At the World Trade Organization in October 2020, South Africa and India brought forth a proposal for a “Waiver from certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade- Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for the prevention, containment, and treatment of COVID-19”.
The government of Canada, along with other wealthy nations such as the U.S., U.K., Australia, expressed that they would not support it.
This waiver would effectively stop certain trade rules, like patents on pharmaceutical products, and help with the research, development and manufacturing of more and lower-cost COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. The waiver would help a lot of people across the world, particularly countries and communities that are usually exploited by the global trade system.
Civil society organizations, including the Trade Justice Network, have spent the last few months urging the government to support the proposed waiver.
The vote on the waiver will be at the WTO will be in late December 2020. Public pressure is needed. Here is a collection of letters from organizations and groups who have written to the federal government to express their concerns for Canada’s lack of support so far.