WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would not retaliate for U.S. President Donald Trump blocking 3M Co’s (MMM.N) exports of N95 respirator masks that protect doctors and nurses from the spread of coronavirus.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference at Rideau Cottage as efforts continue to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 29, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable
Trudeau said on Saturday that he expected to speak with Trump in the coming days and that Canadian officials were having “very constructive” discussions with the U.S. administration.
“We are not looking at retaliatory measures or measures that are punitive,” he said in his daily address in Ottawa. “We know it is in both of our interests to work collaboratively and cooperatively to keep our citizens safe.
“That’s very much the tenor of our conversations and I’m confident that we’re going to get there.”
Trump has asked 3M to ramp up imports of masks to the U.S. from other global manufacturing facilities, while demanding a pause in exports of domestically-produced respirators to Canada and some Latin American countries.
Trudeau said a chartered air shipment of millions of masks was due to arrive in Canada in the next 48 hours. Canada is also increasing domestic production of personal protective equipment, he said.
Some Canadian health professionals living along the U.S. border work at U.S. hospitals, and Trudeau said Canada was making no move to stop that practice.
Canada’s reported coronavirus cases rose to 12,924, up 10% in the past day, and 214 deaths, health officials said.
Trudeau defended Canada’s coronavirus testing program, saying it had done more than the United States. Early testing in the western provinces of British Columbia and Alberta had proven “very effective” at managing the coronavirus spread, Trudeau said.
More than half of Canadian cases are in the more populous provinces of Quebec and Ontario. On Friday, Ontario projected 80,000 coronavirus cases and 1,600 deaths in the province by month end under current public health measures.
Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Alistair Bell