Ottawa’s decade of hostile policies hurt Canada’s vaccine production, Pfizer says

OTTAWA—Pfizer Canada delivered a bleak view of Canada’s depleted manufacturing capacity Monday, saying the company recently rejected Ottawa’s pitch to even finish off the last step in the production here on Canadian soil. Pfizer Canada president Cole Pinnow told the Commons health committee that the did try to negotiate domestic manufacturing of the vaccine. But he said the company “wanted to move as fast as the speed of science would allow.” Canada not only lacks the necessary capacity to manufacture the novel vaccine in quantities and at speeds that the company wished, it also lacks capacity for the “fill and finish” stage, where the Pfizer vaccine would be measured and packaged into small glass vials for transport, he said. Last month the company looked at six sites to see if there was a “turnkey solution” but concluded there was no “viable manufacturing for fill and finish that would allow us to quickly transfer our process to Canada.” Right now the vaccine is produced in Pfizer’s Belgium and U.S. facilities, although Pinnow suggested two other countries have secured the ability to “fill and finish” production domestically. Later a Pfizer spokesperson declined to identify which Canadian sites the company rejected. Christina Antoniou said in an email to the Star Pfizer’s already complex supply chain “did not allow for localization due to the speed at which we are deploying the v […]

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‘It’s just disgraceful’: Alliston-area family faces uphill battle to fund daughter’s cancer treatment

There have been many sleepless nights in the Kroeplin household. Everett resident Pat Kroeplin often finds himself laying awake at night, asking the same question over and over: How are we going to pay for this? For several months, he and his wife, Tracy, have been writing emails and making phone calls in hopes of getting provincial bureaucrats to agree to cover an extremely expensive immunotherapy treatment for their 21-year-old daughter Alicia, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in December. She started chemotherapy on Dec. 5, but, a few weeks later, she had an adverse reaction to a component of the treatment. She ended up experiencing seizures and was admitted to the intensive care unit. Once stabilized, she was placed on a low-dose chemo treatment, but her oncologist said her chances of relapsing are high. Her doctor said a treatment called blinatumomab would significantly increase her odds of beating the cancer, but the province does not fund it for patients in her specific circumstance. The treatment costs around $360,000, and while the drug manufacturer has agreed to waive half the cost, the family would still need to come up with $180,000 to cover the rest. “Even when I was working full time, it would take me years to make that much,” said Kroeplin, who retired from his job at Honda in 2018 and is now on a fixed income. He has applied for a second mortgage and has been looking for part-time work. The province has told the family Alicia wou […]

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Ex bureaucrat accused in alleged $11M COVID-19 fraud bought and sold more than $500K in gold last summer, court documents show

A former Ontario bureaucrat, who was fired after the alleged theft of $11 million in COVID-19 funds, bought and sold “more than $500,000” in gold in India last summer, court documents show. In an action filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the province alleges “some or all of” Sanjay Madan, his spouse Shalini, their adult sons Chinmaya and Ujjawal, and associate Vidhan Singh perpetrated “a massive fraud” to funnel pandemic cash to numerous bank accounts at branches of TD, Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, Tangerine, and India’s ICICI Bank. Shalini, Chinmaya, and Ujjawal have denied any wrongdoing as has Singh. Under cross-examination in civil court proceedings by government lawyer Christopher Wayland, Sanjay Madan said he purchased a large amount of gold in New Delhi while on a trip there last August. “Can you give me the approximate amount, please?” Wayland asked on June 8. “I will have to check my records if I have any,” replied Madan, who will be back in court on Thursday. “You don’t even know approximately how much it was?” the lawyer said. “No,” said the former computer specialist, whose $28 million in assets, including $12.4 million in Indian bank accounts, have since been frozen by the government. “Was it more than $50,000, sir?” asked Wayland. “Probably, yeah,” said Madan. “Was it more than $500,000?” the lawyer pressed […]

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Here’s how Ontario’s COVID-19 colour codes work

Editor’s note — April 7, 2021: The Government of Ontario has declared a state of emergency and announced a as of 12:01 a.m. on April 8. The measures will remain in place for at least four weeks. During this time, the province’s tiered COVID-19 framework will remain on pause. On March 5, the Ontario government announced the remaining public health units of will officially move out of the provincewide shutdown and into a revised version of the COVID-19 colour codes next week. The framework allows the province to rank health units based on case numbers and trends, using colour-coded categories. The guidelines for each zone were revised by the provincial government last month, with changes made to retail. Here is a refresher on the colour zones, which were initially put in place on Nov. 3, and the latest changes:  Green (Prevent)  What it is: The “green” level, also known as the “prevent” level, consists of loosened restrictions and only certain high-risk locations remaining closed. What it looks like: Some restrictions for this level include a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors for social gatherings; a maximum 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors for organized public events; a two-metre distance between tables at dining establishments; a maximum of 50 people inside gyms or fitness centres; limiting fitting room capacity at retail stores; closing oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas and whirlpool […]

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