Debt-ridden Canadian taxpayers will be ponying up an additional $485 million to help developing countries cope with COVID-19, International Development Minister Karina Gould announced Friday.
“Canada is doing its part to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to COVID-19 tests, treatment and vaccines. The faster we can get tests, treatments and vaccines out to people, the sooner this pandemic can be contained. Canada’s support of global efforts to find successful medical solutions is a win for all,” Gould said. at an Ottawa press conference.
A total of $230 million will target the procurement of treatments allowing UNICEF to buy three million doses of COVID-19 antibody therapeutics, while the other $255 million will go to the World Health Organization and other health authorities, the CBC reported.
Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is described by WHO as a “global collaboration to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.”
This latest spending increase raises Canada’s total contribution to ACT Accelerator to $865 million.
The Liberals’ announcement includes $100 million for the WHO, $45 million for the Pan-American Health Organization and $75 million to the GAVI vaccine group, partly to fund “a mechanism to equitably reallocate vaccine doses.”
Canada’s contribution could also help train front-line health-care workers to administer COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, to plan and execute mass vaccination campaigns and to procure supplies essential to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, such as syringes or personal protective equipment.
Reuters reported huge purchases by rich nations have reduced the pool of doses available to countries that do not have such deep pockets, and to GAVI’s COVAX facility, a group purchasing system meant to distribute doses equitably to most countries in the world.
Created in 2000, Gavi is an international organization – bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.
COVAX is a joint World Health Organization (WHO), European Commission and Government of France initiative launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It brings together, “governments, global health organisations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society and philanthropy, to provide equitable global access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.”
Earlier in November it was reported by Reuters that Canada was in talks to donate excess doses through COVAX.
Canada has not yet made a public commitment to donate, or said what would be considered excess.
With the federal deficit approaching $381 billion in the Liberal’s “Fall Economic Statement 2020”, and a projected debt-to-GDP ratio of 50.7 per cent in 2020-21, many Canadians are concerned over the looming $1.2 trillion national debt.
A Maru/Blue poll in October showed that a majority of Canadians (67 per cent) believe it’s time to focus on reducing spending because the deficit is growing too much
A spokesman for Gould said that the additional COVID-Bucks should be allocated within weeks.
Ken Grafton is the Western Standards Ottawa Bureau Chief. He can be reached at email@example.com