Protecting Canadians: What have we learned for the Supply of PPE?

  • National Newswatch

During the course of the pandemic many aspects of our public health system and the supply of products and services have received rigorous debate. From the current discussion about the distribution of vaccine booster shots to one of the first hot topics: whether or not Canada had enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to serve our domestic needs.Two years into the pandemic, our domestic supply chain is now stronger. Investments in our global supply chain have helped, but what we've learned from the early days of the pandemic, have only re-enforced we need to keep working collaboratively on this vital policy issue. PRIMED, is a global leader in providing high quality PPE – and our learnings through this pandemic are worth sharing.When this pandemic began the question of PPE supply became the hot button issue. For years and with great success companies like ours, used well established global supply networks to make sure our customers, and in turn Canadians got what was needed to stay protected.  Despite suggestions to the contrary, this worldwide supply chain has been able to continually scale to serve Canada's needs over the last two years, albeit not without times of significant competition. Nonetheless, federal and provincial decision makers have decided that adding new domestic production capacity, also known as the Made-in-Canada solution, is a policy priority for them.To answer the call for action, PRIMED developed a facility in Ontario to support our ongoing global manufacturing network. In late January, our Cambridge facility produced it's 100 millionth mask, which is continuing to help keep front line workers and healthcare facilities functioning in what remains a critical time. Despite this major investment into an onshore presence, we believe that the only way to successfully protect Canadians into the future is to plan to still utilize global supply chains. Any supply chain with a single spoke, whether it be all domestic or all abroad is ripe to crack under stress.It would be wise to consider what makes sense in normal times before declaring what we need in emergency times. We look to those in policy making positions to focus their future policy decisions by considering the most efficient and cost-effective solution for Canadians. We would see this to include onshore production, global production and stockpiling.If we have all learned anything from this pandemic, it is we that must be ready for the next one. Post-pandemic, our priority is continuing to grow sufficient capacity to fulfil much of Canada's needs for future emergency events. As a country, we also need to look at the lessons learned from the most difficult months of this pandemic, including a true and comprehensive analysis of our how our PPE production and supply chains performed.  Hoping future crisis or emergencies do not happen is not the solution, nor is solving these emergencies with not fully informed reactionary responses. Let us learn and all look forward together.David Welsh is President and CEO at PRIMED Medical Products Inc.