Canadian energy companies stepping up in response to COVID-19 crisis

From hand sanitizer to protective masks to fresh coffee, producers doing much more than just keeping the lights on

By Shawn Logan
Getty Images photo

Canadian energy companies have played a critical role in keeping the lights on and the country moving as the nation weathers the COVID-19 crisis.

But many have gone a step further, contributing time, money and expertise toward helping Canadians navigate the global pandemic, which has had impacts from coast-to-coast.

Here’s a look at how some companies are doing their part:

Shell Canada has been busy since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March. The company has pledged to donate 125,000 litres of isopropyl alcohol, that main ingredient in hand-sanitizing liquids, to the Canadian government. That’s enough to create nearly one million 12-ounce bottles of the solution for use in hospitals and other medical facilities.

Meanwhile, some 15,000 Shell gas stations globally are providing free food and drinks to healthcare workers as a thank you to those working on the frontlines. As well, Shell Canada has contributed $250,000 to the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, a collaboration between the City of Calgary and the United Way that will ensure the non-profit can continue to help vulnerable populations at greatest risk during the health crisis.

And workers at Shell’s Scotford Manufacturing site in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. will be producing up to 750 reusable face shields every week using a 3D printer, which will be shipped to provincial governments.

The demand for protective masks is also being met by Suncor Energy, which has donated 40,000 N95 masks, the gold standard in personal respiratory safety, to the federal government, where they were distributed to communities most in need. A Suncor employee at the company’s refinery in Sarnia, Ont. is also answering the call, using a laser cutter obtained for hobby purposes to build homemade faceshields for medical workers in Ontario.

The company is also contributing $3 million through its Petro-Canada gas stations to provide fuel discounts, meals and showers through its more than 1,850 locations for those who toil everyday to keep the country operational through the pandemic. These include health care providers, truck drivers, transit operators, grocery store clerks and food delivery drivers.

Petro-Canada will also look to provide support to important institutions depending on their needs, including essential items for hospitals, provisions for food banks and assistance to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

B.C.-based Teck Resources has pledged to create a massive $20-million fund to respond to immediate needs related to COVID-19 as well as for future recovery efforts.

Among the immediate donations coming from the mining giant are one million N95 masks for B.C. health care workers, community investment funds for Canada, Alaska and Chile, and providing $1 million worth of copper for infection prevention initiatives.

The company is also donating $500,000 to UNICEF to provide critical medical and sanitation supplies and training to more than 180 countries, along with another $250,000 that will go directly to the Canadian Red Cross, to help in the public health battle at home.

Ontario’s Bruce Power has stepped up in a big way with a pledge to provide the provincial government with 600,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE), which will be funneled to workers on the frontlines of COVID-19 crisis.

The nuclear energy provider, responsible for producing about 30 per cent of Ontario’s power supply, have also been staunch advocates for ensuring social distancing to help flatten the curve of coronavirus.

Another Ontario energy producer, Ontario Power Generation, is also helping out ensuring frontline workers have access to PPE. The company is donating 500,000 surgical masks along with 75,000 N95 masks.

Ontario Power is also using 3D printers to produce hundreds of face shields for hospitals and long-term care homes and also supplying 17,500 Tyvek protective suits for frontline workers.

Further east in New Brunswick, Irving Oil has done its part, converting its blending and packaging facility in Saint John to add all-important hand sanitizer to its production line.

The company is also offering free cups of coffee to professional drivers, health care workers and first responders through its Circle K stores in Atlantic Canada and New England.

Meanwhile, the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation has made matching $1 million contributions to the Saint John Regional Health Foundation and the Massachusetts General Hospital to assist in COVID response.

British Columbia natural gas pipeline project Coastal GasLink has donated 100,000 to the United Way of Northern B.C. to help the region’s most vulnerable citizens during the COVID-19 outbreak. Seniors in isolation, the homeless and those struggling with mental health and addictions will be the direct beneficiaries of the gift.

That donation, along with many more, will be matched by Coastal GasLink’s parent TC Energy, which is using its Giving Portal to help organizations across Canada support people and communities affected by COVID-19.

Through the program, the company will match any and all donations up to $500,000. Added to that, TC Energy is matching all donations through its employee giving program at 200 per cent.

B.C.’s Northern Health Region will receive a $500,000 donation from LNG Canada, which is building an international export terminal on the west coast, with half of the money earmarked to help secure equipment for hospitals in Kitimat and Terrace, with the rest to help regional hospitals, First Nations and service providers in the northern part of the province.

Bolstering those funds is another $300,000 from the Haisla First Nation, one of the key Indigenous partners in the Coastal GasLink project, to go directly to the Kitimat General Hospital.

AltaGas Ltd., which employs some 2,800 workers across North America, announced it will donate $1 million to partner organizations in its operating regions to provide support to frontline workers.

Alberta oilfield supplier Sprung Structures has donated two large temporary structures to add much needed additional emergency beds at Calgary’s Peter Lougheed hospital and to health official in Burlington, Ont.

With families having to keep children home from school during the pandemic, Calgary-based Birchcliff Energy has donated new Chrome Books to families who don’t have access to computers to ensure they don’t fall behind in their education.

Another Calgary company, Fluid Energy Group Ltd., which provides chemical solutions for the oil and gas industry, has partnered with the federal government to produce additional test kits, hand sanitizer, and protective gear.

Meanwhile, energy companies from coast-to-coast are doing their best to make sure first responders, frontline medical workers, those maintaining supply chains and all those contributing to keeping the country functioning during the COVID-19 crisis know they’re appreciated.