The federal government made several noteworthy announcements today:

Manufacturing & Procurement

  • The Prime Minister said that the federal government is working closely with manufacturers and biotech companies to produce enough supplies for the expected increase of new COVID-19 cases. The government is asking anyone who can produce ventilators, personal protective equipment or other vital supplies to step forward immediately and help. They have updated their call to suppliers detailing the products and services that are needed.
  • The public health goal of flattening the curve buys time to ramp up research, innovation and the production for diagnostics, health supplies and vaccines. Accordingly, the government has signed letters of intent with three Canadian companies to scale up the production of personal protective equipment, a 30-minute COVID-19 test, and medical ventilators.
  • Industrial production efforts in Canada are shifting to fight the virus. The Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is re-orienting its programs, including the Strategic Innovation Fund, to direct support to companies and institutions with streamlined applications and faster approvals. They have issued a Call to Action to Canadian manufacturers to provide information on how they can help.
  • The government is coordinating requests for goods and services with Health Canada. Procurement decisions are being expedited. Over 5,800 submissions to provide goods and services have been received from Canadian businesses. The government has secured deliveries or commitments to deliver 11.3 million N95 masks, as well as gloves, ventilators and thermometers. As global demand for these products climbs and border restrictions are put in place, supply chains may be impacted, necessitating the ramping up of domestic production.
Border issues
  • Canada and the US have reached an agreement on what types of workers will be able to travel back and forth between the two countries during the duration of the border shutdown. Non-essential travel that is considered tourism or is recreational in nature is temporarily restricted. Minister Blair said that truck, train and marine shipments will continue unimpeded, ensuring that food, fuel, and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border. Travel by Canadians who cross the land border every day to do essential work or for other urgent or essential reasons will not be impacted.
  • Canada is temporarily suspending the acceptance of asylum claims by irregular migrants arriving from the United States. They will be sent back to the US under a reciprocal agreement until the pandemic is under control.
  • The Prime Minister announced that specially scheduled repatriation flights are about to begin, starting with an airlift of stranded Canadians out of Morocco this weekend.
Testing & Preparation
  • Canada has now conducted 66,000 tests – 10,000 more than yesterday. The testing strategy is evolving based on access to tests. Tests are prioritized for symptomatic health workers, hospitalized patients, long-term care residents, and Northern, First Nations, Inuit or Metis communities.
  • The Chief of Defence Staff of the Canadian forces warned in a memo yesterday that the crisis could last for up to 12 months. While he emphasized that this is a “worst case scenario,” he said that they must be prepared to provide humanitarian assistance and are ready to help communities when called upon. Planners are looking at aiding remote communities where an outbreak could cripple critical infrastructure.
  • The overwhelming emphasis at the moment is making sure that front line medical workers have the equipment they need to treat patients. If you have any ideas on how to help, we can help connect you to the right officials in government.
  • The economic response to COVID-19 will eventually shift from immediate relief to long-term recovery. Service Canada received 500,000 requests for Employment Insurance in the last week. Parliament is expected to be recalled next week to pass into law $27 billion in short-term support measures for individuals and businesses announced by the government this week.
  • However, the government will soon shift its focus to generating broader economic stimulus and getting people back to work. The 2020 budget, likely to be introduced shortly after Parliament resumes as scheduled on April 20, is expected to include significant stimulus funding for innovation and climate change. Now is the right time to flag potential projects that will put people back to work and retool the economy. We can help you to ensure that these projects will be captured by future government programs.