Politics

‘Very intense’ Omicron surge coming


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Good evening to you.

On the COVID front, the good news just keeps coming. Today, new modelling released by the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that the current wave will peak this month, but not before it hits 170,000 to 300,000 daily infections.

Right now, Canada’s national positivity rate is 28 per cent, meaning more than one in four tests are positive. That’s nearly five times higher than the rate at any other point in the pandemic — and it’s only part of the picture given how difficult it is for people to get tested to confirm if they have COVID.

The number of hospitalizations a day reached 6,779 this week — a figure that’s quadrupled since December — with 884 patients needing critical-care beds. An average of 82 people are dying every day.

Due to the “enormous volume of cases,” more people are getting seriously ill from Omicron. This is most evident in Ontario and Quebec, where the variant first surged, said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, noting what’s to come will push hospitalizations to “extremely high levels.” Those could surge to historic highs of between 2,000 and 4,000 each day.

Twitter photo: @AdamScotti

Given the prospect of those numbers, she said adhering to public health measures will be key to keep hospitals from being completely overwhelmed — and protecting the health care workers needed to run them. “It’s not just about getting enough beds; it’s about getting enough health-care workers,” Tam said.

PHAC stressed reducing in-person contacts, getting boosted, wearing high quality masks is also key to maintain the “critical functions of society.

In addition to those in all sectors sidelined by Omicron, some are warning that every aspect of Canada’s supply chain will be impacted by the vaccine mandate for truckers, which is set to come into effect tomorrow. Mixed messaging in recent days about whether it would or wouldn’t stand won’t help matters. CTV reports.

In case you thought this Omicron-driven surge might be the last hurray and mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic, not so fast. Asked about that today, Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, admitted it’s “difficult to say.”

The Dofasco steel mill in Hamilton, Ont. (Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star)

A pilot study says it would be better for Canadian banks and investors to transition to a low-carbon economy sooner than later, but to do it slowly or risk “large losses.” In November, the Bank of Canada and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions said they were studying the risks to the country’s financial sector of becoming a net-zero-emitting economy by 2050. Released today, the study is intended as a thought exercise to prepare financial institutions better, not to predict the future. Nor did the study include physical risks, such as rising temperatures and severe weather events, which will be analyzed separately.

What the study does show is that meeting climate targets will cause significant structural changes to the Canadian economy, because it relies heavily on carbon-intensive industries, especially oil and gas. Jeff Labine reports.

An innocuous-looking reference in the Federal Court battle over the Liberal ban on assault-style rifles has revealed a pre-Christmas confrontation between the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR) and the senior Justice Department lawyer in the case. iPolitics discovered the exchange in the Federal Court record of the confrontation that occurred in December. Tim Naumetz fires off the details.

The Rebel to Rabble Review: The pandemic’s ‘silver lining’

The Sprout: Saturday deadline for unvaccinated truckers upheld

Net Zero: More electricity needed to meet net-zero targets: IEA

In Other Headlines:

Internationally:

Photo: @Ukraine / Twitter

Russia is plotting to stage acts of provocation to create a pretext  invade Ukraine, according to Ukrainian military intelligence and officials in the United States. Known as a “false flag operation,” word is the Russians have already prepositioned operatives in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria, so that Moscow can then accuse Ukraine of preparing an attack. The Kremlin says reports are “unfounded.” They come after a week of diplomatic efforts between American, Russian and NATO officials stalled and failed to diffuse tensions. Today, Ukraine also accused Russia of being behind a cyber-attack on dozens of official websites, which included messages warning Ukrainians to “prepare for the worst.”

As the Queen mourned Prince Phillip alone on the eve of his funeral in April, members of the U.K. government were gathered and partying at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street office. As the Daily Telegraph reported today, that was in breach of limits on social gathering. Although the prime minister wasn’t there, his spokesman said it was “deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning.”

In Other International Headlines:

In Opinion:

Stephen Van Dine: The waning influence of deputy ministers

The Kicker:

Finally, in B.C., the saga of the hostage-taking cats and the Vitamix they now call their own continues.

On that note, have a purrfect weekend.

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