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Results: 1 - 100 of 13564
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-12-03 10:02 [p.2879]
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to seven petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-12-03 10:03 [p.2879]
Mr. Speaker, there are times when we all wish we could go back in time and change the course of history. Everyone wishes that December 6, 1989, had been just another normal day at the École Polytechnique in Montreal for the 14 brilliant young women who were violently killed and the other victims of this heinous, cowardly act that we still remember today.
On Sunday, it will be 31 years that they have been in our thoughts, 31 years since the following individuals died unjustly: Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.
Unfortunately, we cannot change the past, but we can still change the future. It is our duty to never forget the misogynistic, anti-feminist nature of this attack that shook Montreal, Quebec and the entire country. It was a blow to the very heart of our values. These women and girls, women and girls across Canada and around the world should not have to be afraid to succeed, to be ambitious or to advocate for a better future. Gender equality is non-negotiable, now and forever.
No parent should have to mourn the loss of a daughter as they did 31 years ago in Montreal. No family should have to hold each other in grief as they did in Portapique last April. The gun lobby does not like it when we use the term “assault weapon”. They say it is a meaningless term. Let me say what is not meaningless: the lives of the people we have lost to these weapons.
Canadians know that there is no place in our country for weapons designed to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. They know that these weapons were not designed to hunt deer. That is why in May, we announced a ban on 1,500 models of assault-style weapons including the Ruger Mini-14 used by the killer in Montreal on December 6, 1989. It is now against the law to buy or sell these weapons in Canada.
Furthermore, we will be moving forward very soon with legislation to implement the rest of our commitments to protect Canadians from gun violence. We need to address violence no matter where it happens, in public or at home. Women, girls and people of diverse gender identities deserve to be safe and to feel safe. During the pandemic, Canadians have been asked to stay home wherever possible to protect themselves and others. It has been difficult for everyone, so imagine how much harder it has been for those who do not feel safe at home, but do not feel like they have anywhere else to go. It is a simple fact. Gender-based violence has been made worse by this pandemic. That is unacceptable.
In the past months, we have accelerated investments in shelters and transition housing as we continue to advance on a national action plan on gender-based violence. We have made important progress, but there is always more to be done. We are ready to do that hard work alongside advocates, volunteers and all those who are fighting for change.
In May, we banned 1,500 models of assault-style weapons, including the Ruger Mini-14 used in 1989 at the Polytechnique. These weapons are tools designed to kill people, and they have no place in our society. We will soon be introducing a bill to implement the rest of our commitments on this issue.
As we work to take these firearms out of circulation, we also have to tackle the root cause of the violence. We must be vigilant. We must fight misogyny, discrimination and hate everywhere, including online, in schools, in workplaces and everywhere else in our lives. The violence and racism that indigenous women and girls experience is unacceptable, and we must put an end to it. We must find a way to provide a safe environment with equal opportunity for all.
Today, the percentage of women studying engineering in many schools all over the country is higher than ever before. That is great, but I know we can do even better. It is important that we continue to take concrete steps to encourage women and girls to pursue careers in STEM fields and it is important that we never forget why this is something to stand up for. We owe it to the victims of École Polytechnique, and we owe it to all Canadians.
Our commitment to equality and to keeping our communities safe must remain strong. We must continue to stand by the girls and women, the minorities, the survivors and the allies who are fighting all forms of violence.
Life is fragile. In recent years, far too many tragedies like what happened at the Polytechnique have reminded us of that. Life is fragile, so we need to make sure our values are not.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-12-03 10:10 [p.2880]
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House on behalf of the entire Conservative Party to honour the memory of the women who were killed in the massacre at École Polytechnique in Montreal.
On December 6, 1989, a misogynistic murderer driven by deep hatred shattered the dreams of young women who had their entire lives ahead of them. Let's call a spade a spade: that day, Canada suffered a terrorist attack, a femicide, an anti-feminist killing spree. This man was a terrorist, but although he wanted to make our country pay for its commitment to gender equality, although he wanted revenge against the women's movement, although he wanted us to pay for the values we hold most dear, his heinous crime failed to achieve those goals.
The murders at Polytechnique showed our entire country how fragile our progress can be. It showed how easily our progress can be attacked. However, our country has never bowed down to terrorism. The women who were tragically killed that day live on in all the little girls who dream big and aspire to a good life. They live on in every female engineer who receives her iron ring. They live on in the women who are elected to the House of Commons. They live on in the hearts of the families who have so unfairly lost a loved one.
As we approach December 6, I rise in the House to read those women's names aloud, for they will never be forgotten: Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte. These names are forever etched in the memory of our country. They are symbols of the freedoms we cherish and, 31 years later, their names echo across the country as we remember the sacrifices, the pain and the tragedies that these women experienced in the name of equal opportunity and equal respect between men and women.
These seem like basic concepts to us today because of the brave women who fought long and hard to change our country's history. The women who died at École Polytechnique were no exception. As our country confronts a public health crisis, it is more important than ever to care for our loved ones and to be there for people living alone. During this pandemic, we must take action against another shadow crisis, the rise of violence against women. Far too many women are still experiencing intimidation and domestic violence. We must do everything we can to prevent a tragedy like École Polytechnique from ever happening again. As we remember these victims, we remember that we must never let our guard down. I remember you. Canada remembers.
Thirty-one years ago, 14 young women were struck down in a horrible massacre at École Polytechnique in Montreal. As we remember them today, we can tell Canadians that they live on every time a young woman receives her iron ring as an engineer; every time we cross a threshold, as we did last week with 100 women in the chamber; and every time their friends and communities remember them. They live on, and 31 years later, our resolute defence of our values that were attacked that day stands strong, as does our commitment to fight even harder for equality and opportunity, and live up to the values our country holds dear.
On sombre days like this when we remember the victims, let us recommit to ending violence toward women and those vulnerable in our society. In a pandemic, when worry and mental health are touching every corner of our country and every family within the Canadian family, let us make sure that no one is isolated, no one is forgotten and that there is zero tolerance toward violence in our society.
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
BQ (QC)
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
2020-12-03 10:17 [p.2880]
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleagues, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I too want to recognize this difficult anniversary, the Polytechnique massacre.
Year after year, a kind of fog sets in when we think about the young women we lost in that tragedy. Those young women would perhaps be mothers today; they would be the ones now moving Quebec forward. Time always creates this fog. I therefore invite all my colleagues in the House and on Zoom to join me for a moment as we close our eyes and walk through this fog of time together. Let's close our eyes.
Now let's imagine that we are at École Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989. It is 5:05 p.m., and the day is almost over. It is already dark outside. There we are. We are walking down the hall. We go into a classroom on the second floor. There are about 60 students in the class listening to one of their own discuss mechanical engineering. The class is of course primarily made up of young men, but still, there are nine women who are also listening. It is 5:09 p.m. and a student is speaking.
Let's keep our eyes closed. Imagine a young man giving a talk about mechanical engineering. Imagine that we are students, young men and women, looking forward to the end of the presentation and the end of the day so we can go home.
Then, all of a sudden, someone enters abruptly, unannounced; we can feel a lot of stress. He goes up to the student giving the presentation and tells him to shut up. “Stop everything”, he shouts. We hear him and understand that something is seriously wrong. We stop. It is not as though we have a choice.
“Guys on one side, girls on the other”, he says. There is some nervous laughing, no one moves, it is a joke. Do my colleagues still have their eyes closed? Bang! A shot is fired into the floor, not in the air. It is awful. This is not a joke; something serious really is happening.
