Combination of oral, injectable polio vaccine used for first time – National

A new report says the first ever trial where oral and injectable polio vaccine were given at the same time to try to quell an outbreak has produced encouraging results.

The vaccination campaign, in and around Somali refugee camps in Kenya, resulted in high vaccination coverage, despite concerns that it would be hard to reach a lot of the children who needed the vaccine.

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Follow-up surveys suggest that nearly 93 per cent of children in the camps and almost 96 per cent of children in nearby communities received the combination of oral and injectable polio vaccine, known respectively as OPV and IPV.

One hitch, however, involved the children of nomads who live in the region.

READ MORE: Polio-like illnesses a mystery in California

Coverage among those children was quite low, around 34 per cent; many said later they didn’t know about the vaccination campaign or didn’t know where to bring their children to get vaccinated.

Still, as the global campaign spearheading polio eradication efforts gets ready to start using IPV more broadly in developing countries, the Kenyan experience provides a hopeful sign it can be a useful tool.

“People, even in the public health community, have been skeptical that you actually could reach very many children in a campaign with an injectable (polio) vaccine,” said Dr. Steven Wassilak, a point person with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control‘s polio team.

Details of the campaign and its outcome were reported Thursday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a rapid publication journal published by the CDC.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a partnership of the CDC, the service club Rotary International, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Oral polio vaccine has been the workhorse of the eradication effort since its start in 1988. Cheap and easy to administer, OPV has protected billions of children from paralysis. But the vaccine has a couple of unwelcome features.

READ MORE: Polio-like illnesses called a ‘rare phenomenon’ 

On rare occasions a child who gets the vaccine will develop polio; that happens at a rate of about one case per every 2.7 million first doses of OPV given. As well, OPV-vaccinated children shed viruses in their stools. In settings where hygiene is poor those viruses can spread to other children, immunizing them too. But if the vaccine viruses continue to circulate, they can regain the virulence that was engineered out of them in the vaccine manufacturing process. And those viruses can cause paralysis too.

(IPV, which is used in most developed countries, including in Canada, is made up of killed viruses and cannot cause polio.)

To stop those vaccine viruses from spreading, eventually the world will need to cease using OPV. Before then, in 2016, the WHO would like to take one component out the oral vaccine, which protects against three strains of polio, Types 1, 2 and 3. Type 2 viruses haven’t been seen since 1999, so for several years now all Type 2 infections have been caused by the vaccine viruses.

Given that Type 2 vaccine viruses are still spreading in some parts of the world, the plan is to get all countries that use OPV to give each child at least one dose of the more expensive injectable vaccine before the Type 2 component is dropped from OPV. That would ensure all children have some protection against Type 2.

But while many experts have been pushing for more use of IPV in developing countries, there have been concerns about the feasibility of doing that.

Where oral vaccine can be and is given by trained volunteers, the injectable vaccine has to be administered by a health-care worker. There were also fears some parents might not want their children getting the unfamiliar vaccine, coming as it does in a needle. And there are concerns about the safe disposal of what could amount to millions of used syringes.

The Kenyan outbreak provided an opportunity to test the practicality of combining OPV and IPV in a developing world setting.

The outbreak, which began in April 2013, centred around refugee camps housing Somalis who had fled their war-torn country. To date there have been 217 confirmed cases of paralytic in the outbreak.

The campaign to give both the oral and injectable vaccine at one time targeted 126,000 children under age five living in the refugee camps and the surrounding communities near the Kenya-Somalia border.

The effort worked better than some skeptics might have thought, but it wasn’t without problems. One child received a dose of the oral vaccine by injection and had pain and inflammation at the injection site, but recovered.

In some cases, vials of injectable vaccine – which must be stored in a fridge – were frozen by accident. And some problems with injection techniques were observed.

Wassilak, who was not directly involved in the study, said it showed the critical importance of adequate training of staff in a campaign like this.

Still, the results have prompted polio eradication leaders to think about trying the OPV-IPV combination out in other settings, including places like western Pakistan to which vaccination teams have a hard time gaining access.

