Building domestic capacity: Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates—June 9, 2020
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Our goal is to be over prepared and we are ordering supplies in anticipation of future needs, while at the same time directly supporting Canadian industry to scale-up and re-tool to build domestic capacity.
Thousands of firms and individuals have reached out in response to the government’s call to action to offer support for personal protective equipment.
Companies with a viable product or service are being triaged into one of 3 places:
- procurement (Public Services and Procurement Canada): Companies with a viable product that meets Canada’s public health needs
- assessment (Public Health Agency of Canada): Companies with a potentially viable product that needs the be assessed rapidly by the technical advisory team before being approved for purchase
- innovation (National Research Council Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Business Development Bank of Canada, Export Development Canada): Companies with a potentially viable product that needs technical or financial support to serve Canada’s public health needs or scale up
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) is leading the Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19 that has a number of important components, such as:
- building the industrial capability needed to manufacture critical supplies at scale in Canada
- this will be done either by re-tooling the manufacturing lines of existing Canadian businesses or rapidly scaling up the production of others that already produce these products
- refocusing Canada’s existing industrial and innovation programs, by adding to their mandate a requirement that they prioritize the fight against COVID-19, this includes
- the Strategic Innovation Fund to deliver direct support to Canadian companies for large-scale projects
- National Research Council of Canada to expedite research and development with small and medium-sized enterprises
- innovation superclusters to tap into a national network of 1,800 members, and Innovative Solutions Canada to help companies commercialize products more quickly
On May 3, the minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced a contribution of $175.6 million to AbCellera Biologics, a Canadian biotechnology company that researches and discovers next-generation antibody drugs to fight infection and disease.
This contribution is part of Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Science to fight COVID-19, announced on March 23, 2020, which includes significant investments in Canada’s world-class research community to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and to diagnose the disease. These investments in research, combined with investments in innovation and manufacturing capacity, will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and, ultimately, facilitate our return to work and economic recovery.
To date, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has placed orders for millions of key items, such as masks, test kits, and ventilators, and we have established agreements with Canadian companies that are stepping up to support Canada’s efforts to combat COVID-19:
- 16 contracts with Canadian textile manufacturers for the production of over 21.5 million medical grade gowns; mostly level 1 and 2
- Fluid Energy: A contract for a quantity of 10 million liters of hand sanitizer is in place, delivery started in April and will be completed by end of June 2020
- Medicom: A contract was awarded to scale up domestic production of medical and respirator masks, a company that has already delivered some of the more than 16 million surgical masks that Canada has received
- Thornhill Medical: Immediate purchase of 20 in-stock ventilator units (received May 7), with requirement to produce 1,000 additional units, Thornhill Medical has partnered with Linamar to support manufacturing of the ventilators
- 19 contracts with Canadian manufacturers have been put in place for the purchase of 43,653,000 units of face shields
- Stryker: contract in place for 82 units for the sterilization of N95 masks, technology is already being used and deployed in small and large health centres who currently have Sterrad units, which were recently approved for the sanitization of N95 masks
- LumiUltra: A contract was awarded to LumiUltra of Fredericton, NB, for the production and distribution of reagent to all provinces and territories, the contract will allow that every week, 1,042 extractions kits will be distributed (represents 500,000 extractions per week)
- Spartan Bioscience: A contract was awarded to Spartan Bioscience of Ottawa, Ontario for the delivery of 700 testing platforms and 1,920,000 test kits, May 3rd, concerns regarding the efficacy of the proprietary swab for Spartan’s COVID-19 testing product was reported, Consequently, Spartan has voluntarily recalled its COVID-19 product to performed additional clinical studies
- General Motors of Canada: A contract was awarded to General Motors of Canada for the production of 10,000,000 face masks, the contract is for a period of 12 months
Canadian entrepreneurs: Pivoting to personal protective equipment production
Canada Goose has ramped up domestic production of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers across Canada. The company has begun to reopen all of its 8 Canadian facilities. Once operating at full capacity, as many as 900 employees will be working to support these efforts.
Canada Goose has signed supply contracts directly with the provinces. Additionally, it is expected to deliver 1.5 million gowns by end of October to the Government of Canada.
This announcement builds on its commitment to manufacture and donate 14,000 units of gowns and scrubs at no charge. Produced in 2 of its Toronto and Winnipeg facilities, product shipments to hospitals and healthcare facilities across Canada began in April.
Located in Blainville, Quebec, Bauer has shifted its ice-hockey skate production lines to make face shields. Canada has ordered 1.5 million face shields from Bauer, and delivery of the first million is already complete.
An historic Canadian undergarment factory famed for long johns and boxer shorts is reinventing itself as a domestic producer of medical gowns. Jon Stanfield, the chief executive of the fifth-generation family firm, said in an interview he has already sourced approved fabric from nearby Intertape Polymer.
A contract was put in place to produce 2.6 million gowns. Delivery started early May and will continue until the end of October 2020. Canada received 157,000 gowns in May.
CAE Inc. (formerly Canadian Aviation Electronics) is a Canadian manufacturer of simulation technologies, modelling technologies and training services to airlines, aircraft manufacturers, healthcare specialists, and defence customers. CAE was founded in 1947 and is located in Quebec.
CAE has proposed an innovative ventilator design that will leverage its capability as a powerhouse manufacturer and vast supply chain. PSPC has put a contract in place to develop and manufacture 10,000 ventilators. CAE has engaged over 100 of its employees to work on engineering, procurement, manufacturing facilities, testing, configuration management, etc.
HP Canada has been working with its local value added resellers and manufacturer partners to create a “Made in Canada” capability to supply COVID-19 3D print applications and essential supplies to bolster the capacity of the existing traditional PPE supply chains and keep Canadians employed. PSPC has put in place a contract for the supply of 540,000 units of face shields using the 3D printing technology. Delivery is expected from May to October 2020.
Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. has announced plans to increase the production of face shields at its Windsor site operations in Ontario. The plant is working to assemble face shields for distribution across Canada. PSPC has put in place a contract for the supply of 2,500,000 units of face shields. Delivery is expected from May to August 2020.
Letters of intent
In response to the Government of Canada’s call to action seeking support for personal protective equipment, the following letters of intent have been issued as of May 26, 2020.
44 letters of intent issued by ISED and PSPC:
- masks (2 letters of intent)
- test kits (5 letters of intent)
- ventilators (5 letters of intent)
- sanitizer (2 letters of intent)
- fabric (2 letters of intent)
- gowns (22 letters of intent)
- key products for testing (6 letters of intent)
- 27 contracts have been awarded (2 awarded with same company)
- 3 are in contract negotiations (test kits)
- 1 is in discussions with Health Canada (test kits)
- 2 have yet to submit proposals (gowns)
- 4 have opted not to proceed (gowns)
- 2 were to manufacturers of medical material, no contract will be awarded to them, instead they form part of the manufacturing of gowns supply chain
- 6 letters of intent are recently signed (testing products)
Buy and Sell website
- Industry and suppliers have responded positively to the call to action posted to the Government of Canada’s Buy and Sell webpage on March 12, we have received more than 26,000 unique responses, including nearly 17,000 unique domestic responses
- We have contacted nearly all domestic companies who submitted forms, and continue to reach out to those submitting forms
- We are contacting companies to obtain additional details regarding the products that they have, particularly when it comes to PPE:
- For companies that are offering PPE, we are seeking additional information in terms of types of products, quantities available, specifications of product, and information on if they have all the necessary licences and certifications
- For companies offering goods or services outside of PPEs, we are keeping their information on file and encouraging them to register for an automated email notification service, This service will alert them when a tender is posted on our Buy and Sell website specific to the good or service they are selling
- It is a detailed and time-consuming process to contact each unique entity that submitted forms, and to assess the viability of each, our officials and procurement specialists are working all-out in assessing forms as they come in
- We will continue working through every form, and pursuing all viable leads
If pressed on timelines, we must make sure that the equipment that our frontline workers rely on is high quality, so they can stay safe, and keep us safe too. That is why we have strong processes in place to ensure that the supplies we procure meet the necessary standards.
PSPC is proactively engaging industry to help meet Canada’s needs and ensure suppliers have a clear pathway through our Buy and Sell website to connect with the Government of Canada if they are able to supply goods and services that may be of use.
The Government of Canada needs information about products and services that businesses can supply in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19. This includes PPE, like disposable N95 masks, vinyl gloves and hand sanitizer. It also includes different services, such as security, nursing, and food services. The full list is posted on Buyandsell.gc.ca. Information regarding product specifications is also available on the website.
Process for receiving, assessing and triaging requests
A centralized approach allows us to receive, assess and triage information in a systematic manner.
Forms submitted online are uploaded into a database that identifies company names, product(s) available, quantities and contact information.
The information provided by domestic suppliers is assessed and triaged into 4 tiers. A total of 16,710 unique responses, comprising all domestic forms submitted up to and including May 22, 2020. Note this excludes duplicates and amended forms. The unique domestic forms were triaged (triaging done by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC); numbers in brackets represent companies in each tier):
- Tier 1 (53): In essence, companies that are in the medical field. These are companies in the medical/surgical/laboratory or related products category; professional (business) email address; in the Canadian Importers Database or the Dun & Bradstreet Canadian Entity database.
- Tier 2 (2,165): In essence, companies in other lines of business. These are companies that provide other goods or services, but which may be able to provide PPEs (for example, health product companies that could provide hand sanitizer). Professional (business) email address, and in Dun & Bradstreet database.
- Tier 3 (9,542): These are submissions from professional (business) email addresses, but not found in Dun & Bradstreet database
- Tier 4 (4,950): Submissions that use public domain emails (such as hotmail, gmail), not found in Dun & Bradstreet. No information indicating these are businesses
An email was sent to domestic applicants on April 23, 2020, to inform them that they should expect to hear from PSPC officials shortly in order to obtain more information on their submission.
Note that PSPC officials have communicated with nearly all domestic companies who submitted forms.
In addition, we have responded to 7,304 emails to our generic inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org) and 7,096 phone calls to our hotline (1-800-811-1148) since the start of the pandemic.
Domestic companies defined
A response is considered to be from a domestic company (or source) when:
- the phone number and address are both confirmed to be in a Canadian province or territory
- if no address was provided, confirmation that the phone number (area code) is in Canada
- if no phone number was provided, confirmation that the address is in Canada
- we are unable to match the phone number and address to the same province or territory, but the email domain is in Canada, the response is categorized as domestic
- the information is found in the Dun & Bradstreet database
Additional information: Suppliers communicating with Public Services and Procurement Canada
Communication with suppliers is centralized through a generic email address (email@example.com) on the COVID-19 Buy and Sell webpage. Companies can ask questions, check on the status of their submission or provide new information (quantities, specifications, etc.) to be included in the database.
As communication with suppliers is key to the success of this initiative, we have sent an email to all domestic applicants, and are working to contact each one of them to obtain more information on their submissions.
For companies offering goods or services that are not urgent at the moment but may be in time (for example editing or translation services, or offering artificial intelligence (AI) solutions), we are contacting them to acknowledge their submission, keep their information on file and to encourage them to register to the automated email notification service on Buy and Sell. We are also encouraging them to avail themselves of the services provided by the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises (OSME) to learn about how to participate in federal procurement.
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