“We can’t be last in line,” Province vows to be ready to administer vaccine by New Year’s Eve despite availability uncertainty

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says most Canadians will be vaccinated by September

The head of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force says the province will be ready to distribute and administer a vaccine by December 31, even as the premier calls on Ottawa to clarify when doses should be expected.

“I don’t know if that will start in January or not. I will wait to see when the vaccines arrive. But as I told the premier this morning, our mission is clear,” said General Rick Hillier (ret), tasked with overseeing the vaccine’s distribution in Ontario. “We’re going to be ready to ensure that we receive it, that we distribute it, that we handle it appropriately, that the medical professionals who are going to ensure that the vaccinations occur are ready and equipped.”

As the province makes preparations for the rollout of a vaccine, Premier Doug Ford called on Federal Government to provide certainty on when to expect doses to arrive. “Without a clear understanding of how many vaccines we’ll get, it’s impossible to plan; how many staff we need, how many trucks we need, how many freezers do we need.” The Federal Government is responsible for procuring a vaccine, while provincial governments are in charge of its distribution, similar to annual flu shots.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said most Canadians will be vaccinated by September of 2021, playing down previous indications Canada would have to wait to receive doses of whichever vaccine is available. “When a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready,” said the PM Friday morning. “This will be a major effort. But together, Canada can and will do this.” Trudeau previously suggested that, as Canada lacks the capacity to manufacture its own vaccine, it must wait for those who do.

“But this will be the biggest immunization in the history of the country. We must reach everyone who wants a vaccine no matter where they live,” added Trudeau.

Ford said on Friday Canada cannot wait. “We can’t have Canadians watching as our allies start getting vaccines without having a clear answer on when we will be getting it. And my friends. The clock is ticking. We can’t be last in line.”

On Friday, Trudeau announced former NATO commander Major-General Dany Fortin to oversee vaccine distribution across the county. The current chief of staff to the Canadian Joint Operations Command will head up vaccine logistics and operations within a newly created branch of the federal Public Health Agency.