Canada’s baby formula supply largely remains “fine,” but Canadian officials are working closely with the United States to ensure Canada doesn’t start seeing major shortages, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.
Speaking with reporters in Vancouver, Trudeau acknowledged some there have been some issues regarding supplies of formula for infants with food allergies and some medical conditions. But overall, Canada remains in a more stable position the U.S., which has been experiencing shortages, he said.
“The reality is we’re still looking like we’re fine on baby formula,” Trudeau said.
“There are a few challenges around some more specialized formulas for particularly vulnerable kids. But, again, we are confident the work that we’re doing to secure supply from elsewhere and to ensure Canadians have those options is going to be fine.”
Last week, Health Canada said certain provinces were running low on supplies of extensively hydrolyzed infant formulas and amino acid-based formulas.
The agency said it was working with manufacturers to import these products where possible.
The White House says it is treating its shortage of infant formula as a top priority — a crisis experts say is one more symptom of North America’s new era of “managed trade.”
But there is growing concern that Canada could be side-swiped by the rush to action in the United States.
Over the weekend, military transports ferried more than 35,000 kilograms of prescription-grade formula into the U.S. from Europe, with more shipments on the way.
And President Joe Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act, a 1950s-era military procurement law, to ensure U.S. manufacturers can get the necessary raw materials to ramp up production.
The shortage was triggered by the shutdown in February of a key plant in Michigan, but international trade experts say the real issue is that the U.S. industry is controlled by only a handful of major players.
Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, says too few U.S. companies wield too much control over the supply chain.
“Right now, our focus is on getting that formula out to the families that need it,” Deese told CNN on Monday.
Trudeau says Ottawa is monitoring the situation closely for fear that the U.S. efforts could end up making the shortage in Canada even worse.
“We’ve been working closely with the American administration to make sure we are securing our continued supply of baby formula,” Trudeau said Tuesday.
Last week, Trudeau also noted Canadian officials need to “make sure that we’re looking for solutions here in Canada.”
Canada’s largest formula manufacturing plant is the Chinese-owned Canada Royal Milk facility in Kingston, Ont., but 100 per cent of its output is exported for domestic sale in China.
With files from The Canadian Press.