Trump bans export of N95 masks to Canada


Photo from CBC news.

Olivia Han, Web Editor

Last Thursday, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, giving the U.S. government the authority to ban the manufacturing giant 3M from exporting N95 protective masks to Canada and Latin America due to ever-increasing demands at the homefront. Without the mutual trade between Canada and the U.S. for such critical medical supplies as the N95 masks, which filter out 95% of airborne particles, the frontline healthcare workers in both countries would face serious risks.

In response to the announcement from 3M, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau expressed disappointment in the Trump administration. “These are things that Americans rely on and it would be a mistake to create blockages or reduce the amount of back-and-forth trade of essential goods and services, including medical goods, across our border,” Trudeau said.

3M has also acknowledged the “significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to healthcare workers in Canada and Latin America.” According to 3M, limiting exports would even lead to the overall number of respirators in the U.S. to decrease as other countries may retaliate by halting their trade of medical supplies with the U.S.

However, Trump dismissed their concerns in a Saturday briefing by placing the domestic need above everything else. “[Americans] need the masks,” Trump said. “We don’t want other people getting it. That’s why we’re instituting the Defense Production Act.”

Trudeau remained positive about the relationship between Canada and the U.S. as he promised to come to a settlement with his American counterparts in the near future. Still, he emphasized how the two countries were interdependent. As healthcare workers in Canada depend on the U.S. for N95 masks, those in the U.S. also depend on Canada for such essential medical products as test kits and gloves.

Furthermore, provincial leaders in Canada have criticized the Trump administration for its actions not reflective upon the past offers of aid that Canada provided. Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball noted that thousands of stranded American airline passengers were sheltered in the Canadian province of Newfoundland after the 9/11 attacks.

According to Ball, Trump’s decision to hold the critical masks from foreign countries is questionable given the level of humanity that Canada had demonstrated many years ago. “This is a time when we need to work together to continue to protect our residents and keep them safe from Covid-19 no matter where they live or what passport they hold,” Ball said.