Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate. Senator Gold, after a year of stonewalling, Canadians now know that your government threw away almost 9 million items of PPE, including more than 5 million N95 masks and 2.5 million surgical masks, in the two years prior to the COVID pandemic. We also know that not one but three warehouses stocked with vital pandemic-related supplies were shut down in order to save $900,000 out of a $645‑million budget of Canada’s Public Health Agency. This was done in the name of efficiency, but the results have been deadly for 24,000 Canadians.
Senator Gold, can you tell us if the health minister, Minister Hajdu, signed off on the decision to throw away Canada’s pandemic supplies and did the minister — or the managers at the agency who report to her — consult with any infectious disease specialists before they made this calamitous decision?
Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. I don’t have the answer and will inquire and report back.
I feel compelled to note that the tragic death of so many Canadians was the result of many factors, not the least of which was the failure — our collective failure — to take seriously the warnings and advice given to us with regard to physical distancing and the like. It’s a tragedy. Every life lost is a tragedy. In answer to your question, I will certainly make inquiries and report back.