Other: Standing Committee on Health—June 14, 2021

Document navigation for "Standing Committee on Health: June 14, 2021"

Mobile health units for Ontario


The Prime Minister announced on January 22, 2021, that Canada would provide 2 mobile health units (MHU) to Ontario in response to the province’s request. The MHU at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto was turned over to the hospital on April 5. The second MHU is being deployed to Hamilton Health Sciences in Hamilton and should be ready for its first patients by the first week of June.

Suggested response

If pressed on timing:


A MHU is a fully self-sufficient unit that can provide targeted care for persons with acute respiratory disease and distress. It was designed with the capability of providing a triage area, short stay evaluation area, 2 resuscitation bays, up to an 80 bed in-patient ward, up to a 20 bed intensive care unit (ICU), diagnostic imaging (portable x-ray), laboratory, pharmacy, and a separate low-risk zone which includes central supply and office space. Two firms (Weatherhaven Global Resources Ltd of Coquitlam, BC and SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc. of Ottawa, ON) were contracted to design and deliver Canada’s mobile health units. Both firms have a proven record on complex logistics work.

Integral to the design is a full water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) system of fresh potable water systems, latrines, showers, and hand washing stations. Should electrical hookup or compressed oxygen not be available at the deployment site, power can be provided through generators and oxygen through various O2 generators and concentrators. The self-sufficiency of the unit makes it extremely flexible to be able to deploy where the need is greatest, not just where the utilities exist for its support.


Two task authorization contracts for up to $150M were issued to each of the contractors. This type of contract establishes a maximum expenditure and requires one or more task authorizations in order to actually incur costs. To date, task authorizations with an amount totalling approximately $124.85M have been issued to Weatherhaven Global Solutions and approximately $64.22M to SNC-Lavalin PAE. These task authorizations are issued based on estimates. As work progresses, it is often determined that actual costs are not as high as expected. Therefore, the numbers related to task authorizations was reduced as PSPC went through an exercise to try and bring task authorizations in line with actuals.

With these authorizations, both contractors have developed designs, organized project management offices, bought medical equipment and consumables and are maintaining readiness for operations which includes doing required maintenance to keep the equipment ready for operations, warehousing of the equipment and structures, etc.

Weatherhaven has one MHU ready for deployment in addition to the 2 currently up at Sunnybrook and Hamilton. This model is completely self-sufficient and can be used within a host building or independently.

SNC-Lavalin PAE has one MHU solution available for deployment to a building of opportunity. SNC-Lavalin PAE also has procured and stored medical equipment and consumables to supply up to a total of 5 MHUs. Some equipment has already been transferred to Public Health Agency of Canada for distribution to provinces.

How the contractors were selected

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the world class medical infrastructure across the world (for example, Italy and New York City), it became evident that Canada needed to prepare for the worst case scenario. It was apparent that waiting to start development of a MHU when a province or territory declared that they were overwhelmed and needed federal assistance would be too late. Immediate ordering of critical medical equipment and the development of a design for a workable MHU was required. Canada therefore went to 2 contractors known for their strong logistical capabilities and proven history to carry out this kind of work.

The joint venture SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc. was identified due to their existing and past contracts in providing logistical support for building and maintaining military camps during military deployments (for example, Kandahar, Afghanistan).

Weatherhaven Global Resources Ltd. was selected because of its existing contract to provide similar types of structures to the Department of National Defence for mobile headquarters and Weatherhaven’s association with ATCO Ltd. and its strong logistics capability.

Although the 2 firms were competing against each other through a request for proposal process, it was decided to award a contract to each to allow different designs, greater capacity and back-up.

Document navigation for "Standing Committee on Health: June 14, 2021"

Date modified: