A man walks through rows of chairs and privacy cubicles at the “Hockey Hub” mass vaccination centre, known as the CAA Centre, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Thursday, June 3, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of Canada’s largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A man walks through rows of chairs and privacy cubicles at the “Hockey Hub” mass vaccination centre, known as the CAA Centre, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Thursday, June 3, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of Canada’s largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Provinces consider COVID-19 vaccine incentives to reach those not getting shots

Manitoba, Quebec examine ways to reverse low, or lagging vaccination rates

Canada’s two most populous provinces continued to see a steady decline of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations as some leaders mulled vaccine incentives to connect with hard-to-reach populations.

“Some people are scared — with no reason — about the vaccine, so we have to explain to them why they need to be vaccinated,” Quebec Premier François Legault said Thursday.

About 70 per cent of Quebecers over the age of 12 have received at least one dose. But there are lagging vaccination rates in two of the cities most affected by the pandemic — Montreal and its northern suburb Laval.

In Montréal-Nord, one of the city’s lowest-income boroughs, the vaccination rate is almost 44 per cent, despite that health region having the second-highest infection rate in Quebec.

Legualt said his Coalition Avenir Québec government is considering vaccine incentives.

The province reported 267 new infections and six more deaths from COVID-19.

The Manitoba government announced it will offer grants of up to $20,000 each to community, religious, sports and arts organizations in areas where vaccine uptake has been low.

The money can be spent on anything from new outreach programs to prizes such as meals or tickets to a sporting event.

Premier Brian Pallister said about two-thirds of eligible Manitobans have received at least one dose of vaccine.

“It’s a significant accomplishment but it’s not over,” he said.

There are areas of low vaccine uptake, including the core areas of Winnipeg and some rural areas south of the provincial capital. Pallister said there’s no easy answer, but low rates can be linked to mobility issues, language barriers and cultural or religious concerns

In recent weeks, Manitoba has seen a significant surge of COVID-19 infections, which has put serious pressure on the province’s health-care system and overwhelmed its intensive care capacity.

Patients requiring intensive care have been sent to hospitals in Ontario and Saskatchewan, and Pallister said he’s worked out a deal with Alberta if more help is needed.

Manitoba reported 360 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths.

Nationally, however, all the key indicators including new cases, hospitalizations and fatalities are trending down.

Ontario marked its declining infections by ending some public health orders put in place at the height of the third wave.

Some hospitals can resume surgeries requiring in-patient and critical care resources.

There were 870 new cases in Ontario and 10 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health officials there also announced people who have received a first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be able to get Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna as a booster starting Friday.

The decision follows guidance earlier this week from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. Quebec started mixing second doses in April and Manitoba followed earlier this month.

Ontario officials warned that while the COVID-19 outlook is growing more positive, people must remain vigilant because of the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant that was first detected in India.

That variant is responsible for nearly a quarter of COVID-19 infections in Ontario.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province’s vaccine task force is considering allowing people to book their second vaccine doses sooner than the current four-month interval.

“We’re looking at all options, because we need to stay ahead of this variant,” she said.

Quebec and Nova Scotia also announced second doses in those provinces would be moved ahead.

—Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Free beer, other new incentives for Biden’s ‘vaccine sprint’

RELATED: New study to look at COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in South Asian community

Coronavirusvaccines

Just Posted

(Adam Louis/Observer)
PHOTOS: Students leap into action in track events at Kent Elementary

At Kent Elementary, when the sun’s outside, the fun’s outside. The intermediate… Continue reading

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

One person was transported to hospital with minor injuries following a two-vehicle crash on Hot Springs Road June 10. (Adam Louis/Observer)
One hurt following two-vehicle crash on Hot Springs Road

Agassiz Fire Department, B.C. Ambulance Service attended with RCMP

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read