Waterloo MPP questions province about Ontario-made PPE stuck on shelves
KITCHENER -- Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife questioned the Ford government on Monday after a CTV Kitchener story revealed that local manufacturing company The Canadian Shield laid off dozens of employees.
The company's CEO said last week that the company has millions of masks and face shields on shelves because of red tape in the supply chain.
Fife noted that Ford toured and praised The Canadian Shield over the summer, going as far as packing a box of PPE.
"That box, unfortunately, is still sitting on a shelf, not keeping doctors safe, nurses safe or essential workers," she said.
"This is an industry-wide issue for PPE manufacturers across Ontario and will impact our success in the fight against COVID-19."
She asked the premier to adapt the supply model for PPE during what she called an "emerging health-care crisis."
The revelation about The Canadian Shield came just after a Cambridge manufacturer said it was having difficulties getting its masks N95-approved.
Eclipse Innovations CEO Steve Mai said his company wanted to help during the COVID-19 pandemic but also found itself caught up in red tape as it tried to retool to create N95 masks.
He said he's been waiting in the queue for certification for his respirators by an American regulatory body, called the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). There is currently no Canadian equivalent.
During the Queen's Park Question Period on Monday, Government House Leader Paul Calandra said the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services is working hard to ensure these Canadian companies have access to procurement in ways they never have before.
The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services officials said they've launched Supply Ontario, a centralized supply chain agency to stabilize access to critical products, including PPE, across the province.
"Supply Ontario will take advantage of Ontario’s manufacturing might, create opportunities for businesses, and stimulate economic growth right here at home," a statement from the ministry said in part. "In fact, 74 per cent of the forecasted PPE spend for the next 18 months will be with Ontario or Canadian based manufacturers.”
Jeremy Hedges, the CEO of The Canadian Shield, said the company is in a position to compete globally if the market opens up. But for now, they're still waiting for change.
"We are not defeated," he said. "This is a setback. We are ready to compete and, when this market is open, we are going to be a dominant player here in Canada."