Kitchen says Canada not catching up in vaccine race

·4 min read

Souris-Moose Mountain MP Dr. Robert Kitchen says Canada has been behind other developed countries in securing Covid-19 vaccines since the race for vaccines started, and still isn't catching up.

The CanSino deal with China falling through put Canada in a hole early in the process says Kitchen and since then there’s been no clear guidance from the government on what to expect.

“We’ve basically been caught behind the eight-ball from day one and we’re playing catchup,” he said. “We have a prime minister who gambled on CanSino and basically Dalhousie University working with China and the CanSino organization. He made commitments back in May saying, ‘yes, they’re coming,’ and two days afterwards—without telling Canadians—it was basically shut down, he was playing catchup after that. He didn’t start on trying to purchase other vaccines from other companies until the end of July and into August, which put us behind the eight-ball in trying to catch up in creating contracts with these organizations—Pfizer and Moderna. He made promises throughout the fall that we would have 10 doses per Canadian, but the bottom line is if you don’t have one then it doesn’t matter what you say because we’ve got to have them and we don’t have them. As Canadians are seeing, they’ve been let down on this.”

Without communicating to the provinces what the situation is with vaccine deliveries or when to expect them, provincial governments are left in the dark and stuck waiting, explains Kitchen.

“They keep talking about how transparent they are and yet they won’t release any information,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced plans to begin manufacturing vaccines in Canada by the summer, but Kitchen wonders why more of an effort wasn’t put in sooner to produce vaccines domestically.

“The problem with announcing that they’ll be manufacturing in Canada is that he makes an announcement to make it sound like we’ll have that domestic production by the end of August then surprise, surprise all of a sudden he’s corrected by his ministers who truly indicate we’ll be lucky if we get them by the end of the year—probably not until January. He put money into a company that’s getting him a building built and they still haven’t got that building built and they’ll be lucky if they have that done by July—it’s going to take months for them to fit it with the proper equipment and have that properly tested and regulated.

“It’s a shame because we had Canadian companies that were putting forward to actually make them, for example, in Calgary you had the Providence Group that actually put in a bid and were asking for $35 million from the federal government to help them along and yet they turned their back and didn’t respond to this company. There was another company in Montreal and it was the same type of thing, again they turned their back. At the University of Saskatchewan they’re doing great work right here in the province—the limited amount of money to help them move forward so we can have domestic production and that’s what other countries have done. They stepped forward and they ordered the vaccines, but also stepped up to create their own domestic production—the U.K.’s a prime example because they stepped forward to make sure they’re producing it themselves.

“Now we’re dependent on another country to provide us with vaccines and that needs to be corrected. Ultimately what we need is for this government to be prepared and to tell Canadians exactly when they know what they can count on so they can make plans because we need to get this economy going. We need this economy going, we need people here back to work, we need jobs coming back. We saw in the month of January, 213,000 Canadians lost their jobs. This is challenging, but we need to make certain we get the economy back moving.”

Rob Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator