‘It’s a joke’: Doug Ford slams feds’ COVID-19 vaccine procurement process

Ontario Premier Doug Ford hold a press conference after visiting the William Osler Health System - Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, March 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ontario Premier Doug Ford slammed the federal government’s handling of COVID-19 vaccine procurement Friday, calling it “a joke.”

Ford made the comments after being asked about discrepancies in Ontario’s efforts to distribute vaccines to local public health units on a per capita basis.

Ford said the “root cause” of any vaccine shortage at the municipal level is the federal government’s procurement process.

“We do not have enough vaccines from the federal government and it’s a joke,” the premier said. “Fifty-fifth in the world.”

The federal government is responsible for obtaining vaccines and allocating them to the provinces, while the provincial governments are then responsible for creating a distribution framework and delivering them to local health units.

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In past press conferences, Ford has called for more vaccines from the feds, but his comments Friday were among his most critical thus far of the federal government’s vaccine campaign.

Ford also expressed frustration with what he said are unclear and changing delivery timelines.

“We’re expecting some Moderna — the third time now it’s delayed. We’re getting it sometime next week,” Ford said.

“The AstraZeneca that we were supposed to get out into the pharmacies — we don’t even get a date. We don’t have a clue. How can you plan when the feds aren’t even giving us a date?…

“How can you set up product flow when you don’t know when your product’s coming? It’s ridiculous.”

Ford said Ontario has the capacity to administer many more vaccines than it is currently averaging. Since Wednesday, the province has administered around 70,000 to 80,000 doses per day.

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As of 8 p.m. Friday, Ontario had administered a total of 1,916,332 COVID-19 vaccine doses, marking an increase of 77,740.

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According to the federal government, Ontario has received 2,353,665 COVID-19 vaccine doses thus far.

Ret. Gen. Rick Hillier, who is the head of the province’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force, said Ontario could administer 150,000 and even up to 300,000 vaccines per day.

He noted that there are more than 700 pharmacies throughout the province, with at least three in each public health unit, ready to administer vaccines once the next shipment of AstraZeneca is received.

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