Other: Standing Committee on Health—January 18, 2022

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Mandatory vaccination for supplier personnel

Context

On October 6, 2021, the Government of Canada announced plans to require vaccinations across the federal public service. The announcement also noted that “contracted personnel who require access to federal government worksites will also need to be vaccinated”.

Note

All questions related to the government-wide policy of mandatory vaccinations should be directed to the President of the Treasury Board.

Suggested response

If pressed on compliance with the vaccination requirement:

If pressed on exemptions:

If pressed on if suppliers are complying with the certification requirement:

Background

The new COVID-19 Vaccination Policy for Supplier Personnel requires that all personnel that a supplier provides on contracts who access Government of Canada workplaces where they may come into contact with public servants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 since November 15, 2021. Suppliers are required to complete and submit a certification that they will comply with the vaccination requirement for existing contracts. Future contracts will include vaccination requirements in solicitation documents.

If a supplier is unwilling to provide the certification or is non-compliant with their certification, then the government will pursue means to ensure compliance, up to and including contract terminations.

Labour exploitation in procurement

Context

The global nature of supply chains puts procurements at the potential risk of the goods having been produced using forced labour and human trafficking.

Note

All questions regarding the import prohibition of goods that are mined, manufactured or produced by forced labour should be directed to the minister of Public Safety, as the minister responsible for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

Suggested response

If pressed on the risk assessment and delays in posting the risk assessment:

If pressed on Supermax allegations of forced labour practices:

If pressed on the supply chain of garments:

If pressed on global supply chains:

If pressed on procurements linked to Xinjiang, China:

If pressed on lack of compliance monitoring for existing measures:

Background

In May 2021, Rights Lab provided its risk assessment report to Public Service and Procurement Canada (PSPC). This work had been contracted to identify which goods purchased by PSPC are at risk of having been produced using human trafficking, forced labour, and/or child labour. Rights Lab is a multidisciplinary group with expertise in human trafficking, based in the University of Nottingham, in the United Kingdom.

The report contained recommendations that are informing the development of an evidence-based approach to addressing labour exploitation in federal procurement supply chains. The department is undertaking activities to respond to the recommendations.

As part of planned actions under the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, PSPC will also create information resources for suppliers to become better aware of potential risks in their supply chains (2021 to 2022); and create requirements for suppliers of high-risk goods to address risks in their supply chain (2022 to 2023).

In July 2020, clauses on ‘ethical procurement’ and ‘origin of work’ were added in new personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts and in all newly issued request for proposals for personal protective equipment. The ‘origin of work’ clause requires bidders to provide the name, address and country of manufacturers of the item, including subcontractors. The ‘ethical procurement’ clause, requires bidders to certify that they and their first-tier subcontractors comply with the same human rights and labour standards set out in the Policy on Ethical Procurement of Apparel.

Malaysian personal protective equipment

The Government of Canada is aware of the media reports on human rights abuses in the production of disposable gloves in Malaysia. PSPC is a member of an international working group looking at human trafficking and forced labour in the personal protective equipment/medical supply chain. Suppliers sourcing gloves in Malaysia have been asked to provide information on due diligence processes and mitigation measures put in place to meet their labour and human rights responsibilities. Suppliers were also requested to detail how they identify, prevent, mitigate and improve on accounts of human rights concerns and ensure practices are in place to ensure protection of workers in their supply chain. Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit Report were also requested if available.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement

PSPC does not have a role in implementing the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) forced labour provisions but is following this work closely to identify potential implications on procurement as these measures are implemented.

Prior to CUSMA, Canada did not restrict the entry of goods manufactured, mined and produced by forced labour into the country. The CUSMA labour chapter commits Canada, the US, and Mexico to work together to identify the movements of goods produced by forced labour.

CBSA and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) are the lead departments in implementing measures to ensure that the Government of Canada is compliant with this CUSMA requirement. The CBSA plays a role in the interception of goods that are suspected of being produced by means of forced labour. ESDC is the lead department for labour-related programs.

Supermax Healthcare Canada

Since April 2020, Supermax Healthcare Canada has been awarded several contracts for the supply of nitrile gloves.

In December 2020, it was brought to PSPC’s attention via media reports that there was possible forced labour issues with suppliers in Malaysia, including Supermax. PSPC reached out to its nitrile glove suppliers that could have been sourcing their gloves from manufacturers in Malaysia to remind them of their obligations with regards to ethical practices and human rights. In January 2021, PSPC issued communication to contracted nitrile glove suppliers, Supermax Healthcare Canada being one, to provide attestation of actions against forced labour. Supermax Healthcare Canada confirmed to PSPC in January 2021 of their commitment to ethical working conditions.

On October 21, 2021, PSPC learned from media reports that the United States Customs and Border Protection had issued an order that prohibits imports from Supermax based on reasonable information that indicated the use of forced labour in the company's manufacturing operations in Malaysia.

On October 25, 2021, PSPC communicated to Supermax Healthcare Canada that it remained concerned about the risk of forced labor and poor working conditions abroad, seeking an explanation in regards to the media reports of allegations of the use of forced labor.

In light of this new allegation, PSPC requested Supermax Healthcare Canada to suspend all future deliveries until Canada was satisfied that its contracted gloves were produced without forced labor.

On December 16, 2021, Supermax Healthcare Canada provided Canada a summary response to the findings of the first of a series of 4 audit reports. This audit was conducted at the Malaysian sites by an independent firm. Canada reviewed the report and did not believe it had sufficient information to fully assess the matter. Rather than waiting for the full audit report, which is due in April 2022, on December 22, 2021, Canada and Supermax Healthcare Canada mutually agreed to proceed with a termination of contracts.

Mobile health units

In this section

Context

On April 9, 2020, Public Services and Procurement Canada awarded contracts to Weatherhaven Global Resources Ltd. of Coquitlam, British Columbia (BC) and SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc. of Ottawa, Ontario (ON) for up to 10 easily storable, accessible and transportable mobile health units (MHUs) to be used in Canada.

Canada continues to be ready to support provinces and territories in their response to COVID. After successfully deploying 2 mobile health units to Ontario (Sunnybrook Health Sciences and Hamilton Health Sciences), Canada remains ready to answer the call with 2 additional mobile health units ready to deploy.

Suggested response

If pressed on timing:

Background

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.

As designing and buying all the components necessary for a fully functioning mobile health unit required significant lead time, procurement was initiated in advance of any request from a province or territory (recognizing that if Canada waited for a request for help from an overwhelmed province or territory, it would be too late to start the development of an MHU at that time).

Cost

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 $79.52M 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. 

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 1 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 1 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 (PHAC) for distribution to provinces—more is being prepared for transfer.

How the contractors were selected

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the world class medical infrastructure across the world (such as 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). SNC-Lavalin PAE is a separate entity that demonstrated they had the capacity to design and supply mobile health units on an urgent basis.

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.

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