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Calls for consolidated COVID-19 vaccine bookings in Ontario

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The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has hit a number of roadblocks, from supply issues, to confusion over the online booking system. In some cases, this has led to massive lineups outside vaccine clinics, which the NDP on Monday called “shameful.” “Those lineups? Terrifying,” said opposition leader Andrea Horwath. “To watch people line up literally overnight to…

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The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has hit a number of roadblocks, from supply issues, to confusion over the online booking system. In some cases, this has led to massive lineups outside vaccine clinics, which the NDP on Monday called “shameful.”

“Those lineups? Terrifying,” said opposition leader Andrea Horwath.

“To watch people line up literally overnight to try to get a spot in the morning, it shouldn’t be happening in Ontario.”

Horwath went on to say Premier Ford dropped the ball by not providing a cohesive and coherent vaccine plan.

“It’s quite a disgrace that this province, this government, couldn’t put together a vaccine plan that makes sense to people and that people could easily access,” she said.

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There have been complaints over the booking system not being easy to navigate. In Toronto, only the City-operated vaccine clinics are consolidated.

“Many of our partner-operated clinics do not use the provincial booking system for their respective clinics. Likewise, pharmacies also do not use the provincial booking system,” said fire chief Matthew Pegg, who is the city’s COVID-19 incident commander.

Pegg said the following sites should be monitored for up-to-date and accurate information: visit www.Toronto.ca/COVID19 for City-operated clinics, or click www.vaccineTO.ca, for hospital and Ontario Health Team-operated clinics.

Quynh Pham is a scientist at the University Health Network (UHN). She said the current system Ontario is using is an extremely confusing process.

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“There are so many ways of registering incorrectly,” she said.

Pham, who specializes in digital health and cultural equity, suggested Ontario should be following the lead of provinces like Nova Scotia to make it easier for people to register for a vaccine appointment.

“Consolidating that process into one place certainly helps with the mad hunt for finding the right booking system at any given time,” she said.

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Some health-care experts believe the vaccine process as a whole is generating some skepticism.

This week, Canada is expected to receive nearly two million doses to add to its vaccine supply, including the Johnson & Johnson shot.

U.S. health regulators recently paused the use of it for 10 days to investigate its link to extremely rare, but potentially deadly blood clots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted the recommended pause on Friday following a thorough safety review.

Guidance from many in the Canadian medical community remains that people should take the first vaccine they are eligible for.

“Whether it’s J&J, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna — there’s one key metric people need to know about,” said emergency physician at UHN, Dr. David Carr.

“When you get these vaccines, they reduce your likelihood of death, severe disease, and hospitalizations, and all of them do it.”

2:04Ontario science table calls for more vaccines to be reallocated to hardest-hit communities

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Carr added that it can be a complicated choice for people, and while getting the first vaccine they can is important, so, too, is asking their primary care provider for any answers they have to questions surrounding it.

This is also echoed by Dr. Omar Khan, who is a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto.

“Your health-care provider has your complete medical history and if they think you’re susceptible to something in the vaccine ingredients, they’ll guide you to a better choice,” said Khan, who went on to say this can also help to address vaccine hesitancy.

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Ontario vowed to investigate horrific deaths in long-term care. Now it says that didn’t happen.

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Nearly one year ago, as the first detailed picture emerged of the true scale of the horror faced by residents of Ontario’s long-term care system during the pandemic, a visibly emotional Premier Doug Ford vowed his government would conduct a full investigation. Now it turns out that didn’t happen.

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COVID-19 CAMILLA CARE LTCH CROSSES

Nearly one year ago, as the first detailed picture emerged of the true scale of the horror faced by residents of Ontario’s long-term care system during the pandemic, a visibly emotional Premier Doug Ford vowed his government would conduct a full investigation. Now it turns out that didn’t happen.


