Trump administration halted critical shipment of N95 masks to Canada

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford said a shipment containing essential personal protective equipment for Canadian health care workers had been stopped at the US border by the Trump administration.

Ford has told several media outlets that, as Canada faces the global coronavirus pandemic, a shipment of 3 million surgical masks was arrested Sunday night at the Ontario border. At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Ford said that some of the masks have since been released.

“What I understand is that we have 3 million masks that have been arrested by American officials,” Ford said at a press conference on Monday. “We have just been informed that we have been able to release 500,000 N95 masks today in Ontario.”

Ford said it was “very difficult” to cross the border right now and would not believe the masks are coming when “he sees them”.

Premier’s office told VICE in a statement that without more masks, Ontario health workers will run out of personal protective equipment (PPE) by the end of next week if no masks are available ‘Between. “Delays in global shipping and recent restrictions at the US border have severely depleted Ontario stocks and left the province with about a week’s supply of essential PPE,” said the release. Ford said Ontario was short of everything, but the “real hardest” to restock are the N95 masks, level 2 surgical masks and surgical gowns.

Ford said it hoped to manufacture PPE in the province. but it will take weeks, if not months, to produce, so in the meantime, Ontario depends on other sources like the United States. In light of the limited supply, Ford implored Ontario citizens to “listen to the experts” and “stop the spread of the virus before it affects a loved one.” “

“The hard truth is that our supplies in Ontario are getting very low and the more new cases we receive, the more resources we use,” he said. “The speed with which this virus spreads is up to us. “

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday morning that Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne had talks this morning with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Both Trudeau and Ford said senior officials were working with the United States administration to grant Canada an exemption from a presidential order restricting exported PPE.

“We work closely with all provinces and monitor the levels of PPE and the supply challenges they face and ensure that health officials help health professionals across the country obtain the help they need, “said Trudeau. “We continue to have productive and positive conversations with the United States, emphasizing to them that health care supplies and workers across the border are in fact a two-way street.”

Trudeau went on to say that Canada provides the United States with primary resources that allow American manufacturers to create “the equipment so desperately needed in America and the rest of the world.” He added that it was in the “collective interest” of the two countries to allow the flow of resources across the border.

The news comes after U.S. President Donald Trump formally invoked the Defense Production Act against medical supply maker 3M late last week. The company said the Trump administration had also asked to stop shipping its goods to Canada and Latin America. 3M pushed back, saying that stopping their exports to these countries could have “important humanitarian implications.”

The day before, Trump had tweeted that the administration was surprised “what they were doing” and that the company “will have a big price to pay! “

Canada is struggling to acquire the necessary health care equipment during this pandemic. The country has limited domestic production of these products, although several companies are starting to focus on their production. Acquisition of PPE in the international market is extremely competitive and has been described by Chrystia Freeland, the Deputy Minister of Canada, as “the wild wild west”.

After the Trump administration’s request was announced, Doug Ford said passionately how “disappointed” he would never trust another country again for essential equipment.

“When the cards run out, you see who your friends are,” Ford said on a teleconference on Saturday. “And I think it has been very clear in the last few days who our friends are. “

Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter .



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