In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Mar. 22 ...
What we are watching in Canada ...
OTTAWA - Canada's COVID-19 vaccination drive is poised to shift into high gear this week as the federal public health agency prepares to take delivery of the largest number of doses since the launch of the immunization effort.
More than 1.94 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are set to arrive this week, alongside 846,000 shots of the product developed by Moderna.
Figures from the Public Health Agency of Canada suggest the pace set over the next seven days will mark the start of a sustained delivery ramp-up, with Pfizer-BioNTech expected to continue providing weekly shipments of at least a million doses for the foreseeable future.
The accelerated pace of inoculation deliveries marks a dramatic reversal from earlier in the year, when production delays in Europe caused the pharmaceutical giants producing the coveted shots to pause a number of international shipments.
The torrent of vaccines flooding into the country over the next seven days is set to receive an additional boost in the weeks ahead due in part to a pending exchange between Canada and the United States.
Public Procurement Minister Anita Anand said on Friday that Canada was finalizing an agreement with its neighbour to the south that would see Ottawa receive 1.5 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot before the end of the month.
Also this ...
Several provinces are redoubling COVID-19 vaccination efforts today, offering shots to broader swaths of the population.
Ontario has lowered the age threshold for those who can book vaccines through the government's online system starting today, from 80 down to 75.
Also starting today, certain pharmacies and family physicians in some regions will be allowed to administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot to anyone 60 or older.
Previously, that vaccine was only offered to those between the ages of 60 and 64, but that has expanded now that the product has been approved for use in older adults.
Meanwhile, Quebec is expected to start vaccinating people 65 and up in Montreal-area pharmacies today, a week after the provincial booking system opened for reservations.
And to the east, New Brunswick is stepping up a program to vaccinate high school staff, saying it expects 4,500 such workers will receive a first dose.
As of last night, government figures show 3.95 million doses of vaccine had been administered across Canada, and nearly 630,000 people had been fully vaccinated.
And this ...
OTTAWA - The recently appointed head of the Canada Infrastructure Bank says the federal agency has a limited runway to prove its worth for the long term.
Ehren Cory says the financing agency can do that by taking outsized risks to attract private backers for large-scale projects.
It can also help the four-year-old body compete to keep investor dollars in Canada amid low interest rates and higher yields overseas.
The Liberals created the agency in 2017 and infused it with $35 billion in federal dollars to finance large-scale, transformative projects, but the bank has been criticized for slow approvals and failing to meet the lofty goals set for it.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Cory says he thinks internal changes in the last few months, as well as new marching orders from Ottawa, should speed up the pace of investments.
What we are watching in the U.S. ...
Despite the clamour to speed up the U.S. vaccination drive against COVID-19, the first three months of the rollout suggest faster is not necessarily better.
A surprising new analysis found that states such as South Carolina and Florida that raced to offer the vaccine to ever-larger groups of people have vaccinated smaller shares of their population than those that moved more slowly and methodically, such as Hawaii and Connecticut.
The explanation, as experts see it: The rapid expansion of eligibility caused a surge in demand too big for some states to handle. The result was serious disarray, confusion and frustration.
The analysis may hold an important lesson for states as they rush to meet President Joe Biden's goal of making all adults eligible for vaccination by May 1.
Also this ...
Many people are contributing to GoFundMe pages for victims of the deadly Atlanta-area shootings.
Randy Park launched a page asking for $20,000 to help pay funeral expenses for his mother, who was killed in the attacks.
By Sunday, the donations were approaching $3 million.
To date, no central fund has been created to aid families of the victims — a contrast with some other mass shootings where groups have been set up to collect and distribute money to those directly affected.
For now, potential donors to the most recent attack must scour individual GoFundMe accounts.
What we are watching in the rest of the world ...
BEIJING — The second of the "two Michaels," held for more than two years on spying charges in apparent retaliation for Canada's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, went on trial today in Beijing.
The trial of analyst and former diplomat Michael Kovrig follows an initial hearing in the case of fellow Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on Friday in the northeastern city of Dandong. A verdict is still pending in that case.
Canadian diplomats have been refused access to the trials and were told the hearings were being held behind closed doors because of alleged national security concerns.
The Chinese government has provided almost no information about the accusations against the two, but a newspaper run by the ruling Communist Party alleges they collaborated in stealing state secrets and sending them abroad.
Meng was arrested in Vancouver in Dec. 2018 following an extradition request from the United States where she's accused of violating sanctions against Iran.
And this ...
CANBERRA — Hundreds of people have been rescued from floodwaters that have isolated dozens of towns in Australia’s most populous state New South Wales and forced thousands to evacuate their homes as record rain continues.
Around 18,000 people had been evacuated from flooding in New South Wales and emergency services feared up to 54,000 people could be displaced.
Rain is forecast to continue until Wednesday. Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament that 35 communities in northern New South Wales had been isolated and emergency services had conducted more than 700 flood rescues.
CALGARY - Canadian Pacific Railway Limited has agreed to buy Kansas City Southern in a bid to create a rail route linking Canada, the United States and Mexico.
The two companies announced in a joint press release that CP Rail has entered into a merger agreement to acquire Kansas City Southern for approximately US$25 billion.
Under the deal, shares of Kansas City Southern will be valued at US$275 per share, representing a 23 per cent premium over Friday closing prices.
KCS shareholders will receive 0.489 of a CP share and US$90 in cash for each KCS common share held.
The merger, which has to be approved by the Surface Transportation Board, will create what the companies describe as the first rail network connecting the three North American countries.
They say the combined company will operate more than 32,100 kilometres of rail and generate total revenues of approximately US$8.7 billion based on 2020 revenues.
The press release says the Surface Transportation Board review is expected to be completed by the middle of 2022.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 22, 2021
The Canadian Press