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Grim ICU projections drove Jason Kenney to impose tough COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier François Legault leave a press conference in Ottawa on Sept. 18, 2020. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press Alberta’s decision to impose tougher COVID-19 restrictions after resisting that option for weeks was driven by projections that the province’s intensive care units would be so overwhelmed that doctors could be forced…

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier François Legault leave a press conference in Ottawa on Sept. 18, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Alberta’s decision to impose tougher COVID-19 restrictions after resisting that option for weeks was driven by projections that the province’s intensive care units would be so overwhelmed that doctors could be forced to start rationing care within a month.

Premier Jason Kenney laid out that dire scenario on Wednesday as he explained why his government is imposing a suite of new public health measures, including moving K-12 classes online, shutting down restaurant patios and forcing non-essential businesses that have three or more COVID-19 infections to close.

Mr. Kenney asked people who are opposed to public-health restrictions — a group that includes members of his own United Conservative Party caucus who have publicly criticized such measures — to think about the prospect of someone they cared about being denied care because the hospitals cannot cope.

“We’re not telling people this to create unnecessary fear,” Mr. Kenney said Wednesday, after using a televised address to announce the new rules the night before.

“We’re just trying to be straight up with Albertans about where we are.”

Alberta has the highest COVID-19 rates in North America and is among the few provinces in Canada where the number of daily infections is increasing. Alberta has about twice the active infections per capita as Ontario.

There were 146 COVID-19 patients in the province’s ICUs as of Wednesday, a slightly lower number than in recent days, but still about twice as many as a month ago. Mr. Kenney said there are also 60 non-COVID patients in ICUs, which together puts the province above the capacity it had before the pandemic.

Health officials say they can expand the province’s capacity to 425 ICU beds, but that would require the cancellation of most non-essential surgeries and medical procedures. Alberta Health Services released a triage document last week that would guide decisions to ration care by focusing on patients with the highest likelihood to survive the following year.

Mr. Kenney’s government had closed indoor dining at restaurants and imposed a number of other restrictions a month ago, but had resisted further restrictions even as infections exploded. The new measures are the most severe the province has seen since the first wave a year ago.

The Premier has chided people who continue to defy the public-health restrictions, including protesters at anti-lockdown rallies that have been a regular feature of some Alberta cities and a rodeo, held last weekend, that drew large crowds to a site near Bowden in flagrant violation of the ban on large outdoor events.

The opposition he has faced within the UCP caucus includes more than a dozen MLAs publicly criticizing the province’s public-health orders last April.

Mr. Kenney has played down that opposition, saying it amounted to healthy debate. He said on Wednesday that politics was not driving his government’s response to the pandemic.

“We do, however, obviously have to be mindful of the broader context of public opinion in Alberta, about people’s willingness to comply with the rules,” he said.

“As I’ve said repeatedly, there’s no point in adopting a policy that will only invite widespread non-compliance.”

One of the signees of a letter protesting restrictions last month – UCP MLA Nate Horner – said understands there’s a risk that Alberta hospitals become overwhelmed.

“I know we all need to pull together,” Mr. Horner, the MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, said Wednesday. “I don’t want to do anything other than support the decisions that have been made. That being said, we still do have very rigorous debate within caucus.”

Mr. Horner said he signed the original letter to let his constituents know he was advocating for a regional approach to restrictions in caucus discussions.

“I represent a very rural riding that over the last 14 months has had periods when there’s been very little COVID in vast areas,” he said. “Skip the Dishes and DoorDash aren’t a thing here.”

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the province won’t proceed with further easing of community health restrictions on COVID-19 even though hospitalizations are under the benchmark 300 figure. Shandro says cases and hospitalizations are trending up and it would not be safe to further reopen the economy, which would include allowing indoor gatherings. The Canadian Press

Mr. Horner noted he fielded about 70 calls from unhappy constituents Wednesday – many who are facing the loss of work and business income, are concerned about schools being closed for two weeks, and don’t understand why the federal government hasn’t implemented stricter border controls.

