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First Vaccinations in the Eastern Zone + News of the Week
News of the week for Chéticamp and surrounding areas, from January 10 to 17, 2021.
- On January 11, the Cape Breton Regional Hospital gave the first COVID-19 vaccines in the Eastern Zone. The first person to receive it was licensed practical nurse Darlene White. Public Health nurse Claudia Aucoin was the one who gave the vaccine. Health care workers involved in the COVID-19 response are some of the first in the province to be immunized. Next week, two long term care residences in Cape Breton will start immunizing residents and staff -- Northside Community Guest Home in North Sydney and Shannex's Harbourstone Enhanced Care in Sydney River.
- The federal government announced there is going to be a temporary delay in the delivery of the Pfizer vaccine. Procurement Minister Anita Anand said it’s because the company is working to expand its European production capacity, but that it will be able to catch up with deliveries by March. In the meantime, Pfizer will be sending fewer doses in each shipment, although the government didn’t say how many. According to Dr. Strang, Nova Scotia has already received 13,000 doses and is expecting to receive 140,000 by the end of March, enough to immunize about 7,7% of the population. It’s not until the spring that the province will be getting enough quantities to start vaccinating at large.
- Starting on January 15, the province requires rotational workers who work outside Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador to take a COVID test. Premier McNeil says public health worries about the number of cases in other parts of the country, especially in Alberta, where many Nova Scotians work.
- This week, the provincial government announced it will be providing a total of $25 million to Nova Scotia universities to help them overcome COVID-19 difficulties. Université Saint-Anne, the only francophone university in the province will be receiving $364,600. President and Vice-chancellor Allister Surette said the funds will help cover some of the expenses related to COVID-19, like COVID testing for students, enhanced cleaning and security for campuses. But he said that even with that funding, some tough financial years are coming. “Due to canceling summer, spring, immersion classes, etc, on the income side, it's a big challenge for us. And this is probably the first time in the history of Sainte-Anne that we will present a deficit budget. Our budget is about $ 1.5 million in deficit.”
He continued, “The other challenge for us is with border restrictions, travel restrictions. We had very few international first-year students last year. Certainly, that will cause challenges for the current year but also for a few years to come because normally these students stay for the second, third, fourth year of the program.”
- 2021 is a census year. In May, the entire population in Canada will be required to fill up the questionnaire. That means there is also going to be job openings. The federal government plans to hire 32,000 temporary workers between April and July, with 17 of those positions in the Chéticamp area. Geoff Bowlby, a program director gives us more details: “The job involves dropping off information to the respondents to the census, dropping it off at their homes, following up with them to make sure that the census is responded to. That’s the primary focus of the job. Some of it is telephone based but all of the people that we need in your area, the 17 folks, will be working from home. One of whom will be the supervisor for the other 16. So, there’s one supervisor who keeps track of all of the work and 16 people who chase down the people who have not already responded to the census early in the process.” Bowlby said the supervisor will be paid about $22/hour and enumerators about $17/hour.
- Even though the tourism season doesn’t start for another few months, the industry in Chéticamp can usually get an idea by now about what the summer will look like. Greg Larocque, owner of the Cornerstone Motel and member of the Chéticamp Area Lodgers’ Association, said he expects this year to be similar to the last. “I see for next season that it’s going to be very lean again at the very beginning of the season, with the virus still hanging on and ... still easy to catch, getting harder to kill off, and along with that, getting the vaccines,” he said. “Everybody getting their vaccine before they start travelling would be a great thing. That’s not going to happen - and I think the government has been pretty clear about that - they’re not seeing this vaccine to be effective up to about September. So, September and onward, we may see a better season but I’m seeing a pretty short summer season with very few bookings. At this time, all our pre-bookings are almost negligeable compared to other years. That being said, it’s going to change the way we do business and the type of business models we’re using presently are going to have to change.”