Quebec looks to corporate sector to help meet vaccination goal

The Quebec government is turning to the corporate sector as it strives to meet its target of administering five million vaccine doses in 100 days.

Government wants to sign up 20 to 50 companies to provide total of 500,000 doses

Health Minister Christian Dubé said meeting Quebec’s self-imposed June 24 deadline is not as simple as delivering 50,000 doses per day. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

The Quebec government is turning to the corporate sector as it strives to meet its target of administering five million COVID vaccine doses in 100 days.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said at a news conference Friday the province hopes to sign up 20 to 50 companies that will volunteer staff and facilities in order to vaccinate a total of 500,000 people over a number of weeks starting in May.

"The goal is very clear," Dubé said. "We have a health network that is fragile at this moment. All the staff are making an effort, but in a war, at some point, you need other people to join in."

Dubé said meeting Quebec's self-imposed June 24 deadline is not as simple as delivering 50,000 doses per day.

"There will be significant peaks," he said. "There will be days and weeks where more doses come in."

Currently, the number of doses available is fewer than 50,000 per day, a load Dubé said the health-care network is equipped to handle. But that means in the future the necessary number of daily doses will push higher.

To help raise overall capacity to above 70,000 daily doses, the government is asking businesses to express interest through a website, and it will use their submissions to determine specific details and logistics in the weeks ahead. 

So far, a Health Ministry spokesperson said in an email, CAE, Telus, Cascades, Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney have said they will contribute.

Desjardins and Biscuits Leclerc have told Radio-Canada they are interested in the campaign. A spokesperson for Olymel, a Quebec-based meat-processing company, said it was very interested and would first take time to evaluate how it could meet the government's criteria.

The primary objective is to set up vaccination centres around Quebec that complement those operated by the government. The centres would serve companies' staff and their families, as well as nearby businesses and the local population.

The business-run centres would still need to adhere to the order of prioritization established by the Health Ministry, Dubé said.

Some companies are large enough that they may be able to offer everything, including facilities and trained health-care professionals already on their staff. 

"Many large and medium businesses have health-care staff already," Dubé said. "They have access to people who are already trained or who can be easily trained up" to give vaccines.

Other businesses might be able to make a smaller contribution, which could mean sending staff members to expand the capacity at existing mass vaccination centres run by the government. 

Marc Parent, the CEO of technology company CAE, which hosted Friday's news conference, said his company was ready to help and to take on the costs involved. He said CAE was proud to be able to help the province in the effort and return to normal.

"Every year, like many businesses, we vaccinate our staff against the flu, here, in our workplace," he said. "We have done hundreds per day. So for us it's natural to want to do it in this campaign. We have the expertise, the resources and the facilities."

With files from Lauren McCallum


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