Statement from Minister Duclos and Minister Jaczek on the Office of the Auditor General’s performance audit on COVID-19 vaccines
From: Public Health Agency of Canada
December 6, 2022
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, issued the following statement today on the tabling of the Auditor General of Canada’s performance audit of January 1, 2020, to May 31, 2022, on COVID-19 vaccines.
“We thank the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) for its performance audit on COVID-19 vaccines. We welcome the audit findings and its conclusion that the Government of Canada procured sufficient supply, expedited regulatory authorization while maintaining due diligence of the regular processes, provided timely distribution, and ensured equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Canada.
Canada’s response to COVID-19 has involved significant collaboration between federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and Indigenous partners. While Canada’s overall COVID-19 immunization strategy has been a success, with modelling suggesting that public health measures without vaccination could have seen up to 16.5 million cases, 1.2 million hospitalizations, and nearly 500,000 deaths, improvements can and will be made to ensure continued success and future preparedness.
To address the recommendations made in the audit, Canada is continuing steps to reduce its COVID-19 vaccine surplus. In addition to working with provincial and territorial partners to ensure procurement and allocation strategies align with their requirements and demand planning, we are also continuing to make surplus vaccine doses available to other countries for donation. To support global access to COVID-19 vaccines, Canada is actively working bilaterally and multilaterally with its partners to place vaccine donations with countries experiencing a high burden of disease and low vaccination coverage.
To date, Canada, in consultation with provinces and territories, has donated the equivalent of more than 140 million doses to other countries. At the same time, the Government of Canada will continue to make sure there is a sufficient supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses for people in Canada, including new formulations and recommended booster doses.
Only vaccines that meet Health Canada’s safety, effectiveness and quality standards are approved for use in Canada. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada continue to support and improve on Canada’s well-established and effective vaccine safety monitoring systems. These systems currently engage healthcare professionals, vaccine manufacturers, provincial and territorial health authorities, as well as Indigenous partners.
As recommended in the audit, we will engage with provincial and territorial counterparts to seek further opportunities to enhance COVID-19 vaccine data sharing between federal, provincial and territorial vaccine surveillance partners, and with vaccine manufacturers and the World Health Organization (WHO).
To this end, we also strongly welcome the call to action by the OAG to expedite work to complete the Pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy, as well as other actions noted in the audit, to ensure that provincial, and territorial governments share vaccine data with the federal government in a timely fashion. Better information sharing will lead to better health outcomes and enhance the safety of communities across the country.
As mentioned at the last Health Ministers’ Meeting, our government is fully committed to advance the use of health data and digital health to improve the health services Canadians receive. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed just how important it is to collect, share, and use health data in a timely, responsible manner for informed decision making and the benefit of all. By working together, governments in Canada can improve pandemic preparedness and healthcare services for their populations using data-driven results.
The Government of Canada acknowledges the importance of this audit on COVID-19 vaccines. Along with other audits, evaluations, and lessons learned from the pandemic, recommendations from the Office of the Auditor General will inform future and current vaccine programs that safeguard our health and protect the capacity of our healthcare systems.”
- The Office of the Auditor General’s performance audit on COVID-19 vaccines covered the period of January 1, 2020, to May 31, 2022. The Government of Canada will address recommendations in this audit, including:
- Reviewing lessons learned and collaborating with other governments and stakeholders in Canada to optimize COVID-19 vaccine supply management and further reduce surplus throughout the duration of COVID-19 vaccine contracts.
- Working with provinces and territories to co-develop the Pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy. This Strategy will address the long-standing issues affecting Canada’s ability to collect, share, access and use health data.
- Leading consultations with provincial and territorial partners to provide additional data to the WHO and vaccine manufacturers, as needed, while protecting patient confidentiality and privacy.
- Working with provinces and territories to further implement VaccineConnect IT systems to enhance vaccine program administration and data sharing in Canada.
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
Public Health Agency of Canada