TORONTO -- The Ontario government has announced an investment to support the local production of personal protective equipment (PPE), the critically important gear used by front-line workers across the province.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that the $2.8 million, by way of the Ontario Together Fund, will help manufacturers “re-tool their processes” and increase their capacity to make PPE.

“We’re proud to partner with these businesses to unleash the true power of the sector and our effort to beat this virus for good,” Ford said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

The companies receiving funding are all based in Ontario and all manufacture different types of PPE.

Barrie, Ont.-based Southmedic is being given the lion’s share of the funding at $1.8 million to purchase new moulding equipment which would allow them to double their output of oxygen masks and quadruple their output of eye and face shields.

The second company is Concord, Ont.’s Sterling Industries which will receive $1,023,325, to allow the company to increase its output of face shields from 200,000 per week to more than a million.

And Pembroke, Ont.-based producer SRB Technologies is getting $59,889 to convert a portion of its production from emergency lighting solutions to manufacturing medical-grade face shields for hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Ford said that since launching the $50-million Ontario Together Fund on April 1, they have received 25,000 submissions from businesses looking to retool their operations to provide supplies for the province’s fight against COVID-19.

Of those 25,000 submissions, Ford said that 15,000 companies have sold $200 million worth of medical supplies, including 121 million masks, four million face shields, 100 million surgical gloves and 20.9 million gowns.

Ford said the investment will “ensure that Ontario never again is at the mercy of any other country when it comes to personal protective equipment.”

In April, Ford became involved in a war of words with United States President Donald Trump over his decision to cease exports of 3M's N95 face masks to Canada.

A deal would be reached days later between 3M and the White House that allows Canadians to continue receiving shipments of N95 masks.

There has been a massive push to secure more N95 masks for health-care workers across Canada since the coronavirus crisis began.