As the World Health Organization (WHO) drafts its global pandemic treaty to be adopted next year, Director General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus is urging nations to take the threat of another global pandemic very seriously. 

Ghebreyesus, who officially declared the end of a global emergency status due to Covid-19 last month, told a recent WHO assembly that countries need to get serious about adopting the global accord in the case of a future outbreak. 

“If we do not make the changes that must be made, then who will? And if we do not make them now, then when?” said Ghebreyesus. 

“A commitment from this generation (to a pandemic accord) is important, because it is this generation that experienced how awful a small virus could be.” 

The WHO recently saw a substantial hike to its budget, checking in at $6.83 billion for the 2024-2025 year. Over the life of the WHO, Canadians have provided the agency with $900 million. In 2020-2021, Canada placed as the fifth largest contributor totalling $212 million. According to the latest data, Canada has contributed $175.3 million to the UN body in the current year. 

Next year, all of the WHO’s 194 member states, including Canada, will have a chance to vote on the global pandemic treaty.

According to the WHO, the International Treaty on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response would address issues such as information sharing, surveillance, preparedness, response, research and development, and access to vaccines and other tools.

However, critics of the treaty have said its adoption would undermine national sovereignty and the ability to effectively respond to health emergencies. 

Conservative MP Leslyn Lewis has been a vocal opponent of the proposed treaty. Last year, while running to be the leader of the Conservatives at the time, Lewis launched a petition to call on the Canadian government to back out of signing the document. 

“It defines and classifies what is considered a pandemic and would give the WHO legal power over Canada’s pandemic response, including the ability to force lockdowns and dictate which drugs or vaccines can be used,” wrote Lewis, who is an international human rights lawyer by trade. 

In a separate interview with the CBC, Lewis argued that the pandemic treaty would “affect our healthcare sovereignty.” 

”Canada needs its own pandemic plan. We need to put one in place for future pandemics. All these things need to be done by our own country. We cannot relinquish that responsibility to global organizations like the WHO,” said Lewis.