#Ottawa; #Canada; #ShortageOfPPE; Warning
Ottawa, Aug 14 (Canadian-Media): A warning regarding shortage of the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to weather a pandemic was issued early February by the public servants who manage the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS), media reports said.
PPE. Image credit: Public Health Ontario Website
But according to the records released to the House of Commons government operations committee, despite the warning in February, it was not until mid-March that federal government of Canada signed contracts for few contracts for PPE or other equipment, like ventilators, goods like N95 respirators, the masks used by health-care professionals to protect themselves from COVID-19.
The bureaucrats responsible for replacing the national stockpile didn't receive a national security exemption to quickly replenish supplies through sole-sourced contracts until March 14.
It was not until March 18 that the first orders for N95 were finalized, days after the provinces issued emergency orders amid a surge of COVID-19 cases leading the PHAC to co-ordinated national shutdown.
The PHAC warned, however, deliveries weren't expected until at least March 30 given global demand and added, "Managing/moderating demand will be critical."
The persistent shortage of masks in March and April prompted Sandy Buchman, the president of the Canadian Medical Association to warn a Senate committee in May about the country's "sick" health-care system being at a "breaking point" as physicians lacked access to a consistent and adequate supply of protective equipment.
An adequate supply of PPE in the stockpile, added Buchman would have resulted in less "mental anguish" for physicians and medical professionals who were grappling with a rationed supply of N95 masks.
"The anxiety associated with the lack of adequate PPE and, might I mention, high-quality PPE, was palpable — the vast majority of our physician membership was experiencing huge levels of mental stress and strain regarding this," he said.
Public services' Conservative critic said the federal government's slow response resulted in unnecessary hardship.
"They had domestic and international evidence that there was a global crisis unfolding, they ignored it, they dithered and Canadians suffered," Kelly McCauley said in a statement.
Even the WHO warned about severe interruptions in PPE supply as early as February 7th," McCauley said.
"Their failure to move on procuring PPE for Canada ultimately led to dangerous shortages while the country struggled to fight the pandemic."