Retired General Rick Hillier to lead Ontario’s COVID-19 distribution task force

Ontario's healthcare workers and most vulnerable could be the first to receive jabs

Retired General Rick Hillier has new marching orders.

The former Chief of Defence Staff has been selected by the Ontario government to head a new task force that will oversee the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the province.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement at a media briefing on Monday.

Ford said the province has been told that the first doses of the vaccine are expected to be ready in 2021.

“We need military precision,” Ford said, and described the rollout of the vaccine as a “massive logistical challenge.”

“The task force will leave no stone unturned. We will pull out every single stop we have to get ready and get this vaccine distributed. We will get vaccines to every part of this province when they are ready.”

Health Minister Christine Elliot said the province was at a critical new phase in the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Yet, she added words of caution that the vaccines are “still months away” and urged people to continue to follow public health guidelines.

The province is planning the early rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine program with vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna. Planning is already underway with federal and provincial partners to prepare for the receipt and rollout of the vaccine. Confirmed allocations of the number of doses and schedules for delivery to Ontario is expected shortly.

Elliot expects Ontario’s healthcare workers and most vulnerable will start receiving the vaccines before March, and they will have to be vaccinated twice in 21 days.

Ontario set a daily high record of new COVID-19 cases on Monday with 1,589 infections.