N95 masks and other personal protective equipment: Standing Committee on Health—January 18, 2022

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Procurement of personal protective equipment


The government is ensuring that suppliers are providing the personal protective equipment (PPE) that Canada requires and that sources of supply are free of unethical practices.

Suggested response

If pressed on the house domestic personal protective equipment motion (to note: Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) does not supply masks to Parliament):

If pressed on TCG Medical:

If pressed on Tango Communications:

If pressed on Harbour Technologies due to gown delivery delays:

If pressed on Supermax Healthcare Canada allegations of forced labour practices (covered in detail in the forced labour card):

If pressed on La Presse article on masks manufactured in China:


TCG Medical

On May 6, 2020, Public Services and Procurement Canada issued a contract to TCG Medical. The contract value was approx. [Redacted] CDN for the provision of [Redacted] N95 respirators. As per the contract, all goods were to be delivered on or before June 30, 2020.

By the fall of 2020, the supplier had failed to deliver the goods. In an effort to fulfill the contract, the government began working with the supplier to seek a resolution. Despite these efforts, the supplier was unable to provide an acceptable solution to fulfill the contract. As a result, PSPC terminated the N95 respirator contracts with the company for default, effective February 12, 2021.

On May 5, 2021, The Department of Justice, on behalf of PSPC, filed the Government of Canada’s statement of claim against TCG Medical in Ontario Superior Court seeking to fully recover all of the advanced payment plus legal costs for failure to fulfill the contract.

On July 28, 2021, TCG Medical filed their statement of defence and counter claim.


Tango Communications

In March 2020, PSPC awarded 3 contracts to Tango Communications totaling approximately $111 million for 37 million KN95 respirators, through emergency authorities within the department.

A significant percentage of the approximately 11 million KN95 respirators initially received in Canada from the supplier in April 2020 did not meet the mandatory technical requirements set out in the contracts.

As a result, in early May 2020, Canada took steps to suspend further shipments of KN95 respirators from the supplier.

Following the suspension of shipments, the government began working with the supplier to seek a resolution. Despite these efforts, the supplier was unable to consistently provide respirators that met the technical requirements of the contracts. As a result, PSPC terminated the 3 KN95 respirator contracts with the supplier for default, effective May 3, 2021.

On May 6, 2021, the Department of Justice, on behalf of PSPC, filed the Government of Canada’s statement of claim against Tango in Ontario Superior Court seeking to fully recover the advanced payment plus legal costs for failure to fulfill the contract.

On August 13, 2021, Tango Communications filed their statement of defence and counter claim.


Harbour Technologies

Harbour Technologies signaled to PSPC in late July 2021 various supply chain issues they were encountering and followed up in August 2021 with official request for contract delivery extension up until March 2022.

An extension to November 30, 2021 was granted consistent with the approach to other gown suppliers extension approvals granted based on contract excusable delay clauses. Harbour Technologies agreed on September 24, 2021. PSPC did provide the opportunity to the supplier if they wished to terminate by mutual consent.

On October 28, 2021, the Department of Justice of Canada was served with an application for judicial review in the Federal Court by Harbour Technologies for the Court to compel Canada to re-consider a reasonable period of extension for the delivery under the contract based on the specific circumstances affecting the applicant and request to have a hearing before a judge before the December 30, 2021, delivery expiry date.

However, based on unpredictable environmental events and the subsequent transportation complications within the province of British Columbia, on December 13, 2021, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and PSPC approved a further delay in delivery of contracted goods up until March 31, 2022.



PSPC awarded a 10-year contract to Medicom for domestic production and distribution of surgical masks and N95 respirators for PHAC.

Production ramp up for N95 respirators began in August 2020. Medicom applied for Health Canada’s International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification. Health Canada approval was obtained on October 30.

Medicom has also received quality assessment testing approval from PHAC on their N95 respirator.

Quality assessment testing is a standard requirement to confirm the masks meet the mandatory 95% filtration standard for N95 respirators. This quality assessment testing process was performed by the National Research Council (NRC), on behalf of PHAC.

NRC performed the testing using the filtration testing machine TSI8130A, which is the same machine used by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the United States. Quality assessment testing typically takes 7 to 10 business days depending on the number of sample masks being tested. There is an extension for NIOSH approval until the end of June 2021.