Just imagine. The women are separated from the men, and the men are told to leave; they leave, almost relieved but feeling guilty. Imagine that we are one of those men. We can feel the uneasiness, right? We also feel relieved. We tell ourselves that we have to go get help, but we no longer know what is happening in that classroom.
The man is there, in the classroom, talking to the nine young women. “You know why you're here,” he says. One of the young women says, “No.” Then he says, “I am fighting feminism.” One of the young women speaks, and when she does, everyone senses the fear and the hope that it will all stop. She says, “ Look, we're just women studying engineering. We're not necessarily feminists about to march in the streets in a tirade against men. We're just students trying to live normal lives.”
It is all for naught. The man has already made up his mind, and he says, “You're women; you're going to be engineers. You're all a bunch of feminists. I hate feminists.” Then he fires on them from left to right, like reading words on a page, and they fall from left to right, like reading words on a page. He leaves the classroom.
Let's keep our eyes closed. It is safer that way because he does not stop there, and if we open our eyes, we will see blood, despair and fear. More carnage ensues as he makes his way to the cafeteria on the first floor. Then he returns to the third floor and enters one last classroom.
Everywhere he goes, from the mechanical engineering class to the very last classroom where he will take his own life, he leaves a trail of blood, despair and fear. Thirteen people are wounded and 14 women have been murdered because of their killer's hatred for feminists. Let's close our eyes one last time and think of Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte.
Now, let's open our eyes. We must not let the memory of the women of École Polytechnique fade over time. We need to keep their memory alive, keep them alive in our memories in some way. Yes, let's open our eyes and continue our fight against violence against women, our fight against misogyny and our fight for better gun control.
Mr. Speaker, I remember the women of École Polytechnique.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-12-03 10:25 [p.2881]
Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, it will be 31 years since 14 women were killed at École Polytechnique because they were women. They were victims of misogyny. They were victims of men's violence against women. It is important to recognize that it was about hatred of women.
In the days after the massacre, there were many debates about why these women were killed. Even though the gunman was clear, saying that he hated feminists, many wanted to portray his actions as those of a madman. However, these killings were planned. They were calculated to terrorize women.
In the months that followed, calls to action were made to recognize another pandemic, that of male violence against women. This pandemic continues today. Throughout COVID-19, women have had to deal with an additional threat, that of domestic violence. The overcrowding of shelters and the additional strain on other resources has made it harder to get help.
Women are more likely to have lost their jobs and income during the pandemic, making it even harder for them to leave violence. Lack of affordable housing keeps women in dangerous situations because there are no safe options.
We know that indigenous women and girls are more likely to face violence and are more likely to be killed, yet the calls for justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls were delivered 18 months ago today and action on those calls for justice have been too slow in coming.
Transgender women, especially if they are racialized, also face terrible levels of violence and abuse. They are often victimized again by justice and health care systems that too often question their identity.
Women and girls with disabilities are far more at risk for violence and abuse. As many as 60% will experience violence in their lifetime. That is a staggering figure. Many will never tell anyone or reach out for help.
It was not just the families and friends of these 14 women who suffered a loss 31 years ago. We all lost women who were destined to have brilliant careers, who today would have been leaders in their field and could have taught another generation of engineers.
Every day, women and girls are told to protect themselves from violence. If we asked any woman, we would know. She would give a list of ways she tries to stay safe from men. Women shoulder this burden because men still have not taken up our responsibility to end it. It is not up to women to protect themselves from men by worrying about what they wear, where they walk or who they date. It is up to men to stop hurting women.
Almost 40 years ago, Margaret Mitchell, the NDP MP for Vancouver East, stood in the House of Commons to ask a question about violence against women. The response from other parties at the time was laughter and heckling. In that moment, she brought an issue that remained hidden into the spotlight. Laughter did not stop her from fighting for the help that women needed, and fear of what others might think should not stop men from fighting sexism and misogyny wherever we find it.
This weekend, as we remember that horrible night, I call on men to make a commitment to combat male violence against women. Let's take responsibility for putting an end to sexism and misogyny any time we see it happening. Let's tackle the racism and transphobia that fuel violence. Let's honour the memory of those 14 young women by building a world that is safe for everyone.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-12-03 10:30 [p.2882]
Madam Speaker, on a point of order, I believe the member for Fredericton was seeking unanimous consent or was already on the orders of the day to respond to the Prime Minister's statement.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
We need unanimous consent for the member for Fredericton to make a statement. Does the House give its consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-12-03 10:31 [p.2882]
Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleagues for allowing me to speak today.
The first words I spoke in the House were on December 6, 2019, in remembrance of the massacre at École Polytechnique. Today I think of the victims and the families of those lost, and indeed I think about Canada and what this day means for us as a nation.
I reflected then, as I do now, on the frame of mind of the individual who carried out the heinous act, and what could have possibly motivated a person to tear down the pillars of a community and snuff out bright lights.
Then, and now, I will say it was anti-feminism and misogyny. Violence against women and 2SLGBTQiA+ peoples continues to steal from us as a society. We lose aunties, sisters, friends, teachers and students. These words we share are important, our remembrance is essential and our actions must be immediate.
Since last December, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the realities for women at risk, particularly marginalized women including trans women, girls, femme-identified and non-binary people, racialized women and women of colour, indigenous women and immigrant women.
We see article after article about record numbers of calls to women's shelters for those fleeing violence. We see survey after survey describing the increasing severity and frequency of the violence and torment women are facing in their own homes during lockdowns. We see the oozing growth of online vitriol and hatred.
In April, we saw another terrible massacre in Nova Scotia that began with intimate-partner violence. That day 22 people lost their lives, 13 of them women. I am also haunted by Chantel Moore's story. This young indigenous woman was shot in her home, alone, by municipal police in my home province in June, without an explanation.
Two weeks ago, the final report on the implementation of the Merlo Davidson settlement agreement shocked many of us, with revelations of systemic and horrific misogyny and violence within the ranks of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Hon. Michel Bastarache, independent assessor, describes Canada's national police force as having a toxic culture, and recommends nothing short of an independent external review to reform policing in Canada. We absolutely must undertake this work immediately.
When indigenous women disappear from their communities, their families cannot trust that their lives will be valued. As long as our policing institutions are fraught with misogyny and racism, police cannot possibly hold citizens accountable for their gender-based hate and violence.
Today we remember the women whose lives were taken on December 6, 1989, at École Polytechnique by a man who hated the women who dared to study. We must also remember Chantel Moore and those lost in Nova Scotia.
As each week passes we lose more. In 2018, there were nearly 100,000 victims of intimate-partner violence. Four out of every five were women. That year, 87 people were murdered by their intimate partners.
Amid this pandemic, we have come together in the name of health. The year 2020 has proved that when we are united with a common goal, and when we tackle a societal crisis with intensity, albeit desperation, we can move mountains. We know change is hard, but we have seen progress. Bill C-3 is a testament to moving the needle by legislating training on sexual assault for judges.
I challenge my colleagues in the House and I challenge Canadians. What will it take for us to come together and to recognize gender-based violence as the crisis it is? We need to move this mountain. May we always remember this day.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
Following discussions among representatives of all parties in the House, I understand there is an agreement to observe a moment of silence.
I invite members to rise and observe a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the tragic event that happened 31 years ago at École Polytechnique in Montreal.
