Yet, that’s exactly what the NESS is supposed to be.
“They don’t have a big warehouse full of items. When they receive them, they get them out on the field as quickly as possible. So there is no big room full of masks that they hang on to, “said Ford.
To be honest, the Prime Minister was trying to be nice.
He had just announced that his provincial supply was just a week away from masks and other personal protective equipment for front-line health workers.
And despite a past that was combative with Trudeau’s Liberals in last fall’s election, Ford has forged strong ties by working with the federal government throughout the COVID-19 struggle.
Hearing the Premier of Ontario say there are no warehouses full of supplies should scare everyone in the country. The National Emergency Strategic Stock is described on the federal government’s website as “a central depot in the National Capital Region” and “warehouses strategically located across Canada”.
These warehouses across the country are supposed to be there to provide provinces with access to supplies of masks, gowns, gloves and more. However, even though Ontario has experienced gaps in access to additional masks, the NESS has only been able to provide a few thousand N95 masks and approximately 20,000 surgical masks.
Compare that to the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, when combined, the provinces were able to remove nearly 200,000 masks from the federal stock.
Now that the stock is simply not there and so far, the federal government has provided Ontario with less equipment than it gave to China in early February.
Questions posed to the Public Health Agency of Canada and to the office of Minister of Health Patty Hajdu on the NESS only resulted in the same kind of vague answers as the minister gave.
They refused to say which provinces accessed the material, they refused to say how much material was taken, and they refused to say how much was left in the stock.
“PHAC is working with Public Services and Procurement Canada to advance PPE group purchase orders to meet the needs of the provinces and territories, which are also actively working to ensure they have the necessary equipment. to distribute to frontline healthcare workers. ” said Public Health spokesperson Maryse Durette.
This is part of the problem: they are trying to buy equipment now, while the interest of a strategic stock is to have needed equipment when the pandemic occurs, and not assembled after its arrival.
“We probably didn’t have enough,” Hajdu said last week when asked if the stock was properly stocked with protective gear.
Look, there are a lot of complaints about why our front line workers don’t have the equipment they need. This extends to provincial governments across the country and even to local hospital administrators.
Yet when it comes to providing a safety net, it is a promise the federal government made after SARS and when it gave this mandate to store protective equipment to public health in 2004.
Public health and Hajdu owe the public real answers as to why the stock was not at the level it should have been when the coronavirus struck.
Our doctors, nurses and first responders deserve the truth.