Organizations in British Columbia collaborate to distribute one million masks for safe travel

Feb. 11, 2021
Business, transportation, logistics and community organizations will work together to provide masks to those who need them in communities across the province.

Deloitte Canada is working with TransLink, OEC Group, Vancouver Airport Authority (YVR), BC Ferries, 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 in 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.

"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."

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