Ford asks U.S. to donate 1M vaccines, gets crude when talking about Pfizer executive
Ontario Premier Doug Ford walks out after being given a tour of a digital Intensive Care Unit room at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital in Vaughan, Ontario on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, January 19, 2021 10:18PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 20, 2021 5:42AM EST
TORONTO - Ontario's premier appealed directly to U.S. president-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday for help securing more COVID-19 vaccines, a request that came as the province learned it would receive none of the doses expected next week.
Premier Doug Ford expressed frustration about a delivery slowdown of the Pfizer-BioNtech shot that means Ontario will receive thousands fewer doses over the next month.
The province said that could mean its goal of immunizing all long-term care residents in the province by Feb. 15 won't be achieved.
“My American friends ... you have a new president, no more excuses, we need your support” Ford said. “That's a direct message to President Biden. Help out your neighbour. You want us all to get along, hunky dory, kumbaya - help us.”
Canada's doses of the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine are coming from a factory in Belgium that is being upgraded to ramp up production in the coming months.
The company, however, also makes the COVID-19 vaccine at a facility in Michigan.
Ford appealed to Biden, who will be sworn in as president Wednesday, to share a million doses of the Pfizer shot from that plant.
“We're the third largest trading partner (to the United States),” he said. “The least you could do in Kalamazoo where the Pfizer plant is, great relationship-building, give us a million vaccines.”
Ford also expressed frustration with Pfizer executives about the vaccine delays and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ramp up pressure on the company to deliver more of the shots to Canada.
“If I was in (Trudeau's) shoes ... I'd be on that phone call every single day. I'd be up that guy's yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn't know what hit him,” he said of Pfizer's executives. “I would not stop until we get these vaccines.”
The federal government said shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are expected to get back to normal levels in late February and early March.
Canada was to get more than 417,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week and next, but will now get just 171,093 doses this week and nothing the next week.
Trudeau said earlier Tuesday that his procurement minister, Anita Anand, has been on the phone with the company every day, a fact she confirmed in a briefing later.
“We continue to work every day, reaching out to the top levels of vaccine companies, including myself being involved, to ensure we are getting the doses we need,” Trudeau said Tuesday morning.
The head of Ontario's vaccine task force, retired Gen. Rick Hillier, said he is optimistic the province can still meet its goal of providing the first dose to all of its long-term care residents, workers and essential caregivers by Feb. 15.
“If we fall outside of 15 February, it will be because we do not have sufficient vaccines to complete it prior to then,” he said. “I'm hoping that we can still do it. We're going to be really close one way or the other.”
That goal has already been achieved in COVID-19 hot spots including Toronto, Peel Region and York Region.
A total of 224,134 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the province.
Ontario reported 1,913 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 46 more deaths linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said that due to a technical issue at Toronto Public Health, there was likely an underreporting of cases on Tuesday.
- with files from Mia Rabson.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021.