It has now been two weeks since Leona Aglukkaq’s office was asked to provide evidence to support the claim that Canada had the highest per capita supply of H1N1 vaccine. Such evidence has not yet been provided.
In the three sessions of Question Period since the Liberal opposition asserted this claim to be incorrect, the government has avoided making a specific per capita claim to this country’s vaccine supply. The closest Ms. Aglukkaq has come to the assertion was in this exchange last Friday.
Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let us be clear about the H1N1 flu pandemic. Australia, not Canada, has the highest per capita vaccination rate because its program began more than two months earlier than ours. Canada was not the quickest out of the starting gate as the U.S. and the United Kingdom were vaccinating long before we were. Even China started seven weeks before us. How will the Conservatives make up for lost time?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, Australia has vaccinated close to one million people out of a total population of 22 million. Canada has vaccinated more Canadians over the last two weeks than any other country in the world on a population basis.
Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the story is always changing. Let us look at the figures. The Public Health Agency of Canada has left $50 million of the allocated budget on the table, unspent. For infectious disease prevention and control, $17 million is unused. For health promotion, $17 million has not been spent. In addition $3.5 million for emergency preparedness has never been used. Why did the Conservatives not allow the agency to use all these available resources?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our government has invested over $1 billion in the pandemic plan and we are investing more. We have purchased the vaccine for Canada. We will continue to support the Public Health Agency in the delivery and the rollout of the pandemic plan.
Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the only thing Canadians have more of per capita is partisan sloganeering and wasteful signs. This is about putting needles in arms, not about pointing fingers and blame. The real problem is that the priorities are all wrong. Infections will peak by the end of this month, 40% fewer than the promised vaccines have been delivered and $50 million have been left on the table. Why not support more clinics? Why not more public health nurses? Why not help for our shut-ins? Would Canadians not have been much safer if only a fraction of the energy put into the blue waste campaign had been dedicated to leading a truly national pandemic response?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, by the end of next week, over 8.5 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine will have been delivered to the provinces and territories. There is enough vaccine available for all priority groups and all Canadians. Canada currently has more H1N1 vaccine available for Canadians than any other country in the world has for its own population make-up.