Maguire says federal government needs to improve communication on vaccines

·3 min read

Larry Maguire, MP for Brandon-Souris, who sits on the health committee says the federal government needs to be more communicative in the current vaccine situation.

“This lack of vaccine is pretty much unnecessary, but we have situation where the government is not releasing the information around the contracts they’ve signed with the other countries to be able to have vaccines in Canada,” Maguire said. “They may have manufacturing capacity here, but they haven’t got contracts to even produce them in Canada. There’s a number of shortfalls and cracks in the information since last March—putting all their eggs in one basket with the CanSino contract that they had with China at the time. They relied on it even though they knew very early that this was happening and they made no efforts until July to start making contracts with people to have vaccines available in Canada.”

Maguire doesn’t understand why the federal government isn’t more willing to publicly share its vaccine contracts and worries over the decision to receive quarterly deliveries.

“It’s a big issue, the government has not been transparent with this at all in relation to other countries that have more open postings of their contracts,” he said. “The big problem we have in Canada right now is that even with the contracts that are signed is that from the committee meetings we’ve held in health, it appears as if the contracts were signed for quarterly deliveries—most countries in the world signed for monthly deliveries and the United States is weekly—it’s very hard for provinces to plan. The prime minister is careful to say that we’ve got the most doses ordered of anywhere, but there’s been nothing that they can deliver.

"We have been left far behind. It’s a great error in judgement as far as we’re concerned with them not being more forthright with the contracts they have. In committee they can’t answer the question as to why they have contracts that were signed for quarterly delivery. Pfizer and Moderna could still meet their contracts if all the doses were delivered on March 31 for the first quarter and the prime minister has indicated that they will have six million—four million Pfizer and two million Moderna—doses available by April 1, but if they all show up on the last day or so, the companies still meet their contracts and there’s been no indication that there are penalty clauses in these contracts.

“We just wonder what kind of contracts Canada signed and they’re not being public with that. It’s becoming even more of a problem now that the U.K. is making decisions to hold back vaccines to make sure they’re vaccinated in their own country first.”

It all comes back to the insufficient communication from the federal government and it’s been that way from the beginning according to Maguire. He wants to see Canada’s vaccine contracts made public like so many other countries have done.

“It’s very hard because it’s all in the hands of the federal government,” he said. “They won’t let the provinces purchase these on their own so they’re in complete control of our rapid tests and vaccines and we just don’t know what the delivery basis is, other than quarterly. We just don’t know what the plan is, and there’s a strain on Canadians’ mental health and if we just had a plan as to when we could get deliveries, people would know more about how they can reopen their businesses and see their families again.

“Those are pretty big concerns we have in regards to the reopening of everything and we have to do that very cautiously. We’re hoping the government is successful in getting the vaccine, but the track record they’ve got shows that it’s a great concern for us in opposition. We want to know what these contracts are and they won’t divulge into them publicly like other countries are doing.”

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