'Back of the line': Moe concerned over Trudeau's comments on receiving vaccines later than other countries
REGINA -- Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he’s concerned Canada may be at the back of the line when it comes to receiving vaccines.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Moe said it isn’t assuring to hear that Canada may receive vaccines in early 2021 while other countries are expected to receive them at the end of December.
“I was very concerned and frankly quite troubled to hear the Prime Minister’s (Justin Trudeau) comments yesterday that Canada may be at the back of the line when it comes to receiving a vaccine,” Moe said.
“This is quite the opposite of the assurances the Prime Minister has been offering us as Canadians for a number of weeks and month or two now.”
Moe pointed to contracts the federal government signed with pharmaceutical companies in September, where Canada had secured millions of doses.
Because Canada won’t be receiving these vaccines earlier, Moe said, there are now questions about the contracts.
“They raise serious questions about the contracts that have been signed,” he said. “What are the delivery dates? Why sign contracts that put Canada at the back of the line? When will we receive the vaccines in respective provinces?”
On Tuesday, Trudeau said Canada is at a disadvantage when it comes to rolling out vaccines because the country doesn’t have any domestic production capability. Canada is relying on other nations to send them, he said.
“It is premature to start, you know, crossing out [or] circling dates on a calendar or saying that ‘this vaccine is going to arrive in this amount, on this day, in this community,’ because there's still a lot of work to do between now and then, but we're on it,” he said.
“We have reached out and have actually one of the very best vaccine portfolios of any country around the world with far more doses for Canadians, potentially than we actually have Canadian population.”
Trudeau said Canada has begun funding domestic vaccine production capacity to avoid being caught short in the future. It should be in place if there are future pandemics, he added.
Canada’s opposition parties have grilled Trudeau over the later timeframe.
“Why did this prime minister sign deals that placed Canadians months behind Americans for getting a COVID-19 vaccine?” asked Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole during question period in the House of Commons.
Trudeau shot back, saying Canada’s domestic capacity had dwindled under the previous Conservative government.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has confirmed to MPs that the country is on track to receive an initial six million doses by March, with four million from Pfizer and two million from Moderna.
Health Canada has also recently authorized monoclonal antibody therapy for emergency use in helping treat COVID-19 infections, and Canada will begin receiving doses over the next three months.