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GM signs contract with Ottawa to produce 10 million masks

GM Canada president and managing director, Scott Bell, tours the Oshawa Operations Canadian Mask Making (CMM) room where workers will provide 10 million face masks over the next year to the Public Health Agency of Canada (photo credit: Jessica Hayes)

The Canadian government has signed a contract with General Motors Canada to produce 10 million masks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday.

“As we speak, GM employees are already making these masks,” Trudeau said at his daily press briefing in Ottawa on Tuesday.

GM said in a statement that the company will be manufacturing the face masks at cost for the Public Health Agency of Canada beginning Tuesday, delivering the equipment to the government over the next year. Neither GM or the federal government disclosed how much the masks are being purchased for.

The face masks will be produced at the company’s plant in Oshawa, Ont., which has been partially retooled to make personal protective equipment since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The automaker received its license to produce medical equipment on April 22.

“We built and installed the mask making machinery, sourced materials and trained its workers in approximately one month,” GM spokesperson Jennifer Wright said in a statement.

“We are proud to be helping Canadians during this COVID-19 emergency.”

The automaker said 60 employees have been recalled and trained to work two production shifts.

“This important joint initiative between our government and GM demonstrates how Canadian businesses and their employees are answering the call as we face this challenge together,” Anita Anand, the minister of public services and procurement, said in a statement.

“With this agreement, we are making sure Canada’s frontline healthcare workers know there is a steady and reliable domestic supply of this vital equipment.”

The GM contract is part of the Canadian government’s effort to help manufacturers produce medical supplies that help fight the spread and impact of the coronavirus.

GM’s Oshawa plant stopped producing vehicles in December 2019, a move that was part of a broader restructuring that saw production halt at five North American facilities. Since then, the U.S. automaker spent $170 million to transform the historic assembly plant into a stamping and after-market parts facility, preserving approximately 300 jobs.

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