Surrey Should Be Manufacturing Hub and Centre of Excellence for PPE

Our country should never be held hostage again: Councillor Linda Annis

Councillor Linda Annis wants Surrey to leverage city-owned land to position itself as a national manufacturing hub and centre of excellence for personal protective equipment (PPE).

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s just how vulnerable we are as Canadians when it comes to PPE made outside of Canada,” said Annis. “Whether it’s having to return defective overseas products that were poorly made, international bidding wars for scarce supplies, or President Trump telling 3M not to ship masks to Canada, we’ve seen just how tenuous the international supply chain really is and what the risks are for Canadians in a global emergency.

The solution is to make those critical products right here at home, even if they cost more. Going forward, we cannot be held hostage ever again, particularly in a pandemic or international emergency. We talk a lot about the importance of food security, now it’s time to talk about PPE security and the range of emergency products we need that are too often produced outside of Canada. None of us wants to feel that vulnerable ever again.”

Annis said Surrey, which is the size of Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond combined, is “land rich” and should leverage some of its land for a specialized PPE manufacturing site and “centre of excellence” that partners with universities, hospitals, research labs and governments.

“Not only would we be able to make and secure a range of PPE products, equipment and testing supplies for Canada, but we could also create a centre of excellence that’s at the forefront of PPE equipment, technology and innovation,” added Annis. “For instance, Surrey could provide a long-term land lease for a dollar-a-year, ensuring that we always own our own land, and in return we provide PPE security for our country and generate good local jobs right here in Surrey.”

Annis said watching hospitals and governments struggle to locate PPE equipment and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic was “a wake-up call” that should make local production a priority.

“Virtually everything we needed was made somewhere other than right here at home,” said Annis. “We cannot be reliant on others during an emergency, it’s up to us to be self-reliant and look after ourselves, which means producing products and equipment right here in Canada and creating a Canadian supply chain we can rely on.”

Annis said the proposed PPE manufacturing site and centre of excellence is the first in a series of COVID-19 economic recovery recommendations for Surrey that she’ll be making over the next two weeks.

“Surrey is going to need to be innovative, creative and dogged in its determination if we’re going to bounce back,” explained Annis. “Half measures aren’t going to be enough. Coming out of COVID-19, the competition is going to be stiff and that means we’ll need to demonstrate in very practical ways that we are open for business and welcome job-creating investments with open arms. This is the perfect time to rethink what we do and how we do it. Across Canada and around the world, there’s going to be a new normal and I want our city to lead rather than follow. But, it means starting now.”






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