The choice by the federal government to work with China to acquire vaccine and not focus on producing in Canada was what put the country behind from the start according to Cathay Wagantall, MP for Yorkton-Melville.
“The truth of the matter is, the Trudeau government has really messed up on this right from the very beginning,” said Wagantall, “so we’re finding ourselves in a more difficult position worldwide all the time. There was poor planning at the beginning and not getting on it right away by choosing to go with China, then of course that fell apart. I think the hardest part right now is just the confusion and the misinformation for Canadians. One thing will be said and then other people will correct it later in the day, but they don’t get the same exposure as Trudeau so that leads to confusion. This leads to a higher level of apprehension among Canadians, especially from those who desperately need and want the vaccine.
“I’m very upset that they ignored the Canadian connection and opportunities we had that were there willing and ready and are still carrying on despite the fact that they have not received the kind of support that they should have from the government from the get-go. There’s that and the opportunity to contract it out and have the people who are doing this internationally come to Canada and produce it here. Although, it sounds like they did make that attempt and didn’t get any buy-in. I don’t know if it’s partly the lack of good planning on their part, but we also don’t seem to have the same level of respect internationally anymore—we’re now 35th on the list for doses per capita and we’re not making a lot of headway. They still make the same promises, but I’m not confident there’s any way they’re going to meet those targets.”
Wagantall thinks the federal government is setting up poor conditions for provincial governments as they try to prepare to administer the vaccine without knowing when they’ll get them nor how many doses to expect. She says this also trickles down and affects businesses that are trying to plan for the future.
“The provinces are in a very difficult spot because they’re the ones responsible for administering it and they were ready and set,” she said. “Now, if all of a sudden there’s a huge download, the provinces will have to deal with the fallout of not being able to administer it effectively—the second doses for many people are slipping by the wayside already. They’re way behind, there’s no question, and I’m really concerned that the messaging continues to be the same that until the majority of Canadians are vaccinated we must continue to lockdown.
“They have not been transparent, especially with the contracts. If they have these contracts, then calm Canadians’ nerves and share that information so they have a level of understanding of what’s going on. There are 200,000 businesses at risk at this moment which is millions of jobs and families and I said in the House, ‘all of this money that you’re printing and handing out, even that isn’t enough to keep a business going after a certain amount of time,’ businesses can’t just stay on oxygen, at some point they have to breathe on their own.”
Seeing the impact poor planning has had on Canada’s vaccine situation, Wagantall hopes this is something the federal government will learn from going forward.
“Looking forward, this is something we can never take chances on again,” she said. “We need to be able to be self-sufficient in these circumstances and I think we have the potential to be far more self-sufficient. We have Canadian businesses working on it, but of course they’re behind now because of the lack of investment. Regardless, this is not a quick fix and there are no quick fixes.”
Rob Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator