500K protective masks held up by U.S. at border to be released: Ontario

Doug Ford says Ontario could run out of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers very soon. Cynthia Mulligan with what’s happening behind the scenes as governments compete in a “wild west” scenario for medical equipment.

By News Staff

A shipment of protective masks destined for Ontario that was stopped at the U.S.-Canada border on Sunday night is now being released, the province confirmed Monday.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier Monday that the shipment contained three million N-95 masks. Ford’s office later clarified that the shipment contained 500,000 masks.

In a one-on-one interview with CityNews Monday morning, Ford warned that if the shipment didn’t go through, Ontario’s frontline health care workers would run out of masks within a week.

“We’re getting near the crunch,” Ford said. “We’re having a real issue with our U.S. counterparts.”

The premier said he expressed his concerns with the U.S. Trade Ambassador, telling him Ontario is in “desperate need” of the equipment. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said he had “productive and positive” conversations with the U.S. regarding the fate of the masks.

Ford added that the province was exploring other options, including reaching out to contacts in Asia for help.

A Woodbridge company is also set to begin production of up to a million masks sometime next week.

Ford has vocally criticized Trump’s move to halt the shipments, calling it “unacceptable” and vowing to ramp up Ontario’s own manufacturing of personal protective equipment.

“When you sit back and you think of your allies and the wars we’ve gone through, and we’ve stood shoulder to shoulder fighting the same enemies. And now we have an enemy and we’re at war and they want to shut things down with their closest ally in the world?” Ford said Saturday from Queen’s Park.

“When the cards are down, you see who your friends are, and I think it’s been very clear over the last couple of days who our friends are. You know who our friends are? Every Canadian, look in the mirror, that’s who are our friends are right now.”

Watch Premier Ford’s full comments below

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