Thank you very much.
I want to begin by replying to Mr. MacKinnon's comments that perhaps some of the questions we were asking were not in line with the responsibilities of the Treasury Board. I respectfully disagree, and in fact I will state on the record my disappointment. While I have a great amount of respect for the President of the Treasury Board, and indeed a friendship, I don't feel that he in fact answered any questions that were put to him from opposition. Of course, it's always easy to answer questions that are coming from government when they're written by government.
I want to note that the mandate letter to the President of the Treasury Board says that his responsibility is to “lead the management agenda of the Government and oversee the implementation and effective delivery of Cabinet-approved initiatives.”
It states he is to “work to instill a culture of evaluation, measurement and evidence-based decisions in program and policy”. In relation to some of the comments that Mr. McCauley brought up—to which, it appears, Mr. MacKinnon took some exception—the mandate letter goes on to state that his responsibilities are to “Continue to work to strengthen the oversight of the expenditure of taxpayer dollars and the clarity and consistency of financial reporting, and to exercise due diligence regarding the costing analyses prepared by departments for all proposed legislation and programs.”
Unless I'm missing something two years in.... I'm going to go back to the Hansard and review the questions that were here. However, to be an hour with the President of the Treasury Board and not get answers to basic questions is a frustrating process. It's not often that I agree with Ms. Harder, but she was quite right in her assessments of the government's failures.
To the senior staffers who are here: If in the briefing notes and the opening statements and comments of the President of the Treasury Board you are highlighting and touting things that you consider to be successes within the purview of your work, then you ought to be open to fair questioning and you ought to be able to provide fair responses, given how far we are into this year.
I want to put on the record that I'm happy to hear any further comments from my friend Mr. MacKinnon and that I'll continue to ask questions that are pertinent to these supplementaries. He's not the only person who's asking pertinent questions as they relate to these estimates.
For instance, the Public Health Agency of Canada is requesting $1.5 billion under vote 1a for medical research and vaccine developments. The funding would support the acquisition and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines. Now, I've had an ongoing issue with the way that our government has spent close to $1 billion on vaccines, yet it appears that in all the contracts, contributions agreements and funding announcements, we seem to never receive any kind of preferential purchasing or procurement agreements or equity positions. I would think that for almost $1 billion, we should be well positioned to have our own nationalized production of vaccines. However, that's for another question.
As a simple question, how much of the funding that has been requested will be allocated to vaccine purchases that have already been negotiated? The negotiations have happened, contracts have been signed, and now you've come back to look for additional funding.
That's through you, Mr. Chair, to Mr. Purves, please.