Organizations in British Columbia collaborate for a safer B.C. to source and distribute one million masks in support of safe, essential travel

Organizations in British Columbia collaborate for a safer B.C. to source and distribute one million masks in support of safe, essential travel

Business, transportation, logistics, and community organizations come together; distributing masks to those who need them in communities across the province

Recognizing that we all have a role to play in taking action to protect our communities from the continued impact of COVID-19, particularly with the indefinite extension of public health restrictions, Deloitte Canada is joining forces with leading B.C. organizations including TransLink, OEC Group, Vancouver Airport Authority (YVR), BC Ferries, BCAA, SCI, and BC Transit, to source and distribute one million surgical masks to those who need them across the province. The distribution of these much-needed masks is being led by United Way and will help ensure a safer journey for all British Columbians.

“Everyone is doing their part to flatten the COVID-19 curve and we know that masks do make a difference,” said Michael McKnight, President of United Way Lower Mainland. “We are incredibly gratified to see this kind of collaboration with organizations coming together for their communities to make for a safer, stronger B.C. now and into the future.”

The vast majority of British Columbians are able to adhere to B.C.’s mandatory face-covering rules. However, the United Way identified a concern that not everyone who needs to travel to access essential public services or for other essential reasons has the means or ability to obtain a clean face mask. This has prompted Deloitte to team up with TransLink, and a variety of other organizations to help solve this challenge.

“For Deloitte, this is about making an impact that matters when it comes to equality, prosperity, and fairness for all British Columbians,” said Etienne Bruson, Vice Chair of Deloitte in British Columbia. “We wanted to do all we could in collaboration with B.C. businesses and other organizations in taking the first steps towards reinforcing confidence in the transportation sector and getting our economy moving again, safely.”

“We’ve seen that wearing masks goes a long way in controlling the spread of COVID-19, which is why TransLink implemented our mandatory mask policy last summer,” said TransLink Interim CEO Gigi Chen-Kuo. “We are joining this initiative to continue encouraging mask use so that we can move towards recovery and welcome more of our customers back onto transit.”

Distribution of the one million masks began in Metro Vancouver in late January, expanding throughout 45 different British Columbia coastal communities and the Interior this week via United Way’s province-wide support network of over 100 local agency locations. It is expected that this distribution targeting a variety of populations from kids and young families to seniors and the homeless population will continue through March.

“OEC Group was delighted when Deloitte asked us to take part in this mission. We strongly believe in the importance of masks and social distancing during this pandemic. We know that masks, hand washing, and physical distancing are the best methods we have to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” said Landon Bibeau, CMO at OEC Group.

“At YVR, people and their safety are at the center of everything we do. We are committed to giving back to our community and providing an essential service ensuring that those who need to travel are able to do so safely,” said Richard Beed, Vice President, People and Brand at YVR. “That is why we are proud to be supporting this important initiative alongside Deloitte and leading BC organizations to help get masks to deserving British Columbians.”

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our number one priority has been to keep customers, employees, and coastal communities safe,” said Mark Collins, CEO of BC Ferries. “Collaborating for this initiative demonstrates our commitment to keeping British Columbians and our economy safe and moving.”

“We appreciate the support of the BC Transit customers who have been doing their part by wearing face coverings throughout the pandemic,” said Erinn Pinkerton, President and CEO of BC Transit. “We are proud to be a part of this initiative, which will help ensure that everyone has access to appropriate face coverings to help protect their fellow travelers. We’re all in this together.”

“After partnering with United Way earlier in the pandemic to distribute much-needed food donations to lower mainland communities, we are happy to work with them once again to help protect BC communities and keep people moving safely,” said Eric Hopkins, BCAA President & CEO.

Collaborating for a safer, stronger B.C. helps to build the confidence and foundation needed for economic recovery in 2021 and beyond.

For more information about the program, locations, and how those who need masks can obtain them via the local UWLM community partner/agency: