Canada will contribute $6M CAD to the Caribbean region as part of $50M CAD contribution to support regional governments in their efforts to manage the COVID 19 pandemic via PAHO

Canada has actively supported the governments of the Caribbean since the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic to respond to the global crisis and facilitate access to vaccines in the Americas region, including through the COVID 19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility. This support was carried out in partnership with PAHO.

Canada has been part of the COVAX Facility initiative, supporting efforts in the Caribbean region from the onset. The COVAX facility has mobilized global support and the ambition of its mission is unprecedented - this an unparalleled achievement. Canada is proud to support this life-saving mechanism through PAHO in the Americas, and around the world.

On December 14, 2020, the Government of Canada announced a $255-million investment for the development, delivery and distribution of vaccines and therapeutics. This investment included targeted support to Latin America and the Caribbean through the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). CAD $50 million was allocated to PAHO for the Access to COVID 19 Vaccines and Therapeutics for Populations in Situations of Vulnerability in the Americas’ project, which will provide regional support and target vulnerable populations. Included in this project is the targeted support to the Caribbean, given the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on small island developing states. To ensure flexibility and aid effectiveness in the rapidly evolving COVID 19 environment, Canada’s $50M grant will retain flexibility to allow PAHO to adapt to national and regional needs.

In their press release on May 27, PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne praised Canada’s contribution saying, “This collaboration was born with the common vision that COVID 19 vaccines should not be a privilege but a right for every person, regardless of their ethnicity, economic condition, gender, migratory status or whether they reside in a city or rural area. Canada’s contribution will help Caribbean and Latin American countries make meaningful progress on access to COVID 19 vaccines for every eligible person, starting with the most vulnerable — most frequently women.” PAHO continues to be a reliable and trusted partner to all of us in this time of crisis.

Canada’s contribution, administered by PAHO, includes targeted support of at least $6M to the Caribbean region, given the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on small island developing states. A portion of this allocation will support partnership between PAHO and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to scale up relevant vaccine communications and technical cooperation efforts.

High Commissioner for Canada to Trinidad and Tobago, HE Kumar Gupta reiterated Canada’s commitment to the Caribbean region stating “Canada is supporting rapid, fair and equitable access to safe, effective and high-quality vaccines through COVAX for all countries in the Americas to help slow the global pandemic. We know that no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

This contribution follows other assistance Canada has provided to Trinidad and Tobago since the beginning of the pandemic. In July 2020, as part of the UN’s “Operation GLOBE”, the Canadian Armed Forces delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) procured by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago through PAHO. Later in October 2020, Canadian funding facilitated the purchase of 52,500 N95 masks and 100,000 hospital gowns, and the procurement of laptops for data collection on the country’s mental health service needs.

T&T was also one of four CARICOM countries which benefitted from Canada’s C$5M grant provided to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to secure diagnostic equipment and test kits.

Canadian support for the region’s capacity to manage the current health crisis extends to well before the COVID 19 pandemic. In 2014, the Biological Safety Level 3 (BSL-3) Modular lab at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad & Tobago, was built and equipped with funding from Global Affairs Canada at a cost of C$2.4 million. Much of the COVID 19 PCR testing for Trinidad & Tobago and the CARICOM region took place at this lab in the early stages of the pandemic. Recently, the Canadian government continued its commitment to CARPHA with a CA$93,000 project focused on enhancing the long-term sustainability of the lab.

Canada continues to be committed to working with its partners and international organizations to control the spread of COVID 19 around the world, which is vital to helping those affected by the pandemic and protecting their health and safety. Canada has contributed $1.3 billion CAD for the Access to COVID 19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator which ensures equitable access to COVID 19 tests, treatments and vaccines globally of which COVAX is a part. As one of the top financial supporters of the Gavi COVAX AMC, Canada has contributed $545 million CAD to the COVAX AMC window, which pools contributions to fund vaccines to support 92 low and middle-income economies globally.

The successful operationalization of global mechanism such as the COVAX facility and the global ACT-Accelerator proves that when the world comes together, anything is possible.

Canada remains committed to remaining a strong partner for Latin American and Caribbean countries. As the pandemic evolves, we must continue to adapt and find pandemic recovery solutions that work for all of us in the Americas.