House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vaccines.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Anita Anand Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

I agree with my colleague on the fact that this is a very political and ideological motion. The narrative leaves out important facts about vaccine production, which was ramping up in January and February and is now opening new possibilities here in Canada.

We surpassed our goals in the first quarter and Canada has already received 14.7 million doses. Our goal is to have vaccines for—

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. We have time for a brief question.

The hon. member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Mr. Speaker, the race to get vaccines and administer them is obviously critical. I am proud to have joined my colleague, the MP for Vancouver Kingsway, back in December to push for early vaccinations for first nations and northern communities. Many were involved in this critical advocacy.

I want to acknowledge that the government responded to our calls. We have seen significant levels of vaccinations, particularly in first nations, and that is now opening up across the north in our province.

It is clear that the national level of vaccinations is not where it needs to be. Canada lacks vaccines. We did not have to be here. We had Connaught Laboratories, and the Conservatives and Liberals killed the lab. Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. We have all the resources and human power to be able to produce what we need to deal with crises like this one.

What is the Liberal government doing to ensure that, going forward, Canada has the capacity to produce the life-saving vaccines we will need in the future?

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Anita Anand Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for acknowledging that vaccinations in indigenous communities has been a priority for this government. It will continue to be so.

In terms of her question relating to domestic production, our procurement has proceeded along two tracks. The first track has been under my purview, which is to ensure that we have vaccines coming into the country from international suppliers. On the second track, relating to domestic production, we have put $126 million into the NCR facility in Montreal for the production of vaccines domestically. We have signed an MOU with Moderna for the production of vaccines at that facility.

In addition, we have signed an APA with Medicago in Quebec. That company is in the third phase of clinical trials. We will continue to enhance and invest in the domestic production of vaccines, but it is a two-track approach. We need to make sure that we have vaccines here as soon as possible. That is why we are going to be seeing millions and millions of doses coming into the country, 48 million to 50 million doses prior to the end of June, and Pfizer is delivering two million doses or more—

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

We are a little over time, and we will now go to resuming debate.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Gatineau Québec

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this debate sponsored by the member for Calgary Nose Hill.

I would like to take a moment to consider the effects of this motion, which calls on the government to ensure that every Canadian adult has access to a vaccine by the May long weekend.

The member for Calgary Nose Hill has been politicizing the vaccine rollout since day one, which has only created concern and fear at a time when we should be working together. Last November, November 25 to be precise, when the Prime Minister stood in this chamber and explained our government's approach to procuring a diverse portfolio of vaccines, the member for Calgary Nose Hill was of the opinion that Canada was not going to receive any vaccines until 2030. The member was wrong then, and the motion that stands in her name today shows that she is wrong now. This disregard for evidence and science that has guided and continues to guide the Conservative opposition with respect to one of the largest, if not the largest, inoculation campaigns in Canadian history is disturbing indeed, and it has dashed our hopes that we could have a non-partisan approach to such a massive undertaking.

I will talk about the government's vaccine diversification strategy, but first I want to address Canadian citizens who have endured pain and suffering because of this awful virus.

This has been a very difficult period in our lives. Canadians have been torn apart, living in isolation and uncertainty for over a year now. I know that here in Gatineau my constituents have expressed their frustration. They are fed up at not being able to visit their family or friends, or leave their house after curfew. We have all done our part and we cannot wait for this pandemic to be over.

I want to express my sincere gratitude for our health care workers, especially in the Outaouais, where the system is stretched thin, but also in the rest of Canada. These workers are our heros on the front line of this battle and they have been since day one.

We are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Our vaccination strategy is ramping up week after week, month after month, thanks to the hard work of the minister and the public servants at Public Services and Procurement, whom I have the honour to work with.

While on this side of the House we are working to protect Canadians at every turn, the Conservatives and the member opposite continue to spread misinformation. This motion is not based on fact. It seeks to discredit the hard-working public servants and the massive infrastructure of inoculation and vaccination across the country. They are working together to ensure that Canadians receive vaccines as early as possible.

The motion states there were not enough vaccines being delivered in January and February, when in the first quarter of this year, from January to March, we managed to surpass our goal of six million doses delivered by a full 3.5 million doses, for a total of close to 10 million doses. Admittedly, production delays disturbed our work for a couple of weeks early in the quarter, but we recovered extremely well and in fact surpassed our objectives. When we take into account that those doses were delivered not even a year from the start of the pandemic, this is a miracle of modern science.

