The Canadian Shield lays off dozens of employees
KITCHENER -- A Waterloo manufacturing company that specializes in personal protective equipment has laid off dozens of employees.
The Canadian Shield has confirmed to CTV News that 47 employees have been laid off in one week.
The company’s CEO Jeremy Hedges say it was a very difficult choice and one that is tied to challenges the business has faced since they started manufacturing face shields and PPE nearly a year ago.
He adds that they've made nearly one million shields in that time and received contracts for another 11 million.
“It’s been a hard process for our team," said Hedges. "We have developed a close relationship with everybody over the past year as we have scaled up in this pandemic. It’s hard, we have lost some good people here.”
Hedges says the layoffs are partly due to contract issues that are preventing the company from selling everything they are currently producing and adds that automation is also a factor.
The company shifted focus to producing PPE because they didn’t want Canada to rely on a global supply chain.
In the summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave the manufacturer a shout out during a daily address, followed by Ontario Premier Doug Ford touring the facility.
After these events, Hedges says they experienced a steep decline.
"Once there was a pipeline of product from China, that dried up pretty quickly," he said. "By June we were 330 people and that was at the height of filling our face shield contracts, but now we are closer to 100 staff."
The CEO remains hopeful and says they are still making up to 300,000 masks a day, but these products won't likely be in the hands of Canadian health-care workers.
"Contracts are in place and prevent Canadian PPE manufacturers from selling to Canadian hospitals and health care," said Hedges.
At least five million surgical masks currently sit in storage waiting to be sold, according to the CEO.
"Open up this market in a free and unrestricted process to Canadian companies to sell to Canadian hospitals," said Hedges. "Work together on a solution here so that an entire sector doesn't have to go through layoffs."
CTV News reached out to the provincial and federal governments, but did not receive a comment by Friday evening.