Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians won’t be front of the line when COVID-19 vaccines become available, because the first doses will be made outside of our borders.
“One of the things to remember is Canada no longer has any domestic production capacity for vaccines,” Trudeau said outside Rideau Cottage Tuesday. “Countries like the United States, Germany and the U.K. do have domestic pharmaceutical facilities which is why they’re obviously going to prioritize helping their citizens first.”
Trudeau said Canada’s doses would follow shortly after, and he expects to see them in the first quarter of next year. But he said the first doses from the assembly line will go to the countries where the vaccine is made.
With promising news from several vaccine manufacturers, in recent weeks officials in those countries have said their citizenry could start receiving vaccines as early as December.
Trudeau said Canadians should expect to receive doses shortly after that point, but without a domestic manufacturing capacity, which the country hasn’t had for decades, there will be a delay.
He said that is why the government bought doses of so many potentially successful vaccines, and why it is reinvesting in domestic manufacturing.
“We have done everything we can to ensure that Canadians get these vaccines as quickly as possible and as effectively as possible.”
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Trudeau’s delays will mean more hardship for Canadians.
“The prime minister told the House that Canadians would be first in line to receive the vaccine, but today he admitted we are going to be behind many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany,” he said in the House of Commons. “How many more months will it take to flatten the curve because this prime minister has been unable to secure a vaccine?”
The government hasn’t released any of the contracts with vaccine manufacturers to indicate precisely where Canada is in the order of distribution and has said only that the country should expect doses in the first quarter of 2021, assuming the vaccines are approved by Health Canada.
Conservative Health critic MP Michelle Rempel Garner said there is no reason why the government should have been caught off guard.