TORONTO — Weeks after pressing the United States to help Canada secure more COVID-19 vaccines, Ontario Premier Doug Ford praised U.S. President Joe Biden Thursday for work his administration is doing to provide the country with millions more shots.
Ford lauded the efforts of the president at a news conference shortly after the White House announced plans to lend 1.5 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Canada.
"God Bless America!" Ford said. "They're coming to our rescue. Thank God."
In January, Ford appealed directly to Biden to help Canada by sending a million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from a plant in Michigan.
At the time, Canada had discovered construction to expand a Pfizer factory in Belgium had delayed shipments of the vaccine.
Ontario ended up receiving thousands fewer vaccines that anticipated in February as a result.
A frustrated Ford publicly pressed Biden, who had just been inaugurated, for a commitment to send more vaccines north.
“My American friends ... you have a new president, no more excuses, we need your support” Ford said. “That's a direct message to President Biden. Help out your neighbour. You want us all to get along, hunky-dory, kumbaya - help us.”
Ford said Thursday that he understands the United States would vaccinate its own citizens first, but he's grateful they're now trying to help their allies.
"That's what true neighbours do, they help each other in a crisis," he said.
The premier promised to call Biden "a champion" once Canada received the promised doses, and even offered to drive his pickup truck to the U.S. to get the vaccines and bring them home.
"I've been bugging Trump, bugging Biden, all of them, they must get sick of Doug Ford, asking for help," he said. "President Biden, thank you."
Ford has been pressing the federal government for months for an increased and more consistent supply of COVID-19 vaccines to help bolster Ontario's immunization efforts.
Critics have slammed Ford for Ontario's vaccine plan, which they say has been sluggish and poorly communicated.
Ontario reported Thursday that 58,119 more vaccine doses were administered in the province since the last daily update.
More than 1.3 million vaccine doses have been given out in Ontario so far.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2021.
Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press