The thought, he said, is that if teams can rarely access children in war zones or places where resistance to polio vaccine is high, using the combination might increase the chance a child will be protected. Oral vaccine alone can require multiple doses to do the trick, especially in place where children are malnourished or suffer from diarrheal diseases.

“IPV-OPV campaigns could be considered to improve population immunity and accelerate interruption of poliovirus transmission in other polio outbreaks and in certain areas where WPV (wild poliovirus) transmission is endemic,” the authors of the report concluded.

Bombers Watson looking for injury-free season – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – After two frustrating seasons when injuries limited his playing time, Canadian slotback Cory Watson is hoping this is the year he delivers on the promise that made him the Winnipeg Blue Bombers top draft pick in 2010.

“It is frustrating,” he said Thursday at a little meet-and-greet organized by the Bombers, which also featured some of their most prominent newcomers this season.

Watson missed eight regular season games in 2012 and nine last season and says he was disappointed in himself.

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“I will try to make up for those lost games,” he said.

At the same time, the native of Dollard des Ormeaux, Que., who turns 30 next week, insists he won’t change the way he plays to avoid injury. That aggressive style has been cited as a big contributing factor to his lack of durability.

“When you’re going hard sometimes accidents happen,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to change the way I play … I’ve just got to make sure I take care of my body.”

He was joined at a still snow-covered Investors Group Field by Drew Willy, set to be Winnipeg’s starting quarterback in 2014, receiver Nick Moore and defensive back Korey Banks.

Willy is making his debut as a starter this season after a backup role in Regina last season, while Moore and Banks were both B.C. Lions free agents.

The Bombers’ offence will definitely take on a new look this season.

Besides Willy behind centre, veteran receiver Terrence Edwards is hanging up his cleats and 2012 rookie-of-the-year Chris Matthews landed a job in the NFL. Not that Matthews was much of a factor last season, as injuries limited him to 14 catches, 138 yards and one touchdown.

Willy is being reunited with old friend Moore, the third leading receiver in the CFL last season and the Lions’ top pass catcher. Their relationship goes back to their college days, although they played for different schools in the same MAC conference — Moore at Toledo and Willy at Buffalo.

“We came out for the NFL draft at the same time, we worked out at the same facility and we’ve kept in touch over the years,” said Willy. “We picked up in the airport yesterday in Minneapolis like time hadn’t passed.”

Moore said it seems like this was meant to be.

“I definitely think that people come into your life for a reason,” he said.

Watson also says he looks forward to playing with his new quarterback, if that brings the success the Bombers so desperately need.

“Most importantly I’m looking forward to winning. However that happens I’m fully down for that.”

His best season so far was 2011, when he caught 69 passes for 793 yards and one touchdown.

Job one right now for the Bombers is trying to lure back grumpy season ticket holders, after a frustrating 2013 campaign for fans asked to pay higher ticket prices to watch a team that floundered behind a series of struggling quarterbacks, won only three games and missed the playoffs.

Team president Garth Buchko, general manager Joe Mack and coach Tim Burke all paid with their jobs.

The Bombers have to pay the mortgage on their year-old $200-million stadium and struck out in a bid to land a proven starting quarterback such as Henry Burris, something that might have encouraged fans to believe 2014 wasn’t going to be a case of rinse and repeat.

While new head coach Mike O’Shea may be high on Willy’s potential, the signing of proven talent like Banks and Moore doesn’t hurt.

Although Banks will turn 35 this season, the four-time CFL all-star says he is still ready to play and will be the first to admit when he can no longer compete at an elite level.

“When I can’t do it any more and compete at a high level I’ll walk away. I’m not going to let a coach tell me ‘This is it son’ and pat me on the back. I’ll know before they know.”

He also dismissed B.C. general manager Wally Buono’s suggestion he was cut loose after eight seasons because he wasn’t able to keep up with young running backs like former Saskatchewan Roughrider Kory Sheets, not that Sheets is personally an issue now that he’s also in the NFL.

“Even if that is true, and I beg to differ, this is passing league,” said Banks.

