me refund” (spaces put back to make it easier to read). Consider the absurdity of offering any kind of refund help to customers on the one hand, while telling investors that the problem is entirely in the hands of Sony and Microsoft on the other.

CD Projekt Red is throwing every single console customer under the bus after deliberately hiding the performance and quality of its product. According to CDPR, anyone who perceived that the company might actually be taking some kind of hand to clean up its own mess is afflicted with “misconceptions.”

Well, they’re right. And I, for one, would like to apologize.

I was quite wrong. I thought CDPR was acting with the slightest shred of responsibility towards its own debacle. I thought the company was going to work with the fraction of unhappy customers that actually bothered to apply for a rebate, and then claim it had “solved” the problem it created by making people whole. It did not occur to me that a company might assure its fans they could apply for refunds without a single mention that they would have nothing to do with the process and that most people wouldn’t meet the criteria to get one.

I apologize to all ExtremeTech readers for my assumption that anyone in the upper echelons of CD Projekt Red had ethics. I apologize for assuming they were taking a minimal level of responsibility. I apologize for thinking they would treat customers with respect, or for believing the company was motivated by anything more than a “F*** you, I got mine” attitude. When people show you who they are, believe them. CDPR showed what kind of company it was when they hid information on just how bad the PS4 and Xbox One were in the first place.

Thank you, CDPR, for correcting my misconceptions.

I won’t make the same mistakes again. You have my word.

Now Read:

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How Vancouver 2030 plan could avoid the pitfalls of Calgary’s dashed Olympic dream

The group pushing for Vancouver to bid for the 2030 Winter Games say their plan to use private sector money to refurbish existing sports venues gives them an edge over Calgary’s 2026 Olympic dream that was quashed by a public plebiscite.

Bringing an Olympics to Vancouver would also boost British Columbia’s economy which has been battered  by the COVID-19 pandemic, said John Furlong, who was head of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), and is part of the group looking at the 2030 Games.

“At some point, governments are going to have to have recovery projects,” said Furlong. “The feeling is that we can really help the community and government . . . coming out of COVID.”

In early November Vancouver city council voted to postpone a decision on whether it wants to explore making a bid for the 2030 Olympics. City staff are expected to present a report to council in early 2021.

WATCH | Furlong tells CBC that Vancouver has tools for 2030 bid:

John Furlong claims that Vancouver has a solid head start on a potential bid for the 2030 Winter Olympic Games. 0:40

Furlong didn’t give a cost estimate for upgrading the facilities used for the 2010 Games but said it could be done without government funding.

“We have been working on the idea of submitting a fully sustainable bid, lowering the cost of the bidding process and then staging and extending the facility and sport legacy for decades into the future,” he said. “The current thinking is we will not need government investment in sport facilities and that any minor upgrading that is needed will be covered by games operations which is projected to be private sector funded.

“The goal is to be the first Winter Olympic and Paralympic bid in history to not require new sport infrastructure funded by senior governments.”

VANOC spent $ 580 million building new venues or upgrading existing facilities for the 2010 Olympics.

Michael Naraine, an assistant professor with Brock University’s department of sport management who studies major games and the Olympic movement, questions if the private sector would become involved in an Olympics without some government insurances.

“We’ve looked at Olympic Games, year after year, and there are always cost overruns,” Naraine said.

“Given the COVID environment . . . I think a lot of private enterprise are going to be skeptical when it comes to getting involved with major projects that they know have a high degree of certainty of having cost overruns.”

Governments also usually pay the tab for costs like security and policing, “line items in particular [that] tend to be under reported when it comes to the final reports that are produced by local organizing committees,” Naraine said.

Calgary, which hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics, was planning on bidding for the 2026 Games. The idea was rejected in 2018 by 56.4 per cent of city residents who voted in a plebiscite.

Calgary had ‘significant price tag’

Furlong sees differences between what happened in Calgary and the proposal for Vancouver.

“What they were voting on in Calgary, there was a significant price tag,” he said.

The Calgary Olympic bid had an estimated price tag of $ 5.1 billion, with the province agreeing to contribute $ 700 million and Ottawa covering another $ 1.423 billion through Sport Canada.

The city was asked to contribute $ 390 million, including $ 20 million for a $ 200-million insurance policy against cost overruns.

