Canada’s chief public health officer, Theresa Tam, knew that Canada needed to procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before the pandemic hit in March 2020, but she did nothing about for weeks.
The documents that we obtained outline Tam’s continued fumbling while attempting to manage the COVID crisis.
As early as January 2020, when Canadians were starting to hear rumblings about a novel virus in China that was being heavily propagandized by the Chinese Communist Party, our very own health chief was reassuring us that there was nothing to worry about, even going so far as denouncing travel advisories and border closures as racist.
Months before the crisis struck, the Canadian federal government threw away millions of dollars of PPE. In February of 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent 16 tonnes of PPE to China.
Based on a February 9 report compiled by the director at the Public Health Agency of Canada, Tam and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) was fully aware of the procurement issues with PPE. A Personal Protective Equipment Update was prepared by the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS) and notes that hand sanitizer, N95 masks and surgical gowns are in high demand and on order.
Yet, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) spent time dilly-dallying assembling teams. The documents show that PSPC had finally assembled “a dedicated team to deal with the actual procurement” and notes that an order for PPE was first “placed March 12th!”
That’s over four weeks after the need was first identified. The focus, they note, is on PPE orders to begin April 11, 2020.
Tam also instructed Health Canada to delete a media statement about bringing Canadians back from Wuhan. She claims that “individuals are not at risk of exposure to 2019-nCoV as they did not spend time in the epicenter of the outbreak. The “expert” at the helm of Canadian response assumed that you could only get COVID if you were at the wet market itself.
During that time, staff in health-care settings, especially those who care for the highest risk populations were reusing PPE while the government blundered and Tam’s own agency sat on 55-million expired N95 masks.