©2014The Canadian Press

Oregon’s medical marijuana rules: no munchies – National

SALEM, Ore. – Hash brownies, space cakes and other pot-laced munchies won’t be among the items allowed at Oregon medical marijuana dispensaries, state officials said, and that’s drawn criticism from pot-shop advocates.

The Oregon Health Authority released draft rules late Wednesday for medical-pot dispensaries to follow when they open as early as next week under a new law. Although medical marijuana will be available at the dispensaries, the agency wants to ban sweets containing the drug because they could be attractive to young people.

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But dispensary advocates said patients who take the drug orally need the sweetened pot products. They say a little sugar helps the bitter medicine go down.

“It just stinks,” said Gary Stevenson of Portland.

READ MORE: Birth of a billion-dollar medical marijuana industry in Canada

Stevenson, who has cancer, said he prefers to take the marijuana in food because it’s more potent and longer-lasting. As a member of the group Oreginfused Kitchen, he also makes and distributes the types of pot-infused foods that would be banned at dispensaries.

He said he doesn’t want to go underground. “I’m striving for legitimacy,” Stevenson said.

The regulations are designed to implement the bill SB 1531, which the Legislature passed earlier this month and Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law on Wednesday. The law allows local governments to block medical marijuana stores in their communities until May 2015. It also lets the health agency set rules requiring child-safe packaging and prohibiting products that it determines could be appealing to children.

Scott Grenfell, general manager of an already existing dispensary, said he has no problem with that part of the new rules.

WATCH: A 16×9 investigation into Health Canada’s medical marijuana program

But Grenfell called “stunning” the proposed rule that would ban from dispensaries all marijuana-infused products in the form of “cake-like products, cookies, candy, or gum, or that otherwise may be attractive to minors because of its shape, colour, or taste.”

Edible products are “a good chunk” of his business, and some patients can only take marijuana in edible form, he said. Grenfell has applied for a license for his dispensary under the new law but has not yet received a reply.

Tom Burns, director of pharmacy programs at the health agency, said the rules were written under the “strictest interpretation” of the new law and “as broadly as we could.”

Burns said the rules could change in the next few days. He’s taking public feedback on them – and a lot of it – but “I’m not sure what I’m going to do.”

READ MORE: Medical marijuana in the workplace: a diagnosis for employers

He said he needs to get the rules in place for dispensary owners as soon as possible because the agency is already in the process of issuing dispensary licenses.

Lauren Cusick, also with Oreginfused Kitchen, said the no-munchie rule would “hurt patients more than it’s going to help kids.”

It was already affecting her business. One of her clients turned away a delivery Thursday because they didn’t want to have the products on the shelf if they became illegal, she said.

READ MORE: Ottawa tables final rules for medical marijuana

Stevenson, whose products are in 11 shops in the Portland area, said he plans to make his packaging so unappealing he might add a “Mr. Yuk” sticker.

“Children in pre-school know (the sticker) means stay away,” Stevenson said.

Reach reporter Chad Garland on 桑拿会所 at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活twitter杭州夜网/chadgarland.

RCMP acknowledge first stages of Amber Tuccaro investigation were mishandled

EDMONTON – The mother of a slain northern Alberta woman has filed a federal public complaint against an Edmonton-area RCMP detachment over its investigation of the murder.

Amber Tuccaro, 20, of Fort Chipewyan was last seen getting into an unknown man’s vehicle during a visit to Edmonton in August 2010.

In September 2012, a group of horseback riders discovered a skull in a wooded area in a field on a rural property near Leduc.

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  • RCMP hope new billboards will help solve Amber Tuccaro cold case

    Remains of Amber Alyssa Tuccaro located

    KARE releases new info in case missing Amber Tuccaro

    Amber Tuccaro

Dental records determined the remains belonged to Amber Tuccaro.

The case had previously been turned over to Project Kare, which looks into missing or murdered women, but the victim’s mother says Leduc Mounties have not fully co-operated with the family and have failed to perform an adequate investigation.

