Canadian companies retool to make supplies for frontline workers

By | April 19, 2020

TORONTO — Canadian companies are shifting their focus to supplying the biggest players on the frontlines against COVID-19 with critical medical equipment.

Brian’s Custom Sports near Leamington, Ont. normally makes hockey goalie pads. Some of their clients have included NHL stars Felix Potvin and Patrick Roy.

Now its employees are sewing stretcher sheets into disposable gowns for health-care workers.

“It seems to be big time a Canadian thing for everybody to band together as much as possible and do what we can do,” stitching supervisor Helen Guenther said in an interview with CTV News.

“People actually have a heart,” Guenther said. “You see that comes out in times like these.”

But Brian’s Custom Sports isn’t the only company switching gears to help in the battle against COVID-19.

Nearly 5,000 small Canadian businesses have offered to retool their factory floors to provide critical personal protective equipment for medical workers amid looming supply shortages.

Dynamic Air Shelters has been manufacturing in Grand Bank, N.L. for nearly two decades. The company builds industrial shelters for the oil and gas industry, but has reverted to building emergency hospital and quarantine shelters, which is how it began.

“When we look at the hospital and EMS-type environment, we can provide screening centres, overflow hospital beds, ICU type things,” Dynamic Air Shelters CEO David Quick said.

Businesses that have nothing to do with health care are also finding ways to play a vital part in the pandemic fight.

Lind Equipment, which produces lighting products for the military and mining operations, is now working to use their UV light systems to sterilize PPE in hospitals.

“We went from thinking we were absolutely the furthest thing away from healthcare and to help fighting COVID, to being able to produce a product that can be right on the frontlines,” Lind President Brian Astl said.

But despite refitting their factories to help frontline workers, many companies still face the added challenge of obtaining government approval before the supplies makes it into hospitals.

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