I recently partook in the emergency debate on COVID and shared three very specific recommendations and I want to see the government act on.
First and foremost, my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones and those who are now on the brink of bankruptcy.
And a big thank you to all the frontline responders and healthcare professionals doing all they can to keep people safe and to recover from the virus.
We are well over a year into this crisis and the fact remains that we are in worse shape now than at any other point during this pandemic.
People continue to die, and healthcare staff are burnt out.
Hospitals and ICUs are struggling.
New variants are spreading.
Millions of students are not in their classrooms.
Countless businesses are shut down and workers are without paychecks.
And we have a vaccine shortage that is prolonging the pandemic.
Throughout it all, we have witnessed a government struggling to meet these challenges head-on.
While no one expected a flawless response, time and time again, they have dropped the ball.
I don’t say this lightly, but the Liberal government has failed.
Failed to ensure we had an emergency stockpile of PPE.
Failed to safely reunite families.
Failed to secure enough vaccines to arrive in Canada for the first half of 2021.
Regardless of however the Liberals want to spin in, the virus is winning.
The three very specific recommendations I shared were as follows:
The Liberal government must abide by the motion that was passed at our Health Committee, which ordered the government to allow the Committee to review the vaccine contracts at an in-camera meeting.
We are aware of the confidentiality clauses contained in those contracts, which is exactly why we proposed they be shared at an in-camera meeting.
I want everyone to step back for a moment and think about how ridiculous the government’s position is.
The government sought Parliamentary approval to purchase those vaccines but doesn’t want Parliamentarians to know what was contained in those contracts.
How can we do our job as an Official Opposition if we are being completely left out in the dark?
How do we know the if the Liberals signed good deals?
The answer is that we don’t know.
From my vantage point, we have a massive vaccine shortage and every day we find out more shipments are being delayed.
Without Pfizer and now the Biden Administration, we would even be further behind.
We don’t measure vaccine success by the size of Canada’s vaccine portfolio - we measure success by getting vaccines delivered to the provinces and into people’s arms.
There is no other matrix that can be possibly used to evaluate the government’s record on procuring vaccines.
Provinces need the vaccines now. Not 5 months from now.
The only information in the contracts that I know to be true, is the government paid double for the AstraZeneca vaccines compared to some other nations.
Fix the PCR test process for returning Canadians
The second recommendation is to fix the mail in process of PCR tests for returning Canadians who live in rural areas.
In the last month alone, my office has been contacted by multiple families about how the government has signed a deal with Purolator and how it is next to impossible to mail back the PCR test.
I wanted the Liberal MPs in this House to know how stressful this is on families and I shared the contents of an email I received from a constituent.
A mother of a son who recently returned from university called PHAC to arrange a pickup of the PCR test and was told only Purolator is handling the packages.
She then called Purolator and they told her they don’t visit their rural community on weekends.
After being on the phone for an hour, she finally spoke to someone who was supposed to swing by their farm to pick up the package on Monday.
They waited and waited and then no one came to pick it up. She then waited on hold for another hour and was told they couldn’t guarantee they could pick up the PCR test.
Purolator then told her to drive into town to drop off the package on Tuesday afternoon, and just leave it outside at the agreed upon location.
Once again, the government have implemented a plan that sounds good, however, in practice it’s not working. Surely to goodness if people can get their online parcels delivered to far flung places, the federal government could partner with parcel delivery companies to get PCR tests picked up.
My last recommendation is to distribute and encourage the use of rapid tests.
We have seen the Minister of Health question the validity of rapid tests, even after spending millions of taxpayer’s dollars purchasing them.
It must also be said the government paid a company for rapid test kits without even seeing if they could pass Health Canada Standards, which where then found to be faulty.
Putting that all aside, I know there is a willingness from this government to get more rapid test kits handed out to Canadians, as Industry Canada announced they are launching “new efforts to increase the availability” of rapid tests.
Multiple provinces are now using rapid tests to help with their screening efforts and the efforts are paying off.
Part of the challenge with COVID-19 is that not everyone has symptoms, however, they can be a carrier of the virus and potentially expose others.
With the use of rapid test kits, schools and businesses have been able to stop outbreaks before they happen.
In the UK, 9 in 10 pharmacies are offering free rapid test kits. And now the are offering every citizen in the UK twice weekly rapid test kits to all those who want them.
I want to see this success be replicated in every community across the country.
As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
You can watch my speech HERE!