READ MORE: Kare releases new info in case of missing Amber Tuccaro 

“All we are seeking, and have been seeking, is our right to know certain things with this investigation which is still outstanding,” said Vivian Tuccaro.

On Thursday, Tuccaro filed a complaint against members of the Leduc RCMP detachment with the Chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP in Ottawa.

“It is our belief that the Leduc RCMP have failed to perform an adequate investigation into the disappearance and subsequent death of my daughter,” she said. “We have more questions than we do answers and it’s been four years since she’s been missing and two years since her remains were located and we’re nowhere near satisfied with this investigation.”

A spokesperson with the RCMP says they are aware of the complaint, but are unable to speak to specifics. However, Sgt. Josee Valiquette adds the RCMP “recognizes initial elements of the investigation were mishandled.”

Valiquette tells Global News RCMP “learned a great deal from this file.”

“The RCMP missing persons unit along with new policies and procedures were created because of the Amber Tuccaro file and other factors learned over the course of other investigations.”

No arrests have been made in the case.

The RCMP put up a billboard encouraging people to visit a website to listen to the audio of a conversation between Amber and an unknown man recorded the night she disappeared.

READ MORE: RCMP hope new billboard will help solve Amber Tuccaro cold case 

You can hear both sides of the conversation here  (warning: it contains strong language and may be disturbing to some, as Tuccaro expresses concern about her whereabouts.)

Global News has contacted both the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP and Alberta RCMP, and is waiting for a response.

With files from The Canadian Press

©2014Shaw Media

Saskatchewan village benefiting from deal with uranium companies

VILLAGE OF PINEHOUSE, Sask. – It’s been just over a year since a small village in northern Saskatchewan signed a major deal with two uranium mining companies and the mayor says the community is already seeing dividends.

Cameco and Areva signed a $200 million collaboration agreement with Pinehouse and Kineepik Metis Local in late 2012.

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Pinehouse Mayor Mike Natomagan points to the recent $1.3 million invested in the hockey arena to install an artificial ice plant and $6 million in wages, work placements and scholarships as just two of the positive benefits the collaboration agreement has brought.

Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel says his company reaps many benefits from its mining activities in northern Saskatchewan and feels it has a corporate responsibility to invest in communities such as Pinehouse.

However, not all reaction to the agreement has been positive.

The agreement is currently the subject of two lawsuits – one by local community members and the other by Briarpatch Magazine in response to a failure by the village to comply with a freedom of information request.

“Soon as you involve money in a little aboriginal community like this, there’s always been lack of trust and we expect that and in fact we encourage that for people to disagree with us,” Natomagan said.

“When I go over to the skating rink here in Pinehouse, see the kids out here, see the families that are enjoying these facilities, see the positive energy over lunch – those are the people we focus on.”

A new annual report also says Pinehouse Business North provided a little over $19 million in contracting services to Cameco and Areva mine sites in 2013.

A special community event was held in Pinehouse on Wednesday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the collaboration agreement.

“I think we have a responsibility as a company to give back, to be involved in the areas in which we operate to give back to the communities, to work with the communities, to help where we can develop them,” Gitzel says.

“We can’t solve all the issues anywhere but we can do our part.”

©2014The Canadian Press

BlackBerry selling most Canadian real estate

NEW YORK – BlackBerry is selling most of its real estate holdings in Canada as the struggling smartphone company continues to look for ways to improve its business.

BlackBerry Ltd. did not disclose the buyer or purchase price, but said Friday that it will sell more than 3 million square feet of space and vacant lands. It will also lease back part of the space.

“The successful sale of property in Canada will help us move toward our goal of continued operational efficiency,” CEO and Executive Chair John Chen said in a statement.

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  • BlackBerry selling Canadian real estate, but ‘committed’ to Waterloo

The company had announced in January that it planned to sell the majority of its Canadian real estate holdings.

BlackBerry pioneered the smartphone in 1999 and dominated for years, but since the late 2000s the company has been hammered by competition from the iPhone as well as Android-based rivals.

Under Chen — who took on the CEO post permanently late last year — BlackBerry has been working to turn around its business.