The Vancouver 2010 Games also faced a plebiscite in February of 2003.  About 64 per cent of Vancouver residents casting ballots voted in favour of hosting the Games.

“The view at the time was there was considerable risk and there was financial risk to the city,” said Furlong. “This time though, the idea is to try to find a way for the Olympics to be a sustainable project where we’ve removed or eliminated the vast majority of that risk.”

WATCH | Furlong says IOC ‘enamoured’ with idea of Vancouver 2030:

John Furlong, one of leaders of 2010 Vancouver Olympics, wants the city to submit a bid for the 2030 Winter Games. 0:44

VANOC’s final fiscal report said the Games broke even, with total revenues and expenses just shy of $ 1.9 billion. The federal government contributed $ 74.4 million, the B.C. government $ 113.4 million and other governments $ 176 million. The International Olympic Committee kicked in $ 659 million in sponsorships and contributions to help cover the tab.

Ticket sales raised $ 269 million, while licensing and merchandising accounted for another $ 54 million.

Critics argue major infrastructure projects like the Sea to Sky Highway, the Vancouver Convention Centre and a rapid transit line to the airport were not included in the final tally.

The final price tag for the convention centre was $ 883 million, about $ 388 million over budget. The SkyTrain’s Canada Line cost $ 2.1 billion.

Kris Sims, BC director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said any 2030 bid involving public money would likely face calls for a plebiscite.

“If the corporations can cover this, and it doesn’t cost taxpayers money, fine, I’ll be there with my pom poms,” she said. “But if it’s costing taxpayers, I’m like no, we don’t have the money.”

Naraine questioned the public appetite for hosting a Games considering how many people are struggling financially due to COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, I think Vancouver 2030 is going to get shot down because it’s just not the right time, given we’re coming out of the pandemic,” he said.

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Here’s the COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan, province by province

Provinces are preparing to roll out the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine after it was approved by Health Canada on Wednesday, with many hoping to start inoculating high-risk populations like health-care workers and long-term care residents by next week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday “the first 30,000 doses are expected to arrive in just a few days” and that the vaccine will be “free for Canadians” with the federal government covering the costs. But the logistics of storing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has presented provinces with challenges, and all but rule out the territories from receiving them.

Here is a look at plans across the country.

Alberta

About 3,900 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive in Alberta next week, and immunizations for ICU doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists and long-term care workers are expected to begin Dec. 16. Since two doses are required, that means around 1,950 people will be immunized.

Because the initial doses of the vaccine can be administered only at the sites where it is delivered — due to the need for ultra-cold storage — the province is not yet able to begin vaccinating patients at facilities. Instead, shots will be given at the two initial shipment locations in Edmonton and Calgary. 

WATCH | Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine makes dry ice a hot commodity:

The first acute-care staff to get the vaccines will come from the Foothills Hospital and the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary, and from University of Alberta and Royal Alexandra hospitals in Edmonton. Alberta Health Services will book appointments for those staff to receive their second dose when they receive their first. 

The Government of Alberta says it anticipates it will be able to immunize up to 435,000 Albertans who are most at-risk between January and March 2021.

Starting in January, the following groups will receive the vaccine:

  • Long-term care and some supported living residents and staff. 
  • Seniors age 75 and older. 
  • On-reserve First Nations people over age 65.
  • Health-care workers most needed to ensure workforce capacity.

Ontario

Ontario will administer its first COVID-19 vaccines next Tuesday at two hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa.

The first vaccines will go to health-care workers at long-term care homes and other high-risk places, Premier Doug Ford said in a news release.

More details are set to be provided on Friday, Ford’s statement said.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford looks at freezers ahead of COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Toronto on Tuesday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba

Manitoba is slated to receive doses next week, and expects to receive enough to vaccinate more than 100,000 people by March 31 of next year.

The first 1,950 doses are reserved for health-care workers in the critical care field, the vast majority of whom work in Winnipeg. Over the next three months, more locations will be established in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, Steinbach, Gimli, Portage la Prairie and The Pas.

Details on how the first 900 health workers can book appointments to get the vaccine will be released in the coming days. 

Beyond that, the province is still working out details on how it will notify people that they are eligible for the vaccine. 

