2022 Reports 9 and 10 of the Auditor General of Canada to the Parliament of Canada: The federal government secured COVID-19 vaccine doses to meet the needs of Canadians

Press Release

Ottawa, 6 December 2022—A report from Auditor General Karen Hogan tabled today in the House of Commons found that the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada, supported by Public Services and Procurement Canada, responded to the urgency of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and secured COVID‑19 vaccine doses so that everyone in Canada who chose to be vaccinated could be. Vaccines were needed quickly to reduce Canadians’ risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID‑19.

“In 2020, Public Services and Procurement Canada established advance purchase agreements with 7 companies that showed potential to develop viable vaccines,” stated Ms. Hogan. “Signing advance purchase agreements increased the chances that the government would obtain enough doses to meet Canada’s needs, recognizing this approach brought the possibility that Canada would have a surplus of doses if all vaccines were eventually approved.”

Between December 2020 and May 2022, the federal government paid for 169 million doses of COVID‑19 vaccines. Over 84 million were administered to eligible people across the country by the provinces and territories. The audit found that the Public Health Agency of Canada’s efforts to minimize wastage were unsuccessful, in part because of delays in developing and implementing the information technology system to support planning and managing vaccine use. By 31 May 2022, Canada had 32.5 million doses, estimated to be worth about $1 billion, in federal, provincial, and territorial inventories. Another 50.6 million doses were deemed surplus and offered for donation. Of these, 15.3 million were donated, while 13.6 million expired before they could be donated.

The audit also found that the Public Health Agency of Canada did not have finalized data-sharing agreements with the provinces and territories. This also affected the agency’s ability to reduce vaccine wastage. The long-standing issues related to data sharing, which we identified in past audits, also affected the agency’s ability to effectively share detailed case-level safety surveillance data with Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and vaccine companies.

“We raised concerns about the sharing of health data between the federal and provincial or territorial health authorities in 1999, 2002, 2008, and again in our 2021 audit of pandemic preparedness,” said Ms. Hogan. “These long-standing issues, including implementing a pan-Canadian framework for sharing information, must be urgently addressed because the sharing of health data is a cornerstone of effective surveillance to keep Canadians safe.”

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The 2022 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada, Report 9—COVID-19 Vaccines, is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.

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