02/10/2015 03:05 EST | Updated 04/12/2015 05:59 EDT

Rona Ambrose says anti-vaccine movement puts children at risk

Parents who don't vaccinate their children are putting their health and the health of other children at risk, Canada's health minister warned Tuesday.

The vaccination issue has returned to the forefront in recent weeks, with a spike in measles cases in Toronto and some parts of the United States.

During a news conference in Vancouver on Tuesday, Ambrose was asked for her thoughts on the movement that blames vaccines for a number of health issues.

"Vaccinations are, frankly, miracles of modern medicine. They are saving millions and millions of lives around the world, especially of children," she said.

"We're a country that is funding billions of dollars of vaccines for kids around the world, and here in Canada — where we have an educated population with a public health-care system, where your basic vaccinations are covered by the province — you have people who are refusing to vaccinate their children, putting them at risk.

A Queen's University professor is stepping aside from teaching a course students said included slides linking vaccinations to autism, while an Ottawa daycare offering a vaccine-free environment for children was criticized by the city's health department last week.