Skip to main content

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin makes preparations at Toronto's Mass Vaccination Clinic on Jan. 17, 2021.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada’s steady drop in international COVID-19 vaccination rankings will start to reverse as the country gets a significant increase in vaccine deliveries in the coming months.

The expected climb follows a steep drop in per-capita vaccinations: from 10th place to 46th between January and February. According to the Oxford University-based Our World in Data website, on Wednesday, Canada’s inoculation rate sat behind countries such as Slovenia, Poland, Germany and the United States.

Canada’s ranking sank as the country grappled with a six-week slowdown in shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna that hit Canada harder than other countries. But Ms. Anand told a virtual crowd at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s annual economic summit on Wednesday that the government believes it has put the faltering first phase of its vaccination program behind it.

“I think what we’re going to see is we will be moving quite fast and those stats that you presented, Perrin, are going to change,” Ms. Anand told the chamber’s chief executive Perrin Beatty in response to a question about how Canada compared with other countries. “We are ahead of Australia, we are ahead of France, we are on par with Germany, all of those jurisdictions are our economic peers and we will continue to work hard as we do as Canadians.”

However, in her defence of Canada’s vaccine record, Ms. Anand also played down just how far behind it has fallen. Canada sits 11 countries behind Germany and six behind France, according to the Our World in Data website. Australia’s vaccination campaign will start on Monday.

“The story on vaccinations is still being written. Canada is going to see a very, very steep incline in the next weeks and months ahead and as a result, I encourage us all to focus on that part of the process,” Ms. Anand said.

For the first time this week the federal government released a vaccine delivery schedule that shows Pfizer will meet its contractual obligations to send Canada four million vaccines by the end of March. After three weeks where vaccine shipments from Pfizer didn’t break 100,000 doses, 444,600 are expected each week in March.

Moderna will make up for delays in February, by sending more than 1.3 million shots in March, Ms. Anand said. The government has not yet released a delivery schedule for those doses.

The turnaround predicted by the federal government comes as polling shows the Liberals getting a rough ride from voters on the issue. According to a poll from Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, more than two thirds of voters blame Ottawa for vaccine delays. And a survey from the Angus Reid Institute shows almost two thirds of respondents believed Canada’s vaccination efforts are a failure compared with other countries.

Still, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party leads in voter intention. According to Nanos Research the Liberals are edging out the Conservatives on the ballot with 34 per cent compared with 30 per cent. The survey has a margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Mr. Trudeau also far outpaces the other party leaders in the preferred prime minister category at 37 per cent, followed by Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole at 26 per cent, according to the survey released Tuesday.

In an interview with Toronto radio station Newstalk 1010 on Wednesday, Mr. Trudeau said he’s confident that his government will meet its September deadline to get vaccinations to everyone in Canada. Asked if he will resign if he fails to reach that goal, he said no.

“We serve as long as Canadians support the government in office,” he said.

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

The large number of COVID-19 infections in some places makes it more likely for new variants of the virus to emerge. Science Reporter Ivan Semeniuk explains how vaccines may not be as effective against these new strains, making it a race to control and track the spread of variants before they become a dangerous new outbreak.

The Globe and Mail