In fact, our government initiated negotiations with vaccine manufacturers last spring. When we learned that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines would be approved in Canada, we made sure we would receive doses from them starting in December.

That is proof that the government is working hard for Canadians and acting with urgency. As soon as we were able to, we made sure that we would get vaccines. That is the support Canadians expect at this time. They do not need partisan rhetoric that only seeks to spread misinformation.

Our effective strategy on behalf of Canadians ensured that our government had access to more than 400 million doses of potential vaccines from seven different manufacturers.

As we know, manufacturers have encountered challenges scaling up their production to meet the unprecedented demand all around the world for their safe and effective vaccines. In this reality, it is not surprising that vaccine supply chains have been volatile and unstable. However, this is precisely why we pursued a diversified strategy, and we are now reaping the benefits of that strategy.

To date, more than 15 million doses of the approved vaccines have been delivered to the provinces and territories, with more than 12 million doses administered. This is significant progress. We are now among the top three in the G20 for vaccines administered, and are usually at or close to the top for daily vaccinations in the world. However, we will not stop there.

I know that the minister and public officials continued to work day in and day out with suppliers to ensure they met their contractual obligations and also to find ways to expedite deliveries to Canada.

These efforts bore fruit. By June, Canada will receive 18 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine rather than the eight million originally expected. Pfizer will ship two million doses per week by the end of May and 2.5 million doses per week in June. What is more, doses of the Moderna vaccine continue to arrive in the country and we are working with the manufacturer on an ongoing basis to fine-tune the delivery schedule. Good news. Yesterday we received more than 300,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses.

All together, we have accelerated 22 million doses to earlier quarters, which is 22 million doses earlier than what was otherwise targeted. This means that by the end of June, Canada will receive between 48 million and 50 million doses of vaccines, as compared with our previous target of 29 million doses. It is a considerable achievement by any measure. It also means that the government will have more than enough doses by the end of September to fully vaccinate every eligible person in Canada.

With that in mind, I wonder what the Conservatives hope to accomplish with this motion. We are already accelerating doses as soon as we are able, and our negotiations with the suppliers are not solely focused on vaccines coming in this year to protect Canadians. We are also looking forward to what comes next. That is why the government has recently entered into an agreement with Pfizer to secure 65 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines of various formulations in 2022 and 2023, with options of up to 120 million more in 2024, if all options are exercised.

The agreement with Pfizer will give us the necessary flexibility to obtain boosters, new formulations of the vaccine to protect against the variants of concern and vaccines tailored for younger populations. The government's efforts continue to be guided by science and the advice of experts.

Getting back to today's debate, I am simply disappointed by this motion. Establishing an arbitrary deadline for the vaccination of Canadians without any justification is, at best, imprudent. Instead, I invite members to work together so we can emerge from this pandemic as quickly as possible.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am online from rural Manitoba, and there is no one around me for miles. We are in a lockdown in Manitoba right now. We can have one person in our houses and no one in our backyards, so members can imagine that we are feeling the lockdown rather greatly here.

I have had lots of questions about the contracts that were signed with the pharmaceutical companies, especially for rapid testing. I am wondering why the government is not sharing those details with Canadians and the opposition, as is being done in the U.S. and the U.K., our trading partners.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, my thoughts are with the people in the member's riding and everywhere in Manitoba who are coping, as we all are, with the effects of the pandemic.

No country in the world has shared the entire details of vaccination contracts. That is precisely because all countries in the world are in a race to vaccinate their citizens.

Canada has been very successful in its procurement strategy precisely because we have good relationships with pharmaceutical companies and vaccine suppliers and precisely because we honour the stipulations of our contracts with them to the letter. We will continue to do so, and that is in the interest of securing vaccines quickly, safely and efficiently for all Canadians, including those who live in Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the last two Liberal speakers have told us different numbers for how many doses have been brought in to date. I have heard 14 million and I have heard 14.7 million. Now it is more than 15 million. What is the actual number?

The motion calls for every Canadian to have access to a vaccine by the May long weekend. If the government is saying that this is not reasonable, what is the number that it feels it can do by the long weekend?

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague will have to respect the fact that vaccines are literally flooding into this country, so the numbers contained in speeches may fluctuate a bit from day to day.

We are approaching 15 million vaccines, which have been distributed to the provinces and territories, and that number will rise to close to 50 million vaccines by the end of June. I know the member can do the math as easily as I can, but that covers the entire population of Canada, every man, woman and child. That obviously goes significantly deep into the second dosing regime as well, and I know the member will be able to calculate that. At a rate of two million Pfizer doses alone being received in May and 2.5 million a week being received in June, that number will go up very, very rapidly.

