By Cole Parkinson
The slow roll-out of vaccines across the country has left Bow River MP Martin Shields unimpressed.
While the Public Health Agency of Canada is expecting more than 640,000 shots this week, the roll-out overall has been slow across Canada and Shields explained why he thinks it’s been so slow-moving.
“Initially, they attempted to make a deal with China on the CanSino agreement to develop the vaccines in China. I don’t know why they would go to China to do that. I mean, why can’t they figure out this is not something you should be doing with China. So after 100 days, China says ‘Nope, we’re not doing it,’ well that put them behind in two ways,” he said. “One — we have companies in Canada. One in Calgary with Providence and one out east, who were already starting to work on this. They contacted Health Canada and Health Canada didn’t respond to them, so that’s the first thing. They didn’t look to capacity within our own country to see what they could do or support them in developing a vaccine within. The second thing — as they built contracts with foreign companies to supply the drugs, they didn’t negotiate the right to produce or replicate them within our own country like Australia has done.”
With no vaccines being created in-house, Shields expressed his disappointment around the fact those contracts signed did not allow for development within Canada.
“Even though they have a zillion contracts, now that they are not produced within our own country, then you get held up, like we are, by the companies doing whatever they are doing with the vaccines. Those two fundamental mistakes have created challenges because the vaccines and the belief of what those vaccines could do for those who want to have a vaccine, it has delayed things. It’s false promises, they shouldn’t have gone to China and they should have negotiated like other countries to produce and replicate them under the contract with those companies in our own country,” continued Shields. “They’ve signed those contracts that don’t allow them to do that, so I’m not sure if there is any other way. They have given a little bit of money to Providence in Calgary and the one in the east, but we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars for these contracts. I think we could be in vaccine boosters for the long haul here and supporting the local development of vaccines in this country is the way out.”
The federal government still contending fall 2021 is the timeline for when every Canadian who wants a vaccine can get one, Shields still isn’t 100 per cent convinced. He stated there have been several promises made that have yet come to fruition regarding the federal government. Another big concern from Shields is the fact the provinces will be the main source of distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, and with large shipments coming in at once, he’s worried they won’t be prepared enough.
“That’s what they keep saying, but they’ve said other things too that haven’t happened. What I believe is going to happen is — we are going to get a massive number of doses that come in at one time and then they’ll ship them by huge masses out to the provinces. Because of the logistics of dealing with it in the provinces, they are going to blame the provinces, I bet. I’ve already heard in the House, if the provinces can’t deal with massive numbers, they are going to blame the provinces for distribution and that’s not how it should be.”