Why Canada nixed a $222M PPE deal; 1,700 travellers broke mask rules in 2021: CBC's Marketplace cheat sheet

CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need from the week.

Consumer and health news you need from the week

The federal government is revoking two supply contracts with Supermax Healthcare Canada worth more than $222 million, following allegations the nitrile gloves it manufactured in Malaysia for use by Canadian health-care workers were made with forced labour. (Massimo Pinca/Reuters)

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Canada terminates $222M PPE deal following forced labour probe

Do you know where your personal protective equipment is coming from? 

Canada is revoking two supply contracts with Supermax Healthcare Canada worth more than $222 million, following allegations that the nitrile gloves it manufactured in Malaysia for use by Canadian health-care workers were made with forced labour. 

Marketplace has been on the case for more than a year, following a 2021 investigation that found 'appalling' conditions in a Malaysian PPE factory supplying Canadian hospitals.

At that time, documents we reviewed showed that millions of disposable gloves, manufactured in conditions that experts say have the hallmarks of forced labour, have come into our ports. Read more

British solicitor says labour conditions in companies that make PPE akin to 'modern slavery'

5 months ago
Duration 1:40
British solicitor Nusrat Uddin says labour conditions at Supermax facilities, which make personal protective equipment, are like 'modern slavery,' and wants the U.K. to follow Canada's lead and cancel its contracts with the company.

He survived open heart surgery. But now he faces an even bigger threat

When Paul Johnson was diagnosed with a defect in his aortic valve at 15, he was told that one day he'd likely require surgery on his heart. 

But after it finally happened, at the age of 62 in 2015, he'd soon face an even greater challenge: complications from a slow-growing bacteria, called M. chimaera, ravaging his body.

Johnson was exposed to the bacteria during his open heart surgery after a contaminated medical device produced by a company called LifeNova was used in the operating room. 

Now 68, he sits in constant pain, unable to move freely around his house on his own. He takes a cocktail of antibiotics and painkillers every day, and his wife, Cathy Johnson, has become his full-time caregiver. 

Johnson is now part of a class-action lawsuit against LifeNova that counts at least a dozen other patients with confirmed infections as members. Read more

Paul Johnson, shown with his wife, Cathy Johnson, has had two spinal surgeries to remove M. chimaera infection since being exposed to the bacteria from a heater-cooler device during a 2015 open heart surgery. The infection has since spread to his blood, brain, spleen and spine. (Submitted by Cathy Johnson)

Some travellers question allowing travellers from U.S. to skip quarantine

If you've ever spent any time in quarantine, you're probably familiar with how long the days can feel while you're isolating at home. 

But some Canadian travellers arriving from countries around the world are wondering why they have to quarantine at all — especially when travellers coming from the U.S. don't have to. 

"There's something fishy," said Kevin McNally of Gatineau, Que., who flew from Panama to Montreal on Jan. 7. He spent six days in quarantine before he received his negative PCR test result. 

"I felt like a prisoner in my own country and yet an American can come over here and not quarantine," said McNally. "It makes no sense." Read more

Some Canadian travellers ordered to spend several days in quarantine waiting for their COVID-19 test results question why Ottawa is allowing tested travellers from the United States to skip quarantine. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

No masks, big problem. More than 1,700 air travellers broke the rules last year

There are rules. But they still didn't follow them. And while the spotlight was on a group of partiers on a Sunwing flight from Montreal to Mexico in December, they were hardly alone.

More than 1,700 passengers refused to wear masks during flights on Canadian air carriers last year — a problem the union representing many of Canada's flight attendants says is getting worse.

The head of the Canadian Union of Public Employees' airline division says that many Canadians who appear to be sick of pandemic rules and regulations are lashing out at them 

"We have had incidents that have escalated to a physical nature," said Wesley Lesosky. "We have had issues of obviously being sworn at, we have had issues of being spit at. We have had issues of just disgruntled people. We have had people [who] are just ticked off with the mask policy."

According to Lesosky, passengers are increasingly ignoring the requirement to wear masks on flights when not eating or drinking. Read more

Passengers were seen in videos vaping, dancing, drinking and crowd-surfing on a Dec. 30 Sunwing flight from Montreal to Cancun. (Le Journal de Montreal)

What else is going on?

Canada's inflation rate rises to new 30-year high of 4.8%
Grocery prices increasing at fastest pace in more than a decade

Is it time for a shorter work week?
Some advocates say shorter weeks boost productivity and prioritize workers' health.

Mahruse brand Halva with Black Seeds recalled due to Salmonella
The recalled product should be thrown out.

Kattnakken Junior Rain Jacket recalled due to strangulation hazard
Consumers should immediately remove the drawstring from the children's upper outerwear to eliminate the hazard.

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