That, given that a vaccine represents an opportunity to turn the corner of the COVID-19 pandemic and that the successful deployment of a vaccine is essential to the health, safety, and economic security of every Canadian, the House call upon the government to table, electronically, pursuant to Standing Order 32(1), by Wednesday, December 16, 2020, a status update on: (a) how each type of vaccine will be safely delivered to Canada, stored, and distributed to Canadians; (b) the date on which each vaccine type will first be deployed in Canada and the rate of vaccinations anticipated by month; (c) any intended federal guidance with respect to the deployment of the vaccine by priority group, such as front-line health workers and seniors; and (d) the plan for distribution of the vaccine to Indigenous communities, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and veterans.
He said: Madam Speaker, I will be dividing my time with the very passionate and capable member of Parliament for , who has been helping make sure Canada gets a better response throughout this pandemic.
After 11 months, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Through painstaking work and collaboration, western pharmaceutical companies have managed to produce safe and effective vaccines in record time. Access to vaccines will help jump-start our economy and will ensure that main streets can finally start breathing a sigh of relief. We will round the corner of COVID-19 after a very difficult year.
Several countries can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines have been developed in record time, and many countries have prepared a vaccination plan.
The United States is planning to have 100 million people vaccinated by the end of February, and its entire population vaccinated by June. The United Kingdom is starting vaccinations next week. France is rolling out a national vaccine plan to vaccinate the country by June.
Canada is nowhere to be seen. Just this past week, the and two of his senior ministers were proud to announce vaccine deployment dates. The problem was they were each confidently talking about different dates. These mixed signals from the very top of the federal government have real-world implications, both for the rollout of the vaccine and for the well-being of Canadians.
Let me be clear. We know the end game. While our neighbours to the south will be revving up their economy again, Canadians will be told to remain in lockdown or limited economies. While restaurants in Europe spring back to life, Canadian business owners will be told to wait and get on the CERB or bust. While seniors in the United Kingdom will be free to see their grandchildren again, Canadian families will be forced to continue to see loved ones on FaceTime, Zoom or through windows.
The government has set September as a possible vaccination objective. Members should think about that. That is 10 more months of business closures or limitations, rising mental health issues, domestic violence and drug abuse. We all have learned the tragic costs of a shuttered economy. All Canadians want their lives back.
As entire countries come out of lockdown, Canadians will watch in bewilderment. Why are we so far behind? There will be uncertainty in Canada. Our economy will continue to suffer while our neighbours begin to rebound and, more importantly, Canadians will have to continue visiting their family members in hospital and fearing for their health. This is profoundly unfair.
This is unacceptable. Why are we so late? What happened?
Simply put, the government dithered. With everything we know about communist China, and after our intelligence officials exposed the lies we were fed about false COVID numbers, and after seeing the PPE market cornered in a concerted Chinese state-led effort, our Liberal government still decided to partner with China on developing a vaccine. This was despite the fact that China was imprisoning our citizens and attacking our exports.
In the spring, when journalists and opposition MPs challenged the Liberals on China's data, they accused us of spreading misinformation. All of our issues were factual, and all have been confirmed. It is this government's incompetence that is alarming.
As was to be expected, Chinese officials likely benefited from early Canadian advances in vaccine research, and when the time came to ship samples to Canada, China broke off relations. After months of this government putting all of our eggs in the China basket, the government was left out to dry. Even then, after the catastrophe, the government still took its time. When its joint venture with China fell apart, it was already too late to get rapid access to vaccines.
This government was naive and now all Canadians are paying the price. The insisted on working with China when we all knew that country does not have our interests at heart. As a result, we and our families will not get vaccines for 10 long months.
Without a plan for vaccines, our businesses will not have the confidence to reinvest in the economy and the border with the United States could remain closed, all because of the Liberals' incompetence.
Canada now finds itself delayed, behind most of our G7 and G20 countries, countries with a total population of 2.7 billion people. Will all of these people receive vaccines before Canadians do? We do not know because of the government's secrecy, lack of clarity and incompetence.
In the G20, Canada seems to be the only country not putting out a detailed plan for vaccine distribution. Without a concrete timeline for vaccines, businesses will not have the confidence to reinvest in their operations or to rehire Canadians who were laid off over the last 11 months.
Without a concrete timeline for vaccines, businesses are left out to dry. Provinces have the impossible task of establishing complex supply chains with no lead time, no details and no delivery date. The Canadian Armed Forces has been told to stand ready. As we see today, it is saying to the government that it needs details, the same details we have been asking for for months. The military should not be used as props in photo ops. They should be used for what they do well. Give them the details and let them execute them.
Simply put, Canada still has no plan for receiving, storing and distributing a vaccine, and without a plan for vaccines, there is no plan for the economy. This is why, today, the Conservative opposition is putting forward a motion that Canadians deserve. We are pushing for clarity, certainty and competence on a vaccine plan.
Our party is moving a motion calling on this government for clarity and a plan. It is time to protect Canadians.
We ask the government to put the health and safety of Canadians first and start sharing when each type of vaccine will be safely delivered to Canada, how each vaccine will be stored and the plans for distribution. We are not just asking for this, the Canadian Armed Forces and General Vance are asking for this. The provinces are asking for this. Why is there secrecy?
Canadians also deserve to know the date on which each vaccine type will first be deployed in Canada and the rate the government expects vaccinations to be done by. How many vaccinations per month? Every other country in the G20 is releasing this information. Why is the Liberal government not releasing it?
As for a plan, provinces and health partners across this country need to know any intended federal guidance in terms of prioritization of groups, such as front-line health workers, the military and our vulnerable seniors. The talks about these things in press conferences, but refuses to detail a plan amidst the worst health crisis in over a century. Canadians deserve to come into Christmas knowing there is a plan to provide them with certainty. Families are struggling. They want their lives back.
The government also needs to indicate the plan for indigenous communities, many of them remote; Canadian Armed Forces families, at home and abroad; and veterans. These are three areas of exclusive federal health responsibility, and they deserve a plan too.
This motion is common sense, and it is presented in good faith. This detail is being asked for by the military, so we are asking the government to table it before Christmas. Let us show that this country will be ready. We may be later than some countries, and when it gets here, let us show them we are more ready. I hope the government can finally step up, after being late on the border, late on rapid tests, and now late with vaccine deliveries, to at least have a plan to show Canadians that 2021 will be a better year for our country.
Madam Speaker, the has ably outlined the necessity of the motion, in terms of what it means to deliver a plan for Canadians, for us to see a way out of the COVID-19 crisis.
What I want to do with my time is to talk for a minute about why it is so important to support the motion. The has outlined the gaps in the government's response, the panic that we have seen in the government and the need for certainty. He has done a wonderful job of that.
However, I need to explain to members of the government what is happening. There is a story that came out today, and a quote from a man named Doug Manuel, a physician epidemiologist at the Ottawa Hospital. Here in Ottawa, we are actually seeing lower numbers of COVID-19, and I give credit to public health officials and to people, but Doug Manuel says that this is because of the high number of government employees who can afford to work from home.
What I worry about is that here in Ottawa there are a lot of people making decisions and a lot of people who are scrambling around who might not feel the urgency that is being felt in other parts of this country. There are millions of Canadians right now who had stable incomes, who had businesses, who had hope 11 months ago and who do not have that hope now.
I am not saying that there is anything wrong with public sector employees. I thank them for their work. However, the reality is that there are people suffering. When the comes out of his cottage and says that businesses will be better off with extended lockdowns, that is a comment from somebody who is so privileged that he cannot understand the stress that millions of Canadians have been going through this year because of the lockdowns, because of the lack of certainty and because of the flailing that we have seen from the government.
This is why the motion is in front of the House today. It is compelling the government, in good faith, to give Canadians a way out, to give them a plan, to give them certainty.
I asked Canadians, about a week ago, to send me stories of their experience. This is one stack. Hundreds and thousands of stories have poured into my office. I want to read one email.
It says, “I returned to my full-time job from maternity leave at the end of March, during a time when I had no access to consistent child care and had three children at home, two requiring online schooling. My family struggled until our child care reopened. Life has not stopped because of COVID-19, all of the challenges that families usually face have only become more difficult to juggle. In addition to raising three children and working a demanding full-time job remotely from home and navigating the never-ending, shifting messages and restrictions and reopenings and closings that came between spring and fall this year, I also got the additional hit of having to navigate a legal custody battle in a confusing virtual setting that threw all the checks and balances of the old system out the window, all of which have led to a massive increase in my stress and anxiety for my family. I can say with certainty that my health and well-being, and that of my family, have been impacted by government lockdowns.”
She continues, “Here is a quick summary of how we have been affected: loss of child care, loss of income from companies making staff forced to take pay cuts due to the energy sector downturn and COVID, massive increase in anxiety related to school reopening, guidelines changing literally by the day, causing stress and anxiety for my children, loss of charter rights, freedom of association, limits placed on visitors in our own homes, loss of freedom of peaceable assembly, limits placed on gatherings, loss of freedom of mobility, loss of travel plans and cancellation of much-needed trips and meetings, increase in stress and anxiety, inability to see friends and family who need my help and are isolated due to travel restrictions, loss of ability to participate in our faith community.”
This is what is actually happening. This is what is at stake here, not to mention the fact that we have seen thousands of Canadians die from COVID. We are seeing dire situations in our nursing homes. That is what is at stake here when the government cannot tell us basic information about how we are moving forward.
