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$716K is the average house price in Canada. Here’s what you can get for that

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Canada’s red-hot housing market continues to defy expectations, with the national average price sitting at $716,828. But what you get for that amount varies greatly from city to city.

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Canada’s red-hot housing market continues to defy expectations, with the national average price sitting at $716,828. But what you get for that amount varies greatly from city to city.


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Companies offer freebies, discounts to customers vaccinated against COVID-19

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A person wears a sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health in Richmond, B.C., on April 10, 2021. JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press Canadian companies are trying to move the needle on COVID-19 vaccinations with discounts and giveaways for customers who show proof they’ve received their first dose.…

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A person wears a sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health in Richmond, B.C., on April 10, 2021.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

Canadian companies are trying to move the needle on COVID-19 vaccinations with discounts and giveaways for customers who show proof they’ve received their first dose.

Insurers, food businesses and even tech companies are unveiling promotions aimed at convincing people to get the jab in exchange for savings and freebies.

Experts say the offers lend corporate clout to an important cause, but also encourage consumers to return to favourite shops or discover new and local brands amid temporary lockdowns.

Am I eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine? The latest rules by province

“You might be reluctant to overexpose yourself in non-discretionary places and that’s all part of this strategy,” said Joanne McNeish, a Ryerson University professor specializing in marketing.

“It’s a way of carefully getting their brand in front of people.”

Vaccine-related promotions are being used by Canadian companies including Sombrero Latin Food.

The grocery purveyor is offering Latin American candy to people who post a vaccine selfie or help relatives or neighbours book appointments, but stresses that vaccination is a “personal decision” and the promotion is not meant to pressure people.

“We just wanted to spread a little joy to those that felt comfortable,” business development manager Corina Pardo said. “After waiting so long, we wanted each vaccination to be a little celebration.”

Meanwhile, Polarity Brewing in Whitehorse will give vaccinated customers a $6 discount on a beer or food purchase.

In Kitchener, Ont., TheMuseum will offer free admission to the vaccinated through a campaign called Jabbed Like Jagger – a reference to Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, who has encouraged vaccination and will feature heavily in an upcoming exhibit on his band.

Manulife Financial Inc. will give some of its vaccinated customers enrolled in its Vitality program rewards points that can be used towards gift cards or gadgets, and Toronto-based financial app Drop is offering $50 in cash rewards to users who post a vaccine selfie on social media and tag the brand.

Such offers build on a U.S. trend that materialized when widespread vaccination began and the country needed to deal with the hesitant, anti-vaxxers and people forgoing their second dose.

Companies wanted to help. Burger joint White Castle offered free dessert-on-a-stick, Budweiser gave out $5 to be spent on beer, Greenhouse of Walled Lake in Michigan made free cannabis pre-rolls available and Krispy Kreme promised a doughnut every day for the rest of the year.

While most praised the incentives, critics complained frequent doughnut consumption is unhealthy and Krispy Kreme had to defend itself.

Boston Pizza also experienced a problem linked to a promotion, when the chain’s Front Street location in Toronto offered a 15-per-cent discount to vaccinated patrons.

Director of communications Marian Raty said in an e-mail that the location was ordered to discontinue the offer, without offering additional details. The location did not respond to requests for comment.

Prof. McNeish, however, thought the discount was “clever” because it was low enough to be enticing but not inspire much abuse and offered by a location across from a vaccine centre and in an area that has seen business significantly slow.

“In that poor location, the foot traffic has been almost nothing,” she said. “They must be thrilled that the foot traffic with the vaccine clinic there is maybe getting them back closer to normal.”

While it’s hard to measure how likely any of the promotions are to generate repeat customers or encourage hesitant Canadians to get a vaccine, Prof. McNeish believes the deals are a nice perk for those anxious for the jab and one of many convincing factors for others.

“This definitely nibbles at the edges of people who are just soft hesitators and helps show here’s yet another reason [to get the vaccine],” she said.

Nazeem Muhajarine, an epidemiologist and University of Saskatchewan professor specializing in community health, said people ideologically against vaccines are unlikely to be swayed by rewards, but the bonus may encourage undecided people.

“They might jump off the fence and get their own vaccine,” he said. “Something like this could tip the balance.”

