Internal emails show that care home operators begged federal agents to ship COVID masks to nursing homes, days before the pandemic broke out in Canada.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, Minister of Seniors Deb Schulte was "upset" that cabinet had no help to offer care homes.
An April 2020 staff email from the Prime Minister's director of operations, Matt Stickney, directed nursing home operators to speak with the provinces, "who are responsible for distributing within their system of which long-term care homes and seniors' care is part of." Director of policy Rick Theis replied, "Agree."
In March of 2020, nursing home operators attempted to work with the Department of Public Works to receive masks. Public Works said that by March 20, that the company had already faced mask shortages.
"They are running out of masks," one Public Works aide wrote. "She would like to know if there is a list she has to be on, or how can she be provided with masks?"
"Not sure," replied a coworker. "Should I redirect them to their province or the Department of Health? We are in the business of purchasing on behalf of the government. I'm not sure where seniors' homes get their health supplies. Let me know!"
Other emails show attempts by Schulte and Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan frequently questioning the PMO over mask shortages. "For everyone’s awareness, she and Kirsty are upset that they don’t have more concrete information to provide care homes on how to access personal protective equipment," read an April 17, 2020 email.
Trudeau would later tell reporters that it was "vital that front line workers have access to personal protective equipment."
Health Minister Patricia Hajdu would later go on to blame the provinces for shortages, saying; "The federal government isn’t really in the business of providing personal protective equipment for provinces and territories... The Public Health Agency of Canada is a very small agency."