Trudeau sends Ukraine 'free ventilators' that Canada is likely never to use

According to the Department of Public Works, the federal government spent $720 million on rush orders for 40,456 ventilators they mostly never used. The feds only used 500 of those ventilators during the COVID pandemic.

Trudeau sends Ukraine 'free ventilators' that Canada is likely never to use
The Canadian Press / Nick Iwanyshyn
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Cabinet stockpiled hundreds of millions of dollars in ventilators during the COVID pandemic — now Ukraine is receiving a few dozen free of charge.

According to the Department of Public Works, the federal government spent $720 million on rush orders for 40,456 ventilators they mostly never used, reported Blacklock's Reporter.

Of the tens of thousands of ventilators purchased, only 500 were used, learned the Commons government operations committee. 

"We're looking at 25,000 that are useless," said Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hu.

Despite concerns over their viability, Cabinet donated a small portion of its mammoth pandemic ventilator stockpile to Ukrainian war victims, reported Blacklock's Reporter.

"One example of a recent divestment was the donation of ventilators to the Maple Hope Foundation," said a June 19 health department briefing note.

"This is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that works to provide medical relief in Ukraine," read National Emergency Strategic Stockpile Management

The Foundation received 30 battery-run ventilators manufactured by Thornhill Medical, a supplier in Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's riding. Their value has not been disclosed, and Health Canada never confirmed that they cost $138,106 apiece.

From the onset of the pandemic, the company received a sole-sourced $200.5 million contract. "I am proud of Thornhill Medical in my riding," said Freeland then.

In a 2021 submission to the committee, taxpayer dues went to three contractors: Thornhill Medical ($200.5 million), CAE Inc. of Montréal ($282.5 million) and Baylis Medical Company of Montréal ($237 million), a company owned by former Liberal MP Frank Baylis.

Almost all Thornhill Medical ventilators never left their Ottawa warehouse and remain unused over failing to meet "technical requirements."

Secondly, CAE Incorporated received a ventilator contract though its machines twice failed initial tests with "severely defected vents."

According to Blacklock's Reporter, Baylis Medical received a contract without a federal license to manufacture ventilators or sufficient capital to prepare the order.

Cabinet subsequently donated 350 Baylis devices to India but forgot to include a $9 electrical adaptor for Indian wall plugs. According to a June 18, 2021, health department note, Baylis Medical secured the power cords soon after.

Then-Public Works Minister Anita Anand testified that Cabinet received no refunds for the faulty ventilators.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, it wasn't clear how many ventilators would be necessary to prepare for any eventuality," she said.

"I have the Canadian taxpayers' interests at heart when doing my job. I am very, very concerned with that issue myself."

On April 11, Freeland pledged ongoing subsidies to Ukraine until it "wins the war." After committing to additional loans and grants in Budget 2023, taxpayer aid to the war-torn country is $9 billion and counting.

"We will be there until Ukraine wins the war," she said. 

"Ukrainians right now are fighting for the fundamentals of democracy, for the U.N. Charter — for the values and principles that underpin our country and so many others," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on April 12. "That's why we stand with Ukraine."

"We want to ensure Ukraine wins this war," reiterated Freeland.

In March, Ottawa's budget document, A Made In Canada Plan, said current loans, grants and military aid to Ukrainians totalled $5.4 billion with "an additional loan of $2.4 billion for 2023." 

Cabinet also proposed an additional $200 million in military aid and $84.8 million in civilian assistance to pay Ukrainian pensions and deliver essential services to the country.

On July 12, Trudeau announced an additional $541 million in new funding and projects "to provide long-term, multi-year commitments" to Ukraine's security.

He also pledged 2,200 more Canadian Armed Force (CAF) members to Latvia — over three years — to train 40,000 Ukrainian troops for $2.6 billion.

"It's one thing to promise the money," said Freeland on August 25. "It's another thing for that money to hit Ukrainian bank accounts. You don't need to trust me about this."

According to an internal Department of Finance poll published by Blacklock's Reporter, fewer than a third (32%) of Canadians support more financial aid for Ukraine. Only 36% of Canadians oppose ongoing help, whereas 33% have no opinion.

"I know all Canadians are inspired by the [courageous] people of Ukraine," said Freeland, who did not reference the Research On The State Of The Economy poll in her remarks.

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