In the news

2021

February 25

New national survey aims to enroll more than 600,000 participants to study vaccine side effects
CTV News
Dr. Matthew Muller
As the vaccine rollout picks up, a sweeping new national survey is looking for more than half a million Canadians willing to provide information on any adverse events that occur after vaccination.

So you got your COVID-19 shot. Does that mean life goes back to normal?
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Tali Bogler
After Toronto family physician Dr. Tali Bogler received her final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in January, she felt a newfound sense of relief — but also knew her daily life wasn’t going to suddenly change.

February 24

New COVID-19 testing program at Pearson airport to deliver results for select passengers in just two hours
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Kevin Schwartz
Travellers and employees at Toronto’s Pearson airport will soon be able to opt in to a COVID-19 testing research program that will deliver results in just two hours.

Vaccine safety study to examine adverse reactions to COVID-19 shots
The Globe and Mail
Comments by Dr. Matthew Muller
Scientists who are mounting the largest independent study of vaccine safety in Canadian history are seeking the participation of hundreds of thousands of people across the country – including those who have not yet been vaccinated for COVID-19 – to get the information they need.

Advocacy groups call for COVID-19 vaccine plan for migrants, undocumented workers
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Danyaal Raza
Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout needs to guarantee equal access for migrants and undocumented workers, advocates for migrant rights say.

COVID-19 variant found in more Toronto homeless shelters, encampment
Canadian Press
Comments by Dr. Holly Knowles
Variants of COVID-19 have now been found in five Toronto shelters and one homeless encampment, prompting calls for the vulnerable population to quickly be vaccinated against the virus.

February 23

Variants prompt new rules amid “race” with vaccine delivery
Belleville Intelligencer
Comments by Dr. Larissa Matukas
Ontario is increasing efforts to stop the spread of more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus, with doctors urging continued precautions and warning of the risks of reopening the province too quickly.

February 22

Lobbyists guarantee that for-profit cataracts will pay more
Toronto Star
Op-Ed co-written by Dr. Danyaal Raza
The Ford government’s plan to pay private, for-profit clinics for cataract surgeries will cost Ontario at least 25 per cent more per operation than when our hospitals do the surgery. Politically connected lobbyists are behind this plan, which the Health Ministry is quietly enacting while Ontarians are preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hospital diagnostic tests restricted since October
Winnipeg Free Press
Comments by Dr. Larissa Matukas
Manitoba has taken the exceptional move of restricting numerous diagnostic tests in hospitals to clear up capacity for COVID-19 tests.

Province announces funding to train 60 new PSWs in Kitchener
Toronto Star
St. Michael’s is mentioned
The province has announced funding to train 60 new personal support workers in Kitchener to bolster staffing in long-term care.

February 21

Pfizer begins trials on pregnant women
CTV News Network
Interview with Dr. Tali Bogler
Pharmaceutical company starts international study with 4,000 volunteers.

February 18

Fast-spreading U.K. variant will likely become dominant in the GTA before the end of the month, study warns
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Larissa Matukas
A new local study suggests a concerning rise in the B.1.1.7 COVID variant in the GTA, and predicts it will likely become dominant in the region before the end of the month.

February 17

Who gets priority?
CBC Radio
Interview with Dr. Anju Anand
Who should be priority for shots during the second stage of vaccine rollout? The National Advisory Committee on Immunization says racialized people in vulnerable communities. We hear from a public health advocate for their thoughts.

February 16

Delays at the Social Benefits Tribunal have tripled, leaving ODSP claimants in extended limbo
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Gary Bloch
Chad Waisanen says he feels as if his life is stuck in a demoralizing limbo, each day a little more desperate and hopeless than the last.

Big shots
Toronto Life
Comments by Drs. Anna Banerji and Sheila Wijayasinghe
For nearly a year, a Covid-19 vaccine felt like a pipe dream. Then, seemingly overnight, it was here. What it meant to the front-line workers and long-term care residents who were first in line.

