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Canadian mill doubles production, ships medical pulp to U.S. despite N95 mask export ban

Harmac Pacific's mill in British Colombia is the only source of key medical grade pulp used in masks, surgical gowns and so on.

PortandTerminal.com, April 6, 2020

President Trump recently invoked a law that prioritizes orders of medical supplies for American use. A Canadian based factory is the only source of a key ingredient used to make the desperately needed medical supplies.

NANAIMO, BC – The owner of a British Columbia mill that makes pulp for surgical masks, gowns and other medical supplies says the shortage of personal protective equipment is a global problem, and companies should be helping out to the best of their ability. 

“Wherever medical supplies are needed and where there’s a shortage, everybody should be doing their part to make sure they can supply as much medical supplies to the front line as possible,” said Harmac Pacific president Levi Sampson. 

His comments come at a time when the shortage of medical masks has created political friction between Canada and the United States.

READ: Trump – “Stop sending N95 masks to Canada!” (Canada is the only supplier of key medical supply material)

President Donald Trump recently invoked a law that forces U.S. producers of medical supplies to increase production and prioritize orders for American use.

Canadians horrified by Trump “betrayal”

Canadian’s were horrified to learn that the Trump Administration asked Minnesota-based 3M to stop sending N95 respirators to Canada. Many see it as a betrayal that can never be forgiven.

READ: “This changes everything” Canadians horrified by Trump blocking N95 masks

Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford expressed his own disappoint and captured the dark mood of Canada when he vowed that he would never trust or rely on President Trump again. Ford had been an ardent supporter of the American President up until the incident.

‘Some supply problems’

Meanwhile, round-the-clock production at the Harmac Pacific mill near Nanaimo, B.C., has been diverted to make the medical-grade pulp. Factory owner Sampson says the mill has doubled up on its production for an American customer amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“We’ve never had a doubling for this grade of pulp, so you can tell that there’s some supply problems out there,” Sampson said.

There are more than 300 full-time workers at the mill and Sampson said the employees take pride in going to work because of the product they’re producing.

READ: Somebody at the Port of NY stole 3 million badly needed medical masks from Mass.

“Every day it seems to be more and more health-care professionals are talking about either lack of supplies or worried about it in future,” Sampson said.

Sampson said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland called him Saturday wanting to know more about the business, where the company’s product goes and to congratulate Harmac employees “for continuing to run and be able to produce a product that will eventually make its way to the front lines.”

Canadian factory will continue to supply the United States

“From a company standpoint, we made the decision that we’re going to continue to run. We’re going to continue to produce this product and we feel that our neighbours to the south are going through a hard time like most of the world is right now and if we can help in any way we want to do so.” Sampson said.

Meanwhile, Canada urgently still needs masks. The Trump administration’s moves to restrict the export of critical medical supplies are pushing Canada to turn to China.

READ: India Bans All Exports of Trump’s ‘Game Changer’ Virus Drug

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Saturday that Canada is set to receive millions of masks from China within the next 48 hours after U.S.-based manufacturer 3M said it got direction Friday from the Trump administration to stop exporting N95 respirators to Canada and Latin America.

Canadians across the country are now looking with gratitude to China and disappointment at an American ally they thought they could trust.

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