KENORA – POLITICS – Kenora MP Eric Melillo is criticizing the Liberal government for failing to present a plan to vaccinate remote, northern, and Indigenous communities.
Last month, Melillo submitted an Order Paper Question about the government’s vaccine distribution plan, asking which month each community can expect to receive doses and how the government plans to transport the vaccine to extreme remote communities.
The government response (signed by Liberal MP Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services), stated that the vaccine “Will be distributed in Canada in a phased manner” and predicted that “Supply will begin to meet demand over the course of 2021.” The response also stressed that “Planning is underway to determine the best way to safely deliver vaccines to remote communities.”
Melillo was not satisfied by the reply.
“Frankly, that’s not an answer,” MP Melillo responded. “We’re talking about remote communities whose healthcare systems would be completely overrun if there was an outbreak, and who in many cases don’t have the resources to prevent community spread. Many First Nations have closed their borders entirely, which has had a serious impact on these communities and the people who live there.”
Melillo added that the Liberal government has used COVID-19 as an excuse to delay the lifting of boil water advisories on reserves.
“These communities need actual timelines on when they can expect to receive vaccines,” Melillo continued. “‘Sometime in 2021’ doesn’t cut it.”
Earlier in the year, the Kenora MP wrote a letter to the Health Minister, urging her to expedite the delivery of doses to remote and northern communities.
Melillo says that holding the government accountable on vaccine distribution will be a priority for the Conservatives this year.
“The Conservative Party understands that vaccines are the only way to secure Canada’s future,” says Melillo. “We’ll be holding the Liberal’s feet to the fire until we have enough doses for every Canadian.”
The full text of Melillo’s Order Paper Question is as follows: “With regard to the government’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for Indigenous and remote communities: (a) what is the government’s specific plan for vaccine distribution; (b) during which month is each community projected to receive enough doses of the vaccine to inoculate the population; and (c) how will the vaccine be delivered or made available to those living in the most extreme remote communities, including those where traditional transportation methods may not be readily available?”