Member of Parliament for Medicine Hat–Cardston–Warner Glen Motz is baffled by the decision to stop the collaboration between Canada and the United States to share surplus COVID-19 vaccine.
“What a perfect scenario to not have to quarantine, to use the graciousness of the people of the U.S. with excess vaccines, like, this government talks about ending lockdowns and ending these restrictions by all means necessary and yet, this is what they do,” said Motz.
The Piegan–Carway border is in the Conservative MP’s territory. He said the Liberal government’s move to halt free vaccine clinics at the border has his constituents, and people from all over the province, calling his office upset.
“They were frustrated, they didn’t understand,” Motz said.
The Blackfeet Tribe, 150 kilometres south of Lethbridge, began offering shots of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna at the Carway crossing a month ago. Initially it was being offered to members of the Blackfoot Confederacy, but it was later opened up to anyone who wanted it.
The proposal received approval from the tribal administration and both the Canadian and United States’ governments to set up the mobile clinic on the U.S. side of the border.
Canadians who attended the clinic were given exemptions from having to quarantine for 14 days. They lined up in their cars, drove through a loop, received their shots through the window, were monitored for 15 minutes and went home.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said last week Canadians attempting to drive across the American border solely for a COVID-19 vaccination, even with a doctor’s referral, would be denied entry.
The Public Health Agency of Canada also clarified that any Canadians travelling to the United States for the purpose of getting the vaccine are not exempted from a 14-day quarantine on their return and that vaccines are now “widely available” here.
Motz brought the issue forward during Tuesday’s question period, asking why the clinics have been cancelled and called the country’s vaccine rollout a failure.
Anita Anand, the minister of public services and procurement, responded and said, “I don’t think that 25 million doses distributed to provinces and territories is a failure, nor is 61 per cent of adults receiving one dose a failure.”
“Our vaccine rollout is continuing a pace and we won’t rest until all Canadian’s have access to vaccines,” Anand added.
“If the vaccine is so widely available in Canada, why do we have waitlists?” Motz questioned. “Why do we have delays in getting the vaccine? And why is there a four to five month delay in getting your second dosage?”
The popularity of the Alberta border clinics led to lineups up to two kilometres long. Motz said he is hoping the Canadian government will work to reinstate the border clinics, but as of now, they are cancelled.