By Elisabeth Saftiuk, Director of Policy

The Government of Manitoba announced changes to Public Health Orders, some of which went into effect on November 13, amid rising COVID-19 case counts, increased community transmission, and a growing strain on the province’s health care system.  It’s important to note that none of these orders has an impact on our business community. The province also opened up 3rd dose vaccine eligibility for all Manitobans ages 18 and up, and provided recommendations for vaccine administration. And as of today, there’s greatly anticipated news about vaccines for the kids, ages 5 to 11.


UPDATE 1 – PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERS

Last Friday, Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon and Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, announced that Manitoba would be taking additional steps to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in the fourth wave of the pandemic. The additional restrictions include:  

Southern Health-Santé Sud health region only – In effect as of Nov. 13 

  • Religious gatherings are limited to 25 people unless the facility can physically divide the space into separate areas, in which case several cohorts of up to 25 can attend the same service. However, the total number of attendees at a service may not exceed 25 per cent of facility capacity, to a maximum of 250 people. Cohorts must not mingle, masks must be worn and physical distancing rules apply. 

Provincewide – In effect as of Dec. 6 (grace period) 

  • Proof of at least one dose of vaccination, or a recent (within 72 hours) negative test result will be required for 12- to 17-year-olds for indoor sports and recreation, including martial arts studios and dance schools. 
  • Proof of at least one dose of vaccination, or a recent (within 72 hours of the start of the camp) negative test result will be required for 12- to 17-year-olds to attend overnight camps. 
  • PCR test results must come from a participating pharmacy as provincial testing sites should only be accessed by symptomatic individuals, or those required to take a PCR test as instructed by public health. 

According to the Province, the orders continue to allow fully vaccinated Manitobans to enjoy as much freedom and as few restrictions as possible, while unvaccinated individuals continue to be restricted in their activities in order to reduce transmission and the most serious outcomes. The chief provincial public health officer has indicated that we are seeing concerning numbers now and that projections indicate the situation will become more dire if we do not take steps to curb the situation immediately. In fact, as of today, we had 200 cases for the first time since June 2021.

The updated orders keep the Pandemic Response System at Restricted (Orange) with schools at Caution (Yellow). All other public health orders remain unchanged and currently, there is no further changes to restrictions on Manitoba businesses.  

Important Links: 


UPDATE 2 – Vaccine Eligibility

Manitoba has expanded access to a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to all adults aged 18 or older. A minimum of six months is required between second and third doses, except in very limited circumstances. To book an appointment, COVID-19 Vaccine – #ProtectMB. The province is recommending that: 

  • individuals at an increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19, their caregivers and close contacts, receive the 3rd dose.  
  • individuals should choose an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for all third doses. Generally, the third dose should be with the same mRNA vaccine as the previous dose. If the same mRNA vaccine is not available or the second dose vaccine is unknown, another mRNA vaccine will be offered.  
  • individuals who received only viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca or Janssen) should get either Pfizer OR Moderna for their additional dose. 
  • immunocompromised individuals should talk to their doctor about which mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) is right based on the emerging evidence and taking into consideration immunization and medical historyas well as personal circumstances. 

Health Canada has authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine for children, giving the regulatory green light to Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine, meaning kids across the country will soon be able to receive additional protection against the novel coronavirus. Children ages five- to 11-years old are now eligible to get vaccinated with a dosage that is one third the size that has been offered to those aged 12 and older.

  • The first shipment of these pediatric doses will arrive on Sunday, with a total of 2.9 million doses landing by the end of next week.
  • While Health Canada has approved the doses to be given 21 days apart, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending an interval of eight weeks or more between the first and second doses. NACI is recommending that, unless otherwise advised by their doctor, children have a 14-day interval between receiving any other vaccines and the COVID-19 shot, calling it a “precaution” to help determine the possible cause of any side-effects that may arise.
  • Manitoba parents and caregivers will be able to book appointments for children ages five to 11 no sooner than Monday, Nov. 22 at 6 a.m., either online or through the vaccine call centre at 1-844-MAN-VACC.
  • Click here to read the Province of Manitoba’s update.

UPDATE 3 – What’s Coming Up: 

Federal Government’s Speech from the Throne – Nov. 22: Canadians re-elected a Liberal minority government on September 20, 2021 and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off his third mandate with a cabinet shuffle at the end of October. Parliament is now scheduled to return on November 22, 2021 with a Speech from the Throne intended to open the new session of Parliament and introduce the government’s direction and goals. Stay tuned for Throne Speech coverage including our thoughts on how it will impact a recovering economy and what it might mean for industry and business.  

Provincial Government’s Speech from the Throne – Nov. 23: Heather Stefanson was sworn in as Manitoba’s 24th Premier on November 2, 2021 and she will kick off the first sitting of the fourth session of the 42nd legislature with a Speech from the Throne on November 23rd. According to the Province, the government will unveil its vision for economic and social recovery and will offer further details about its agenda, focused on reconciliation, health care, education, the economy, and jobs. The seven-day session will rise on December 2nd. Stay tuned for Throne Speech coverage including our insights on the impact to Manitoba’s economy and what it might mean for your business. 

#MBPoli Power Hour with the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs – Date TBD:  We are awaiting a date confirmation to host the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs and the Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, as our next #MBPoli Power Hour special guest. #MBPoli Power Hour is a webinar series dedicated to exploring timely topics and business resources relevant to the government’s roadmap to recovery, economic development, competitiveness, and more. Stay tuned for details coming soon. We hope you will be able to join us for a discussion with this senior Member of Parliament.  

#MBPoli Power Hour with Honourable Jon Reyes, Minister of Economic Development & Jobs – Date TBD: A former business owner and newer member of cabinet, Minister Reyes has been very busy of late announcing successful initiatives such as the Digital Manitoba Initiative, Retrain Manitoba, $1.6 million in funding for NeoFinancial, and more. We’re excited to be planning his participation as an upcoming #MBPoli Power Hour special guest. Details coming very soon.