canada masks

Ontario has officially started manufacturing its own face masks

Though they may not be the N96s he talked about, Premier Doug Ford has announced that respirator masks are now being manufactured in Ontario to help frontline workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

The news comes after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered 3M, the company behind the very in-demand N95 face masks, to prioritize American needs and stop distribution to Canada last week.

With 3M shipments stalled at the border, Ford had said that the province was on track to run out of new masks for healthcare workers by the end of this week despite the outpouring of donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) that Ontario hospitals have received in recent days.

Thankfully, 3M stepped in to ease the tensions with an announcement today that it would ramp up production at its overseas facilities so that the U.S. can get the masks it needs while still allowing other countries to receive their allotment from 3M's American plants.

Nevertheless, Ford said at a press conference on Tuesday that "there is still a lot of work to be done to secure enough PPE for the province," adding that "we can't only rely on a global supply chain right now and we can't count on other countries... we need to look after ourselves [and] be self-sufficient."

And thus, the advent of the new Ontario-made masks, which are being made in multiple cities by the Woodbridge Group, a foam solutions company that usually specializes in interior auto parts.

Ford picked up a shipment of 1,000 of the ready-for-use masks from a Woodbridge Group factory in Vaughan before his presser on Tuesday.

Though Health Canada has given the company authorization to start producing them in high volumes, it's unclear whether the products still face additional approvals by regulatory bodies.

The masks will be produced in the millions and are apparently as useful as N95s, which block out 95 per cent of airborne particles.

Ford said the quick innovation is a prime example of "the Ontario spirit" and how the province is stepping up during a time of adversity, as well as how "we have the ability to make anything here in Ontario."

With the donations and vast number of businesses that have adapted their usual manufacturing operations to begin to pump out medical masks and other PPE, hopefully Ontario won't have to worry too much about supply in the weeks to come.

Lead photo by

3M manufacturing the much-sought-after N95 masks


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