Will Canada support removing patent protection on COVID-19 vaccine?

Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
2021-05-05 19:47 [p.6721]

Mr. Speaker, I want to shift the focus slightly because the minister made the very critical point that we are not out of the woods until everyone is safe and vaccinated. This is a global concern.

Earlier today, in a historic turnaround for the United States, the Biden administration changed its position and now supports giving an exemption through the World Trade Organization on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, or TRIPS, so that patent protection would be removed and developing countries could manufacture vaccines and get them to the people who need them.

Is Canada prepared to step up and at long last go toward removing patent protection for big pharma?

Hon. Patty Hajdu (Thunder Bay—Superior North)
2021-05-05 19:47 [p.6721]

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the acknowledgement that this is, indeed, a global pandemic and we need to take care of each other at a global level, as well as a community level. The Minister of International Trade and I did exchange some texts when that happened, and my understanding is that Canada is moving forward to support that. I think the question would be better posed to her for the specifics, as it is her file.

My understanding is that we have, as a government, a full recognition of the importance of ensuring that everyone around the world gets access to vaccination as quickly as possible. It is likely going to be an all-hands-on-deck endeavour because it will be a challenge, but the pandemic has taught us that until we are all protected from COVID-19, none of us are. It is a very important consideration.