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A health-care union in Quebec says workers dealing with at-risk patients are going without protective equipment in some cases, sparking criticism of the national emergency stockpile.

The Federation interprofessionnelle de la sante du Quebec told the House of Commons health committee that some workers who provide home care or work in the province’s nursing homes have been forced to go without any protection from COVID-19.

Vice-president Linda Lapointe says other nurses and care providers have been given only limited supplies of personal protective equipment, and have been told to reuse disposable masks or wear them for longer than intended.

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Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association, told the committee the national emergency stockpile of protective equipment has been the biggest failure of Canada’s response to the epidemic to date.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the national stockpile was never intended to supply the entire health-care system.

Culbert suggested the stockpile might need changing in the future to ensure it is replenished more often, and there is greater collaboration with provincial and territorial health systems.

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