Canadians support WTO vaccine waiver, finds Council of Canadians poll
By Pat Van Horne, USW member of the CHC Board of Directors
It is ironic that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came down with COVID-19 for a second time, just as the World Trade Organization (WTO) debates intellectual property rights on vaccines and medicines, which poorer countries could manufacture and export.
“More than 100 countries, and world leaders like U.S. President Joe Biden and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, have rallied behind this call. Why is Canada still stubbornly refusing to do the right thing and support treating these life-saving vaccines as global public goods?”NIKOLAS BARRY-SHAW, COUNCIL OF CANADIANS
Trudeau remains out of step with a majority of Canadians in his government’s refusal so far to temporarily waive the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Such a waiver is supported by 67 percent of Canadians in an Abacus poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians, a member of the Canadian Health Coalition.
According to the poll, there is also strong cross-party support, according to the Council of Canadians, including among 76 percent of Liberal voters, 77 percent of NDP voters, and 63 percent of Conservatives voters.
“Canadians see the need to end pharmaceutical companies’ grip on limiting access to lifesaving vaccines, medications and treatment,” says Canadian Health Coalition Chair Pauline Worsfold, RN. “Global access to medicines did not start with COVID-19 and, so far, solutions that would prevent and decrease the effects of another global pandemic remain out of reach. This is unacceptable any way you look at it.”
At the time of this writing, the WTO Ministerial Conference was wrapping up in Geneva. Switzerland is one of the countries that, like Canada, has refused to sign the TRIPS waiver.