Quebec Plans To Tax The Unvaccinated – Full COVID-19 Update

Quebec Plans To Tax The Unvaccinated – Full COVID-19 Update

Quebec’s unprecedented plan to tax adult residents who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is coming under fire. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says the tax plan announced yesterday amid a surge of virus-related hospitalizations is deeply troubling, noting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms recognizes individual autonomy over our bodies and medical decisions. In a statement, the acting general counsel for the association says the penalty is a divisive measure that will end up punishing and alienating those who may be most in need of public health supports and services. She is urging the Quebec government to abandon what she calls a “constitutionally vulnerable proposal.”

The latest COVID Surge May Have Peaked:

Health Minister Christine Elliott says current trends indicate the Omicron wave of the pandemic will peak around the third or fourth week of January. She says the peak for intensive care units is expected to come in the first week of February. There are 3,220 COVID-19 patients in hospital in the province including 477 in ICU’s — a record single-day increase of 80 people from yesterday. Elliot says patients with the Omicron variant appear to require slightly shorter hospital and intensive care stays compared with the Delta variant.

The Education Minister Will Speak Today:

Ontario’s education minister is set to hold a news conference today about next week’s planned return to in-person classes. Stephen Lecce is expected to speak to the media with the province’s top public health doctor at 1:30pm. The government says students will return to classes on Monday after a two-week period of remote learning that began this month amid a severe wave of COVID-19 cases. Lecce hasn’t taken questions since before the government announced the temporary online learning plan on January 3rd.

Teachers Have Safety Concerns About Going Back:

Teachers’ unions are expressing safety concerns ahead of schools reopening in Ontario next week, as the province sharply limits access to take-home COVID-19 tests for students and teachers. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation and the Secondary School Teachers’ Federation are both calling for COVID-19 testing, tracing and monitoring among other measures to ensure a safe return to schools. But new Ministry of Health guidance shows that take-home PCR tests will only be provided to students and staff who become symptomatic while at school. ETFO president Karen Brown says she thinks parents should brace themselves for a lot of interruptions.

Ontario Labs Under pressure From Staff Shortages:

A professional group representing Ontario medical laboratory workers says the system is collapsing amid staffing challenges and high levels of COVID-19 spread. The CEO of the Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario says 87 per cent of laboratories in the province are short-staffed due to infections, on top of already low staffing levels. Michelle Hoad says strain elsewhere on the health system is putting more pressure on lab professionals. She says the decrease in COVID-19 testing demand due to recent policy changes hasn’t made things easier for medical labs because they are trying to catch up on testing for other conditions. 

Ontario Temporarily Shortening The G Drivers Test:

Ontario G-level road tests won’t require parallel parking or three-point turns for the next few months. A spokeswoman for the transportation minister says changes are being made to help reduce a road test backlog caused by COVID-19 restrictions. Dakota Brasier says routes to and from testing locations will be modified to be more direct. The changes will be in effect until at least March 31st.

Ontario Brining In Foreign Trained Nurses:

Internationally educated nurses will be allowed to work in the Ontario health-care system as it grapples with staff illnesses during the Omicron wave of COVID-19. Health Minister Christine Elliot says the internationally trained professionals will be deployed where extra help is needed, under the supervision of another regulated health-care provider. More than 1,200 applicants have expressed interest in the programs, and participants will have the opportunity to become permanent staff. Ontario Health CEO Matthew Anderson says an estimated 300 nurses will likely be able to start work as early as this week at some of the 50 hospitals identified as in need of workforce support. 

Toronto Running Targeted Vaccination Clinics:

Toronto will run COVID-19 vaccine clinics this week in areas with lower immunization rates among kids. Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy says the city is putting on a push to vaccinate kids aged five to 11. He says clinics will run in schools and neighbourhoods with lower vaccine uptake, with boosters offered to parents and education workers. Schools are due to reopen in Ontario next week, but less than four per cent of kids aged five to 11 have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Pfizer CEO Says Talks About A Fourth Shot:

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has provided an update on plans for a more Omicron-specific version of the COVID vaccine.  Speaking with CNBC on Monday, Bourla was asked about the status of both an update to the current Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine and the possibility of another booster being recommended.  We are doing everything we can to stay ahead of the virus,” Bourla said.  Let me start with, I don’t know if there is a need for a fourth booster. That’s something that needs to be tested. I know these are already started, some of these experiments. … Also, we are working on a new version of our vaccine, a version that will be effective against Omicron as well. It’s not that it won’t be effective against the other variants, but against Omicron as well. And the hope is that we will achieve something that will have way, way better protection, particularly against infections.” Bourla said this vaccine will be ready in March.

Ontario Numbers:

A total of 3,220 patients are hospitalized in Ontario with COVID-19 and 477 people are in intensive care. Data shared by the Ontario Hospital Association show that 80 adults were admitted to hospital the previous day, noting it’s the highest number of admissions so far during the pandemic. There are 250 patients on ventilators due to COVID-19. Twenty-one new virus-related deaths were reported.

Waterloo Region / Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Numbers:

Waterloo Region Public Health says there are 13 more people in hospital, for a total of 107. Only 14 of them are in the ICU. There was 1 new death yesterday. 

Public Health of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph says they now have 30 COVID-19 patients. 3 of them are in the ICU. 

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube

 

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