COVID-19

High Federal Tariffs On Face Masks Compromising COVID-19 Safety: Langford Mayor

Any face mask ordered from abroad is taxed 18% at the border

By Sean Craig
April 29, 2020
COVID-19

High Federal Tariffs On Face Masks Compromising COVID-19 Safety: Langford Mayor

Any face mask ordered from abroad is taxed 18% at the border

By Sean Craig
Apr 29, 2020
To buy 250,000 of these, Langford is facing a tax bill of more than $50,000 (Wikimedia Commons).
COVID-19

High Federal Tariffs On Face Masks Compromising COVID-19 Safety: Langford Mayor

Any face mask ordered from abroad is taxed 18% at the border

By Sean Craig
April 29, 2020
High Federal Tariffs On Face Masks Compromising COVID-19 Safety: Langford Mayor
To buy 250,000 of these, Langford is facing a tax bill of more than $50,000 (Wikimedia Commons).

The City of Langford was told it would have to pay a $57,000 federal tax bill for ordering personal protective equipment to help deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which Mayor Stewart Young says has limited his city’s options for acquiring the essential supplies.

Langford explored purchasing 252,000 masks earlier this month through an importer: the total cost, according to shipment quotes, would have been $308,959. That includes an 18% federal import tariff that applies to masks and other PPE (personal protective equipment).

And, while the federal cabinet has passed an order-in-council that allows the government to waive the tariff, obtaining a waiver requires importers to go through an approval process, which Young said creates an unnecessary bureaucratic hurdle that could delay the acquisition of urgently needed supplies.

“The federal and provincial governments should not be profiting via tariffs and taxes on essential items required in the fight against COVID‐19,” he wrote, in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Columbia Premier John Horgan, asking the other levels of government to expedite tariff relief. “Available PPE is crucial to the safety of our frontline workers and businesses and eliminating government interventions on these items will increase accessibility for those who need them most.”

Canada, like many countries, has struggled to keep up with demand for PPE as over 3 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed around the world, resulting in at least 225,000 fatalities.

A recent survey of 2,500 doctors by the Canadian Medical Association found that 40 per cent of them said PPE shortages in Canada have remained the same in recent weeks, while 25% said they have gotten worse.

Ninety per cent of physicians said a greater availability of PPE in Canada would ease their concerns about the pandemic.

On Vancouver Island, demand has resulted in volunteer networks popping up to address shortages, including 3-D printer owners profiled in The Capital earlier this month. From March 28 to April 28, more than 100 volunteers with the BC COVID-19 Printing Group’s Island chapter distributed over 1,500 face shields and 2,600 ear clips.

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