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Doug Ford Defends Vaccine Rollout By Pointing To Ontario’s Size

Alberta and Quebec are starting to vaccinate the general population, which won’t happen in Ontario until March 15.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford tours a lab at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto on Feb. 23, 2021.
Frank Gunn/Canadian Press
Ontario Premier Doug Ford tours a lab at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto on Feb. 23, 2021.

TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford played defensive Wednesday, arguing that Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout only seems slower than other provinces’ plans because of its large population.

“The population of Alberta is a little over 4 million. We’re upwards to 15 million. It’s as simple as that,” he told reporters during a press conference at Queen’s Park.

“If I had the numbers Alberta has, we’d be done.”

Ontario has administered more doses than any other province or territory. It’s also received the most doses from the federal government, because it has the largest population. Alberta, for example, has received about 205,000 doses to Ontario’s 683,000.

Earlier: Vaccine rollout will look different across the province. Story continues after video.

Ford’s government announced earlier Wednesday that it would start vaccinating the general population, people 85 and older, starting March 15. Alberta started vaccinating seniors 75 and older Wednesday, and Quebec starts with people 85 and older next week.

When a reporter said Wednesday that Ontario is behind, Ford told her he disagreed.

“Let’s look at Alberta … They put up their website, bang, it’s crashed,” the premier said.

“Then we look at Quebec … They haven’t administered one single dose of the second vaccine, the second dose.”

Quebec Premier Francois Legault watches a woman get her COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Montreal's Olympic Stadium on Feb. 23, 2021.
Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press
Quebec Premier Francois Legault watches a woman get her COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Montreal's Olympic Stadium on Feb. 23, 2021.

Ontario has given out 602,848 doses, including two doses each for 251,590 people who are fully vaccinated; Québec has administered 376,910 doses and according to the federal government, zero Québeckers have received both shots; British Columbia reports it’s given out 224,354 doses and the federal government says 22,467 residents have received two doses; Alberta has administered 180,755 total doses and 73,718 Albertans are fully immunized.

The NDP pointed out that when vaccinations are measured per capita, Ontario ranks seventh out of the provinces.

‘Supply wasn’t the issue’

Ford’s government has also been criticized for taking too long to vaccinate long-term care residents. These people have suffered the most during the pandemic: the 3,739 residents who’ve died make up more than 54 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in Ontario.

“We know that supply wasn’t the issue as we had enough doses to vaccinate every resident by the end of December. Ontario has administered over 426,000 total doses and there are 70,000 Long-Term Care residents,” Liberal MPP John Fraser said in a statement Feb. 11.

“... This government had no sense of urgency to get the vaccine into homes, pausing vaccinations over Christmas, and as a result, we have seen tragic consequences.”

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