Retailers in Canada Step-Up to Help Amid Coronavirus Pandemic


Share post:

Canadian retailers across the country are stepping up in any way they can to help in the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic relief efforts.

For example, with the increase in demand for personal protection equipment in Canada, major Canadian retailer Harry Rosen is committed to helping in the relief effort. To that end, it is collaborating with partner Shirt Fit to repurpose its Harry Rosen Signature dress shirts to produce protective non-medical face masks.

They are reusable and suitable for hospital visitors, discharged patients as well as the broader community.

Harry Rosen will be donating the masks to Canadian hospitals in need with the first one being the Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto.

“This started a few weeks ago in the midst of everyone trying to figure out what was happening. It’s been quite the journey. We started hearing more and more about how in other countries there’s a shortage of PPE’s – that’s personal protective equipment, and we started hearing the rumblings of that in Canada although at the time the reports that we were reading were that we’re good for now but we were probably headed in that same direction,” said Trinh Tham, Chief Marketing Officer for Harry Rosen.


View this post on Instagram


We are pleased to help with the Covid-19 relief effort by collaborating with our partner, Shirt Fit, to repurpose the production of our Harry Rosen Signature dress shirts to produce protective non-clinical face masks. Each mask is handmade here in Canada using 100% cotton and is washable and reusable. They are suitable for hospital visitors, discharged patients, as non-frontline Canadians. We will be donating these face masks to Canadian hospitals in need, the first of which is @michaelgarronhospital here in Toronto. Harry Rosen is happy to contribute in any way we can and we thank all the front-line workers for their tireless work and effort during this crisis.

A post shared by Harry Rosen (@harryroseninc) on


View this post on Instagram


From the desk of Larry Rosen.

A post shared by Harry Rosen (@harryroseninc) on

“We’ve got partners, we’ve got resources in our network that could possibly pivot to help out with the relief effort. As much as we want to take care of our customers, our employees, we’re a Canadian brand that has been around for 66 years and even if we’re not a giant multinational who can maybe buy hundreds of thousands of masks or gowns I do think that in any way that we can we should contribute.”

Another custom shirt maker, Toronto-based King & Bay, launched a campaign encouraging Canadians to create a personal-use facemask from an article of clothing to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and to help ensure medical N95 respiratory masks are prioritized for frontline medical workers. The “Shirt Off Your Back” campaign includes an instructional video.

Toronto-based shirtmaker, Michel’s Bespoke, is selling sleek facemaks on its website in three colours: white, light blue and black. Two options include a simple version priced at $19.95 and a custom monogramed version priced at $44.95 (images directly below).

Across the country, other retailers have launched their own specific efforts to help the cause of COVID-19 relief.

Save-On-Foods launched a $1 million campaign to feed kids in need across Western Canada. It has committed $500,000 toward the $1 million fundraising goal aimed at giving kids easier access to school meal supports during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that kids need nutritious meals and we are absolutely committed to helping these organizations continue their critical mission despite school closures. The work our community partners do to feed young Canadians is so important,” said Save-On-Foods President Darrell Jones. “We are grateful to Breakfast Club of Canada and our other partners who have joined forces with us to support our schools and students. I know our customers share our commitment to our communities and will blow us away with their generosity.”


View this post on Instagram


With an estimated one in five school-aged kids in Canada relying on school-based nutrition programs, school closures mean many Canadian kids are unsure where their next meal will come from. Schools and community groups throughout Western Canada are working with parents to ensure vulnerable kids get the support they need. So we’re collecting donations to support these programs and will match up to $500,000. Make your donation of $2 or 500 More Rewards points at the till at any of our Save-On-Foods locations. Or donate online through one of our partner agencies #feedkidsnow All money raised locally stays local – that means each community will be helping kids right in their local areas.

A post shared by Save-On-Foods (@saveonfoods) on

In an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, UNIQLO Canada will donate 200,000 masks to high-priority medical facilities across Canada.

Vancouver-based Arc’teryx says that it will produce 30,000 medical gowns that will provide protection to local healthcare workers in BC and address the shortage in the region. The brand collaborated with local health authorities to create a prototype and design.

Toronto-based women’s footwear brand Zvelle said that is honouring healthcare heroes by gifting them a pair of the brand’s Stowe sandals. “We wanted to bring some beauty and inspiration into their lives at a time when they need it most. Fashion might seem frivolous at the present time but at Zvelle we see this as an opportunity for self-expression and sharing our values with the world.”

