Updated May 19, 2020 While sourcing and bringing PPE back to Canada remains a challenge, Levitt-Safety is working tirelessly to make it possible. This past weekend a shipment of face shields, surgical masks and KN95s landed at Pearson Airport which will be distributed to our customers across Canada.

Critical supplies being unloaded from Air Canada jet

As front-line workers in Canada await personal protective equipment (PPE) to arrive from overseas, suppliers are anxious to find out if their orders will be on the next plane.

A CTV News article this past weekend called this new PPE procurement experience the ‘wild west.’

It’s being described with this lawless term due to stories of disappearing cargo, higher bidders seizing shipments, aircraft returning empty, and ever-changing export rules.

Al Jazeera released exclusive video of the line-up of transport trucks outside Shanghai International Airport waiting to unload at customs.

Along with the line of waiting trucks, the video reveals warehouses stacked with supplies ready to ship but going nowhere.

“The huge backlog of exports at China’s busiest airport is the result of a “perfect storm” of events that have choked the freight system,” states the Al Jazeera article. “Tougher Chinese export controls in response to international pressure [are being implemented] to weed out sub-standard equipment, huge demand for PPE and a severe shortage of cargo planes.”

This has been our experience as well, as detailed by Levitt-Safety co-CEO, Heidi Levitt:

Shanghai International Airport, the major aviation hub in East Asia, is overwhelmed. Two of our shipments were turned around and trucked to Beijing (1,100km away) to be inspected and go through customs there. In the end, we decided it was faster to separate this shipment and send it out of Hong Kong via San Francisco then Washington DC then by truck than waiting for Shanghai to get to them out.

To add to this, our most trusted manufacturing partners are swamped with orders from around the world and working through their own processes for fair allocation of scarce medical supplies. This means we need to find new suppliers who create quality products, which takes time.

Our diligent procurement team has been able to source high-quality PPE from reliable sources. Yet, many news outlets report horror stories of defective masks, faulty swab tests and low quality PPE.

As Rodin Lozada, the supply manager for Wayne Safety explained to CTV News “the factories in China are packing up a container and then sending us a note that the container is ready to ship and here’s what the price is. Chances are it’s a 15% increase from what we’d received a couple of weeks before that. They’re saying if you don’t like the price then we’ll just give this to the next person in line.”

Phishing scams on the rise:

In the midst of this rapidly growing imbalance between supply and demand, phishing scams are also increasing as criminals see this as an opportunity to make money from individuals and businesses trying to find new sources of supplies.

Warning statements have been issued by the FBI in the United States, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has compiled a list of the reported scams exploiting COVID-19.

Hackers are targeting anyone looking for PPE and Covid-related supplies through elaborate scams and business email compromise (BEC) – something our IT department has been exhaustively mitigating.

Our commitment to customers and Canadians:

All this is to say that we can only ask for patience from our customers who are eager to receive their life-saving products.

It becomes a balancing act between being first in line to get critical supplies and being diligent that we are purchasing high quality products from reputable sources

We are working hard to strike that balance.

There is no secret formula or particular company who can source better products at fairer prices in shorter times.

With that said, we won’t stop trying.

Levitt-Safety will continue to use our 85-year experience in providing quality safety products and strong relationships with overseas countries to bring quality supplies back to Canadian.

We will also keep our communication channels open — for the good news and the bad news. We’re updating customers directly on a regular basis and will continue to publish announcements on our blog as this situation continues to change.

To see what products we are procuring from overseas, visit Emergency Supply Sourcing.

Stay safe.

Matt Burtney

Content Marketing Specialist

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