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

Fernie Aquatic Centre is scheduled to reopen in mid to late September. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Fernie Aquatic Centre to get new starting blocks

The new blocks will allow the centre to host more competitive swim meets

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Brock Tomlinson, Kiera Hansen on top, Jackson Radkie and Jarren Beck are some of the Elk Valley Dolphins' divisional championship qualifiers: pictured here excited to race. (Contributed by Angie Abdou)
Eight Dolphins qualify for divisional championships

Contributed by Angie Abdou Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club June 19th brings… Continue reading

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

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

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Most Read