Quebec lost almost $1B on COVID-19 protective equipment: auditor general | CBC News


Quebec’s unpreparedness and its delayed response to the COVID-19 pandemic led to the province dropping nearly $1 billion in its procurement of private protecting gear, the auditor basic stated Wednesday.

The federal government waited too lengthy after which rushed into buying objects akin to masks and gloves at excessive costs, Guylaine Leclerc stated in her report launched Wednesday.

By the top of March 2021, the worth of the gear bought by the province had dropped by $938 million, she stated. Of that quantity, the province misplaced $671 million within the worth of its stockpile and one other $267 million linked to contracts for gear and pay as you go orders.

“The Well being Ministry did not plan any measures to create a enough provide of private protecting gear within the occasion of a pandemic, akin to making prior agreements with suppliers or making a stockpile,” Leclerc wrote.

“It was subsequently compelled to urgently buy gear to guard the inhabitants whereas costs skyrocketed.”

Quebec spent $1.4 billion on procedural masks and N95 masks alone, she stated.

Leclerc informed reporters on Wednesday the federal government ought to have acted sooner to acquire gear, noting that the primary bulk purchases have been made on March 22, 2020, regardless of the actual fact the primary an infection within the province was detected on Feb. 27 of that yr.

Premier François Legault removes a masks at one in every of his common information conferences in the beginning of the pandemic. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

“Quebec’s plan in opposition to an influenza pandemic was outdated,” Leclerc stated in her report. “There was no measure put in place to facilitate the provision of private protecting gear within the occasion of a pandemic and a number of other workers lacked coaching on use the gear.”

The auditor’s report famous that the federal government has launched lawsuits valued at $170 million in reference to orders for gear that was by no means delivered or defective.

“Confronted with the pressing have to take motion, the federal government procurement centre did not all the time confirm the suppliers’ integrity and the standard of the non-public protecting gear, which contributed to losses of almost $15 million,” Leclerc stated.

“Good administration requires good planning.”

Premier François Legault on Wednesday dismissed the criticism within the report.

He stated it is easy to “rewrite historical past,” including that his authorities did what it might.

Well being Minister Christian Dubé, in the meantime, defended the federal government by stating the pandemic was unprecedented.

“We discovered loads from the primary wave, which took everybody without warning,” Dubé stated in assertion. “For this reason we put in place a plan for the second wave, which included having a reserve of 4 to 6 months of private protecting gear.”

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