The federal Liberals say the government will go back to using competitive bid processes to get protective equipment needed across the country due to COVID-19.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand says the process usually used to award contracts will only apply in situations where there is enough time to run a competition.
The government is spending billions of dollars to acquire everything from ventilators to masks, though a full accounting is not expected for months.
Many sole-sourced contracts have been signed using national security exemptions to quickly snap up gear in high demand globally.
Anand said Tuesday there is no firm criteria that will be used to determine whether the government goes directly to one supplier, or opens it up to bids from multiple companies.
This week, the government signed four contracts for cloth masks after publicly soliciting proposals from Canadian companies. There is also a request for proposal closing Tuesday aimed specifically at Indigenous-led businesses to help provide 25 million non-medical masks.
Competitive bids will be used to “supplement our current supply chains” to help the government get personal protective equipment from multiple sources at home and abroad.
“As we have more stability in global supply chains for masks, gowns, gloves and the like, we will be moving to competitive processes,” she said.
Despite a decline in cases in Canada, Anand said the government is continuing to buy equipment and supplies to prepare for a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
She said nine more cargo planes carrying supplies such as gloves, gowns and masks arrived in the last week, and another shipment of hand sanitizer, the country’s 13th, arrived at the Port of Vancouver in recent days.
In total, the government has received about 4.9 million gowns, about half made in Canada, and nearly 18 million face shields, most of which were produced domestically, she said.
That’s still short the approximately 126.6 million gowns and 55.7 million face shields on order.
Anand also said that Montreal-based CAE has received Health Canada approval to start shipping ventilators to the government every week.
Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.