Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, both the provincial and federal governments have seen, in real time, the importance of domestic bio-manufacturing capacity to produce tests, vaccines and therapeutics to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and pandemics of the future. However, before a test, vaccine or treatment can ever be manufactured, the constituent parts and ingredients must be secured. Without also investing in a local supply chain that can provide the necessary inputs for bio-manufacturing, BC and Canada risk undercutting our own efforts to bolster our domestic capacity and increase our self-sufficiency.


As Canadians watched the initial uneven distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in late 2020 and early 2021, and British Columbians waited for months in late 2021 and early 2022 for rapid testing kits to arrive, many gained a new appreciation for the value of a domestic bio-manufacturing sector. Without such a capacity, Canada has found itself reliant on foreign suppliers for diagnostic testing supplies, vaccines, and therapeutics.

It is critical that in the pandemic or health crisis of the future that Canada can develop and manufacturer our own testing, vaccine, and treatment options for quick deployment domestically, but also as part of efforts to support global health. To accomplish this, we need not only robust investment in advancing life sciences research and increasing bio-manufacturing capacity, we also need investment in building a domestic supply chain that can provide the necessary components needed to produce these medical supplies.

In testimony to the House Standing Committee on Health, the president of Pfizer Canada noted that their vaccine “requires more than 280 components, coming from 86 different suppliers,”[1] illustrating the importance of the bio-supply chain to vaccine manufacturing. In regards to COVID-19 tests, the chemical re-agents needed for the tests to actually function are similarly produced only by select manufacturers and were reported to be in short supply throughout much of the pandemic, delaying access to testing supplies for BC and Canada.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Government of Canada has committed over $1.6 billion to 30 bio-manufacturing projects[2] but with a focus on research and development, and final “fill and finish” manufacturing capacity. In its StrongerBC Economic Plan and the 2022 BC Budget, the Government of BC committed to developing a “Life Sciences and Biomanufacturing Strategy” and committed $195 million to support life sciences and health research. These are wise and needed strategic investments, but should be augmented with distinct support for building out BC’s bio-manufacturing supply chain.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, BC and Canada found ourselves without a domestic ability to produce the medial supplies and materials we needed, and were dependent on international providers. While efforts are underway to support the research and manufacturing capacity needed to correct this, without also investing in a domestic supply of the necessary re-agents, components, chemicals, other inputs that bio-manufacturing will need, we may find ourselves facing very similar, but nonetheless grave, challenges in the next pandemic or health crisis despite our efforts.


That the Provincial Government:, in concert with the Federal Government where appropriate:

  1. As part of the Life Sciences and Biomanufacturing Strategy that will be developed, identify specific strategies and actions to support the bio-manufacturing supply chain in BC, through investments in organizations and businesses which can produce the necessary components required for domestic manufacturing of testing supplies, vaccines, and medical therapeutics.

[1] House Standing Committee on Health – Number 029 | 2nd Session | 43rd Parliament, Evidence, March 08, 2021