That, given that a vaccine represents an opportunity to turn the corner of the COVID-19 pandemic and that the successful deployment of a vaccine is essential to the health, safety, and economic security of every Canadian, the House call upon the government to table, electronically, pursuant to Standing Order 32(1), by Wednesday, December 16, 2020, a status update on: (a) how each type of vaccine will be safely delivered to Canada, stored, and distributed to Canadians; (b) the date on which each vaccine type will first be deployed in Canada and the rate of vaccinations anticipated by month; (c) any intended federal guidance with respect to the deployment of the vaccine by priority group, such as front-line health workers and seniors; and (d) the plan for distribution of the vaccine to Indigenous communities, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and veterans.
Madam Speaker, I will be dividing my time with the very passionate and capable member of Parliament for Calgary Nose Hill, who has been helping make sure Canada gets a better response throughout this pandemic.
After 11 months, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Through painstaking work and collaboration, western pharmaceutical companies have managed to produce safe and effective vaccines in record time. Access to vaccines will help jump-start our economy and will ensure that main streets can finally start breathing a sign of relief. We will round the corner of COVID-19 after a very difficult year.
Several countries can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines have been developed in record time, and many countries have prepared a vaccination plan.
The United States is planning to have 100 million people vaccinated by the end of February, and its entire population vaccinated by June. The United Kingdom is starting vaccinations next week. France is rolling out a national vaccine plan to vaccinate the country by June.
Canada is nowhere to be seen. Just this past week, the Prime Minister and two of his senior ministers were proud to announce vaccine deployment dates. The problem was they were each confidently talking about different dates. These mixed signals from the very top of the federal government have real-world implications, both for the rollout of the vaccine and for the well-being of Canadians.
Let me be clear. We know the end game. While our neighbours to the south will be revving up their economy again, Canadians will be told to remain in lockdown or limited economies. While restaurants in Europe spring back to life, Canadian business owners will be told to wait and get on the CERB or bust. While seniors in the United Kingdom will be free to see their grandchildren again, Canadian families will be forced to continue to see loved ones on FaceTime, Zoom or through windows.
The government has set September as a possible vaccination objective. Members should think about that. That is 10 more months of business closures or limitations, rising mental health issues, domestic violence and drug abuse. We all have learned the tragic costs of a shuttered economy. All Canadians want their lives back.
As entire countries come out of lockdown, Canadians will watch in bewilderment. Why are we so far behind? There will be uncertainty in Canada. Our economy will continue to suffer while our neighbours begin to rebound and, more importantly, Canadians will have to continue visiting their family members in hospital and fearing for their health. This is profoundly unfair.
This is unacceptable. Why are we so late? What happened?
Simply put, the government dithered. With everything we know about communist China, and after our intelligence officials exposed the lies we were fed about false COVID numbers, and after seeing the PPE market cornered in a concerted Chinese state-led effort, our Liberal government still decided to partner with China on developing a vaccine. This was despite the fact that China was imprisoning our citizens and attacking our exports.
In the spring, when journalists and opposition MPs challenged the Liberals on China's data, they accused us of spreading misinformation. All of our issues were factual, and all have been confirmed. It is this government's incompetence that is alarming.
As was to be expected, Chinese officials likely benefited from early Canadian advances in vaccine research, and when the time came to ship samples to Canada, China broke off relations. After months of this government putting all of our eggs in the China basket, the government was left out to dry. Even then, after the catastrophe, the government still took its time. When its joint venture with China fell apart, it was already too late to get rapid access to vaccines.
This government was naive and now all Canadians are paying the price. The Prime Minister insisted on working with China when we all knew that country does not have our interests at heart. As a result, we and our families will not get vaccines for 10 long months.
Without a plan for vaccines, our businesses will not have the confidence to reinvest in the economy and the border with the United States could remain closed, all because of the Liberals' incompetence.
Canada now finds itself delayed, behind most of our G7 and G20 countries, countries with a total population of 2.7 billion people. Will all of these people receive vaccines before Canadians do? We do not know because of the government's secrecy, lack of clarity and incompetence.
In the G20, Canada seems to be the only country not putting out a detailed plan for vaccine distribution. Without a concrete timeline for vaccines, businesses will not have the confidence to reinvest in their operations or to rehire Canadians who were laid off over the last 11 months.
Without a concrete timeline for vaccines, businesses are left out to dry. Provinces have the impossible task of establishing complex supply chains with no lead time, no details and no delivery date. The Canadian Armed Forces has been told to stand ready. As we see today, it is saying to the government that it needs details, the same details we have been asking for for months. The military should not be used as props in photo ops. They should be used for what they do well. Give them the details and let them execute them.
Simply put, Canada still has no plan for receiving, storing and distributing a vaccine, and without a plan for vaccines, there is no plan for the economy. This is why, today, the Conservative opposition is putting forward a motion that Canadians deserve. We are pushing for clarity, certainty and competence on a vaccine plan.
Our party is moving a motion calling on this government for clarity and a plan. It is time to protect Canadians.
We ask the government to put the health and safety of Canadians first and start sharing when each type of vaccine will be safely delivered to Canada, how each vaccine will be stored and the plans for distribution. We are not just asking for this, the Canadian Armed Forces and General Vance are asking for this. The provinces are asking for this. Why is there secrecy?
Canadians also deserve to know the date on which each vaccine type will first be deployed in Canada and the rate the government expects vaccinations to be done by. How many vaccinations per month? Every other country in the G20 is releasing this information. Why is the Liberal government not releasing it?
As for a plan, provinces and health partners across this country need to know any intended federal guidance in terms of prioritization of groups, such as front-line health workers, the military and our vulnerable seniors. The Prime Minister talks about these things in press conferences, but refuses to detail a plan amidst the worst health crisis in over a century. Canadians deserve to come into Christmas knowing there is a plan to provide them with certainty. Families are struggling. They want their lives back.
The government also needs to indicate the plan for indigenous communities, many of them remote; Canadian Armed Forces families, at home and abroad; and veterans. These are three areas of exclusive federal health responsibility, and they deserve a plan too.
This motion is common sense, and it is presented in good faith. This detail is being asked for by the military, so we are asking the government to table it before Christmas. Let us show that this country will be ready. We may be later than some countries, and when it gets here, let us show them we are more ready. I hope the government can finally step up, after being late on the border, late on rapid tests, and now late with vaccine deliveries, to at least have a plan to show Canadians that 2021 will be a better year for our country.