A shipment of 500,000 N95 masks are set to arrive in Ontario this week despite being held up at the US border after President Trump issued an order to stop all N95 masks made by manufacturer 3m from being exported outside of America.
On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the new restrictions will leave the province with, "roughly a one-week supply" of the much needed face masks for those who are working on the front-lines of the outbreak, according to CTV News.
After negotiations with US officials and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Monday, Ford was able to confirm that all 500,000 of the masks are in fact en route for Ontario, once again. Ford called the news a "glimmer of hope."
“What I understand is that we had three million masks that were stopped by US officials coming out of 3M in South Dakota,” Ford said on Monday, at a news conference. “I was just briefed not long ago that we were able to get 500,000 N95 masks moving forward that should be released today and coming into Ontario.”
The Premier acknowledged Ontario's reliance on the US and the federal government to aid essential supplies needed to handle the pandemic.
The halting of the shipment prompted immediate communication between the Canadian federal government and the Trump administration.
“We continue to have productive and positive conversations with the United States, emphasizing for them that healthcare supplies and workers across the border are very much a two-way street and we need to continue to enable us to be there for our neighbours,” said Prime Minister Trudeau, adding, “we expect those supplies to be delivered.”
“It is a two-way street. Both countries benefit from this and both countries would lose out if hurdles were to be put in the way of that flow of healthcare support between our two countries,” said Freeland, warning American officials that the flow of medical supplies between countries should remain, "unimpeded."
“We made that point in repeated conversations over the weekend and today,” said Freeland. Following Freeland's comments to the press, Ford announced that the shipment of masks would arrive in Ontario “early this week,” according to his administration.
Despite clearing up tensions surrounding the 3M shipment of masks, officials said a number of issues have arisen with global shipments of personal protective equipment such as incomplete orders or delayed deliveries.
“It is really a wild west when it comes to buying medical supplies right now,” said Freeland.
Ontario's personal protective equipment supply has been affected by issues to do with the global supply chain, noted Ford, while also being critical of the United State's protectionist attitude towards the pandemic. Ford said the decision to keep N95 masks from being shipped up to Canada was, "unacceptable."
“When the cards are down, you see who your friends are,” said Ford on Saturday, “And I think it’s been very clear over the last couple of days who our friends are,” in reference to the halting of the shipment.
Ford said he has personally spoke with top-ranking US officials to convince them that Canada should be an exception from Trump's order to prevent PPE from being exported to foreign countries.
“We are grateful for anything we could get out of the US,” Ford said Monday. “I have a little bit of optimism right now that we are going to get this resolved with the US government and asking them to exempt Canada from the presidential order.”