For greater than 10 years earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Canadian public well being officers knew there have been issues with how the nation managed its emergency medical stockpile – however didn’t act.
In a brand new report issued Wednesday, Auditor Common Karen Hogan mentioned that failure to repair the issues forward of time meant Canada was not as ready because it might have been for the surge in demand for valuable private protecting gear final yr.
“The audit discovered that on the onset of the pandemic, PHAC lacked a number of the programs and practices it wanted to correctly handle and function the nation’s stockpile of emergency gear,” Hogan wrote in her report.
“The Company had identified for over a decade that these points existed. Because of this, it was not as ready because it might have been to answer the elevated demand for private protecting gear and medical units that got here from the provinces and territories.”
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However she mentioned regardless of these challenges, the Public Well being Company of Canada (PHAC) was capable of act shortly as soon as the pandemic hit and procure crucial gear, corresponding to N95 respirators, medical robes, testing swabs and ventilators for the provinces and territories.
Hogan mentioned what was key to the company’s adaptation was shortly pivoting to a bulk-buy technique and dashing up high quality assurances whereas Well being Canada streamlined its licensing software course of. Essential to that was the assist from Public Providers and Procurement Canada, which Hogan famous moved shortly to shift to bulk shopping for amid the worldwide uncertainty.
“The division accepted some dangers to be able to procure giant portions of kit in a market the place the availability couldn’t all the time meet demand,” she wrote of the procurement technique.
“In any other case, fewer items of kit would have been out there to provinces and territories.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland in contrast the worldwide marketplace for private protecting gear to the “Wild West” within the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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