Canadian Minister for International Development Karina Gould and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Tuesday that Canada is pledging CA $600 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and CA $190 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to provide vaccines to the world’s poorest countries. 

These pledges come in response to more than 11,000 actions taken by Canadian Global Citizens — and more than 344,000 actions taken worldwide — calling on Canada and other countries to pledge new funds to these vital global health initiatives. 

Both Gavi and the GPEI are providing critical health care support to low-income countries in the fight against COVID-19. The funding announced on Tuesday will help ensure ongoing delivery of vaccines to protect children from other infectious diseases like polio, measles, HPV, and more. This work remains as important as ever, as the world cannot afford another outbreak as it continues to tackle COVID-19.

"As a global community, we must work to ensure that those most vulnerable, including women and children, have access to vaccinations to keep them healthy wherever they live," Gould said in a press release. "COVID-19 has demonstrated that viruses do not know borders. Our health here in Canada depends on the health of everyone, everywhere. Together, we must build a more resilient planet."

Canada’s pledges serve as a call to action for other governments to commit more money to agencies like Gavi, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Canada’s contribution will help move Gavi closer to its goal of raising at least US$7.4 billion to immunize another 300 million children from preventable disease and save up to 8 million more lives from 2021 to 2025. To date, Gavi has vaccinated 760 million children and saved 13 million lives. The global health organization will also seek additional resources to fund its COVID-19 response efforts to strengthen health care systems and ready the world for the production and delivery of a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available.

"I am incredibly grateful to the thousands of Global Citizens who have supported Gavi’s mission to save lives and protect people’s health, especially as the world grapples with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, told Global Citizen. "Their collective action through inspiring initiatives like Together at Home has helped secure essential funding to prevent diseases, protect the next generation with vaccines, and ensure global health security."

The GPEI is also helping on the frontlines against COVID-19 in over 19 countries, applying its decades of experience and expertise in tracking and containing disease outbreaks. Canada’s contribution will not only support the GPEI’s emergency redeployment of resources in response to COVID-19, but also help ensure readiness to resume polio vaccination campaigns as soon as possible — with the ultimate goal of eradicating polio for good. 

"I would like to thank the thousands of Canadian Global Citizens for their amazing work in support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and for helping secure this fantastic commitment," Michel Zaffran, director of the GPEI, told Global Citizen. "The pandemic we are facing today is a stark reminder of the critical need for solidarity and international cooperation and of the power of vaccines and immunization."

Canada’s pledges to Gavi and GPEI today form core parts of Canada’s historic 10-year commitment to women's and girls' health that was announced in June 2019 following Global Citizen’s 'Thrive' campaign in partnership with Canadian NGOs.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights, more than ever before, that the health of people in North America and Europe is deeply linked to the health of individuals and communities around the world. We know that infectious diseases thrive in developing countries, where health and sanitation systems are weaker, and vulnerable populations lack access to life-saving vaccines. This reinforces the importance of building strong health systems everywhere — and Gavi and the GPEI are key to achieving that goal.


Defeat Poverty

Canada Just Pledged New Funds to Support Vaccines Initiatives Around the World

By Jonah Kanter