The tense relationship between Canada and the United States has worsened after a Canadian politician claimed that President Donald Trump has blocked the delivery of three million face masks designed to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.
The premier of Ontario, Canada's largest province made the accusation. Doug Ford told Global News the incident had happened over the weekend and described it as "absolutely unacceptable". He also said the province's stock of personal protective equipment would run out in a week.
Allies of the US are complaining about what they call its "Wild West" tactics in outbidding or blocking shipments to buyers who have already signed deals for medical equipment.
Trump has asked manufacturing firm 3M Co to pause the exports of domestically produced respirator masks to Canada and some Latin American countries.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sidestepped reporters' questions about the incident on Monday, saying his government was in productive talks with the US and adding: "We expect those shipments to be delivered."
Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters that Ottawa was aware of "some difficulties" shipping the masks across the border and would do all it could to help.
"We are working intensely with the United States to ensure that all the masks that have been bought can be exported to Canada," she said when asked about Ford's complaint.
"We have had positive conversations and we are continuing to work to settle this matter," she added.
The US embassy in Ottawa was not immediately available for comment. Canada’s death toll had risen to over 300 with the number of positive cases over 16,000.