Mandate medical PPE be manufactured in Canada

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The globally devastating pandemic of COVID-19 caused by the novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV2, that began in Wuhan, China has spread rapidly around the world creating death, disease, public chaos and unimaginable economic devastation from closed businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Face masks, especially surgical masks of a high filtration rate undoubtedly offer the first line of defense against spread of a deadly respiratory infection like COVID-19, but procuring these disposable masks has been a challenge since mid January 2020, when healthcare facilities all across Canada starting feeling the shortage. 90 to 95% of medical masks, including the now-famous N95 mask, are mostly manufactured in China and Vietnam. Even well-known Canadian companies have outsourced the manufacturing of vital Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) like masks and face shields and disposable medical gowns to China and Vietnam for enhancing their bottom lines. Although this move to manufacture vital PPE items in developing nations is probably beneficial for improving their corporate profit margins, an epidemic of the status of SARS of 2003, Swine Flu of 2009 or the current pandemic of COVID-19 can quickly reduce or obliterate the one-way supply chain of much needed PPE to Canadians in times of a crisis.

A modern and industrious G7 nation like Canada that prides itself on invention of Insulin, the Cardiac pacemaker, the telephone, anti-HIV drug regimen HAART, Plexiglass, the Blackberry smartphone and so much more should not be reliant completely on foreign made vital medical supplies like masks and shields and gowns, that can mean the difference between life and death for healthcare workers and other essential people like truckers, airport personnel, grocery store staff, pharmacists, public transit employees, etc.

We should never feel shame when watching the news again as we did today. If the US President Trump ordered 3M to stop exporting to Canada essential N95 respirator masks and protective gear because of apparent shortage in the US itself, can we blame him right now? Would we feel this ignominy if these essential items were manufactured in Canada and by Canadian firms in ample quantities? As per my research in the past 3 weeks, not a single Canadian healthcare company actually manufactures any face masks inside Canada.

I am hereby petitioning the Federal government of Canada to enact a law in Parliament so Canadian healthcare providers like doctors, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, personal health care workers, medical technicians, laboratory technologists and many more can only be allowed to use Canadian manufactured and approved Personal Protective Equipment during patient care; both disposable and reusable types.

Health Canada or Public Health Agency of Canada can quickly set standards for healthcare equipment manufacturing like the American ASTM does, and also standards for Bacterial Filtration Efficiency, Particle Filtration Efficiency, fluid splash resistance, tear resistance, biodegradability, etc. Much of the work has been done before, the process can be quick and efficient today.

When clinics and hospitals are mandated by law to buy Canadian manufactured products, the manufacturers have no choice but to willfully and lawfully make them locally to meet national and provincial demand, a win-win situation for all. These Canadian production facilities can churn out essential equipment in virtually unlimited quantities on federal or provincial emergency laws passed during desperate times to collectively fight deadly disease outbreaks like COVID-19.

And beyond.

Help me reach as many signatures as possible and lets move the Canadian government to help its own citizens during this time of urgent need, and for the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic caught us off guard and unprepared, can we at least be ready for the next one?

Dr. Vipul G Shukla. Mississauga, ON. April 3rd 2020.