April 7, 2020

The Star – Canadian industries will make 30,000 ventilators for COVID-19 battle

Rick Jamieson is riding an adrenalin rush.

The Guelph-based brake pad manufacturer — who calls himself the “chief energizing officer” of a new consortium called Ventilators for Canada — scrambled for two weeks to nail an actual deal.

Now, he is pretty sure the first of about 30,000 new made-in-Canada ventilators ordered by Ottawa will be rolling off a Baylis Medical assembly line by mid-May.

It will be a slow start, he says, maybe just 125 at first.

But if Canada can indeed quickly crank up domestic production, it will ease a country’s mind during a tense global race to secure the critical machines.

Ventilators breathe for and provide life-saving oxygen to COVID-19 patients whose lungs are swimming with fluids, and right now the machines are in high demand around the world. So are respirator masks, medical gowns and other personal protective equipment for health workers.

The federal government tried to reassure Canadians on Tuesday that help is on the way. It has ordered:

  • 30,000 new ventilators through four companies and organizations, on top of 1,000 announced last week.

 

  • More than 230 million surgical masks. More than 16 million have already been delivered.
  • About 75 million N95 respirator masks, which block most virus-laden particles, are on order. Ottawa expects to receive roughly 2.3 million masks by the end of the week.
  • More than 113,000 litres of hand sanitizer, most of which is expected to be delivered this month. Some 20,000 litres have already been received and 10,000 litres are expected later this week.

 

The scramble is real and high-stakes.

Ottawa leased a warehouse in Shanghai, and has dispatched embassy personnel and three charter cargo flights to China to secure deliveries.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that his call last month for help to ramp up production of much needed medical supplies led to an avalanche of more than 5,000 offers from Canadian manufacturers, engineers and scientists.

The federal government signed onto an early batch of deals that it hopes will produce the 31,000 new ventilators and millions of protective medical gowns produced in Canada.