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Ontario places order for 11 million face shields with Vaughan company

Sterling Industries gets $1M government grant to make more than a million face shields a week
June 26, 2020
Dina Al-Shibeeb 

Vic Fedeli, Ontario's minister of economic development, job creation and trade, told Torstar Media that the Ontario government has placed an order for 11 million face shields at a local Vaughan company after the latter received more than $1 million in funding.

Sterling Industries is now expected to up its face shield production from 200,000 a week to more than one million after its Ford-government grant, said Fedeli, who --alongside Thornhill MPP Gila Martow --toured the Sterling facilities on June 24.

After the government launched the $50-million Ontario Together Fund on April 1, to back the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal and help businesses retool their operations in the face of COVID-19, Fedeli’s ministry received more than 27,000 submissions, with 18,000 of them for emergency supplies.

Sterling Industries, which has specialized in manufacturing infusion support systems (IV poles) in Concord for the past 27 years, has had its submission accepted through what Fedeli described as “a very impressive application.”

“We have $50 million in the fund, and so Sterling was a recipient of over a million dollars, and out of that they've created between 14 and 20 new jobs,” Fedeli said.

For companies to qualify for the grants, Fedeli’s ministry has built in the job-creation stipulation.

“Part of the requirement is yes, we need these products, but we also want to see them made in Ontario, and that means Ontario jobs,” he explained.

When asked if Ontario’s PPE demand is fully covered by local manufacturing, Fedeli said, “I can tell you that for most of it, there will be a point soon where we will be self-sufficient for masks, gowns, sanitizer and wipes, but not gloves.”

“We don't make gloves in Ontario,” he added, the reason being that “rubber is just not sourced here at all.”

“So we are looking at whatever options that we can buy.”

So far, there is no total figure or estimate of how many new jobs have been created due to “much higher demand for PPE,” since Fedeli’s ministry isn’t done with awarding all of the accepted companies yet.

What’s currently happening is that companies are retooling their businesses to make PPE, and “instead of letting their people go, they've now moved them over to the production of PPE.”

“So we're looking at how to put all of that math together. And once all the announcements are made, the total will be known.”

As Ontario moves to Stage 2 of its reopening, Fedeli said, “we want to get businesses back to work,” and in order for that to happen, there is a need for “daycare and transit.”

“So those are areas that we continue to support, because that's what's needed today. Tomorrow, as we continue to open up our society, there'll be other demands and other areas of support.”

He said the main lesson learned from COVID-19 is that “being prepared is important,” as well as being "transparent" with the people, saying that Doug Ford was the first premier disclosing a COVID-19 model to give people a perspective of how long they ought to stay in lockdown to flatten the curve.