Justin Trudeau says it would be a “mistake” for the U.S. to reduce amount of medical equipment coming into Canada

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At an April 3 press conference in front of his home at Rideau Cottage, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fielded questions about concerning developments regarding the distribution of essential medical equipment to Canada from the United States.

When asked how Canada is responding to reports that U.S. President Donald Trump has asked 3M to stop sending N95 masks to Canada and Latin America, Trudeau said it would be a "mistake" for the U.S. to block the company from selling its masks to Canada. 

"We are receiving essential supplies from the United States, and the United States also receives essential supplies and indeed healthcare professionals from Canada," Trudeau said, pointing out that Canada sends not only medical equipment, but also nurses to the U.S. 

"It would be a mistake to create blockages or reduce back and forth trade of essential services. We're making that point very clearly to the American administration right now," Trudeau said. 

In an April 3 statement, 3M said it had significant concerns about the Trump administration's request. 

"There are, however, significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to healthcare workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators," 3M said.

"In addition, ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done. If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease. That is the opposite of what we and the administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek."

Trudeau said the government remains "confident" that it will continue to receive the medical equipment it needs to cope with the pandemic. He also said he's confident that the "strong relationship" between Canada and the U.S. will ensure that essential goods continue to flow across the border. 

At the press conference, Trudeau also told residents and reporters that Canada has signed an agreement with Amazon Canada to manage the distribution of masks, face shields, ventilators and test kits to the provinces and territories. 

He also said that the government will provide $100 million to meet the urgent food needs of vulnerable Canadians, including those in northern Indigenous communities, through Food Banks Canada and the Salvation Army.

Trudeau also highlighted challenges faced by Canadian food banks, as they're receiving increased calls for help at a time when they're receiving fewer donations. He encouraged Canadians who can help to make donations. 

When pressed about releasing models that show national death and infection rate projections, Trudeau said that models will be released in the coming days after the federal government receives the necessary data from the provinces and territories.

"We release information every day on data we receive from the provinces. We need to make sure the projections we will be releasing are based on the most accurate information out there. We're working with provinces to build a robust model. People want to know how long this will last, we will be sharing this, but we need a better grasp on the accuracy of the data," Trudeau said. 

Trudeau emphasized that the accuracy of any models released depends on behaviour and adherence to social distancing measures. 

"We'll share national projections in the coming days. We know there are challenging projections out there, so it's important to stay home and get through this as best we can."

Cover photo courtesy of Justin Trudeau’s official Facebook page

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