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Canada signs deal with Amazon to distribute medical supplies

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Canada has signed an agreement with Amazon (AMZN) to distribute critical medical supplies across the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday.

The federal government has tapped the online behemoth to manage the distribution of medical supplies, including masks, face shields, gowns, ventilators, and test kits. Trudeau said that the company will use its large distribution network “to deliver medical equipment where it is needed most.”

“For the past few weeks, our government has been working closely with industry to produce the supplies our healthcare workers need like masks, face shields, gowns, ventilators, and test kits,” Trudeau said at his daily press conference on Friday.

“Today, I can announce that our government has signed an agreement with Amazon Canada to manage the distribution of this equipment to the provinces and territories.”

Earlier this week, Trudeau announced that the federal government will spend $2 billion on protective personal equipment, including masks, face shields, gowns, along with ventilators, test kits and swabs and hand sanitizer as the country fights the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of those supplies will be manufactured in Canada, as the government works with companies to increase production of critical supplies.

Amazon will be working with Canada Post, Purolator and other local delivery service partners to transport the supplies and equipment across the country.

“The Amazon Canada team is proud to partner with the Government of Canada by leveraging our fulfillment network and delivery service partners to ship critical supplies to front-line professionals across the country,” Amazon Canada’s country manager Mike Strauch said in a statement.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has seen a spike in demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting the company to hire an additional 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers.

Ottawa has spoken to more than 3,000 companies that have offered to contribute in various ways in the fight against COVID-19. It has so far reached formal agreements with Thornhill Medical, as well as Medicom Group and Spartan Bioscience to produce medical supplies and equipment.

The agreements are part of the government’s effort to mobilize Canada’s manufacturing industry in a war-time effort to fight the spread and impact of the coronavirus. Various federal programs have been refocused to prioritize the fight against COVID-19, including the Strategic Innovation Fund, the National Research Council, Innovation Solutions Canada and the government’s Superclusters fund.

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