The flu season and other common respiratory infections in the fall could put additional strain on the system if COVID-19 is triggered in a major way.
Tam said many lessons were learned from the spring, when the government was ill-prepared and lacked sufficient protective gear for healthcare workers, and feared a massive outbreak of COVID-19 could overwhelm the health system.
“We are much better prepared than before,” she said.
WATCH | Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam on a possible COVID-19 surge:
Few fans delivered
In March, Canadians watched in horror as the COVID-19 epidemic in northern Italy swept through its healthcare system, leaving doctors to choose which patients had ventilators and which did not. not. This experience, coupled with warnings that it could happen in this country as well, forced the federal and provincial governments to order thousands of new ventilators.
But just like surgical masks and N95 ventilators, Canada did not already produce many ventilators domestically – and obtaining them from international sources is difficult when the global need for new ventilators is in the hundreds of thousands. So Canada asked the companies here if they could scale up their activities, and from these four new consortia to build fans were formed.
A fifth contract was signed with Thornhill Medical, a Toronto-based company that was then manufacturing about 50 of its portable respirators per month.
In total, Canada has ordered 40,328 ventilators, for an estimated value of $ 1.1 billion. As of Friday, he only had 606 in hand.
Canada has enough to meet current demand: Minister
Paul-Émile Cloutier, president of national healthcare advocate HealthCareCAN, said the state of government orders for personal protective equipment and ventilators was concerned about the possibility of COVID-19 breaking into Canada again. this autumn.
“Details are crucial as we prepare for the next wave of COVID-19,” he said.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said on Friday that the federal government was working to put all orders in place.
A statement from his ministry said: “Canada currently has enough ventilators to meet current demand” and that those ordered should bolster existing stocks of the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as units already present. in hospitals and provincial warehouses across the country.
But Health Canada will not say how many ventilators the country currently has in total. It also won’t disclose any number modeling that might be needed in a worst-case scenario. As of March, there were around 5,000 ventilators nationwide and another 500 in the national emergency stockpile.
Government approval, supply issues are slowing process
Canada’s ability to trace the COVID-19 curve in the spring means warnings about the lack of ventilators never materialized.
John Walmsley, executive vice president of Starfish Medical in Victoria, said it relieved his new coalition, Canadian Emergency Ventilators, Inc.
“We have a little more leeway to do things in a bit of a controlled manner, but I would say we’re looking to do it this year,” he said.
“We’re all concerned about a second wave and we’re ready for it, so we’re ready to respond to it. ”
Canadian Emergency Ventilators are still awaiting approval from Health Canada before they can begin shipping their promised 7,500 devices. He submitted the documents in June and it takes a little longer than expected to get the green light.
Once that happens, the Public Health Agency of Canada will have to test the product, and then units that have already been built could be shipped, Walmsley said. He said he still hopes to fill the order by the end of the year.
Thornhill Medical CEO Lesley Gouldie said her company’s partnership with Linamar, a manufacturer based in Guelph, Ont., Has been a great success. Thornhill is expected to supply 1,020 machines to Canada and has shipped 27 to date.
Gouldie said Linamar can manufacture up to 100 units per week, but supplying the 1,500 pieces that make up their wearable device has proven difficult during a pandemic.
“The limiting factor is the supply chains,” Gouldie said.
She said the issues were mostly resolved now, and she expects to ship enough machines each week to fulfill the contract by early December.
Rick Jamieson, CEO of FTI Professional Grade, said the company expects to fulfill its contract for 10,000 ventilators in full by December 12. FTI is one of several companies in a consortium called Ventilators for Canadians, which has already delivered 132 ventilators. Another 120 are expected to be delivered next week and 240 the last week of August.
“We have activated a fourth shift to increase production knowing that a second wave is likely this fall and winter,” Jamieson said.
The Montreal CAE received Health Canada’s approval for its new ventilator on June 17 and said that day it planned to start shipping “hundreds of people every week.” He has a contract to deliver 10,000.
The last company, Vexos, was the last to sign a contract and also had to submit their product to Health Canada. It started shipping at the end of July.