Updated: Jan 8, 2021
With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau having announced his goal of immunizing more than half of Canadians by September 2021, former NATO commander Major-General Dany Fortin has been selected to lead national distribution. Fortin formerly served as chief of staff to the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and a commander of NATO’s mission in Iraq.
This decision comes amidst mounting criticism against Trudeau over his vaccine strategy. With the Trudeau ministry pushing the international community to ensure equal access for all, Conservative MP and shadow Minister for Health Michelle Rempel Garner attacked the Prime Minister after he revealed that other countries would begin inoculating their citizens before Canadians even receive their shots.
“Did you even bother to negotiate the right for Canada to manufacture these vaccines at home? When are Canadians going to get these vaccines?” said Garner during question period this Wednesday.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet equally criticized the prime minister’s response, calling the move that vaccines will start to arrive in the coming months after other countries “unacceptable.”
Fortin’s appointment thus can be interpreted as an attempt to mitigate increasing discontent. “I can understand the eagerness with which people want to know: ‘When is this going to be over? When are we going to get the vaccines?’ What we can say is we are working extremely hard to deliver as quickly and as safely as possible. If all goes according to plan, we should be able to have the majority of Canadians vaccinated by next September,” noted Trudeau per CTV News.
With this vaccine rollout likely to be the “biggest immunization in the history of the country” per the Prime Minister’s own words, Fortin’s appointment will be to oversee logistics of this massive project. “We must reach everyone who wants a vaccine, no matter where they live,” said Trudeau.
Meanwhile, the situation is rapidly worsening. Ontario health authorities reported 1,589 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, a new single-day record of cases to date. Quebec reported 1,448 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, breaking another record. Alberta, with 13,166 active cases as of Monday, now has the highest active case count of all the provinces and territories.