The federal government’s incompetent handling of Canada’s medical supply stockpile has cost taxpayers nearly half a billion dollars.
Canadians are now paying to import personal protective equipment (PPE) at marked-up rates: according to Blacklock’s Reporter, vendors are charging approximately 380% more for PPE than before the coronavirus pandemic.
The $500 million cost was revealed in documents submitted before the House of Commons government operations committee on Friday, April 24.
Department of Public Works Deputy Minister Bill Matthews told the committee that the price of recent orders was several times more expensive than when the crisis began.
“On the mask question, you’re seeing a range of prices for masks. When this crisis started we were looking at about $1.20 a mask if you had orders early on. More recent orders, you’re seeing prices quoted up to five or six dollars a mask, for N95 respirators,” said Matthews.
Critics have accused the Liberal government of mishandling Canada’s emergency medical supply stockpile leading up to the coronavirus pandemic.
In February, Foreign Affairs Canada announced that it was sending 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment to China. Nearly a month later, Canada was scrambling to buy the exact same gear on the global market.
During a House of Commons health committee hearing earlier this month, Executive Director of the Public Health Association Ian Culbert called the government’s actions regarding the stockpile its “largest failure.”
“In hindsight, was it the best decision? Probably not. But I think it was made in good will with the best information available at the time,” said Culbert about the decision to send PPE to China.
“I would say the national emergency stockpile is probably the largest failure as far as our response goes to date.”
Prior to the pandemic, millions of N95 masks were sent to the dump after the federal government shut down an emergency stockpile in Regina.
In May 2019, two million N95 masks and 440,000 medical gloves from Canada’s National Emergency Strategic Stockpile were tossed into the trash after reaching their expiry date.