The World Health Organization is encouraging governments to ask people to wear fabric face masks when out in public. Furthermore, the WHO strongly advises people who are sick or caring for someone who’s sick to wear masks.
In Canada, the government recommends wearing face masks even if you feel perfectly healthy as a way to protect the people around you from possible infection. In fact, depending on where you live in Canada, you may actually be required by law to wear a face mask when out in public.
Find out where you can get hold of face masks, or how to make them yourself, from our helpful guide below. Plus, learn about the differences between different types of masks, and get tips on how to use your protective wear properly to receive the greatest protection.
For years, Canadians have trusted Rona for their home and hardware needs. Browse through a wide variety of quality respirator masks, and have your order shipped to your home (when possible) or to a nearby store.
No extra delivery fee for items marked “Online Exclusive”
Lots of time to decide if you want to keep unused items
Ships to your home, local stores, post offices and more
When it comes to competitive pricing, it doesn’t get much better than eBay. Shop for respirator masks and other health and safety items here. Join in the thrill of a bidding war or browse the “Buy It Now” options to secure your purchase.
Secure site with a range of payment options including PayPal
With thousands of brands and millions of products, AliExpress offers a full shopping experience with loads of options to choose from. Browse through a range of protective masks at hugely discounted prices – you won’t be disappointed!
When it comes to sourcing the right protective gear, Walmart won’t let you down. This retailer offers a wide range of products – including respirator masks – that will help keep you and your family safe.
Large range of products
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A dominant player on the Canadian home and hardware scene, The Home Depot has just about everything you need to conquer your next DIY project including protective gear, tools, supplies and more.
Plenty of time to return unused items (even more if you pay with a Home Depot Consumer Credit Card)
Free shipping on orders that reach or exceed a certain amount
Ship directly to your home or a nearby store
Sheridan Computers is a computer repair company that have started selling PPE items such as hand sanitizers, gloves and reusable masks.
Deliver throughout Canada
Accept various forms of payment, including cash on delivery
Have a physical store based in Mississauga
Are people in Canada required to wear face masks?
It depends on where you live. Certain cities such as Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston in Ontario have implemented bylaws requiring people to wear face masks when in public. Outside these jurisdictions, businesses and other organizations may still exercise the discretion to require customers and employees to wear face masks. In some regions, wearing a mask is mandatory when riding public transit.
The consequences for failing to follow regional rules usually involve stiff fines ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
It’s expected that more cities will consider adopting similar bylaws in the future to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as per the World Health Organization’s recommendations. Previously, the WHO had issued a statement advising governments to request that people wear fabric face masks in public.
Should I wear a face mask even if I’m not required to?
TheWorld Health Organization (WHO) strongly advises wearing a face mask if you’ve contractedCOVID-19 or are caring for someone who is ill. The WHO further advises governments to ask people to wear fabric face masks when out in public to avoid spreading illness.
While not all masks provide the same level of protectiveness, covering your mouth and nose can help prevent moisture from breathing and coughing from traveling too far in the air. According to KK Cheng, a public health expert at the University of Birmingham in the UK, wearing a mask is more for the people around you than for yourself. Says Cheng, “It’s not to protect yourself. It’s to protect people against the droplets coming out of your respiratory tract.”
Which type of mask do I need?
There’s a lot of information out there about when and where to wear a mask and what type of mask you need for various situations. Use this quick guide to help you decide which kind of face mask best fits your needs.
Who’s it best for?
How long does it last?
N95, KN95 respirator masks
Blocks at least 95% of airborne particles when worn properly. Adheres to government testing regulations.
Can be reused in certain situations, but must be discarded after coming into contact with bodily fluids, infected patients and in other circumstances. Read the CDC’s full reuse guidelines.
Surgical face masks
People who are sick and caretakers
Protects wearers from infecting others. Usually made of 3 layers of melt-blown fabric.
Intended to be discarded after every use.
Cloth face masks
The general population when in a public space
Typically made from cotton fabric with elastic or tie straps. Some designs have a pocket to place a removable filter.
Can be washed and reused for weeks or even months, as long as the material maintains its integrity.
DIY face masks
The general population when in a public space
Can be homemade using an old T-shirt, bandana, coffee filter or other readily available materials.
Depends on the materials used. Most DIY cloth masks can be washed and reused for weeks or even months, as long as the material maintains its integrity.
How to fit your mask properly
When putting a mask on, a tight seal should be created against your nose and mouth. If you’re using a medical mask, follow the instructions provided with your mask for a correct fit. In all cases, test that a seal has been created by exhaling heavily. Air should not escape through any cracks. If a seal hasn’t been created, re-fit and test again.