WATCH | Health-care workers to receive first Manitoba COVID-19 vaccines:

Health-care workers in critical-care units will be the first in Manitoba to get the COVID-19 vaccine once initial doses — enough for about 900 people — arrive in the province next week, Premier Brian Pallister says. 1:54

Saskatchewan

Vaccine doses will start arriving in Saskatchewan next week and will be given to health-care workers at Regina General Hospital who provide direct care to COVID-19 patients.

Phase 1 of the province’s vaccine delivery plan — with 202,052 doses expected within the first quarter of 2021 — will focus on health-care workers, elderly residents in care homes, seniors over 80 and residents in northern remote communities.

Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout, which will see the general population begin to be vaccinated, is scheduled to begin in April 2021.



There will be 14 locations across 10 provinces where people can be inoculated with the first batch of the vaccine. Doses must be kept in ultra-cold storage, which has caused logistical challenges. (CBC News)

British Columbia

B.C. plans on immunizing 400,000 people against COVID-19 by March 2021, with priority given to residents and staff of long-term care homes and health-care workers.

As more doses of the vaccine become available, priority will be given to seniors over 80, people with underlying health conditions, people who are underhoused, and people living in remote and isolated Indigenous communities.

By April, front-line workers including teachers, grocery store workers, firefighters and people working in food processing plants will be prioritized.

As doses increase, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says vaccines will be distributed, moving down the population age range in increments.

WATCH | Approved COVID-19 vaccine brings hope to anxious Canadians:

The approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be life-changing for many vulnerable Canadians who have been anxiously awaiting the rollout. 2:02

Quebec

A limited number of vaccine doses will likely be available in Quebec starting next week.

Patients in residential and long-term care centres, which accounted for the vast majority of deaths related to COVID-19, will be the first to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the province as early as next Monday. Patients will receive the vaccinations on site.

People living in private seniors’ residences and those in isolated communities, including Indigenous communities and particularly those located in Nunavik and James Bay, will be next. 

The next groups to receive the vaccine will be organized by age, starting with those 80 and up, then 70 to 79, and 60 to 69, followed by those who are 60 and under and have other risk factors.


Health officials said the initial, limited quantity of vaccine doses should be reserved for seniors, long-term care residents, health-care workers and those in the Indigenous community. (CBC News)

New Brunswick

The first doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine will arrive in New Brunswick around Dec. 14, with a second shipment before the end of the year. 

The first shipment will be delivered to the Miramichi Regional Hospital, said Greg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, who is leading the rollout of the vaccine. It was chosen based on its central location, said MacCallum. The hospital — which has installed an ultra-low-temperature freezer — can be reached within two or three hours from virtually anywhere in the province, he said.

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers, emergency responders and seniors will be prioritized.

WATCH | New Brunswick outlines vaccination plan:

Greg MacCallum announced vaccine rollout plan and said the first shipment will be sent to Miramichi 4:48

Newfoundland and Labrador

Health Minister John Haggie said a thermal shipper — used to keep vaccine doses at a consistent temperature during transport — arrived in N.L. on Wednesday, with vaccine deliveries expected next week.

Haggie said the province’s vaccine committee also met on Wednesday morning with distribution plans “significantly advanced.” He said by the time the vaccine arrives the province will be in a position to “highlight” high-risk groups who will receive the first doses. 



That first batch of nearly 250,000 doses will be available in Canada before the end of the year. (CBC News)

Prince Edward Island

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine could arrive on P.E.I. as early as next week, allowing the province to vaccinate 1,000 people, starting with the most vulnerable: residents and staff in long-term care.

The owner of a tuna processing company in North Lake is lending the province two lab-approved freezers to help store COVID-19 vaccines.


Crews work to move two lab-approved super freezers that can reach –87 C from a tuna plant in North Lake, P.E.I., to Charlottetown. The owner of the plant is lending them to the province to help store the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for distribution. (Jason Tompkins)

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is expecting one batch of 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this month, with regular weekly allotments starting in January.

The first people in the province to receive the vaccine will be front-line health-care workers, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang announced Tuesday.

Premier Stephen McNeil said Nova Scotia chose to target frontline health-care workers first because they are the ones most likely to transmit the virus to long-term care residents and the elderly.

Right now the only freezer in the province with temperatures cold enough to store the vaccines is in Halifax. As such, the first doses will have to be administered in the central zone.

McNeil said anyone tapped for priority access who is outside the Halifax area will be brought in to receive their dose.


