Eastern Ontario businesses pivot to produce hand sanitizer, PPE during COVID-19 pandemic
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is almost at the stage where its "self-sufficient" on producing personal protective equipment and that is making businesses in the Ottawa area smile.
The prime minister visited Big Rig Brewery in Kanata on Friday to praise Canadian companies who shifted operations to make PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to tout the Federal Government's Emergency Wage Subsidy to help businesses.
At Big Rig Brewery, the company went from producing beer to hand sanitizer.
"To keep up with the growing demand for hand sanitizer, food and beer, Big Rig used the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to hire back almost all the members of their staff," said Trudeau, noting thousands of companies have pivoted operations to produce personal protective gear.
On Thursday, the prime minister said Canada is almost at the point of being self-sufficient in producing PPE.
At Top Shelf Distillers in Perth, communications officer Stuart Thornley smiled when he saw the prime minister's comments, noting they now make hand sanitizer at the distillery.
"It's incredible and to be a part of that. We came into this with a long-term vision a long side a lot of other craft beverage producers who've joined the cause to make hand sanitizer," said Thornley.
"So it truly is an incredible feeling to see that announcement from Trudeau, the culmination of hundreds of businesses hard work."
Top Shelf has supplied over 400,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to hospitals, care homes and individuals since March.
"We went from a first batch of 150, 50 ML bottles to I believe now a few months down the road to over 400,000 units," said Thornley.
Thornley admits it was difficult to pivot to producing hand sanitizer at the time, but well worth the effort.
"There were a lot of really heartbreaking calls, people were panicked. It really reinforced the need to look at the hand sanitizer shortage as a long-term thing and not just symbolically once or twice but to commit to a path that would allow us to do it for months," said Thornley.