COVID-19 Update
Government of Canada actions on COVID-19
March 31, 2020
Today the federal government provided details on their efforts to secure vital equipment and supplies required to combat COVID-19. Note that details on the expanded Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, which we had hoped to obtain today, will now be announced tomorrow morning.
  • The government is making a $2 billion dollar investment in the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including gowns, masks, ventilators, test kits, swabs, and hand sanitizer. This investment will also support bulk purchases by the provinces and territories. In particular:
  • The government has ordered 1,570 ventilators from companies in Canada and around the world and is trying to secure an additional 4,000 units;
  • The government has purchased 157 million surgical masks and 60 million N95 masks are expected to arrive this week; and
  • Over one million COVID-19 test kits have been ordered.
  • As supplies are obtained, they will be distributed to health care workers across Canada on a priority basis as determined by medical officials.
  • These supplies are in high demand by health systems throughout the world as they prepare for a surge of hospitalizations related to COVID-19. The government is working with Canadian embassies internationally to expedite the shipment process, and is expecting deliveries in the coming days. This will buy the government time to mobilize domestic industry, as it could take a few weeks for equipment to arrive from Canadian manufacturers.
  • In the last week the government has spoken to nearly 3000 companies who reached out to offer help, including:
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Magna, General Motors, Ford, Linamar, Shell, Suncor, Alibaba Group, and The Home Depot have helped Canada’s health care professionals by donating personal protective and safety equipment and sanitizing supplies;
  • Five new letters of intent were signed with Precision Biomonitoring, Fluid Energy Group Ltd., Irving Oil, Calko Group, and Stanfield’s to produce additional test kits, hand sanitizer, and protective apparel including masks and gowns;
  • Toys “R” Us has pledged to provide baby monitors for communication between patients and healthcare professionals; and
  • Bombardier, 3M and Medtronic are moving forward to produce PPE.
  • Members of the Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster will have access to an additional $50 million in funding to develop and scale-up medical equipment and innovative technologies.
  • The immediate focus is on securing and prioritizing PPE for health care workers in advance of the expected surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Once these needs have been met, we can expect a shift in focus to providing PPE for essential workers who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19, followed by members of the general public, to reduce exposure.
  • To give you a sense of what professions may be required to wear to PPE, this interactive feature by the New York Times shows the workers who face the greatest coronavirus risk.