Health Minister Patty Hajdu said on Friday that responsibility for the depletion of pandemic supplies falls on provincial governments, telling senate that the Public Health Agency "isn't really in the business" of maintaining the stockpile.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, the national stockpile is the responsibility of the Public Health Agency and has been since the agency was created in 2004.
“The federal government isn’t really in the business of providing personal protective equipment for provinces and territories,” said Hajdu. “The Public Health Agency of Canada is a very small Agency. Successive rounds of governments have not made substantial investments in the Public Health Agency,” she continued.
While Hajdu claims that the agency is "small," it had a budget of $675 million last year.
According to managers of the stockpile, funding had no role in the depletion of the stockpile of masks, gowns, and other PPE. The Public Health Agency had, in fact, ignored warnings that their stockpile did not reach the recommended six-months' supply of vital equipment.
The Agency was responsible for the closure of three of 11 warehouses. This resulted in over two million N95 masks dumped into a landfill after a Regina warehouse was shut down. The amount of other equipment discarded in the other two warehouse closures is not known.
“We’ve learned a lot over the last three months in terms of the diversification that we need to address the personal protective equipment challenges,” Hajdu said.
Canada had only 100,000 N95 masks when the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11. With masks being in high demand, inflated prices for goods from China cost taxpayers $1.8 billion, according to Supplementary Estimates.