A Kelowna mask manufacturing company wants to ensure masks are still made in Canada, post-pandemic.
Breathe Medical Manufacturing formed when the pandemic hit in March 2020, to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) across the country. Breathe employs around 175 Kelowna residents and has produced 46 million masks for Canadians this year. Before the pandemic, Canada would import the majority of its PPE from other countries.
Now, Breathe has started the Canadian Association of Medical Mask Manufacturers (CAMMM), alongside the Canadian Shield of Waterloo and Inno Lifecare, with the intent to ensure the PPE industry remains strong in Canada after the pandemic is over.
Breathe CEO Robert Balazs feels there is a great disconnect between the government understanding what a good quality product is and when it should be supporting local manufacturing.
“Buying products from Asia or other sources, although it may be cost-effective, it doesn’t take care of putting money right back into the economy,” Balazs told Capital News. “We have seen huge problems with regards to the supply chain. Sourcing raw materials has been a big problem and a lot of the purchases made [overseas] have been subpar.”
As for what the PPE market will look like post-pandemic, Balazs predicts regular mask usage is here to stay.
“There has been a mass cultural shift, just as we have seen in Asia — they were years ahead of us. I think masks will be around for a while for sure, and Canada should have access to homegrown good quality products.”
Balazs said CAMMM will meet with government officials later this week to begin discussions about permanently manufacturing PPE in Canada.
“We have seen it during this pandemic, our products have been procured from other countries; they hit our shores, go through testing and they fail our health tests because of what they are made with,” Balazs explained.
“Canadian manufacturers have to go through the health Canada authorization process. When you’re buying the products under the standards that Canada has established, you actually have proper recourse if the products aren’t made properly.”