While Medicom was finalizing quality assessment testing, they provided 700,000 FFP2 masks (N95 equivalent) from Europe. Medicom has provided PSPC with a delivery schedule for the N95 respirators. Deliveries began in November 2020.


PSPC entered into a contract directly with 3M Canada to purchase domestically-produced N95 masks. 3M had responded to a ‘call to industry’ posted by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) seeking industry engagement on establishing domestic manufacturing of N95 masks in Canada. Five proposals were received, and the 3M proposal was selected as the best value to Canada.

Under the contract, 3M will provide 25 million N95 masks annually over an initial 5-year period (April 2021 to March 2026). Canada has also reserved the right to extend the contract by up to 5 optional years. 3M had notified PSPC that they had an additional 5 million masks that they could supply in the first year, which PSPC then purchased, bringing the year one deliveries to 30 million masks total.

Essential Services Contingency Reserve


The Government of Canada created the Essential Services Contingency Reserve (ESCR) to provide access to personal protective equipment, non-medical masks and disinfection products to essential service sectors, the social sector, as well as organizations serving Indigenous communities.

Suggested response

If pressed on logistics and distribution:

If pressed on cost-recovery:

If pressed on inventory:


In summer of 2020, the Government of Canada established the ESCR as a temporary measure to provide a backstop when PPE are unavailable on the marketplace. Operating since August 2020, it provides access to PPE to essential service sectors, the social sector, as well as organizations serving Indigenous communities.


Currently, items are being provided at cost to essential service sectors and at no cost to organizations serving Indigenous communities and social service sectors.

To be eligible, businesses or organizations must be from one of the 10 critical infrastructure sectors as identified in Public Safety Canada’s Guidance on Essential services and Function in Canada during the COVID-19 Pandemic (for example, energy and utilities, health, food).

Assessment criteria include (1) the degree to which the sector is facing critical shortages of PPE, (2) if the requested supplies are appropriate based on public health guidance and occupational health and safety requirements, (3) if the requestors have been unable to secure PPE elsewhere.

The total value of products procured under the ESCR is roughly $168 million. The Public Health Agency of Canada and other departments donated additional PPE to the inventory.

The ESCR inventory has been mostly accessed by small and medium-sized enterprises.

Next steps

Given the current state of the pandemic, the escalating public health advice and the steady need for PPE, Public Services and Procurement Canada is proposing to optimize the use of the existing ESCR inventory by increasing the visibility and making the remaining PPE inventory more accessible.

Ventilator procurement


Recent questions have been raised about domestic contracting for ventilators.

Suggested response

If pressed on which companies will be affected by the reduction:

If pressed on whether FTI was affected:

If pressed on FTI:

If pressed on for the process that led to contract awards:


At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada procured ventilators at a rate that would allow it to be oversupplied in the event there was a significant surge in COVID-19 cases and worst-case scenarios for disease infection occur. Canada’s initial approach was to secure contracts with manufacturers of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) ventilators. The Government of Canada procured approximately 3,000 COTS ventilators which were deployed.

In March/April 2020, PSPC entered into 8 non-competitive contracts with 6 suppliers using its emergency delegation. In May/June 2020, PSPC entered into 3 additional non-competitive contracts. Delivery dates under these contracts were not firm due to suppliers not being able to provide firm commitments in the face of increased global demand.

To secure ventilators, PSPC, PHAC and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada undertook a process to identify viable proposals to manufacture ventilators in Canada. As a result, Canada awarded 4 contracts to domestic manufacturers to produce 37,500 ventilators in Canada.

In the fall of 2020, it was becoming apparent that the quantities contracted by PSPC coupled with the quantities procured directly by provinces/territories indicated that Canada would have an oversupply of ventilators. In response to this, Canada proceeded to reduce the quantities required by terminating contracts for convenience with domestic manufacturers. In lieu of requiring, contracting and receiving 40,545 units at the onset of the requirement, Canada’s reduction resulted in only requiring and receiving 27,706 units.

Contract termination for convenience was actioned with the 4 domestic suppliers of which 1 is currently still in the final steps of the claims process.

