Cecely Roy, spokeswoman for Procurement Minister Anita Anand, told POLITICO that Canada also received N95 respirators from a number of suppliers in China, and might switch to additional suppliers based in the U.S. in the future. On Tuesday, Anand told reporters that Canada expects to receive 2.3 million N95 masks this week, including 500,000 who arrived from 3M Tuesday night and the rest from China. He said Ottawa had ordered 75 million N95 masks in total, but warned that “ordering, of course, does not guarantee delivery.”
Freeland said the White House had assured 3M “that shipments to Canada will continue without a hitch,” but did not say whether the U.S. company Others who export medical supplies to Canada can face the same problem.
Roy said Ottawa was not currently aware of other imports from the US that were blocked by the Defense Production Act.
Globally, said Roy, there are more surgical mask providers than N95 respirators, because they are easier to make. China is the dominant provider of both types of masks to Canada, he said, although Canadian companies also produce surgical masks, including Medicom based in Quebec. The Montreal company also has plans to start making N95 respirators in Canada.
Anand said the federal government had ordered 230 million surgical masks and had received 16 million masks to date, including Monday’s shipment of 8 million masks from China.
Canada is currently working to increase production of important domestic medical equipment to reduce the country’s dependence on fragile international supply chains. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Ottawa was working with several Canadian companies to produce up to 30,000 ventilators, while others, including the outdoor clothing company Arc’teryx and Canada Goose, were retooling to produce medical gowns.
But Canada currently does not produce N95 masks, making the government dependent, for now, on 3M and China. Asked how confident he was that international orders would be fulfilled, Anand said he was “optimistic about the numbers but also realistic.”
“The reality is that we operate in a very competitive global environment,” he said. “International logistics is very challenging.”
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