CALGARY -- Some pharmacies in Calgary are anxiously awaiting PPE (personal protective equipment) that staff can use on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the province prepares to send medical supplies to other provinces.

Neilin Nazarali owns the Remedy’s RX - Seton Medical Pharmacy and says she’s been waiting on equipment for nearly two weeks.

She describes the situation as 'dire'.

“Let me put it this way, I’ve been promised some supplies since March 30 and I can’t even get a response now as to whether or not that's coming,” said Nazarali.

Nazarali says she has had to order PPE from Amazon, but it is not enough.

The province announced Saturday that it would be sending millions of masks and gloves to other provinces across Canada, after stockpiling a significant number at nine AHS facilities.

“We would not contribute if it in any way impaired our ability to provide for our own health care needs,” said Premier Jason Kenney.

The province says the equipment contributions break down as follows.

Ontario will receive:

  • 250,000 N95 masks
  • 2.5 million procedural masks
  • 15 million gloves
  • 87,000 goggles
  • 50 ventilators

Quebec will receive:

  • 250,000 N95 masks
  • 2 million procedural masks
  • 15 million gloves

British Columbia will receive:

  • 250,000 N95 masks

Nazarali feels Alberta pharmacists have been left behind.

“Have they forgotten us, or thinking about what we are seeing?” asked Nazarali.


“Our pharmacists are health care professionals and all the staff that work within a pharmacy are health care professionals and I think we need to be remembered a little bit more.”

80,000 pounds of PPE were flown into Edmonton early Monday morning from Shanghai,  the first of many shipments.

“Our government is working very hard on an ongoing basis to secure the personal protective equipment required to keep our health care, continuing care and seniors care workers safe," said Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu.

For Nazarali, she claims her staff are feeling a bit unsafe without proper equipment.

“The staff are overwhelmed and they are a little concerned about their own safety,” said Nazarali.

“We are seeing patients come in that are wearing masks and also some that aren’t.”

An Alberta Health Services spokesperson said in a statement “AHS provided masks and gloves to the Provincial Operations Centre and Provincial Emergency Social Services to distribute PPE to our partners, including pharmacies, last week.”

NDP health critic David Shepherd issued a statement late Monday afternoon stating that, "We support efforts to help Canada battle COVID-19 from coast to coast to coast. However, we are hearing numerous concerns about a shortage of frontline supplies of lifesaving equipment right here in Alberta.

"Since the Premier's announcement Saturday," he added, "we have heard from doctors, nurses, municipal leaders, those working with Albertans with disabilities, and other workers, that the necessary supplies they need to do their jobs safely have not been confirmed. Their concerns must be addressed immediately, and before we start sending critical supplies out of Alberta."

In a release announcing the contributions, Alberta health minister Tyler Shandro said, "Our team of Alberta health experts is very confident in our modelling data and our expected need for PPE and ventilators. I assure all Albertans that we have ample supply. We are in a position both to keep Albertans safe and to help ensure Canadian health care systems from coast to coast are equipped to take on the challenges ahead."