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Canada warned of PPE shortage in February, gov't waited weeks to order more: reports

FILE - Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul's Hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Summary

Reports suggest Ottawa was warned about a PPE shortage in Canada a month before COVID-19 closures began

The warning came weeks before the government started to top up its PPE supply: reports

OTTAWA – The federal government appears to have been slow to act to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports suggest Ottawa was warned about a shortage of personal protective equipment in Canada a month before pandemic-related closures began — and weeks before the government actually started to top up its supply.

In early February, bureaucrats in charge of Canada’s national stockpile of medical equipment were warning the Trudeau government that it didn’t have enough medical masks, gloves, and gowns to weather the storm in the event of a pandemic.

The CBC cites documents that show they warned that there was a risk of waiting due to the anticipated demand on the global supply chain.

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Despite this warning, the federal government made few orders to replenish the stock. It wasn’t until mid-March, when the country was in the midst of shutting down, that Ottawa took action to quickly order critical PPE, the report suggests.

The head of the Canadian Medical Association says the delays and shortages led to serious challenges for health care professionals across the country.

In May, The Globe and Mail reported stockpiles of vital gear were shockingly inadequate in the weeks leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding experts called the shortages ridiculous, especially after recommendations were put forward following the SARS outbreak well over a decade ago.

The Globe reported that a month before the coronavirus forced the country to shut down, there were only 100,000 N95 respirator masks in the stockpile.

-With files from Jaime Pulfer