The government of Ontario has contracted a Cambridge plant to produce 50 million masks a year over the next five years.
The contract is with PRIMED Medical Products, which will manufacture levels one and two surgical and protective masks.
“This will provide health care and essential service providers across the province with a secure, local supply they can rely on,” a news release from the province said in part.
The contract was announced as part of the beginning of Supply Ontario, a new centralized procurement agency designed to purchase goods and services in the province. In a news release, the province said it will make sure schools, hospitals and the public sector always have supplies and equipment.
“When people go shopping, they often buy in bulk to save money. We need to do the same thing in government, so we can deliver more value for taxpayer dollars and secure critical supplies for our frontline health care heroes and others in the public sector,” Premier Doug Ford said in a news release. “This new approach will also be good for Ontario businesses as it will make it easier for them to sell their quality products and services to the government.”
The province said its experience getting personal protective equipment and other critical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic “shed light on the fragmented nature of Ontario’s supply chain system.” Officials said Supply Ontario will help with that issue by getting products for the best value, stabilizing access to products and stimulating job creation by purchasing Ontario-made goods.
“PRIMED’s Cambridge manufacturing facility is the result of the Province of Ontario’s foresight for the need of a secure domestic PPE supply chain,” PRIMED president and CEO David Welsh said in a news release. “PRIMED’s investment in Canadian manufacturing is a significant milestone in ensuring a relatable domestic supply chain of the highest quality surgical masks. At full capacity, our facility is able to produce more than 1.8 billion surgical masks each year.”
The company said the contract will create 300 jobs in Waterloo Region.
PRIMED is based in Edmonton, and its masks can be found at hospitals across the country. Welsh said the Cambridge factory will be one of the biggest mask producing plants in North America once it’s finished.
PRIMED’s website shows the company is hiring a variety of positions in Cambridge, including warehouse associates, quality control inspectors, production operators, packers and mechanics.
With reporting by CTV News Kitchener’s Jeff Pickel