Then, at the same time, when these Canadians are writing to my office, they are seeing the United States deliver their vaccines. People are going to be getting the vaccine in New York state within hours or days. The United Kingdom has been deploying it today. Where is our plan? The current government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars, has shuttered Parliament and has abrogated our democratic institutions, all under the guise of stopping the spread of COVID but it has not stopped the spread of COVID. It is worse than it was when we started. We cannot stay on this course. We cannot.
Person after person has written to me with medical conditions that they have not been able to get treatment for because of the lockdown. People have written to me with severe mental health issues. People are desperate. We sit in here fiddling while Rome burns. The fiscal economic statement, the quasi-budget, that the government put forward last week had no plan. It was a bunch of guesswork, saying we are going to spend our way out of a virus. We need to have a plan on things like basic public health information, rapid testing and vaccines. That is why the motion is here in front of the House today.
Why does it take the opposition party to push the government to do what is right? Frankly, I think it is an issue of competence at this point in time. We have seen flailing from the on masks and closing the border. She said it does not transmit person to person but then maybe it does, and that we shut down our early warning system for the pandemic but do not worry we have the data, but we are not sure if it is three-ply or two-ply masks.
It is enough. People cannot get their kids to school. They cannot access mental health support. They are separated from their families. I sit here in a position of privilege, pushing for these things. I have not seen my kids in over six months. Do members know what that is like? Do they know what it is like to go home to an empty condo every day, knowing I cannot see my kids?
I sit in a position of privilege. I have a paycheque. I want to know these things on behalf of millions of Canadians. When can I see my mother-in-law, who has stage four breast cancer? My story is not unique. I am privileged. When the government stands up and says maybe it will be September or maybe January and that the opposition is playing games, the government is playing games. It is enough.
All we are asking for today is some basic information. When can we possibly hope to receive this vaccine? How many days after receipt is it going to be deployed into the provinces? What is the federal government doing to deploy it? The government needs to be held to account. It has failed.
The motion today is very simple. It would compel the government to give Canadians a plan with clear direction before Christmas, given that countries around the world have already done what is in here. They have been working on this for months. This is not asking for something that is unreasonable. This is asking for something that is vital to the lives of every single Canadian, millions from coast to coast and across party lines.
The government has to get it together, and we are going to make it happen.
Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise today to speak to the Government of Canada's work to ensure that Canadians have timely access to a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19. There are now more than 200 COVID-19 candidate vaccines in various stages of development around the world, with dozens in different stages and phases of clinical trials.
This week, the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer became the first to be approved in the United Kingdom. Many other manufacturers are expected to submit their final data to the regulatory bodies in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union soon.
As things stand now, we expect vaccines to become available in Canada in early 2021. After a long and very difficult year, this is welcome news and news for which we have been preparing for many months.
Canada's vaccination programs and regulatory approval systems are among the best in the world. We have well-established systems to deliver vaccines to Canadians and we have a long history of delivering vaccines for diseases like influenza, measles and polio. We will benefit from this experience as well as the infrastructure that we have built up over many decades.
Over the past several months, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes to ensure that Canada is well positioned to obtain and deliver a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to Canadians in 2021. From the earliest days of the pandemic, we knew we had to start to lay the groundwork for success. We acted quickly to put the mechanisms in place to ensure that when a vaccine was ready, Canada would be ready. One of those mechanisms is procurement.
Based on the recommendations of the COVID-19 vaccine task force, Canada has signed agreements with seven different companies to reserve COVID-19 vaccine doses for Canadians.
We still do not know which vaccine will be most effective at preventing transmission. That is why we have pre-ordered the most promising vaccine candidates, with the possibility of increasing our order to have enough for all Canadians.
Also, the government has committed $220 million to the COVAX Facility. I want to thank my colleague, the , for that work. The COVAX Facility and its advanced market commitment is designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for every country in the world to slow the pandemic.
This agreement includes the option of acquiring doses for 20% of Canadians and a commitment to invest $220 million supplementary to provide vaccines to countries that are developing.
With these purchase agreements in place, the next step is to ensure that the new vaccines are safe and effective.
Vaccine development is highly complex and is a long process. Now in normal times it can take years to carry out extensive research needed to produce safe and effective product. However, these are not normal times and we are fighting a pandemic and human lives are hanging in the balance. The clock is ticking and scientists and researchers have leapt to the challenge. They have been working all around the world to accelerate development of a vaccine. This includes collaborating and taking advantage of the latest innovations.
Health Canada is the regulatory body that reviews new vaccines to ensure that they are safe and effective and approves them. These reviews normally take place once all clinical trials are complete and the results have been released.
However, given the urgency of COVID-19, we recognize the need for flexibility early to expedite this process without compromising safety, quality and efficacy. That is why this fall I signed an interim order to import, sell and advertise drugs during COVID-19. This interim order allows us to accept rolling submissions for drugs and vaccines. This means that manufacturers can submit data as it becomes available.
Once an authorized vaccine is in use, Canada continues to monitor its safety through post-market surveillance. This system allows public health authorities to respond quickly to changing trends or unusual, adverse events. So far, Health Canada has received submissions for authorizations of vaccines for COVID-19 from four companies: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and, most recent, Janssen.
As these submissions are carefully reviewed, we are preparing for a successful rollout and distribution of the vaccines to Canadians. This will be an ambitious and complex program.
Vaccines are typically sent directly from the manufacturer to provinces and territories. However, with certain COVID-19 vaccines a different approach is required. Due to their novel nature, they will have different sets of logistical considerations.
For example, ultra-low temperature vaccines need to be kept at very cold temperatures, up to -80°C and these will need to be delivered directly from the manufacturer to the point of use and transport will be controlled by the manufacturer. Other frozen vaccines will be transported by a federally contracted logistics service provider from the manufacturer to the point of delivery, as identified by the provinces and territories.
Of course, this requires deep collaboration with provinces and territories. The Government of Canada is working closely with all of them as well as other public health partners to ensure the process is timely, fair and well coordinated.
As I mentioned earlier, we expect vaccines to become available in early 2021. Initial supplies of vaccines will be limited, and just three million Canadians will have access to them.
Since the number of vaccines will be limited in the early stages, we will have to strategically determine who will be vaccinated first.
In Canada, we look after the most vulnerable among us. That is why the Government of Canada is working with external advisers to identify the high-priority groups that will benefit the most from being vaccinated.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is a standing body, an external advisory body that provides the Public Health Agency of Canada with independent, ongoing and timely medical, scientific and public health advice in response to questions from the agency relating to immunization.
On November 3, the committee released its preliminary guidance on key populations for early COVID-19 vaccination and outlined a targeted vaccination program. The committee identified several key populations including those that are at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, such as the elderly and others with high-risk conditions; those who are most likely to transmit COVID-19 to those at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19; and workers essential to maintaining the COVID-19 response, such as health care workers and caregivers in long-term care facilities and people whose living or working conditions put them at an elevated risk of infection or where infection could have disproportionate consequences, including indigenous communities.
These recommendations will help provincial, territorial and federal authorities decide how to distribute the vaccine. It is also important to note that we are working actively with national indigenous organizations to determine how to distribute the vaccine properly and respectfully in indigenous communities.
Although the initial supply will be limited, I want to be clear that there will ultimately be enough vaccine for every Canadian who wishes to be vaccinated. However, as our country is geographically large, we will face some logistical challenges, such as the need for ultra-cold storage, reaching remote communities and coordinating between levels of government to name a few.
In the face of such challenges, no one is more effective or has more experience than the Canadian Armed Forces. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Canadian Armed Forces have been fully involved in the Government of Canada's action.
Last week, Major-General Dany Fortin was named vice president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, and he is overseeing logistical planning. He joins the 27 Canadian Armed Forces personnel who are already seconded to the agency, including logistics experts, operational planners, pharmacists, health care administrators, engineers and information technology experts. We thank the Canadian Armed Forces for their assistance and expertise.
In addition, the Public Health Agency is also taking action to prepare for the rollout of the vaccine. The stockpile has sites all across the country and has already started sharing necessary supplies with provinces and territories. This includes millions of needles, syringes, alcohol swabs as well as freezers for vaccine storage.
It is important to note that each provincial and territorial government is responsible for deciding how to deploy COVID-19 vaccines within their jurisdiction as well as who will get vaccinated first. The Government of Canada is working closely with provinces and territories, first nations, Inuit and Métis partners to help them get ready. This includes ensuring they have the necessary supplies and equipment as vaccines need to be managed safely and securely while ensuring rapid and efficient delivery.
I know Canadians are encouraged by the progress that we have made. Vaccines are on the horizon and they are almost within reach. We are about to embark on a future that is safer, healthier and, indeed, more secure for all of us.
In the meantime, we cannot let our guard down. We must continue our efforts and continue to practise physical distancing, wash our hands and wear a mask. That is all the more important now that the cold weather is forcing us inside and the holidays are approaching.
We need to stay vigilant as we wait for a vaccine to be ready. We need to support our seniors. We need to support our neighbours with high-risk conditions. We owe it to our health care providers and essential workers. They are counting on us to protect them. I know people have been trying really hard and we need to keep trying for the next several months.