February 15

Got a COVID-19 vaccine? Act like you didn’t
Toronto Star
Comments by Jenna Lee
Until Ontario’s three-phased vaccine rollout is completed, the province will likely experience a tiered society in which some people will have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, some just one, and others will still be waiting.

A visit to Sunnybook’s virtual ER: ‘It’s quite amazing how much you can do by video’
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Shaun Mehta
An elderly man who had fallen and badly injured his wrist. A young child with a high fever, his parents worried about a possible infection. A man with an alarmingly red and swollen eye. A woman who had recently suffered a miscarriage and was in mental distress.

February 13

Canada is ‘playing chicken’ with COVID-19 by reopening while variants are spreading widely
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
Much of Canada is lifting lockdown measures and reopening risky indoor settings while experts warn fast-spreading coronavirus variants threaten to jeopardize recent progress and trigger a brutal third wave.

February 10

Risk of death from COVID-19 is 3.5 times higher than influenza, CMAJ study finds
Canadian Press
Comments by Dr. Amol Verma
A study published Wednesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found the risk of death from COVID-19 was 3.5 times higher than from influenza.

February 9

Ontario reopening: Doctor discusses province’s plan and how virus variants could impact it
CBC Radio Kitchener-Waterloo
Comments by Dr. Fahad Razak
Dr. Fahad Razak is a staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and a member of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. He discussed plans by Ontario to let more businesses reopen and gradually lift its stay-at-home orders.

U of T study of 1918 Spanish flu highlights danger of hesitant, decentralized pandemic response
U of T News
Comments by Dr. Peter Jüni
Researchers from the University of Toronto, working with counterparts in Switzerland, have found that a hesitant and decentralized response to the 1918 Spanish Flu led to longer and stronger follow-up waves of the disease in the Swiss canton of Bern a century ago – a finding that holds valuable lessons for public health officials dealing with COVID-19.

February 8

Doctors’ virtual visits jumped by 5,600% during COVID. What does that mean for the future of Canadian health care?
Toronto Star
Comments by Drs. Rick Glazier and Tara Kiran
The pandemic has radically changed the way Ontarians get appointments with their family doctors, with office visits dropping by almost 80 per cent and virtual-care visits jumping by a whopping 5,600 per cent, a new study shows.

February 6

Here’s what an effective rapid testing campaign would look like — if our health officials made it happen
National Post
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
As tensions rise in Canada over vaccine supply problems, experts advising the federal government say we’re falling woefully short in another area that could make a huge difference in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic: rapid testing.

February 4

As Toronto’s largest shelter grapples with a COVID-19 outbreak, a resident talks about life inside and his worry for the elderly
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Stephen Hwang
When Alexey Nadein looks around Seaton House, Toronto’s largest homeless shelter, the facility looks little like he first encountered it, a year or so ago, when it was packed to the brim.

Health providers ‘roll with the punches’
Catholic Register
Comments by Dr. Rania Lingas
There’s no question the global pandemic has posed great challenges to health systems around the world, from the many suffering from illness to those providing their support and care.

February 2

Who is an essential worker in the GTA? Millions of us, data shows. This is life — outside lockdown — in five graphs
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Farah Mawani
Since arriving in Toronto in 1994, Lily Wong has assumed many roles: driving school secretary, software saleswoman, part-time postal outlet worker, and now, a nursing home dietary aide.

February 1

Thousands of Ontario kids heading back to school today
CTV News Your Morning
Interview with Dr. Prabhat Jha
Dr. Prabhat Jha from St. Michael’s Hospital weighs in on the decision to return some students to class.

February

Toronto physician leads GTA Hospital Incident Management System
Hospital News
Comments by Dr. Andrew Baker
As the second wave surges across Ontario, hospitals are facing significant pressures from COVID-19, particularly around bed capacity.

Definitely not the flu: risk of death from COVID-19 3.5 times higher than from flu
Hospital News
Comments by Dr. Amol Verma
A new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) found that the risk of death from COVID-19 was 3.5 times higher than from influenza.

