US authorities have prevented the export of nearly three million specialty masks to Canada’s most populous province, amid growing concern that Ontario is running out of supplies for struggling medical personnel coronavirus by the end of the week.
Friday, Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950, granting the government “all or part of the power” to prevent 3M from exporting N95 respirators to Canada and Latin America.
Masks, which filter 95% of airborne particles, are considered an essential tool for frontline health workers in the fight against Covid-19.
But as supply declines, countries and local governments locked in a desperate battle to access all available equipment.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford At A Press Conference On Monday The 500,000 Masks Had Been Removed For Publication But Almost Three Million Masks Had Been Intercepted By US Officials At The Facilities from 3M in South Dakota.
“We know the United States does not allow supplies across the United States border,” said Ford. “The hard truth is that our supplies in Ontario are getting very low and the more new cases we receive, the more demand there is on our resources.”
3M initially resisted the president’s order, warning in a statement that the move would have “significant humanitarian implications” for countries in desperate need of security equipment.
Over the weekend, Trump severely criticized the company, warning that it would have “a big price to pay.”
“We need the masks. We don’t want other people to get it, “Trump said in a statement. Saturday briefing to journalists. “This is why we are instituting [the] defense production law. You could call it retaliation because that’s what it is: it’s retaliation. If people don’t give us what we need for our people, we’re going to be very tough. “
3M did not respond directly to the president’s remarks or say if it intended to continue exporting protective gear. But this issued a statement On Sunday, he said he “would continue to maximize the amount of respirators we can produce for heroic healthcare professionals in the United States and around the world.”
As Ontario struggles to find new equipment, Ford said the province is “desperately” relying on orders placed through the federal government’s wholesale purchase program to meet its short-term needs until what a sustainable supply is found.
Trump’s order was a blow to Canadians, many of whom appreciate the close ties between the two countries.
Speaking at his daily press conference on Monday, Justin Trudeau said his government would not implement retaliatory measures but rather rely on diplomacy to break the deadlock.
“There are very productive conversations going on and we expect these shipments to be delivered,” said the Prime Minister.
Trudeau said Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne had spoken earlier with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – but declined to provide further details on the halt.
A US reading of the call said that Pompeo “reiterated the United States’ desire to work with Canada” to ensure that Canada had access to essential equipment while also hard-hit areas in the States -United to have a supply of equipment.
But Trudeau also warned that Canada’s relationship with the United States is a “two-way street” – a reference to the hundreds of health workers in southern Ontario who pass through Michigan every day.
In addition to front-line workers, Canada also provides American companies with the raw materials they need to build specialized equipment, including medical grade tissue at a pulp mill in British Columbia. The plant, Harmac Pacific, has said it has no plans to stop exports to the United States.
Despite the Prime Minister’s promise to reach a resolution with his American counterparts, provincial leaders are already looking to the future.
According to the Globe and Mail, Quebec-based AMD Medicom Inc. recently signed an agreement to manufacture up to 50 million surgical masks and N95 for the federal government. And in Ontario, Premier Ford said he was working with federal officials to speed up the approval process for a new N96 mask developed by the province.
“Never again in Canadian history should we be beholden to countries around the world or to companies around the world for the safety and well-being of Canadians,” Ford said on Friday. “I will no longer rely on President Trump, I will never again rely on any Prime Minister or President of any country.”