We are very proud of the progress that is being made in vaccinating Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, as luck would have it, today is the day that I get my first vaccination. I am 66 years old. I have been waiting my turn, and I am being very careful.

I regret this kind of debate because of the level of partisanship in it. I suspect that if the constitutional responsibilities were different so that it was up to the provinces to order the vaccines and up to the feds to do other aspects, the Conservatives would want to debate how terrible it is that the vaccine rollout is bad and what a great job the provinces are doing in ordering vaccines.

I do not think that is the right approach. I think we run a risk. Number one, I wish we were doing better in getting our vaccines rolled out, and I agree with much of what the member for Calgary Nose Hill has said. However, I also think we are at a real risk with the variants, as many have warned, including the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.K. and Israel. They are all looking at the situation and saying that people should not reduce their level of caution because they have gotten the first vaccine. We could run a risk with variants that are resistant to vaccines. The longer the variants move in our population, the more we will get.

In a holistic approach, does my hon. colleague agree with me that we need to do more to protect ourselves from the variants, as they move as aerosols, not as droplets?

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I am very glad to hear that the hon. member will be getting her jab. I know she will feel, as millions of Canadians have, the relief that comes with it. I certainly wish her good luck, and hope, of course, that she continues to be cautious when it comes to looking after her health.

Indeed, we want to follow the most up-to-date science in making sure that Canadians protect themselves against all possible permutations of this virus. We want to make sure that Canadians continue to follow all of the public health prescriptions for masks, distancing and washing hands, and do that right through to when we achieve herd immunity. I know we are all looking forward to that day.

We will continue, on our part, bringing in vaccines as quickly as possible so that Canadians can get the two doses that are needed in most cases, except with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The two-dose regime will bring a lot of relief, and it will bring a lot of hope to Canadians that the pandemic will soon be behind us.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Beauport—Limoilou.

Before I comment on the Conservatives' vaccination motion, I must offer my condolences to the family of Francine Boyer, who died of adverse effects from the vaccine. Her family has shown incredible resilience and a sense of duty. In spite of their grief, they continue to assume full responsibility for the risk-benefit assessment that factored into their decision to get vaccinated, and they encourage people to continue getting vaccinated. I pay my respects to them.

I am struggling with the Conservatives' motion. Somewhere between 2015 and 2019, I started noticing that the Conservatives seemed to like doing opposition days on which they were alone in voting for their motion at the end of the day. The same thing is happening today, but the stakes are much higher.

It is true that the numbers of people who have received both doses in Canada and Quebec are low, but this is because Quebec and Canada chose to delay the second dose. This decision was made to reduce the risk of hospitalization, since it has been proven that a single dose can protect against the serious complications of the virus. All along, this has been about our capacity to best care for COVID-19 patients who develop serious complications and the concern that our networks and hospitals would not be able to provide life-saving care and prevent serious long-term effects.

I did not hear the manufacturer speak out against Quebec, which was the first to extend the interval between the two doses. At that time, Quebec had the highest infection rate. It put that practice into effect in order to adjust to what was happening on the ground. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization then assessed Quebec's approach. Under the circumstances, it was determined that that was the right thing to do. Delaying the second dose was a necessary and appropriate strategy, since we were not receiving sufficient quantities of the vaccines. Obviously, any country that does not have manufacturing capacity could have ended up in the same situation as we did.

I clearly remember that, on March 3, Health Canada issued a statement indicating that it approved delaying the administration of the second dose. In that scientific advisory, and I think we need to rely on science, Health Canada recognized the lack of data beyond two months but indicated that the protection offered by one dose, combined with the limited vaccine supply and the risk of outbreak, justified extending the interval between doses. Health Canada also indicated that, even in situations where protection would be weakened over time, modelling showed that delaying the second dose was justified in order to stop the pandemic.

The Institut national de santé publique du Québec, which advised the Government of Quebec on its vaccination strategy, was vindicated by the reality on the ground, and it is worth pointing out that other countries have followed suit with their vaccination strategies.

The Conservatives claim to be ardent champions of decentralization, so I would like to gently remind them that the federal government's responsibility is to supply vaccines. It is up to Quebec and the provinces to develop their vaccination strategy as dictated by the reality of their own situations.