Dragons’ Den star Vince Guzzo added inspirational t-shirts to his ‘Mr. Sunshine’ fashion brand. Developed in collaboration with Montréal- based Ruddy Lad Co., one of the Dragon’s on-set investments, the collection serves to spread a positive spirit amid the COVID-19 crisis. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of each t-shirt is being donated to the Montréal Jewish General Hospital. 

The t-shirts featuring “Ruddy Lad’s iconic character, sharp comments, and memorable style” that Guzzo says communicates key messages to encourage people to stay home and maintain social distancing.

IKEA Canada announced that is would provide approximately $2.3 million in product and supply donations to support local communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The retailer will first focus its relief efforts on vulnerable communities including the homeless, newcomers, refugees and children. That will include providing home furnishings to ensure they have a safe and comfortable home during these challenging times. It will also support those leading COVID-19 relief efforts by providing relevant supplies from its range to medical services and facilities. Tens of thousands of N-95 masks found in storage have already been donated, for example.

BioSteel Sports Nutrition Inc. says that it has pledged to donate up to $2 million of its Hydration Mix to front-line workers and hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company says that it wants to ensure that front-line staff are healthy and hydrated so they can do their jobs to the best of their ability. The drink includes vitamins, zinc and amino acids, and it claims to help boost the immune system and maintain hydration levels which can improve overall health with no sugar. 

BIO RAW, Toronto’s only certified organic meal delivery service is supporting its local community by offering fresh, nutritious meal options, in eco-friendly packaging with free contactless delivery. They have also launched the BIO RAW Supports initiative to raise funds for local community organizations and charities, including Mount Sinai Hospital, Feed It Forward, Pride Toronto, as well as a BIO RAW fund for delivery of meals to frontline workers.

“Our goal is to keep our 30+ staff employed and safe. We have taken extra steps to support social distancing by providing all production staff with private transportation to and from our kitchen facility,” said Oren Epstein, Owner of BIO RAW. “I choose to use my business as a force of good – it’s about doing all that we can to support the health, safety, and well-being of our staff and community. BIO RAW meals are more accessible than ever through free contactless home delivery and at over 100 retailers across Ontario. We have increased our sanitation measures and are following all recommended protocols in order to continue safely serving our community to the best of our ability.”


View this post on Instagram


BIO RAW SUPPORTS 🖤 ⠀ ⠀ As a small local business, we are doing all that we can to support those in need within our community. We are proud to share that we have launched BIO RAW SUPPORTS, a program to raise funds for local charities and community organizations. BIO RAW has also set up a fund for the delivery of our nourishing meals to frontline workers!👩🏽‍⚕️🏥👨🏻‍⚕️ ⠀ ⠀ ✅ BIO RAW SUPPORTS offers fundraising opportunities for charity and community organizations who have partnered with us.⠀ ⠀ ✅ We’ve been delivering healthy meals to frontline workers through the BIO RAW Frontline Workers Fund. Send us a DM if you’re a frontline worker and you’d like your organization to be included as a recipient.⠀ ⠀ ✅ Customers can also make a donation to support the Frontline Workers Fund and any of our charity and community organization partners at checkout.⠀ ⠀ ✅ To help make healthy meals more accessible we are committed to offering FREE contactless meal delivery anywhere in the Greater Toronto Area. 🚚 ⠀ ⠀ ✅ Our goal is to keep our 30+ staff employed and safe. We have taken extra steps to support social distancing by providing all production staff with private transportation to and from our kitchen facility, and work from home options for our non-essential staff. We have increased our sanitation measures and are following all recommended protocols in order to continue safely serving our community to the best of our ability.⠀ ⠀ We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support that we’ve received. At BIO RAW, we’re using our business as a force of good – it’s about doing all that we can to support the health, safety, and well-being of our staff and community.⠀ ⠀ We hope that you are staying healthy! Have a Happy Saturday☀️

A post shared by Fast-Food Made With Integrity (@bioraw) on


View this post on Instagram


Imagine working a long shift in a busy hospital, on your feet for hours at a time with no breaks, trying to provide the best possible care for COVID-19 patients. When you finally have a chance to rest between shifts, you have to choose between a thin plastic mattress, or a stretcher in the hospital hallway. This was the reality for frontline healthcare workers in the intensive and critical care units (ICU and CCU) at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. Last week, we received an urgent plea for help from an anesthesiologist at the hospital. Their current situation needed to change, and we knew we could help. We are honoured to partner with St. Paul’s Hospital to donate enough mattresses, pillows, and mattress protectors to help their frontline healthcare workers get the sleep they need to fight for all of us—and win. Click the link in our bio to read more about our donation. #giveback #community #endy #bettertogether #frontline #covid19 #essentialservices #support #donation #corona #coronavirus #healthcare #canadian

A post shared by Endy (@endy) on

Mattress company Endy has partnered with St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, an acute care and teaching hospital hit by COVID-10, to donate enough mattresses, pillows, and mattress protectors to create comfortable sleeping quarters for the entirety of the doctors and nurses providing round-the-clock care on the frontlines of the ICU (intensive care unit) and CCU (critical care unit).

