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Good evening to you.
We begin with mixed messaging that’s no doubt going to throw fuel on the vaccine hesitancy fire.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be offered to Canadians aged 30 and older, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said Monday. Similar to its latest guidance around the AstraZeneca vaccine, officials said, to weigh the risk of rare but potentially serious blood clots that can occur from the vaccine with COVID-19 levels in the community — or hold out for another shot altogether.
Health Canada approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March and updated its labelling last week to acknowledge the rare risk of blood clots. However, as CBC News reports, NACI vice-chair Dr. Shelley Deeks said during a news conference this afternoon that it’s up to Canadians in that age group to decide whether they should take it or wait for an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
“What we’re saying, and what we’ve been saying all along, is that the mRNA vaccines are the preferred vaccines,” said Deeks. “Yet given the epidemiology, the viral vector vaccines are very effective vaccines, but there is a safety signal, a safety risk.”
That is in fact not what people have been told all along. The messaging has been that the best vaccine is the first vaccine you can get in your arm. Needless to say, her comments have caused quite a stir on Twitter, particularly among GenXers who raced to get the AstraZeneca vaccine when it became available to them.
The Ontario Liberal Party is warming to the idea of removing private companies from the province’s long-term and home-care sectors. The shift came as two sweeping reports on COVID-19 and long-term care shook the Progressive Conservative government last week. Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, speaking to reporters on Friday, left the door open for his party to overhaul for-profit elder care, if his party is elected next year. “Based on everything I’ve seen and heard, and all the discussions and the tragic circumstances of the last 12 or 13 months, I’m at a point where I do not believe mixing profit with care in this space at all is compatible anymore,” Del Duca told iPolitics. “I can’t see any compatibility.” This comes as the Liberals are in the midst of developing their 2022 election-campaign platform, meaning Del Duca couldn’t commit to an official position, but his comments last week were the strongest yet on the issue.
Conservative MPs are raising baseless fears and putting a false spin on Bill C-10, an Act to amend the Broadcasting Act, says Julie Drabusin, parliamentary secretary to Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault. Drabusin made the comments after members of the Heritage committee spent nearly two hours on Monday debating a Conservative motion that would have the Justice minister provide a new Charter statement, after the government removed user-generated content from the bill last month. “This bill … is not about regulating your cat videos; this is about YouTube,” Drabusin told reporters after Monday’s meeting. Janet Silver has that story.
The Public Sector Alliance of Canada wants parliamentarians to ensure that workers on Parliament Hill get compensation for the Phoenix pay fiasco that’s equal to what other public servants have received. In March, more than 140,000 public servants received lump-sum payments of $2,500 before taxes, to compensate for missed, delayed, or erroneous payments made through the Phoenix pay system since 2016. But they didn’t include Hill staff, who are covered by different legislation than most of the federal public service. In arbitration last week, the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board ruled that 62 House of Commons workers would not get the same level of compensation for Phoenix-related problems as have other federal workers. The Public Sector Alliance of Canada has filed notice to challenge the decision at the Federal Court of Appeal. It’s unfair that Hill workers, whom MPs and senators rely on to fulfill their duties, won’t be equally compensated, the union says. That story from Jolson Lim.
The Senate sponsor of a bill that would liberalize Canada’s sports-betting laws is hoping to pass the legislation this spring, in order to avoid having to wait what could be years to modernize the country’s gambling laws. Bill C-218 would end a decades-long prohibition of betting on single-sporting events in Canada. Currently, Canada’s laws only allow wagers to be placed on sports in parlays, which is when multiple bets are linked to each other and must all be successful for someone to win the bet. The bill would also give provinces and territories the responsibility of regulating and licensing websites and businesses that allow single-event sports betting.
Conservative Sen. David Wells is the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, having taken it over from Conservative MP Kevin Waugh. Wells introduced Bill C-218 in the Senate on Friday, when senators were called in to pass back-to-work legislation for Port of Montreal workers. The Senate has sat infrequently since the pandemic began, but is scheduled to sit for seven of the next eight weeks before Parliament adjourns for the summer. Bill C-218 could be read a second time as early as tomorrow. Charlie Pinkerton has more.
