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Prime Minister’s remarks on health care supplies and equipment

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Hello everyone.

The first thing I want to do this morning is to share an update about the Ukraine International Airlines tragedy that took so many innocent lives earlier this year.

Even as we face this new crisis, families and loved ones continue to grieve and seek answers.

I want to assure them and all Canadians that we have been working hard to get accountability and justice even as we fight this pandemic.

At the same time, we’ve also been developing a strategy with our other international partners to make sure such a tragedy never happens again.

Today, I’m appointing the Honourable Ralph Goodale as my special advisor for Canada’s ongoing response to the downing of Flight PS752.

With his decades of extraordinary service to Canada, including as Minister of Public Safety, Ralph has the right expertise to guide our response to this air disaster and provide recommendations for best practices going forward. He will also continue to push to see families properly compensated.

The second thing I want to do is share a story with you.

A few weeks ago, Dave Caputo, the owner of a start-up named Trusscore in the Waterloo region, called a meeting with his employees.

With mounting concerns around COVID-19, Dave asked his team how they could repurpose their building materials factory to make products hospitals needed.

A few days later, they had four prototypes drawn up.

They decided to make large panels, which hospitals could use to subdivide rooms and isolate people with COVID-19 from other patients.

Well on Monday, panels made of fully recycled materials were delivered at no cost to several hospitals in the region, including Grand River, St. Mary’s, and Guelph General Hospital.

Dave and his team showed what Canadians do in difficult times.

We don’t back down from a challenge.

We roll up our sleeves and we get to work.

I know that this pandemic has been incredibly challenging for people right across the country, but we are also seeing the best of what it means to be Canadian.

From coast to coast to coast, businesses are re-tooling to produce face shields, ventilators, hand sanitizers, and other supplies our health care professionals need.

To make it easier for companies to help out during this critical time, we launched Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19 a little over a week ago.

In the time since, we’ve spoken directly to almost 3,000 companies who’ve reached out to offer their help.

Before we go any further, I want to thank all the owners and entrepreneurs and managers who’ve answered our call to action.

This vital support comes at a critical time and the way you looked around and said not “How can I keep myself safe?” but “How can I keep myself and my employees safe and help out in this critical time?” is a real sign of leadership and a sign of what Canadians do best. In tough times, we pull together, we’re there for each other, we put up our hands and we ask: how can we help?

I also want, in the same vein, to thank everyone who is making, shipping, and delivering these products.

People who work in the manufacturing sector and in terms of getting people the items they need are on the front lines of this fight

Our country needs you through these tough times and we thank you deeply for everything you do.

By mobilizing industry, we can produce right here in Canada the items that our healthcare professionals need to protect themselves, treat patients who have COVID-19 and slow the spread of the virus.

When we announced our plan to mobilize industry, we said that we were close to reaching agreements with Thornhill Medical, Medicom, and Spartan Bioscience.

Today, we’re announcing that we have moved forward with contracts with these three Canadian companies to make medical supplies such as ventilators, surgical masks, and test kits.

I want to recognize the great work Minister Bains has done to make this happen.

We’ve also signed letters of intent with five other companies: Precision Biomonitoring, Fluid Energy Group, Irving Oil, Calko Group, and Stanfield’s.

We know that the demand for critical equipment and supplies will grow in the coming weeks, so we need a sustainable, stable supply of these products.

And that means making them at home and we’re optimistic that they will be available in the coming weeks.

So today, I’m also announcing that our existing Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster will be leading companies in developing and scaling up new technologies to test and treat Canadians.

Demand for these goods is going up, so we’re making sure Canada is ready to keep up.

That’s why our government is also allocating $2 billion to purchase protective personal equipment, including for bulk purchases with provinces and territories.

This includes things like more masks and face shields, gowns, ventilators, test kits and swabs, and hand sanitizer.

Protective personal equipment is essential to protect our health care workers who are on the front lines of this fight.

We recognize that more is needed and everyone is working day and night to receive essential supplies.

We’re coordinating with the provinces and territories, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the experts to make sure our health care workers get everything they need.

This is a priority for our government and we will continue to source new solutions every day.

We are expecting shipments to come in in the coming days and we will continue to work tirelessly to get these supplies to where they’re needed.

Several businesses have also donated medical equipment and supplies to help fight COVID-19.

The Alibaba Group sent us 500,000 surgical masks and 100,000 screening tests to help us.

The COVID-19 Medical Support group—an agency that brings together healthcare professionals, engineers, entrepreneurs, and representatives from non-profit organizations—is working with several businesses to provide medical supplies.

To date, they have received commitments from Bombardier, 3M, and MedTronic to manufacture personal protective equipment.

And Toys “R” Us has committed to providing baby monitors to Canadian hospitals to ensure better communication between patients and healthcare professionals.

These monitors will also help to reduce unnecessary movement within the hospitals that could put lives in danger.

I want to thank the many businesses that have made donations for their generosity and leadership.

You are doing your part. And all Canadians should follow your example.

There’s no question we will need more masks, ventilators, and testing kits.

But how many more we need depends entirely on you.

If you stay home and follow public health recommendations, you can slow the spread.

And that means fewer patients in our hospitals, fewer people to test, and fewer ventilators to use on critical patients.

So, keep doing your part and help us keep Canada safe.

Thank you very much.