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Poll: Too much media ado over swine flu outbreak

The Canadian public appears to be more forgiving of government bureaucracy in managing the H1N1 flu outbreak.

A Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey found most respondents believe the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal governments are going a "good" or "fair" job of preparing for and dealing with the flu. Only one-third called the response "poor."

When it comes to media coverage, 65 percent said news organizations had overreacted to the "swine flu" influenza.

Media reports were said to have caused the frenzy and surge of people overwhelming public flu-shot clinics.

Widely criticized was the shortage of vaccine, shots being given too late after the outbreak began and only being given to "high-risk" groups for now.

The number of Canadians wanting the vaccine has surged, with 56 percent saying they have or will get the shots compared to 35 percent a month ago.

Albertans were most critical of the province's actions, with 61 percent calling it "poor."

They were angered over Calgary Flames hockey players and their families being given the shots ahead of others before supplies ran out.

The Public Health Agency said the number of deaths known to be associated with H1N1 in Canada has reached 115.

Conservatives make gains in elections

The federal Conservative government reclaimed a former stronghold in Nova Scotia and scored an upset in Quebec in two of four federal by-elections to fill vacancies in the House of Commons.

Conservative Scott Armstrong won in Nova Scotia's Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

A popular local mayor, Conservative Bernard Genereux, took Quebec's Montmagny-L'Islet-Kamouraska-Riviere du Loup district.

New Democrat Fin Donnelly won in British Columbia's New Westminster-Coquitlam while former Parti Quebecois Cabinet minister Daniel Paille was elected in Cumberland-Colchester and Hochelaga in east-end Montreal for the Bloc Quebecois.

News in brief

• Some 200 slogan-chanting supporters of Quebec independence denounced the British monarchy and pelted soldiers with eggs as Prince Charles visited the mainly French-speaking province. At other stops across Canada, Charles and his wife, Camilla, duchess of Cornwall, faced friendlier gatherings and met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Governor-General Michaelle Jean, Queen Elizabeth II's official representative in Canada.

• The cross-Canada Olympic torch relay — which started in Victoria, British Columbia, and is moving across Canada and back to Vancouver for the Winter Games' opening Feb. 12 — had a fitting day in Churchill, Manitoba. Known as the "polar bear capital of the world," the flame convoy had to stop to allow a bear to cross the road. Next stop was Alert, Nunavut, a military post in the Arctic.

• One of Canada's largest lottery jackpots — $48 million tax free, paid all at once — was won by Kirby and Marie Fontaine of Manitoba. The couple lives in a mobile home on the Sagkeeng First Nation reserve northeast of Winnipeg and said they spent their last $10 on Lotto Max tickets. They plan to build their "dream home," travel and get rehabilitative care for Kirby, who had a stroke last year.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is continuing its climb toward parity with the U.S. greenback, reaching 95.38 cents U.S. on Friday. The U.S. dollar was worth $1.0484 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 0.25 percent while the prime lending rate is 2.25 percent.

Stock markets continue higher, with Toronto's composite index at 11,367 points and the TSX Venture index 1,352 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 1, 19, 23, 24, 25, 43; bonus 5. (Nov. 7) 12, 15, 18, 25, 29, 32; bonus 14. Lotto Max: (Nov. 6) 2, 7, 8, 11, 16, 17, 18; bonus 12.

Regional briefs

• An overnight blaze destroyed five businesses in a heritage area of central Vancouver. Firefighters had trouble putting out the flames in false ceilings above the strip of restaurants and offices at the corner of Main Street and Broadway. A preliminary investigation found the cause to be accidental.

• Several thousand people boycotted Toronto Transit Commission subways, buses and streetcars on Friday to protest a planned fare increase. The commission is considering raising cash fares by 25 cents to $3 and monthly passes to $126, from $109, on Jan. 1, 2010.

• The Prince Edward Island government plans to create a new agency, Health PEI, to handle the administrative operations of the health system, including pharmacy and dental programs. As well, PEI will ban handheld cell phones while driving and outlaw most cosmetic uses of lawn-care chemicals.

Jim Fox can be reached at

Poll: Too much media ado over swine flu outbreak 11/14/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 14, 2009 5:35pm]
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