The federal government appears to have learned nothing from the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to contract foreign suppliers for personal protective equipment instead of favoring local purchasing.
La Presse revealed Monday that the House of Commons has been distributing masks made in China to deputies, their deputies and employees of the hill for a few weeks. However, Canadian companies have invested millions of dollars to ensure local production of personal protective equipment for 20 months, responding to a call for mobilization launched by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the height of the pandemic in March. 2020.
The revelations sparked the ire of opposition MPs, while ministers in the Trudeau government continued to plead the urgency of purchasing these products when local production was in short supply.
They also stung business leaders who responded to the Prime Minister's appeal, without Ottawa buying them a single product.
On Monday, Cliff Latincic, executive of La Manufacture Finnie Ltée, which is based in Lacolle, Que., And which has also invested in the production of personal protective equipment, added his voice to the concert of outrage by saying that the federal government again risked being ill-prepared by resorting to foreign suppliers for such products.
He had also expressed his dismay at this situation in a letter he had sent to federal elected officials on October 19.
"I would have expected our country to have learned, given the difficulties experienced at the start of the pandemic, of the importance of being able to produce our own personal protective equipment without depending directly on foreign producers," said Mr. Latincic in his letter. to elected officials. He sent this letter to La Presse on Monday.
“It is disappointing to learn that Canadian entrepreneurs have invested their personal capital in order to be able to manufacture masks and that this equipment remains unused. What is more, it seems inefficient for Health Canada to use its resources to examine and approve the masks so that subsequently, as a country, we do not buy them, ”he adds in the same breath.
" AN AFFRONT "
According to Cliff Latincic, it is absolutely essential to have local businesses capable of producing this precious equipment in times of health crisis. "There seems to be no interest on the part of our government for the national production of personal protective equipment," he also lamented in an email to La Presse .
"It is an affront to our country," said Barry Hunt, president of Prescient of Cambridge, Ontario, of the masks made in China that are given to elected federal officials. His company has invested more than $ 2 million to launch the production of an innovative and environmentally friendly protective mask, the NanoMask, which conforms perfectly to the face and makes breathing easier.
Mr. Hunt, who is also president of the Canadian Association of PPE Manufacturers (CAPPEM), which brings together some twenty companies wishing to create a new industrial cluster, is all the more furious that the companies which have answered the call Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are now completely excluded from government contracts for the next few years.
This is because the Department of Public Services and Supply has entered into long-term contracts with two multinationals for the manufacture of this equipment.
A five-year supply contract totaling $ 250 million has been awarded to the American multinational 3M for N95 respiratory protection masks.
Another 10-year contract was awarded to Groupe Medicom, an international supplier of medical equipment based in Montreal, for N95 masks and level 3 buckle-buckle surgical masks. of $ 113 million for the first three years. The prices must then be renegotiated for the remainder of the contract.