Canada's CAE to host mass vaccinations as country's firms act to help speed inoculations

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau visits a vaccination clinic in Montreal

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Aviation training specialist CAE said on Friday it will be ready to host mass COVID-19 vaccinations as early as Easter, becoming one of the first major Canadian publicly traded companies to carry out inoculations of workers and the public.

Canadian manufacturers have warned that a slower vaccine rollout in Canada could put them at a competitive disadvantage with companies south of the border, with employees in the United States working in industries such as auto plants now being inoculated.

Montreal-based CAE is partnering with the province of Quebec to transform offices at its own cost into a vaccination center to inoculate workers of all ages, their family members and the surrounding community to support a provincial ramp-up in May and June, Health Minister Christian Dubé told reporters.

CAE Chief Executive Marc Parent said the company would follow government directives on vaccination priority and would not favor company workers over the public.

Quebec has set a goal of offering a first dose to all its residents by June 24.

Air Canada, Bombardier Inc and Aéroports de Montréal are in joint talks with Quebec to run a vaccination site, although details are not finalized, representatives for the Montreal-based airline and corporate planemaker said.

Canada has wrestled with a slower rollout of vaccines than other countries due to a lack of domestic production, with just 8% of its population receiving at least one dose compared with 23% in the U.S.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has set a September target for having all Canadian adults vaccinated, while President Joe Biden has told U.S. states to make all adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by May 1.

Canada is currently vaccinating older residents, but some provinces like British Columbia have said they would begin inoculating agricultural workers, including temporary foreign workers.

(Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Additional reporting by Moira Warburton in British Columbia; Editing by Leslie Adler)