Recently Canada’s intergovernmental affairs minister disputed accusations that the federal government has reportedly blocked the provinces from purchasing their COVID-19 vaccines, further doubling down the comments made by the Manitoban premier were incorrect.
During an interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, Dominic LeBlanc said that there is no way that they would presume to tell a province what it can or what it cannot do on an international market.
The minister’s comments poured in amidst statements from Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, who told Stephenson in a separate interview that vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna said that they couldn’t sell to Manitoba as they had already signed a contract forbidding them from dealing directly with the provinces.
Pallister stated that the recent comments from Procurement Minister Anita Anand states that the provinces would be free to ink out their deals to access the COVID-19 vaccines were false and added that those companies would not sell to them because it was part of the deal that they had previously made with the federal government.
When being questioned by Stephenson on whether or not there was anything in the federal government’s contract that prevented the provinces from buying those doses from Pfizer and Moderna, LeBlanc said that there was nothing in their deal that would thereby preclude a province from deciding on its own that whether or not they want to pursue a parallel or different strategy altogether.
LeBlanc added that they don’t necessarily think that’s the most coherent way to approach the situation but they are certainly not in a position to block somebody who wishes to try.
Last week Pallister committed to buying two million doses of a made-in-Canada mRNA vaccine that was developed by Providence Therapeutics.
Since then the other provinces’ dad indicated an intention to acquire more doses of the vaccine with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney on Thursday calling for other provincial leaders to come and join an inter-provincial taskforce to make domestically-made vaccines a reliable source of immunization in the country.
The provinces’ moves come amidst the month’s slowdown of the vaccine deliveries from both Moderna and Pfizer. Last week, the shipments of the Moderna vaccine were 50,000 doses less than the 230000 that was reportedly promised while only one-fifth of the Pfizer-BioNTech shipment had arrived.
The vaccination rate in Canada has been relatively slow in comparison to many other countries, despite touts from Canada’s government over their procurement of the vaccine to be amongst the most diverse in the world. Despite the slowdown, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has successfully maintained his government’s earlier promise that all the Canadians who want a vaccine would be able to receive one by September.
In reply to Canada’s vaccinations which sits at just over 1.2 million in comparison to the 48 million in the U.S. and 14 million in the U.K. LeBlanc added that the Canadians should expect a massive increase in the number of vaccines arriving in March.
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