[A moment of silence observed ]
View Scott Duvall Profile
NDP (ON)
View Scott Duvall Profile
2020-12-03 10:37 [p.2883]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-258, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers).
He said: Madam Speaker, it is my honour to introduce a private member's bill that would protect workers in the event of a strike or lockout. I would sincerely like to thank my colleague for Edmonton Strathcona for seconding this bill.
This bill would offer workers the protection the Liberals have been promising for years, but have failed to deliver. When employers hire scab replacement workers during a strike or lockout, it is unfair to the workers and undermines their right to collective bargaining.
This bill would cover federally regulated employees, which would allow the government to implement the same kinds of provisions that already exist in provinces like Quebec and British Columbia, and show leadership at the federal level. It is time to protect Canadian workers and their right to bargain collectively.
View Scott Duvall Profile
NDP (ON)
View Scott Duvall Profile
2020-12-03 10:39 [p.2883]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-259, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 (pension plans and group insurance programs).
He said: Madam Speaker, it is my honour to introduce a private member's bill that would protect the pensions and benefits already earned by Canadian workers and retirees. I would sincerely like to thank my colleague for Hamilton Centre for seconding this bill.
Pensions and benefits earned by workers are deferred wages, plain and simple. Anything that denies workers what they have earned should be illegal. Under current legislation, employers are using Canada's inadequate bankruptcy laws to take money meant for workers' pensions and divert them to pay off their secured creditors. This bill would stop that practice and ensure workers get what they have worked hard to earn.
The Liberals have promised for years to change the laws, but have failed to follow through. It is time for the government to stand up for Canadian workers and their families.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-12-03 10:40 [p.2883]
Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to rise today and support petitioners from my riding. They are calling on the government to work with the Province of B.C., coastal first nations and the fish farm industry to develop a strategy to transition open-net pen salmon farms out of B.C. waters by 2025.
The following measures would be included: legislation such as my Bill C-257, which is aimed at immediately stopping the transfer of PRV-infected smolts into open-net pen fish farms; completing the transition of open-net fish farms to closed containment by 2025; dedicating funding and financing to training fish farm workers; transitioning workers out of the aquaculture industry in regions that have no land-based closed containment; and supporting remote first nations communities currently dependent on revenues from the fish farm industry.
They are calling on the government to legislate the removal of open-net fish farms from B.C. waters by 2025 to help protect wild Pacific salmon.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-12-03 10:42 [p.2884]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to present a petition this morning from petitioners who are concerned that federal dollars are being spent on the purchase and expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, also known as the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to halt plans to support the expansion and the spending of upward of $12 billion on the Trans Mountain pipeline.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-12-03 10:42 [p.2884]
Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement, Government Orders will be extended by 32 minutes.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-12-03 10:44 [p.2884]
moved:
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 Calgary Nose Hill, 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 sign 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 Prime Minister 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 Prime Minister 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 Prime Minister 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.
View Karina Gould Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karina Gould Profile
2020-12-03 10:54 [p.2886]
Madam Speaker, on the one hand, I am really pleased to see that the opposition seems to believe in vaccines and seems to care about the health and safety of Canadians. Certainly on this side of the House, the health and safety of Canadians is our top priority, which is why we trust the world-class global regulators we have here at Health Canada to ensure a vaccine is safe for Canadians.
I am wondering what the Leader of the Opposition is doing when members of his own caucus are supporting conspiracy theories, suggesting that a vaccine is unsafe and, I believe, using the words “human experiment”.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-12-03 10:55 [p.2886]
Madam Speaker, it should trouble Canadians that when the opposition asks some reasonable questions, whether it is in respect to spending during the WE scandal, rapid test deployment or why Canada is always behind every other country in the world, rather than answer those reasonable questions, even ministers of the Crown engage in quite frankly ridiculous smoke screen tactics. I would rather they say what date will we have the Pfizer vaccine and if we have enough freezer capacity to store that vaccine. I would rather see a plan.
A lot of Canadians have concern about the five months wasted with China. I challenge the minister, with her seat at the cabinet table, to push for better. We want real action, not political games. The minister can do better than that.
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
View Julie Vignola Profile
2020-12-03 10:56 [p.2886]
Madam Speaker, just recently, the Government of Quebec complained about the lack of information provided by Ottawa, particularly information about the possibility of getting more doses than promised for 2021. The governments of Quebec and the Canadian provinces are the ones who will be distributing the vaccine.
I would like to know if my colleague has heard the same thing from the other Canadian provinces.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-12-03 10:57 [p.2886]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. It is a good question.
Who will distribute the vaccine? We asked that question three months ago, and that is why we moved this motion today.
Quebeckers have the right to a plan, as do all the provinces. Canadians deserve better after 11 months with this government, which was slow to act at every stage, whether it was closing the border, emergency programs, rapid testing and, now, the vaccine.
In the middle of a pandemic, Canadians need information and certainty. Why is the vaccine deployment date a secret? The provinces and the National Assembly of Quebec deserve an answer.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, Canadians need certainty on how we are getting out of the COVID-19 crisis, and we have not received that certainty from the government. We have received scandal, with the WE Charity scandal. We have received political gains, obfuscation and, frankly, panic from the government.
The Leader of the Opposition has been advocating for three things. He has been advocating for better information, for rapid testing and for vaccines. Could he tell the Canadian public about his plan to deliver certainty for Canadians?
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-12-03 10:59 [p.2886]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Calgary Nose Hill for her tireless efforts. In fact, we have heard from stakeholders. We have heard from people in the private sector, thanking us for pushing the government for a faster response. The member has been a key part of those efforts.
We are tired of Canada being late. We are a G7, leading bioscience country. Why did this Prime Minister partner with China after being told for several years that CanSino Biologics was actually a national security risk?
As the member knows, tests and vaccines are tools and so is information. Our goal with the motion today is to give Canadians the certainty of information before Christmas, so that we have a better and successful year with vaccines in 2021.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition 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 Leader of the Opposition 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 Prime Minister 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 health minister 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.
View Karina Gould Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karina Gould Profile
2020-12-03 11:08 [p.2888]
Madam Speaker, I can say that all members in the House share the concern, share the desire for certainty and hear from our constituents on how they are suffering every single day. When the member talks about the fall economic statement and our not having done anything, I question it, because we have sent billions of dollars in direct support to individuals and businesses to bridge them through the worst health crisis in over a century.
When it comes to vaccines, I would like to ask the hon. member if she believes in science and believes that we should allow our public servants, whom she commented on and said she supported, to do the vital work to keep Canadians safe.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, for people who are watching this today, and I know there are thousands on my live feed right now, what they just heard was an answer from a minister of the Crown. This is somebody the Prime Minister has tasked to come up with a plan to get people who are listening out of this. They did not hear anything from her on information on when that vaccine is coming out. All they heard was that there is no plan at all.
It has taken the Conservative Party to push them on the need for vaccines and rapid tests. Every step of the way, the only things the government has done were because of the actions of the people on this side of the House. The people on this side of the House are on the side of Canadians, across opposition parties: NDP, Bloc and Conservatives. This is what we see. It is political gamesmanship at a time when we need leadership, and we will not stand for it.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2020-12-03 11:10 [p.2888]
Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to work with my colleague on the health committee.
