Canadian companies choose to produce up to 30,000 hospital ventilators

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The federal government is turning to Canadian companies to manufacture as many as 30,000 hospital ventilators as the country’s industrial base is reorganized to focus on building essential medical supplies.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that 20 companies are mobilizing to produce medical gowns – in some cases from the same material normally used to produce airbags for vehicles. Companies include clothing manufacturers Canada Goose and Arc’teryx.

“As countries around the world face this pandemic, the demand for essential supplies such as test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment is increasing,” said Mr. Trudeau during his briefing on Tuesday morning.

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“To keep our frontline workers safe and to care for Canadians with COVID-19, we need a sustainable and stable supply of these products, which means making them at home.”

Mr. Trudeau was unable to provide a delivery schedule for these new medical supplies.

He said Ottawa is working on ventilator construction with Thornhill Medical, Montreal flight simulator maker CAE Inc. and a group led by StarFish Medical, which includes auto parts giant Linamar Corp.

The government is also working with Nobel laureate researcher Art McDonald, who leads a team of scientists at national TRIUMF laboratories, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and SNOLAB to develop an easy-to-produce ventilator using a standard product, easily accessible parts. The goal is to develop a fan model that can be built quickly and reliably in Canada, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office.

Nova Scotia-based clothing maker Stanfield’s Ltd. will use fabric developed by Intertape Polymer Group to provide protective gowns. The Government of Canada has signed an order with Stanfield’s, which will use its Canadian manufacturing platform to fulfill the order.

Ottawa has also signed a letter of intent to support airbag manufacturer Autoliv as it strives to reuse the material traditionally used for airbags to provide additional fabric for medical gowns. The government has said that the use of these alternative materials “would greatly increase the number of gowns” that can be made in Canada.

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