OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he plans to talk to U.S. President Donald Trump about White House orders to Minnesota-based 3M to stop exporting its surgical-grade face masks.
Trudeau says he is not looking at counter-measures against this move by the U.S., but rather he believes the countries can come to a diplomatic solution.
“We are not looking at retaliatory measures or measures that are punitive,” Trudeau said from outside his Rideau Cottage residence Saturday.
“We know it is in both of our interests to work collaboratively and co-operatively to keep our citizens safe and that’s very much the tenor of our conversations and I’m confident that we’re going to get there.”
Much of the pulp for the masks that protect against COVID-19 spread comes from a mill in Nanaimo, B.C. Thousands of medical workers who live in Canada work every day in the United States helping to support the COVID-19 response in America. Canada supplies the U.S. with test kits and gloves.
Trudeau says these are some of the things he will be highlighting to Trump when they speak in the coming days to ensure the U.S. understands the inter-connectedness of supply chains and the importance of keeping all goods and services flowing freely between the two countries.
“We recognize that our countries are deeply interlinked in sometimes very complex ways. The necessary goods and services back-and-forth across our border keep us both safe and help us on both sides of the border,” Trudeau said.
“We are continuing to engage in constructive discussions with different levels within the administration to highlight that the U.S. will be hurting itself as much as Canada will be hurting if we see an interruption of essential goods and services flow back and forth across the border.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford was far less diplomatic in his reaction to the U.S. measure, blasting the Trump administration for trying to block essential medical equipment from coming to Canada.
“We’re the two largest trading partners anywhere in the world. It’s like one of your family members (says), ‘OK you go starve and we’ll go feast on the rest of the meal.’ I’m just so disappointed right now,” Ford said Saturday.
“We have a great relationship with the U.S. and they pull these shenanigans? Unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, the Canadian government is giving more financial support aimed at helping the most vulnerable survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trudeau announced $40 million for Women and Gender Equality Canada, with up to $30 million to address immediate needs of shelters and sexual assault centres.
Another $10 million will go to Indigenous Services Canada’s network of 46 emergency shelters.
The government also says $157.5 million will address the needs of Canadians experiencing homelessness.
Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam says to date there are 12,954 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-10 in Canada and there have been 214 death from the virus.