Companies warn Tory motion could deter domestic production of PPE

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OTTAWA — Canadian companies that answered the government’s call to produce ventilators and other desperately needed equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic say they’re worried that opposition MPs are now demanding disclosure of the contracts they signed with Ottawa.

In a letter to Procurement Minister Anita Anand, Canadian Exporters and Manufacturers president Dennis Darby says members of his group are “very concerned” that proprietary, sensitive or confidential business information will be released as the result of a Conservative motion.

The motion, to be put to a vote in the House of Commons on Monday, demands that the government turn over to the Commons health committee all documents on a raft of issues related to the government’s handling of the pandemic, including the purchase of personal protective equipment and testing products.

Darby says companies quickly retooled their operations and sold the needed equipment to the government “under the assumption that any shared sensitive business information would be kept confidential” and he warns that violating that confidentiality will discourage companies from seeking government procurement contracts in future.

In a separate letter to opposition party leaders and the government House leader, the co-chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force also expresses concern that the motion demands all records related to the task force’s advice to the government on potential vaccine candidates.

Joanne Langley says to do its work, the task force has entered into confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with Canadian and international vaccine companies.