Being There for Our People

Guest Column/Mike Rencheck

Times like this bring out the best in people, and we are seeing that every day at Bruce Power and in our communities. I truly believe we will get through this pandemic by working together and supporting each other.

At a time of so much uncertainty, we see people from all walks of life perform, every day, extraordinary acts of kindness, generosity and compassion. They are too many to mention, but they certainly start with the front-line workers in health care, emergency response, food supply, environmental services and other essential services. 

It’s important that we all do our part and that’s why I was so humbled and proud to announce on April 1 on behalf of our employees that Bruce Power would be donating 600,000 items of personal protective equipment to support the province’s fight against COVID-19, ensuring that front-line workers have the protection they need as the heroes supporting our families and communities.

As I write this, Bruce Power is generating 34 percent of Ontario’s power and you can be assured that our team is unwavering in its focus to do its part by keeping the lights on, generating low-cost power in the province, and maintaining global isotope production for medical equipment sterilization during this time.

Cobalt-60, a medical isotope produced at Bruce Power, is used in Gamma irradiation to ensure that medical equipment and supplies—surgical gloves, syringes, and COVID-19 test kits used by front-line medical professionals to treat patients—are sterilized, clean and safe for use. Gamma irradiation is one of the most effective methods for sterilizing this equipment quickly and in large volumes.

We’re living in different times when it comes to connecting with family members, friends, neighbours and co-workers. Hand shaking is no longer the way we greet each other, and hand washing may now be the most important thing we can do to keep ourselves safe. Family time can be over FaceTime or other technological means. Meetings in a room or around a table have been replaced by videoconferences with social distancing now part of our everyday vocabulary.

Communication has been a key initiative in our response efforts to keep people connected, and we’ve worked with our local health care officials to host three Virtual Town Halls in Grey, Bruce and Huron counties which played a pivotal role in getting out necessary information to more than 75,000 residents in our region. Bruce Power and its partners created the Grey•Bruce•Huron Strong app to help people in our communities stay in touch—and properly informed—during this extraordinary time. 

We have also collaborated with local Chambers of Commerce and Business Improvement Associations to distribute $100,000 in locally-sourced essential items to assist community members in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with our union partner, the Power Workers’ Union (PWU) we provided a $400,000 donation to University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto to be used in the fight against COVID-19. UHN, which includes Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, is accelerating research in treatment for vulnerable people to the novel coronavirus, and faster testing capability for front-line workers. Bruce Power and the PWU are stepping up to help fund this research and are issuing a challenge to other companies in the energy sector to show their support.

We understand these are extraordinary times, and extraordinary times require extraordinary effort. We must all work together on the prevention and management of COVID-19, to continue to get through this together. 

We also have people faced with economic difficulties, not of their own doing. To help, we’ve distributed $300,000 to local food banks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for volunteers as the work they are doing is more important than ever. With hundreds of people out of work in our region, these funds are going fast and people are counting on the community to be in this together like never before. It is crucial that people in Bruce, Grey and Huron counties have access to basic necessities. There are many that are unable to put food on the table and we can all make a difference.  A Go Fund Me page has been created to collect donations for the Fight Against COVID-19. All money collected will go to support the local food banks that will continue seeing increased demands in the coming months.

These are difficult times, and they are bringing out the very best in the people who live in our corner of rural Ontario, as in every corner of our country.  

Mike Rencheck is President and CEO of Bruce Power.