UPDATE: Bringing Vaccines into Windsor-Essex from Michigan not a Simple Task
Bringing COVID-19 vaccines that are destined to be wasted in Michigan over to Essex County seems like an easy fix, but it's not that simple.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens has been pushing for a vaccination plan that would see residents travel to the midpoint of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel to skirt issues with crossing the border and importing vaccines.
Liberal MP for Windsor-Tecumseh Irek Kusmierczyk says the U.S. government owns the vaccines and its rules are a major obstacle.
"The U.S. federal government actually prohibits surplus vaccines from crossing the border, and at the same time, the U.S. border agents prohibit Canadians from cross over for the sole purpose of getting a vaccine," he says.
Kusmierczyk says the U.S. would have to amend its rules to allow the vaccines to be moved into Canada before they expire.
"Unfortunately at this point those surplus vaccines at hospitals and pharmacies cannot be used on the Canadian side of the border," he added.
Kusmierczyk says Dilkens isn't the only one pushing for a solution.
"I've been pushing at the federal level. I know ministers and the prime minister have had those conversations with President [Joe] Biden directly," he says. "We've also been working through Cousul General Joe Comartin, who's just been wonderful in pressing the governor of Michigan as well."
On Thursday, President Biden announced the U.S. would release 80-million vaccines globally by the end of June, with six-million earmarked for allies including Canada.
Kusmierczyk says that's on top of the 2.4-million doses of the Pfizer vaccine that continue to arrive in Canada every week.
While an influx of additional vaccines from Michigan will fast-track second doses, Kusmierczyk says Ontario currently has a surplus of 1.5-million doses as of Thursday, something Mayor Dilkens told AM800's The Morning Drive, isn't true.
"The system doesn't have 1.5-million doses waiting out there sitting in a freezer because of some mismanagement" Dilkens adds. "That is an outright fabrication and I would say an outright lie. There is nothing sitting in a freezer.")
The focus needs to stay on distributing the existing supply, according to Kusmierczyk.
— with files from AM800's Kristylee Varley.