“A lot of them understand the severity of the issue. They’ve seen the cases rise – they know the situation has changed,” he said.

Other MLAs who signed last month’s letter, such as Mark Smith in Drayton Valley-Devon, Jason Stephan of Red Deer-South, and Miranda Rosin of Banff-Kananaskis, posted the live feed of Mr. Kenney announcing new public health measures on their Facebook pages – without comment.

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Mysteries of the Edmonton Oilers revealed: Why Oil are a solid playoff pick

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Author of the article: David Staples  •  Edmonton Journal Connor McDavid (97) of the Edmonton Oilers is congratulated by teammate Leon Draisaitl (29) after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on May 3, 2021, in Vancouver. Photo by Rich Lam /Getty Images The Edmonton Oilers have lost more often than they…

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Author of the article:

David Staples  •  Edmonton Journal

Connor McDavid (97) of the Edmonton Oilers is congratulated by teammate Leon Draisaitl (29) after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on May 3, 2021, in Vancouver. Photo by Rich Lam /Getty Images The Edmonton Oilers have lost more often than they have won against Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal, the three other locks in The Canadian for the playoffs.

In 25 games, Edmonton has a record of 12 wins and 13 losses against their comping playoff rivals. That compares poorly to Edmonton’s record of 20 wins and six losses against the non-playoff teams in the North Division, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa.

There’s no denying Edmonton made the most out of its game against the weaker teams in The Canadian.

At the same time, I like Edmonton’s chances to win the divisional championship. Each series isn’t much more than a coin flip, so it’s not like any team is a surefire bet to advance to the Stanley Cup semi-finals against a divisional champion in the USA. But I still like Edmonton’s chances despite the team’s so so won-loss record against the other formidable Canadian teams.

Why? What mysterious formula conjures up optimism?

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At the Cult of Hockey we’ve tracked scoring chances for and against the Oilers since 2010-11. We review video of every chance for and against the Oilers and record them on a chart.

This year in 51 games Edmonton has averaged 11.5 Grade A chances for per game, 10.0 Grade A chances against. That +1.5 chances per game differential is significant, the mark of a very good team. Grade A chances have on average a 25 per cent chance of going in, with the very best of those chances, the 5-alarm variety (think of a Leon Draisaitl one-timer when the opposition goalie is scrambling over to cover), going in more than 33 per cent of the time.

The good news? While Edmonton out chanced the three non-playoff teams 12 to 9.7 per game, it also out chanced the three playoff teams, 11.0 to 10.3.

Even though Edmonton lost a bit more than it won, it still had the edge when it came to Grade A chances. With a bit better puck luck, a bit better goaltending, and weaker goaltending in the opposition nets, Edmonton could have a better record in those games, say 14 wins and 11 losses.

There’s not one team out of Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal that Edmonton can’t beat. This is especially true if:

Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen come up big in net, a decent bet.Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl break through slack playoff refereeing and ferocious playoff defence, a good bet.The Oilers defence steps up, with players like Darnell Nurse, Adam Larsson, Ethan Bear and Tyson Barrie playing their “A” games, an OK bet.The team’s second, third and fourth lines at least holding their own, an iffy bet but within the realm of possibility. Advertisement This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

The Oilers have yet to prove they can solve the Leafs and the Habs but give them time.

Bottom lines: Along with the Oilers positive scoring differential giving me hope, I’ve never seen a more determined and brilliant Connor McDavid. If I were a fan of an opposing team, he’d be the last player I’d want to see lining up against my hometown team.

Staples on politics David Staples: Alberta has never had the right rules to thwart the virus — and there’s plenty of blame for all

Health Minister Patty Hajdu has never been held to account for failing to secure Canada’s borders. In New Zealand, after just a few cases from travellers after initial spring 2020 lockdown, Health Minister there had to resign.PHOTO BY THE CANADIAN PRESS At the Cult Staples: The McD and Drai shows revs up to vanquish Van

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