Resident Annie Innes, 90, receives the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Abercorn House Care Home in Hamilton, Scotland, Monday Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Russell Cheyne/PA via AP

Resident Annie Innes, 90, receives the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Abercorn House Care Home in Hamilton, Scotland, Monday Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Russell Cheyne/PA via AP

Canada boosts foreign aid by $485 million with new funds for global COVID-19 effort

OTTAWA — Canada’s foreign-aid budget swelled noticeably Monday with International Development Minister Karina Gould’s announcement of $485 million in new money toward the global effort to provide COVID-19 medicines to poor countries.

The new funds are going towards the Access to COVID-19 Tools, or “ACT” Accelerator, which was created in April by the World Health Organization, the French government, the European Commission and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gould and Procurement Minister Anita Anand also left open the possibility Monday that if Canada has any surpluses of vaccines it has already pre-bought, they could be shared with poorer countries.

Gould said that with only one vaccine currently approved by Health Canada, it’s too early to make that determination.

“We are part of a global community, and our health at home depends on the health of everyone everywhere. Canadians understand that no one is safe from COVID-19 unless everyone is safe, and today’s new commitments will help to make that possible,” said Gould.

Anand said Gould’s announcement “is a promise to help other countries when we will be able to do so.”

Canada has secured guarantees for 214 million doses of vaccine, if all seven vaccine candidates procured are approved. It has also negotiated the potential to get another 200 million doses.

Last week, Oxfam Canada released a report that said Canada topped the list of rich countries that have pre-bought COVID-19 vaccines, having secured enough to cover its population five times over. Oxfam urged Canadians to show more compassion to poorer people.

On Monday, Oxfam Canada’s interim executive director Kate Higgins said the organization was “pleased to see Canada take additional and ongoing leadership to ensure that everyone on the planet has access to the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Higgins also said that “the only way we will get vaccines for everyone is for pharmaceutical corporations to openly share their technology and intellectual property. We hope Canada will continue to push for this as well.”

The advocacy group One Campaign, which has criticized Canada’s relatively low foreign aid spending in the past, offered effusive praise.

Stuart Hickox, the Canada director for One Campaign, said the announcement marked a “great day” for Canada.

“As COVID vaccinations begin here, Canada is also showing global leadership in the fight to end the pandemic everywhere. Today’s investment is Canadian compassion in action. It’s also smart,” he said, saying that every $1 spent on aid would generate a $5.60 return to Canada’s economy.

Michael Messenger, president of World Vision Canada, said where a child is born shouldn’t have an impact on whether they get access to a life-saving vaccine.

“It’s a human right,” he said.

“This commitment will help to make sure that girls and boys living in the most fragile parts of the world benefit from the great work of some of the smartest people and latest technology. This is how we will end this pandemic together.”

The ACT Accelerator is part of a global effort to ensure low- and middle-income countries have equitable access to medical treatments during the pandemic.

It supports organizations, health professionals and businesses in their efforts to develop vaccines, as well as drug therapies and diagnostic tools to battle the pandemic.

Monday’s announcement includes $255 million in additional support for the ACT Accelerator through “focused investments” in the World Health Organization, the Pan-American Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which distributes vaccines in poor countries.

Canada has now committed more than $865 million to the ACT-Accelerator and has also pledged $220 million to its partner initiative, the COVAX Facility, to help buy vaccine doses for low- and middle-income countries.

A spokesman for Gould said that based on the government’s latest annual spending figures for the fiscal year of 2018-2019, Canada delivered $5.9 billion in official development assistance.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says it’s not appropriate for former… Continue reading

Many students and staff at St. Joseph High School are in COVID-19 quarantine. (File photo by JeffAdvocate staff)
St. Joseph High School students return to at-home learning today

Majority of students under COVID-19 quarantine

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. Trump is en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Supreme Court ends Trump emoluments lawsuits

Outcome leaves no judicial opinions on the books

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

NDP member of Parliament Lindsay Mathyssen speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP warns of long delays in equal pay for women in federal pay equity rules

OTTAWA — The federal New Democrats say new rules to close a… Continue reading

President Joe Biden waves as he departs after attending Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington. Less than a week after the economic gut punch of cancelling Keystone XL, Canada is bracing for more bad news today from the White House. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Patrick Semansky
U.S. president to sign executive orders enacting stringent new Buy American regimen

WASHINGTON — Less than a week after the economic gut punch of… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate fatal pedestrian collision

A 37-year-old man from Maskwacis has died in hospital as a result of his injuries.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital Tuesday December 15, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canadian provinces push back vaccination plans as Pfizer deliveries grind to a halt

Some Canadian health-care workers are being told they’ll have to wait longer… Continue reading

A Shell logo is seen at a petrol station in London on January 20, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Kirsty Wigglesworth
Shell buys European electric car charging firm ubitricity

Experts say easier access to charging facilities key to successful rollout of electric vehicles

FILE— In this Feb. 23, 2019, file photo, Vashti Cunningham poses for photographers after winning the women’s high jump final at the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships in New York. Cunningham is one of the athletes who will be competing in the American Track League, which opens a four-week-long series on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 in an indoor setting at the University of Arkansas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez. File)
Back on track: Competing, not cash, lures big names to meet

American Track League begins a four-week indoor series at the University of Arkansas

Eugene Levy, left, and his son Dan Levy accept the Best Comedy Series Award for ‘“Schitt’s Creek” at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on Sunday, March 13, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Dan Levy to make ‘Saturday Night Live’ hosting debut on Feb. 6

‘Schitt’s Creek’ co-creator to host show

Most Read