The federal government has agreed to top up its funding for vaccine rollouts in lower-income countries, pledging $75 million more to the COVAX international vaccine-sharing program as other wealthy countries step up their commitment.
The new pledge brings Canada’s total contribution to $940 million.
The announcement comes as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and their G7 counterparts for a virtual leaders’ summit aimed at bringing renewed momentum to COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Johnson confirmed Britain will be sending all of its surplus doses to the COVAX Facility, a development that could place Trudeau in the hot seat because Canada is the only G7 country using its membership in the program to get extra vaccines for its own population.
The Liberals have been under fire from international organizations and some opposition parties for the decision to accept 1.9 million doses of vaccine from COVAX for domestic use in Canada by the end of June.
Trudeau has defended the decision on the grounds that countries that contribute to COVAX are allowed to receive vaccines of their own, and he has noted that Canada is one of the leading contributors to the global program.
COVAX is a partnership created last year under the World Health Organization to help deliver billions of expensive vaccine doses to countries that can’t afford them.