CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Good morning everyone.
I am very pleased to be here with Minister Anand, Dr. Njoo, and Major-General Fortin.
This morning, I have important news to share on vaccines.
From day one of this crisis, our government’s top priority has been protecting people around the country.
Since March, we’ve procured billions of pieces of personal protective equipment and secured millions of rapid tests, which we have sent to the provinces and territories to get to the front lines.
We’ve also provided tens of billions of dollars to the provinces and territories for health care, essential workers, and school safety.
We’re using every tool in the toolbox to keep people safe and get Canada through the storm.
It’s been a difficult year, and we’re not out of this crisis yet.
But now, vaccines are coming.
Our goal is to provide a safe and effective vaccine to Canadians as soon as possible.
At the last meeting with First Ministers, Minister LeBlanc spoke of the need to work together with the provinces and territories, and Indigenous communities to ensure the rollout of the vaccine.
A week and a half ago, we also announced that a National Operations Centre had been established through the Public Health Agency of Canada, supported by the Canadian Armed Forces.
Major-General Fortin is leading the coordination and logistics, and I know he has the expertise we need.
We are facing the largest immunization in the history of our country.
This is no small task, which is why we have a clear plan.
Our government – through the National Operations Centre – has been working with the provinces and territories to ensure that we’re ready to roll out vaccine doses as soon as they’re approved and delivered.
On procurement of these vaccines, Minister Anand and her team have been working tirelessly to secure the most diverse portfolio of vaccines in the world.
And today, we see those efforts paying off.
Canada has secured an agreement with Pfizer to begin early delivery of doses of their vaccine candidate.
We are now contracted to receive up to 249,000 of our initial doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in the month of December.
Pending Health Canada approval, the first shipment of doses is tracking for delivery next week.
Shipments will continue to arrive into 2021, with millions of doses on the way.
This will move us forward on our whole timeline of vaccine rollout, and is a positive development in getting Canadians protected as soon as possible.
Pfizer, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the provinces and territories, are working together to finalize preparations at the first 14 vaccination sites this week.
I want to assure Canadians that any vaccine approved in Canada will be safe and effective.
The regulatory process is ongoing and experts are working around the clock.
They will uphold Canada’s globally recognized gold standard for medical approvals.
We also have agreements with six other vaccine candidates, making our range of potential vaccines the broadest and most diverse in the world.
In addition to Pfizer-BioNTech, there are also Moderna, AstraZeneca-Oxford, and Johnson & Johnson who have already submitted their vaccine candidates to Health Canada.
We are working hard to ensure that Canadians have access to a safe and secure vaccine as soon as possible, as soon as the doses are ready.
While vaccines are on the horizon, remember, they cannot protect you if you get COVID-19 now.
I know this winter will be hard, especially with the holidays fast approaching.
But we are coming into the final miles of this crisis.
So let’s all buckle down and do what’s necessary to keep ourselves and others safe.
Over the last few days, we’ve seen new records of COVID-19 cases in a number of provinces.
Hospitalizations are rising, families are losing people, and our most vulnerable are at risk.
Just because we’re getting closer to vaccines doesn’t mean we can afford to become complacent.
And on the other hand, just because the numbers are spiking, doesn’t mean we should give up in despair.
Let’s keep working together, and let’s remember that together we will get through this.
As we prepare for the arrival of safe and effective vaccines, it is important to keep up with our other efforts.
It is clear what needs to be done.
Make sure you wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distance, and download and use the COVID Alert app.
Avoid gatherings and don’t put yourself or others at risk.
And together, we’ll get through this.
This morning, I also want to recognize that 50 years ago today, the Report by the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada was tabled in Parliament.
When it was published, this report was a landmark document, helping drive progress on gender equality.
Fifty years later, we’ve come a long way.
But with this pandemic impacting women disproportionately, we’re reminded that there is still much further to go.
One of the most significant recommendations of the Royal Commission was to take action on child care.
Today, we are committed to moving forward with a universal child care system.
Our government will continue to take the steps needed to build – and rebuild – a fairer, more equal Canada for everyone.
Today, I also want to recognize the news that National Chief Perry Bellegarde will not be running for another term.
Perry has been a tireless leader and advocate for First Nations, and I know I am joined by people across the country in recognizing and celebrating his years of devoted service to First Nations communities.
We lift you up, Perry.
We will continue to work with the National Chief to advance the priorities identified by First Nations, including keeping First Nations communities safe from this pandemic.
Finally, I would like to conclude by congratulating Michael Sabia on his new role as Deputy Minister of Finance.
He has done an outstanding job as President of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and I know his skills will be invaluable to us as we rebuild a strong and resilient economy.
Paul Rochon has served as Deputy Minister of Finance since 2014, and I would also like to thank him for all his years of dedication and exceptional work during this pandemic.
Thank you all.