Canadian company to make up to 200,000 masks every day

Apr 8 2020, 10:18 am

A textile company in Vancouver, Canada area is stepping up by shifting its production to create much-needed masks for frontline healthcare workers.

Coquitlam, British Columbia-based Novo Textiles normally creates consumer pillows, insert cushions, dog beds, and geotextiles, but it is now producing hospital equipment including wipeable medical pillows, protective bedding, and masks.

Julie Zanatta, a spokesperson for the family-owned company, told Daily Hive in an email they will be producing up to 100,000 surgical masks per day using newly acquired machinery, with production beginning this week.

These surgical masks are made of non-woven polyester, with elastic straps for the ear loops and aluminum nose pieces.

They have already acquired the necessary manufacturing license from Health Canada for the production of this Class 1 medical device.

When a second machine arrives at some point in the future, they could have a capacity to produce N95 respirator masks at a rate of up to 100,000 per day, effectively becoming the first company in Canada to produce this higher level of mask.

With both machines running to produce the two variants of masks, the company would create up to 200,000 masks per day for distribution across the country.

If their production numbers hold up, this is, in fact, a very big deal.

Currently, the Canadian healthcare system entirely depends on the importation of the respirators, as evidenced by the recent controversy over the United States’ short-lived ban on 3M sending its respirators to Canada.

Novo Textiles’ production could ease some of Canada’s dependence on mask imports.

“We already are in the textiles manufacturing business. It was a natural switch to be able to retool to masks, which use some of the same materials as our cushions, pillows, and dog beds,” said Zanatta, adding that planning began when the epidemic in China became quite apparent.

Without this shift into hospital equipment and especially the masks, Novo Textiles would be closed right now, and all of its employees would be out of work. Instead, they have spent the past few weeks preparing their equipment and manufacturing process, and conducting training.

“We are humbled by the amount of support and attention we are getting for doing what is right, for supporting Canadians and specifically the frontline healthcare workers that risk their lives every day saving lives,” added Zanatta. “We are simply standing up and doing what we all should do right now which is to help others.”

Editor’s note: This article has been edited to emphasize that the machine for the N95 respirators has yet to arrive.