It’s World Press Freedom Day and to mark the occasion, World Press Freedom Canada announced its annual awards to recognize outstanding achievements by members of Canadian media who produce public-interest journalism while overcoming secrecy, intimidation, refusal to comply with freedom of information requests or other efforts to foil their work. Nathan VanderKlippe, The Globe and Mail’s China correspondent, and Sarah Cox, investigative reporter with The Narwhal, have been declared co-winners of the 2021 Press Freedom Award this year.
WPFC also gave press freedom award citations of merit to The Toronto Star’s Kevin Donovan for his battles in court to obtain documents in high profile criminal and civil cases, and to The Calgary Herald duo of Meghan Potkins and Madeline Smith who used the city’s freedom of information system and diligent reporting to uncover financial abuses by a city counsellor. The Spencer Moore Award for Lifetime Achievement went to Kim Bolan of The Vancouver Sun.
“Despite the stresses of lockdowns and working remotely, Canadian journalists produced extraordinary journalism in 2020 that held to account those in power,” WPFC president Shawn McCarthy said. “Our winners overcame significant hurdles that were thrown up to prevent their stories from coming to light.”
McCarthy said that even though Canadian journalists work in a country of relative freedom, we still have to be vigilant because there are glaring examples where freedom is frustrated or threatened. You can listen to the winners talk about their work here.
This year’s editorial-cartoon theme was: Censorship, shaming and disinformation in social media. Here are the winners.
In Other Headlines:
Alberta’s current COVID-19 status worse than every province and state: Former top doctor (Global)
Salty language by unmuted House leader heard during virtual question period (CP)
Opposition blasts Liberals after debate to call PM’s top aide on Vance cancelled (CP)
Conservatives call on Trudeau to fire top adviser over military sexual misconduct scandal (CBC)
More than 5,000 international air travellers positive for COVID-19 since February (CP)
‘He loved Nova Scotia.’ Former premier Donald Cameron dead at 74 (CP)
7 Manitoba churches challenging province’s COVID-19 pandemic powers in court (CBC)
Yukon Party members apologize after sending crude messages about premier, NDP leader (CBC)
Garneau to quarantine in hotel after returning from G7 ministers’ meeting in U.K. (CP)
Federal environment minister to undertake Highway 413 environmental assessment (CBC)
The Biden administration said Monday that four families that were separated at the Mexico border during Donald Trump’s presidency will be reunited in the United States this week in what Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas calls “just the beginning” of a broader effort. Two of the four families include mothers who were separated from their children in late 2017, one Honduran and another Mexican. Mayorkas said some of the children were just three and others were “teenagers who have had to live without their parent during their most formative years.” More from the Associated Press.
Authorities in Delhi have called for help from the army as the city grapples with a brutal second wave of COVID cases. Hospitals in the city are in crisis, with intensive care beds full and an acute shortage of medical oxygen. Across India, case numbers since the start of the outbreak are closing in on 20 million. The country has seen more than 300,000 new cases a day for nearly two weeks straight while deaths stand at 220,000. The BBC reports.
In Other International Headlines:
Germany cancels Oktoberfest 2nd year over coronavirus fears (AP)
Russia-Brazil spat erupts over Sputnik vaccine snub (AFP)
Bill and Melinda Gates are ending their marriage (CNN)
Heeding complaints, Biden lifts refugee cap to 62,500 (Reuters)
Philippines foreign minister issues expletive-laced tweet over China sea dispute (Reuters)
Facebook oversight board to issue ruling on Trump case on Wednesday (Politico)
In Featured Opinion:
François-Philippe Champagne: Census 2021: Collecting the picture of Canada
Finally, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy took to Twitter today to announce the state is launching a program called a “Shot and a Beer” to encourage those 21 and older to get vaccinated. Any New Jersey resident who gets their first COVID-19 vaccine dose this month can take their vaccination card to one of more than a dozen participating breweries for a free beer.
We’d drink to that. Given the messaging coming out of NACI this afternoon, the provinces might want to consider coughing up a case of beer at this point to encourage people to get jabbed.
Have a good night.
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