Canada donated masks to China. Chinese mask makers now price-gouging Canada.

In early February, Canada donated 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment, such as clothing, face shields, masks, goggles and gloves to China to help the Chinese doctors and nurses battling the original Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan.

But now as Canada desperately tries to replenish the nation’s PPE supply, Chinese manufacturers are charging prices that are five times what they were before the coronavirus crisis.

“When this crisis started we were looking at about $1.20 a mask if you had orders early on,” Bill Matthews, Deputy Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates on Friday. “More recent orders, you’re seeing prices quoted up to five or six dollars a mask, for N95 respirators.”

Price gouging is not the only problem Canadian government needs to worry about when dealing with Chinese manufacturers. Canada’s Public Health Agency found that at least a million N95 respirators that came from China to be faulty.

When opposition MPs on the committee questioned Matthews on whether Canada will receive a refund on the products, the deputy minister would only say that the supplier will “stand behind their product.”

PSPC website shows that Canada has only so far received only 5.3 million out of the 155 million N95 respirators the country has ordered[1]

“Canada is saddened by the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak, especially the loss of life, on the Chinese population,” Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, said in February when Canada made the donation of PPEs to China. “Personal protective equipment is essential to prevent and limit the spread of the virus.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement is teaming up with Toronto’s Hong Kong community to secure and donate personal protective equipment for healthcare workers in Canada[2] Taiwan also recently donated half a million masks to Canada [3]

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