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Trudeau unveils new COVID-19 Supply Council in charge of stockpiling equipment

Coronavirus outbreak: Canadian minister says 2.3 million N95 masks to be delivered end of week
Coronavirus outbreak: Canadian minister says 2.3 million N95 masks to be delivered by the end of the week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday introduced the COVID-19 Supply Council, which will be in charge of supplying Canada with medical and personal protective equipment, including “everything” from masks to ventilators.

“This council will be tasked with finding innovative solutions to ensure our country continues to have the vital supplies necessary to keep Canadians safe,” Trudeau said.

During a ministerial update, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand said the council will be comprised of group leaders from varying organizations, including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Red Cross, which will advise the federal government on building equipment supply chains.

READ MORE: Canada to invest $240M in online health care amid coronavirus, Trudeau says

“The Supply Council isn’t meant to fill a particular gap in the supply chain, per say, but the goal in establishing the supply council is to provide another lens into the point-to-point procurements that we are doing from start to finish, from manufacture to arrival or production in Canada,” she said.

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The current top priority is to procure PPE for front-line health workers, but Anand said the council was also planning for both the short and long term stages of the pandemic.

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“We are planning for this phase as well as potential additional surges in the pandemic so that we can be prepared for all eventualities,” she said.

“This is procurement like it’s never been done before. For that very reason, we need to be planning for the short and the long term and all eventualities.”

Coronavirus outbreak: 6 plane loads carrying medical supplies arrived in Canada in past week, minister says
Coronavirus outbreak: 6 plane loads carrying medical supplies arrived in Canada in past week, minister says

As with most of the world, Anand said, a majority of Canada’s supplies were still being imported from other countries. She noted the federal government was facing “logistical challenges” due to heightened demand for PPE, but that there was still “significant progress” being made.

To date, Anand said Canada has received more than 740,000 face shields, half of which were produced in Canada by companies like Bauer and Toronto Stamp Inc.

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The minister said new contracts have been signed for 15.5 million more from Stirling Industries, and Canada has a long term agreement with Quebec-based Medicom for 20 million N95 respirators and 18 million surgical masks per year for the next 10 years that is set to go into effect this summer.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Can Canada get front-line health workers what they need before it’s too late?

Logistik Unicorp Inc., a manufacturing company in Quebec, has agreed to produce 11 million medical gowns for the country, she said.

The federal government has also been working with UPS to help move PPE out of Shanghai, and Anand said six plane loads of medical supplies were flown into the country last week, bringing in “millions more” N95 masks for testing.

Anand added the Public Health Agency of Canada had received a chemical last weekend for reducing reagent, allowing for more COVID-19 testing.

She said LuminUltra, a biotech company founded in New Brunswick which received the chemical, is “gearing up” to deliver reagent for up to 500,000 tests on a weekly basis.