Huawei donates medical supplies to Canada amid shortage concerns
OTTAWA -- Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has quietly made a donation of medical supplies to Canada, CTV News has confirmed.
As reported first in The Globe and Mail, the donation includes more than a million masks, 30,000 goggles and 50,000 pair of gloves.
When CTV News contacted the telecommunications company, Huawei had no comment.
Huawei’s donation comes amid major concerns about Canada’s stockpile and supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes items like masks and gloves. Speaking to reporters on April 1, Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu confirmed that Canada’s stockpile appeared to fall short when the outbreak began.
"I think federal governments for decades have been underfunding things like public health preparedness and I would say that obviously governments all across the world are in the same exact situation," Hajdu said, speaking at the daily cabinet ministers' press conference at the time.
China produces a significant share of the world's supply of PPE. When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted and China closed many of its factories, the global supply chain was sent reeling.
As the drought of protective equipment became clear, hospitals including Toronto’s Mt. Sinai Hospital were forced to ration their equipment. Staff at the Toronto hospital were being told last week to limit their use to one mask per day, and were not changing their masks between seeing different patients.
"I have heard those stories myself from frontline workers; I know provinces and territories are developing different sets of rules for frontline workers around the dispersement and use of personal protective equipment," Hajdu said, adding that the government is pushing hard to build up its supply of PPE.
However, the international market for the hotly-demanded items is proving to be extremely competitive. As Hajdu noted, many other countries also did not have sufficient stockpiles, and are therefore looking to gobble up the available PPE on the global market.
"We are working I would say 24 hours, around the clock, trying to procure equipment in a global situation where equipment is extremely tight," Hajdu said.
"Our government has the money, we have the will, we have the workforce, and everybody's focus is firmly on getting PPE."
As of April 2, the government had secured more than 157 million surgical masks and had ordered an additional 65 million N95 masks. Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said on Tuesday that the government was pushing hard to beef up its supply — fast.
"We are taking a very aggressive and proactive approach to procurement every day. We are working 24/7. This country has never seen procurement like it is occurring now. It is broad-based and aggressive," Anand said.
Meanwhile, the donation from Huawei comes as the company has been actively pushing for inclusion in Canada's core advanced 5G network. The United States has been pushing for its allies to shut Huawei out of their 5G networks in order to keep Chinese intelligence officials away from highly sensitive information.
Canada has yet to make a decision on Huawei’s potential inclusion in its 5G network.