question period — Public Services and Procurement

COVID-19 Vaccine Procurement

February 17, 2021


Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)
[14:52]

Leader, over a week ago, I asked you if the Trudeau government would now engage with Canadian companies like Providence Therapeutics on domestic vaccine development. It was only after Manitoba’s announcement of a deal with this company that the industry minister’s office contacted Providence’s CEO to have discussions about their vaccine, which is undergoing human trials, as I mentioned last week.

Leader, what was the outcome of that discussion between Minister Champagne and Providence on the weekend? Is the Trudeau government now prepared to give Providence the support they should have been provided last year?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate)
[14:53]

Thank you for your question. I’m not aware of the contents of that conversation, but the government is working with Providence and other manufacturers and has provided support. It may not be as much as some companies want, but the discussions are ongoing.

[14:53]

It is unfortunate that you are not aware of what the minister is discussing with Providence, provinces and other companies, because I think Canadians have a right to know. Leader, does the Trudeau government regret the time that you wasted last year on the CanSino deal instead of supporting vaccine development with Canadian companies?

Senator Gold
[14:53]

Thank you for your question. As I’ve said on many occasions, and as the government procurement minister, Prime Minister and others have stated, Canada took a multi-pronged approach. It did not put all of its eggs in one basket. It was the first country to sign a deal with Moderna and the fourth in the world to sign a contract with Pfizer. Overall, as you know, we have agreements with seven different pharmaceutical companies. Some will prove more promising than others. We are hoping for approval by Health Canada of AstraZeneca, and others look promising as well. The government remains confident that it will meet its announced target and is on track to achieve its target for all Canadians who wish to be vaccinated by the end of September.