Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the United Nations General Assembly that the world’s fight against COVID-19 doesn’t end with the successful distribution of a vaccine.
Trudeau said Thursday the wide inequality between rich and poor countries, which has been made worse by the pandemic, also needs to be dealt with in a coordinated way.
Poor countries haven’t been able to increase spending the way developed countries have to blunt the economic hardship the pandemic has caused their citizens, he said.
“Of course, our collaboration can’t end at distributing a vaccine. The pandemic has taught us difficult lessons about inequality, both at home and between countries,” the prime minister said Thursday in a recorded video address to more than 100 world leaders and officials during a special session of the assembly on the recovery from COVID-19.
Advanced economies have spent more than 20 per cent of their GDP to support their citizens during the pandemic and developing economies spent eight per cent. “While for the poorest economies, that number was just two per cent,” Trudeau said.
The two-day UN session kicks off as the race to develop a pandemic-ending vaccine is heating up, amid calls for equitable early distribution of the doses.
“We stand ready to work with our partners and to help countries deal with unsustainable debt, recover and rebuild from this global crisis. We cannot let the most vulnerable be left behind,” Trudeau said. “The pandemic has widened inequities and exacerbated humanitarian situations.”
He noted Canada’s contributions to the international efforts to distribute vaccines to poorer parts of the world, reiterating one of his core messages that for COVID-19 to be completely controlled, it must be defeated everywhere.
Trudeau was to join British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Charles Michel, president of the European Council, who are also addressing the special session.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.