Other: Standing Committee on Health—January 18, 2022
Document navigation for "Standing Committee on Health: January 18, 2022"
Mandatory vaccination for supplier personnel
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”.
All questions related to the government-wide policy of mandatory vaccinations should be directed to the President of the Treasury Board.
- Vaccinations are one of the most effective tools we have at our disposal to protect public health in the face of COVID-19, and to prevent future outbreaks—and when used in combination with preventive public health measures—offers the best available protection for Canadians
- The Government of Canada is leading by example on vaccinations, beginning with vaccination requirements across the federal public service and federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors
- In alignment with these important measures, since November 15, 2021, all contractors who access Government of Canada workplaces where they will encounter federal public servants also need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19
- The administration of this requirement is being handled by each department and agency that issues contracts. To assist with implementation, Public Services and Procurement Canada has developed guidance for Government of Canada contracting officials and suppliers
- To enforce compliance, suppliers were 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
- Public Services and Procurement Canada has received certifications for the vast majority of its in-scope contracts. Where suppliers have refused to certify to their compliance with the vaccination requirement, the department is escalating and reviewing potential enforcement mechanisms
- Public Services and Procurement Canada is also examining options for conducting additional verifications of vaccination status of supplier personnel accessing Government of Canada workplaces
If pressed on compliance with the vaccination requirement:
- Public Services and Procurement Canada is working closely with federal departments and agencies to ensure suppliers are aware of, and respecting, this new requirement
- the Government of Canada is pursuing means to ensure compliance, up to and including contract terminations, with suppliers who do not comply with this requirement
If pressed on exemptions:
- the Government of Canada recognizes that some supplier personnel may not be able to get fully vaccinated, due to a medical contraindication or other prohibited grounds under human rights legislation
- consistent with the approach being taken for government employees, requests for accommodation in accordance with the Canadian Human Rights Act will be considered
- any accommodated personnel will be subject to appropriate mitigation measures, such as rapid testing, that are sufficient to ensure the health and safety of public servants
If pressed on if suppliers are complying with the certification requirement:
- to date, we have not encountered significant issues with compliance
- Public Services and Procurement Canada will continue outreach efforts to ensure all suppliers understand their obligations and meet the requirements
- Public Services and Procurement Canada is finalizing a control framework which will include verification of proof of vaccination, to ensure that supplier personnel who access Government of Canada workplaces are fully vaccinated
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
The global nature of supply chains puts procurements at the potential risk of the goods having been produced using forced labour and human trafficking.
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)
- The Government of Canada is committed to addressing the risk of forced labour and human trafficking in federal procurement supply chains through the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking
- In line with our commitments under the national strategy, Public Services and Procurement Canada updated the Code of Conduct for Procurement to clearly outline Canada’s expectations for suppliers regarding human and labour rights
- We have also undertaken a risk assessment of forced labour in goods procured by Public Services and Procurement Canada, and are identifying next steps to further protect procurement supply chains from exposure to forced labour, human trafficking and child labour
- Forced labour is a significant and unacceptable problem in global supply chains and we take all allegations of such conduct very seriously
- The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that it does not do business with companies that employ unethical practices, either directly or within their supply chains
If pressed on the risk assessment and delays in posting the risk assessment:
- the risk assessment is an important step to understand where supply chains may be vulnerable and the results are key in developing an evidence-based approach to address human trafficking in federal procurement supply chains
- we anticipate posting the risk assessment report in the coming weeks
If pressed on Supermax allegations of forced labour practices:
- Canada is aware of the steps taken recently by the US Government against glove maker Supermax Corp, of Malaysia, following allegations of forced labour practices
- Supermax Healthcare Canada confirmed that in October 2021, given the public allegations of forced labour practices, Supermax Corp hired an independent firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of its operations in accordance with the indicators of forced labour of the International Labour Organization
- on December 16, 2021, the first of a series of 4 audit reports to be produced was provided, but Canada does not consider the report to have sufficient information to fully assess the matter at this time, and does not wish to wait for full audit reporting due in April 2022
- as such, the Government of Canada is terminating its existing contracts with Supermax Healthcare Canada for the supply of nitrile gloves. Canada has neither accepted nor paid for further supply since November 2021
If pressed on the supply chain of garments:
- the Ethical Procurement of Apparel Policy of 2018 is a self-certification regime and this certification is subject to verification by Canada at any time during the period of a contract
- should Public Services and Procurement Canada receive credible evidence of a breach, it would investigate the claim and take the appropriate contractual actions
- as of today, the department has not received any credible evidence of a potential issue with apparel contracts
If pressed on global supply chains:
- the labour chapter of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement established an obligation to prohibit the importation of goods that have been produced in whole or in part by forced labour
- goods that are mined, manufactured or produced by forced labour are prohibited from entering Canada pursuant to the Customs Tariff
- this import prohibition, which is under the purview of the Canada Border Services Agency, applies to all goods regardless of their country of origin, and is an additional tool at Canada’s disposal to combat forced labour in global supply chains
If pressed on procurements linked to Xinjiang, China:
- we are aware that the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency issued a withhold release order against cotton products and tomato products from Xinjiang believed to be produced using forced labour in their production
- the Government of Canada announced new measures on January 12, 2021, to address human rights abuses in Xinjiang, China, including the adoption of a comprehensive approach to defend the rights of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities
If pressed on lack of compliance monitoring for existing measures:
- human trafficking and forced labour are clandestine crimes, often hard to detect as they tend to occur beyond tier one suppliers in the supply chain
- the global context in which most companies operate makes it challenging to directly monitor compliance with local laws and international human and labour rights in other countries
- the Government of Canada recognizes that addressing the risks of human trafficking and forced labour in our supply chains requires sustained effort, and we are working on a number of additional measures to enhance the integrity of our procurement system
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
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.
- The government is committed to supporting provinces and territories in their battle with COVID-19
- Due to the significant demands on medical infrastructure, Canada adopted the approach of preparing for the worst-case scenario to ensure that provinces and territories had the supplies and equipment needed when required
- The self-sufficiency of these units make them extremely flexible for deployment to where the need is greatest, not just where the utilities exist for their support
- Canada was pleased to work with Ontario in setting up this additional capacity at Sunnybrook and Hamilton
- The government continues to engage with the province of Ontario regarding the 2 mobile health units that were deployed to that province to identify any areas for improvement for future mobile health unit deployments
- In October 2021, the government deployed an oxygen concentrator to the Northwest Territories from one of its mobile health units in reserve, in response to a territorial request for assistance
If pressed on timing:
- mobile health units are complex structures designed for providing advanced medical care and require independent electricity, water, and oxygen
- as COVID-19 cases surged in their respective provinces, Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia all considered mobile health units as an option to aid in their response but were able to address the need before requiring deployment of the MHUs
- used Mobile Health Units are cleaned, disassembled and stored so they will be ready for deployment again at the request of a province or territory
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).
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.
Document navigation for "Standing Committee on Health: January 18, 2022"
- Date modified: