Canada advises against international non-essential travel
The federal government is warning Canadians against all non-essential international travel in the face of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Today, Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos implored Canadians not to leave the country as provinces ramp up vaccinations to combat the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant, even as efforts to head off a rising COVID-19 wave are complicated by public fatigue over the pandemic. In addition to the new travel warning, Duclos said the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) will ramp up the mandatory arrival testing program at the country’s airports.
The announcement came after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with provincial and territorial premiers last night to discuss how to respond to Omicron.
Ontario speeds up COVID-19 booster shots, increases rapid test access and cuts capacity at large events by 50%
Today, the Ontario government announced that it is rapidly accelerating its booster dose rollout by expanding eligibility to all individuals aged 18 and over, as well as shortening the interval to three months following an individual’s second dose.
Starting Monday, December 20, 2021, individuals aged 18 and over will be eligible to schedule their booster dose appointment through the Ontario’s booking portal, by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating pharmacies and primary care settings. Appointments will be booked three months (84 days) after a second dose as the province urgently expands booster eligibility to millions more individuals.
Effective December 18, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario intends to introduce a 50 per cent capacity limit to the following indoor areas of venues with a usual capacity of 1,000 or more: facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities; entertainment facilities such as concert venues, theatres and cinemas; racing venues; meeting and event spaces; studio audiences in commercial film and television production; museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions; casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and fair, rural exhibitions, and festivals.
As part of the government’s enhanced testing strategy, starting today, up to two million rapid tests will be provided free of charge at pop-up testing sites in high-traffic settings such as malls, retail settings, holiday markets, public libraries and transit hubs. Pop-up teams will be deployed at nearly 50 locations across the province, including some co-located with GO-VAXX mobile vaccine buses. Most sites will distribute free take-home rapid antigen test kits, subject to supply, and some will offer asymptomatic rapid antigen screening on-site. The government will also make take-home rapid tests available at select LCBO stores, starting with the busiest stores this week and with more stores being added in the coming days.
Ontarians can visit Ontario.ca/holidaytesting to find out if pop-up rapid antigen screening sites will be available in their area. Locations and operating hours will be updated weekly, and no appointment will be required.
Canada’s inflation rate stays at 18-year high of 4.7%
Canada’s inflation rate remained at 4.7 per cent in November, matching the annual pace seen the previous month.
The data point released by Statistics Canada this morning was in line with economist expectations, tying October’s level, which was the highest inflation rate since 2003.
Inflation rates are soaring around the world right now, as the combination of record government spending, supply chain disruptions and a surge in demand for consumer goods has caused prices to rise quickly.
Ontario cutting wholesale alcohol prices for restaurants and bars
The Ontario government is cutting LCBO wholesale prices for bars and restaurants, enabling curbside pickup of beer, wine and cider from licensed grocery stores, and freezing the basic beer tax rate.
This change is estimated to provide $60 million in annual support to restaurants, bars and other businesses.
Highlights of the new legal framework for the sale, service and delivery of beverage alcohol include:
- Allowing licensed grocery stores to offer curbside pickup of beer, wine and cider
- Streamlining licensing and renewals for businesses through a single primary licence with endorsements for additional activities, such as on-site retail stores or brew pubs
- Reducing red tape by streamlining reporting requirements for manufacturers
- Increasing flexibility for grocers to cross-promote beer, cider and wine with non-alcohol products
- Enhancing social responsibility in the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s Registrar’s Standards by requiring individuals who sell, serve or handle alcohol to recertify their Smart Serve training
- Making permanent the extension of retail sale hours to 7am to 11pm for alcohol that were put in place in March 2020 in response to COVID-19.
Ontario providing new rapid training programs
The Ontario government is supporting the development of up to 250 new rapid training programs that will be available for enrolment in 2022 through the Ontario Micro-credentials Challenge Fund.
This is part of the province’s commitment to create industry-relevant micro-credentials at colleges, universities, Indigenous Institutes and private career colleges. Rapid training programs can help people upgrade their skills to succeed in their current careers or find new employment.
Welland City Council approved the 2022 municipal budgets
The overall 2022 budgets total just over $159.6 million comprised of the tax-supported operating budget of $73.8million, the rate supported operating budget for water and wastewater of $33.6 million, and the combined capital budgets of $52.2 million.
The 2022 tax-supported operating budget presents a 2.29% tax increase (municipal portion) after assessment growth and includes over $39 million in capital projects next year.
Government of Canada honours businessperson John Molson with historic designation
Perhaps best-known today for his role in Canada’s brewing industry, John Molson (1763–1836) was one of Montréal’s leading entrepreneurs of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, gaining prominence through his business interests, as well as his political, philanthropic, and cultural contributions to Lower Canada.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Steven Guilbeault, announced the designation of John Molson as a person of national historic significance under the National Program of Historical Commemoration, on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
Erica Pimentel, Bertrand Malsch, Nathaniel Loh, The Conversation
The year 2021 was marked by several major breakthroughs for cryptocurrencies. For one, new crypto applications like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) gained ground, with sales of these digital assets setting new records at major auction houses. Secondly, Bitcoin made strides towards mainstream acceptance with major websites like Expedia and Microsoft accepting the coin as a means of exchange. Third, in September, El Salvador became the first country in the world to accept bitcoin as legal tender.
There are many more examples of how the market for cryptocurrencies has expanded just in the last year. With this uptick of activity, what’s ahead in 2022 for cryptocurrencies?
Niagara COVID-19 statistics tracker
Niagara COVID vaccination tracker
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