While Dr. Muhajarine has yet to notice specific deals in Saskatoon, he was impressed to see businesses that have struggled during the pandemic were willing to use brand recognition to advance an important message.

“They aren’t just complaining about the slowdown of the economy or that they have been asked to shut down or go to only curbside delivery,” he said.

“Businesses want to be part of the solution.”

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Top U.S. fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline works to recover from cyberattack

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Holding tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline’s Linden Junction Tank Farm in Woodbridge, N.J., in an undated photograph. COLONIAL PIPELINE/Reuters U.S. government officials were working closely with top U.S. fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline on Sunday to help it recover from a ransomware cyberattack that forced the company to shut a critical fuel network supplying…

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Holding tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline’s Linden Junction Tank Farm in Woodbridge, N.J., in an undated photograph.

COLONIAL PIPELINE/Reuters

U.S. government officials were working closely with top U.S. fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline on Sunday to help it recover from a ransomware cyberattack that forced the company to shut a critical fuel network supplying populous eastern states.

The attack is one of the most disruptive digital ransom operations reported and has prompted calls from American lawmakers to tighten protections for critical U.S. energy infrastructure against hackers.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Washington was working to avoid more severe fuel supply disruptions and to help Colonial restart as quickly as possible its more than 8,850-kilometre pipeline network from Texas to New Jersey.

“It’s an all hands on deck effort right now,” Ms. Raimondo said on CBS’s Face the Nation program. “We are working closely with the company, state and local officials, to make sure that they get back up to normal operations as quickly as possible and there aren’t disruptions in supply.”

Colonial said on Saturday it was “continuing to monitor the impact of this temporary service halt” and to work to restore service. Neither Ms. Raimondo nor the company gave an estimate for a restart date and Colonial declined further comment on Sunday.

Colonial transports roughly 2.5 million barrels a day of gasoline and other fuels from refiners on the Gulf Coast to consumers in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States.

Its extensive pipeline network serves major U.S. airports, including Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson Airport, the world’s busiest by passenger traffic.

Retail fuel experts including the American Automobile Association said an outage lasting several days could have significant effects on regional fuel supplies, particularly in the southeastern United States.

While the U.S. government investigation is in the early stages, a former U.S. official and two industry sources said the hackers are likely a professional cybercriminal group and that a group called DarkSide was among potential suspects.

DarkSide is known for deploying ransomware and extorting victims while avoiding targets in post-Soviet states. Ransomware is a type of malware designed to lock down systems by encrypting data and demanding payment to regain access.

Cybersecurity firm FireEye has also been brought in to respond to the attack, according to the two industry sources. FireEye declined to comment.

Colonial has said it was working with a “leading, third-party cybersecurity firm,” but did not name the firm.

Bloomberg News, citing people familiar with the matter, reported late on Saturday that the hackers are part of DarkSide and took nearly 100 gigabytes of data out of Colonial’s network on Thursday ahead of the pipeline shutdown.

Messages left with the DarkSide hackers were not immediately returned. The group’s dark website, where hackers regularly post data about victims, made no reference to Colonial Pipeline.

Colonial declined to comment on whether DarkSide hackers were involved in the attack, when the breach occurred or what ransom they demanded.

President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident on Saturday morning, a White House spokesperson said, adding that the government was working to try to help the company restore operations and prevent supply disruptions.

Another fuel pipeline serving the same regions carries a third of what Colonial does. Any prolonged outage would require tankers to transport fuels from the U.S. Gulf Coast to East Coast ports.

The privately held, Georgia-based company is owned by CDPQ Colonial Partners L.P., IFM (US) Colonial Pipeline 2 LLC, KKR-Keats Pipeline Investors L.P., Koch Capital Investments Company LLC and Shell Midstream Operating LLC.

Gasoline futures and diesel futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose on Friday after the outage was reported. In previous Colonial outages, retail prices have risen substantially, if briefly.

Oil refining companies contacted by Reuters on Saturday said their operations had not yet been affected. Some were monitoring developments and working to find alternative transport for customers.

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Tam warns Canadians that full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

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Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam looks on at the start of a technical briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada on Jan. 15, 2021, in Ottawa. Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press Canada’s chief public health officer reminded Canadians that even those who are fully vaccinated remain susceptible to COVID-19. Speaking at a virtual town hall…

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Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam looks on at the start of a technical briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada on Jan. 15, 2021, in Ottawa.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Canada’s chief public health officer reminded Canadians that even those who are fully vaccinated remain susceptible to COVID-19.