Chen said that BlackBerry is still committed to having a strong presence in Canada. It is keeping its headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario.

The company said that more terms of the transaction will be announced once principal conditions are satisfied or waived by the parties.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of fiscal 2015.

BlackBerry’s stock rose 13 cents, or 1.4 per cent, to $9.55 in morning trading Friday. Its shares are up more than 32 per cent over the past three months.

Beauty queens tweet for peace in Venezuela – National

TORONTO – The political unrest in Venezuela has spawned an online campaign for peace with beauty queens posting photos of themselves with the hashtag #Misses4Peace.

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Started by Miss Trujillo 2005, Angelika Hernandez, #Misses4Peace “tries to join Misses and ex-Misses voices in a cry to the global community to help them find peace and harmony in their country,” it says in a statement on her YouTube channel.

Venezuela has more Miss World and Miss Universe titles than any other country, with a total of thirteen.

In February, 22-year-old Genesis Carmona, Miss Tourism 2013 for the central Venezuelan state of Carabobo, was shot down by members of the armed militias known as “colectivos” who opened fire on a demonstration in Valencia.

READ MORE: Beauty queen killed during political protest mourned in Venezuela

Carmona, who was in her final year in a marketing program at a university in Valencia, was not ardently political, friends and family said. Her uncle said she was drawn to the rally by the dismal economic conditions that the oil-rich country has experienced after 15 years of socialism-inspired policies and that her mother had gone with her to protect her.

Monica Spear, a popular soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela, was shot and killed along with her ex-husband in January when they resisted robbers by locking themselves inside their car after tire punctures disabled it on an isolated stretch of highway. Their 5-year-old daughter was wounded in the incident as well.

Seven people were arrested for their deaths after a digital camera stolen in the crime was discovered.

READ MORE: Outrage over beauty queen’s slaying a call to action in crime-wracked Venezuela

“This is not a political initiative, but we do demand PEACE for our beloved Venezuela,” it says on Hernandez’s YouTube channel.

On Monday, Air Canada suspended flights to and from Venezuela as they can no longer ensure the safety of its operation there. They said they will resume flying into the country once they are “satisfied that the situation in Venezuela has stabilized.”

The #Misses4Peace campaign has spread far since launching in February with beauty queens from around the world getting involved.



-With files from The Associated Press

©2014Shaw Media

Halifax police charge 4 in connection with Matthew Penney homicide – Halifax

CORRECTION: The original article based on the information provided by the RCMP stated that Jason Patrick MacKenzie faced a charge of manslaughter in connection with Matthew Penney’s homicide. The RCMP have since provided updated information that MacKenzie has not been charged with manslaughter. The article has been updated to reflect the change.

HALIFAX – Halifax police have charged a man with manslaughter following an investigation into a burnt body that was found at a provincial park on New Year’s Day.

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Tyler Berry, 24, is also facing numerous other charges in the death of 26-year-old Matthew Penney.

Police have also charged Berry with criminal negligence, causing death by a firearm, indignant disposal of human remains and public mischief.

Jason Patrick MacKenzie, 27, has been charged with accessory to manslaughter, accessory to criminal negligence causing death by firearm, indignant disposal of human remains and public mischief.

Penney’s remains were discovered at Oakfield Provincial Park in Grand Lake, about 35 kilometres north of Halifax. He had last been seen the night before in Dartmouth.

Two women have also been charged in connection with the case.

Keisha Slawter-Vassel, 24, is charged with accessory to manslaughter, accessory to criminal negligence causing death by firearm and public mischief.

Caitlin Fay Thompson, 23, is charged with public mischief.

On Thursday, officers executing two warrants at residences on Bras Dor Lane and Springhill Drive in Dartmouth took the suspects into custody.

All four are due to appear in Dartmouth provincial court on Friday.

©2014Shaw Media

Windsor tops Acadia, Alberta over Carleton at University Cup – Saskatoon

Watch above: highlights from the Windsor vs. Acadia matchup at the University Cup

SASKATOON – The Windsor Lancers say they don’t mind playing as underdogs. And so far, that title has been working for them.

