Ottawa poised to run PPE flight out of China every day

Government official says flying each plane to and from China can cost up to C$800,000.

Ottawa poised to run PPE flight out of China every day

OTTAWA — Ottawa is getting ready to run one flight of medical supplies out of China every day, a parliamentary committee on government operations was told on Friday.

In total, more than 10 flights have now arrived in Canada from China, and the medical supplies that failed to make it onto a plane returning from China earlier this week have now arrived in Canada, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Friday.

“We still need to bring in internationally sourced materials, and much of it is coming from China,” Anand said. “While we have experienced challenges, we have some successes.”

Anand said Ottawa is working to ensure no more planes are forced to return to Canada without their cargo. In part, she said, Air Canada and Cargojet are now flying out of different terminals at the airport in Shanghai, to reduce the potential for logjams.

Bill Matthews, Anand’s deputy minister, told the committee that only one Government of Canada flight has returned without its cargo, but planes from other countries also had to leave empty on Sunday. POLITICO has confirmed that planes from six other countries had to leave China without their cargo, as did a plane chartered by the Manitoba government.

Matthews said the airport was very busy over the weekend, and heavy rain also impeded operations. “The goods were unable to get from the warehouse to be loaded on the plane in time for departure,” he said.

Each flight, including the empty flight, costs C$600,000 to C$800,000, Matthews said.

POLITICO reported earlier this week that China is currently supplying about 70 percent of Canada’s medical supply imports, with much of the rest coming from the U.S., the U.K. and Switzerland.

Asked which medical supplies are causing the biggest headache for procurement officials, Matthews said the government is still “actively managing” the supply of N95 respirators, but said the supplies of surgical masks and testing swabs are now under control.

Anand was also questioned about the fact that one million respirators imported from China have failed to meet federal standards for frontline workers. Reports about the substandard respirators this week came after news earlier this month that Ontario had received a federal shipment of 100,000 swabs contaminated with mold. “I will note that we have had some quality issues with supply,” Anand said. “Quality issues, while unwelcome, should not be unexpected given the surge in global demand for these goods.”

Government officials said they expect to get replacement masks and swabs at no additional cost.

On Friday, Ottawa launched a new webpage that shows medical supplies ordered and received to date. According to the webpage, the federal government has ordered 155 million N95 respirators and received 5.3 million, though many of those remain under testing and have not been distributed to provinces. Ottawa has also received 18 million surgical masks and 12 million pairs of nitrile gloves.

In all cases, the government has received only a small fraction of the number of items ordered, but Anand said part of Ottawa’s strategy is to over-order in anticipation of delays and incomplete deliveries.

The government is also expecting to begin receiving deliveries of ventilators, face shields and gowns next week, which are now being manufactured in Canada. Ottawa has ordered 30,000 ventilators from a group of Canadian companies.

The new webpage says the federal government began to make “bulk and proactive purchases” of medical supplies in January. But Matthews told the committee that there were only “some minor, small orders” made in late January and early February, and the first big, bulk order was made March 10 or 11, after several weeks of consultations with provinces.

Source : Politico USA More   

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Trudeau: ‘We are failing our parents, our grandparents, our elders’

Politics Insider for April 24: The PM says soldiers shouldn't be taking care of seniors, a Tory MP takes on Theresa Tam (and loses) and MPs are meeting on the phone every single day The post Trudeau: ‘We are failing our parents, our grandparents, our elders’ appeared first on

Trudeau: ‘We are failing our parents, our grandparents, our elders’

Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign up to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

As many long-term care homes lose residents to deadly coronavirus outbreaks, Justin Trudeau lamented Canada’s treatment of its elders from his lectern at Rideau Cottage. “If you’re angry, frustrated, scared, you’re right to feel this way,” he said. “We need to do better because we are failing our parents or grandparents, our elders, the greatest generation who built this country.”

Canadian troops had already been dispatched to old folks’ homes in Quebec before the feds agreed to send them to Ontario facilities, too. “In Canada, we shouldn’t have soldiers taking care of seniors,” said the PM, who alluded to a future in which Canada faces “tough questions about how it came to this.” (Read Trudeau’s full remarks here.)

The PM’s big announcement of the day was $1.1 billion—almost $750 million of which is reportedly new funding—for a medical and research strategy to fight COVID-19. Trudeau also appointed a task force that’ll study immunity to the virus. It’ll include David Naylor, a medical researcher and former University of Toronto president who chaired a national advisory committee on SARS that made serious recommendations on how to fight viral outbreaks—and led to the creation of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

“Does she work for Canada or China?” That was how Tory leadership candidate Derek Sloan, in a Facebook video, phrased an inflammatory rhetorical question about the allegiance of Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer. Sloan’s current leader, Andrew Scheer, refused to address questions about Sloan’s comments at a morning press conference. Into that void walked the PM, who stood up for Tam: “Intolerance and racism,” he said, “have no place in our country.”

Sloan’s caucus colleague, 21-year-old Eric Melillo, snapped back that “giving a platform to extreme theories is completely out of line and does not represent our party.” As for Tam, she told a news conference she’s a “pretty focused person” who works probably 20 hours a day.

The next fiscal security blanket? Canada’s cities, on the verge of disaster as they deliver crucial services in the face of plummeting revenues, are begging for help from the feds to the tune of $10 billion. To take one of thousands of examples, the Toronto Transit Commission has seen ridership plunge 85 per cent in the age of physical distancing—and 1,200 laid off employees are on the losing end of that equation. Trudeau didn’t address cities’ demands directly, but that doesn’t mean they’re not next down the list.

Under-CERB’d Canadians: The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ latest analysis claims the government’s incremental approach to expanding the Canada Emergency Response benefit is excluding 1.4 million Canadians who need the money this month but don’t qualify for the CERB or EI. By the CCPA’s calculations, that means 16 per cent of jobless Canadians are left out.

Just because they’re not in Parliament doesn’t mean MPs and senators don’t talk to each other. Every day at 4:30 p.m. ET, including weekends, they can all dial into technical briefings convened by the PHAC. For up to an hour, departmental officials talk about announcements of the day and open the floor to questions. “We recognize that parliamentarians are playing an essential role by providing the Government of Canada with important feedback while also disseminating accurate information to their constituents,” says Health Minister Patty Hajdu spokesman Cole Davidson.

Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary for housing, told Maclean’s he calls into the meetings and regularly takes ideas raised back to policymakers. “It’s really good intel into what Canadians are thinking,” he said. “Right now, no good idea can go untested.” Vaughan says he’s in constant contact with opposition critics. “If they have a question or idea, I’ll listen to them all day long.”

A left-leaning “tax fairness” group is calling on the feds to attach a string to emergency aid for businesses: refuse to give help to companies that stash money in tax havens. France, Denmark and Poland have already taken similar steps.

Christmas in April: Canada Post asked Canadians watching their mailboxes for some patience. The crown corp said a surge in deliveries to housebound consumers has reached levels comparable to the holiday season. Total parcel deliveries this past Monday alone reached 1.8 million. A spokesperson told Maclean’s the single-day record, achieved last Dec. 9, was 2.2 million parcels, an effort that “took months of planning.” You’re probably seeing fewer flyers, though. Direct mail volume is “down significantly.”

500 days: That’s how long Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians detained by China in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, have languished in detention centres. They’ve had no consular access since the early days of China’s COVID-19 outbreak. Maclean’s asked the question earlier this year that’s still gone unanswered:

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Source : Maclean's More   

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