Thank you very much, Chairperson.
Thank you to Minister Ambrose for appearing before our committee today as we deal with the estimates.
Thank you to the officials who will be here.
Minister, I know you're here only for an hour so obviously we want to ask as many questions as possible. I'm glad that you began your comments with an update on the Ebola situation because I do think that has been a very urgent matter and as you know, we've raised it in the House a number of times with you and also with the parliamentary secretary. There have been a lot of concerns about delays from Canada, both in terms of getting equipment and protective gear out the door, and there have certainly been significant concerns around the vaccine. So I'm glad to hear you say today that now $57 million of the federal commitment has actually been disbursed.
I do want to come to a question, though, on the vaccine itself. You're probably aware that the contract with NewLink, which is the company in Iowa that received a contract from the federal government in 2010. That's four years ago, and that contract requires the company to commercialize the made-in-Canada vaccine, and within that contract there are specifics that outline that any parking, shelving, or lack of diligently and aggressively commercializing the vaccine is considered to be a fundamental breach of contract.
The question that I have is whether or not you as the minister, or the federal government, have given notice to NewLink Genetics outlining the concerns that many Canadians have—certainly we have—with the apparent parking of the vaccine development over the last four years, and the lack of urgency this summer to conduct the clinical trials. The contract says that 90 days' notice has to be given for required inactivity to be considered a sufficient cause for termination. Basically we want to know, have you given notice of breach of contract? Have you been seeking alternate sources to ensure that this vaccine is commercialized, given that now we're looking at four years since this contract was initiated?