TORONTO — Over the past five days more than 13 million masks were delivered to health-care facilities in Ontario.
Speaking alongside Health Minister Christine Elliott and Finance Minster Rod Phillips at Queen’s Park on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province is doing everything it can to ensure health-care workers have the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to stay safe throughout the pandemic.
In addition to the 13 million masks, the province has also procured 200,000 N95 respirator masks and 38 ventilators.
Ford said the province is providing same-day deliveries to health-care facilities like hospitals, long-term care homes and retirement homes. He said that over the Easter long-weekend, 6.5 million of those surgical and procedural masks were delivered to more than 650 facilities.
“Our frontline heroes have our backs and we must have theirs and that means giving them the tools they need,” Ford said while hinting that even more supplies are coming Ontario’s way. “This is something I’ve been laser focused on.”
The supplies came from traditional suppliers, donations, local manufacturers and partnerships with the federal government.
Ontario also received an additional shipment of PPE from Alberta, including 250,000 N95 masks, 2.5 million surgical masks, 15 million surgical gloves, 87,000 safety goggles and 50 ventilators.
“As Canadians we have to have each other’s backs,” Ford said before thanking his counterpart Premier Jason Kenney for the delivery.
I want to extend my greatest thank you to@jkenneyand the good people of Alberta for their generous donation of critical medical equipment and supplies. These supplies will go directly to the heroes on the frontlines. By standing together as Team Canada we will defeat COVID-19.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation)April 13, 2020
Last week, an internal memo sent to Ontario hospitals by the province’s deputy health minister asked health-care workers to not dispose of their protective equipment after use. Ford also suggested that Ontario only had about a week’s-worth of masks, gowns, gloves and face shields.
The lack of supply was partially due to shipments not being allowed over the border due to new regulations enacted by United States President Donald Trump.
A deal was later made between manufacturer 3M, who supplies PPE, and the White House that allowed N95 masks to travel across the border. At the same time, the delay resulted in Ford pushing local manufacturers to start making PPE for Ontario workers, so the province wasn’t so reliant on out-of-country suppliers.
“From the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have contended with a constrained global supply chain,” Elliott said on Monday. “However in the face of this persistent challenge we have made considerable progress.”
The announcement comes as the death toll in Ontario nears 300, with an additional 421 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed on Monday.