The government is taking every step necessary to authorize safe and effective vaccines quickly and to distribute them to everyone who wants them. We will be ready. Until then, we have to stay focused and steadfast in our public health measures, because, together, we will see a brighter future, one where everyone is protected from COVID-19.
Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will give its consent and vote in favour of the motion introduced by the because we believe that accountability is key in any issue. We believe that Quebec and the provinces, which will have to manage the distribution and administration of vaccines, require more specific information. The minister cannot claim that all the necessary specific information is available, since the people responsible for these issues in Quebec have been expressing a certain amount of dismay about the lack of information on a daily basis.
The government has a strong tendency toward denial. For example, when we ask the government questions about health transfers, the tends to respond, with unsettling obstinacy, that it is working hand in hand with the provinces, which are certainly not saying the same thing. Some provinces, civil society, Quebec's National Assembly and Parliament, as we heard yesterday, are saying that there is a problem with the health transfers, but the Prime Minister stubbornly says that everything is fine and that he is working hand in hand with people with whom he has no constructive contact.
For example, when we mention the French language in institutions under federal jurisdiction, he stands up and says loudly and clearly how much he loves the French language, while the facts, the behaviours, the delays, and the white papers conveniently pushing any action to after a future election clearly show his obstinate refusal to take any action at all in favour of the French language.
When we ask when the vaccine will be available, we are given one or more explanations that do not always make sense. The people have the right to decide whether or not they find the answer valid. The media have the right to question the validity of the answer. The official opposition and the Bloc Québécois also have the right to ask these questions, because it is our job, and because we hear the stakeholders who will have to manage the administration of the vaccine saying that they do not have the information they need.
Before publicly improving a situation and saying that it will do better, the government has to admit something. The government has to say that it would have liked to get the vaccine at the same time as everybody else, but that it did not succeed in getting it at the same time as everybody else, and then explain why it did not succeed in getting it at the same time as everyone else. Then, it needs to say what it is going to do to get it as soon as possible after everyone else gets it first.
There is something very basic about this admission, because it is not a partisan stunt. It is a process for getting out of an unprecedented health crisis that costs dozens of lives and affects thousands more every day. How can we take such an important matter lightly?
The admission is crucial. Our political issues notwithstanding, I think that the population of Quebec and Canada would not react so badly. They would say that it is unfortunate, and that the government could have done better, and then they would ask what it is going to do now. Quebeckers and Canadians would react better than they will when, in the coming days, they start seeing people in the United Kingdom get the vaccine, then people in the United States, Germany and India, while they are still watching the press briefings of the Premier of Quebec and Dr. Arruda telling them how many new cases there are, what they will not be allowed to do at Christmas and, unfortunately, how many more people have died.
The comparison will be hard to ignore, and the government will not emerge triumphant under full sail in the glory and enthusiasm of its great success. It will become obvious that it should have admitted its failure sooner.
We understand that the matter is going to be stretched out until next weekend, because then the government will not have to account for its actions in Parliament until the end of January, hoping that its faults, errors and bad deals will go unnoticed.
The delay is by no means trivial. In Quebec alone, we are talking about 1,000 to 1,500 new cases and several deaths a day. The government needs to admit its mistake in order to make amends and mitigate the negative effects of its false discourse.
I suppose that the government is negotiating in private with vaccine manufacturers to try to shorten the delay. It should be negotiating, but not in private. However, it said something rather astonishing: it does not want to reveal how much it paid for the vaccines it has purchased so far because that could hinder its negotiations for future purchases.
That concerns me. Why does it not want to tell us how much it paid? How could that hinder future negotiations, unless it overpaid? If it overpaid because it had no bargaining power, any future supplier will want the same amount the other company got. I will get back to this. This will have an adverse impact on the government's bargaining power.
There are things like this that we do not know about. The government could have done any number of things, not to control the result, since people all over the world were waiting, but to improve the chances that we would achieve the desired result. Since we do not know exactly what was done, we are obliged to fill in the blanks, just like the media, commentators and analysts are doing.
The government had options. One was to manufacture the vaccines here in Canada, which would have been dependent on a number of variables. We understand that it wanted to upgrade a production facility at a cost of over $40 million. Delays have now built up, and that will not happen before next summer. We understand that another facility can be used to produce RNA vaccines, a relatively new technology, but that that will also have to wait, this time until July. Could the government have acted sooner or managed the production facility option differently?
It could also have obtained patent licensing; in other words, it could have negotiated with the patent holders to pay a royalty to get the authorization to manufacture, replicate or copy patented technology. This principle also applies to industry and the arts. Some countries procured patent licences to produce vaccines. Canada did not. If it had, it would probably have been better able to speed up the process.
It could also have produced vaccines without a licence. Producing vaccines without a patent licence may not be entirely appropriate, but it was an option under the emergency measures adopted in March, one which lapsed at the end of September. The government did not bother to extend these measures and retain Canada's right to manufacture what it needed to protect and save lives. It could have made subsequent arrangements with the patent holders. It gave itself the right to do it once, then waived that right.
That would have been a success factor for several reasons, not the least of which was that it would have given the government some negotiating leverage. When the government negotiated with the various manufacturers, it could have told them that, if it was not happy with the agreement, it would still manufacture the vaccine. That would have been quite conceivable.
Although the government will not answer our questions, it is our duty to make these assumptions. If the government had told the various manufacturers that it was going to manufacture the vaccine no matter what, the manufacturers would undoubtedly have been more accommodating when it came to the delivery date. However, the government did not use the leverage it once gave itself, having decided to forgo that leverage in September.
It could also have synchronized its own approval process with that of the countries producing the vaccines. I understand that Canada has certain powers to ensure the safety of products used in Canada, but the Canadian process is relatively long, not to say very long or even too long.
In this case, in an unprecedented emergency, could the government not have decided to make an exception and to synchronize our approval with what was happening elsewhere in order to proceed at the same time as everyone else, at least in terms of authorization?
None of these measures would have provided a certain or absolute solution to the problem, but each of them would have improved the likelihood of more rapid delivery and administration of the vaccine, which is the government's fundamental responsibility.
When the government talks about 400 million doses, we see that it is just a political smoke show. We understand that the number of doses we will get in the first quarter of 2021, based on current guarantees, is probably not enough to cover the base, meaning, of course, those mostly likely to die or to spread the disease. I presume that negotiations are once again under way to accelerate delivery and obtain a larger supply of vaccine.
I also understand that pharmaceutical companies in Canada are not very excited—or would not have been very excited—about the government forcing them to produce a vaccine created by a competitor. I understand that, but does that justify a delay in treating Quebeckers and Canadians for a disease that is too often fatal? Probably not. However, these companies want to keep their facilities for themselves because they think they too will be able to develop a vaccine.
Is the government capitulating? I am asking the question; I do not know if it is. It is a good question, and we are here to ask questions. Did the government acquiesce to pharmaceutical companies in Quebec and Canada that did not want to make their facilities available to their competitors, even though they are in a better position than pretty much anyone else to retool their equipment? There is no way of knowing when that would have happened, but now we know it can never happen because it has not started. Did the government go along with what they wanted? Claims of having done the right thing will soon be revealed as mere pretense because people will notice that some people are being vaccinated and others, here, are not.
As with health transfers, there are also significant economic impacts. The provinces and Quebec need some flexibility to contribute to their own economic recovery. For example, the hundreds of millions of dollars in health transfers required are hundreds of millions of dollars that Quebec is using to invest in its economic recovery.
In this case, we are talking about workers. There are thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of workers employed by hotels, restaurants and the industrial sector. There are also teachers and mental health care workers. There are many factors that influence the economy directly or indirectly.
I want to remind members that every unemployed worker represents an expense for the government. Every time we make it possible for a worker to return to work, it represents tax revenue for the government. Yesterday, I called that a four-point game. You take someone out of the expense column and put them in the revenue column. That is not neutral, it is better than neutral. A delay of six, eight or twelve weeks in obtaining the vaccine will delay the return to work and the economic recovery. That is a consequence that is all the more serious when we have a government that says, “to hell with expenses”.
Of course, this is just the beginning. The post-COVID-19 mass distribution and pre-election budget will be presented in March. There is something rather irresponsible about willfully ignoring the economic issues.
I think the is in a state of denial. This obstinacy is harmful, just as it is when it comes to health transfers. Everyone is against him: the Quebec National Assembly, all the premiers across Canada, the Premier of Quebec, the Quebec finance minister and civil society in general. Polls have even shown that the public shares this point of view. However, the Prime Minister continues to say that he is working hand in hand with people who are looking at that hand and saying they want nothing to do with it.
This is pure denial and we can also see it when the topic of French comes up. I mentioned this earlier. The Prime Minister likes to talk about how much his government loves the French language. We might have believed him at first, but very little has actually been done. I much prefer to hear the say that he has changed his mind on this issue, after having voted in the past against applying the Charter of the French Language to federally regulated businesses. I personally have no problem with that and welcome his change of heart. However, when someone scoffs at us, in a sense, when they say they love us but their actions suggest otherwise, that smacks of denial.
As for the vaccine delays, this denial is detrimental to people's health, and the Prime Minister's responses are appalling.
Again, as with health transfers, we have to keep up the pressure to prevent this from becoming a partisan spectacle of 20-second sound bites on the news. If Parliament, if the other legislative assemblies and if civil society put enough pressure on the Liberals they will realize that this will hurt them the only place that seems to matter to them: the pre-election polls.
