Ottawa signs deal with GM to produce 10m face masks

The prime minister also reveals government contract to produce 10,000 made-in-Canada ventilators

The federal government is tapping General Motors Co. to produce 10 million face masks.

“They will help keep people safe and slow the spread of COVID-19,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday (May 26) during his daily media briefing outside his home in Ottawa.

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The face masks are in the midst of being produced at GM’s plant in Oshawa, Ont.

The prime minister also announced the federal government expects 10,000 more low-cost ventilators to be delivered through a partnership between manufacturer Vexos and an initiative led by Canadian astrophysicist Art McDonald.

Trudeau said the latest order would bring the total number of made-in-Canada ventilators to 40,000 units.

To date, 40 flights carrying 100,000 pieces of personal protective equipment have arrived in Canada over the past 10 weeks, according to the prime minister.

Trudeau, meanwhile, revealed a new report detailing living conditions at long-term care facilities in Ontario has left him feeling anger, frustration and grief.

The report is based on accounts from members of the Canadian Armed Forced deployed to help those facilities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The prime minister said he was greatly troubled by the accounts, while he said further details would be shared by Ontario Premier Doug Ford later in the day.

The federal government had previously passed on the report to the Ontario government, and Trudeau acknowledged the challenges facing long-term care facilities extends beyond where the Canadian military has been deployed to assist.

In addition to five facilities in Ontario, members of the military are also assisting at 25 facilities in Quebec.

Meanwhile, Wednesday will see a B.C. judge in the Meng Wanzhou extradition case announce her decision on the double-criminality portion of the hearing.

Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese technology giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018 following an extradition request from the U.S.

Two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, living in China were arrested shortly thereafter — detainments Trudeau reiterated on Tuesday as being arbitrary.

The prime minister said Canada has continued to engage diplomatically with the U.S. and China amid the row.

“We don’t need to apologize or explain the decisions taken by our independent justice system,” he told reporters.

Following his daily briefing, Trudeau said he would be speaking to UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness to discuss the economic challenges facing developing countries amid the pandemic.

Trudeau said it’s Canada’s obligation as a leading economy to help shepherd other countries through issues brought on by the pandemic.

torton@biv.com

@reporton

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