A Call For Help: Canadian Hospitals Desperately Seeking Medical Supplies

As Canadians continue to battle the devastating COVID-19 virus, the alarm bells have sounded in hospitals across Canada. Dr. Michelle Cohen of Burlington, Ont., says, “We are running short on supplies, and given that we are just at the beginning of this crisis, we’re quite fearful of what is going to happen if we run out of supplies.” More than 60 doctors from across Canada have written an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, premiers and health ministers, warning them of a medical supply shortage and urging them to “mount a war-like effort” to drastically increase production of urgently needed medical supplies. Today, the North York General Foundation opened a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Drop-off Centre (a white tent that is across the street from the main building of the hospital), located at 4000 Leslie St., Toronto. The drop-off centre will be in operation from March 24–27, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Its purpose is to collect and distribute N95 masks, surgical masks, face shields and viral swabs to hospitals in need throughout the community. The foundation is appealing to individuals, industries, dentists, vets and health-care professionals to donate unopened PPE. Below is the link to a dedicated site, which has further detailed information, should you be in a position to support this community-wide effort: www.nyghppedrive.ca.

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Health Canada has temporarily waived some of its regulatory requirements to increase supplies of hand sanitizers, disinfectants, swabs and protective equipment such as masks and gowns in order to further meet hospital demands for necessary medical supplies.

In conjunction with the drop-off centre, The Nanji Family Foundation has graciously announced that it will match any additional donations made to the Emergency Response Fund dollar for dollar, up to $100,000. The public can donate through nyghtacklescovid19.ca, as well as by calling the donor line at 416-756-6944 or emailing terry.pursell@nygh.on.ca.

In 1972, then Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau airlifted thousands of South Asians out of Uganda after the evil dictator Idi Amin, “the butcher of Uganda,” called them “bloodsuckers” and gave 60,000 of them only 90 days to leave the country. Were it not for Trudeau’s extreme measures at that time, Pyarali and Gulshan Nanji and their four children would likely never have settled in Canada.

The couple vowed if at any point in the future they became financially able, they would pay it forward to the country that provided them with a safe refuge. Today, Mr. Nanji is president and CEO of Belle-Pak, one of Canada’s Top 50 Best Managed companies. Over the past decade, many life-saving and patient-care improvements across Toronto can be traced back to their promise. “Giving back to a community that has given so much to us is just the right thing to do,” says Mr. Nanji.

Girl in a jacket

When Gulshan and Pyarali Nanji fled persecution in 1972, they and their four children were welcomed to Canada. The couple pledged to one another that if they became financially able, they would give back to the country that had provided them with a safe refuge. The Nanjis have made good on their promise | Photo courtesy of North York Hospital Foundation

Respected and admired within and beyond their Ismaili community, the Nanji family’s legacy of philanthropy is extraordinary. The couple has bestowed millions of dollars to causes that are close to their hearts. Not only did the family escape from the hands of evil, but also as Canadian refugees, simply surviving wasn’t their goal. They were passionate about helping their fellow Canadians through philanthropy. If every Canadian follows the Nanji family’s lead and donates a loonie to the Emergency Response Fund, we can and we will beat COVID-19.

Whether you donate money or drop off the urgently needed medical supplies — or both — your contributions will help Canada “flatten the curve.”


The Assessment Centre is adjacent to our Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency and is open 24/7. We also have a dedicated COVID website for our patients to get their own results. Or you can call Telehealth at 866-797-0000 for advice and here are some other links to use as a resource:

• Ontario Ministry of Health: www.ontario.ca
• Public Health Agency of Canada: www.canada.ca
• NYGH, including information on visitor policy: www.nygh.on.ca

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Myles Shane

Myles Shane