The Government of Canada calls on industry to help fight the spread of COVID-19

Today, March 20th, 2020, the Federal Government announced a new strategy to mobilize industry to fight COVID-19.

This strategy will deploy resources to domestic manufacturers and businesses so they can help the government and the general public during this health crisis.

These measures are aimed at directly supporting businesses to rapidly scale up production or re-tool their manufacturing lines to develop products made in Canada that will help in the fight against COVID-19. These products could include critical health and safety supplies and equipment; including personal protective equipment, sanitization products, diagnostic and testing products, and disease tracking technology.

We are proud to see the government recognizing that engineers are at the forefront of the development of health technology. Combining engineering expertise, knowledge and talent in both the health and manufacturing sector holds enormous promise for tackling diseases such as COVID-19. Working alongside health experts and government officials, we believe engineers can make a valuable contribution to easing this crisis.

Engineers can aid in the development of medical equipment, such as ventilators, but also digital tools and data tracking software that will better help government and medical practitioners make informed decisions.

We’re inspired to see the engineering community take a leadership role and utilize it’s vital talent pool to fight the spread of COVID-19.

OSPE will continue monitoring the current situation and will make sure that the engineering voice and talent is heard by all levels of government.

We hope that through a proactive, collaborative approach, we can minimize the economic and social impact of COVID-19. We encourage our members to share their ideas, stories, impact to their business, and thoughts on what governments and industry can do to help with the economic recovery of our province and country.

Some specific measures outlined by the Government include:

Capacity Building through the Strategic Innovation Fund

  • This fund will allow for rapid support to Canadian companies that are working on large-scale and later-stage promising research and development projects aimed at providing medical countermeasures to COVID-19.

Enhanced Research and COVID-19 Challenge Program

  • The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) will expedite research and development with small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • NRC will also organize a COVID-19 Challenge Program, composed of teams of government, academic, and private sector partners, to address a range of medium-term needs of the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada, including personal protective equipment, sanitization products, diagnostic and testing products, therapeutics, and disease tracking technology

Product Commercialization

  • The Innovation Superclusters Initiative will prioritize existing funding and tap into a national network of 1,800 members to help companies commercialize products more quickly

Innovative Solutions

  • The Federal Government will challenge innovative companies to develop research-based solutions, technologies, and products that can address a variety of COVID-19 issues.


  • Source equipment needed to support Canada’s response to COVID-19 here in Canada. The Government of Canada will use existing supply arrangements and innovative, flexible procurement approaches. It is also reaching out to suppliers to identify and purchase equipment, supplies, and services needed for Canada’s response to COVID-19. With a view to longer-term support, the Government of Canada will ensure procurement flexibility to support innovation and build domestic manufacturing capacity to supply critical health supplies to Canadians.
  • The government is calling on businesses that can supply products and services to support Canada’s response to reach out at

The following Canadian companies have signed letters of intent with the Government of Canada to assist in the government’s response to COVID-19:

  • Medicom (Montréal)
    • Medicom is a manufacturer and distributor of medical-grade personal protection equipment, including masks and gowns.
    • Headquartered in Montréal, Canada, the company has operations on three continents, six manufacturing facilities in the United States, China, Taiwan and Europe. The company has Health Canada and FDA/CDC certification for its facilities in these locations.
    • Medicom is considering starting a production line to manufacture N95 masks and surgical masks in Canada.
  • Spartan (Ottawa)
    • Spartan manufactures precision medicine diagnostic equipment. The company is headquartered in Ottawa.
    • It is currently developing an application of its portable device to provide rapid diagnostic results for COVID-19.
  • Thornhill Medical (Toronto)
    • Thornhill Medical is medical technology company located in Toronto that manufactures ventilators. It was created as a spin off from the University Health Network.

It manufactures a portable integrated Intensive Care Unit product that includes a unique, oxygen-conserving ventilator and complete vital signs monitoring in a single, portable battery-operated system.

For more on COVID-19 and its affect on engineering in Ontario, visit our COVID-19 news page

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Wes Leewis

    My family and I are volunteers for FEED IT FORWARD (FIF) helping with coordination, communications , software and processes. Right now FIF volunteers are collecting food from restaurants in the GTA, converting the food to meals, freezing and warehousing for rapid distribution to the food insecure, the self isolated and the ill.

    I have been asked to build a cell phone based warehousing and distribution system. I have lots of experience relative to non perishables but I know nothing about the food industry, food safety and food expiry management. If you know any engineers that can help us please reach out to me Wes Leewis P.Eng. at or call me 416-525-2403.

    We engineers have special talent to solve problems, can you help us solve this one and maximize our ability to deliver high quality meals to those most need?

    Thank You

    1. Sandro Perruzza

      This is great Wes! Just another example of how #EngineersCare! I encourage other OSPE members and those in the Engineering Community to share ideas on how they can make a difference in their communities.

    2. Steve Shorter

      There is a developing movement of engineers, scientists and physicians to develop and
      share ideas using an Open Source model.

      The biggest barrier to the local production of medical systems is Intellectual Property.
      This is how scarcity is created and maintained in our time. The Open Source model has proven itself and hopefully we can be as successful in this field as we have been in others

      Billions of taxpayer dollars will be spent. This investment should be leveraged so that
      there is lasting effect in the public interest. The public funding of these efforts should be
      conditional on the following

      – systems should be designed so that they can be repaired as needed, The current practice is for many products and components to be designed to be used once and then discarded. Then a new component or product must be purchased. While this revenue model has created massive wealth for a small number of people, it is dysfunctional and wasteful from an technical, environmental and social perspective

      – Open Source will promote Open standards. Components and interfaces need to be interchangeable. This also will prevent vendor lock-in, planned obsolescence and end of life

      Open Source systems will also hugely accelerate the dissemination of knowledge of
      how these systems work. The barriers to education/training will be reduced.

      Local self sufficiency will have huge economic and social benefit. Local production to meet local requirements, and all the advantages that brings, will become possible.

      The freedom that Open Source systems brings will enable technical people
      to take advantage of the new technologies and relationships for sharing information. An open
      and vibrant engineering/technical/design/fabrication culture could easily become a basis
      for the next great step in human progress.

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