Dear Prime Minister and Premiers,
As business and community leaders, we share your commitment to keeping Canadians safe and eliminating as soon as possible the threat posed by COVID-19.
We are encouraged by the federal government’s assurances that, despite some delays, Canada is still on track to receive a total of six million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of March, enough to vaccinate three million people.
As vaccine shipments accelerate through the spring and summer, there will need to be an “all hands-on-deck” push to inoculate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
Companies and employers across the country are ready and eager to offer their expertise and resources at every stage of the rollout. This includes transportation and storage, establishing and scaling up vaccination clinics, training staff, tracking inventory and managing immunization records.
Having said that, it is increasingly apparent that a single large-scale vaccination campaign will not be enough to overcome the pandemic and restore a sense of normalcy to life in Canada.
The time has come for a sustained national commitment to widespread and frequent rapid testing and screening.
We as employers are prepared to play a leadership role, building on the success of rapid screening pilot projects that are currently under way at workplaces across Canada.
However, for any such effort to succeed we need the federal government to coordinate purchases on a massive scale, and we need the full cooperation of provinces, territories and public health officials.
In parallel with this, your governments must take additional steps to protect Canadians from the spread of COVID-19 variants, some of which may require new or modified vaccines.
The past few weeks have shown Canadians what can happen when our country relies exclusively on vaccines manufactured elsewhere. We cannot afford to allow that to happen again.
Last week the Prime Minister announced an agreement with a U.S.-based company to produce COVID-19 vaccines at a plant in Montreal owned by the National Research Council. We welcome this development, but coronavirus strains will be with us for years to come and one such facility may not be enough.
For that reason, we encourage the federal government to take further steps to expand Canada’s vaccine manufacturing capacity, particularly in the emerging field of mRNA vaccines.
Eleven months ago, COVID-19 claimed its first life in Canada. Since then, almost 21,000 have died, more than 800,000 have contracted the virus, and millions have lost employment income.
On behalf of Canada’s business leaders, we thank you and your colleagues for everything you have done to protect Canadians. Much more work lies ahead. A close partnership between governments and employers can save lives, preserve jobs and rebuild our economy.
Donald R. Lindsay
President and Chief Executive Officer Teck Resources Limited and Chair of the Board of Directors Business Council of Canada
President and Chief Executive Officer
Business Council of Canada