Ontario Premier Doug Ford has issued a plea to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden for help in obtaining more Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines amid a shortage of doses in Canada.
Ford made the comments during a press conference on Tuesday after the federal government announced that Canada will be receiving zero Pfizer doses next week.
“My American friends, help us out. We need help once again, as we did with the (personal protective equipment). You have a new president, no more excuses,” Ford said.
“We need your support and we look forward to your support. And that’s a direct message to President(-elect) Biden. Help out your neighbour. You want us all to get along, hunky dory, kumbaya — help us out.”
Ford said that Ontario has very close trading ties with the U.S. and said the province alone is one of the country’s largest trading partners in the world.
“The least thing you can do, in Kalamazoo where the Pfizer plant is — great relationship building — give us a million vaccines,” Ford said.
“You have a hundred million down there. Give your great neighbour, that stands shoulder to shoulder with you, a million vaccines to keep us going. Get us over the hump. That’s what we’d love to see off the president.”
Biden will be sworn in as the 46th U.S. president on Wednesday.
Pfizer has a manufacturing facility in Kalamazoo, Mich., just over two hours from the Canadian border.
Several days ago, Pfizer announced that due to a scaling up of its European manufacturing capacity, countries could see temporary delays in receiving doses.
A recent statement from the company, however, indicated that some European countries may not be as hard-hit by delays next week, prompting concerns of whether Canada is being treated equally.
“We are now seeing that our entire expected shipment is deferred for next week, and then the numbers start to pick back up in the first weeks of February,” said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin on Tuesday. Fortin is in charge of Canada’s coronavirus vaccine rollout logistics.
It was expected that Canada would still receive at least some doses the week of Jan. 25 despite the delays.
“The news from the federal government today that Canada won’t get any new Pfizer vaccines next week and far fewer than expected in the coming weeks, it’s troubling,” Ford said Tuesday.
“It’s a massive concern.”
Ford said his message to the federal government is that obtaining COVID-19 vaccines is the most important thing right now.
“Every day we are giving out less vaccines than we have the capacity to administer is a day we lose. Because this vaccine is the difference between life and death for our most vulnerable,” he said.
The premier said he’s not angry with the federal government and said he’s “just angry at the situation that other countries are getting it.”
Ford said he’s sure Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is working hard to obtain the vaccines, but added that if he were in the prime minister’s position, he “would not stop” pressing Pfizer for doses.
— with files from Rachel Gilmore