Open letter to the Government of Canada

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health
The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development

Re: Canada, COVID-19, and Development Countries

Dear Prime Minister and Ministers:

We are writing to express our sincere appreciation for the December 14 announcement of two new contributions to assist developing countries to deal with COVID-19: $230 million to UNICEF to procure antibody therapeutics, and an additional $255 million to the ACT Accelerator.

Earlier, more than 100 researchers, health professionals, and leaders in global health collectively expressed concern over Canada’s ‘vaccine nationalism’ in making numerous bilateral purchase agreements with vaccine manufacturers. We urged Canada to contribute dollar-for-dollar to the COVAX AMC facility to procure vaccines for eligible low- and middle-income countries. The December 14 announcement of new Access to COVID 19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator funding for the diagnostics, therapeutics and health systems/delivery pillars brings Canada’s total contribution to the ACT Accelerator to $865 million, including the $230 million going directly to UNICEF. This brings Canada to the top tier of countries supporting the ACT Accelerator.

We are also encouraged by reports in November further suggested that your government may donate surplus vaccines to the COVAX AMC facility. We assume this will be enacted as new vaccines for which Canada has an advanced purchase agreement are approved. A public statement confirming this would be welcomed.

Canada is emerging as a steady voice for equity and human rights on the global stage, and we are proud and happy to see these steps toward action.

We continue to call upon Canada to reconsider their support for the WTO proposal for a “Waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19.” In recognition of the unique global emergency posed by the current pandemic, the waiver affirms the importance of intellectual property rights while allowing exceptions for a limited time only exclusively for COVID-19 products. The waiver is supported by the WHO because it is legitimate and required for protection of public health. We believe that the proposed waiver is something that Canada should support, or at least not vote against if the proposal goes to a vote at the WTO General Council in a few days time.

For now, we warmly commend your government for its recent increase in support for the ACT Accelerator. These actions demonstrate that Canada is indeed showing international leadership in promoting global health equity.

SIGNATORIES

Charles Larson, MDCM, FRCP(C)
McGill University Global Health Program
Interim Director
National Coordinator
Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research
charles.larson@mcgill.ca

Dr. Shafi Bhuiyan MBBS, MPH, MBA, MJF, PhD
Assistant Professor, Dala Lana School of Public Health
University of Toronto
Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research
shafi.bhuiyan@utoronto.ca

Christina Zarowsky, MD, MPH, PhD
Professeure titulaire et Directrice
Département de médecine sociale et préventive
École de santé publique de l’Université de Montréal
Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research
Christina.zarowsky@umontreal.ca

Katrina Plamondon, PhD, RN
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Health & Social Development, School of Nursing
The University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus
Co-Chair, University Advisory Council, Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research
katrina.plamondon@ubc.ca

Susan J. Elliott, PhD
Professor
Geography & Environmental Management
University of Waterloo
Co-Chair, University Advisory Council, Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research
Susan.elliott@uwaterloo.ca

Mira Johri, PhD, MPH
Professeure titulaire
Département de gestion, d’évaluation, et de politique de santé
École de santé publique de l’Université de Montréal (ÉSPUM)
Member, Board of Directors, Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research
Co-Chair, Policy and Advocacy Committee, Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research
mira.johri@umontreal.ca

Tasha Ayinda, MPPPA
Associate Director, Administration
Faculty of Medicine
McGill University
Co-Chair, Policy and Advocacy Committee, Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research
tasha.ayinde@mcgill.ca

Ron Labonté, PhD, FCAHS, HonFPPH
Professor and Distinguished Research Chair
School of Epidemiology and Public Health
University of Ottawa
rlabonte@uottawa.ca

Eva Slawecki
Executive Director
Canadian Society for International Health

Geneviève Dubois-Flynn, PhD
Co-Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Society for International Health

Chris Rosene
Co-chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Society for International Health