January 30

‘Man, I’ve seen a lot of people die’: Canada’s other health crisis
CTV News W5
Comments by Drs. Tara Gomes and Daniel Beriault
It’s the toxic drug supply; an epidemic within the pandemic. Never before in the history of this country have more people died from drug overdoses. It’s a health emergency that is being fuelled by the pandemic.

January 29

After newness fades, Canada settles down to legal marijuana
New York Times
Comments by Dr. Dan Werb
As part of The Times’s Promises Made series, I’ve looked back at Canada’s experience with becoming the first major industrialized nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

Pfizer’s vaccine deficit
CTV National News
Comments by Dr. Farah Mawani
New vaccination tactics and timing so far can’t change the riddle of the rollout.

January 28

Rising COVID-19 cases in northern Ontario schools raise concerns as reopenings set for Monday
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Prabhat Jha
Northern school boards — the first in the province to resume in-person classes after an extended holiday break — are reporting at least 14 COVID-19 outbreaks among students, staff and other unidentified individuals since returning Jan. 11.

Let’s talk about the medical profession’s hidden equity crisis: Canadians’ mental health care
The Globe and Mail
Op-ed co-written by Dr. Thomas Ungar
Raising awareness is a good thing, and campaigns such as Bell Let’s Talk should be lauded for their efforts. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental illness doesn’t begin and end with personal attitudes and behaviours.

Quebec researchers find possible coronavirus treatment, but some remain skeptical
The Globe and Mail
Comments by Dr. John Marshall
In the quest to keep COVID-19 patients out of hospital, the ideal treatment would be a cheap, widely available pill that could be taken immediately after a positive test.

January 27

Offer the COVID vaccine to people who are pregnant, trying to conceive, CMAJ commentary says
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Tali Bogler
People who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive should be offered COVID-19 vaccine on ethical grounds, says a new commentary in Canada’s leading medical journal.

January 26

Pregnant healthcare workers can get COVID-19 vaccine, province says
CityNews
Comments by Dr. Tali Bogler
After initially being excluded, a change in guidelines will give pregnant healthcare workers a chance to get the shot.

Made-in-Canada coronavirus vaccine starts human clinical trials
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Mario Ostrowski
A made-in-Canada vaccine to protect against COVID-19 began human clinical trials Tuesday in Toronto, says the biotechnology company that developed the vaccine.

How rapidly is Canada rolling out COVID-19 rapid testing?
Global News
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
People living on the street in Vancouver’s lower east side; pop-up site attendees across Nova Scotia; staff and visitors at long-term care homes in various places across Canada — these are all groups with access to COVID-19 rapid test pilot programs.

January 25

As doctors urge more COVID-19 testing in schools, millions of rapid tests sit unused
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
Improved access and quicker turnaround times for COVID-19 testing are essential if schools in Ontario’s hardest-hit regions are to open again safely, experts say.

January 24

From Montreal to Manchester, communities begin to vaccinate the homeless
Washington Post
Comments by Dr. Karen Weyman
Amid worrying new outbreaks of covid-19 and pressure from advocates, Montreal this month began vaccinating some of the city’s homeless, members of a group that is chronically neglected around the world and acutely vulnerable to the coronavirus.

January 23

Toronto’s Indigenous population largely overlooked in COVID-19 vaccine plans, doctors who work with them say
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Janet Smylie
Indigenous people have been largely left out of Toronto’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plans, according to several prominent Indigenous health leaders.

January 22

‘We’re just dreading, dreading the minus 15s’: Despite a milder winter so far, hospitals have already seen a spike in frostbite among homeless patients due to COVID-19
Toronto Star
Comments by Nicole Champagne
Toronto is in the midst of a particularly mild winter, but in the emergency room at St. Michael’s Hospital, social worker Nicole Champagne has seen more frostbite and hypothermia than ever.

January 20

Vaccine rollout to homeless people in Toronto’s shelters put on hold due to supply shortage
Canadian Press
Comments by Dr. Stephen Hwang
A pilot project that aimed to vaccinate homeless people in Toronto’s shelters has been put on hold due to a vaccine shortage, local officials said Wednesday.

