Coronavirus: Alberta assures ample supply of PPE ahead of shipments to B.C., Quebec and Ontario

As Alberta prepares to ship millions of pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to three provinces in need of supplies, provincial health officials said there is a sufficient supply to support health-care workers within Alberta.

On Saturday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced the province would be sending PPE to Quebec, B.C. and Ontario.

“Do onto others as you would have them do onto you,” Kenney said.

Ontario will be receiving 250,000 N95 masks, 2.5 million procedural masks, 15 million gloves, 87,000 goggles and 50 ventilators.

On Sunday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford extended his gratitude to Alberta for the donation, as the province’s total of infections rose to more than 7,000 people with 274 deaths.

“I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Premier Kenney and the entire province of Alberta for providing much-needed medical equipment to frontline workers in Ontario. We are truly grateful for Alberta’s generous donation,” Ford said in a statement to Global News. “This supply will go a long way in helping Ontario, and other parts of the country, as Canada continues its fight against COVID-19.”

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Meanwhile, Alberta will be sending 250,000 N95 masks, two million procedural masks and 15 million gloves to Quebec.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Quebec climbed to nearly 13,000 on Sunday, with the province’s death toll now at 328.

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According to Quebec provincial health officials, the province has faced challenges in the supply of medical equipment.

“The Minister of Health and Social Services is delighted with this timely gift for Quebec,” provincial spokesperson Robert Maranda said in a statement to Global News. “We would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank our compatriots in Alberta and Premier Kenney.”

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In B.C., 1,445 people have tested positive for COVID-19 with 58 deaths.

Alberta is shipping 250,000 N95 masks to that province next week.

“We’re in an OK place right now for all of the medical equipment that we need, but we are continuing to get what we need for the future and making sure we are supporting across the country,” B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

“Right now, the biggest challenge is in Ontario and particularly in Quebec; and so, I know Alberta was able to provide some needed PPE to Quebec over the last couple of days. We’re not in the place where we have enough to share.”

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While news of helping other provinces has been welcomed by one of the unions representing front-line care staff in Alberta, there continues to be lingering concern for Alberta’s own supply of PPE.

“If Alberta is able to share PPE, we’re not opposed to that, we do absolutely want to make sure that the personal protective equipment required in Alberta is not going to be depleted,” CUPE Alberta president Rory Gill said. “We’ve got to take the government at their word.”

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Global News has learned that Alberta Health Services is exploring the potential of re-using N95 masks, and that it is working with the University of Calgary to ensure it can be done safely in terms of cleaning before re-using the masks.

AHS said that Alberta has a sufficient number of PPE, and that the decision is unrelated to the government’s announcement about sending PPE to other provinces.

“Alberta Health Services is prepared for the need for PPE for the anticipated surge as well as ensuring that Alberta has the supply of masks, gowns, gloves, and N95 respirators for the future,” Alberta health minister Tyler Shandro said. “We’re in a position to both keep Albertans safe and to ensure Canadian healthcare systems from coast to coast to coast are equipped to take on the challenges ahead.”

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According to Gill, CUPE and other unions that represent Alberta health-care workers will be monitoring the situation to ensure that PPE is being adequately supplied.

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“Canada is one country and if we’ve got the ability to share then we should do that,” Gill said. “But, we’ve got to be careful to make sure that our health system has the proper equipment.”

According to the province, Alberta will begin shipping the PPE items next week, and is willing to provide more supplies to other provinces as the need arises and as more supplies are shipped to the province.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.