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Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade appearance before the Committee of the Whole on International pledge for open supply chains, Personal Protective Equipment and COVID-19 Update


International pledge for open supply chains


On March 25, 2020, Canada endorsed a joint statement with Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Myanmar, New Zealand and Singapore committing to ensuring supply chain connectivity amidst the COVID-19 situation.

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Releasable Background

On March 25, 2020, Canada endorsed a statement - alongside international partners Australia, Brunei, Chile, Myanmar, New Zealand and Singapore - which affirms their commitment to ensuring supply chain connectivity for essential medical supplies and other products during the COVID-19 crisis. Uruguay and Lao PDR have since joined the statement.

Canada and members of the G20 have also recently pledged their commitment to keep supply chains open. On March 26, G20 Leaders agreed on the need to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products and other essential goods and services; resolve disruptions in global supply chains; and ensure that emergency measures are proportionate, transparent and temporary.  This commitment was further elaborated by G20 Trade Ministers who released a statement on March 30.

These international statements have been against the backdrop of a growing number of trade restrictions imposed globally in response to COVID-19.  As of April 10, 2020, more than 100 export restrictions have been enacted by 75 countries in response to the pandemic.  Many of these restrictions apply to medical products such as masks, pharmaceuticals, and disinfectants; however export controls on agricultural products are also beginning to emerge, especially staples such as grains and rice even though stocks are high and prices are low.  Such restrictions pose a risk to global supply chains and countries' responses to the pandemic, and are of concern to Canada and other countries.

In the meantime, Canada has undertaken several domestic measures which are aimed at facilitating trade. For example, Canada has temporarily waived tariffs and sales taxes on goods imported by public health agencies, hospitals and testing sites, and first response organizations (e.g., Red Cross, police and fire) until further notice. This is intended to facilitate the supply of essential items. Canada has also provided flexibility to current regulatory requirements such as waiving labelling requirements on hand sanitizers.

Personal Protective Equipment


While Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is the lead on procurement of supply for Canada’s healthcare system, Global Affairs Canada has been working to support access to international supply chains and remove international logistic barriers.

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Canada is ramping up efforts to domestically manufacture many of the supplies that are needed in the fight against COVID-19. However, even with domestic capacity, some supplies will still be required to be sourced internationally and there will be global inputs feeding into our domestically manufactured goods. Global Affairs Canada will continue to work with Public Services and Procurement Canada, as well as individual companies and organizations, to identify any international obstacles to Canada’s required procurement and make use of our network at home and abroad to find solutions.

COVID-19 Update

Priority Return of Canadians

Global Affairs Canada is facilitating the return to Canada of those citizens and permanent residents who wish it from countries where borders and/or airspaces have been closed (or are expected to close), and where there are no longer commercial options to return to Canada.

These repatriation efforts include the coordination of flights, internal travel, and regular communication with Canadians.

The Department is prioritizing countries where there is a high density of Canadians wishing to return. A full list of flights – planned and completed – in which Global Affairs Canada has been involved is appended at the end of this note.

To note, the effort required to facilitate flights in a pandemic environment goes far beyond arranging aircraft.  Every detail of local domestic transit, permission letters, quarantine exemptions, overflight clearances and the host country regulatory environment must be negotiated.

Of particular note have been a number of flights each from Morocco (3); Peru (6); Ecuador (4); El Salvador (3); Ethiopia (3, carrying passengers facilitated to Addis Ababa from other parts of Africa); and more recently from Pakistan (2) and India (5).

Today flights will land from Panama and Nepal; and Canadians are also arriving from Nigeria, Thailand and Laos. Over the next few days there are additional confirmed flights from India, (Amritsar x 2); the Philippines (X3); Trinidad & Tobago; Kuwait and Doha. Others still are in the planning stages and additional flights are continually being added to accommodate demand.

As of end of day, April 11, 14,335 Canadians have returned to Canada from 110 previously unscheduled flights from 60 countries, facilitate by Global Affairs.

All Canadians returning on these flights are screened for symptoms before boarding in line with Transport Canada Interim Orders and are provided with information on the mandatory 14-day self isolation on arrival in Canada.

Current Consular Areas of Focus

Global Affairs Canada is monitoring border and air space closures in countries where we have high volumes of Canadians, as indicated by number of registered Canadians (ROCA data), metrics from the Emergency Call Centre, and reporting from missions.

The major current lines of effort are in India, Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  In the Philippines, 2 flights have been confirmed and a third is being added.  Domestic sweeper flights are also being facilitated, as domestic travel within the Philippines has been curtailed. The Philippines is currently second after India in the number of Canadians seeking travel assistance.