Canadian health care: Is being better than the U.S. good enough?
TVO
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
Back in 2017, as the Donald Trump administration was trying — unsuccessfully — to repeal the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, Vice-President Mike Pence said the following during an with an Alaskan radio station: “You know, somewhere in between where I’m sitting in Washington, D.C., and Alaska is a place called Canada. I probably don’t need to tell the people in Alaska about the failings of national socialized health care, because it’s right in our neighbour, and you see the results every day.”

January 19

Prioritize ICU treatment for patients ‘most likely to survive’ in event of COVID ‘major surge,’ Ontario hospitals told
Canadian Press
Comments by Dr. Andrew Baker
Hospitals in Ontario have received a much-anticipated document that lays out the criteria to be used if intensive care units fill up and medical resources are scarce.

COVID-19 vaccine pilot aims to protect most vulnerable in Toronto’s shelter system
Toronto.com
Unity Health Toronto is mentioned
Some of Toronto’s most vulnerable shelter residents and the frontline workers that support them are being offered the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Toronto launches pilot project to vaccinate homeless and shelter workers
680 News
Unity Health Toronto is mentioned
The City of Toronto has announced an initiative to help further protect people in the city’s shelter system from COVID-19.

‘It leads to mistrust’: Experts weigh in on Ontario’s COVID-19 communications
TVO
Comments by Dr. Farah Mawani
Within hours of releasing Ontario’s latest stay-at-home order last week, the government announced and then reversed and then recommitted to a provincial residential-eviction ban.

Province could likely mandate COVID-19 vaccine for health workers — and win a legal challenge, analysis says
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Tim Rutledge
If provinces and territories mandated vaccines for health-care workers, they would likely win any charter challenges launched by aggrieved employees, so long as some exemptions were permitted, a new legal analysis argues.

Montreal, Toronto launch pilot project to vaccinate homeless people
CBC News The National
Comments by Dr. Stephen Hwang
Montreal and Toronto have launched pilot projects to start vaccinating people who are homeless against COVID-19. But officials have several challenges to overcome, including a lack of trust in the health system.

January 18

Canada has tens of millions of COVID-19 rapid tests. Why aren’t we using them?
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
Where are the COVID-19 rapid tests? It’s a question that was repeatedly raised by health professionals and opposition politicians in the fall, as the country headed into the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

January 15

Ontario special education classes can continue in person, but concerns about safety persist
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Ripudaman Minhas
With two young children enrolled in special education classes, Adriana Ferreira-Legault wrestles with a dilemma every morning over in-person schooling for her children.

Ontario’s new lockdown is confusing. A big question remains: Will it work?
Toronto Star
Comments by Peter Jüni
An epidemiologist who sits on the provincial government’s scientific advisory table says it’s clear what needs to be done in Ontario to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Residents roll up sleeves to COVID vaccine at Scarborough long-term-care home
Toronto.com
Comments by Pat Colucci
Residents of the Houses of Providence received their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month as music played in the halls and joyful staff looked on.

January 14

The COVID-19 death toll is even worse than it looks
Wall Street Journal
Comments by Dr. Prabhat Jha
The recorded death count from the COVID-19 pandemic as of Thursday is nearing two million. The true extent is far worse.

January 13

While the nation obsessed over vaccine deliveries, the pandemic was getting worse
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
The arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine in Canada was the first truly good news since the pandemic began nearly a year ago. But it was also a false dawn.

Workplaces were source of 25 per cent of Manitoba’s COVID-19 community-linked cases last fall
CBC Manitoba
Comments by Dr. Farah Mawani
Manitoba saw hundreds of COVID-19 cases linked to workplaces and stores last fall after the province ordered most businesses shut and barred private gatherings.

