32,000 Masks Hit Greater Victoria to Help Young Families to Seniors and the Homeless with Safe, Essential Travel

February 10, 2021 / by United Way

Organizations in British Columbia come together to source and distribute masks in support of safe, essential travel

 Business, transportation, transit, and community organizations collaborate for a safer BC; distribute one million masks to those who need them through the United Way network

VICTORIA, FEBRUARY 10th, 2021 –  Recognizing that we all have a role to play in taking action to protect our communities from the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as BC’s public health officer extends current restrictions with no end date, Deloitte Canada is partnering with leading BC organizations including BC Ferries, BC Transit, BCAA, TransLink, OEC, Vancouver Airport Authority (YVR) and SCI to source and distribute one million non-medical masks to those who need them across the province. The distribution of these much-needed masks is being facilitated and led by the 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 Mark Breslauer, CEO, United Way Greater Victoria. “We are incredibly gratified to see this kind of collaboration with organizations coming together for their communities to make for a safer, stronger BC and Vancouver Island 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 everything we could as an organization to collaborate with our clients, BC-based business and community and take the first steps towards reinforcing confidence in the transportation sector and to get 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 and is expanding to who need them across Vancouver Island, Coastal BC and the Interior this week via the United Way’s province-wide support network. United Way Greater Victoria will receive 32,000 masks for distribution throughout the CRD and the Southern Gulf Islands.

Masks are being distributed at 30 local agency locations across 13 municipalities in the CRD. It is expected that this distribution targeting a variety of populations from young families to seniors and the homeless will continue throughout the month of February.

“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 travellers. 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 and a list of agencies receiving masks, please visit uwgv.ca/news/one-million-masks-partnership/


About the Collaboration

Deloitte and OEC Group worked together to obtain one million non-medical masks to support transit riders who may need a mask to support safe, essential travel but are not able to access one. After convening a group of leading transit and transportation organizations, including BC Ferries, TransLink, YVR, BCAA, SCI, and BC Transit, alongside Deloitte are working with United Way to distribute masks to British Columbians in need so they can safely access public transit and transportation services in order to complete essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About United Way Greater Victoria

United Way is a trusted leader, influencer and catalyst for change. In response to COVID-19, we are focusing our efforts on urgent community needs such as mental health outreach services and counselling, meals and companionship for isolated seniors, and essentials for families in need. United, we accelerate change to improve the lives of our neighbours who need it most, making our local community stronger. We believe everyone in Greater Victoria should have the opportunity to reach their potential. Our vision is to build a safe and resilient community where happiness and belonging connect us. Last fiscal year, United Way raised $4.7 million thanks to over 7,000 donors and over 250 workplaces opening their offices to run employee giving programs. These funds allowed United Way to support over 90,000 people. Show your local love today by making a gift to United Way at uwgv.ca.

For more information:

Heather Skydt

Director, Marketing & Communications

United Way Greater Victoria


Mobile: 250-686-3606

Office: 250-984-2269