Hindsight is 2020

Hindsight is a great marker for examining the roads we take. Looking back, I had a chance to buy “Apple” stock at less than $8.00. Through many splits, the stock was trading at $134 on Tuesday. I didn’t buy. Similarly, it is important to look back when we examine decisions that the federal government has taken to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of Canada’s missteps go back decades. Famed Connaught Laboratories, the discoverer of the polio vaccine was sold to foreign interests decades ago and its production facilities were moved out of the country.

“Institut Armond Frappier” of Montreal – the makers of the tuberculosis vaccine – was sold to GlaxoSmithKline, a British pharmaceutical company. So, some 50 some years ago companies that relied on provincial and federal assistance were sold to foreign buyers. Production facilities moved away from Canada.

Major car manufacturers continued to receive funds from all levels of government to operate in Canada.

Fast forward to today. We no longer have the ability to produce vaccines in Canada. When several research companies in Alberta and Saskatchewan sought financial support from the federal government to develop a COVID vaccine, their requests were not granted.


There was no production of mRNA vaccines in Canada or the world one year ago. But Pfizer and Moderna were developing the technology to produce that type of vaccine to protect people from the COVID-19 virus. “Providence Therapeutics” of Calgary sought $30 million from the federal government to produce a vaccine using that technology. Their research last April mirrored that of Moderna, but the federal government was not willing to take a chance on the company.

The federal government instead bet on the international companies of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson to supply Canada’s vaccine. All production from those manufacturers is beyond the boundaries of Canada and subject to the policies and rules of production and distribution defined by those foreign nations.

Canada has gambled that by agreeing to purchase 10 vaccine doses for every man woman and child in our country, we didn’t need vaccine production in Canada. The federal government has contracted for 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

And now we see the three vaccine manufacturers of approved COVID-19 vaccines shorting Canada on its orders. All too late we as a nation are learning that having seen our vaccine production facilities close and move elsewhere, we are now at the whim of other nations to protect our citizens. We continue to see the dates for vaccine inoculation of all Canadian citizens move further back in the 2021 calendar.

Where we had the opportunity to develop new products based on new technology, we were too hesitant to take the risk of supporting that research. We can put blame on our currant federal government for their current decisions regarding vaccines. We should also place blame on provincial governments who too chose not to invest in new health research in universities and industries.

This is a wakeup call to again establish vaccine production in Canada so that in the future, Canadian citizens do not have to be at the mercy of foreign companies and foreign governments.

Jim Cumming
Former publisher
Fort Frances Times