Back in May, the Canadian federal government announced it had contracted GM Canada to produce millions of face masks to help support the country’s ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. GM Canada had previously announced its intention to begin making face masks for its own internal use at the partially closed Oshawa Assembly plant, but with the government contract, the endeavor became a much larger undertaking.
This week, GM Canada confirmed it had shipped out the first of these face masks to the Canadian public health agency, with plans to deliver a total of 10 million of the masks to the federal government over the course of the next 12 months.
“Thanks to the hard work of 60 employees at our Oshawa Operations, our first shipment of more than 436,000 face masks is on its way to the Public Health Agency of Canada – and we’re just getting started,” GM Canada said in a prepared statement.
When GM Canada first announced the partnership between it and the Public Health Agency of Canada, it said the masks would be made at-cost for the government and would not turn a profit for the company. The automaker also received praise for its efforts from Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Industry, Science and Innovation.
“Collaboration between government, industry and labour leaders is essential to create economic opportunities for Canadians, while keeping health and safety a top priority,” said 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 necessary equipment for manufacturing medical-grade face masks back in April and was granted a Canadian Medical Device Establishment License on April 22nd, enabling it to begin production of the PPE. The company has 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 in December 2019.
As of this writing, Canada has seen a total of 34,316 confirmed cases of COVID-19, along with 29,754 recoveries and 2,644 deaths.