Scramble for COVID vaccines in Peel prompts calls for more community clinics

Jaskaran Sandhu says the community vaccine clinic he helped lead at a Peel Region gurdwara had something the average mass clinic may lack — immediate comfort and familiarity to residents. Those booking appointments there “were essential workers, they were people from the community, and people who trusted the gurdwara,” said Sandhu, who’s also director of administration for the World Sikh Organization. But the clinic, held at the Ontario Khalsa Darbar gurdwara in Mississauga in early May, was only temporary and is no longer open. It ran due to available vaccine supply from Peel Region and resources from Amazon, which Peel brought in as a corporate partner providing resources like immunizers and signage. The gurdwara provided the location and hundreds of volunteers. Over the span of two weeks, 5,000 residents were vaccinated there.While Sandhu and the rest of the team that organized the clinic have made it clear to Peel Region they would like to reopen — whether that happens remains to be seen, he said. They are currently in talks with Peel to get it back up and running. Peel residents don’t have time to wait, he said. On Monday when the provincial booking portal opened for second doses for those vaccinated on May 9 or earlier, appointments in the region ran out fast. With the extremely contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 poised to become the dominant strain in Peel, there can be no delay with second doses, community organizers and medical professionals say.Any delay in launching more pop-up and community clinics in Peel threatens to further hurt one of the most hard hit regions — a manufacturing hub that is home to thousands of essential workers. This week residents have been phoning Sandhu, asking if they can get their second doses at the gurdwara. He’s had to tell them they can’t for now. “A lot of folks here are complaining. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of booking opportunities here locally. People are travelling as far as Barrie and Hamilton. And it’s off-putting. We’re in a hot spot ... there still seems to be a gap,” he said. Pop-up and community clinics were very successful in hot spots like Brampton as they tackled impediments to access including having language support on site, said Dr. Amanpreet Brar, a general surgery resident at the University of Toronto.“Unfortunately, no plan was made at that time for second dose and those clinics didn’t get further vaccines and have been shut down since then,” she said. In statements to the Star, Peel Region said they have made strides in vaccinating the population, with 75 per cent having received a first dose and close to 12 per cent receiving two doses. Peel Public Health fixed clinics are fully booked but residents are encouraged to check back as there will be more appointments made available. Hospital clinics, pharmacies and several primary care providers also have vaccines.The Ministry of Health told the Star they are working with public health units to “fully utilize” their vaccine supply and they will provide additional doses to “Delta hot spots” when local inventory has been fully used. The per capita approach to vaccine allocation by the province continues to impact communities like Peel that are grappling with systemic health inequities, said Dr. Andrew Boozary, executive director of the Gattuso Centre for Social Medicine at University Health Network.“When we’re taking our eye off what needs to be done with getting the vaccines out ... Peel Region has been one of the most stark examples throughout the pandemic,” he said. “This is still life and death for people who are in neighbourhoods having COVID positivity rates over 10 per cent.”While Peel’s rate of double-vaccination is climbing, some postal code areas still have a lower than average rate.For instance, the postal code L4T, which is the Malton neighbourhood in Mississauga, is testing at 11.4 per cent positivity as of the week ending June 5, according to data from ICES. As of June 7, L4T has had 3.62 per cent of its population fully vaccinated. Malton, near Pearson International Airport, is part of a cluster of neighbourhoods that have maintained hot spot status throughout the pandemic. The region is known to house essential workers and according to the 2016 census, close to half the population speaks a language other than English and French at home. Just north of that postal code is one of the community clinics still operating that is aimed directly at the South Asian population in Peel.Dr. Raj Grewal, an emergency room doctor and co-founder of the South Asian COVID Task Force, launched the vaccine clinic and testing centre at the Embassy Grand Convention Centre in Brampton last month with his wife Dr. Priya Suppal.Clinic staff speak multiple languages including Punjabi to help residents book appointments on the phone and guide walk-ins. It’s a place many South Asian people feel comfortable, he said. “The pop-ups are gone now,” said Grewal, referring to the gurdwara clinic and the Shri Swami

Scramble for COVID vaccines in Peel prompts calls for more community clinics

Jaskaran Sandhu says the community vaccine clinic he helped lead at a Peel Region gurdwara had something the average mass clinic may lack — immediate comfort and familiarity to residents.