I would like to ask her opinion on where Canada sits in relation to other countries. We know that Brazil has released its contract with AstraZeneca, pretty much totally unredacted. We know that Australia has published a 12-page detailed plan laying out how its plans to vaccinate. The United States established November 15 as a vaccine readiness day, and it has received Pfizer vaccinations, pending FDA approval, where Canada has refused. We have seen that many countries of the world negotiated the right to produce vaccines in their countries, accelerating the receipt of vaccinations by their populations. The Prime Minister even acknowledged that last week, and Canada did not negotiate that right.
With respect to our global allies, where would the member place Canada in our response to prepare for vaccinating Canadians against COVID?
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, what should encourage Canadians is the fact that opposition parties are working together to push the government for a response.
I want to take this moment in the House to put partisanship aside and thank my colleague. He has been excellent to work with on the health committee. He is pushing for the same answers, because this should not be a partisan issue. He sees it in the health committee. We have seen it every day.
The government has provided Canadians, at a time when they need stability and certainty, chaos and incompetence. If the government is so confident in its plans, then it should be able to comply with this simple motion.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.
The government has already announced that priority groups such as seniors, health workers, firefighters, police officers and indigenous peoples would be the first to receive the vaccine. Dr. Tam has already said that we may not have enough doses for that many people. We already have that information.
Could the government share with us who it intends to vaccinate first? What are the member's thoughts on that?
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, the reality is that we do not know who is getting the vaccines and in what order. The government talks about some interim guidelines, but given that other countries are already deploying the vaccine, why do we not have more detail? As little as a week ago, provincial governments were decrying the lack of direction or certainty from the federal government, and provinces like Quebec should have that information.
Provinces should have a clear partner with the federal government, but what we have seen is ministers of the Crown basically guessing on national television, like vaccine distribution date bingo. That is not how we should be deploying a vaccine. That is not how we should be choosing who gets it and in what order. That is why this motion needs to pass.
View Patty Hajdu Profile
Lib. (ON)
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 Minister of International Development, 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.
View Leona Alleslev Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, a failure to plan is a plan to fail, and time is of the essence.
The minister has clearly stated that the logistics, distribution, storage and approval of this vaccine is highly complicated. The speed and effectiveness of Canada's plan will be measured in deaths prevented and livelihoods saved.
Will the minister share with all Canadians, as quickly as possible, by next week, the national COVID vaccine distribution plan?
View Patty Hajdu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, we have been working with provinces and territories since May to ensure they are well situated to deliver on vaccinating Canadians. I would like to remind the member opposite that, in fact, provinces and territories are not new to this work. What is new and complicated is the distribution of these ultra-cold temperature track 1 vaccines.
We have been transparent with Canadians. Each week, we are providing a tech briefing to the media so we can get that information out to Canadians. In fact, today, at noon, there will be more information from Dr. Njoo and General Fortin. This will be an update on the work that has been happening with provinces and territories to ensure they are ready to embark on this immunization program.
View Denis Trudel Profile
BQ (QC)
View Denis Trudel Profile
2020-12-03 11:26 [p.2891]
Madam Speaker, I thank the Minister of Health for her speech.
We understand that the vaccine is going to arrive in dribs and drabs and that certain target groups, such as seniors and health care workers, will be vaccinated first.
If a large number of doses of the vaccine become available as of a certain date, for example, January 15, what is the capacity of the system and how many people could be vaccinated per week or per month once things really ramp up?
View Patty Hajdu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his interest in the provinces' work to plan how to vaccinate Canadians. As I mentioned in my remarks, it will not be the Government of Canada vaccinating Canadians, except for the federal populations that we have responsibility for; but, it will be provinces and territories that will be doing the vaccination, and that is the plan that they are working out right now.
Of course, the federal government is there to support provinces and territories in the logistics of getting the vaccine to the deployment sites, making sure that the vaccine is stored in a way that it can retain its integrity, and making sure that the provinces and territories have the supplies that they need, like the syringes and the swabs and other medical equipment that will be necessary. That is the work that has been ongoing since May.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2020-12-03 11:28 [p.2891]
Madam Speaker, given that Canada has the lawful authority to receive promising vaccines on Canadian soil pending Health Canada approval; and given that, in the United States, officials have done exactly that and the U.S. has received Pfizer vaccines even though the FDA has not yet approved it, can the minister explain why Canada has not taken possession of promising vaccines, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, on Canadian soil pending Health Canada approval as the law allows? In light of the fact that it would easily speed up the delivery of vaccination, if and when those vaccines are approved, why is that?
View Patty Hajdu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, the member opposite is right. The interim order does allow, if possible, early placement of vaccines that have not been approved by Health Canada. Usually vaccines and any other medical product that are not approved by Health Canada are stopped from entering into Canada, but, in this case, companies can apply for an exemption to that rule and place it early.
I want to thank the Minister of Public Services and Procurement for doing the incredible yeoman's work of ensuring that we have such a diverse portfolio and such good relationships, on top of that, with the manufacturers of seven promising candidates, including Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen and all of the others that are in the queue.
What is really promising is that four of those companies have applied for regulatory approval. In fact, we were one of the first countries to receive all four applying to Canada. It is an indication of just how positive that relationship is between the minister, our government and these manufacturing companies.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-12-03 11:30 [p.2891]
Madam Speaker, the travel, tourism and hospitality industry has faced economic ravage as a result of the border closures and the economic shutdown globally. Countries like the U.K. and the United States will have people getting vaccinated, and some of those people will receive a vaccine that Canada may be getting.
If somebody has been vaccinated in the U.K. or the U.S. or another country and that vaccine is approved in Canada, what will her response be at the cabinet table in encouraging people to be able to travel across the border safely and get our economy back on track, especially, in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry?
View Patty Hajdu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, vaccines are not 100% certain as of yet. In fact, we are talking about a potentially 95% effectiveness rate. At the border, Canadians expect us to do our absolute best to protect against importation of the virus.
That is why the study with Alberta is so important in terms of looking at importation of cases, how long a quarantine has to be and whether we can shorten the length of quarantine and combine it with tests. That evidence is gathering, not just from the Alberta study, but also the study on the west coast and in the east with McMaster University.
This is something all countries around the world are trying to figure out. I know that we are working with our international community as well, to understand the implication of vaccines and whether that might add another tool at the border to protect from importation.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-12-03 11:31 [p.2892]
Madam Speaker, the minister and Prime Minister often talk about the portfolio of vaccines and why that is so important in ensuring Canadians are going to be covered when the time is right is and we are not just dependent on one vaccine.
Could the minister expand on why that is so important for us?
View Patty Hajdu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, the short answer is because we were not sure, especially in the early days when we were purchasing these vaccines, which ones would be successful. On top of that, we do not know if a particular vaccine is going to be indicated for use in a particular population.
Early on, we knew we would need guidance as a federal government to place our bets, if you will, on promising vaccines. That is why we struck the vaccine task force. It is composed of experts in virology, pharmaceutical companies and vaccine development, and they have ably advised us in the diversity of our portfolio, which situates Canada in a very ideal spot.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-12-03 11:33 [p.2892]
Madam Speaker, we are talking about vaccines as if they are sort off the shelf and we have been late getting them. I then go and look at science journals and realize we still do not have a vaccine for SARS. This is complicated stuff, and certainly we would not have been able to predict one vaccine in the pipeline would need -70° refrigeration.
