Businesses shift gears to bolster critical medical supplies

'This is what it means to be a Canadian – we are all coming together to keep our communities safe'

Businesses shift gears to bolster critical medical supplies

From 3D-printing face shields and mixing hand sanitizer, to producing UV light systems that sterilize protective gear, companies across Canada are heeding the call to retool their operations and produce much-needed medical supplies for the country’s frontliners.

The Royal Canadian Mint last week shared how it has switched gears from producing coins and bullion to manufacturing hand sanitizer and personal protective gear such as face shields.

“Since the middle of March, we’ve put our numismatic coin operations on pause and freed up a lot of production capacity to help fight COVID-19,” the coin mintage business said on Instagram.

The Mint’s Winnipeg site is producing hand sanitizer from a mix of isopropyl alcohol, glycerol and hydrogen peroxide, as recommended by the World Health Organization, while the Ottawa site is busy 3D-printing face shields.

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“Our employees have no shortage of talent, resourcefulness and ingenuity,” said Marie Lemay, the Mint’s president and CEO, in a report on Kitco News.

“I’m truly proud of the way they have collaborated to repurpose some of our resources to make a positive difference for our local healthcare workers.”

The Mint is donating at least 1,000 litres of hand sanitizer, along with hundreds of face shields, to The Ottawa Hospital. It also plans to provide hand sanitizer to other facilities in Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, retailer Canada Goose, which manufactures jackets, parkas and other winter apparel, has committed to producing scrubs and patient gowns to be donated to local hospitals. Last month, about a hundred employees at its Toronto and Winnipeg facilities set a target of 10,000 units.

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Hockey equipment and apparel maker Bauer is also pledging to make face shields for frontliners, while Brian’s Custom Sports in Ontario is pausing from its regular production of goalie pads to sew disposable gowns for medical workers.

Lighting specialist Lind Equipment, on the other hand, is offering UV light products that can sterilize medical equipment.

Innovative and collaborative
Canada’s federal government said about 5,000 companies have offered their expertise and capacity in speeding up the production of critical medical supplies.

“Canadian companies are answering the call to protect our healthcare professionals with made-in-Canada solutions,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “This is exactly the kind of innovative, collaborative thinking we need to respond to this rapidly evolving pandemic.”

“By increasing our support for secure Canadian sources of needed materials and equipment, we will be able to help our healthcare workers protect themselves, treat patients, and slow the spread of this virus,” Trudeau said.

Under the program Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster, the government approved at least seven projects that respond to critical healthcare needs and bolster Canada’s manufacturing capacity.

“This is what it means to be a Canadian – we are all coming together to keep our communities safe and protect frontline healthcare workers,” said Health Minister Patty Hajdu.

“We will continue to find innovative solutions to have the medical equipment and supplies we need to respond to this outbreak.”

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