Bureaucratic delays angered small businesses producing PPE, documents show

Bureaucratic delays angered small businesses producing PPE, documents show
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After heeding the call from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to produce supplies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of small businesses complained of excessive bureaucracy preventing them from even getting a response from the government.

In documents uncovered by Blacklock's Reporter, numerous small business owners decried the red tape involved with even getting a response to their proposals presented to the federal government.

On March 20, the prime minister declared his desire to mobilize Canadian industries to help battle the spread of COVID-19 by helping produce masks, gloves, gowns, face shields, hand sanitizers and any other necessary personal protective equipment that was expected to be in high demand.

“Many businesses put up their hands and asked us what they can do, so we’re announcing a new strategy,” Prime Minister Trudeau said at the time.

Contractors looking to help were directed to a Public Works website where, according to the information obtained by Blacklock's, a staffer wrote on March 29 that the department had received “over 16,000 submissions and that number is growing.” Just under a month later, on April 23, that number had expanded to 26,000 companies.

As the businesses piled up, so too did the frustration at the bureaucracy.

“This is honestly getting ridiculous,” a manufacturer said in an email to Public Works. “I see these joker brokers with contracts they have not been able to fulfill for close to sixteen weeks with zero accountability. I am sitting here with all the supply in the world looking from the outside getting frustrated while our procurement gets nowhere.”

Other companies complained of the difficulty in even getting a response back, with one wondering “if we are short supplies, why are we not doing this?” 

Another panned the “bureaucratic paralysis” that they were experiencing, while another business owner emailed a Toronto-area Liberal MP lamenting the fact that frontline workers were being forced to ration masks.

Other businesses retooled their production mechanisms to produce pandemic supplies, but much to their chagrin, they became mired in paperwork processing delays, with one individual saying that they “completed this document one month ago.” 

“Communications with the federal government have stopped without explanation,” another contractor reported.

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