In response to opposition parties' demands, I certainly support we get as much information out to Canadians as fast as possible. I object to politicizing this. Is the Government of Canada still considering at all the use of the Emergencies Act, which I think would deal with the expectations of people who want to know why we are not coordinating better, why we are not moving faster? In a federation like Canada, would we move faster if the government went to the Emergencies Act as a way of moving forward?
View Patty Hajdu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, thanks to the member opposite for acknowledging that vaccine technology is complicated and that Canadians expect whatever we approve here in Canada, whatever we distribute here in Canada, will go through the utmost rigour in assessing its safety and its effectiveness.
I also want to thank the member opposite for acknowledging that these ultra-cold vaccines use a novel technology, so it is especially new and it is especially important we understand its safety and effectiveness.
In terms of the Emergencies Act in the context of distributing vaccines, at this point I do not think we need to use the Emergencies Act. We are having incredible collaboration with provinces and territories.
In fact, I reject the opposition's assertion that we have not been talking to the provinces and territories. Just this week, we conducted a tabletop exercise with provinces and territories to go through a dry run of what the delivery would look like and assess any kinds of complications. Provinces and territories at all levels, technical tables, medical tables and political tables, have been meeting to talk about vaccine deployment for months and we are very thrilled we are as far along as we are.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will give its consent and vote in favour of the motion introduced by the leader of the official opposition 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 Prime Minister 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 Prime Minister 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 Leader of the Opposition 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.
View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and his party for their support of the Conservative motion seeking to give Canadians the straight goods on the pandemic and the need to procure vaccines as soon as possible.
First, I would like to know whether it was a good idea for the Liberals to put all their eggs in one basket, a Chinese communist basket, which has now left us in the lurch.
My second question has to do with vaccination delays. My colleague gave a good explanation of how people who cannot work because of a lockdown actually cost the government money. Could he share his thoughts on what impact the vaccination delays will have on public finances, which are a complete mess because of the Liberals' mismanagement?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, in answer to the first question, it is understandable for the government to consider a variety of solutions when it is facing a difficult challenge. It was not necessary to rule out a Chinese solution, but it was dangerous to give it too much weight.
The government will say that it purchased 400 million doses from seven suppliers. When it says that, I think that it is covering up something else that I would like to know more about. I do not want to make any accusations. However, did companies in Canada get special privileges in the fight against the pandemic because they wanted to win the race to develop a vaccine? If that is the case, and they do not find a vaccine soon, Canada's manufacturing and innovation capabilities will not be used to get us out of this crisis when the time comes to produce, manufacture or copy vaccines. I think that that was a grave mistake on the government’s part. Diversity is important.
As for spending, I think it is understandable that it is so high. All the western countries have spent a lot of money. In most, if not all, cases, the central banks purchase government bonds, which is a way of printing money without causing damage, since it maintains the competitive balance between countries. However, that does not mean that we can spend whatever we want.
Sometimes it is a matter of symbolism. I am eager to see what the Conservatives are going to do. I gather that they intend to pay back the money they received under the Canada emergency wage subsidy. I am shocked, though, that the Liberals will not do the same, and I am offended that the Green Party and the NDP will continue to collect money that should be going to businesses.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-12-03 11:55 [p.2895]
Madam Speaker, virtually from day one, the government has recognized the necessity of vaccinations. In fact, we had experts, civil servants and others engaged on the issue. Today, we have a wide spectrum of ways to provide vaccinations, which is providing a great deal of hope to Canadians.
I was here during the summertime, and I am trying to get an understanding of something. Out of the hundreds of questions I sat through during the summer inside the chamber while listening to opposition parties, I am trying to recall when they started to talk about the vaccination issue on the floor of the House.
Can the leader of the Bloc indicate when his party was first aware of this and when they started to talk about the issue of vaccinations on the floor of the House?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I find it rather interesting that my esteemed colleague is saying that we should have been wary of them and started asking questions much earlier, because even they knew they were out to lunch.
We did not ask because asking about a vaccine in March was not an accomplishment. The whole world was talking about a vaccine. I think people on the moon were talking about a vaccine in March. It was not an accomplishment.
The other problem is that we are not asking about the 400 million doses or the seven different potential vaccines. Our question is about when. We want to know when.
How much longer will we be counting the number of people who contract COVID-19 or, even more sadly, who die because of what turn out to be some ill-advised decisions?
That is what the Conservative Party's motion is getting at.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2020-12-03 11:58 [p.2895]
Madam Speaker, yesterday, the leader of the NDP called for the creation of a Crown corporation that would produce vaccines and essential medications in Canada. Of course, all Canadians were greatly disappointed to see the Prime Minister acknowledge in November that we do not have the capacity to produce vaccines in this country. That leads us to be vulnerable. Other countries produce vaccines and drugs, accelerating access to vaccines for their citizens, as opposed to Canadians.
Does my hon. colleague agree that Canada should cure this defect and ensure that we have the domestic capacity to produce life-saving vaccines and essential medication here in Canada for Canadians?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I have nothing against the idea of ensuring that Canada and Quebec are able to manufacture vaccines right here.
The facilities exist, and the government has invested in other facilities that will increase our vaccine manufacturing capacity.
Is a Crown corporation the way to do it?
I am not a fan of big centralizing bodies. However, the pharmaceutical industry has evolved a lot in recent decades. Canada's pharmaceutical industry is hurting because it has fallen behind and now relies on the innovation of independent laboratories and academic institutions. Pharmaceutical companies then purchase the rights and manufacture them.
This is something that the government should be investing in, not taking charge itself.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I have a question for him.
I am a Conservative and you are a member of the Bloc Québécois, but we have one thing in common: we both live in Quebec and we both have the same problem, and that is the impact that COVID-19 is having on the Government of Quebec.
Now, I would like to know what you think about the fact that the Prime Minister often tells all of the opposition parties that we are fearmongering when we ask questions about the current government's management of the COVID-19 crisis.
What do you think?
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
I would ask the hon. member to address his comments to the Chair.
The hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, Quebeckers know as well as anyone else that fear is a political tool that has been used against them many times. I could name two or three of those fateful dates.
The best weapon against fear is always information. If the government wisely agrees to provide clear, specific information through the media, which also has a strong sense of responsibility, fear will no longer be an argument because it will be replaced by knowledge and science.
That is the way to get through a crisis like this one.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-12-03 12:01 [p.2896]
Madam Speaker, my eyebrows went up when the government's parliamentary secretary said we had not asked any questions about vaccination, because we spent much of the summer talking about Medicago, a company working on a vaccine that the government was not stepping up to fund.
I know my leader is a modest man, but I would like to ask him to explain what steps we took with regard to Medicago.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I am not sure I can be that modest.
I myself met with the people at Medicago. That is one example I can give in relation to the previous question. Innovation is happening, and it is often led by the private sector, by entrepreneurs, by researchers from well-respected educational institutions who decide to get involved in research so they can bring a product to market. Medicago is a very good example of that.
Will the people at Medicago come up with a viable vaccine in time while we are making our way out of the crisis? Nobody knows. However, we do know they have been working on it, because we met with them. They told us about their process, and they eventually got funding. That deserves a lot of respect because Medicago is making a real name for itself in Quebec's pharmaceutical sector.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-12-03 12:02 [p.2896]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway.
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 Prime Minister 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.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-12-03 12:12 [p.2897]
Madam Speaker, I agree with the member that we need to recognize the phenomenal efforts of the industries in Canada that really stepped up. He pointed out such things as hand sanitizers and masks, and it was truly amazing how industry in Canada turned it around and started to produce those very important products. I just wanted to mention that.