My grandmother used to say, “Too much is just as bad as not enough”. The pandemic demands that we be rigorous. Because we, as elected members, are central to the decision-making process and to questioning those decisions, our approach must be credible. Why? Because getting to the end of this crisis depends on vaccination, as well as on people's compliance with the guidance put forward by public health and scientists and on maintaining and respecting public health measures.

As members know, Quebec implemented a curfew. That has turned out to be a very effective way to counter the effects of the third wave and potential variants.

In my opinion, the motion the Conservatives moved this morning is like playing with fire. It is wrong to take advantage of people's exhaustion and the mental load associated with all these measures. This is hard for everyone. Mental health-wise, these are very trying times. That is why I use the word exhaustion in every sense of the word. It is wrong to do that and reduce our actions to partisan politicking.

During a pandemic, we must not allow our sense of duty to override our critical thinking. We must question decisions, of course, and we can demand accountability in a cross-party way when necessary. However, the motion we will be discussing all day asks the House to call on the government to ensure that every Canadian adult has access to a vaccine by the May long weekend.

Vaccinating everyone is unrealistic on every level. Neither the federal government, nor the provinces, Quebec or any G7 country or state would be able to vaccinate 97.3% of its population in less than a month. The motion is sadly unrealistic in terms of both delivery and inoculation. We have to make that distinction.

Due to a global shortage of vaccines, it is impossible for Canada to obtain enough doses to pull this off. Quebec and the provinces would need to administer more than three million doses a day, 24 hours a day, starting tomorrow. We will therefore be discussing a completely unrealistic scenario. What is more, we do not know what impact the situation in India, the pharmacy of the world, will have on vaccination worldwide and in Canada.

I want to send a clear message this morning that I denounce the Conservatives' counterproductive attitude. They are creating fake debates, which could derail people's willingness to comply with social distancing measures. We also need to consider their consistency. As recently as March 23, right before the third wave, the Conservatives moved a motion calling for a reopening plan. Everyone knows what is happening right now in Ontario, for example, and elsewhere.

With today's motion, the Conservatives appear out of touch with the reality on the ground. I have no idea what information they are relying on to determine what public health measures should be taken, but they certainly are not relying on the science. The Conservative motion is clearly partisan and unrealistic, as we have heard many times today.

It is true that many people are facing restrictions and lockdowns, but for good reason, because we are in the midst of the third wave, and the variants continue to spread. If there is any criticism to be made, it is in the area of border management and the need to enhance screening measures. A very insightful article on this subject was published this morning.

I think it is fair to say that our borders are still basically a sieve. The government will repeat the same old lines and tell us that it has put in place some of the most restrictive measures on the planet. The fact remains that border measures are not being enforced, and the variants continue to enter Canada.

When it comes to vaccination, the Liberals and Conservatives share responsibility for this failure. The fact that Canada cannot produce any vaccines here did not start with the first wave. The vaccine manufacturing capacity that once existed in this country was gradually dismantled due to a lack of support. Now Canada is no longer independent in that area.

Obviously in Quebec—

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. The member's speaking time has expired.

The member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

Some days the Bloc Québécois is on our side, and other days it supports the Liberals. Today, the Bloc Québécois has decided that the Liberals took the right approach.

Will my colleague admit that if the Liberals had not initially negotiated with China and CanSinoBIO, there would not have been a three-month delay and all Canadians would have had at least one dose by May 17? Does he agree?

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the very premise of the member's question is partisan.

Since I unfortunately was not able to finish my speech, I did not get a chance to point out the problems with the government's approach. It is clear that both the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party share responsibility for our inability to manufacture a vaccine and our dependence on other countries for vaccines. Neither of these parties did anything to protect the infrastructure that would have been needed.

The episode that the member mentioned probably did cause a delay, but it is not the sole reason we are where we are in the vaccination process. However, I do agree with the member that it contributed to our dependence with regard to vaccine manufacturing.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would agree with my hon. colleague that this started with the Conservatives gutting our ability to produce our own vaccines. Now we find ourselves in this situation.

In my riding of Winnipeg Centre, we have a number of individuals who are not sheltered. As we know in Ontario, if we do not look after everybody in the circle, we are all at risk.

I have been really concerned about the lack of focus on the populations that are more at risk of getting the virus because they do not have human rights such as housing and the ability to wash their hands frequently. I feel that the federal government has failed with respect to ensuring human rights, which has placed all of us at risk.

I wonder if he would like to comment on that.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the reality is different from one territory or province to the next. To be honest, I do not know what the member is referring to exactly.

