The Canadian Way: Lending a Helping Hand Across Canada During COVID-19

April 2, 2020

Keera Hart

As many are reeling from their own personal fears about the COVID-19 pandemic, people and organizations are also finding ways to come together to attempt to help our country’s most vulnerable.

From iconic fashion brands and well-known distilleries to next door neighbours, there is no shortage of kind people and compassionate gestures across Canada.

We’ve rounded up a few of the many examples of companies and individuals lending a helping hand to front-line workers and others in need.

Shifting Focus to Support Front Line Workers

While COVID-19 has severely impacted the fashion industry, many big-name brands and luxury fashion retailers are stepping up to produce products that are urgently needed. Canada Goose has shifted focus from luxury items to produce urgently needed scrubs and gowns for frontline healthcare workers and patients in Canada.

Various alcohol companies have also shifted focus to help produce essential goods. For example, the founder of Pur Vodka, Nicolas Duvernois, chose to stop production of vodka in order to make hand sanitizer. Spirit of York is also taking this initiative one step further by offering their homemade hand sanitizer free of charge to those over 65 years of age and those who can’t afford it.

Hotels have also stepped up to provide the Canadian government and those impacted by COVID-19 with several services, including food preparation, laundry services, and accommodation maintenance services. The Canadian Hotel Advisor Collective (CHAC) was formed as an important resource to filter, and direct timely, useful information for key stakeholders.

And it’s not always businesses giving back – nor is it about getting the credit. A group of anonymous Muskoka cottagers donated $135,000 to a hospital’s COVID-19 emergency response fund. This occurred a few days after Premier Doug Ford warned that Ontario cottage country was not prepared for an outbreak. The donated money will help the hospital prepare and purchase equipment and supplies.

Feeding the Front Line

Despite the hit that many fast food chains have taken without dine-in customers, many remain dedicated to ensuring front-line workers have the fuel they need to continue caring for people during the pandemic.

Many drive throughs are still open and offering promotions to support healthcare workers.

Krispy Kreme, for example, is offering healthcare workers a dozen donuts free of charge and Starbucks is offering first responders a free tall-sized hot or iced coffee until May 3.

Meals are also being delivered to hospitals and healthcare workers. Uber Eats is donating 300,000 free meals to first responders and healthcare workers across the U.S. and Canada.

It’s also worth mentioning that many local businesses and caring individuals are sending meals and treats to hospitals nearby to ensure front line workers don’t go hungry.

Noteworthy Partnerships

While this pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty, it has also increased our sense of community and inspired numerous new partnerships.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has partnered with biotechnology company Spartan Bioscience Inc. to create a rapid testing device for rural communities in Alberta. The partnership will allow AHS to conduct more efficient tests for those who may not have access to hospitals or testing centres.

The Government of Canada has also created new partnerships with Canadian companies Thornhill Medical, Medicom, and Spartan Bioscience to purchase equipment and supplies, including portable ventilators, surgical masks and rapid testing kits.

Beyond these large partnerships, another important initiative that has taken social media by storm is the ‘neighbours helping neighbours’ initiative. Acts of kindness include offering to drop off groceries or a hot meal for elderly or compromised neighbours, phone calls to the elderly or those who live alone and leaving letters of encouragement in people’s mailboxes.

The Canadian Way

Over the past few weeks, Canadian businesses and individuals from coast to coast have stepped up and showed their support for frontline workers and vulnerable communities.

Despite so much negativity in the news, these Canadians have made it clear that the pandemic has brought out the best in some of us.

If the rest of us follow their example, perhaps we can find meaningful and memorable ways to help or inspire others.

During this unprecedented time, one thing is clear: we are all in this together.

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