My question is more related to vaccinations. We have been focused since before June on how we are going to ensure that Canadians will be vaccinated. We need to recognize that not just the national government is in charge of the administration of that. It also involves the provinces and territories, so there needs to be a high sense of co-operation and collaboration between the national government and provinces and territories.
Can he provide his thoughts as to why that is so important?
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-12-03 12:14 [p.2897]
Madam Speaker, I anticipated a question like this, and that is why I gave the example of Australia.
As the hon. member knows, Australia has a very similar setup, with a national government as well as state governments. It has very similar responsibilities of co-operating together. Despite that same challenge, the Australian government has laid out a clear plan. We can Google it right now and find out exactly what is going on. The Canadian government has failed. There is no other way to put it. It has failed. We knew that vaccine delivery and production would be vital for us to get out of this pandemic. The fact that we cannot, right now, find out what that plan is, and that people clearly do not know what the plan is, what the doses are, which companies are involved, who is going to get vaccinated or when, or have answers to other basic questions, is very clearly a failure of leadership on the part of the Liberal government.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2020-12-03 12:15 [p.2898]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his leadership in addressing what is, I think, a profound failure in public policy by successive Conservative and Liberal governments.
As he pointed out, it was the Conservative government in 1986, the Mulroney government, that privatized Connaught Labs, which had performed a valuable public health service to this country by producing essential vaccines and insulin for millions of Canadians. Of course, the Liberals have had 18 years in government since then, 16 of those in majority, to reverse that policy. Instead, both governments presided over the slide in Canada's pharmaceutical production capacity.
Can he tell us in the House what the impact would be on Canadians' public health if a Crown corporation had a drug manufacturer, going forward?
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-12-03 12:16 [p.2898]
Madam Speaker, I want to first thank the member for Vancouver Kingsway for the idea itself. We were having a discussion about what we could move forward on, and the member is a big part of why we are making this announcement.
This would be vital. Members can imagine the outrage that Canadians felt when we could not produce basic masks, gowns and protective equipment. Canadians feel that same outrage right now. They think about the fact that a country as wealthy and as advanced as Canada cannot make vaccines and medication for its own population and the fact that, since we do not have capacity, we are going to have to wait until other countries produce for us to receive.
The ability to make it here in Canada, and to have our own company where we can make medication and vaccines in Canada, would be life-changing. It would open up the door for us to have national universal pharmacare that is fully public. It would make it easier. It would make sure that millions of Canadians who are struggling with the cost of medication would not have to worry, and right now in this pandemic, it would have meant that we would have gotten through this more easily.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-12-03 12:17 [p.2898]
Madam Speaker, I certainly agree entirely with the thrust of the remarks from the member for Burnaby South. My colleague, the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, has spoken frequently in the House about Connaught Labs and the terrible mistake in privatizing it.
I wonder if the hon. member has any thoughts as to what we can do now to ensure that the billions of dollars of public investments in developing a COVID vaccine do not immediately convert themselves into private profits for big pharma.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-12-03 12:17 [p.2898]
Madam Speaker, that is a very legitimate question. Much of the research that was done was publicly funded, but the outcomes are going to be private profits. That is wrong. One solution is to ensure we have a public manufacturer, but there are other ways to ensure that public research does not become privatized and that it is used for the public good.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2020-12-03 12:18 [p.2898]
Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to speak to the important motion introduced today by my colleague from Calgary Nose Hill. 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 Prime Minister 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 Prime Minister 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 Prime Minister 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.
View John Barlow Profile
CPC (AB)
View John Barlow Profile
2020-12-03 12:28 [p.2900]
Madam Speaker, I have enjoyed working on the health committee with my colleague a great deal. Right now at committee, we are studying the mental health impacts of the COVID pandemic. I think both of us would agree that the vaccine is a more critical and timely issue, but listening to our constituents who are having issues with mental health and opioid addiction, I would like to hear the member's comments on the impact of not knowing for Canadians who want to see that there is a clear path to accessing vaccines, rapid testing and home-based testing, which this Liberal government refuses to provide to Canadians.
What impact is that having on mental health, on the opioid crisis and on Canadians who are just being left in the dark when it comes to a strategy to access vaccines?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2020-12-03 12:29 [p.2900]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for Foothills for his wonderful and very intelligent discussion and contributions to the health committee in all its matters.
It is an excellent question. As I referred to in my speech, to gain public confidence and allay fears and suspicions requires transparency and information from this federal government. I must say that other than the Liberals saying that they have the best portfolio is the world and to just trust them, they have been remarkably reluctant to release basic information. Frankly, I do not understand it. These are not state secrets. Nobody is asking for detailed commercial information. What we are asking for is the basic information that is necessary for the Canadian public to have confidence that there is a way out of this crisis, and that they will get access to a safe and effective vaccine.
For instance, like the disease of addiction, it is often said that the sickness is in the secrets. When we have secrets and a lack of transparency, it leads to anxiety, suspicion and false information. That cannot be good for the Canadian public. I cannot be good for Canadians' mental health. That is why I think that the Conservative motion today is very helpful in helping to allay those concerns.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-12-03 12:30 [p.2900]
Madam Speaker, the member just said that no one is asking for detailed information, yet in his speech he said that he wanted to see the contracts.
We need to recognize that the Government of Canada is not acting alone. There are experts and civil servants on a vaccination committee who have done their homework to ensure that Canadians will be well served with a vaccination. There are seven companies with which we have contracts. They are leading companies. At the end of the day, I believe that Canadians will, in fact, be well served by the work of the civil servants and the experts, by the implementation and by working with the provinces and territories.
Would the member not acknowledge that the administration of the units is not going to be by Walmart and Walgreens, but the provinces and territories doing what they have done well? We can look at this flu season, with 16 million vaccinations administered during a pandemic.
Could the member provide his thoughts in terms of the role that the provinces and territories play?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2020-12-03 12:31 [p.2900]
Mr. Speaker, first, to clarify for the member, what I said was that we are not looking for detailed commercial and sensitive information from the contracts. We just want the basic details that Canadians want to know. When will the vaccines come? How many vaccines will be administered in January, February and March? Who is going to do the vaccinating? What are the priority groups? To this day, December 3, there is not a document from this federal government that says conclusively what the priority order of target populations to be vaccinated is. That is unacceptable on December 3, if we are going to be starting to vaccinate in early January.
To speak to the member's other point, Canada is not unique. The United States has a federal government with many states and many complex administrative relationships. Australia is a country very similar to Canada. It is a mid-sized country with a federal government and states just like Canada. Those countries are producing vaccines domestically. They are releasing detailed vaccination plans. They are telling the population what the details are.
What my hon. colleague basically says is that we have all these people working on all of these plans, and I agree with that. What we are asking for is to tell Canadians what those details are. It is time.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.
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 Prime Minister 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 Minister of Health 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 meant 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 Prime Minister 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 environment minister 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 psyop 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 Prime Minister 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.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-12-03 12:43 [p.2902]
Madam Speaker, since day one, this government has been focused on the coronavirus and minimizing the damages it has caused. The vaccine plays an absolutely critical role in that regard. That is why, once again, the government has been focused on ensuring and providing accurate information to Canadians through press conferences and other methods so Canadians can feel confident that the government knows what it is doing and will be serving them well.
The question I have for the member was put to the leader earlier by a minister.
