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

A promotional image for The Wharf Sessions album. (Salmon Arm Arts Centre image)
The Wharf Sessions album pays tribute to Salmon Arm’s long-running concert series

Salmon Arm Arts Centre wanted to give recording opportunity to artists in a tough year

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

The Shuswap’s new advocate for the prevention of human-wildlife conflict, Julia Helland, pictured in her WildSafeBC shirt. (Contributed)
Go wild for animal safety this summer in the Shuswap

New WildSafeBC coordinator for Columbia Shuswap to help prevent human-wildlife conflict

A concept rendering of the proposed seven-unit, two-storey development at 1129 Riverside Ave. in Sicamous. (District of Sicamous graphic)
Proposed luxury development in Sicamous sparks parking concerns

Seven-unit commercial-residential building planned for Riverside Avenue

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

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

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

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

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Most Read