Canada’s biggest three auto suppliers have agreed to assist in the production of much-needed ventilators during the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.
Magna International Inc., Linamar Corp., Martinrea International, the government of Ontario and the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association met earlier in the week and agreed that the trio of suppliers will focus their efforts on helping manufacture ventilators.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Friday at news conference in Toronto that the provincial government has “an active order” for 10,000 ventilators, which the suppliers will help fill.
“This is going to be vital. We need to have these in our hospitals,” she said. “We’re…reaching out to Ontario companies who actively involved in changing their production lines, doing whatever they can to produce this supply.”
Flavio Volpe, the head of the APMA, two weeks ago called on Canada’s suppliers to assist in the production of needed personal protective gear and medical equipment as health officials warned about a shortage of both. He likened the need for the auto industry to retool to that of the industry’s efforts during the Second World War.
Volpe has been a liaison between industry and government during the pandemic.
“There has been an unprecedented mobilization by government that is going to save lives. We are singularly focused on equipping the people who will do that promptly and confidently,” Volpe said in an email.
The suppliers will work with three manufacturers in the health-care field.
They will work with Toronto-based Thornhill Medical to build ventilators, O-two Medical of Brampton, Ont., where they build portable and transportable ventilators, and with General Motors Co., and Ventec Life Systems, which together have agreed to build ventilators at a General Motors factory in Indiana.
"GM, our suppliers and Ventec are partnering to scale up ventilator and Level 1 surgical face mask manufacturing at big volumes, quickly," GM Canada said in a tweet Friday. "COVID-19 is a global challenge, and working with our partners GM intends to contribute to global solutions wherever feasible."
Magna says it will be supporting the initiative with some components, logistics and purchasing.
Linamar issued the following statement Friday:
“Linamar is actively investigating the feasibility of manufacturing ventilators working with a variety of partners. We are hopeful that we can play a role in helping to deal with the consequences of this global pandemic. Linamar is working closely with government, industry experts and other manufacturing companies to find a way to expedite expanding capacity for ventilators. It is a top priority project for us at the moment and one we are highly focused on.”
None of the companies said how many ventilators each intends to produce or when production might get underway.
Meanwhile, Canadian auto suppliers can now tap into a $50-million fund if they choose to retool to produce medical equipment needed to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen), the industry-led organization steering Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, said Wednesday that it will invest the money to support any Canadian manufacturer as they prepare to produce critically needed supplies, such as test kits, gloves, gowns, masks and ventilators.
NGen manages $230 million in funding from the federal government.