Feds offer help to companies to retool, pump out COVID-19 medical gear

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OTTAWA -- The federal government is unveiling a plan to have companies quickly produce medical equipment to cope with the rapidly multiplying cases of COVID-19 across Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the plan will provide support to manufacturers that want to retool their assembly lines to make ventilators, masks and other personal protective gear.

Other supplies to be produced under the plan are sanitization products, diagnostic and testing products, and disease-tracking technology, the government says.

It will also help those already making such products to quickly scale up.

Ottawa has been working with provinces and territories, which deliver health care, to determine where gaps exist in the system and to try to fill them before they become a significant problem.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains are to provide more details at a briefing early in the afternoon in Ottawa.

Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has said there has been no specific request for ventilators yet but the federal government is trying to pre-empt that by acquiring things that may be needed as the number of cases surges.

Speaking outside his Ottawa residence today, Trudeau said he is confident that Canadian companies will be able to quickly meet the demand for necessary medical equipment.

"We recognize that the efforts that we are going through are unprecedented. These are historic times in which we need to do everything we can to support Canadians and mobilize all our efforts in smart ways," Trudeau said.

"There are people who are talking about historical echoes, whether it was war time or the Great Depression, we're focused on what we need to do right now."

He also repeated a request from public-health officials for people to practice "social distancing" as much as possible to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Asked if the government is considering an order for everyone to remain at home, similar to one issued in California, Trudeau said the Liberals are looking at all possible measures.

The Canadian Press

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