Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

If you need to order masks or other personal protective equipment, click here for more information. Please note that PPE supplies are unpredictable given worldwide demand. Plan ahead!

Please review the information below to ensure you are up-to-date with current provincial PPE recommendations and requirements.

Provincial PPE Requirements (revised January 8, 2021)

On January 6, 2021, Shared Health updated its PPE guidelines making N95 masks more readily available to health care providers.

The guidelines apply risk levels to inform the level of PPE needed for patient interactions. The new guidelines provide advice to conserve your PPE, while also prioritizing care settings for PPE delivery given the potential for PPE supply shortages. Doctors Manitoba has reviewed the new documents. They are lengthy, but we have provided a summary below along with our advice as you consider applying these revised guidelines in your practice setting. We recommend you review the provincial documents in full.

Determining which PPE to Wear When

Shared Health has now developed three “risk zones” based on patient COVID risk factors with different PPE requirements:

  • The Red Zone involves providing care to known COVID-19 patients
  • The Orange Zone involves contact with suspect COVID-19 patients
  • The Green Zone involves contact with non-COVID-19 patients.

The PPE you need depends on two key factors: the “zone” or risk level of your patient encounters and the care setting you work in.

For all care settings, the new guidelines suggest:

  • Green Zones (Non-COVID patients) require procedure masks and eye protection. Gloves and gowns are only required if a point of care assessment determines a risk (e.g. MRSA). N95 respirators are only required for AGMPs or clinical concern for another airborne pathogen (e.g. TB)
  • Orange Zone and Red Zones (suspect or confirmed COVID patients) now require N95 masks, though providers can opt to wear a procedure mask instead for non-AMGP patient care. Eye protection is required as well. Gloves and gowns should be worn as per routine precautions and additional procedures.

You can review the specific PPE recommendations for your care setting for green, orange and red zones.

What are Routine Precautions?

The existing infection prevention and control guidelines are still in effect and should continue to be used for patient encounters in the Green Zone (no COVID-19 suspected):

These precautions include identifying patients with respiratory symptoms and keeping a safe distance (6 feet) until you can wear appropriate personal protective equipment. In most cases, this involves a surgical/procedure mask and possibly other equipment, depending on your point of care assessment.

When is an N95 mask required?

The public health advice states that N95 masks are only required for Aerosol-Generating Medical Procedures, or AGMPs, such as intubation or bronchoscopy. There is a concise outline from Shared Health on AGMP’s in acute and sub-acute settings. Shared Health has prepared a poster on procedure/surgical masks vs N95s.

You should be fit tested for an N95 mask if you anticipating needing to wear one. Shared Health has outlined fit testing priorities.

New guidelines (effective January 6, 2021) now suggest that within the context of high community transmission of COVID-19, ongoing discussions with Manitoba’s health care unions have identified settings and situations where employers are required to provide an N95 respirator to health care workers.

These settings include: providing direct patient care in:

  • Red or orange zones (confirmed or suspect COVID patients);
  • Labour and delivery, emergency departments and urgent care centres, except for areas designated as green zones or with patients confirmed with a negative test result;
  • Direct care of undifferentiated patients (could include a confirmed or suspect patient); or 
  • Providing nasopharyngeal swabs in COVID testing locations.

Health providers may decide to wear a procedure mask instead of an N95 respirator in the above situations based on their professional assessment.

N95 masks are now recommended, regardless of zone, for all aerosol generating medical procedures (AGMPs).

You can review the specific PPE recommendations for your care setting for green, orange and red zones.

How do I safely put on PPE?

You can review the videos for donning and doffing for advice. It is recommended that you review this ahead of needing to wear PPE.

Doffing, or removing PPE, is an exposure risk. New provincial guidelines now recommend continuing to wear masks and eye protection across multiple patients unless it is wet, soiled or damaged.

How do I safely extend the use of PPE or clean PPE?

Shared Health has offered tips for the extended use of PPE, such as discomfort with gloves and other issues.

What if I have concerns about how the PPE advice applies to the procedures that I perform?

You should raise these concerns with Occupational Health. If you do not get satisfactory answer, please contact Doctors Manitoba.

What should I do if the recommended PPE is not available?

It is important for physicians to review CPSM’s advice on reconciling physicians’ duty to continue providing care with the need to follow PPE guidelines and protect the health of the physician workforce to see us through the pandemic.

Doctors Manitoba's Advice to Physicians on PPE

It’s important you are protected. Guidelines that are changed regularly, and orders that go undelivered are frustrating and can erode your confidence in the provincial health system. We are supporting you by making it as easy as possible to stay up-to-date on the guidelines and your obligations as a physician, pressing for predictable and reliable PPE deliveries from Shared Health, and identifying PPE supply alternatives for you as well.

With these new guidelines, our advice is to reflect on how you can best implement and follow the guidelines in your practice setting, recognizing each is unique in different ways. 

You can contact us for help. For physicians in immediate need, we have a limited supply of some medical and non-medical grade PPE.

As always, we want to know what you think. How will the new PPE guidelines impact your practice? How do you want Doctors Manitoba to respond on behalf of the medical profession? Get in touch and let us know.

How do I order PPE?

For community-based physicians, you should:

  • First try ordering through your normal supplier.
  • If you are looking for help in identifying a new supplier, we can help. Email us at ppeconcerns@doctorsmanitoba.ca.
  • Doctors Manitoba may be able to offer assistance for physicians who cannot secure needed PPE through their normal supplier. Please complete our PPE assistance request to if you are having difficulty in securing PPE.

NOTE: Effective August 28, 2020, Shared Health stopped accepting PPE orders from community-based physicians and discontinued deliveries.

If you work in a hospital or other facility run by an RHA, Shared Health or CancerCare, contact your unit manager and ask them to for help in accessing PPE.

Please contact us with further questions.

Where can I learn more?

Shared health has a list of resources related to infection prevention and control and personal protective equipment.

Specifically, consider reviewing the following:

You can review all of Shared Health’s PPE resources for more information.

If you have concerns about PPE or would like tips or assistance in sourcing PPE, please contact Doctors Manitoba for assistance at PPEconcerns@doctorsmanitoba.ca.