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

File photo
Leduc RCMP request assistance to identify armed robbery suspect

Leduc RCMP are looking for male responsible for an armed robbery at Super Car and RV Wash in Leduc.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Sabrina Wilde in front of a recently purchased monster truck. Submitted.
Thorsby business women a finalist for 2021 Alberta Women’s Entrepreneurship Award

Sabrina Wilde with Lone Wolf Mechanical is a finalist for the entrepreneurial award.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

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