The One Million Masks project is coming to the Central and North Island.

Over the next few weeks, 16,000 masks will go to over 55 local agencies across the region to combat the spread of COVID-19.

This is all thanks to the project led by Deloitte Canada.

Deloitte and OEC Group have obtained one million non-medical masks to support transit riders who need a mask, but aren’t able to access one. 

BC Ferries, TransLink, YVR, BCAA, SCI, and BC Transit, and Deloitte are working with United Way to hand out masks to British Columbians in need, so they can use public transit and transportation services to complete essential travel during the pandemic.

Locally, the masks are being delivered through the United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island.

“Everyone is doing their part to flatten the COVID-19 curve and we know that our local community partners are working tirelessly to keep their clients and staff safe,” said Signy Madden, executive director, United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island. 

“We are incredibly grateful to collaborate and share these masks throughout our community; they are a practical way we can help local frontline agencies that are providing essential supports throughout this crisis.”

Local non-profit Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank is helping distribute the masks to agencies across the island, with help from local BCAA branches.

“Loaves & Fishes Food Bank has a vast food distribution network throughout Vancouver Island and is happy to provide free delivery service of supplies for other non-profit organizations such as the United Way,” said the food bank’s executive director, Peter Sinclair.

United Way says not everyone in our communities who access essential public services, including the social service sector, have the means or ability to obtain clean facemasks. 

This prompted Deloitte to join forces with United Way, TransLink, OEC, Vancouver Airport Authority (YVR), BC Ferries, BCAA, SCI and BC Transit 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, B.C.-based business and community and take the first steps towards reinforcing confidence in the transportation sector and to get our economy moving again, safely.”

Distribution began in Metro Vancouver in late January and is expanding to those who need them throughout B.C.’s coastal communities and the Interior this week, via the United Way’s province-wide support network.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our number one priority has been to keep customers, employees and coastal communities safe,” said BC Ferries CEO, Mark Collins. 

“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.”

For more information  about the program, click here.