In Bangladesh, the mission is confirming with Qatar Air arrangements for assisted departure flights for Canadians beginning later this week.

In addition to the commercial flights being directly facilitated to Canada from areas with high numbers of Canadians, Global Affairs Canada is working with other governments to help Canadians get aboard flights with they are facilitating. This is the case in Cambodia (the UK); Laos (the U.S., Australia); Vietnam (Germany); and Thailand.

These efforts are particularly important given that Hong Kong and Japan are now the only locations in Asia with direct flights to Canada that allows international transit.

Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA)

As of yesterday, there were 364,596 Canadians registered. This number is progressively decreasing as Canadians are coming home. It should be noted that not all Canadians registered in ROCA are seeking to return home. In fact, the majority of Canadians are long term residents abroad and are well placed to shelter in place until the lockdowns are completed. See the table below for a regional breakdown.

Region10-Apr Total11-Apr Total24hr Increase
Africa (North)9,3089,251-0.61%
Africa (South)27,06827,034-0.13%
Asia Central1,0031,0060.30%
Asia East27,70127,666-0.13%
Asia Oceania13,12613,090-0.27%
Asia South39,33439,055-0.71%
Asia Southeast28,29528,171-0.44%
Europe East12,69612,639-0.45%
Europe West55,78955,772-0.03%
Middle East48,85448,703-0.31%
Central America and Mexico21,02820,885-0.68%
South America37,24536,896-0.94%
Grand Total364,596362,940-0.45%

Consular Services

Global Affairs Canada continues to provide a range of services to Canadian abroad, both at headquarters and through its mission network.

All missions remain open and have adapted their service delivery models to local conditions and constraints on accessibility, including quarantines, curfews and lock-downs.

Staff at headquarters and missions have been redeployed to focus on consular operations and increase capacity across the network.

The Department is working with its mission network to identify Canadians with confirmed infection, so that we may follow up with local authorities, offer assistance to these Canadians and monitor their well-being.

Global Affairs Canada is now only actively monitoring a handful cruise ships with Canadian passengers and crew on board, the vast majority of cruise ships having now safely docked and the Canadians facilitated back home from their point of disembarkation (from a high of over 6,000 Canadians at sea on over 135 ships, we are now down to 40 Canadian passengers that we are tracking on 6 ships). The Department continues to work directly with the cruise lines and our mission network on these few remaining ships.

Yesterday, all 8 Canadian passengers on The Viking Sun disembarked in Gibraltar and are on their way home via London. No COVID-19 was reported on board.

Background Only

Canada continues to monitor five cruise ships with Canadians onboard (40 passengers & 8 crew). A further 42 cruise ships have Canadian crew members onboard (195 crew).

Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad

Global Affairs Canada is administering the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad – a new, temporary financial assistance program to help Canadians outside Canada return home.

Canadians directly impacted by COVID-19 are able to apply for an emergency loan of up to $5,000 to help return to Canada and cover short-term essential needs while they work toward their return.

As of April 10 (2 pm), 1,139 loans totalling $3.8 million have been approved; approx. 2,100 loan applications are under review (numbers may exclude some loans managed by missions).

Highest volume locations include New Delhi, Manila, Islamabad, Lima, Ankara, Rabat, Kinshasa, Nairobi, Dhaka.

Canadian citizens are eligible to apply for the loan if they have been impacted by COVID-19, planned to return to Canada, and have no other source of funds. Citizens travelling with an immediate family member who is a permanent resident of Canada (PR) may include eligible expenses for that PR family member in their application.

Eligible Canadian citizens who are currently abroad and need financial assistance through the Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad can contact either the closest Government of Canada Office or Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre located in Ottawa.

Eligible Canadian citizens who want to apply under this Program can contact either the closest Government of Canada Office or Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre located in Ottawa. Once the Canadian has answered pre-screening questions by a consular official, he/she will receive an invitation to apply for a loan.

The application itself can be completed in 10-15 minutes from any computer or mobile device. Upon receipt of an application, a consular official contacts the individual to verify identity and obtain any additional details required. Once a request is approved the recipient will receive the funds in their Canadian bank account in two business days, on average.

Resources have been redirected within Global Affairs Canada to address the volume of requests for these emergency loans and consular officials are doing their best to quickly respond to each request.

Consular officials, both abroad and in Canada, are working to ensure that assistance is being given to those who need our help the most. Canadians who do not urgently need financial assistance to get home should continue to try to make their own arrangements to return to Canada as soon as possible.

Bilateral Outreach

In addition to arranging a series of ongoing multilateral calls (5 to date) on coordinating the return of citizens Minister Champagne has undertaken bilateral outreach to the following countries:

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