Ottawa 'thwarting' every attempt to start tunnel vaccinations: Windsor Mayor

High water levels along the Detroit River in Windsor, Ont., on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. (Michelle Maluske / CTV Windsor)

Mayor Drew Dilkens appeared virtually before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health Monday.

“There are better solutions that are more optimal,” Dilkens told the Committee but says he’s trying to find a way to use vaccines that are being thrown away in the United States.

“These would be Canadians, working in Michigan, in health care, administering vaccines to Canadians on the other side of the line (in the tunnel).”

During the meeting, Dilkens confirmed the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has ruled on this idea of vaccinations in the middle of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel.

Officials say if a Detroit pharmacist hands a COVID-19 vial over to a Windsor health care official, it would be considering importing and as such would need to be inspected by Health Canada before being administered.

“Every effort to find creative solutions to make this work have been thwarted,” Dilkens said.

“At the crux of this is these doses don’t belong to Canada,” argued Liberal committee member Jennifer O’Connell. “We would need the support of the State of Michigan, the US government and Premier Ford to import these vaccinations.”

Dilkens told O’Connell he has the support of Premier Ford but didn’t get a chance to answer about US politicians until he was cut off.

“If the US and the State of Michigan don’t support this, then how is that the federal government (fault)?”

Dilkens replied, “I need our government to support it first.”

O’Connell says the cross border vaccination clinics happening in Montana and North Dakota are happening because they are for essential cross-border workers and due to an agreement between US authorities and Canadian officials.

That sort of agreement is not in place in the State of Michigan.

“These doses are owned and paid for by American taxpayers,” says O’Connell “So unless they are willing to give them to us, whether we say we want them or not, the owners of these doses, must actually indicate providing them to us.”

Last week, a line was painted into the ground of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel, at the international line, clearing the way to close the tunnel to allow for vaccinations.