January 11

Should expecting mothers get the COVID-19 vaccine?
TLN
Interview with Dr. Filomena Meffe
Dr. Filomena Meffe, chief of OBGYN at St. Michael’s Hospital, talks about pregnancy during the ongoing pandemic, and addresses the concerns regarding pregnant women receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Un portrait sombre aussi en Ontario (en français)
Radio-Canada Le Téléjournal
Comments by Dr. Samuel Vaillancourt
La santé publique recense aujourd’hui 29 nouveaux décès, ce qui porte le nombre de morts liées au nouveau coronavirus à 5012 depuis le début de la pandémie en Ontario.

January 9

St. Joseph’s Health Centre health-care workers get Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
Toronto.com
St. Joseph’s Health Care launched its COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Saturday to inoculate its health-care employees working on the front line of the pandemic.

‘Lockdown light’ failed in Canada’s hardest-hit regions. Here’s what experts say should happen now
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
There’s no getting around it — lockdown measures don’t seem to be working in Ontario and Quebec the second time around.

January 8

Pregnant, breastfeeding and immunocompromised people no longer excluded from getting COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Tali Bogler
Pregnant, breastfeeding and immunocompromised people will now be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario, if they choose to, according to new guidance from the Ministry of Health.

January 7

‘We are in worse shape now than ever before’: Toronto records 2,000th COVID-19 death, with the peak nowhere in sight
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Amol Verma
COVID-19 has now killed 2,000 Torontonians — a grim milestone reached Thursday — as experts warn the death toll is poised to accelerate through the winter.

Toronto hospitals encouraged by early stages of virtual ER programs
Canadian Press
Comments by Dr. Shaun Mehta
Three Toronto hospitals say they’ve had early success with their virtual emergency departments and hope that the service introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic is here to stay.

Ontario’s grim tally
CTV National News
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
COVID’s relentless march is showing no mercy here either.

January 6

Canada to vaccinate federal inmates against COVID-19 starting Friday
Reuters
Comments by Dr. Farah Mawani
Canada will start inoculating its federal prison inmates against COVID-19 starting Friday, protecting a vulnerable population that many jurisdictions have struggled to keep safe during the pandemic, a government statement said on Wednesday.

January 5

Suicide, let’s talk about it
The Happy Molecule podcast
Interview with Dr. Sakina Rizvi
Suicide. We tend to shy away from the topic. However, with rates rising at alarming pace with lockdowns and isolation, we can’t ignore it any longer. What to know, what to watch for.

January 4

For students with disabilities, school lockdowns come with a huge cost: vital brain development
The Globe and Mail
Commentary by Dr. Ripudaman Minhas
Schools are much more than classrooms for students with disabilities and exceptional learning needs. They are community hubs and key access points for therapy and health care. As a developmental pediatrician focused on the health and well-being of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, I have watched in horror as this aspect of my patients’ lived reality is treated as an afterthought in our society’s pandemic response.

What the world could teach Canada about COVID-19 vaccine rollouts
CBC The National
Comments by Dr. Tara Kiran
Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has gotten off to a sluggish start, but there could be lessons to learn from countries such as Israel, which has vaccination clinics operating around the clock.

Mental illness in condos amid a pandemic
Condo Business
Comments by Dr. Thomas Ungar
After 20 years in the industry, one property manager says he’s seen a fair number of residents struggling with mental health conditions. “We face these things all the time,” says Vadim Koyen, president of CPO Management. “Unfortunately, the number of people who suffer from mental illness are increasing tremendously and those people are living in condominiums among us.”

January 2

The loneliness of fighting cancer in a pandemic
The Globe and Mail
Comments by Dr. Rania Lingas
Six years after being diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, Jamie Phelps is no stranger to bad news. With her husband, Chris Phelps, by her side, the 34-year-old has braved countless rounds of chemotherapy, three liver and four lung surgeries, and a hysterectomy.

January 1

Our wishes for 2021: From the thrill of a crowd, to new respect, to speedy vaccine access for all
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Carolyn Snider
So long, 2020. It hardly needs explaining at this point why the past 12 months have been so challenging for so many people. But after a period that has pushed many to the brink, we are set to step into a new year.

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