The vaccination strategies, especially in Quebec, prioritized vulnerable people and groups with a higher mortality rate. I recall that these strategies led to the establishment of criteria and that this categorization was not questioned in Quebec, which started by vaccinating the most vulnerable people based on their age.

I know that we cannot delve too deeply into this issue in our exchanges, but perhaps another colleague will. For now, my response is that the strategy of vaccinating vulnerable people based on their age was supported by everyone in Quebec.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Louise Charbonneau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Montcalm for his presentation.

I would like him to tell us more about the impact that the lack of health transfers has had on our ability to distribute vaccines and implement a more comprehensive strategy.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is giving me the opportunity to recognize the efforts of frontline health care workers and to thank them for doing such a great job of taking care of us. It is thanks to their hard work that Quebec is currently quite well positioned and ranked eighth in the world for its inoculation capacity.

The connection that I am making with health transfers is that it would be nice if health care workers could continue doing their job and not leave the profession. We are seeing a staff exodus in some frontline sectors.

An immediate increase in health transfers could improve the situation. It would also enable the Government of Quebec to immediately plan and announce measures to improve the working conditions of frontline workers in the short, medium, and long terms. Not only would such an increase improve the health of workers and patients, but it would also help us get through the pandemic, which is not over yet, I might add.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Gosh darn it, Mr. Speaker, I have had enough of this pandemic. I am completely fed up, I want no truck with it, and I grew up in Fermont, where we like our trucks, so that is saying something.

Like everyone here, in February, I asked some questions of the government, specifically the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Services and Procurement. When doing so, I told them that I hoped that they would succeed in meeting their vaccine procurement objectives, but I also told them that I was worried about the fact that Canada was so highly dependent on foreign countries.

That has nothing to do with the ability of the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to negotiate. She lives up to her reputation as an organized, determined and hard-working woman. The current results regarding the procurement of vaccines lend support to that reputation, despite the delays.

Today we are debating a motion moved by a woman who is just as organized, just as determined and just as hard-working. That is why this motion surprises me.

I would like to explain my surprise by commenting on each aspect of the motion. Let us keep in mind that the motion is calling on the government to ensure that every Canadian has access to a vaccine by the May long weekend, which is when Quebec celebrates National Patriots Day and the rest of Canada celebrates Victoria Day.

The first paragraph of the motion states that 2.7% of Canadians are fully vaccinated. However, 33.7% of Quebeckers have received their first dose, as have 29.9% of Canadians, which places them 8th and 13th in global rankings, respectively.

When the Conservative Party calls on the government to ensure that every Canadian has access to a vaccine, does it mean access to two doses, given that the percentage referenced is for fully vaccinated Canadians? If so, that would mean the Conservative Party wants almost 74 million doses to arrive and be administered by May 20. That would mean receiving and administering over 3.5 million doses per day.

In Quebec alone, that is almost 775,000 doses to receive and administer each day. Since Canada is not a vaccine producer, I do not see how it would be humanly possible to do that. We have to be realistic.

After doing a few calculations, I was sure I had made a mistake. Maybe the motion is asking for one dose per person by May 20. That involves the receipt and administration of 26 million doses by May 20, or 1.2 million doses received and administered each day across the country. That means more than 271,000 doses received and administered each day in Quebec alone. That is a lot.

I reread the motion, and thought that not every Canadian wants to be vaccinated. Maybe the Conservative Party wants to achieve herd immunity, or about an 80% vaccination rate? I crunched the numbers again: herd immunity at 80% means 20.8 million doses received by May 20, one dose per person, so more than 990,000 doses received and administered each day, and more than 217,000 doses received and administered each day in Quebec alone.

Then I thought that maybe 80% of Canadians do not want to be vaccinated. We cannot force people to get the vaccine. Only those who want it will get it. How can you calculate the desire to be vaccinated? How do you calculate the number of people? It is impossible to calculate the number of doses we need.

In short, how many vaccines will the Conservative Party force the government to receive, and Quebec and the other provinces to administer, each day?

With respect to the second point in the motion, the federal government failed to ensure a sufficient and constant supply in January and February. We all agree on that.

That being said, I would like to point out that past policies and decisions made by both the Liberal and the Conservative parties created a situation in which pharmaceutical companies packed up and left Canada, making us extremely vulnerable not only to what happens in this country, but to our relations with other countries. We are dependent. That is the problem we must work to resolve, both in legislation and on the ground.

