I just want to say that although I understand the sentiments of Ms. McPherson on this, I do have some remarks to add to some of the language of the motion. I think some of the language puts undue or unfair criticism on only this government.
It says that “due to failures by the government to ensure adequate supply of vaccines”. I don't think that the situation the government is finding itself in right now is due to a failure of the government to secure supplies.
We have secured five times the amount needed for our population in supplies. There has been a decrease in production or a temporary delay in production, and due to that we find ourselves in this situation. I think it's a global circumstance. Right now it's one that is impacting not only Canada but also many countries in the world. I don't believe that if any other party were in government right now the situation would be all that different.
I think we've all had discussions about the fact that we wish there were domestic capacity right now to manufacture vaccines, but we have done our level best to try to create that capacity once again, and that's well under way. That situation is not due to this government. That is due to many consecutive governments and it was under a Conservative government in which we lost our capacity to begin with.
I won't say that I would go all the way back just to blame that Conservative government or anything either; it's no one government. This is just the situation we find ourselves in. Canadians expect us to take responsible measures in order to make sure that Canada and the world can face this pandemic together.
Back in the fall we invested quite a lot into three different facilities in Canada. There was $173 million through the strategic innovation fund that was invested into Medicago to support Canada's response to COVID-19 and future preparedness. We're seeing the results of those investments right now. We invested $18.2 million in the Vancouver-based biotechnology company Precision NanoSystems, and we also invested $24.27 million in a project to help advance the development of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate through pre-clinical studies as well.
This is in addition to the $220 million that we have become leaders in investing into COVAX. We did that so that there would be a global supply. We've invested far more, of course, to make sure that those low-to-middle-income countries that Ms. McPherson has mentioned do have supply.
In fact, even in the agreement, or even in the statement when you look at it—and I think we had this discussion in one of our meetings previously as well—the intention was always there that Canada would have first access to these vaccines. It is stated that a core objective of the WHO global allocation framework is to promote fair and equitable access to all, and, in the first phase of vaccine availability, that the vaccines will be offered to all participating economies at the same rate to allow them to vaccinate the same percentage of their population.
This was stipulated in the agreement to begin with. Yes, I understand that you are pointing to the G7 factor, but Canada is not the only developed country going down this path. Around the world we're hearing that New Zealand's response to this pandemic has been exceptional, and I wouldn't argue with that, but New Zealand is also relying on the COVAX vaccine supply. So is South Korea. So is Singapore and so is Indonesia.
I just feel that some of the language could be amended.
My first comment would be that we remove the word “failure” and we put in “due to global circumstances”. “That the committee recognize that due to global circumstances, the government has had delays in the supply of vaccines for Canadians”. I think that would be more appropriate.
My second comment is that a lot of important work is happening in the House itself right now and a lot of legislation that is equally important to serving Canadians and this pandemic. I think that at the end of this, although there are some other comments I'd like to make, I don't want to reword the whole thing by any means, but I do think in the last sentence, where it says, “Finally, that the committee report this motion to the House”, I would request that be removed from the motion as well and that we deal with this issue at committee.
There are other ways that perhaps we can have that discussion here and look into investigating why we're having to use COVAX. I'll throw out that we should maybe invite the minister to talk about this issue in a public hearing, where we can ask the important questions as to why this decision has been made by the government, but I don't think it's in any Canadians' interest that we take up valuable House resources. Reporting this back to the House could possibly take a whole day when we could be debating something else. At a minimum, it would take at least four hours of House time. I know the NDP is looking forward to debating legislation and seeing it passed in the House as well.
Those would be my two big points, that this circumstance is one we find ourselves in, but it's not due to any fault of one particular government and then, second, that we remove the reporting to the House.