Those booking appointments there “were essential workers, they were people from the community, and people who trusted the gurdwara,” said Sandhu, who’s also director of administration for the World Sikh Organization.

But the clinic, held at the Ontario Khalsa Darbar gurdwara in Mississauga in early May, was only temporary and is no longer open. It ran due to available vaccine supply from Peel Region and resources from Amazon, which Peel brought in as a corporate partner providing resources like immunizers and signage.

The gurdwara provided the location and hundreds of volunteers. Over the span of two weeks, 5,000 residents were vaccinated there.

While Sandhu and the rest of the team that organized the clinic have made it clear to Peel Region they would like to reopen — whether that happens remains to be seen, he said. They are currently in talks with Peel to get it back up and running.

Peel residents don’t have time to wait, he said. On Monday when the provincial booking portal opened for second doses for those vaccinated on May 9 or earlier, appointments in the region ran out fast.

With the extremely contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 poised to become the dominant strain in Peel, there can be no delay with second doses, community organizers and medical professionals say.

Any delay in launching more pop-up and community clinics in Peel threatens to further hurt one of the most hard hit regions — a manufacturing hub that is home to thousands of essential workers.

This week residents have been phoning Sandhu, asking if they can get their second doses at the gurdwara. He’s had to tell them they can’t for now.

“A lot of folks here are complaining. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of booking opportunities here locally. People are travelling as far as Barrie and Hamilton. And it’s off-putting. We’re in a hot spot ... there still seems to be a gap,” he said.

Pop-up and community clinics were very successful in hot spots like Brampton as they tackled impediments to access including having language support on site, said Dr. Amanpreet Brar, a general surgery resident at the University of Toronto.

“Unfortunately, no plan was made at that time for second dose and those clinics didn’t get further vaccines and have been shut down since then,” she said.

In statements to the Star, Peel Region said they have made strides in vaccinating the population, with 75 per cent having received a first dose and close to 12 per cent receiving two doses.

Peel Public Health fixed clinics are fully booked but residents are encouraged to check back as there will be more appointments made available. Hospital clinics, pharmacies and several primary care providers also have vaccines.

The Ministry of Health told the Star they are working with public health units to “fully utilize” their vaccine supply and they will provide additional doses to “Delta hot spots” when local inventory has been fully used.

The per capita approach to vaccine allocation by the province continues to impact communities like Peel that are grappling with systemic health inequities, said Dr. Andrew Boozary, executive director of the Gattuso Centre for Social Medicine at University Health Network.

“When we’re taking our eye off what needs to be done with getting the vaccines out ... Peel Region has been one of the most stark examples throughout the pandemic,” he said. “This is still life and death for people who are in neighbourhoods having COVID positivity rates over 10 per cent.”

While Peel’s rate of double-vaccination is climbing, some postal code areas still have a lower than average rate.

For instance, the postal code L4T, which is the Malton neighbourhood in Mississauga, is testing at 11.4 per cent positivity as of the week ending June 5, according to data from ICES. As of June 7, L4T has had 3.62 per cent of its population fully vaccinated.

Malton, near Pearson International Airport, is part of a cluster of neighbourhoods that have maintained hot spot status throughout the pandemic. The region is known to house essential workers and according to the 2016 census, close to half the population speaks a language other than English and French at home.

Just north of that postal code is one of the community clinics still operating that is aimed directly at the South Asian population in Peel.

Dr. Raj Grewal, an emergency room doctor and co-founder of the South Asian COVID Task Force, launched the vaccine clinic and testing centre at the Embassy Grand Convention Centre in Brampton last month with his wife Dr. Priya Suppal.

Clinic staff speak multiple languages including Punjabi to help residents book appointments on the phone and guide walk-ins. It’s a place many South Asian people feel comfortable, he said.

“The pop-ups are gone now,” said Grewal, referring to the gurdwara clinic and the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir clinic in Etobicoke that is also no longer running.

“People are trying to navigate where to get their second dose now,” he said. That’s why his team at the Embassy is doing outreach in Brampton, even going to nearby parks where older people go on walks to let them know.

It’s that kind of direct communication that is going to be needed, for those who are getting missed by the provincial booking system or don’t have a family doctor, or didn’t grab a pharmacy shot, he said. Brampton needs these shots quickly, as just last week his clinic alone was testing a 10 per cent positivity rate, he added.

