TORONTO: The Ontario government has announced the creation of the Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force.
Rick Hillier, former Chief of Defence Staff for the Canadian Forces and Commander of the NATO-led forces during the War in Afghanistan, has been named Chair of this new task force, leading the largest vaccine rollout in a generation.
His extensive leadership experience in providing governance, strategic and public policy advice, and leading multiple national and international endeavours will help lead Ontario in the successful implementation of the COVID-19 immunization program.
The task force will advise the province’s development and implementation of an immunization program, including the ethical, timely and effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario.
Details on the task force were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
“The fact that we are setting up this task force is a sign that we are making progress in the fight against COVID-19,” said Premier Ford.
“We still have a long way to go, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s why I have asked General Hillier to lead this effort, because we need the best of the best for the monumental task at hand. I am confident he will bring the same disciplined leadership and military precision needed to execute one of the largest logistical undertakings our province has ever faced.”
The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force members will include cross-government and external representation with diverse expertise in operations and logistics, federal-provincial relations, health and clinical domains, public health and immunization, ethics, and information technology and data.
The task force will advise on:
• Delivery, storage and distribution of the vaccines;
• Support for health care partners to deliver a phased vaccination program that initially prioritizes vulnerable populations and follows with mass immunization;
• Clinical guidance on vaccine administration and surveillance of vaccine uptake;
• Data, reporting, and technology to provide timely and accurate information to clinicians conducting vaccine administration, decision-makers, and the public; and
• Implementation of a broad and sustained public education and community outreach effort to encourage vaccination. Other members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force will be announced in the coming days. The province is planning the early rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine program with vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna. Confirmed allocations of the number of doses and schedules for delivery to Ontario is expected shortly..
“Having always believed that ‘duty calls’, the safe, secure and successful delivery of COVID-19 vaccines is a critical mission I’m honored to accept for the people of Ontario,” said General Rick Hillier (retired)
• General Hillier served in the Canadian Armed Forces for more than 35 years, achieving its highest rank as Chief of the Defence Staff and receiving several military honours throughout his career. General Hillier became commander of the Canadian army in May 2003. In February 2004, he was selected as Commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force during the War in Afghanistan. He retired from the Canadian Forces in 2008.