Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his collaboration on the health committee over the last couple of months. It has been challenging. That said, I would just caution that when we use language like “the vaccines do not prevent transmission and do not prevent this and that,” it limits all of those things. It is very well-founded that the vaccines are very, very good at limiting all of those factors and they have been very effective in keeping our communities safe, as the member well knows. He regularly states in the House, and I am glad that it is true, that his riding is one of the most vaccinated ridings in Canada. I am happy to hear that. That is fantastic.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has been supporting Canadians and the Government of Canada has implemented policies and public health measures to prevent the spread of infection. We have provided access to vaccines to minimize serious illness and death and we have worked hard to preserve health system capacity and reduce transmission to protect high-risk populations.
Just yesterday, as a result of all this good work, the Government of Canada was able to announce that we are suspending the vaccine mandate for federally regulated transportation sectors as well as federal employees.
With better levels of immunity from vaccination, the wider availability of antiviral drugs and lower hospitalization rates, Canada is now better equipped to effectively manage the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce pressure on the health care system.
While the suspension of vaccine mandates reflects an improved public health situation in Canada at this point in time, the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve and circulate in Canada and globally. COVID-19 remains a public health threat and staying up to date with vaccinations, including booster doses, remains the best line of defence against serious illness, hospitalization and death.
Because vaccination rates and virus control in other countries vary significantly, current vaccination requirements at the border will remain in effect. This will reduce the potential impact of international travel on our health care system and serve as an added protection against any future variant.
Vaccination continues to be one of the most effective tools to protect Canadians, including younger Canadians, our health care system, as well as our economy, and, as my colleague mentioned, to prevent lockdowns and to prevent more disruptions to small businesses.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has been providing guidance and advice related to the pandemic for more than two years. The agency will continue to review Canadian and international evidence and data from vaccine manufacturers to support public health decision-makers and program implementation. Additionally, it will work to address barriers to vaccination and improve confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine program through communication efforts.
The public health experts' guidance and advice regarding vaccine mandates was and will continue to be informed by the latest scientific evidence available. Effectiveness, availability and the uptake of vaccines and the evolving domestic and international epidemiological situation, hospital and ICU capacity, long-range modelling, as well as the effectiveness of other public health measures to keep Canadians safe are also taken into consideration.
This pandemic is not over. I think we can all agree on that. Staying up to date with vaccinations, including booster doses, is absolutely critical. The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with provinces, territories, indigenous communities and stakeholders to examine vaccination strategies in both the short and the long term.
While my colleague was asking me the question, I did look up some numbers. In the worst weeks of this pandemic in Canada, we were averaging upward of 200 deaths per day. That is a massive number and a huge tragedy. Today the numbers are lower, thanks to all of the public health measures, and we are averaging 32 deaths a day, based on a seven-day average. This pandemic is clearly not over. If at any other time in our parliamentary careers or in our adulthood, we were experiencing something that causes 30 Canadian deaths a day, I think we could all agree it is of great concern.
A year or two ago, when we started talking about vaccinations, we all agreed in the House that vaccinations should not be a political issue. We all had to work together to ensure that our communities had all of the information necessary. We had a good campaign and I think we all have to recognize that the campaign is not over. We need to work together to keep our communities safe.