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Ontario enlists businesses in COVID-19 fight

New website looks to leverage Ontario manufacturing sector for needed supplies
Doug Ford presser March 20 2020
Premier Doug Ford speaks at a press conference Friday. (via YouTube)

TORONTO – The Ford government is looking to enlist Ontario businesses in the fight against COVID-19. The Premier announced the launch of a new initiative to mobilize Ontario’s manufacturing sector to produce needed supplies such as masks, ventilators, hand sanitizer, swabs, and more.

Ford made the announcement accompanied by Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Ministry of Economic Development Vic Fedeli at a Saturday press conference at Queen’s Park. For the first time, the press room was closed to journalists, who participated by teleconference.

The announcement came without a specific price tag, but was presented as a major initiative by government leaders, designed to ramp up production of items needed by frontline workers.

Ford called on manufacturing businesses in particular to step up, asking leaders to look at retooling their facilities to make products from a list of needed items.

“We want our industry to know your province needs you, your country needs you,” Ford said. “If you need funding to make it happen, we’ll find a way to make it happen.”

While Elliott said Ontario had just received a new shipment of 300 ventilators, key to treating those with severe COVID-19 symptoms, efforts are ongoing to build that supply further. Other items, like masks, gloves, and surgical gowns, are in short supply for front-line health workers and first responders.

Some Ontario businesses had already moved to meet the demand, with several distilleries making adjustments to produce items like hand sanitizer. The government is now moving to coordinate those efforts, largely through a central website they’ve branded Ontario Together.

On the website, businesses and organizations can propose ideas for providing needed supplies, as well as meeting other COVID-19 related needs such as virtual mental health supports, supply chain resiliency monitoring, and online financial planning support for small businesses.