Federal Plan Mobilizes Industry to Combat COVID-19

COVID-19Prime Minister Trudeau made three key announcements:

  • Confirmed the closure of the Canada/US border to non-essential travel as of midnight tonight
  • Introduced Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19, providing support to mobilize Canada’s industrial base and innovators to meet demand with domestic production and leveraging federal procurement to get companies running as soon as possible, and
  • Announced a reciprocal agreement to return irregular migrants who attempt to cross anywhere at the Canada-US border

Mobilizing Industry

Canada’s “Plan to Mobilize Industry” to fight COVID-19 leverages both government’s support of Canadian industry as well as the federal procurement power to ensure that Canada has supplies needed to support the health care system.

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced that the plan will mobilize industry and provide support to innovate and rapidly scale industrial production.

To access the plan, ISED has launched an online portal this afternoon for companies to identify themselves to ISED.  Companies are encouraged to provide a summary of offers if they:

  • Manufacture in Canada and/or have ready access to necessary inputs through their supply chain
  • Have equipment or facilities that can be rapidly re-tooled to meet medical needs, including for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks and surgical gowns; sanitizers; wipes; ventilators; and other medical equipment and supplies
  • Have skilled workers who can respond and who could be available for work in the current circumstances

Measures in the plan to mobilize industry include:

  • Refocusing existing industrial and innovation programs in the following ways:
    • The Strategic Innovation Fund – to deliver direct support to Canadian companies for large-scale projects
    • The National Research Council – to expedite research and development with SMEs
    • Innovation Superclusters – to tap into their networks and work with Innovative Solutions Canada to help commercialize products more quickly
  • Delivering direct support to key companies working on large-scale and later-stage research and development projects aimed at producing countermeasures to COVID-19
  • Challenging innovative companies to develop research-based solutions, technologies, and products that can address a variety of COVID-19 issues

As a first step, the federal government has signed letters of intent with three Canadian companies to bolster the COVID-19 response:

  • Montreal’s Medicom has agreed to manufacture N95 masks
  • Ottawa’s Spartan BioScience is developing a portable diagnostic device
  • Thornhill Medical, a ventilator manufacturer, will rapidly scale up production

ISED is also working with auto parts manufacturers to retool existing facilities to support medical supply production.

Complementing these actions, PSPC is leading the federal procurement power for goods and services. Through the call to action published last week on buyandsell.gc.ca, PSPC has received 5,800 submissions from companies providing goods or services to combat COVID-19.  As a result, 11.3 million N95 masks have been procured, with deliveries beginning immediately, and the federal government has procured a wide array of masks, gloves, gowns, hand sanitizers, ventilators, and thermometers.

As demand continues to climb globally and the situation continues to evolve, flexible and innovative procurement approaches will continue to be explored, providing opportunity for government to be the first purchaser of new innovations.

Combined, the objective of the strategy is to ensure that domestic supply is met in the immediate term, while setting the foundation for long-term domestic capacity, recognizing that global demand for these goods will not abate for some time.

On the Border

Canada has reached a reciprocal agreement with the United States to temporarily restrict all non-essential traffic across the border as of 11:59 pm tonight. “Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature. The measure is in place for 30 days, at which point it will be reviewed by both countries.

Preserving supply chains is recognized as critical by both countries and will not be impacted by the new measure.  Canadians and Americans who cross the land border for essential work or other urgent or essential reasons will not be impacted by the measure.

Canada and the US also entered into a reciprocal agreement to return irregular migrants who attempt to cross anywhere at the Canada-US border.

Additional federal announcements

  • Finance Canada announced amendments to mortgage insurance eligibility criteria. The amendments allow mortgage lenders to pool previously uninsured mortgages into National Housing Act Mortgage-Backed Securities (NHA MBS) for CMHC to purchase, providing financial institutions with more liquidity.
  • The Competition Commissioner issued a statement that it would remain vigilant against anti-competitive conduct by those who may seek to take advantage of customers and businesses, including scrutinizing deceptive marketing practices and collusion by competing businesses.
  • Canada announced it is immediately providing $8 million to humanitarian partners, including the World Health Organization, the Pan-American Health Organization, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, for helping vulnerable countries respond to COVID-19.

Ontario

With many families struggling with increased childcare responsibilities since schools were ordered to close March 14 to April 5, the Ford government announced “Learn at Home” measures to support the continuation of learning for students while the province battles the spread of COVID-19.  Education Minister Stephen Lecce stopped short of cancelling the remainder of the school year and instead focused on mitigating the current “learning loss” during a period of uncertainty.  He also noted that graduations will not be affected.

If schools are required to be closed after April 5, the next phase of Learn at Home will be rolled out.

With the province reporting 50 new COVID-19 cases overnight – the largest single-day increase in new cases in Ontario – the Ford government has continued to focus its efforts on bolstering capacity in the health care system.  Ontario is working collaboratively across governments and with the private sector to tackle some of the unique challenges of the COVID-19 health crisis, from supply chain continuity to production and sharing of healthcare devices.

Manitoba

Premier Brian Pallister announced a state of emergency in the Province of Manitoba for a period of 30 days.

StrategyCorp COVID-19 Government Updates
March 19 –  Governments Continue to Move Quickly in the War on the Virus
March 18 – Ford and Key Ministers Update Province on COVID-19
March 18 – Federal Government COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
March 17 – Ford Declares State of Emergency in Ontario
March 16 – COVID-19: Canada Restricts Travelers from Outside North America
March 13 – Canada Moves to Tackle Economic Challenges of COVID-19