All of us together have the power to put pressure and use good arguments to make the Prime Minister and his government realize that they have to do better and be accountable for their actions. They have to take much more decisive action and get the vaccine delivered sooner. They have to provide predictability to patients, people who fear for their life, the families of those people, those who want to return to school in person, and those who want to return to work in person. They also have to give a sense of security. They will not achieve any of these things by being in denial and sooner or later that will become clear.
I offer the government my collaboration and I am sure that everyone in Parliament will do the same. I invite the government to be transparent, clear, lucid and compassionate and vote in favour of the Conservatives' motion. Then we all might make progress together on a real strategy for getting out of this crisis.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for .
I want to begin by talking about the situation that we find ourselves in right now.
These are obviously difficult times. Many people are worried, and we understand why. The Liberal government has totally failed in its responsibility to create a plan for this pandemic. Generally speaking, the fear we are seeing is related to the fact that successive Liberal and Conservative governments have always forced families to bear the burden by cutting the services they needed. That is the history of those two parties.
The other problem is that the Liberal and Conservative parties are too close to big business. In this case, it is clear that the Liberal government is too close to the pharmaceutical companies. The and the Liberals gave $1 billion in contracts to big pharmaceutical companies and did not ensure that the vaccines needed to protect people against COVID-19 could be produced here in Canada. Canadians are having to wait even longer to get the vaccine because of the Liberals. As a result, more people are going to become ill and potentially die from COVID-19.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, vaccines will be available this week. However, in Canada, the only thing we know for sure is that we are receiving six million doses in March, which is enough for three million people. The problem is, that is not even enough to vaccinate everyone over 70. There are 4.5 million seniors in Canada over the age of 70, not to mention high-risk individuals such as health professionals, essential workers and indigenous peoples. The government must ensure that we have the capacity to make our own vaccines and essential medications for Canadians.
This pandemic has shown that we must not rely on production from other countries during emergencies. As a result of the Liberal government's lack of preparation, Canadians will have to wait even longer to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Past Conservative governments privatized labs and vaccine manufacturers, effectively preventing Canadians from having access to a vaccine and essential medications. Despite being in power for decades, Liberal governments have not restored this capacity to produce vaccines and medications here in Canada.
The fact is that the Liberal government has completely failed to lay out a plan. It does not have a plan to address the major question of the pandemic, which is about rolling out the vaccine. The Liberals are going to talk about the fact that they have the best access to vaccines and have some of the best plans, but they have not published their plan.
Australia, a country very similar to Canada in resources and size, has the entire plan for its vaccine rollout on its website. The Liberals might say that they do not know which vaccine will be successful. Australia factored that in. It has included all potential scenarios. If one vaccine is successful, it has a plan; if another is successful, it has a plan. It talks about who will get it and when they will get it. That is what a government should do.
The Liberal government has completely failed to lay out a clear plan. There is no question about that. What is even worse is that the most we know about the plan the Liberal government is proposing is that the first round of vaccines, coming possibly in March, will only be enough to cover three million Canadians.
We know, based on Canada's census, there are over four and a half million Canadian seniors over the age of 70. There is certainly not enough medication to cover all of the vulnerable seniors, let alone all of the front-line workers and the indigenous communities at high risk. What is the plan? This is a simple request that the government has failed to answer.
It has failed to roll out a clear plan of when everyone will be vaccinated and who will be vaccinated. People want to know the answers to these questions. This will give hope to Canadians who are worried, who are wondering what is going to happen and what the future looks like. The fact that the government could not lay out a clear plan with clear details is a failure in leadership.
Another problem that we saw at the beginning of this pandemic was that we could not produce some of the most important essential equipment that we needed. It came to light that the protective equipment we needed to provide to our front-line workers was in short supply. We relied on a supply chain that was broken, and Canadians were not able to access protective equipment.
People were outraged that the 10th largest economy in the world did not have the ability to produce masks, gowns and sanitizers. I am very proud of the fact that Canadian companies mobilized and were able to turn that around and start producing these locally, but it is a clear failure in policy if a country is not able to produce the medical equipment it needs.
What has become even more troubling is that we do not have the capacity, as the 10th largest economy in the world, to produce our own medications or vaccines. Here is where we have to be very clear about who is to blame. There is absolutely no question that Conservative governments in the past privatized our public companies, the companies owned by us that produced vaccines in Canada. Their policies effectively eliminated all the production capacity to make vaccines in Canada. That is their responsibility. By the same token, the Liberals were in power for decades and failed to restore our capacity to manufacture and produce vaccines and medications.
Let me give a really clear example, one that should startle people. One of the prides of Canada is the fact that Connaught, owned by Canadians, was where insulin was made. The medical breakthrough on insulin was made in Canada and we owned it. We created it and owned the ability to produce it, and we produced it at an affordable rate. As an example, which is not a public or private example but strictly Canada versus the U.S., one vial of insulin, the homologue version, costs $32 in Canada and $300 in the U.S.: 10 times the cost. People from the States come to Canada to get medications because they are so much more affordable here. We not only discovered but made insulin in Canada, and the Conservatives privatized Connaught.
Connaught was also the key player in many vaccines that were discovered. In fact, the reason why Connaught was developed in the first place, and I am sure the irony will not be lost on members, is because a diphtheria outbreak meant that people needed a vaccine. Canada found that it was far too expensive to buy: private companies were charging too much, so it was decided to make it here in Canada. History has a habit of repeating itself. We are now faced with a pandemic, and we do not have the capacity to make the vaccine in our own country. We need to make it in our own country.
We need to be able to restore our capacity to make this here at home. We need to be able to make vaccines in Canada, so New Democrats are proposing the creation of a public Crown corporation: a company owned by us. Just as we own electricity and roads in many jurisdictions, we should own the ability to make vaccines and medications in our country. It is a question of sovereignty and the ability to protect our citizens. We are the 10th largest economy in the world and should absolutely be able to make critical, vital medications and vaccines in our own country. That is our proposition. To undo the wrongs of the Conservatives and the Liberals, we need to move forward and restore our ability to manufacture medications here in our own country.
Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to speak to the important motion introduced today by my colleague from . I think I speak for all of us in the House when I say 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year, not only, of course profoundly, from a health point of view but also from an economic point of view. It is a fair comment to say 2020 has been unprecedented, really one year in a century, when it comes to the intersection of a public health crisis with a massive economic shock.
On a personal level, there has been incredible suffering and sacrifice by Canadians in every community in our country. Over 12,000 families have lost loved ones. There has been incredible isolation, with family members being separated and kept apart: children from their aged parents, sometimes spouses from partners and sometimes grandparents from grandchildren. Seniors have been left alone, isolated, sometimes in long-term care centres separated from their closest family members, and some have died alone without the comfort of family members around them.
We have had incredible job losses, income challenges and displacement, and the economic devastation many businesses have felt across this country is something that will be felt for years to come.
However, there is hope. The global search for an effective vaccine is showing great promise. Along with a potential treatment, this is really the only way we will restore Canada to some semblance of normalcy. Hopefully that is a new normalcy that is better than the one it will replace.
Canadians across this country are awaiting access to a vaccine with excitement, anticipation and great optimism, but of course a vaccine has to be safe, effective and delivered as broadly and as swiftly as possible. To do this, not only parliamentarians but Canadians need transparency and information. In fact, the public is entitled to it. The public needs it. Besides it being a right for Canadians to have the most current, accurate information possible from their federal government, it is also critically important to allay fear and suspicion and to build trust and confidence.
The NDP has worked throughout the COVID pandemic to be a positive, constructive and evidence-based voice in Parliament and in our communities. We have one goal, and that is to help Canadians stay healthy and supported in the best way possible. Economically, the NDP has been responsible for at least a dozen improvements to support Canadians, ranging from increasing the CERB to $2,000 a month, to extending support to part-time and seasonal workers, and increasing the wage subsidy for small businesses to 75%. There are many other ways we worked hard and productively with the government to improve those supports.
Regarding the health side of the equation and vaccines, what do we know right now about the government's response? First, we know the Liberal government has refused to make a single vaccine contract public. In fact, it voted against a motion in the House to disclose even redacted contracts.
Second, after promising Canadians in August that we would be able to manufacture vaccines in Canada, the admitted in November that we have no such capacity. Worse, he had to acknowledge that this meant Canadians would get vaccines later than citizens would in countries that are producing vaccines.
Third, the Liberal government failed to negotiate in a single contract, of any of the seven contracts it signed with potential vaccine manufacturers, the right to produce a vaccine in Canada.
Fourth, as of this day, December 3, we have no detailed vaccination plan that reveals how vaccinations will be administered, by whom, or who will have priority.
Fifth, the government failed to receive promising vaccines on Canadian soil pending Health Canada approval, as Canadian law specifically allows and as is being done in other countries, like our neighbours to the south.
Sixth, the best information that we have is that Canada has secured, at most, six million doses of vaccines by April, which is enough to vaccinate only three million Canadians or about 8% of the population of our country. As the leader of our party has pointed out, we have over four million Canadians over the age of 70, so that is not even enough to vaccinate every senior over the age of 70, who are obviously in a vulnerable position.
Seventh, to this day, we do not know when vaccines are expected to arrive, how they will be distributed, which province will get them and in what amounts.
Eighth, we have no real date for herd immunity. We have a vague assurance by our that he hopes to immunize 50% of the population by September, but we have absolutely no evidence or data to suggest why that date has been chosen.
