Letter from the Scarborough PC Caucus
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
As Members of Provincial Parliament representing four ridings in Scarborough, we are deeply disappointed by the sudden cancellation of vaccinations at the Scarborough Health Network Centenary Site and Centennial College Progress Campus. All four of us have been working incredibly closely with the Scarborough Health Network since the first day of the pandemic.
We know the federal government is responsible for securing vaccine supplies for Canadians. However, ongoing delays in vaccine shipments have been extremely disruptive to Ontarians with booked appointments as well as to our local partners administering vaccines in our communities. That’s why we continue to ask your government for a stable and reliable vaccine supply, which remains the greatest challenge facing Ontario’s vaccine rollout.
We are dismayed that your Scarborough MPs are falsely suggesting the 10,000 cancelled appointments at Scarborough Health Network were a result of the provincial vaccine distribution process. We can also assure you the province does not have vaccines sitting in freezers.
As you are well aware, the federal government is responsible for securing vaccine supply for Canadians and that while we’ve seen steady shipments of Pfizer, shipments of Moderna and AstraZeneca have been inconsistent and plagued by delays. The most recent in a series of delays associated with Moderna was directly related to cancelled clinic appointments in Ontario. Here are the particulars:
• Ontario received a shipment of Moderna vaccines the week of March 22nd. It was less than a third of what was originally expected.
• The remaining 70% of that allocation was further delayed and wasn’t delivered to Ontario until the Easter weekend.
• The next shipment we were set to receive on April 5th wasn’t delivered until April 14th.
• The shipment following that, nearly 500,000 doses of Moderna, was due to be received on April 19th but has now been twice delayed with an expectation that it will arrive on May 3rd.
We have been seeing the ongoing impact of these delays on clinics across Ontario for several weeks. We know many of our partners, such as Scarborough Health Network, rely on Moderna doses to operate their clinics. Delays in deliveries from the federal government directly impact clinic appointments and the Scarborough Health Network is one of many centres that needed to pause bookings or reschedule appointments this week due to continued lack of supply.
Unfortunately, your MPs are publicly mischaracterizing the impact of those delays and erroneously claim in their April 14th letter to Premier Doug Ford that the province “denied the 10,000 vaccines” that Scarborough Health Network was promised - this is simply not true. The hospital’s decision to pause vaccinations was the direct result of the ongoing supply shortage, not an “unjustified closure of these facilities” by the provincial government. False and inflammatory claims about vaccine distribution doesn’t help your government or ours to build public confidence in our mutual effort to fight COVID-19 and get vaccines in arms. This is particularly concerning in racialized communities like Scarborough that have high rates of COVID-19 and vaccine hesitancy.
Similarly, the continued mischaracterization by your ministers and MPs that Ontario has vaccines sitting in freezers is factually incorrect, inflammatory and needlessly undermines public confidence in vaccine distribution. To be clear, there are not 1.2 million vaccine doses sitting in freezers as your ministers and MPs currently claim. Here’s a breakdown of where they actually are:
• Roughly half (543k doses) are AstraZeneca and half of those are currently in the hands of pharmacies (1,400 pharmacies across Ontario will be distributing vaccines by this coming week).
• Another 117k doses are in the hands of family doctors.
• A small remainder of AstraZeneca doses are reserved to ensure continuity of distribution, which is standard practice for vaccine distribution across the country and necessary because of the ongoing shortages and delays in Moderna and AstraZeneca delivery.
• The remainder of the Pfizer vaccine in provincial hands has already been allocated to vaccination clinics and hospitals for Ontario residents who are booked to be vaccinated.
• Most future shipments of AstraZeneca and Moderna have not been confirmed which will present further cancelation challenges for clinics if expected vaccines don’t arrive.
There are more than 2.5 million Ontarians who have made vaccine appointments through the provincial booking system alone. Additional appointments are booked through hospitals and pharmacies not on the provincial booking system.
The way out of this pandemic is vaccines. Like you, protecting the health and safety of the residents of Scarborough remains our top priority, which is why our government has designated 15 postal codes as part of our hotspot strategy in Scarborough. We have also ensured Scarborough residents have a number of locations available to them in order to receive the vaccine, this includes: 51 pharmacies, 6 mass immunization clinics and 4 primary care locations.
We know more vaccine is coming. We appeal to you to urge your public health officials to move more quickly to provide guidance on the use of AstraZeneca for younger age groups – which will have a material impact on vaccine rollout across the country. And that you do everything possible to secure other sources of vaccine. As we receive more vaccine supply from your government, we look forward to continuing to work with our vaccination partners including the federal government to ensure every resident of Scarborough, and every Ontarian, who wants a shot can receive one.