The country is ordering up to 30,000 ventilators from several Canadian companies, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday (April 7).
Those ventilators come after the country asked domestic companies to switch over to manufacturing medical supplies, with a promise that the government will purchase them. Trudeau said nearly 5,000 companies have reached out to help with making medical gowns, masks and gloves.
The prime minister said the new ventilators will be ready “in the coming weeks” but nobody was more specific about when.
In late March, it was estimated that Canada had around 5,000 ventilators already across the country.
At a later press conference, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said 16 million of the surgical masks the federal government ordered have already been delivered, and that 2.3 million of the N95 masks ordered will be in Canada by the end of the week.
Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam said 6000 ventilators have already been purchased in recent days.
Federal officials also said more than 230 million surgical masks and 75 million N95 respirator masks have been ordered but cautioned the global supply chain is so fragile they cannot guarantee how many of those will actually arrive, although an 11th-hour agreement between 3M and the White House has secured a 500,000 shipment of N95 masks. The shipment is delayed until Wednesday after President Donald Trump ordered the company to stop exporting critical equipment needed in the U.S.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the agreement represented the usually “reciprocal and balanced relationship” between the two countries.
Trudeau said eight million surgical masks arrived from China Monday, as the country seeks to keep its supply up amid the pandemic. As of Tuesday morning, 17,063 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Canada, and the virus had led to 345 deaths. Tam said more than 346,000 people had been tested and about five per cent turned out positive for the novel coronavirus.
Unemployment, emergency benefit claims skyrocket
President of the Treasury Board and MP Jean-Yves Duclos said 966,000 people had applied for the Canada Emergency Response benefit on Monday, on the day it rolled out – as many as would usually apply for EI in six months.
The $2,000 per month payment is for workers who have lost their jobs and income due to the pandemic.
Duclos said 3.6 million people had applied for benefits overall since March 16 and that three million of those had been processed. Emergency benefits are expected to be in some Canadians’ bank accounts by the end of this week.