Canada to receive 'millions' of masks, won’t retaliate for U.S. ban on 3M exports: PM
TORONTO -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says “millions” of masks are expected to arrive in the next two days and his government won’t retaliate against the U.S. after the White House requested a medical device manufacturer to stop exporting N95 face masks to Canada.
On Saturday morning, the prime minister attempted to assuage concerns over shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line medical workers by announcing that a chartered cargo flight carrying a shipment of masks from China would land in Canada in the next 48 hours.
“We’re working around the clock to get Canada the resources we need,” he told reporters outside of his home in Ottawa.
Trudeau said the supplies ordered by Quebec, where there are the most cases of COVID-19 in the country, would be on the cargo flight. He also said the federal government has leased a warehouse in China to help collect and distribute equipment in a timely manner.
In order to quickly transport these materials, Trudeau said they would use Canadian airlines, Air Canada and Cargo Jet, for the shipments. He also said the federal government would work with the provinces to transport medical supplies when possible.
“These are vital supplies for people on the frontlines and are key to fighting the virus. People in our hospitals are saving lives every single day,” he said. “They can’t be worried about running out of the equipment that will keep them or you safe.”
The federal government has faced increased pressure to secure PPE for health-care workers in light of global supply shortages and the White House’s decision to order the medical manufacturing giant 3M to cease all exports of N95 face masks to Canadian and Latin American markets to ensure there were enough for Americans.
In response to the directive, the company cautioned there would be “significant humanitarian implications” if they were barred from delivering those supplies to people in those countries where 3M said they are a “critical supplier” of respirators.
When asked about the Canadian government’s response to the Trump administration’s ban, Trudeau said he would be speaking with the U.S. president in the “coming days” to protect the flow of goods across the border and that he’s confident they will be able to find a solution.
“We're working with the American administration to ensure that they understand the goods and services that are essential to both our countries flow in both directions across the border, and it is not in any of our interests to actually limit that flow,” he told reporters outside of his home in Ottawa.
“It is in both of our interests to maintain this extraordinary close relationship.”
Trudeau also highlighted Canada’s important role in the exchange of goods by mentioning that Canadian medical professionals cross the border every day to work in the U.S. and that Canada also exports supplies, such as gloves and testing kits, to their southern neighbours. He also said that much of the materials used to make the masks originate in Canada.
When asked if the government is considering preventing medical professionals, such as Canadian nurses who travel from Windsor, Ont. to work in Detroit, from crossing the border in retaliation to the 3M controversy, the prime minister flatly rejected the idea.
“We are not looking at retaliatory measures or measures that are punitive,” he said.
Instead, Trudeau said they would continue to engage in “constructive discussions” with different levels within the Trump administration to “highlight that the U.S. will be hurting itself as much as Canada will be hurting if we see an interruption of essential goods and services that flow back and forth across the border.”