In a statement released this week, GM Canada said it will “provide 10 million face masks over the next year with production to begin immediately,” at the Oshawa plant, which began making face masks last month. The automaker says it will manufacture the face masks “at cost” for the Public Health Agency of Canada, meaning the masks won’t turn a profit for the company.
“Collaboration between government, industry and labour leaders is essential to create economic opportunities for Canadians, while keeping health and safety a top priority,” said Canada’s Minister of Industry, Science and Innovation, Navdeep Bains. “I am incredibly proud of the way Canadian industry has been stepping up to meet Canada’s needs – and General Motors is an excellent example. By retooling a portion of their Oshawa plant, GM is strengthening Canada’s domestic supply for personal protective equipment and contributing to the health of Canadian workers and their families. I am thrilled to announce our signing of this contract to purchase 10 million face masks from GM.”
GM Canada received the equipment necessary for manufacturing face masks late last month and was granted a Medical Device Establishment License on April 22nd. The company walled off a section of the Oshawa Assembly plant to produce the face masks, which has sat mostly empty since the vehicle production line there came to a halt last December. Sections of the plant remain partially operational for stamping and other parts production.
GM Canada president and managing director Scott Bell said the opportunity to make masks on behalf of the Canadian government “is one of the proudest moments,” in the company’s history.
“With the support and collaboration of the Government of Canada, we will start production in Oshawa today and deliver 10 million face masks to the Public Health Agency of Canada over the next year,” Bell said Tuesday.
GM Canada follows in the footsteps of parent company General Motors, which is currently manufacturing ventilators under a $490 million contract from the U.S. government. GM is also producing PPE at its Warren Transmission plant in Michigan as part of its ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada has had 85,998 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of this writing, with the vast majority of those cases concentrated in Quebec and Ontario.