The Trudeau government’s mishandling of Canada’s medical equipment stockpile will cost taxpayers at least $1.8 billion according to Treasury Board disclosures.
First reported by Blacklock’s Reporter, the documents estimate the total “payments to acquire protective gear and medical equipment” will be $1.8 billion this year, more than three times the original estimate in April.
The entire annual budget for the Public Health Agency is $675 million.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began the Canadian government has been buying personal protective equipment at prices inflated upwards of 380%.
Deputy Public Works Minister Bill Matthews told the health committee that before the pandemic the price of a N95 face mask was around $1.20. Today prices are “up to five or six dollars a mask.”
“The cost of masks depends on when you placed your order, frankly,” Matthews told MPs.
“So if the stockpile had been stocked up we would have saved a lot of money,” responded Conservative MP Kelly McCauley.
In April it was revealed that Canada’s stockpile of emergency medical equipment was practically empty prior to the pandemic. The Public Health Agency had disposed of two million masks and other pieces of equipment in 2019.
While the government claims the equipment was expired, new equipment was never purchased, going against a report written by chief public health advisor Dr. Theresa Tam in 2006, recommending the government stockpile four months worth of masks.
“A pandemic will likely result in shortages of medications, medical supplies and potentially operational supplies,” Dr. Tam’s The Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan For The Health Sector said.
In February Global Affairs Canada gave 16 tonnes of medical equipment, including masks, to China, further exacerbating Canada’s medical equipment shortage.
Only a month later the government was buying the same equipment, often from Chinese companies at inflated prices.
By the end of March Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy chief public health officer, said shortages of medical supplies began almost immediately after coronavirus reached Canada.