This letter was sent to Health Minister Patty Hajdu on July 28. Below is the full text of the letter.
Dear Minister Hajdu,
I’m writing about the concerns being raised by Canada’s health community that under your government’s watch our country is falling behind in its efforts to research and secure a successful vaccine for COVID-19. Your government created a $600-million fund to support vaccine clinical trials and manufacturing here in Canada, including a partnership between China’s CanSino Biologics and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. However, it has been reported that those vaccines are being held up at customs in China. Meanwhile, other Canadian companies are still waiting for a decision on their research applications.
There are also growing concerns about Canada’s ability to ensure Canadians will have access to treatments when they are scientifically proven to be effective. While other countries have already bulk purchased promising treatments, there seems to be hesitation from your government to do the same. Canadians know that the development of a vaccine is extremely important in the ongoing fight against COVID-19, which is why I implore you to be transparent and disclose where Canada stands in guaranteeing treatments and vaccines will be available here.
On July 15th, 2020, the Prime Minister signed on to an op-ed counting on the good will of the global community to do the right thing so that all countries will have access to a vaccine when one is developed. Like we saw with personal protective equipment (PPE), there will no doubt be global competition once successful vaccines and treatments are discovered. I believe working with the global community is important, however, other countries are taking risks and securing millions of doses of potential vaccines for trials, while Canada has yet to proactively secure any possible treatments or vaccines.
Minister, I am calling on you to share with Canadians your government’s plan to tackle the growing delays currently slowing down Canada’s researchers in discovering a made-in-Canada vaccine. I ask that you outline your government’s plan to purchase treatments and vaccines for Canadians and to disclose where your government currently stands on this matter. I strongly urge your government to work diligently with other countries, while always putting the health and safety of Canadians first.
Shadow Minister for Health
Member of Parliament for Edmonton Riverbend