With demand on the rise, PM says thousands of companies offering to make COVID-19 supplies

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that demand for critical supplies such as test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment is going up across the country as COVID-19 cases climb, and almost 5,000 Canadian companies have reached out to offer help producing these items.

Trudeau said the federal government’s call out for businesses to retool production is helping to amass a made-in-Canada stockpile.

Highlighting some of the deals already signed for supplies to start rolling off of domestic manufacturing lines, Trudeau mentioned that more than 30,000 ventilators are being made, and that more than 20 companies are helping make medical gowns. That includes AutoLiv, a company that’s looking to make gowns out of material it typically uses to make airbags.

The government continues to describe the current international efforts to procure medical supplies as a “Wild West,” but more shipments of essential protective gear are set to arrive this week.

Among those shipments are 500,000 masks from U.S. company 3M, Trudeau said, after a few days of diplomatic back and forth.

He is speaking to Canadians from outside of Rideau Cottage, discussing the latest measures the federal government is taking in the ongoing pandemic response.

Trudeau has yet to give a date as to when Parliament will resume for its second emergency session to pass a multi-billion-dollar expansion to COVID-19 financial assistance measures.

As of Monday evening, Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez said that the Liberals had provided a draft copy of the proposed legislation to the opposition parties. Expected to be the central focus of the legislation is allowing for the expanded wage subsidy which the government has called the largest economic program in Canadian history.

Trudeau said that House leaders will be speaking throughout the day to reach an agreement on quickly passing the legislation.

Monday was the first day Canadians could apply for the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and more than 788,000 people applied. An additional 178,000 filed for employment insurance, meaning nearly one million Canadians applied for federal financial help on April 6 alone.

A total of 3.67 million Canadians have applied for these benefits since March 15, with the majority of these claims already processed.

Trudeau said Monday that the federal government will soon introduce new measures to make emergency benefits accessible for Canadians who don’t currently qualify such as contract workers and students.

He took a moment in his remarks on Tuesday to thank the public service that has been working around the clock to process these claims.