How to remove your mask properly
First, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before putting on your mask. When you’re ready to take it off, do not touch the front of the mask — it could be contaminated. Instead, remove it by carefully. Put the mask straight into the wash if it is re-usable, or discard it, before washing your hands again.
Where to find fashionable cloth face masks from Canadian designers
Face masks may be temporarily out of stock at many stores due to increased demand. But a number of Canadian retailers – including Ellie Mae, Roots, NONIE, AI Toronto Seoul, Peace Collective and Ottawa Artisans – have been selling fashionable designer cloth face masks, some for a limited time only. Even retailers like the NBA Store and the WNBA Store have jumped on the train.
Many online stores are also selling bulk disposable masks. Certain retailers are even donating a portion of profits to charity, making it easy to give back to others while shopping for what you need. Below are a few examples of designers that sell cloth masks online:
Stephano’s Tailor Shop
Family-owned upscale men and women’s retailer, Stephano’s Tailor Shop, is donating one mask to a local organization for each one sold. Masks cost around $14-$22 and come in a variety of styles for kids and adults.
Kwesia sells reversible cotton face masks in trendy African-prints for $13-$15 each. Multipacks are also available for around $70. Masks can be self-tied around the head or strung behind the ears.
Toronto-based clothier, Peace Collective, sells trendy yet understated cloth masks with internal filter sheets. Masks come in packs of 2-12 and cost around US$20 to just over US$100. For each pack sold, the company is donating one mask to a frontline worker.
Buy ruggedly stylish, durable and comfortable face masks from Canadian fashion icon, Roots. Each mask is handmade in Toronto and sells for just over $20. A portion of every sale is donated to The Frontline Fund, a charitable effort created by hospital foundation leaders to provide critical support to hospitals across Canada during COVID-19.
Buy colourful print masks from Toronto-based designer Horses Atelier. Packs of 3 are available for around $50, and for each pack sold online, the company will donate to Clean Clothes, an organization that supports efforts to improve working conditions for workers in the global garment industry.
How to make your own cloth face mask
If you have a small swatch of fabric about the size of a napkin, 2 elastics (hair ties or rubber bands will also do the trick), a coffee filter and a pair of scissors, you can easily make your own face mask. No sewing required! Check out our video tutorial below to see how it’s done. Bear in mind that homemade face masks won’t offer the same protection as medical-grade masks.
No. Some masks are made using special materials like polypropylene (a type of plastic) and processes such as melt-blowing that make it difficult for particles to penetrate the materials and enter the wearer’s body. Fabric masks like cotton masks are not similarly made and provideverylimited protection against respiratory droplets entering the body.
While not all masks provide the same level of protectiveness, covering your mouth and nose can help prevent moisture from breathing and coughing from traveling too far in the air. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, confirms that wearing both medical and non-medical masks can help prevent illness from spreading.
Dr. Tam says that non-medical masks can be worn “as an additional measure” to protect other people, however these masks have not actually been proven to protect the wearers from getting sick.
In addition to being much cheaper and more readily available than industry-standard masks, homemade masks can serve as a constant reminder to avoid touching your face in accordance with governmental and medical advisories.
If you can find a quality mask at an affordable price, it’s always the better option. However, if you can’t find any in stock or can’t afford to pay inflated prices, a homemade version could be a good alternative.
What’s the difference between a surgical mask and an N95 mask?
What's the difference between a P2, FFP2, KN95 and N95 face mask?
Depending on your location, different face mask types are more widely used. For example, in the United States and Canada, N95 are common; in Australia and New Zealand you'll see P2 masks more often; in China, KN95 is the standard. Mask manufacturer 3M, which specialises in filtering facepiece respirators (FFR) masks, offers the following explanation of the main differences between each mask type.
Korea 1st Class
NaCl and paraffin oil
NaCl and paraffin oil
Total inward leakage (TIL)
≤ 8% leakage
≤ 8% leakage
≤ 8% leakage
≤ 8% leakage
Inward Leakage measured and included in User Instructions
≤ 343 Pa
≤ 70 Pa (at 30L/min)≤ 240 Pa (at 95 L/min)≤ 500 Pa (clogging)
Michael Bowley is publisher for the shopping and travel team at Finder. Armed with years of experience in design and an Amazon Prime account, he loves finding bargains and sharing them online. When he's not helping folks save money, he's walking his beloved dog or cycling around his home.
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