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Question Period — Foreign Affairs Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator

Honourable senators, Canada has so far promised 51 million doses out of its own surplus of stock to COVAX and through bilateral donations, but as of today, I’m informed that only about 10 million of those vaccines have been delivered.

So I again ask the Government Representative the following: What is the government doing to accelerate the delivery of the doses committed, and is it considering increasing that commitment? As everybody knows, only 7% of the people in low-income countries have received even a single shot.


Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) 

Thank you for your question, Senator Harder, and for your ongoing advocacy for and support of this important issue.

As I have perhaps stated at an earlier occasion but which I will repeat, the government has disbursed $2.5 billion to support the global fight against the virus. That includes a total of $1.3 billion to support the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to ensure that not only vaccines but therapeutics and diagnostics are available around the world.

During the G7 leaders summit this past June, the G7 leaders announced a collective commitment of more than 2 billion vaccine doses. Canada’s portion will be 100 million doses, but the government has committed to donate the equivalent of at least 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the COVAX Facility by the end of 2022.

Canada continues to work with international partners to address barriers to equitable access to vaccines. I’ve also been advised that the Prime Minister announced an investment up to $15 million to COVAX manufacturing task force partners in support of establishing a South African technology transfer hub. The government will continue to work diligently to do its part to address this global pandemic.

Senator Harder 

I recognize that Canada has been an early and strong supporter of the ACT Accelerator and COVAX, as Senator Gold has indicated, but the fact is that the pandemic is far from over, and the ACT Accelerator partners have identified new additional funding — beyond that which has already been committed — that is urgently needed for 2022, so that tests, treatments, PPE, oxygen and further vaccine procurement can proceed. Developing countries will need urgent financial support to help deliver those vaccines.

Is the Government of Canada planning on providing further additional support to help end this pandemic everywhere, because as we all know, we must act urgently as, ultimately, Canadians are safe only when the whole world has access to vaccines. More needs to be done.

Senator Gold 

Your comment that more needs to be done is clear, and the government is aware. The government is working with international partners and will look seriously at requests for additional support.

I’ll make those inquiries to the government, Senator Harder, and I would be happy to report back when I get an answer.