Representatives from all three levels of government announced joint funding to expand Canada’s vaccine manufacturing capacity in Toronto on Wednesday morning.
The federal government will spend $415 million on the partnership with Sanofi Pasteur Ltd. Ontario’s government will contribute $55 million to the project.
For its part, Sanofi will spend more than $455 million as well as create and maintain 1,225 highly-skilled jobs in Canada. The company will also invest at least $79 million a year to fund Canadian research and development.
Canada’s ability manufacture its own vaccines and personal protective equipment has been a hot-button issue throughout the pandemic.
Ford, who has been critical of former U.S. president Donald Trump’s bid to block shipments of personal protective gear to Canada last year, lauded the announcement on Wednesday.
“We are now never going to have to rely on any country, any leader, we will be self-sufficient,” he said.
The Toronto Star was first to report the multi-million dollar deal with the French pharmaceutical company, which already has a facility in the city where it produces influenza vaccines.
“Today is an actual, tangible demonstration that we’ve all learned lessons from the pandemic and are doing something about it,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said.
The new money will build an “end-to-end influenza vaccine manufacturing facility,” said a federal release, and is expected to create some 300 high-quality jobs in Toronto.
The new facility is expected to be up and running in 2027, and will have the capacity to produce “enough vaccine doses to support the entire Canadian population within approximately six months of the World Health Organization (WHO) identifying a pandemic influenza strain,” the release continued.
“The investment will enable Sanofi to bulk manufacture Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine, a flu vaccine approved for people 65 years and older, at its historic Connaught site in Toronto,” a provincial release said.
All countries should be ‘self sufficient’: Champagne
Champagne said the pandemic has taught all countries that they need to have domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity.
“When it comes to the next pandemic flu we should be self sufficient,” he said. “If there’s one lesson learned from the current COVID pandemic it is that we need to have a strong Canadian biomanufacturing sector.”
Champagne said that Sanofi chose Canada as the home of its new production and distribution centre after a global search.