I know that vaccine science is complex. I acknowledge that there are things that are not yet known. We agree that some plans must await Health Canada approval. However, let us compare how the current government performs, compared with other countries, to see what is actually possible.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established a vaccine readiness date of November 15 with a 24-hour rollout. It released a 75-page playbook detailing everything, including vaccine provider recruitment, vaccine storage and priority groups. The U.S. has received Pfizer vaccine to pre-position it, pending FDA approval. I will pause there. FDA has not approved the Pfizer vaccine, just like Health Canada has not approved the Pfizer vaccine. That did not stop the United States from receiving the Pfizer vaccine and having it stored, so that if and when it is approved it can roll it out immediately. Canada has not done that.
The U.S. aims to vaccinate every American who wants it by June 1, 2021. In fact, its plan is to vaccinate 20 million Americans in December and 30 million Americans every single month, meaning the U.S. will have vaccinated 110 million people, or one-third of their population, by the time we have done 8%. Finally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. signed agreements with major pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens to assist with vaccinations in long-term care centres.
I will turn to the U.K. It has already designated 1,250 local health clinics as vaccine sites, with targets for the number of vaccinations each week. The U.K.'s NHS has already started taking vaccine appointments, starting with long-term care residents, those over 80 and health and social workers. The U.K. government approved AstraZeneca, and the U.K. is receiving 800,000 doses of vaccine this week.
In Germany, the health minister has asked states to have vaccination centres ready by mid-December and had a national vaccination strategy ready by early November. In Australia, the government has a 12-page vaccination plan released and there are 30 million AstraZeneca doses being manufactured in that country. Brazil, India, Japan, Indonesia, China, Russia, Australia, Belgium and many other countries are producing vaccines in their countries. In Canada, our says we cannot.
What do we need? We need action and transparency. We need a detailed strategy and timeline for vaccinations. This does not need to be delayed until Health Canada's approval. It can and must be decided and released now.
Canadians deserve to know when the first doses will arrive, who will get vaccinated first, how vaccinations will be delivered and when they will be available to every Canadian. We would like the government to release at least basic details of our vaccine contracts. After all, Canadians paid for them.
Finally, we want to establish a public drug and vaccine manufacturer, a Crown corporation, to fix Canada's unacceptable vulnerability, so that never again will Canada have to wait for China or the United States to deliver essential medical equipment, supplies, medicine or vaccines to Canada.
We support this motion. Let us get transparent information to Canadians, so that they can know what is going to happen and we can get started with the process of vaccinations as soon as possible.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I am pleased to rise today in the House to speak to our motion. It is an important one, but it would not have been moved if the and the government had just answered the questions that the opposition parties have been asking for weeks and even months.
Canadians are worried, and we are too. We are worried about the virus and the pandemic, but we are also worried about how this government is handling it. I will name just a few examples of this government's poor management since the beginning of the pandemic. The allowed our pandemic alert system to be shut down just a few months before the outbreak of COVID-19. The government sent hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves and gowns from Canada's main stockpile to China. A month later, health care professionals and first responders were asking us to ration our PPE because our supplies were running out.
I was a member of the emergency health committee that was struck in January, and we were already talking about the importance of restricting entry at the border. At that time, we were told that there was no problem and that everything was fine. There were all those questions, and then there was also a lot of dithering around masks. At the time, the Minister of Health even said the risk was low. Everything was managed very incompetently. It must be said that all the opposition parties raised good points and proposed solutions at various committees and here in the House. We were not there to cause conflict with the government. We were there to try to protect Canadians and prevent the virus from having a negative impact on their health and our economy. Most of the time, however, our proposals were rejected out of hand on the grounds that we did not know anything.
Now we have very urgent questions about the infamous plan that everyone has been talking about since this morning. We know that there is no way of knowing the exact date. People in the media are asking questions, but we do not know the exact date. However, just because we do not have an exact date does not mean that the government cannot put a plan in place. It could develop a plan that includes phases and a model that could be applied. The plan could explain what will happen as of the first day approval is received from Health Canada. It could explain how the vaccine will be distributed, who will get it first, where people will be vaccinated and how. Canadians deserve answers from the government to those kinds of simple questions.
This week, I watched a report on Radio-Canada about the situation in Germany. Germans are known for their precision. Just think of German cars and German technology. Germans are very detail-oriented, and their government lived up to that reputation by preparing a plan. The Germans also do not know the date when they will get the vaccine. They do not know that yet, but they know exactly where and when those vaccines will be distributed. What is more, they know that it will take less than two minutes to vaccinate each German citizen. That is how detailed their plan is.
Other countries like France and Great Britain are starting to administer vaccines and have already told their citizens what to do. We do not understand why, here in Canada, all we are told is that we have the best vaccine portfolio in the world. The told the House that other countries were envious and wondered why Canada had ordered so many. The Prime Minister is saying that we have 10 doses of vaccine per person. That is a talking point that was invented to get him out of trouble.
The former was once filmed in a bar telling people around her that, in the House of Commons, if you keep repeating the same thing, people will eventually believe it is true, and it really drills your message into the collective consciousness. For weeks now, the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister have been telling us that Canada has the biggest and best vaccine portfolio in the world. That is what the government wants to put into everyone's head. In the army, that is called a psychological operation.
Psychological operations, or psy-ops, are campaigns conducted by various countries to influence their citizens. We recently found out that the government wanted to create a psy-op cell here in Canada to influence Canadians. It was lucky that we found out, because the idea was dropped. That is serious.
No one is here to score political points. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. Economies have ground to a halt. Back home in Quebec, restaurants and gyms have closed. Stores are even being forced to tighten their rules. People are being asked to stay home, and if the trend continues, they might not be able to see each other at Christmas. There is nothing funny about that.
As I mentioned, we are not here to score political points. We are not trying to win anyone's vote in the next election. We want to solve the problem. The people, our constituents and our voters are asking every party for answers, and indirectly, the provincial premiers, who have the heavy responsibility of managing their citizens, are also asking us for answers. The Quebec premier and his government are the ones having to establish rules, and he is being lambasted by people who are understandably upset, fed up and exhausted.
The federal government has the major national responsibility of providing the best information available. We need this information, and it has to be accurate. If the government says that it signed the vaccine agreement later than expected and that it will receive the vaccine on February 1, we will do what we must to get through the next two months knowing that we will get the vaccine on February 1. The government really does not want to provide that information, because it does not want to suffer a political backlash now and be told that it was too slow and mismanaged its contracts and agreements, so we are going to have to suffer longer.
This reminds me of a speech I made recently about courage. The and the government will eventually need to muster the courage to tell it like it is. Canadians are not dumb. People want to know what to expect so that they can act accordingly.
When the public is left in the dark, that is when we start to hear alternative theories, like conspiracy theories. That starts when people do not know what is going on. However, the government does not seem interested in communicating information, other than repeating that it has the biggest vaccine portfolio in the world.
Judging from what the Prime Minister says, it sounds as though we could vaccinate about 40 countries, but that is not what we need. There are 38 million Canadians, so we need 76 million doses to vaccinate everyone. It is as simple as that. We want to know exactly when we will get the vaccines.
The government might not know the exact date, but I am sure it has a pretty good idea. We know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, is about to approve the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and Health Canada has already said it would follow suit, so that will obviously happen sometime in the next two weeks.
However, we know the Americans signed their contract on August 5 and gave Pfizer $1.9 billion U.S. to reserve the first 100 million doses, which will then be distributed across the U.S. It is right there in black and white in the contract and in the U.S. government's official documents. They also asked Pfizer to distribute the vaccines on the ground itself.
Obviously, the Americans will get Pfizer's first 100 million doses. That is why we are waiting in line. We say that and the Liberals tell us it is not true, but facts like that confirm it.
What I am asking of the government today, December 3, is that it provide us with a clear plan explaining exactly what is going to happen after the holidays. It needs to give us a date, whether it be January 15 or February 1, for example, so that the provinces can make arrangements accordingly and so Canadians know that, unfortunately, they will have to wait. This could have been done better, but on the political side, evaluating the government's performance will come later. What we need right now is a plan so we can see where we are headed at this very moment. That is what Canadians and everyone else are waiting for.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to talk about this very important issue. I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for bringing this motion forward today, as we try to get some answers that Canadians desperately want to know about what is happening in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. I thank our shadow minister for health as well, the member for , for her incredible advocacy on behalf of all Canadians in trying to find out exactly what the government's plan is to make sure that we get vaccines in our arms.
In my speech today, I want to talk about the involvement of the Canadian Armed Forces in all this and why they have been brought in at the very last minute. Really, this is a public health issue that should be handled through the Public Health Agency of Canada, but because of a lack of leadership from the Liberal government, we now have, in the final minutes, a call-in-the-army scenario.
There is no doubt that the Canadian Armed Forces are an amazing organization with some of the best and brightest men and women in the country. They have a motto, which they pretty much live by: Failure is not an option. I can therefore see why we are so attracted to making use of their expertise, logistical capabilities, kit and equipment, and their ability to move personnel, products and all sorts of different materiel across the country. We know they have the greatest Canadians working for them, so we first and foremost salute them for their incredible service. However, unfortunately, they are being brought in to clean up the Liberal government's mess.
How did we get to this point where the government could not figure out how to get vaccines rolled out across the country?