“Imagine being away from your loved ones, fighting a virus that has been sweeping the globe, working countless hours, day and night, to care for those in need. This is the experience of frontline healthcare workers coast-to-coast and around the world,” said Rajen Ruparell, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, Endy.

“Recently, we were devastated to learn that medical staff at St. Paul’s Hospital — the doctors and nurses going to battle for us — were sleeping on hospital stretchers, just to get by. We knew we had to help. This donation is a reflection of our love and appreciation for healthcare workers across Canada. It has been inspiring to see our country come together during these uncertain times, helping in any way they can. From all of us at Endy, and our customers coast-to-coast, thank you.”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From The Author



Subscribe to the Newsletter


* indicates required

Related articles

Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens Hits Sales Milestone with Exciting Retail Growth and Future Plans [Interview]

The shopping centre is adding new retailers as sales per square foot hit an all-time high, with plans to re-tenant Nordstorm as foot traffic grows following Eataly's opening in the mall a few months ago.

ECS Coffee Opens Canada’s Largest Coffee and Espresso Equipment Gear Showroom and Retail Space in Toronto [Interview]

The new Etobicoke location is unique to Canada if not North America, according to its founder, with coffee roasting, equipment showroom, over 500 varieties of coffee, Youtube studio and various in-store experiences. He has plans to expand the concept nationally.

New Loblaws City Market Opens in Vancouver’s ‘The Post’ Building, Adding Grocery Competition to the Downtown Core [Podcast]

Craig and Lee discuss the opening of a new Loblaws City Market in downtown Vancouver's renovated Post building, and they explore its potential impact on local grocery shopping.

Loblaw Announces $2 Billion Investment in Canada for 2024 with Dozens of New Stores and 7,500 New Jobs [Expert Comment]

The retail behemoth will be growing substantially this year, following backlash over profits as inflation continues to impact Canadians.

Dubai-Based Asian Street Food Concept ‘Wok Boyz’ Expands into Canada with Plans for Multiple Locations [Interview]

The company's founder says the popular concept, with personalized meals, has an opportunity to grow substantially with its high-quality ingredients and theatrical flare, complete with fiery customer-facing woks.

Calgary Surge Basketball Team Launches Innovative Pop-Up at CF Chinook Centre to Boost Community Engagement [Interview]

The retail activation, which opened this month, is resulting in heavier foot traffic in a quieter part of the mall.

Upscale Pusateri’s Fine Foods to Close Yorkville Grocery Store in Toronto After 20 Years

The 5,500 square foot store opened to much fanfare in 2003, with valet parking, private chefs and pricey goods. 

Loblaw and Walmart Could be Forced to Adhere to Grocery Code of Conduct with Legislation [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that it's rare for all of Canada's political parties to agree, signalling a shift that could force grocers to comply amid record inflation.

Factory Direct to Shut All 14 Stores Amid Bankruptcy, Liquidation to Begin Saturday

The company, founded in 1995, is one of Canada’s largest privately owned discount retailers which struggled with declining sales and increasing costs following the pandemic.

What to Expect for the Canadian Retail and Hospitality Sectors in 2024 [Video Interview]

Michael Kehoe provides an expansive overview of what's expected for Canada's retail industry in 2024, and how the commercial real estate industry is becoming more dynamic than ever.

Anatomy of a Leader: David Lui, CEO of Kit and Ace and Co-Founder of Unity Brands

Lui has an extensive background in retail with over 30 years of experience and is known for his award-winning brand transformations, e-commerce and digital knowledge along with his passion for scaling businesses.

Robotic Retail Gaining Traction in Canada, But Some Consumers are Being Left Behind [Op-Ed]

Automated retailers without in-store staff are opening across Canada, such as Aisle 24, RC Coffee and PizzaForno -- but consumers without smart phones, credit cards, or with vision issues may not be able to access these retailers says a researcher.