A headline in the Toronto Star is interesting: “Anti-vaxxers find their champion in a Conservative MP”. The member made reference to misinformation and how it plants fear. He said this in his own speech and mentioned the impacts of misinformation.
Why does the member believe the Conservative Party and the leader of the official opposition, who had an opportunity earlier today to address this headline, fell silent on the importance of sending a consistent message about the importance of having vaccines?
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I understand my colleague's question and I can tell him that the Conservative Party values freedom of expression.
If my colleague chooses to support a petition, that is his business. As for me, my work and my position have been clear: I want a plan, and I want to know when and how the vaccine will be distributed across Canada.
If my colleague has a question regarding my position, I would be happy to answer it.
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
View Julie Vignola Profile
2020-12-03 12:44 [p.2902]
Madam Speaker, last spring, we spent countless hours helping people get back to Canada.
What those people were telling us was that they were not getting any information and that they felt abandoned and unimportant, even though they were Canadian citizens and they just wanted to come home.
At-risk populations include the first nations, who often live in remote, hard-to-access areas. How does my colleague think the first nations feel right now, given that they do not have any information?
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou for her very good question.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government mentioned that technical briefings are being given. We attend those briefings.
This week, at a technical briefing given by the Department of Health, we were informed of the categories of people with priority. For example, seniors, people with certain illnesses and indigenous people are all on that list.
Priority is being given to certain groups of citizens, and the government is saying that three million of those people will be vaccinated by March 31. However, the government is not telling us how many millions of people those groups represent or giving us the break down by group of the three million people who will be vaccinated.
The government said that indigenous people are a priority. That sounds good, but they do not know whether they will have access to even one of those three million doses.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-12-03 12:46 [p.2903]
Madam Speaker, I recently met with local firefighters in Port Alberni who are members of the International Association of Fire Fighters. They are concerned that, with the COVID-19 pandemic threatening their key fire and emergency medical service response, the risk of exposure is much higher for firefighters than the general population since they provide emergency medical response as part of their duties. Right now they are urging the government to ensure that firefighters, as emergency health care providers, are included in a priority group for health care workers for the available COVID-19 vaccines so they can get enough to ensure firefighters are healthy and remain available for duty in order to protect Canadians.
This did not happen during H1N1. Unfortunately, firefighters were not included in the same group as health care workers then. Rather, they were categorized in the same tier as the general public. There is a ton of anxiety right now and a lot of unknowns. They want to know they are going to be protected.
Can the member speak about the importance of getting this information out to the first responders who are putting their lives on the line and the impact this could have on small fire departments like those in the city of Port Alberni?
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
I hope the response from the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles will be brief.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
That is part of the reason why we are calling for a clear plan. We are calling for clarity. As I mentioned in my speech, what Germany is doing is clear. That is what has been lacking from this government since day one.
Firefighters and police officers are right to be concerned, because they do not know which end is up.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
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 Calgary Nose Hill, 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 material 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 Prime Minister 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 stored 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 and the public safety and the Minister of National Defence 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.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-12-03 12:58 [p.2904]
Madam Speaker, I would disagree with the member. When I listen to what it the member is actually saying, it sounds as if the Canadian Armed Forces are a part of the plan. At the end of the day, we can take a great sense of pride in our civil servants, health care experts, scientists and members of the forces who have been involved virtually since day one.
The forces were brought into the provinces to assist with health care. They have all sorts of logistical capabilities. We know how a chain of command works. I was a member of the forces for only a few years, but I am very familiar with their capabilities. I am very confident, as are Canadians, that they will be very effective at doing they are asked to do.
What the member cited, it seems to be somewhat reasonable. I suspect they will be getting the results for which they are looking.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, all of us are proud of our Canadian Armed Forces. As I said in my speech, there are no better people on this planet to do the job with which they are tasked. They will not allow this task to fail, because failure is not an option.
The armed forces will continue to move forward on this, but they need the support from the federal government. We are not seeing that from the Liberals. We are now 12 months after the pandemic started. The Canadian Forces medical intelligence first raised the red flags about COVID-19 in Canada, yet the government is still not providing them with all the information they need to build a plan to distribute vaccines across the country.
When is the member going to force his health minister to finally provide the answers? It is not just Canadians who need and want them, but it is critical to the operations of Operation Vector under the Canadian Armed Forces. When will he do that and get some answers for Canadians finally?
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-12-03 13:00 [p.2905]
Madam Speaker, the member's questions and comments are very important and very meaningful. He will know that my province of Alberta has the highest number of active cases of COVID-19 in the country. We have more than provinces that have much higher populations. In fact, today we have learned that the provincial government has asked for field hospitals in our cities to help with the COVID-19 stresses in Alberta.
Could he talk about what the federal government needs to do to ensure that Albertans are protected in the absence of its provincial government doing the job it needs to do?
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, the Canadians Armed Forces have been preparing to provide assistance to civil authorities under the National Defence Act forever. Nobody was quite anticipating we would have a pandemic of this scale. The need for field hospitals and yo provide staff to backfill in long-term care facilities is something no one ever expected. The Canadian Armed Forces has stepped up every time they have been tasked. They do it with grace, honour and compassion, especially in our long-term care facilities.
My father is in long-term care. My wife is a nurse in a long-term care facility. I know her colleagues, all medical practitioners of all levels, from health care aides right up to the doctors, are working overtime and trying to ensure we keep this virus out of our institutions so we can keep our populations safe. The Canadian Armed Forces will always be there to stand with them shoulder to shoulder.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, the member made reference to the defence committee and the study of COVID-19 on the military. In the initial day of testimony, before we knew they were going to be the entity rolling out the vaccine execution, what was his impression of the people who testified? Did they have any knowledge whatsoever of the fact that there was a plan and that they would be involved?
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, the member's long tenure on the defence committee for almost 20 years now has been just an amazing contribution to ensuring that us, as Parliamentarians, are standing up for our troops.
Part of the discussion we were having around COVID-19 is, how do we protect our troops? How do we support them in what they are doing in Operation Laser in supporting long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario, now Manitoba and elsewhere?
They were prepared to continue on doing that role. They were thinking about potential work in vaccines, but mainly as it applied to members of the Canadian Armed Forces in Canada and around the world. What they got tasked with by the government was completely out of the blue.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2020-12-03 13:04 [p.2905]
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased and proud to share my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Milton.
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 sometime 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.
View Tony Baldinelli Profile
CPC (ON)
View Tony Baldinelli Profile
2020-12-03 13:13 [p.2907]
Madam Speaker, the question is that, for Niagara Falls and ridings like it, COVID is having an impact on tourism. It is having a devastating impact on tourism. There are 40,000 people in my community who work in that sector, and 4,000 of those are in the two casinos alone. Those employees have not been back to work since March. This talk from the government and failure to present a plan is impacting those people.
For now, we are hearing that September is a possible date for vaccinations. If that is the case, are we putting the tourism season for 2021 at risk? We need a plan, and we need it now.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2020-12-03 13:13 [p.2907]
Madam Speaker, I too have an important casino in my riding, and it is an important tourism generator and employer. Of course we are all committed, and recommit every day, to the task of ending this pandemic. Everyone can be sure that I am no exception to that rule, and that the hundreds of thousands of employees of the Government of Canada, who are working day and night on not just acquiring these vaccines, but also approving them, distributing them, and making sure the provinces and territories are in a position to administer them to the population, are doing the same thing.
