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Mayor Drew Dilkens criticized the federal government at a committee meeting Monday for its lack of support to help transport surplus COVID-19 vaccines from Michigan to Windsor and into the arms of area residents.

Dilkens made a brief presentation to the Federal Standing Committee on Health and was then questioned by committee members in which he explained in detail how Ottawa “thwarted all efforts” to get vaccines from the region of Canada. Detroit in this city.

When standing committee member Michelle Rempel Garner (C – Calgary Nose Hill) asked Dilkens if the government had done anything to help on the vaccine issue, the mayor said “no, nothing at all. . “

The mayor told the committee that 35,000 doses in May “were going to the landfill” in Michigan due to expiration dates.

“I just think we can do better,” Dilkens said. “It is being offered to us and for some reason our government has done everything to ensure that this does not happen.”

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I need our government to support this premiere

The mayor presented to the committee his proposal to close the Detroit-Windsor tunnel so that local residents could receive a vaccine in the middle. The tunnel board has approved the plan and has the power to close or restrict traffic in the tunnel, he said.

MP Brian Masse (NDP - Windsor West), a member of the Standing Committee on Health, asks Mayor Drew Dilkens questions during the committee meeting Monday on the authorization to transport COVID-19 vaccines from Michigan to Windsor .
MP Brian Masse (NDP – Windsor West), a member of the Standing Committee on Health, asks Mayor Drew Dilkens questions during the committee meeting Monday on the authorization to transport COVID-19 vaccines from Michigan to Windsor . Photo by screenshot /Windsor Star

But the government’s latest counter-action on Monday saw the Public Health Agency of Canada send a letter to the mayor saying Canadians would not be covered by its injury vaccine support program if they were injured by an injury. vaccine delivered outside the border, including into the tunnel. .

In addition, if an American nurse crosses the border to deliver a vaccine to Canada, it would be considered “importing the drug for sale” and in violation of federal rules.

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The letter concluded that there would be weekly deliveries of 2.4 million Pfizer vaccines throughout July, of which about a quarter were destined for Ontario.

Although the volume of vaccines available in Canada has improved recently, administering second doses to more Windsor residents with thousands of redundant Michigan vaccines would help allow these doses of Pfizer to be used elsewhere. in Canada, Dilkens told the committee.

“It’s a way to improve our situation (across Canada),” he said.

Committee member Jennifer O’Connell (L – Pickering-Uxbridge) defended the federal government at the hearing, noting that U.S. taxpayers have paid for the vaccines, so their export remains limited. She also noted US border rules that prohibit entry for the sole purpose of receiving a vaccine.

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Standing Committee on Health Member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner (C - Calgary Nose Hill) questions Mayor Drew Dilkens at the committee meeting Monday on permission to transport COVID-19 vaccines to Michigan in Windsor.
Standing Committee on Health Member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner (C – Calgary Nose Hill) questions Mayor Drew Dilkens at the committee meeting Monday on permission to transport COVID-19 vaccines to Michigan in Windsor. Photo by screenshot /Windsor Star

Multiple levels of approval are needed for any cross-border plan that must include provincial, state and US governments, so the mayor should not be targeting the Canadian government, she said. This is what happened recently that led to the sharing of American vaccines between North Dakota and Manitoba.

“If the United States and the state government (of Michigan) don’t support this, then how is the Canadian government the problem?” Said O’Connell.

Dilkens replied: “I need our government to support this first.”

The mayor’s appearance before the committee was included among the national president of the association of optometrists and the union leader of hotel workers in British Columbia, each with their own concerns about the impacts of COVID-19.

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Still, Dilkens hoped his appearance would make a difference in raising awareness of the issue given that all parties in the federal government sit on the committee.

  1. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens is shown at the international border inside the Windsor / Detroit Tunnel on Tuesday April 16, 2019. He was part of a ceremony to commemorate a massive fire that occurred 170 years ago in the border which required the efforts of the fire departments of both towns.

    Tunnel council approves closure of mid-tunnel vaccination clinic

  2. Downtown Detroit can be seen from Ouellette Avenue in downtown Windsor on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

    Mayor offers cross-border vaccine ideas – using bridge, tunnel and even boats

  3. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens speaks at a Zoom town hall meeting on January 14, 2021.

    Dilkens to Speak to House Standing Committee in Fight to Bring Surplus U.S. Vaccines to Windsor

He then plans to send a letter to the Canada Border Services Agency and US Customs and Border Patrol to hopefully allay their concerns about the option of vaccinating residents inside. tunnel or other alternative method of getting vaccines from Michigan to Windsor.

“I am hopeful that I can find a way to allow this to happen,” he said. “The least effective is getting people to the middle of the tunnel, so I hope the government will work with us to find a way.”

dbattagelo@postmedia.com

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