Richard Cameron had a goal and an assist as the No. 3 Lancers upset No. 2 Acadia 4-2 in the CIS men’s hockey championship on Thursday.

Drew Palmer, Kenny Bradford, and Mike Christou also scored for Windsor (1-0), while Spencer Pommells and Saverio Posa contributed two assists apiece.

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  • Acadia Axemen Liam Heelis named CIS men’s hockey player of the year

  • Top Canadian teams battle for University Cup in Saskatoon

“Not a lot of people knew about the University of Windsor Lancers before this tournament,” said Windsor’s head coach Kevin Hamlin. “To be honest, I don’t care if they know us by name at the end of it but they will know who the Lancers are.

“We’ve had some lean times through the course of this season but we have battled together and battled through.”

Mike Cazzola and Liam Heelis each scored one and assisted on another for Acadia (0-1), and Evan Mosher shouldered the loss after stopping 24-of-28 shots on net.

Lancers goaltender Parker van Buskirk made 25 saves for the win.

Acadia led 1-0 after a goal from Cazzola at 1:19 of the first period. Cameron tied it up at 16:52.

Heelis’ goal at 1:43 of the second gave the Axemen a 2-1 lead, but Windsor replied with three unanswered goals – including two power-play goals – to seal the win.

The Lancers will face the tournament host University of Saskatchewan Huskies Saturday. Acadia will take on the Huskies Friday with its season on the line.

“We probably didn’t play our best tonight and we got beat by a good opponent,” said Axemen head coach Darren Burns. “But we will stick together and we will be ready to go tomorrow.”

Earlier, top-seeded Alberta used a three-goal first period en route to a 3-2 victory over No. 6 Carleton.

Watch below: highlights from the Alberta vs. Carleton matchup at the University Cup

Travis Toomey, T.J. Foster and Rowley Jordan scored for the Golden Bears (1-0), who outshot the Ravens 41-17.

Joe Pleckaitis scored a power-play goal at 14:40 of the first period for Carleton (0-1), and Damian Cross rounded out the Ravens offence with another power-play goal at 17:21 of the third.

Kurtis Mucha picked up the win with 15 saves, while Carleton’s Francis Dupuis stopped 38 shots.

©2014The Canadian Press

Loonie gets boost from solid retail sales numbers – National

TORONTO – The Canadian dollar closed higher Friday in the wake of a better than expected reading on retail sales for January and rising commodity prices.

The loonie was up 0.26 of a cent to 89.21 cents US as Statistics Canada said sales were up 1.3 per cent, against the 0.7 per cent rise that had been expected.

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The agency also reported that Canada’s annual inflation rate fell to 1.1 per cent in February from 1.5 per cent the previous month. But on a month-to-month basis, prices rose 0.8 per cent from January.

READ MORE: Don’t look now but loonie’s plunge is deepening 

Economic optimism that followed the release of two pieces of U.S. data on Thursday sent commodities higher with the May crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved up 56 cents to US$99.46 a barrel.

The April gold contract gained $5.50 to US$1,336 an ounce while May copper rose two cents to US$2.95 a pound.

The U.S. Conference Board’s index of leading indicators, an indicator of future economic activity, rose in February by the largest amount in three months. And a key manufacturing reading, the Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index, rebounded in March from a negative reading in February.

The data helped persuade investors that the U.S. economy is strengthening to a point where it can withstand higher short-term interest rates.

Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen said Wednesday that the U.S. central bank could begin raising short-term rates six months after it halts its bond purchases around year’s end. The Fed has been cutting back on those purchases — a key element of stimulus that had kept long-term rates low — in $10-billion increments since December, lowering monthly purchases so far from $85 billion to $55 billion.

Yellen’s comment on interest rates helped sink the Canadian dollar by about a cent this past week.

Another source of pressure was Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz, who said earlier in the week that interest rate hikes in Canada could be further away than thought.

He added that a rate cut by the Bank of Canada could not be ruled out.