Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King says the territory has not been asked to send its allocated COVID-19 vaccine doses to other provinces.
During a Sunday interview with CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, King said he “open to any conversation” regarding sending vaccine doses to severely affected provinces.
In the House on Tuesday, Official Opposition leader Peter Bevan-Baker started the question session by giving the premier the chance to clarify his remark.
“As an equal and fair partner in the federation of Canada, we always have to be open to conversations of our family,” King said. “We have not been asked, nor do we anticipate being asked, to share any of our vaccines.”
He added that there is precedent for provinces sharing supplies and his remark was in response to a question asked hypothetically.
“Throughout this journey of COVID, we’ve helped each other. When we needed the PPE at the beginning, Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia stepped up and gave us some of their gear from their shrinking supply. We’ve provided tests to Ontario when they needed them, and we had some,” King said. “That’s what I was referring to with that answer.”
In October, the Island sent 8,000 COVID-19 tests to Ontario. The initiative was hailed by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who said East Coasters are the type to “give their shirts off their backs” in difficult times such as the pandemic.
‘Open always to conversation’
Later on, Liberal MLA Robert Henderson continued to insist on the phrasing of the premier’s weekend interview.
“Currently, Mr. Speaker, Prince Edward Island has more active COVID cases than Nova Scotia. The question to the minister of health: has the minister of health consulted with the Chief Public Health Office to confirm we do not need to vaccinate all Islanders before giving any of our supply away to other provinces or cities or towns?” he asked.
The premier stood up to answer instead, saying,
“my reputation’s at stake here.” “Unlike the former government, Mr. Speaker, I’m always open to conversation, Mr. Speaker. I always have. I don’t pretend I have all the answers. Mr. Speaker, I don’t stand here and pontificate like I am an expert,” he said. “So, yes, I am open always to conversation.”
Henderson then asked Health Minister Ernie Hudson if he was concurring with the premier regarding the potential of giving away part of the province’s vaccine supply.
“Certainly Islanders are known as caring people. Has there been any request came? No, there has not been,” Hudson told the House. “There has been a commitment. Our goal is to have 80 percent of the population or more vaccinated by the end of June, and, Mr. Speaker, we will continue along that road.”
P.E.I is leading the regions with its vaccination rate. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Island has vaccinated 3.45% of the population, followed by Saskatchewan at 2.38%.
The Island currently has 28 active cases of the disease, the highest ever. Moreover, P.E.I has not recorded any hospitalizations or deaths.