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February 26th, 2021

Jagmeet Singh and Stephen Lewis call on the Liberals to stop protecting big pharma at the WTO

Instead of helping low-income countries get the vaccines they need, Justin Trudeau is protecting big pharma’s profits by blocking countries’ ability to produce cheaper vaccines

OTTAWA – On Friday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was joined by Stephen Lewis, Canada's former Ambassador to the United Nations and UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, to discuss Canada's role in the fight against COVID-19 on the international stage.

“The COVID-19 pandemic presents a significant public health and economic threat to people in every country on the planet. But in low-income countries, the situation is really disturbing, and they don’t have the means to respond to it,” said Singh. “And instead of helping other countries get the vaccines they need; Justin Trudeau is blocking their ability to produce cheaper vaccines to protect the billion-dollar profits of big pharmaceutical companies. That is the wrong approach. More vaccines produced in the world helps all of us.”

In March, the World Trade Organization (WTO) will meet to discuss intellectual property. Singh and Lewis are calling on the Liberal government to stop protecting the interest of big pharmaceutical companies and help ramp up global production by suspending drug patents for COVID-19 vaccines for the time of the pandemic.

“To make matters worse, Justin Trudeau is the only G7 country leader taking vaccines from a program for lower income countries. Instead of showing leadership on the world stage, Justin Trudeau is siding with the powerful and the well-connected,” added Singh. “It certainly doesn’t feel like Canada is back. Big pharmaceutical companies should not determine who should live or die. COVID-19 requires a coordinated global response and the ability to produce the vaccine in a timely way for distribution is an essential component of that response. New Democrats will keep pushing Justin Trudeau to do what’s right.”