We need to work with our provincial and territorial partners to ensure vaccines are in place in communities to make sure we get treated and cured so we will not have this virus any longer and can get back to opening up our economy. Instead of having people locked down, we should get back to business and back to our jobs. That is what Canadians are asking for, but they are not seeing any leadership from the and the Liberal government.
We learned in the news this morning that there is a directive from the chief of the defence staff. The operation the military will be doing on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Liberal government is called Operation Vector.
The document itself brings to light a lot of the information we have been asking for. It shows there will only be three million doses of vaccines available in the first quarter of 2021, so only three million Canadians are going to be administered the vaccine. We see through the planning that the government does not expect all Canadians to be vaccinated until the end of 2021. It will be 13 months from now before every Canadian is vaccinated.
We know the government is trying to plan out how to deal with the challenges the Canadian Armed Forces have to deal with, but how are they going to be out there deploying troops and equipment and making sure we are moving the vaccines in a timely manner? They are very sensitive and need to be in super freezers and kept under 70°C.
Furthermore, how is the government going to manage the rollout of the vaccine while dealing with Operation Laser? It has the Canadian Armed Forces backfilling in personal care homes and long-term care institutions across the country to care for our loved ones and our seniors.
How is the government going to deal with Operation LENTUS? It is a domestic operation by the Canadian Armed Forces that supports emergency measures at the provincial level regarding forest fires, floods and ice storms. We never know if there is going to be an earthquake or a hurricane, but they are called in often to provide a backstop to the provinces when volunteers get tired out on the front lines and when first responders can no longer keep up.
We have a number of international obligations as well: Operation Impact in Iraq; Operation Unifier in Ukraine; the enhanced forward presence initiative in Latvia, a NATO mission; and NATO staffing on missions across the globe, including the maritime task force that ensures we always have at least one or two of our frigates in patrol in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Baltic Sea. There is personnel required to do these roles, yet the government has decided to throw even more work at them to try to cover up its mistakes.
The other good part that came out of the CDS report was that they were going through the hard planning now. This only started on November 27. They will plan to be ready to start handling vaccines by the end of this month, December 31. However, they still have a lot of questions and they need answers from the government, just like opposition members have been asking the government. When are the vaccines going to show up? Who are going to be the suppliers? What are the logistic capabilities? Who is going to procure or contract the private logistics team that is familiar enough and capable enough to deal with vaccines in this type of format?
We are still sitting here. We were expecting the Canadian Armed Forces to come up with a plan, but it cannot finish its plan until the Liberals answer some questions. That is what they keep refusing to do. They have been dithering, delaying and been completely undecided for months now. We have been dealing with this since March, when we were in lockdown. We knew about this virus back in December 2019. Here we are 12 months later and the Liberals still cannot answer the critical questions we need to ensure that vaccines get into the arms of Canadians safely and timely.
We keep hearing the Liberals say that they have been working with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces for months planning this. We had government officials at both the public accounts committee and the national defence committee only a couple of weeks ago.
On November 19, General Cadieu, the director of staff of the Strategic Joint Staff, was before the committee. I asked him if there was a named operation for rolling out vaccines. He said there was not, that it would be happening under Operation Laser. Two weeks later and we have a name, Operation Vector. He did not know about it because this was made up in the last few days.
We asked if National Defence was procuring super freezers so they could help with the distribution. They were not. Deputy Minister Jody Thomas said that they were looking at some storage capability, but that was for internal Canadian Armed Forces use when we got to the point of vaccinating our own troops. Again, they did not know they would have to buy super freezers until just recently.
General Dany Fortin is now the commanding officer of Operation Vector and is in charge of it on behalf of the whole of government. He has great credentials. In his comments to the national defence committee, he said that the CDS and deputy minister would give directions to the CAF and the Department of National Defence to adopt robust risk mitigation, protect the force and stand ready to conduct operations in support of their nation. They are standing ready, but still no direction. That was on November 20. He said that if the requirement came from Public Safety and the considered they needed to be prepared, then the chief of the defence staff would give his best advice possible. Again, no advice was given by November 20.
Then we have discovered this morning that the chief of the defence staff's strategic directive on Operation Vector, November 27. This just came out. I want to point out page 3. This is what the Canadian Armed Forces are expecting:
...:the following national-level decisions will be made and communicated by PHAC no later than early-December 2020
(1) Apportionment of Track 1 vaccine doses by province/territory and select Canadian populations living outside Canada;
(2) Advice to provinces/territories on priority populations that should receive the Track 1 vaccines;
(3) Designation of the points of delivery for the Track 1 vaccines;
Public health was asked if it would procure the logistics service provider to get these vaccines delivered where it could and then backfill that using the Canadian Armed Forces heavy lift capabilities.
Again, the Canadian Armed Forces are looking for some leadership. They need some answers if they are going to finish their plan to be ready by the end of December. However, they get nothing but radio silence from the Liberal government.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased and proud to share my time with my colleague, the hon. member for .
Eight months after the beginning of Canada's response to COVID-19, we are all feeling the burden of the pandemic. That is just as true in my riding, Gatineau, which is where I am speaking from today, as it is across Canada.
Many Canadians have lost a loved one and our hearts go out to them. Families have been separated in the wake of strict, but necessary, restrictions, and many livelihoods are at risk.
The majority of Canadians are co-operating to flatten the curve and even though we are all weary of the restrictions, we must continue to be diligent as we deal with the second wave.
From day one, our government has acted swiftly to help the most vulnerable Canadians, especially those having difficulty making ends meet, and small businesses trying to survive these tough times. We will continue to do so, and, as a member of Parliament, I hear testimonials about this every day.
The support provided by our government to individuals and businesses ensures that local authorities do not have to choose between Canadians' health and the economy. That is a decision that no one in our country should have to make.
We know the only way out of this pandemic is through a viable vaccine. This is why we have made that pursuit our absolute top priority. Our approach to acquiring vaccines is deliberate, strategic and comprehensive.
I must pause to thank the men and women, not only of the department with which I have the honour of working, Public Services and Procurement, but also those right across this government who I know, because I represent many of them, are working day and night to help Canada and Canadians get through this pandemic.
Our goal is to ensure early access to diverse portfolios of vaccines so Canada is well positioned to receive doses of safe and effective vaccines early. That is precisely what we are doing.
Our government has negotiated agreements with the manufacturers of seven promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates. This work is complex and is taking place at rapid speed in a highly competitive global marketplace.
I am going to explain the process followed by the government's procurement experts to carry out this absolutely crucial work.
The COVID-19 vaccine task force guides the procurement of vaccines in Canada. This task force comprises leading Canadian experts in the fields of vaccines and immunology, and industry leaders, who provide scientific and technical advice on the most promising experimental vaccines.
In order to move forward as quickly as possible, in the initial phases, the majority of our agreements with suppliers of potential vaccines were agreements in principle. We began signing these agreements in July. This guaranteed doses from vaccine suppliers while we were negotiating details for a final purchase agreement.
Today I can announce that we have agreements with six of seven vaccine suppliers: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Sanofi—GSK and the flagship of Quebec industry, Medicago.
Negotiations on a final agreement with Novavax are going well and should be concluded soon. With these seven agreements, Canadians will have access to at least 194 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. These agreements also give us the possibility of buying up to 220 million additional doses. This ultimately means that we have the possibility of getting more than 400 million doses for Canadians, as well as 15 million additional doses through the COVAX global initiative.
Regardless of what the opposition members are saying—and I have heard all kinds of outrageous things—our government has signed a record number of agreements with potential vaccine manufacturers. We now have one of the best vaccine portfolios in the world. The opposition wants everyone to think that Canadians will be the last in the world to get vaccinated, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Earlier this week, Noubar Afeyan, the co-founder and chairman of Moderna, which is producing one of the most promising vaccines, said unequivocally that not only is Canada not last, but that it was one of the first countries to pre-order the Moderna vaccine. More importantly, he said that Canada is guaranteed to receive a certain portion of the company's initial batch of vaccine, subject to all required approvals, of course.
In terms of timelines, the first deliveries of a number of COVID-19 vaccines are anticipated to start in the first quarter of 2021. That is what we have been saying for some time and that is what remains the case. What we need to understand is that timelines for delivery for each candidate are dependent on the company's clinical trials timeline and results, and of course, regulatory filings and regulatory approvals.
Before it can be received, delivered and administered to Canadians, any vaccine candidate must first receive Health Canada's authorization. It is a gold standard in authorization, and I once again thank the professionals who have been working overtime at Health Canada. I would like to think that all members of this House would agree that, in all that we do, we must put the safety of Canadians first.
We have seen some promising news lately and we anticipate approval of some of the more advanced vaccines, such as those from Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, to happen shortly. Once they are approved, deliveries will start as soon as possible.
Vaccine distribution and administration is another challenge. Our government is working to ensure that items such as needles, syringes and freezers are available and ready for shipment as soon as manufacturers are ready to ship vaccines, and we are making significant progress in this area.
I can confirm that we have received enough of those supplies to administer nearly 25 million doses of vaccine, and more supplies will arrive every month. Our government is also seeking a logistics service provider to ensure the efficient distribution of vaccines to Canadians, including transportation and storage. At the same time, we have purchased and received several freezers that can operate at extremely cold temperatures to store vaccines.