“I’m hoping we get two vaccines into people’s arms and we get more vaccine into Peel,” he said.

Olivia Bowden is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Reach her via email: obowden@thestar.ca

Source : Toronto Star More   

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‘Colour-coded’ retirement security: Study finds economic marginalization and inequity follow people into old age

Indigenous and racialized seniors have much lower retirement incomes and higher poverty rates than their white counterparts, which a new study says reflects how economic marginalization and inequity follows people into their old age.Overall, white Canadian seniors enjoy the most retirement security with an average yearly income at $42,800, way above the $32,200 for their peers in the Indigenous communities and $29,200 for visible minorities over the age of 65.Based on 2016 census data, the report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found 13.7 per cent of white seniors lived in poverty compared to 21.5 per cent among Indigenous seniors and 19.8 per cent among racialized seniors, according to the Low Income Measure After Tax or LIM-AT.Hence, it’s not surprising that seniors from marginalized groups have to count on public pensions and benefits to make up for lagging retirement incomes, says the study, titled “Colour-coded Retirement,” released Wednesday.“The data reveal that there are real consequences of economic marginalization and systemic racism. Elders and seniors are financially insecure in retirement, if they can retire at all, because the opportunities for saving are so limited,” says Hayden King, a report co-author and executive editor of the Yellowhead Institute, a First Nation-led research centre.Senior white Canadians, who made up 85 per cent of the senior population in the country, have the most diverse sources of income of all groups. About a third of their income comes from public pension sources such as the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans, Old Age Security (OAS), and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS); a third from retirement contributions to work and individual pension plans; and the rest from investment and employment earnings as well as other sources.In comparison, public pension accounts for 47 per cent of Indigenous seniors’ and 40 per cent of racialized seniors’ retirement income, respectively.These two groups — accounting for 14.8 per cent of the population over age 65 in Canada — had less money to draw from their employers’ pension plan and own retirement savings, or investment income. They were more likely to rely on employment income.RPPs and RRSPs account for a third of white seniors’ retirement income, versus 25 per cent for Indigenous seniors and 21 per cent for racialized seniors.On the whole, racialized Canadian households have less spare money to contribute to those plans than white Canadian households. And when they do, their contributions are lower.Chinese households were an exception with an average contribution of $10,000 in 2015, which was higher than the $7,600 contribution made by white households. In comparison, Black families only made a $4,600 average contribution.“The overall low share of the racialized and Indigenous population that contribute to RPPs points to reduced retirement security for the next generation of workers,” the report warned.Among racial minority groups, retirement incomes also vary among those who were born in Canada versus those who are immigrants.While only 3 per cent of Chinese seniors and 1 per cent of South Asian seniors are Canadian-born, their average retirement income is higher than their immigrant peers. In the case of Black Canadians, however, being Canadian-born offers no income advantage.“Canadian-born Black seniors’ income is virtually identical to that of Black immigrants, with the result that Canadian-born Black seniors’ average income continues to be 25 per cent lower than Canadian-born white seniors’ income,” said the report.“This provides us with insight into the continuing impact of anti-Black racism on seniors’ income.”The study also shows the differences between First Nations, Métis and Inuit seniors’ income, as well as their respective contributions to RPPs and RRSPs.First Nations seniors have the lowest average income of any Indigenous group, at $33,500 for men and $26,300 for women, followed by their Inuit ($39,900 and $32,150) and Métis ($41,765 and $28,285) counterparts. Métis seniors were most likely to contribute to private pension and retirement savings plans, while their First Nations peers had the lowest participation rate.Researchers said there is also a consistent gender gap with senior women of all demographic backgrounds having lower retirement incomes and higher poverty rates than senior men. The study found the overall racialized senior population’s total income averaged $33,900 for men and $25,000 for women. While visible minority male seniors’ average income is 36 per cent lower than their white male counterparts, senior racialized women’s average income is 26 per cent below their white female peers.“It is only when the economic impacts of underlying racism and sexism are addressed that we will achieve equal access to a secure retirement for all,” said the 49-page report, funded by the Canadian Race Relations FoundationIt said the data shows that GIS and OAS pension — both adopted as anti-pover

‘Colour-coded’ retirement security: Study finds economic marginalization and inequity follow people into old age

Indigenous and racialized seniors have much lower retirement incomes and higher poverty rates than their white counterparts, which a new study says reflects how economic marginalization and inequity follows people into their old age.

