Trudeau speaks to Canadians after 3M faces continued pressure over mask exports

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to deliver his daily address to Canadians Saturday, as a major medical device manufacturer remains under continued pressure from the United States to cease its exports of N95 masks.

The prime minister is expected to provide more details on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Canada’s vulnerable populations — but questions about the equipment dispute will likely be top of mind.

On Friday, Minnesota-based company 3M revealed that because of the Trump administration’s invocation of the Defence Production Act — which allows the president to boost industrial production of critically needed goods — the manufacturer is under orders not to send U.S.-made masks to other countries, including Canada. 

In a statement, 3M said that halting such exports could adversely affect America’s own supply if other countries choose to retaliate, prompting President Donald Trump to reveal that his administration was “not at all happy” with the company.

Trudeau also addressed the dispute during his Friday briefing.

“3M has indicated that it understands how important it is to continue with delivering on orders to places like Canada because there is much trade that goes back and forth in essential services,” Trudeau said. “It could end up hurting Americans as much as it hurts anybody else.”

Dispute comes as stark provincial projections released

Concerns over Canada’s stock of medical goods and protective equipment came as projections of COVID-19’s spread in the province of Ontario were revealed on Friday.

Provincial health experts predict the virus could take the lives of 3,000 to 15,000 Ontarians over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, which could last for 18 months to two years.

“Had we done nothing, Ontario may have suffered 100,000 deaths,” said Dr. Peter Donnelly, who leads Public Health Ontario. “Thankfully, that is not the position we are in.”

The projections also indicated that in Ontario, COVID-19 has a 16 per cent mortality rate for people over the age of 80 — just below global levels of around 20 per cent.

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