Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure, as always, to participate in debate in the chamber, albeit virtually. Of course, the reason I am here virtually is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has recently thrown my home province of Nova Scotia into a lockdown that will last at least a couple of weeks.
The past year and a half or so has been immensely challenging. Families have struggled to find child care when their workplaces shut down. Folks have lost loved ones who have passed, unfortunately and tragically, as a result of this pandemic. Young people have had years of sporting events, graduations and social relationships interrupted and it has cast, frankly, bleak prospects on their potential for short-term economic opportunities.
We know that all these challenges, and this pandemic more broadly, will end with a vaccine, and the vaccine strategy of the Government of Canada is what this motion today purports to be all about. Unfortunately the motion on the floor today seems as much about an attempt to score partisan points than it does to actually advance public health.
The motion seems to rely on misinformation, either in word or in spirit. It further ignores the very important need of supplementary public health measures to complement a vaccine procurement strategy if we are to bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic with minimal impact on human health, on economic outcomes and on civil liberties for the people who are living through months-long lockdowns in other parts of Canada.
Over the course of my remarks, I hope to touch on the current status of the vaccine deployment in Canada, comment on the rollout of the strategy from the beginning and then discuss a bit of the importance of those other public health measures.
When it comes to the current status, despite claims throughout the course of this pandemic from my Conservatives colleagues and friends, including the leader who said that Canada was at the back of the line or their health critic who predicted Canada would not have vaccines until the year 2030, Canada currently sits third in the G20 in terms of the number of doses that have been delivered to our country per population.
To date, more than 30% of Canadians have received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. I am very pleased to share that just recently my mom and dad were two of those Canadians who did receive their first dose. About 15.7 million Canadians so far have received a dose and we predict that by the end of June, we will be in the ballpark of 50 million doses administered across Canada.
Is this perfect? No, However, when I look at the international comparators, it is actually quite good. The reality is that we are on track to have everyone in Canada, who would like one to receive their first dose, vaccinated by the end of June and have everyone be fully vaccinated by the end of September. With any luck, we could potentially be slightly ahead of that schedule.
In particular, regarding the Pfizer vaccine, which has in some ways become the workhorse of the government's portfolio of products, we anticipate that through the month of May we will have about two million doses per week, and more as we head into June.
That gives a snapshot of where we exist today, but to get to where we are today was not by coincidence; it took a lot of work. To see the Conservative motion on the floor, arbitrarily saying that within about three and a half weeks everybody should be vaccinated, without explaining how to get there, says to me that the motion was never intended to be taken seriously but instead was intended to grab headlines. Therefore, let me walk members through what took place to get us here.
The motion accuses the government of delaying the procurement of vaccines, which is ironic to me when the Conservative leader did not even mention vaccine procurement in the House of Commons until the very end of October. By that time, we had already been well under way. I remember speaking to some of my colleagues, from different parties in fact, as far back as March 2020 about the importance of investing in research to discover a vaccine for an illness that did not exist much more than a year and a half ago.
I think it was March 11, 2020, when the Prime Minister made the first announcement of a billion dollars toward combatting COVID-19, which included public health supports for the provincial governments, the purchase of PPE and $275 million toward research, including the development of vaccines.
By April, the Prime Minister had announced a further billion dollars, the “Plan to mobilize science to fight COVID-19”, I believe it was called. Similarly, in that fund, significant funding was dedicated toward the development of vaccines.
At the same time, we were working to develop as many contracts with pharmaceutical providers from around the world to hedge our bets as to whether we could produce a vaccine domestically, given we started out without the biomanufacturing capacity to do so within Canadian borders. We wanted to ensure we gave ourselves every opportunity to have access to the very first vaccines that Health Canada could approve. That is precisely what we have done.
By July and August, we had signed deals with Pfizer and Moderna to deliver tens of millions of doses to Canada. It was shortly after that when the opposition leader started to say that we would be at the back of the line, which actually provoked the corporate head of Moderna, I believe, to state publicly that Canada was near the front of the line for 20 million doses of their product. We were blessed to have the talent at Health Canada to consider these very quickly and approve them. In fact, by December, Canada was among the very first countries in the world to receive any doses.
I will not deny there was a slight delay at the beginning of this year in the delivery of vaccines. However, I should point out that there was a very good reason for that slight delay. The Pfizer plant in Belgium, which has been manufacturing the tens of millions of doses being delivered to Canadians, shut down temporarily so it could ramp-up production to deliver a greater number of doses in a shorter period of time going forward. That is exactly what we are seeing today. Now we are receiving millions of doses by the week, and we are funding the provinces directly, including the $1 billion that was included in the recent budget, for the administration of vaccines within communities and provinces across Canada.
It is important to recognize that we cannot rely solely on vaccines to fight this pandemic. This disease did not exist in human populations anywhere a year and a half ago. We need to implement other public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while vaccines are being deployed.
We know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but if I can leave the audience that may be tuned in today with one message, it is to listen to the public health advice in their communities to protect themselves, their neighbours and their public health system.
From the beginning, we have been focused on some of these other measures, including support for PPE delivered to front-line workers and communities, rapid testing, which is being deployed in my home province of Nova Scotia faster than anywhere in Canada, and the safe reopening of communities part way through the pandemic in between the first and second waves so people could find an opportunity to go back to work and earn a paycheque without putting their health at risk. Of course, we put in serious income supports for households and businesses to ensure they could afford to do the right thing and stay home when that was what was necessary to protect the health of their communities.
In the jurisdictions that have adopted a zero-COVID strategy, which I am the biggest advocate for, we have seen the greatest public health and economic outcomes. Before the spike with the recent third way in Nova Scotia, I will note that we had seen the return of 100% of the jobs that went missing during this pandemic. Our communities were able to enjoy a quality of life that had become rare across Canada and, in fact, the entire world. Importantly, the jurisdictions that have adopted a zero-COVID approach have also seen the fewest restrictions on their civil liberties. If we do the tough but smart thing right off the bat, we have the best outcome and we can enjoy the most freedom in our communities compared to those that do half measures and have terrible outcomes.
This motion seems to lament the use of lockdowns in particular. I am blessed to live in Nova Scotia. Until recently, I could take my daughter to swimming lessons. I could go to a restaurant with friends. We would be careful. We would space ourselves out. We would wear masks, except when we were seated at the table. We could go to a gym if we wanted to. Because we have seen an uptake in cases over just a couple of days, the premier has, in my view, made the right decision to lock things down again, and the public response has been beautiful. People are following the rules, wearing masks, staying home and we are already starting to see a downward trend in the number of cases. I sincerely hope this trend continues. I hope everyone continues to follow public health advice so my home province of Nova Scotia can continue to set an example for the world.
The light at the end of the tunnel is within view. If we dig in now to protect our health and the health of our neighbours, we can get through this and come out at the back end of this pandemic stronger than we were before.