General Motors Canada says it has fulfilled its commitment to produce 10 million face masks at cost for the Public Health Agency of Canada.
It took the automaker fewer than 10 months to complete the task at its factory in Oshawa, Ont.
GM Canada received its Medical Device Establishment Licence from Health Canada on April 22, 2020, and in a little more than three weeks, with support from GM’s global supply chain, the company sourced materials, built a “clean room” with enhanced safety protocols, installed the required equipment, and recalled and trained 60 workers for two shifts of production. The first mask delivered to the government was produced on May 26, 2020. The final mask was finished on April 8, 2021.
“Canada was in need of PPE, and GM Canada stepped up to be part of the solution by contributing to Canada’s domestic capacity for crucial face masks,” Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne said in a statement. “I want to thank GM Canada, its workers and Unifor, for playing an important part in Canada’s fight against COVID-19. You are tremendous examples of Canadian kindness and ingenuity.”
Unifor President Jerry Dias, who represents the workers at the Oshawa facility, said that should the federal government require further orders, “Unifor members are ready, willing and able to resume mask production if called upon.”
To commemorate the Canadian Mask Making (CMM) Room project, the official 10-millionth mask will be donated to the Ingenium, Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation in Ottawa.
After fulfilling its obligation to the Canadian government, GM Canada will now produce nearly 500,000 additional masks that will be distributed to its nearly 450 dealers. In turn, dealers will donate the masks to local charities of their choice.
Meanwhile, the Oshawa plant will receive an investment of $1.3 billion to build a new body shop and flexible assembly module with intention of starting production in January 2022. The plans were part of a collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the automaker and Unifor in the fall of 2020.