Late show speaking notes: COVID-19 domestic personal protective equipment manufacturing

Adjournment proceedings: Notices of questions

Original exchange for background: Hansard, December 3, 2021

Mr. Tony Baldinelli (Niagara Falls, Conservative Party of Canada (CPC)): Canada's new PPE manufacturing industry is already in a state of crisis. These patriotic innovators answered the government's call to help Canadians when PPE supply was short and badly needed at the start of the pandemic despite the prime minister promising to buy made in Canada PPE, all I can find in the parliamentary precinct are masks that are made in China. When will this liberal government start supporting Canadian PPE innovators and manufacturers and stop breaking their promises?

Hon. Filomena Tassi (Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, Liberal): In the House in the 44th Parliament I want to thank the good people of Hamilton West St. Catharines-Dundas for electing me. This truly is an honour. With respect to the member's question, Madam Speaker, we know that Canadian businesses have pivoted. They retooled. And we have supported them every step of the way. We are in a position now where we are not short on PPE. Why? Because Canadian businesses stepped up and our procurement efforts have supported those businesses. We're going to continue to do that, ma'am. Thank you.

Late show response 4 minutes (557 words)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member from Niagara Falls for the question.

From the very first days of this pandemic, our government has worked around the clock to procure critical PPE and essential medical supplies to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

Canadians can rest assured that we will continue to do whatever it takes to get us through this global health crisis.

When COVID-19 reached our shores, our government acted promptly to get our frontline health care professionals the vital supplies they required.

As the member knows, Mr. Speaker, the entire world was scrambling to get the same materials from a finite number of suppliers, making it a highly competitive global environment.

Our procurement experts worked day and night aggressively buying from all available suppliers and distributors here at home and abroad.

We have been aggressive in our efforts to secure PPE just as we have been to secure safe and effective vaccines.

And while this pandemic is far from over, we have delivered for Canadians.

When it comes to PPE, our government has acquired billions of units of non-surgical masks, N95 respirators, face shields, hand sanitizer, protective gowns, gloves and more.

Thanks to these efforts, Canada is in now a strong and stable position in terms of PPE and supplies.

But in the face of intense global demand, our government’s procurement strategy had to be smart and agile.

Making sure we had diverse supply chains operating simultaneously has been key to ensuring we have reliable sources of critical goods and supplies.

There is no doubt that the urgent global demand meant that early supplies largely came from overseas.

However, Mr. Speaker, as part of our pandemic response, this government also invested in Canadian companies to make the PPE we needed so much.

We also put out a call to action to domestic companies that could supply such items to us.

As soon as we did, companies from across Canada did their part and answered that call, and some completely shifted their production lines to meet the urgent need.

Mr. Speaker, we should all be proud that Canadian industry stepped up in a big way.

Medicom out of Montreal and 3M in Brockville are prime examples.

Our government has a 10-year contract with Medicom to supply N95s and surgical masks. And we have a contract with 3M for 25 million N95s annually, through to 2026.

Our investments with these companies have helped secure domestic capacity for the production of PPE, now and into the future.

If we take a look at all the contracting handled by Public Services and Procurement Canada to combat COVID-19, aside from vaccines, over 40% of expenditures are associated with products manufactured in Canada or services delivered by Canadian companies.

And I will also note that the vast majority of the total value of contracts for PPE, medical equipment and supplies have been with Canadian companies that supply and distribute PPE—accounting for approximately 87% of overall contractual expenditures.

Combating COVID-19 in this country truly has been a Team Canada effort.

As we face new variants and new waves of infection, our top priority remains to finish the fight against COVID-19.

Canadian companies that stepped up to join the fight have been, and will continue to be, key to our success.

And our Government’s will always have their backs.

Thank you.

One minute rebuttal (106 words)

Mr. Speaker,

Our government will continue to do whatever it takes to keep Canadians safe and healthy and to finish the fight against COVID-19.

The work to secure PPE as well as safe and effective vaccines truly has been a Team Canada effort.

Our success in acquiring billions of pieces of PPE was in no small part due to the dedication and perseverance of many Canadian manufacturers who did not hesitate to answer the call to action.

Our government will always support those manufactures, as we have done.

Together, we will continue to combat COVID-19 until Canada is on the other side of this pandemic.

Thank you.

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