The Canadian Cancer Society has closed some of its community offices on Vancouver Island.
The financial pressures brought on by the pandemic forced the society to close its volunteer-run offices in Duncan and Campbell River.
Tiffany McFayden, who is the society’s community manager for Vancouver Island, said COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact.
“This year we’re forecasting a loss of about $80 (million) to $100 million in fundraising revenue,” she said. “So we’re really making some tough decisions around where we allocate funds to ensure that we continue to serve people living with cancer.”
McFayden said research and support programs are critical pieces to support those affected by the disease and “we want to make sure we continue to do that work.”
“So, unfortunately, part of that decision process was closing many of our community offices across the country and eliminating over one-third of our workforce, as well, so it’s had a significant impact, definitely one that we were not anticipating, but COVID-19… it’s crippling.”
The Victoria office is also closing, and the society has had to cut its full-time staff on Vancouver Island from eight to one.
Other offices could follow, McFayden added. “Any lease that we had, that was a month-to-month agreement, we’ve officially closed.”
McFayden expressed her gratitude to the volunteers who manned the office. “Just deeply grateful for the commitment and the support of all the women in that community because they’ve done just incredible work for us, and they will continue to do incredible work for us. What we do in Campbell River and across the island isn’t changing, we just don’t have bricks and mortar.”
While losing the office is a “huge loss,” to the community, business won’t really change, “it’s just that we won’t have that physical space,” McFayden said.
Seeing offices close losing staff is “not the job I signed up for,” McFayden shared. “You don’t anticipate anything like this. When I started last year, our focus was to rebuild, and to grow the community, and to really re-engage our supporters and those living with cancer. It’s just mind-blowing that it’s turned so quickly and it is devastating because we have had office space across the island for 30-plus years in a lot of our locations.”
Meanwhile, the annual Tour de Rock cycling fundraiser is scheduled to go ahead as planned.
No decision has been made with regard to the Comox Valley office and the volunteers there are still waiting to see if it will reopen or not.