COVID-19: acceleration of domestic production of medical equipment

At a time when Quebec is worried about a possible shortage of masks, Ottawa says it will do everything necessary to buy abroad and produce domestic medical equipment in large quantities.
“If I can reassure you, (…) the Canadian government’s supply capacity and Canada’s industrial capacity are fully mobilized to over-protect us. We over-produce to ensure that we have the maximum amount of personal protective equipment and other absolutely essential equipment, “said Jean-Yves Duclos, President of the Conseil du trésor, at the ministers’ press conference. federal Tuesday.

So, how to explain the shortage of masks that awaits Quebec? Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says her government is aware of the situation after the two prime ministers spoke on the phone Monday evening.

“There is a particularly urgent situation regarding masks in Quebec. Quebec has been very, very clear. (…) I only want to assure Quebeckers that we understand the situation, (…) and we are in the process of resolving it, “she offered.

Ottawa has found more than 175 million surgical masks, some of this equipment will come from the Montreal company Medicom. The federal government has also ordered more than 60 million N95 masks. The delivery of these masks should begin this week. Canada has also ordered 1,570 respirators, 500 of which are manufactured in Toronto. The minister responsible for all of these purchases, Anita Anand, has announced that she is trying to get hold of 4,000 more respirators.

Transforming production chains

On March 20, Ottawa asked Canadian factories to transform their production lines to meet current needs during these pandemic times. Over 3,000 businesses have raised their hands, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Three of these companies, including Medicom, have already won contracts from the federal government. The Montreal company will also receive assistance to increase its production capacity for masks.

“We are going to invest a lot of money; I cannot confirm how much money now (…) for a plant that will manufacture essential equipment here in Montreal only for Canadians at the moment, and, I hope in the future for other jurisdictions “Announced the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains.

“There is a great demand around the world for these equipments and it will be important to have solutions made in Canada, (so that we can) ensure that our own needs will be covered for weeks and months to come, “said Prime Minister Trudeau to his daily media availability.

Given the growing needs around the world, can Canada still rely on equipment from the United States and elsewhere?

“We are working day and night to take delivery of other equipment (from abroad). We are working with our Canadian companies to produce them, ”replied Mr. Trudeau, once again recalling that the needs to come depend on compliance at this time with the social distancing measures imposed on the country.

Two new measures

Pending targeted measures for the airline industry, which has been hit hard by the new coronavirus pandemic, the federal government will no longer charge rent at airports across the country. The rent holiday will run from March to December 2020. Ottawa calculates that it will be $ 331.4 million that will not be paid to it.

For its part, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has given up on charging broadcasters license fees for 2020-2021. The federal government will pay the bill, which is estimated at $ 30 million.

The media are also hit hard by the current crisis. Several press and broadcasting companies have announced massive layoffs in the past two weeks.

On the airline side, the losses are even greater. Air Canada laid off 16,500 employees on Monday. A few days ago, the tour operator Transat AT announced some 3,600 layoffs. WestJet has seen 6,900 departures, including early departures, resignations and voluntary and involuntary leaves.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is expected to give details of the federal wage subsidy plan on Wednesday. Ottawa offers to pay 75% of the wages of all businesses that will have lost more than 30% of their income due to the pandemic.

Private debt

Prime Minister Trudeau has indicated that his government continues to talk to the banks to “encourage” them to lower interest rates on credit cards. He also said that he is exploring the possibility of providing easier access to loans at low interest rates for individuals. This too will depend on the goodwill of the banks.

“We don’t want people to come out of this crisis even more in debt than before,” he said.

Repatriation

Florida authorities should decide today whether to allow the cruise ship MS Zaandam to dock.

97 Canadians remain on board the Zaandam . The other Canadians who were on the boat where the COVID-19 appeared were transferred to a second vessel from the same company, the MS Rotterdam.

The Zaandam had 200 sick people and four dead on board. None of these people were Canadian.

Holland said in a statement on Monday that it is “finalizing details of where and when” the approximately 2,700 passengers and crew of the two vessels will be able to disembark. The boats were able to cross the Panama Canal on Monday.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has already indicated that his state’s health care resources are too scarce to accommodate an infected vessel.

Number of cases

There are now 8,476 confirmed and probable cases in Canada, including 95 deaths.

Distribution of cases across the country, according to the most recent provincial reports available: 4,162 in Quebec, including 31 deaths; 1966 in Ontario, including 33 deaths; 970 in British Columbia, including 19 deaths; 690 in Alberta, including eight deaths; 176 in Saskatchewan, including two deaths; 152 in Newfoundland and Labrador, including one death; 147 in Nova Scotia; 103 in Manitoba, including one death; 70 in New Brunswick; 21 in Prince Edward Island; five cases in the Yukon; only one case in the Northwest Territories. No cases have been reported in Nunavut.

In addition to these provincial reports, there are 13 cases among passengers repatriated from the cruise ship Grand Princess on March 10.

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