Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with 3M, one of the world’s largest U.S.-based makers of consumer products, are opposing a recent order issued by President Donald Trump and U.S. officials.
According to 3M, the White House has asked them to stop exporting medical-grade face masks and N95 respirators to the Canadian market.
Following the pressure from the government, the American corporation made its opposing stance on the matter known.
3M, which calls itself a critical supplier of the masks to both markets, said there would be “significant humanitarian implications” to doing so.
“In addition, ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done,” 3M said in a statement issued Friday. “If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease. That is the opposite of what we and the administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek.”
The company was singled out for criticism Thursday by President Trump, who has invoked the U.S.’s Defense Production Act to compel 3M to prioritize orders from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for masks to help meet soaring American demand.
“We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their masks,” Trump tweeted.
We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks. “P Act” all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing – will have a big price to pay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2020
“‘P Act’ all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing – will have a big price to pay!”
3M responded by saying it has already “gone above and beyond” to maximize production of the masks for the U.S. market, and was doing so long before the Defense Production Act was invoked.
As a global provider, multitudes of masks that they are producing are going to other countries including Canada.
When Canadian and US officials decided to shut down the border between the two countries, they ensured that trade and the movement of essential goods, services and workers would still be allowed including things like 3M’s medical supplies.
In the wake of Trump’s demands, Prime Minister Trudeau advised against it strongly suggesting that those essential goods and services flow “both ways.”
“We’ve been working very closely with the Americans to highlight what Canadians know very, very well. That the level of integration between our economies goes both ways across the border. We are receiving essential supplies from the United States, but the United States also receives essential supplies and products as well as health care professionals every single day,” said Trudeau during his national address on Friday.
One specific example Trudeau outlined was the Ontario-based nurses who cross the border daily for work.
“I think of the thousands of nurses who cross the bridge in Windsor to work in the Detroit medical system every single day. These are things Americans rely on,” Trudeau said.
“It would be a mistake to create blockages or reduce the amount of back-and-forth trade of essential goods and services including medical goods across our border. That is the point we are making very clearly to the American administration right now,” added the prime minister.
Demand for personal protective equipment – gloves, gowns, face shields and the all-important N95 masks – has been soaring around the world as overtaxed doctors, nurses and hospitals struggle to manage the spike in COVID-19 cases while protecting themselves from infection.
And now that the Centers for Disease Control and others in the health community have started recommending everyone wear some sort of face-covering while out in public, the scarcity of medical-grade masks is sure to get even worse.
3M says it has already “gone above and beyond” to maximize production of the masks for the U.S. market, and was doing so long before the Defense Production Act was invoked. In addition to its American provisions, the company has indicated how important it is to continue delivering on orders to places like Canada.
Despite President Trump issuing the order, Trudeau is ensuring Canadians that since then, the “forceful” message has gotten through to the Trump administration that this could “end up hurting Americans just as much as it hurts Canadians.” Trudeau added he is confident the pre-existing relationship between the two nations will hold strong and that supply chains will not be affected.
Deputy Prime Minister Christia Freeland backed Trudeau’s sentiments up at a separate press conference Friday saying Canada is pushing back hard. Freeland added all ministers are in touch with their U.S. counterparts and the provincial premiers have also been asked to get involved.
With files to the Canadian Press.