Speaking at a virtual town hall for Yukoners on Saturday, Dr. Theresa Tam said the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower for anyone who receives two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.

“But it’s not absolute. There’s reduction in your risk of transmission, but it doesn’t necessarily eliminate your risk of transmission,” Tam said, adding that the danger dials down especially after the second dose.

Am I eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine? The latest rules by province

“Some studies have shown that it reduces the amount of virus in the back of your nose. If you sample people, there’s less virus, which means less risk of transmission.”

Young people, who often work in front-line or essential services and sit at the bottom of vaccination priority queues, now have some of the highest case rates and can transmit the virus despite showing no symptoms, Tam added.

“The groups that transmit the virus the most are actually younger adults, many of whom have to work. They can’t stay at home,” she said.

“It’s important that we protect them, as well as the fact that if they’re protected, we reduce transmission of the virus in the community.”

Alberta and other parts of Canada remain mired in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as hospitalization rates have started to tick downward in provinces such as Ontario and Quebec.

Many parts of the country face tight restrictions, with schools closed across Ontario and Alberta and patios shut down in Montreal, Toronto and – as of this Monday – Calgary.

Are COVID-19 restrictions intensifying or easing in my province? A guide to the rules across Canada

Some Albertans continue to chafe at the tougher measures, which Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday.

Protesters went ahead with an anti-lockdown demonstration outside a highway diner in central Alberta on Saturday, despite pouring rain and a pre-emptive court injunction.

Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the Whistle Stop Cafe in the hamlet of Mirror, Alta., for the “Save Alberta Campout Protest.”

The largely mask-free gathering follows a rodeo billed as an anti-lockdown event held last weekend in Bowden, about 100 kilometres southwest of Mirror.

Alberta Health Services has said the provincial government will take legal action to stop any planned protests of COVID-19 public health orders, including the one outside the cafe.

Mass vaccination efforts continue to broaden across swaths of the country.

In Ontario, nearly 150 pharmacies started offering COVID-19 vaccines to all adults in some virus hot spots this weekend, a shift made to align with provincial efforts to protect the most vulnerable amid a third wave of infections.

The province quietly announced the expanded eligibility – for anyone aged 18 and older – on a provincial pharmacy vaccine booking webpage on Friday afternoon, with slightly more than half of the locations in Toronto and Peel Region.

On Thursday, Quebec said it vaccinated 102,762 people, the highest single-day number since the start of its vaccine rollout. The province set another record that day, when vaccinations opened to everyone 35 and over, with 272,000 people booking vaccinations, Health Minister Christian Dubé said Friday.

Quebec’s health situation remains relatively stable, with the number of new COVID-19 cases falling short of 1,000 for the sixth day in a row on Saturday and hospitalizations also on the decline.

COVID-19 news: Updates and essential resources about the pandemic

Dispiriting numbers kicked off the weekend in Nova Scotia, however.

The province continues to log high case counts of COVID-19, reporting 163 new infections Saturday, mostly in the Halifax region.

On the other side of the country, communities along the Alberta-British Columbia boundary said they’re worried continuing COVID-19 restrictions could hit their economies hard this summer.

The B.C. government is discouraging Alberta tourists from visiting. In Fernie, in southeastern B.C., the executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce said visitors from Alberta have traditionally accounted for the majority of the town’s total business.

“Fernie might as well be in Alberta for all intents and purposes. We’re that reliant on Albertans, obviously in the tourism industry, but in our economy at large,” Brad Parsell said.

“It’s been incredibly challenging for the tourism industry to not have the welcome mat out to those folks at the moment.”

A spokeswoman for the RCMP in B.C. clarified that Albertans are not prohibited from visiting British Columbia, but, once there, they aren’t allowed to travel to other areas within the province unless it’s deemed essential.

This is a corrected story. A previous version said the head of the Fernie, B.C., Chamber of Commerce was encouraging residents from Alberta and Saskatchewan to visit the town. In fact, he said Fernie has traditionally been reliant on tourists from Alberta in the past but did not encourage present-day visitors.

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