Overall, white Canadian seniors enjoy the most retirement security with an average yearly income at $42,800, way above the $32,200 for their peers in the Indigenous communities and $29,200 for visible minorities over the age of 65.

Based on 2016 census data, the report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found 13.7 per cent of white seniors lived in poverty compared to 21.5 per cent among Indigenous seniors and 19.8 per cent among racialized seniors, according to the Low Income Measure After Tax or LIM-AT.

Hence, it’s not surprising that seniors from marginalized groups have to count on public pensions and benefits to make up for lagging retirement incomes, says the study, titled “Colour-coded Retirement,” released Wednesday.

“The data reveal that there are real consequences of economic marginalization and systemic racism. Elders and seniors are financially insecure in retirement, if they can retire at all, because the opportunities for saving are so limited,” says Hayden King, a report co-author and executive editor of the Yellowhead Institute, a First Nation-led research centre.

Senior white Canadians, who made up 85 per cent of the senior population in the country, have the most diverse sources of income of all groups.

About a third of their income comes from public pension sources such as the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans, Old Age Security (OAS), and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS); a third from retirement contributions to work and individual pension plans; and the rest from investment and employment earnings as well as other sources.

In comparison, public pension accounts for 47 per cent of Indigenous seniors’ and 40 per cent of racialized seniors’ retirement income, respectively.

These two groups — accounting for 14.8 per cent of the population over age 65 in Canada — had less money to draw from their employers’ pension plan and own retirement savings, or investment income. They were more likely to rely on employment income.

RPPs and RRSPs account for a third of white seniors’ retirement income, versus 25 per cent for Indigenous seniors and 21 per cent for racialized seniors.

On the whole, racialized Canadian households have less spare money to contribute to those plans than white Canadian households. And when they do, their contributions are lower.

Chinese households were an exception with an average contribution of $10,000 in 2015, which was higher than the $7,600 contribution made by white households. In comparison, Black families only made a $4,600 average contribution.

“The overall low share of the racialized and Indigenous population that contribute to RPPs points to reduced retirement security for the next generation of workers,” the report warned.

Among racial minority groups, retirement incomes also vary among those who were born in Canada versus those who are immigrants.

While only 3 per cent of Chinese seniors and 1 per cent of South Asian seniors are Canadian-born, their average retirement income is higher than their immigrant peers.

In the case of Black Canadians, however, being Canadian-born offers no income advantage.

“Canadian-born Black seniors’ income is virtually identical to that of Black immigrants, with the result that Canadian-born Black seniors’ average income continues to be 25 per cent lower than Canadian-born white seniors’ income,” said the report.

“This provides us with insight into the continuing impact of anti-Black racism on seniors’ income.”

The study also shows the differences between First Nations, Métis and Inuit seniors’ income, as well as their respective contributions to RPPs and RRSPs.

First Nations seniors have the lowest average income of any Indigenous group, at $33,500 for men and $26,300 for women, followed by their Inuit ($39,900 and $32,150) and Métis ($41,765 and $28,285) counterparts. Métis seniors were most likely to contribute to private pension and retirement savings plans, while their First Nations peers had the lowest participation rate.

Researchers said there is also a consistent gender gap with senior women of all demographic backgrounds having lower retirement incomes and higher poverty rates than senior men.

The study found the overall racialized senior population’s total income averaged $33,900 for men and $25,000 for women. While visible minority male seniors’ average income is 36 per cent lower than their white male counterparts, senior racialized women’s average income is 26 per cent below their white female peers.

“It is only when the economic impacts of underlying racism and sexism are addressed that we will achieve equal access to a secure retirement for all,” said the 49-page report, funded by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation

It said the data shows that GIS and OAS pension — both adopted as anti-poverty measures — are crucial sources of income for senior women who are First Nations or racialized immigrants.

The increase in OAS by the federal Liberal government for those 75 and older in the 2021 federal budget is a step in the right direction to narrow retirement income disparities, said the study.

It recommends measures to eliminate barriers to equitable employment opportunities and increased access to workplace-based pension plans and retirement savings

Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter covering immigration for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung

Source : Toronto Star More   

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