Boxes of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses, which Canada secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma, are seen at a facility in Milton, Ont., Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio — POOL

Cross-partisan pressure on Liberals to increase foreign aid falters

OTTAWA — A cross-partisan effort by MPs to be united in a call for the Liberal government to increase foreign aid spending on the humanitarian crisis created by the global pandemic devolved quickly into partisan bickering Thursday.

But the members of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee insisted they are on the same page in believing that without increased efforts, and a leading role by Canada, the pandemic’s effect on the developing world will be profound and long-lasting.

“If Canada fails to work with donor countries, for the global good, millions more people will unnecessarily die,” said NDP MP Heather McPherson.

“Dangerous variants will increase, threatening Canadians and our global economic recovery. And this will take years if not decades to correct.”

The committee made 10 recommendations aimed at bolstering Canada’s role, including a call for more foreign aid funding, both in money directly for pandemic response but also to Canada’s overall overseas development budget.

That state of that budget was one of many points that saw MPs drop their unified front and toss barbs at each other Thursday in a news conference discussing the report, primarily in the form of Liberal and Conservative MPs each accusing the each other’s governments or parties of slashing aid spending.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong noted humanitarian groups say all the progress made in improving poverty levels around the world is at risk of being undone by the pandemic.

“In that context, the government’s failure to deliver foreign aid at the levels that were in place previously, it has real consequences,” he said.

That aid, MPs agreed, has to come simultaneously with increased efforts to increase vaccine availability and affordability around the world.

Canada has already contributed around $940 million toward vaccines in lower-income countries, but has also drawn criticism for accessing vaccines through one of those programs, known as COVAX.

The Liberals have defended that decision on the grounds the program was designed to encourage countries to contribute funds so they could not just help lower-income nations but access vaccines for their citizens too.

“Had it not been for Canada’s support, Canada’s contributions, we would not see the distribution of what is going to be over two billion vaccines being given to lower-income countries,” said Liberal MP Ruby Sahota.

“We’re already seeing those vaccines roll out and those that are in need for those vaccines are starting to receive those vaccines. So I think Canadians should be proud of our contributions.”

The committee report calls on Canada to donate excess vaccines to the developing world, and report back to Parliament on those efforts.

The Liberals have said previously that extra doses will be shared, but not until every Canadian who wants the vaccine has it.

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

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Ethan Rowland battles with Medicine Hat Tigers forward Brett Kemp during WHL action at the Centrium Saturday night. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers claw back, hand Rebels 11th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 The same old issues continue to plague the… Continue reading

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
AstraZeneca-linked blood clot confirmed in Alberta

A case of an AstraZeneca-linked blood clot has been confirmed in Alberta,… Continue reading

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Board of Trustees selected the name St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School to be built in the north end of Red Deer. (Photo Courtesy of  Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raises about $8,720 for Terry Fox Foundation

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raised about $8,720 for the Terry Fox… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Ontario Premier Doug Ford points on a COVID-19 caseload projection model graph during a press conference at Queen's Park, in Toronto, Friday, April 16, 2021. Ontario was set to backtrack on controversial new police powers to enforce stay-at-home orders implemented in the battle against COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ford backtracks on new police COVID-19 powers amid intense backlash

TORONTO — Furious criticism of new anti-pandemic powers that allow police in… Continue reading

The official program for the National Commemorative Ceremony in honour of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, sits on an empty pew prior to the ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa on Saturday, April 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prince Philip remembered as ‘a man of great service’ during Canada’s memorial service

Canada’s commemorative ceremony in honour of the late Prince Philip offered a… Continue reading

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy speaks to his players during the team's practice Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
CF Montreal puts on a show, defeating Toronto FC 4-2 in MLS season opener

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — CF Montreal, carving open Toronto FC’s defence, cruised… Continue reading

Demonstrators using umbrellas as shields approach a point in a perimeter security fence during a protest over the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during traffic stop, outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, Friday, April 16, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Journalists allege police harassment at Minnesota protests

Some journalists covering protests over the police fatal shooting of Daunte Wright,… Continue reading

A container ship is docked in the Port of Montreal, Wednesday, February 17, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Montreal dockworkers begin weekend strikes as talks drag on

MONTREAL — Dockworkers at the Port of Montreal kicked off a series… Continue reading

Brad Dahr, 53, is facing numerous charges. (Photo contributed by Alberta RCMP)
Alberta man charged for alleged sexual offences against children

An Edmonton man has been charged for alleged sexual offences against children… Continue reading

A person walks past a COVID-19 mural designed by artist Emily May Rose on a rainy day during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, April 12, 2021. Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off the job or coming into work while knowingly sick could warrant discipline in the workplace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Risky pandemic behaviour off the clock could mean workplace discipline: lawyers

CALGARY — Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off… Continue reading

Vials containing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at the San Marino State Hospital, in San Marino, Friday, April 9, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Antonio Calanni
China, Russia using their COVID-19 vaccines to gain political influence

OTTAWA — China and Russia have been using their locally produced COVID-19… Continue reading

Most Read