I want to assure my hon. colleague that the Government of Canada has this as an absolute top priority, not only for our tourism operators, but also for small business people everywhere. We want to make sure that we put this pandemic behind us.
View Denis Trudel Profile
BQ (QC)
View Denis Trudel Profile
2020-12-03 13:14 [p.2907]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
Again, the speech is long on good intentions but short on concrete facts about what Canadians want to know: When will we be vaccinated?
I heard a public health representative say that, once 70% of the population is vaccinated, we can start thinking about lifting restrictions. That is what everyone is looking forward to.
The Prime Minister told us vaccination would be complete by September. How can the Prime Minister tell us when it will be done when he cannot even tell us when it will start?
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2020-12-03 13:15 [p.2907]
Madam Speaker, I can assure my hon. colleague that the haze and confusion around this issue was not created by the government. The government is providing clear, simple answers.
In my speech, I listed the Government of Canada's purchases, procurements and measures for not only acquiring the vaccines, but also distributing them for general public immunization.
This will take time. It is a generational challenge, in my estimation. It will take the entire country and every level of government coming together and collaborating. We will continue to operate in that way.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-12-03 13:16 [p.2907]
Madam Speaker, there is a tremendous amount of anxiety and concern about when and who is going to get the vaccine. I just met with Port Alberni firefighters here in the city of Port Alberni and they were saying that during the height of the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 they were excluded from being prioritized in sequencing for getting the vaccine. Health care workers were categorized ahead of them, and certainly they should be a priority, but firefighters were categorized as tier two, which is the same as the general public.
Right now, they are on the front lines dealing with this, and 65% of the calls in my city are first responder calls. I want to make sure we get information out and prioritize firefighters, who are on the front lines, especially with the opioid crisis. I want to ensure they are sequenced with medical health officials and seen as priority essential workers on the front lines of this pandemic.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2020-12-03 13:17 [p.2907]
Madam Speaker, I want to join with my hon. colleague in honouring our first responders, and notably the firefighters in our communities, who of course take extreme risks and protect us day and night. I know first responders will be high on anyone's list.
Public health authorities will of course be the driving expert opinion on this. I know first responders will be high on everyone's list in terms of a priority to get vaccinated, because of course they are exposed to multiple risks and multiple people, through no choice of their own. They require immunization, not only so they are protected, but also so others are protected against spread. I want to thank my hon. colleague for advocating for firefighters.
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
2020-12-03 13:18 [p.2907]
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 Prime Minister 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 Prime Minister 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.
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-12-03 13:25 [p.2909]
Madam Speaker, I find it rich that the member would talk about misinformation when all that today's motion is about is simply asking a simple question that is common sense: What is the plan to ensure that all Canadians understand what their government is doing to ensure that they have access to these vaccines when they are available?
I find it rich that the member seems to think that it is necessary to add the political spin about misinformation, when it is the Liberals who are refusing to provide that information.
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
2020-12-03 13:26 [p.2909]
Madam Speaker, the reason that I bring it up is that misinformation is actually incredibly damaging to the Canadian rhetoric. It is very dangerous. I had a call with seniors from my riding, just last night. They were really worried because they are listening to this anti-vaccine rhetoric and these notions that the number of deaths in Alberta has been inflated somehow.
Misinformation is another pandemic, and we have to be very mindful of what we put out there. People rely on us for good information. People rely on us for quality information and not to misinform them with political spin. That political spin is coming from the Conservatives, and it is damaging the Canadian conversation around how we are approaching this pandemic, which has been exemplary and, by all standards, according to the international media it is the gold standard for vaccine procurement.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I will change the tone a little bit because I cannot stand hearing people being used as political pawns. We are talking about human lives and vaccines.
We often hear the government say that when the vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready. Obviously that means that there is a plan for approving and distributing the vaccine. However, that is all we know. I realize it is hard to put a finger on a specific date. Even though the Conservatives' motion is entirely legitimate, there are some questions the government is likely unable to answer, but at this stage, I think it could provide the bare minimum.
If it cannot, why not simply admit that it does not have these answers?
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
2020-12-03 13:27 [p.2909]
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her excellent question.
I am sorry about the quality of my French. I will have to answer in English.
I share the eagerness of the member opposite for early and quick deployment of this vaccine. I would also love to see some dates, but the absolute first step in that line of questioning is Health Canada approval. These vaccines need to be approved by Health Canada and that is a process that we must respect.
Members of this House are politicians. By and large, we are not doctors; we are not vaccine experts or epidemiologists or immunologists. Let us rely on the expertise of Health Canada and the experts in Canada who have always ensured that we have access to great vaccines, including for the seasonal flu. I am not comparing this horrible pandemic to the seasonal flu, because it is not similar, despite some of the arguments and radio interviews of members from the Conservative Party. I am just as eager as my friend and colleague across the way to have a better plan, and we are working on it.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2020-12-03 13:28 [p.2909]
Madam Speaker, the chief scientific adviser for the U.S. Operation Warp Speed said:
Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval. I would expect maybe on day two after approval, on Dec. 11 or Dec. 12...the first people will be immunized across the U.S., across all states, in all areas where the state departments of health have told us to deliver the vaccine.
Here in Canada, Dr. Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist at the University of Toronto said:
So many of the people in Canada and the provinces, if they're going to be prepared for this they do need dates and they do need numbers. How do you prepare without that? ... We really, really need to build trust with Canadians right now. ...whether [we vaccinate] this month or that month [that we get the vaccine] is not irrelevant—it's highly relevant.... People will die and other people's lives will continue to be ruined until [we establish that].
Does my hon. colleague not agree that we should be doing what the U.S. is doing, pre-positioning the Pfizer vaccine, telling Canadians when the vaccination dates are going to happen and giving Canadians the details? Does he not trust Canadians to handle that information?
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
2020-12-03 13:30 [p.2910]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the hard work from my hon. colleague. We were on a panel together last night, and the collaboration was appreciated.
However, I will, in fact, take our response to COVID-19 over that of the United States any day of the week. I am proud of our response and the plan. I am especially proud of our procurement abilities. Our reaction and strategy has been far and above one of the best in the world.
I take the comment regarding the pre-procurement of the Pfizer vaccine, as did the Minister of Health earlier today. It is a good recommendation, and that is the type of collaboration that we rely on in this House to serve Canadians.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-12-03 13:30 [p.2910]
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 Battlefords—Lloydminster.
I am pleased to rise after the member for Milton 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 Minister of Health 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.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Madam Speaker, the member does not seem to realize that it is Health Canada that actually licenses the vaccines. There are no vaccines to distribute as I speak.
From the beginning, we have invested billions of dollars in individuals and businesses to make sure they can cope through this very serious pandemic. We have provided testing, contact tracing and personal protective equipment to the provinces and territories. We are working very closely with Health Canada.
Unlike the party opposite, we are not going to politicize this decision. We believe in science. Yesterday, the member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington actually disputed the vaccine science. Does the member's party believe in science?
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-12-03 13:42 [p.2911]
Madam Speaker, of course we believe in science. That is why I talked about the Minister of Health saying that COVID-19 did not spread from person to person. Did she not believe in science? When Liberals said that the border should remain open and that anyone who wanted to close it was a racist, that was wrong advice. Did they not believe in the science there?
We will take no lessons from the Liberal government on believing in science. We will say that it is time to act. It is time to do so with data that is available to all Canadians and it is time to finally, for once, be open and transparent with Canadians.
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