Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference as he visits the Public Health Agency of Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, July 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Feds keep lid on company names, dollar amounts in some COVID-19 contracts

Public Services and Procurement Canada said details need to be kept private to protect its ability to obtain certain items

The federal Liberals have given companies more than $5.8 billion in pandemic-related contracts for personal protective gear and medical supplies.

The latest figures provided by the government also show that about two-fifths of the total contracts awarded as of July 16 have gone to domestic suppliers, some of them having retooled operations to provide needed masks, gowns, gloves and ventilators.

Many details of the companies involved and the amounts of their contracts are being kept from public view.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the data on N95 respirator masks, where all but one of the suppliers have had their identities withheld.

The one identified, AMD Medicom Inc., which has a Montreal-area facility, did not have the value of its contract published.

Public Services and Procurement Canada’s updated page on its COVID-19 response efforts said the government needs to keep details private to protect Ottawa’s ability to obtain certain items that countries around the world are scrambling to purchase.

The government has received about two-thirds of the 56 million face shields, and the 396 million surgical masks ordered, while just over half of the 20.6 million litres of hand sanitizer have also arrived, based on data published alongside contract information.

ALSO READ: Charities worry about loss of trust, donations in wake of WE deal controversy

Efforts in other areas aren’t moving as fast. Only 16 per cent of the nearly 1.16 billion pairs of gloves have arrived, and eight per cent of the three million non-medical face coverings have been received.

The government has ordered 40,547 ventilators, and received just under one per cent at 409. As for N95 respirators, one-third of the 154.5 million have been delivered.

Not all of the supplies ordered were meant to arrive immediately, or even intended to deal with the current COVID-19 pandemic, however. The figures include products that are scheduled for delivery as late as March 2021.

“We have pursued an aggressive procurement strategy and are diversifying our supply chains in order to meet immediate demands for PPE as well as to prepare for future needs, including a potential second wave,” Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in a statement.

The department’s deputy minister, Bill Matthews, told a House of Commons committee late last month that domestic sources of N95 masks should come online later this month or early September.

Until then, the risk of losing the highly sought supplies was high, he said.

“Where we are still reliant on supply coming from overseas, we are guarding our supplier information carefully to make sure we have access to that supply chain on a continual basis should we need it,” he said on July 23.

Similarly, the total value of some contracts has not been released where order quantities have been previously released, but the per-unit cost was still subject to negotiation.

Matthews told the government operations committee about how prices for things like face shields should come down as supply strains ease, but others are likely to go up — notably gloves, where he the price is “quite volatile.”

He also mentioned his department was looking for extra storage space for the Public Health Agency of Canada as an indicator of overall efforts.

Meanwhile, a contingency reserve meant to be an emergency backstop for provinces, territories and essential industries with urgent needs for protective equipment was to begin operations Monday.

The reserve is to operate on a cost-recovery basis when it comes to organizations, but free for provinces and territories under the “safe restart” agreement reached last month.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cullen confirmed as B.C. NDP candidate for Stikine despite party’s equity policy

Former Tahltan Central Government President Annita McPhee said the process made her feel “abused”

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

B.C. snap election: What we know about candidates running in the Nechako Lakes riding

Premier Horgan called for a snap election Monday, Sept. 21.

Vanderhoof’s Anonymous Art Show aims to go Canada-wide next year

The Anonymous Art Show in it’s second year is gaining popularity across… Continue reading

SD91 develops course to explore student identity and diversity

School District 91 has developed a course for grade 8 students that… Continue reading

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Attorney General of Canada defends Kelowna Mountie involved in rough arrest

Tyler Russell filed a lawsuit against Const. Siggy Pietrzak in June of this year

Most Read