Canada secures millions more COVID-19 vaccine doses as Alberta pressures for more supply

Click to play video: 'The politics of the COVID-19 vaccine supply'
The politics of the COVID-19 vaccine supply
As provinces put pressure on the federal government to speed up the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine, Ottawa has announced another massive purchase. Millions more doses have been secured for Canada — but that doesn't necessarily mean the war of words will come to an end. As Tom Vernon explains, Premier Jason Kenney says the federal government can't keep up with demand. – Jan 12, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada has agreed to purchase another 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total number of vaccines secured by the federal government this year to 80 million.

“We are on track to have every Canadian who wants a vaccine receive one by September,” the prime minister said during the announcement. “If we can do it even quicker than that, that would be great news.

“The quicker everyone gets vaccinated, the quicker we’re going to be able to get back to a semblance of normality.”

READ MORE: Canada secures 20M more Pfizer doses as vaccine makers monitor 2nd dose controversy

The announcement comes as the provinces put increasing pressure on Ottawa to speed up the rollout of the vaccines.

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“The only thing that is constraining us is supply,” Premier Jason Kenney told Danielle Smith on Global News Radio 770 CHQR Tuesday morning.

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“We will be able in March to administer hundreds of thousands per week. We can right now do tens of thousands per week — we just don’t have enough supply.”

Kenney’s comments come about a week after the prime minister expressed his disappointment with how doses were being rolled out by the provinces.

“All Canadians, including me, are frustrated to see vaccines in freezers and not in people’s arms,” Trudeau said on Jan. 5.

READ MORE: Trudeau ‘frustrated’ to hear COVID-19 vaccines are sitting ‘in freezers’ amid rollout

Figures released by the federal government show Alberta can expect to receive 244,725 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of February, and another 68,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

These numbers were released before the announcement of the additional Pfizer purchase, and it’s not yet clear when exactly those doses will begin to flow, although the prime minister hopes to have 20 million Canadians vaccinated by June.

“The vaccination rollout, notwithstanding the critics, I think is rolling out quite well,” said Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

He pointed out Canada is currently in the top 10 in the world for total number of vaccines administered, and ranks ahead of fellow G7 nations Germany and France when looking at vaccinations per 100 people. Bratt believes that shows Ottawa and the provinces are working together quite well, but that likely won’t quiet down the politics.

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“That’s Canada, that’s the nature of federalism,” he said.

“You could pick any issue that you wanted and you would have premiers blaming prime ministers and prime ministers blaming premiers.”

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