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Manufacturers offer to produce medical supplies to help with coronavirus

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  • MRE.TO
Workers make jackets at the Canada Goose factory in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, February 23, 2018.   REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Manufacturing companies across Canada are in discussions with various levels of government about using their facilities to help produce medical supplies and equipment amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Thursday that he has held discussions with executives at two Canadian auto parts manufacturers – Magna International and Martinrea – about using their production facilities and staff to produce much-needed medical equipment like ventilators.

Ford said Martinrea has 400 people ready to work on the production line if the province is able to obtain designs needed to produce the ventilators. He said Magna’s chief executive Don Walker has also offered to help.

“His words were, ‘Doug, we will do whatever it takes to pitch in and help’,” Ford told reporters in Toronto on Thursday.

Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development Vic Fideli was also holding meetings with Canada Goose, Ford said, to discuss using the company’s sewing production to make medical gowns. The high-end parka maker has shuttered its retail stores and in-house production facilities until at least March 31.

“We’re currently in discussion with various levels of government, exploring all options available to us,” Canada Goose spokesperson Hannah Korsunsky said in an emailed statement.

“Canada Goose is ready, willing and able to use our infrastructure to help in any way we can – we’re all in this together.”

Flavio Volpe, the head of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, said in an interview Thursday that he has held discussions with the federal and Ontario governments over assisting in the production of medical supplies.

“There are about 15 companies that said they would be willing to join this war effort,” Volpe said.

“We’ve been calling medical technology and equipment manufacturers all over the world and coordinating daily with the federal and provincial governments about this... If the government needs a short-term capacity ramp up, we can do that.”

Many companies across the country have already begun stepping up and finding unique ways to help as Canada grapples with the coronavirus outbreak.

Toronto’s Spirit of York Distillery Co. has shifted its production facility to make hand sanitizer, instead of its usual vodka and gin. The distillery began selling bottles of hand sanitizer on Thursday for $3, with all the proceeds going to local food banks.

“This goes back to World War 2 measures,” Ford said Thursday.

“We’re asking the business community to step up... We will do whatever it takes to get things moving forward, and the business community is stepping up in a massive way.”

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