The federal government was so desperate for supplies during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic that it paid a firm $8.6 million to help them source products from China.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, the Department of Public Works signed a $8,625,000 untendered contract with professional services firm Deloitte to help manage shipments from Chinese medical supplies producers and distributors. 

On May 5, staff wrote in a memo to Public Works Minister Anita Anand that the government needed external help as they had a significant shortage of supplies.

“Considering the national crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic the department needed to quickly procure personal protective equipment and was required to accelerate normal processes,” the memo reads.

“The department has engaged Deloitte to help officials navigate what has suddenly become the world’s most competitive industry. That firm is helping Canada to identify sources of supply that will meet Canadian standards, secure the supply chain and facilitate the export process.”

In May of last year, the government destroyed 2 million N95 masks and 440,000 pairs of gloves at the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS) warehouse in Regina. While the supplies were expired, the government failed to replace them.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam admitted that Canada did not have nearly enough supplies stockpiled for the coronavirus pandemic.

Canada’s desperate need for medical supplies led the government to purchase poor-quality products from China.

On April 15, Deputy Public Works Minister Bill Matthews told the House of Commons government operations committee that the government had made some poor purchases, including products which were not usable.

“We are buying products at a high volume from unfamiliar suppliers and that can present challenges both in terms of delivery and in terms of quality,” he said.

In April, the City of Toronto recalled thousands of faulty masks that were manufactured in China, after healthcare workers reported they were “ripping and tearing.” 

It was also revealed in April that China sent Canada one million faulty masks that failed to meet health and safety standards. The spokesman for the Department of Health and Canada’s Public Health Agency Eric Morrisette said the KN95 masks are unusable in a health care setting.

Since the pandemic began the federal government has spent at least $1.8 billion, with personal protective equipment prices inflated by as much as 380%.