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There can be no guarantees, PM says, when asked for PPE assurances for COVID-19 frontline workers

Last Updated Apr 1, 2020 at 10:36 am PDT

FILE - Medical staff prepare for the opening of the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Brewer Park Arena in Ottawa, during a media tour on Friday, March 13, 2020. A Toronto hospital is accepting donations of face masks and other protective gear from members of the public in an effort to ward off what some say is an impending shortage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Summary

No guarantee, but government is doing everything it can to fill any potential shortages of PPE, Trudeau says

Justin Trudeau says there's no need to bring in legislation similar to in the U.S. to force production of supplies

Trudeau also declined to get into details when asked if Canada has any plans to publish possible virus death projections

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The prime minister is refusing to guarantee there will be supplies to address any shortages of protective equipment for health care workers battling COVID-19.

Speaking in front of Rideau Cottage, Justin Trudeau said nothing could be guaranteed in a situation like this, and that the government has been working hard to ensure the needs of frontline workers and those battling the coronavirus pandemic are met.

He said work was being done to make sure what supplies we do have are distributed across the country, and that support was available to help get production going domestically.

Trudeau was asked if his government would consider using something akin to what the U.S. is doing with the Defense Production Act in order to increase production of items like surgical masks, ventilators, hand sanitizer, and testing kits.

He said legislation like that is intended to force companies into doing what’s needed — but given the response from Canadian industry, there’s no need for that here.

“But, of course, we’ll always keep an eye on what we need to do in future situations, or how we can adjust,” he said. “Here in Canada, what we’ve seen is companies across this country putting up their hands and asking to do it. Offering any help they can right across the country.”

Personal protective equipment shipments are expected to begin in coming days, the federal government announced this week, adding Ottawa was working on securing more in the weeks ahead while tooling up production domestically.

The prime minister declined to get into details when asked whether Canada intends to publish COVID-19 death projections, like the U.S. has done.

Trudeau acknowledged there are a number of scenarios.

Meanwhile, Trudeau said he expects to be dealing with this COVID-19 crisis for weeks and months, but would not specifically comment on a federal document obtained by the National Post which reportedly says, “Current GoC [Government Operations Centre] modelling suggests as a best case scenario that current measures continue until at least July.”

It’s unclear what “current measures” the document refers to.