By Tammy Schneider
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
In an effort to redouble efforts to fight against COVID-19, Bruce Power has launched Be a Light: Beating COVID-19 Together, on Nov. 19.
The company has committed $1 million to battle the pandemic and work with public health, county and municipal governments, chambers of commerce, hospitals, local MPs and MPPs, and community organizations within Grey, Bruce and Huron counties.
“We are committed to contributing in any way we can to the challenge ahead of us here in the coming weeks,” said James Scongack, executive vice-president corporate affairs and operational services at Bruce Power.
Bruce Power has been in constant contact with public health, county wardens, the province, federal MPs, and it is “very clear that COVID fatigue is settling in, in everyone’s lives,” said Scongack.
As case numbers continue to rise in Grey Bruce and Huron, Bruce Power is “committed to doing whatever they can to make a positive contribution working in unity with the medical officers of health, our elected officials across the board.”
The program is focused on how to beat COVID-19, from what Scongack describes as a “glass half full” perspective. He said there is light at the end of the tunnel and each action carried out, directed at defeating COVID, makes the light a little brighter.
The initiative is focused on five main areas.
The first area, public awareness, involves engaging community newspapers, radio stations, television and social media to reinforce the message from the health unit on how to stop COVID. This information will become even more critical as winter and the holidays approach. Bruce Power has committed $200,000 to this area, which will begin immediately.
The second area, providing protection, will provide thermal monitoring equipment in higher risk or high traffic areas. Scongack describes these monitors as an additional tool in the toolbox and notes that use of this new equipment, in areas of high traffic, prompts members of the public to pause and remember to follow other preventative measures. To date, Bruce Power has provided more than $2 million in PPE, $300,000 of which has been distributed in Bruce, Grey and Huron counties. $150,000 will be directed to this area.
The third area of focus is a buy local campaign. Businesses have already faced many challenges because of the restrictions because of the pandemic, and these challenges will only continue to grow as case numbers climb. Bruce Power is making a $50,000 investment to further leverage the Grey-Bruce-Huron Strong platform (www.gbhstrong.com).
The fourth area focuses on mental and physical health. Scongack says approximately 30 to 35 per cent of the $1 million will be directed to this part of the program. The company will support local organizations which promote mental and physical health activities and programs through the duration of the campaign. By Nov. 27, an announcement will be made detailing how approximately $50,000 will be spent to create COVID-safe, outdoor community events to take place this winter. Money will also be invested in improving trails and recreation in the area.
The final area of focus is lending a helping hand. Bruce Power has reached out to food banks, long-term care facilities and community organizations to support these organizations and individuals during this period of time. Approximately $250,000 will be directed to helping those who need assistance, and money spent in this area should be used to support the local economy.
Scongack says time and action is of the essence to respond to the urgent situation Ontario and our communities face. The program is being implemented immediately and said they have “two weeks to hit this hard with a hammer.”
Bruce Power hosted a COVID-19 information live event with Dr. Ian Arra of Grey Bruce Health Unit on Nov. 25 at 6:30 p.m. The public was invited to attend, and those not able to view can watch the recorded version at https://www.brucepower.com/events/.