A 3M mask is shown in Mississauga, Ont., on Friday, April 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A 3M mask is shown in Mississauga, Ont., on Friday, April 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Federal auditor to report on Canada’s PPE purchases today

Federal government spent more than $7 billion last year

OTTAWA — Canada’s “Wild West” efforts to buy medical supplies for provincial governments in the midst of a global pandemic will be assessed by the federal auditor general today.

The federal government spent more than $7 billion last year to buy everything from personal protective equipment, to hand sanitizer and rapid tests.

In the early days of COVID-19 in Canada last spring, global demand for PPE and medical equipment was so high Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland likened it to the “Wild West” of procurement.

Auditor General Karen Horgan is auditing the purchases of four specific items — N95 masks, medical gowns, testing swabs and ventilators, which federal documents suggest account for about one-quarter of the dollars spent.

Public Services and Procurement Canada says as of April 26, it had secured delivery of 131 million surgical gowns, 121 million N95 respirators, and 27,388 ventilators.

A second audit report expected today looks at the federal government’s pandemic support to Indigenous communities including PPE, nurses and paramedics.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2021.

Coronavirus