Ottawa is co-ordinating a national effort to secure personal protective gear — which includes items such as face masks — amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his deputy Chrystia Freeland have asked provincial leaders to communicate their “state of readiness” for the novel coronavirus and identify gaps in supply or capacity.
“We are reaching out to you today to ensure that as a country, we are as prepared as we can be, and to reconfirm for you that the Government of Canada is ready to support you and all Canadians,” they said in a note to premiers that was not publicly released.
“We are already leading a bulk procurement of personal protective equipment in which many of you are participating. We are ready to convene and help.”
The letter, which was obtained by Global News, was sent ahead of a First Ministers’ meeting that starts Friday in Ottawa.
It acknowledged that the outbreak has already had economic effects.
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“The related economic implications resulting from COVID-19, whether those be narrowing export markets, decreased tourism, pressures on the supply chain, or dropping commodity prices, are a significant concern and we know that Canadians are not just experiencing this solely as a public health issue.”
At least 60 cases have been confirmed in Canada, the bulk in Ontario and B.C., though Quebec and Alberta have also been affected.
–With files from Mike Le Couteur, Global News