CSA Group report aims to improve Canada's PPE ecosystem

It is critical to ensure there are no supply chain gaps in case of future pandemic, says VP

CSA Group report aims to improve Canada's PPE ecosystem

The peak demand for pandemic response products may have passed – though with the Omicron variant demand may soar once again – but it is critical to address any gaps to ensure that Canada is self-sufficient and able to protect against any future shortages.

CSA Group has released the second of its two reports, Realizing A Made in Canada Pandemic Response Products Ecosystem: Action and Impact (Realizing A Made-in Canada Pandemic Response Products Ecosystem, researched in collaboration with Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen) and the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP).

The genesis of the report is that Canada has been caught off guard by the pandemic, and we don’t want it to happen again, says Doug Morton, Vice President, Government Relations, CSA Group.

“Our research group really wanted to take a more holistic view of the PPE situation, not just what we’re involved in in terms of the crisis but what we need to think about when we talk about PPE on a regular basis so that we have a steady supply of it,” he says.

The first report made twelve recommendations in three key domains: quality infrastructure, supply chain and sustainability.

Experts were polled to rank the recommendations by urgency and importance. The top three priorities listed in the second report are supporting Canadian manufacturers, designing products that are compostable/recyclable/biodegradable, and improving mask design, standards and guidance.

“We want to make sure that we have quality in our products, we also wanted to talk about ensuring adequate supply,” says Morton. “And then, of course, supporting economic and environmental sustainability.”

“We can’t always rely, as we found out, on supply coming in from other parts of the world,” he says.

“We’ve learned a lot from the pandemic, part of this report is to make sure that we don’t let it go to waste, that we deal with some of the issues. At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is keep Canadians safe – particularly frontline health care workers.”

CSA Group wants to make things as easy as possible for manufacturers in terms of standards and regulations:

“At the beginning of the pandemic, manufacturers didn’t know which way to turn,” says Morton. “I think the report clarifies to some degree how this ecosystem needs to move forward […] What we’ve tried to do in this report is really reflect what those lessons are to make sure that we’re better prepared next time.”

As well as the reports, CSA Group has also recently released a new standard for Canadian-made PPE – notably respirators. Manufacturers will have 12 months to switch to the new certification program.

“We’re going to be developing other standards related to the pandemic that we’re hoping will be helpful in the future,” says Morton.