A Vancouver company is the first to sell Canadian-made surgical N95s approved for doctors on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic – it’s already made a million of them.
CEO Jae Park of Inno Lifecare, a division of global confectionary Inno Foods, made the news public Thursday (March 25).
The Tri-City facility pumped out a million respirators in its first week since being authorized by Health Canada.
“By next week, we will be shipping two-and-a-half million masks to Canadian health care facilities in need,” Park said, mentioning a contract in the works with B.C.’s government.
The N95 masks are manufactured in-house using 95 per cent Canadian materials and technology created by company engineers.
Inno Foods expanded last year to add medical-grade masks to its list of offerings.
The family-owned company had already been using robots to process a high volume of goods, said Park.
“Scaling quickly to supply Canada with medical masks wasn’t very hard to do when we were already supplying the whole world with food.”
Especially with motivation after seeing the country “caught with its pants down” during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Park.
“Canada doesn’t make too many high-value manufactured items. We rely on other countries but don’t have leverage because we outsource.”
The N95 masks will help change this, he said, allowing the country to depend less on U.S. suppliers for certified personal protective equipment.
In the United States, N95 prices are as high as $5 per respirator. Inno Lifecare is able to supply the masks directly to hospitals for half the price.
The B.C. company is also the first to use blockchain technology, allowing users to view a mask’s supply chain by scanning a QR code.
“People can see how their individual mask was made, starting even from raw materials used,” said Park. “Here in Canada, proudly.”
With the capacity to make a million N95 masks per week, the founder said “if someone in Canada needs N95 masks – we will deliver.”
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