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article imageConservative party request could hamper Pfizer vaccine contract

By Karen Graham     Nov 17, 2020 in Politics
Ottawa - Pfizer Canada says it has yet to receive any guidance or clarity from the Canadian government regarding the scope of a wide-ranging opposition request for documents as part of a House of Commons Health Committee study.
Back on October 22, days after surviving a vote-of-confidence in the House of Commons, Canada's Liberal government was hit with another challenge from the opposition Conservative party, according to news reports.
Conservatives wanted a thorough study on the federal government's COVID-19 response, The Conservative party's day-motion called for wide-sweeping disclosures on a broad spread of health-focused policy decisions related to the pandemic, and a few days later, with the Bloc Quebecois, NDP, and Greens siding with the Conservatives in the vote, the proposal passed.
This meant that the Liberal government was called on to disclose thousands of emails, documents, notes, and other records from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as from cabinet ministers’ offices since mid-March related to the COVID-19 response as well as related to discussions with the World Health Organization.
Pfizer found itself right in the middle of this governmental in-fight because the Liberal government had signed contracts along with various other papers with Pfizer Canada, and the company is saying that the release of certain information could have “unintended consequences” on the federal government's COVID-19 vaccine program.
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand and Health Minister Patty Hajdu both thought the Conservative move was wrong, arguing that demanding a massive investigation into what went wrong in the first wave of the virus shouldn't be started in the middle of the second wave.
An even bigger concern for Anand at that time was that the motion could undermine ongoing contract negotiations and threaten Canada’s ability to procure future COVID-19 supplies and could dissuade leading medical firms from doing business in Canada.
“It is my grave concern that those contracts are at risk, those negotiations are at risk, and suppliers will then as a result be hesitant to contract with the federal government. And that chill on our supplier relationships then undermines and perhaps negates our ability to procure additional PPE, buy additional vaccines, and additional rapid test kits,” Anand said on October 26.
The deadline for the release of all those documents is getting close, and Pfizer is growing more and more concerned - fearing the government would be required to release confidential information belonging to the pharmaceutical company and other third parties, according to CTV News,
In an email to CTV News, Pfizer Canada spokesperson Christina Antoniou said that the company has yet to hear from the government, the Parliamentary Law Clerk, or the committee about the impact of the motion, and that: “without further details, we are still concerned with the implications and unintended consequences of the motion on our COVID-19 vaccine program.”
So what is this all about? Simply put, the pharmaceutical giant is concerned that scientific and commercially-sensitive information could get out, as well as private correspondence from third-parties. Pfizer had asked MPs in October to consider making amendments to the motion so that stronger language safeguarding this type of information.
The Canadian government has already allocated $1 billion towards vaccine procurement and to-date, has secured access to 414 million doses of vaccine from Pfizer, Moderna, and other vaccine manufacturers.
More about Canada virus response, Pfizer vaccine contract, Conservative party, widesweeping disclosures, not addressed
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