June 12th, 2020

Government must provide answers – and proper PPE – to paramedics after non-medical masks issued

QUEEN’S PARK – The Ford government must provide proper personal protective equipment to paramedics, as well as immediate answers on the supply of masks after paramedics discovered that masks they were issued were “not for medical use”, said France Gélinas, the NDP’s Health critic.

“It’s disturbing to hear reports of frontline health care workers being given non-medical masks when they are risking their lives to keep Ontarians safe,” Gélinas said. “Based on the precautionary principle, health care workers have a right to proper personal protective equipment, including N95 masks. This falls so far short of that, it’s dangerous and insulting to these hard-working medical professionals.”

In the county of Renfrew, surgical masks labelled "not for medical use” were in circulation among paramedics between May 28 and June 5, and now the roughly 150 members that make up the service are being tested for COVID-19 this week. The NDP is joining calls from CUPE – which represents thousands of paramedics – for the Ford government to audit the supply, sorting out how these unacceptable masks made it into paramedics’ hands.

“Time and again, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Premier Doug Ford say one thing from the podium, when the reality on the ground is very different,” said Gélinas.

“They dismiss reports of frontline workers not getting proper PPE, including N95 masks. Instead of dismissing those troubling reports — which are obviously true — they need to get to work acquiring the personal protective equipment needed to keep Ontario front line health care workers safe.”