For example, India's doses of AstraZeneca are staying in India, which is seeing 200,000 deaths a day. India wants to protect its own people. Is the motion asking, between the lines, that Canada oblige countries to supply us with vaccines despite their own situation, putting the lives of their own people and the health of their own economy at risk to save ours?

Knowing how generous and kind my colleague from Calgary Nose Hill is, I know that that is not the case. Nevertheless, the result is the same: We are dependent on what we can get from other countries. That is what we need to work on. We have the specialists, the knowledge and the workers we need not to be dependent. That is what we must focus on. We must make sure that we never find ourselves so dependent again.

The third point in the motion establishes that the government extended the recommended interval for the second vaccine dose to four months against the recommendations of vaccine manufacturers.

I remember that, in January, the Liberal government said in a press conference that it was irresponsible of Quebec to give as many people as possible their first shot and to give them their second three to four months later.

Only fools never change their minds. Canada has now adopted Quebec's strategy. The United Kingdom also successfully adopted the strategy, authorities in France and Belgium have announced similar measures, and other countries in the European Union are considering following their lead. The aim is to ensure that as many people as possible get at least one shot. The first dose is 75% effective. That slows the spread of the virus.

No one enjoys living under these restrictions. As I said at the beginning of my speech, I am eager for a return to normalcy. A grandmother wrote to tell me that she has not hugged her grandchildren in more than a year. She was angry, and I understand. A friend of mine closed her hair salon and made a career change. She had been considering it, but the repeated closure of non-essential services hastened her decision. My own mother has not seen her grandchildren in months. That being said, what would have happened if we had not imposed any measures at all? We saw what happened in countries around the world. Let us rather focus on the refusal to take swift action, particularly when it came to closing the border.

I would like to return to the first point, that is, the number of vaccines needed. Today's motion does not take into account the ability of Quebec and the provinces to administer the vaccine. It represents an unknown number of vaccines, perhaps as many as 775,000 doses per day in Quebec alone. Do Quebec and the provinces have the necessary infrastructure and personnel? Health care workers are exhausted, and we would be asking them to work 24/7 in addition to hiring new personnel.

The motion's vagueness on the number of doses required and the fact that it does not take into account the capacity to administer the vaccine, both in Quebec and in the Canadian provinces, mean that I cannot support the motion, with all due respect to my colleague from Calgary Nose Hill. Let us focus on ways to ensure that Canada will never again have to depend on other countries to survive future disasters and crises.

Of course, mistakes have been made. There is still room for improvement, even today, but let us look toward the future. Let us make sure these mistakes are never repeated, so we can move forward, restart our economy, hug our loved ones and have a beer on a patio with friends. Vaccination is how we get there.

Demanding an excessive number of vaccines, given the capacity of Quebec and the Canadian provinces to administer the doses, is pointless. This debate is not helpful. Let us get the first round of vaccines into arms quickly. We need to be specific, fair and equitable.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. I serve with her on the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

From the beginning, we have been asking many questions in committee about contracts and everything related to procurement. We have met with the minister a few of times.

Would my colleague agree that if the Canadian government had not wasted so much time with China in May 2020 and had negotiated in advance, all Canadians would have received a vaccine by May 15, and there would have been sufficient capacity in the provinces to administer the vaccines at a normal pace?

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, we could debate all the strategies, starting with putting all our eggs in one basket, providing researchers and knowledge, and having some sort of partnership.

The partner turned out to be unreliable and cut us loose. Canada then turned to a strategy of having as many partners as possible to ensure that we would not have a shortage of vaccines in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is refreshing, quite frankly, to see a member in the House stand up and just analyze the facts of a motion. Looking at the numbers, she went through the math on this. It leads one to believe that the motion is for nothing other than partisan gain. The reality is that the opposition has the opportunity to bring forward motions on a daily basis. It could have brought forward a motion on how we combat vaccine hesitancy in our country and the development of a strategy for that.

Why does the member think the Conservatives brought forward this motion, which does not serve any practical purpose, instead of something that could genuinely have advanced the need to develop strategies around vaccine distribution?

Opposition Motion—Access to COVID-19 vaccinesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Doing politics differently is being able to set aside partisanship to focus on the needs of the people, whether they voted for us or not.

Why was this motion moved today?

Only the Conservatives can answer that. Are they looking to get sound bites so that every party but theirs drops in the ratings?

I do not know. However, knowing the member for Calgary Nose Hill, I hope that it was moved out of heartfelt concern and generosity and not partisanship.