We launched a competitive procurement process for the purchase of dry ice in order to ensure the proper distribution and storage of the vaccine across the country.
The time has come for Canadians to unite, as they did at the beginning of the pandemic to flatten the curve. Effective immunization against COVID-19 will be one of the greatest achievements in the history of this country. Even though this will not be accomplished overnight, there is now an end in sight to this pandemic. Our government laid the groundwork, and we know that it is only by working with others and mobilizing all of our resources that we will succeed. We are already working with the provinces and territories on the subsequent distribution of vaccines throughout the country and we will ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces play a visible and important role in that distribution.
We are continuing to make progress by working with others who are fully dedicated to the well-being of Canadians. All Canadians can be assured that we will get to work as soon as a vaccine is approved thanks to a strong vaccination strategy that they can and should be proud of.
We did the necessary work and we will be ready to vaccinate Canadians effectively and efficiently so that we can put this pandemic behind us once and for all. When a vaccine in ready, Canada will be too, and we will get through this together.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise in the House and speak to this government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of procuring safe and effective vaccines.
As winter approaches and the number of COVID-19 cases reach record highs in most regions of the country, Canadians are becoming more and more concerned about how their families and communities will make it through the next few months while remaining safe, secure and healthy. Our government has been focused on containing the spread of COVID-19 since the very beginning of this pandemic, and I am sure that all members of this House can agree that this has been our most pressing mutual priority.
Public Services and Procurement Canada has a role to play by procuring personal protective equipment, and our government is ensuring this equipment is getting to our front-line health care workers and other essential workers. However, the long-term solution has been and remains to be having safe and effective vaccines, and ensuring all Canadians will have access to it. In that regard, as the said recently, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Much of that hope is based on the potential vaccines on the horizon, and Public Services and Procurement Canada, as the government's central purchaser, has been leading the process of securing access to vaccine candidates. Today we have the most diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates in the world, with access to more doses per person than any other country, and this did not happen by accident. It took the hard work of public servants, and science-based approaches, to be in this enviable position. This government is determined to continue this work as long as we need it, until this pandemic is finally over.
As Canada formulated its process for securing vaccines, we have been guided by the COVID-19 vaccine task force. The members of this task force include leading vaccine and immunology experts, and industry leaders in Canada. These experts have been giving us the best scientific and technical advice available on major vaccine candidates, including which ones were the most advanced in their trials and, more importantly, which ones would be the safest and the most effective for Canadians.
Our government took that advice and began engaging with the leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers in the summer. Right away, we began complex negotiations to secure access to vaccine candidates by signing agreements with these manufacturers. We had the first agreement with Moderna in place in July, and the others have followed. Through continued negotiation with manufacturers, the government has agreements in place with seven manufacturers: Moderna, Sanofi, GSK, Pfizer, Medicago, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.
Altogether, these seven agreements will give Canada access to 194 million doses. These agreements also provide Canada with options to purchase up to 220 million additional doses. On top of this, we have access to 15 million additional doses through the international COVAX initiative. This means that we have the potential to access up to 429 million doses, and that will give us the flexibility to make future decisions, once we know which vaccines will be the best options for Canadians.
It is an affront to our hard-working public services workers to say we did not work hard enough or fast enough to procure these vaccines. I can assure members that these procurement officers work day and night to ensure that Canadians would have a vaccine as soon as possible. The Conservatives are clearly more concerned with their own narrative than they are of the health and safety of Canadians. Thankfully, our public service workers have Canadians' health top of mind when negotiating contracts with potential vaccine suppliers.
I am sure Canadians understand that such agreements come with complex terms and conditions because of the global growing demand and the limited supply of these vaccines. However, unlike what many members opposite have been putting forward in recent days, Canada is far from being last in line to receive vaccines.
In fact, it was validated recently by the co-founder and chairman of Moderna that we are very close to the front of the line, but instead of providing support in this time of extraordinary need, the Conservatives would rather sow doubt and confusion. On this side of the House, we believe in working together and propping up our hard-working public service instead of putting it down.
Members from the Conservative Party have been comparing the COVID-19 pandemic to the seasonal flu on the radio. Members of the Conservative Party have been shamelessly minimizing the number of COVID-19-related deaths in Alberta, and then just recently a member of the Conservative Party sponsored an anti-vax petition, signed by 22,000 people who do not believe in vaccines. The sponsoring member, when questioned, said that the petition raised some really good points. People in my riding rely on our elected representatives for good, timely and reliable information, not this misinformation, this anti-science rhetoric that has been all too common coming from the Conservative caucus.
As the House knows, an effective vaccine is the path forward for Canada and the way out of this pandemic for the world over. Canada has laid the foundation for deployment of a vaccine from coast to coast to coast. We have a thorough, diverse and large portfolio of vaccines, and we are in a great position. Of course, any vaccine candidate must first receive Health Canada's authorization and be proven to be safe and effective before it can be administered to Canadians. Once those approvals are in place, we expect to have the first deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines arriving in the first quarter of 2021, which, I note for the members opposite, is essentially the same timeline as many other countries.
As the has said, once a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready. As the deliveries of approved vaccines arrive, the Public Health Agency of Canada will be on hand to distribute them to provincial and territorial health authorities; and, we look forward to the contribution of Major-General Dany Fortin in leading the logistics of getting vaccines into the arms of Canadians ASAP.
However, it is not enough just to have vaccines delivered. I would like to remind the House that we do in fact have a plan for distribution and administration. PSPC has been working to ensure that access to these critical goods and services that are needed to administer vaccines are on hand as well, and ready to go as soon as manufacturers are ready to ship vaccines. In fact, this government began procuring supplies such as needles and syringes over this past summer. We now have enough of these supplies to administer nearly 25 million doses of the vaccines, and more supplies are arriving every month. As well, PSPC has been working with the Public Health Agency of Canada on a competitive process to engage logistics services to ensure that vaccines can be transported, stored and effectively distributed to Canadians. Those contracts are set to be in place in the coming days.
We are working to ensure that vaccines can be stored at the correct temperature so that they can remain effective up until the time that they are administered. That is why we have purchased 26 freezers with -80°C capability and 100 freezers that can operate at -20°C to store these vaccines. Some of those have already been delivered, and we will also be purchasing additional freezers very soon. In addition, we plan to purchase dry ice for distributing and storing vaccine doses across the country.
At each step, we will coordinate our efforts with the provinces and territories to bring safe and effective vaccines to all Canadians. We will not cease in our efforts until we can ensure that, when a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready.
I will close by reiterating how important it is that we continue to do our hard work in ending this pandemic, just as we have asked all Canadians to do their part in slowing the spread of this coronavirus. Canadians have always been able to withstand our winters because we know that spring is just around the corner. This government wants to ensure that our fellow citizens can maintain that resolve and that hope. Through our efforts in negotiating and planning and keeping Canadians informed about the true progress we have been making, we will get ever closer to ending this pandemic.
I ask all members in this House to be a part of this solution, and end the misinformation for the good of all Canadians.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be able to rise to speak to this important issue today. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
I am pleased to rise after the member for so I can correct the numerous amounts of misinformation we just heard in his speech, which was written by an expert, I am sure, in the Prime Minister's Office. He talked about how the government has been so great at providing information, and how it has led the world in its response.
This is a government has been wrong or late every single step of the way, and it has resulted in pain, suffering and even death for Canadians. The Liberals were late to close the border, weeks behind other nations, like Australia, which saw the pandemic coming, which did not rely on information coming out of other countries, like China, but relied on its own experts, something the Liberal government did not have the opportunity to do because it had shut down the early pandemic warning system months before.
The Liberal government destroyed PPE that we could have used, and it shipped PPE off to China when we desperately needed it here at home, leaving us short-handed. It gave bad advice on masks. They told us at the beginning not to use a mask, and that it was more dangerous to use a mask than to not wear one. The said that COVID-19 does not spread person to person, and that if we wanted to close the border, then we were actually racist.
This was the rhetoric that was coming out of the government. It is no surprise that Canadians have no confidence in what the government is putting forward now, and when they see the government now saying “Just trust us, we have your best interests at heart”, it is a little hard to take when every piece of advice that has been given for the last 10 months has either been wrong or late.
The Liberal government was wrong on the border. It was late on rapid tests. It has been, quite frankly, incompetent during the period between the two waves. We are no further ahead now than we were back in March, when we locked everything down.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: It is a good thing we legalized it for you.
Mr. Mark Strahl: He will get his chance. That member always does get a chance to speak, even though he wants to heckle when we are talking about something this important.
The Liberals want to be patted on the back when all we have seen is incompetence and failure. That failure, quite frankly, has a grave impact on some of our most vulnerable citizens. Twelve months ago, the military alerted the cabinet that this pandemic was occurring in China. Ten months ago, we had a major shutdown of our economy, because we did not really know much about COVID-19 and we needed to take that step at that time.
Now, we find ourselves, 10 months later, still facing the same restrictions. This is particularly acute in long-term care facilities. It is heartbreaking. It is tragic, what is happening to our seniors in long-term care. We saw this early on, the devastating impact that COVID-19 had in long-term care. The government has tried to react to it by locking seniors away in their own bedrooms for months at a time. This has been the response, locking seniors away from their loved ones.