An ultra-low temperature freezer that will store the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is seen in Halifax. (Nova Scotia government)

Territories

That first batch of nearly 250,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine will be available in Canada before the end of the year, but none will go to the territories. The North lacks the freezers needed to store the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which the company says requires a freezer at -80 C to -60 C or a thermal container at -90 C to -60 C.

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said the territory is more likely to get the Moderna vaccine because the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s strict storage and shipping requirements aren’t appropriate for remote communities. He said Nunavut’s vaccines would be mostly, if not entirely, from Moderna.


There are several vaccines under consideration by Health Canada, with Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine the only one approved so far. (CBC News)

Similarly, Yukon officials announced that the Moderna vaccine will begin arriving in the territory in January.  Premier Sandy Silver said Thursday that all adults who want the vaccine will receive it for free, within the first three months of 2021.

Health Minister Pauline Frost said Yukon will get 50,400 doses by the end of March. This is enough to cover 25,000 people according to a government statement. Frost said priority will be given to residents and staff of long-term care homes, health-care and personal support workers, adults over 80, and Yukon residents in rural or remote communities.

The Northwest Territories government expects the Moderna vaccine to be available to 75 per cent of the territory’s “eligible population” in “early 2021,” according to a statement issued Thursday.

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How, when and to whom provinces plan to rollout out COVID-19 vaccines

Provinces are preparing to roll out the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine after it was approved by Health Canada on Wednesday, with many hoping to start inoculating high-risk populations like health-care workers and long-term care residents by next week.

But many also face logistical challenges in storing the vaccine, which has eliminated the territories from receiving them.

Here is a look at plans across the country.

Alberta

About 3,900 doses of the Pfize-BioNTech vaccine will arrive in Alberta next week, and immunizations for ICU doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists and long-term care workers are expected to begin Dec. 16. Since two doses are required, that means around 1,950 people will be immunized.

Because the initial doses of the vaccine can be administered only at the sites where it is delivered — due to need for ultra-cold storage — the province is not yet able to begin vaccinating patients at facilities. Instead, shots will be given at the two initial shipment locations in Edmonton and Calgary. 

WATCH | Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine makes dry ice a hot commodity:

The first acute-care staff to get the vaccines will come from the Foothills Hospital and the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary, and from University of Alberta and Royal Alexandra hospitals in Edmonton. Alberta Health Services will book appointments for those staff to receive their second dose when they receive their first. 

The Government of Alberta says it anticipates it will be able to immunize up to 435,000 Albertans who are most at-risk between January and March 2021.

Starting in January, the following groups will receive the vaccine:

  • Long-term care and some supported living residents and staff. 

  • Seniors aged 75 and older. 

  • On-reserve First Nations people over age 65.

  • Health-care workers most needed to ensure workforce capacity.

Ontario

Ontario will administer its first COVID-19 vaccines next Tuesday at two hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa.

The first vaccines will go to health-care workers at long-term care homes and other high-risk places, Premier Doug Ford said in a news release.

More details are set to be provided on Friday, Ford’s statement said.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford looks at freezers ahead of COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Toronto on Tuesday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba

Manitoba is slated to receive doses next week, and expects to receive enough doses to vaccinate more than 100,000 people by March 31 of next year.

The first 1,950 doses are reserved for health-care workers in the critical care field, the vast majority of whom work in Winnipeg. Over the next three months, more locations will be established in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, Steinbach, Gimli, Portage la Prairie and The Pas.

Details on how the first 900 health workers can book appointments to get the vaccine will be released in the coming days. 

Beyond that, the province is still working out details on how it will notify people that they are eligible for the vaccine. 

WATCH | Health-care workers to receive first Manitoba COVID-19 vaccines:

Health-care workers in critical-care units will be the first in Manitoba to get the COVID-19 vaccine once initial doses — enough for about 900 people — arrive in the province next week, Premier Brian Pallister says. 1:54

Saskatchewan

Vaccine doses will start arriving in Saskatchewan next week to health-care workers at Regina General Hospital who provide direct care to COVID-19 patients.

Phase 1 of the province’s vaccine delivery plan — with 202,052 doses expected within the first quarter of 2021 — will focus on health-care workers, elderly residents in care homes, seniors over 80 and residents in northern remote communities.

Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout, which will see the general population begin to be vaccinated, is scheduled to begin in April 2021.




British Columbia

B.C. plans on immunizing 400,000 people against COVID-19 by March 2021, with priority given to residents and staff of long-term care homes and health-care workers.

As more doses of the vaccine become available, priority will be given to seniors over 80, people with underlying health conditions, people who are underhoused, and people living in remote and isolated Indigenous communities.

By April, front-line workers including teachers, grocery store workers, firefighters, and people working in food processing plants will be prioritized.

As doses increase, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says vaccines will be distributed, moving down the population age range in increments.

WATCH | Approved COVID-19 vaccine brings hope to anxious Canadians:

The approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be life-changing for many vulnerable Canadians who have been anxiously awaiting the rollout. 2:02

Quebec

A limited number of vaccine doses will likely be available in Quebec starting next week.

Patients in residential and long-term care centres, which accounted for the vast majority of deaths related to COVID-19, will be the first to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the province as early as next Monday. Patients will receive the vaccinations on site.

People living in private seniors’ residences and those in isolated communities, including Indigenous communities and particularly those located in Nunavik and James Bay, will be next. 

The next groups of people to receive the vaccine will be organized by age group, starting with those 80 and up, then 70 to 79, and 60 to 69, followed by those who are 60 and under and have other risk factors.

WATCH | Quebec health minister outlines vaccine distribution plan:

Residents of long-term care homes and health-care workers will be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Quebec. 1:53

New Brunswick

The first doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine will arrive in New Brunswick around Dec. 14, with a second shipment before the end of the year. 

The first shipment will be delivered to the Miramichi Regional Hospital, said Greg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, who is leading the rollout of the vaccine. It was chosen based on its central location, said MacCallum. The hospital — which has installed an ultra-low-temperature freezer — can be reached within two or three hours from virtually anywhere in the province, he said.

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers, emergency responders and seniors will be prioritized.

WATCH | Epidemiologist calls rollout of vaccine ‘absolutely miraculous:

Colin Furness says even with vaccine, masks and other restrictions will be required until the rate of people getting COVID-19 declines dramatically. 4:22

Newfoundland and Labrador

Health Minister John Haggie says the thermal shipper — used to keep vaccine doses at a consistent temperature during transport — arrived in N.L. on Wednesday, with deliveries expect next week.

Haggie said the province’s vaccine committee also met on Wednesday morning with distribution plans “significantly advanced.” He said by the time the vaccine arrives the province will be in a position to “highlight” high risk groups who will receive the first doses. 




Prince Edward Island

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said the first doses of  COVID-19 vaccine could arrive on P.E.I. as early as next week, allowing the province to vaccine 1,000 people, starting with the most vulnerable: residents and staff in long-term care.

The owner of a tuna processing company in North Lake is lending the province two lab-approved freezers to help store COVID-19 vaccines.


Crews work to move two lab-approved super freezers that can reach –87 C from a tuna plant in North Lake, P.E.I., to Charlottetown. The owner of the plant is lending them to the province to help store the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for distribution. (Jason Tompkins )

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is expecting one batch of 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this month, with regular weekly allotments starting in January.

The first people in the province to receive the vaccine will be front-line health-care workers, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang announced Tuesday.

Premier Stephen McNeil said Nova Scotia chose to target frontline health-care workers first because they are the ones most likely to transmit to long-term care residents and the elderly.

Right now the only freezer in the province with cold enough temperatures to store the vaccines is in Halifax. As such, the first doses will have to be administered in the central zone. McNeil said anyone tapped for priority access who is outside the Halifax area will be brought in to receive their dose.


An ultra-low temperature freezer that will store the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is seen in Halifax. (Nova Scotia government)

Territories

That first batch of nearly 250,000 doses will be available in Canada before the end of the year, but none will go to the territories.

The North lacks the freezers required to store the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which the company says requires a freezer at 80 C to 60 C or in a thermal container at 90 C to 60 C.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander who’s leading the national vaccine distribution effort, said the territories indicated a preference for other vaccine candidates, “because of the complexity associated with distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.”

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, made similar statements last Friday, saying the territory is more likely to get the Moderna vaccine because the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s strict storage and shipping requirements aren’t appropriate for remote communities. He said Nunavut’s vaccines would be mostly, if not entirely, from Moderna.

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