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Commentary

PPE Supply Chain: Are We Chained to Our Supplier?

Tue, April 21, 2020   |   Author: Rod Taylor   |   Volume 27    Issue 16 | Share: Facebook | Twitter   

In this New Age of COVID, we are all learning not to take anything for granted. Like freedom, for instance. Like restaurant meals. Like being able to run out and buy N95 masks or disposable rubber gloves. When we see precious supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) being mismanaged, it rankles us. And it should.

Last year, when the Public Health Agency of Canada sent two million N95 masks and 440,000 gloves to the landfill in Regina, I’m sure they did not know how desperately they would be needed in 2020. Acknowledging the disposal of huge amounts of PPE, which has recently come to light, they claim that the shelf-life of the masks, purchased in 2009, had expired. Perhaps it had, although I’m sure there are medical facilities in Canada and around the world that would have been happy to have them today.

The wasteful mismanagement of tonnes of taxpayer-purchased equipment is a big concern but the implications of this incident go far beyond inventory control. The equipment was no doubt purchased for some purpose. Where was it purchased? Why was it not redistributed before the expiry date? If it was deemed necessary to have a stockpile on hand, was there a plan to rotate older masks and gloves out into service and replace the stock with fresh supplies? Apparently not.

Hindsight is 20/20. We can’t recover that which was lost. As Canada—and many other nations—are scrambling to purchase equipment deemed essential for combatting COVID-19, where are we looking for supplies? It was recently revealed that Canada has purchased planeloads of PPE from China, the very place from which the COVID-19 virus was launched across the globe. At best, this is ironic. At worst, it is humiliating and dangerous to go cap-in-hand (with bags of cash) to purchase supplies from a government (all businesses in China operate under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]) that has unleashed this pandemic on the world. It’s especially troubling when seen against the backdrop of Canada’s gift, on February 4, 2020, of 16 tonnes of PPE to China. How does that make sense?

Taking a much-different approach on shoring-up its supply lines, the US has come to grips with an uncomfortable reality: it’s not wise to be so dependent on the Peoples’ Republic of China and the state-supervised companies that operate there. Since the beginning of the global pandemic, US lawmakers have been calling for a review of US healthcare supply chains that have become increasingly dependent on low-cost products from China in recent decades, including PPE and pharmaceutical medicines. In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford has been saying the same thing, but most of Canada seems to have not yet woken up to the dangers of relying on a communist dictatorship for essential life-saving products.

Not only is the federal government making arrangements for massive supply purchases from the Peoples’ Republic, but Canada has also spent money ($828,046 to be exact) on a team of researchers, including some from the same WIV (Wuhan Institute of Virology) laboratory that gave us COVID-19 to begin with. Josh Rogin, in the Washington Post on April 14, revealed that US Embassy officials had warned about poor standards of security and hygiene at the lab two years ago. Weak protocols at the WIV and shoddy execution are suspected of leading to the introduction of the bat coronavirus into the Wuhan community.

The CCP’s attempt to blame the wet market appears to be simply a cover-up for their poor safety standards. Now Canada is spending nearly a million dollars to assist in research at WIV. Shocking!

In light of recent revelations that the CCP lied to the world about the likely origin of COVID-19 at the WIV, about the early evidence of human-to-human transmission and about the number of infections and deaths in China (vastly understated), it seems incredible that our Prime Minister would reward the behaviour of the CCP by establishing supply-chain infrastructure in China for products that should be produced in Canada by Canadian workers.

There are several other reasons why we should be concerned about this cozy relationship between Canada and China’s communist government . . . as the world reels under the social and economic impact of the pandemic:

  1. Quality: A number of European countries have rejected tonnes of defective supplies purchased from China, including masks and COVID testing kits. Why should Canada purchase from a country that has not maintained quality standards on previous shipments?
  2. Jobs: With so many Canadians out of work, why are we propping up employment and business ventures in China? We recognize the urgency but there should be efforts to mobilize Canadian entrepreneurs for this important work.
  3. Trust: The CCP has been lying about the virus from the beginning. They were slow to announce it and dismissed the risk of human-to-human transmission AFTER they knew. They have kicked out foreign journalists and punished their own whistle-blowers.
  4. Human Rights and Diplomacy: In the midst of this pandemic, the CCP still holds two Canadians as prisoners, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. They are accused of spying and are being held in solitary confinement. Most believe they were arrested in retaliation for the legitimate Canadian arrest of Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou. Ignoring the fact that the CCP has technology spies around the world—including in Canada—this blatant and unjustifiable seizure of Canadian citizens should be challenged. Carrying on business as usual with the CCP while two Canadians sit in a Chinese jail is unconscionable.

It’s troubling to see the Government of Canada ignoring the warning signs and doubling down in its reliance on and cooperation with the CCP. It’s time for a clear-headed approach to both our foreign policy objectives and our procurement strategy for essential medical supplies. CHP Canada offers a balanced view of our current crisis. Help us expose the corruption in Ottawa and promote sound international policies for a stronger, healthier Canada.



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