Feds boost efforts to secure medical gear supplies as COVID-19 cases multiply


The federal government is expected to announce today, additional efforts to secure supplies of needed medical equipment to cope with the rapidly multiplying cases of COVID-19 across Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has hinted at new measures to come, including involving industry and the military in the production of ventilators, masks, and other personal protective gear.

He said the federal government is also expediting access to test kits to determine whether individuals have been infected with the novel coronavirus and other medical devices.

Ottawa has been working in close collaboration with provinces and territories, who deliver health care, to determine where gaps exist in the system and to try to fill them before they become a significant problem.

Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says there has been no specific request for ventilators yet but the federal government is trying to pre-empt that by acquiring things that may be needed as the number of cases surge.

The cabinet committee on COVID-19 was to have been briefed about the procurement of supplies by Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand.

"While we ramp up, we're making sure Canada is ready to keep up," Trudeau said Thursday.

"In times of crisis, Canadians come together. We've heard from businesses from coast-to-coast-to-coast who are telling us they want to help."

Trudeau said the government is looking at whether the military can be deployed to help produce equipment, as they're doing in other countries.

"Yes, we are considering using any measures necessary to ensure that Canadians and our health-care systems have the supports they need. We've already been engaged with industry on production and ramping up capacity to build and create more equipment," he said.

"We will, of course, look at military procurement as a solution as well. There's a range of things that we can do and we will do what's necessary."

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