TORONTO -- Respirator masks have begun rolling off the assembly line of an auto parts manufacturer in Vaughan, but the masks still need additional approvals from regulators before doctors and nurses can start using them.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford toured Woodbridge Auto Group’s factory in Vaughan Tuesday, where they have begun making respirator masks that they say have the same pathogen-blocking qualities of the much sought-after N95 masks which are not produced anywhere in Canada.

“While our government continues to pursue and exhaust every avenue available to secure the PPE needed to fight COVID-19, today marks the beginning of Ontario moving towards greater self-sufficiency on vital supplies that will keep us well equipped now and into the future,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement.

Ontario officials say Health Canada has given the factory the green light to start cranking out the masks – which are in desperate need at provincial hospitals.

The factory gave Ford and his staff 1,000 of the new masks for distribution. Another factory in Kitchener, Ont. has also begun producing the masks.

Over the weekend, provincial and federal officials scrambled to secure more masks for healthcare workers, after the Trump White House compelled 3M, North America’s largest producer of masks, to stop exporting U.S.-made masks to Canada and Latin America.

On Monday, the White House relented and allowed exports to continue.

The Premier’s Office says it is applying for the American regulator, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, to assess and certify the masks as “as being equal or better” than the N95 mask.

With the mask production announcement, Ontario factories are now producing ventilators, face shields and gloves for use by healthcare workers.