This is why this is so critical, when we talk about the importance of rolling out a vaccine now, when other peer countries are doing it. It is because that will allow us access, once again, to our family members in long-term care, who have been locked away, who have been suffering mental anguish and physical suffering. They are being told that while people they know in the United States, Australia, Brazil, and going down the list, 2.7 billion in countries that will have access to a vaccine before we do.
Why does it matter? It matters that we are not getting it now, we will get it months from now. A lot of these people do not have a lot of time left. That is the tragic reality here. They are being locked away from their families and the people they love at a time when they need them the most. That is why I am upset about it. It is not because I am looking to score political points here. It is because we are 10 months past the start of this, and we are no further ahead. People are no closer to being able to go see their aged parents or grandparents. They are locked away.
Then an outbreak comes to their long-term care facility and maybe they die alone or can FaceTime their family, instead of their being able to hold their hands at the end. That is why every day matters. That is why this delay matters. That is why putting all of our eggs into one basket at the start of this matters. We are taking months and time away from people who do not have a lot of time left. That is unacceptable.
People can get money. We have supported the supports given to Canadians who have lost their incomes, business opportunities or have had to shut down again, and for much longer, because there will be no viable vaccine here in Canada after other countries get it. We cannot give people $2,000 a month and have it make up for lost time. We cannot put a price on lost time. That is what we are talking about here today.
The government wants us to believe it has a diverse portfolio of vaccines available, but just not now, while other countries are rolling out their vaccines. Other countries are being very open on the dates the vaccine will be available, how it will be deployed, who will get it first and how they will determine which people need it the most. What we get from the government is that we should trust it. It was going to be the most open and transparent government in Canadian history. It got an A for announcement and an F for delivery.
Time and time again, every opposition day motion that is brought to the House is a requirement for the government to share information with Canadians, because it will not give it to us. It is hard to believe the government is giving us good information when it is giving us no information. The Government of Australia published its distribution plan on its website for all of its citizens to see. The government loves to compare itself with Donald Trump, as though that is some sort of bar it is very proud to have beaten.
We want to be better than that. We should be looking to other countries that have done much better in similar situations to us, those that have responded in a way that will allow their senior citizens in long-term care facilities to see their kids and grandkids, that will allow their families to be reunited and that will allow people of faith to once again gather together in corporate worship, something that is so important and integral to who they are. We should be doing all of this, yet we delay month after month. By the government's own admission, the first quarter of this year will only see three million doses available. That does not even cover our over 70 population let alone other vulnerable Canadians.
Once again we are asking for information so Canadians will know when they can receive the vaccine if they want to get it. The government should have that information, although it seems like there is a bit of a back-of-the-napkin approach. We heard today that two weeks ago the military did not know it would be involved in this and now it has stood up a rapid deployment force. That is fantastic. The military will always do what it is called upon to do.
However, this is something the government has been late on because it made bad decisions at the outset. Instead of focusing like a laser on this issue, it was focused on getting money to Liberal-connected firms. It was focused on the WE Charity scandal and getting money to people with connections to the Liberal Party. It has been focused the entire time on the wrong things and has given Canadians the wrong information.
The government does not like to hear that and wonders why it is helpful to be reminded of it. It is helpful because this is how we got here. This is why we are not where some of the other Commonwealth countries we would compare ourselves to are today. We are behind the eight ball. What do we do now? We need to get the information to the provinces, which will deploy the vaccine when they know how many doses they will get and who they will be giving the vaccine to.
For too long the government has taken the wrong approach. It is time it started to give Canadians the information they need so that we can get our lives back and get our families back together, something that we have been waiting for too long to do.
Madam Speaker, this year Canadians have been faced with much adversity. Our seniors have been particularly hard hit, and today we are asking the and his government to give them confidence that their government has a plan. We are asking the government to be honest and clear with them and to demonstrate it has the competence to navigate them through this pandemic. They deserve as much.
This week's fall economic statement was an opportunity to do just that, but it did not offer Canadians a clear plan on vaccines or even a clear plan for testing in the meantime. In fact, the government has had the opportunity to offer Canadians that assurance every time it is asked for a plan. Instead, it responds every time with the same non-answers.
The was not pleased when I asked her if seniors would have to wait until September 2021 to see their grandchildren again. The reality is that the government has not provided Canadians with that answer. There is no readily available plan on when vulnerable populations will have access to a vaccine.
The Liberal government cannot expect us to offer it blind trust because it certainly has not earned it, not when the allowed our pandemic early warning system to be shut down just months before the pandemic, not when the sent hundreds of thousands of personal protective equipment from our reserves to China only to leave our front-line health care workers without, and not when the government refused to close our borders, allowing the virus to spread, flip-flopped on mask use or delayed on approving rapid tests. These failures have not earned the government the trust of Canadians, so it should understand why we are asking for a vaccine rollout plan.
Still without adequate access to rapid tests, Canadians are missing an important tool to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Testing is crucial to treating and isolating COVID. The government delayed approvals to rapid testing and now Liberals proudly stand in the House to tell us they have delivered rapid tests to the provinces. Those numbers are wholly inadequate. Those numbers are not anywhere in the vicinity of what is needed to be effective. Regular and mass testing would be a game-changer for our seniors, vulnerable populations, front-line health care workers, essential workers and all Canadians. It has the potential to significantly safeguard our long-term care homes, which have been the hardest hit by this pandemic.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information did a comparison in the spring of the impact of COVID-19 in long-term care homes in OECD countries. In that report, Canada had the highest proportion of deaths occurring in long-term care. Fatalities in long-term care accounted for around 81% of COVID deaths in Canada compared with an OECD average of only 38%. Those numbers are shameful. We have to better protect our seniors in care.
Now well into the second wave, the majority of deaths in Canada continue to be in long-term care homes and outbreaks in care continue to be on the rise. It is absolutely shameful that we do not at least have adequate access to rapid tests in our tool belt. Rapid tests could help isolate COVID in these homes and even help prevent outbreaks in the first place. To do that effectively though, we need rapid tests to be readily available. We are just not there.
Long-term care residents, their families and the workers who care for them deserve better. Supports for them are needed in the immediate term. Staff in long-term care need access to PPE and resources to do their jobs. As well, the staffing crisis in long-term care needs serious attention and not just a band-aid solution. We need a plan for family reunification. Some of our seniors have been physically and socially isolated for months on end, separated from their loved ones, friends and in some cases from their neighbours down the hall.
Last night during the debate on the government's bill on medically assisted death, I talked about Nancy Russell, a senior who reportedly opted for medically assisted death instead of facing another lonely and isolated lockdown in her care home. Her story is truly heartbreaking. I have no doubt that she is not the only Canadian to experience feelings of loneliness in the face of COVID. We cannot expect our seniors and our vulnerable populations to endlessly isolate from their loved ones. They have already missed birthdays, holidays and many important gatherings. We have to be aware of the serious mental health toll this pandemic is having on our seniors, our vulnerable populations and, in essence, all Canadians. We need to offer our seniors hope. All Canadians need hope.
At the outset of this pandemic, the government talked about temporary restrictions and lockdowns to help buy time. Now, more than 11 months after we first heard about COVID, there has to be a better response. We know that mass testing is key to isolating COVID infections, and that the delivery of a safe and effective vaccine will be the real light at the end of the tunnel. We know that a safe and effective vaccine will also be vital to our economic recovery. It is certainly not unreasonable for us to expect the government to have a plan, to tell Canadians who want a vaccine when they can expect to receive one that is safe and effective, and how many doses each province will be receiving, or to be clear on the details of negotiated contracts.
We are hearing reports and details from other countries on their vaccine delivery plans and timelines. Other countries are starting to roll out a vaccine in the coming weeks, and we still do not even have a clear plan, or have not heard of a clear plan. The United States and Britain are talking about mass access to the vaccine in December and January. December is here, and now our is throwing around September. He needs to tell Canadians why this is, and what the plan is between now and then. It is not just opposition members asking for clarity. Team Canada is asking. Canadians are asking.
The provincial premiers, who will be tasked with delivering the vaccine, are asking for clarity. Premier Scott Moe, from my home province of Saskatchewan, has said that he is concerned and troubled to hear that Canada is at the back of the line when it comes to receiving a vaccine. The premier has said that he has not received confirmation from the federal government that a vaccine will be distributed on a per-capita basis, nor has he received clarity on when it will be received by the provinces. He is not the only premier asking questions.
Earlier this week, Premier Doug Ford of Ontario said:
I have to get answers. I've been asking the federal government. We need to know when we're getting it, how much we're getting and what we're getting. There's different vaccines out there so, to be perfectly frank, I'm not any more comfortable than I was last week.
Premier Sandy Silver of Yukon is asking for a national distribution strategy.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer, has said he is waiting on federal guidance on issues ranging from priority groups to transportation and logistics.
The provinces cannot move ahead with their planning without clarity from the government, and the more it protests against providing details, the more concerning it is. It is even more concerning when we hear conflicting dates and timelines from those front benches. Canadians want their lives back, and their jobs and businesses. More important than that, human life hangs in the balance of the government's response to this pandemic.
We are now into December and the Christmas holidays are fast approaching. Canadians do not need more empty promises. They are worried about their loved ones and their livelihoods. They need a real team Canada approach. They need a timeline. They need a plan for distribution. They need to know who will get first access. They need answers. They need a clear path forward.
That is what Conservatives are asking for today: a clear path forward. We are asking that the Liberal government give Canadians the certainty, the clarity and the competence that they deserve from their government.