Message from the President and CEO Conrad Sauvé

As I reflect on the last year, there is no doubt that it was a year that can only be described as unprecedented.  
The pandemic has challenged us and stretched our limits, but thanks to the humanitarian efforts of people willing to help others, we were able to expand to meet many emerging needs across the country and internationally.
I am so thankful for the dedication and support of volunteers, staff, donors and partners of Canadian Red Cross. Together, we rose to challenges, we adapted, and we discovered new ways to help people.
Here are some of the highlights of the work accomplished by our humanitarian teams between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
In Canada
The Canadian Red Cross worked alongside all levels of government and Indigenous leadership to assist in the efforts to help mitigate COVID-19 in Canada. More than 4,000 Red Cross volunteers and staff were on the front lines to assist the pandemic response across the country.
Expertise typically used internationally was utilized here at home when Red Cross personnel with experience working with infectious diseases, such as Ebola and Cholera, were able to apply their unique expertise in epidemic prevention and control. This vital service was provided to 360 sites across the country, including Indigenous communities, long-term care homes, rehabilitation centres, and correctional facilities. In addition, components of our emergency field hospital were sent to five different locations in four provinces to assist health authorities with providing extra space for patients, if needed.
As needs continued to increase, so did our ability to assist people virtually. More than 400 Indigenous communities received epidemic prevention and control, health, wellness and emergency guidance through our Indigenous Help Desk established this year. Our friendly calls program expanded across the country with Red Cross volunteers placing more than 52,000 calls to people, mostly seniors, isolated due to the pandemic.
While some Red Cross programs expanded to meet increased needs, activity in some of our long-standing programs – such as first aid training, swimming and water safety, and disaster preparedness workshops – expectedly saw a decrease in the overall number of people trained in person when lockdowns and closures occurred across the country.  Wherever possible, online and virtual training replaced what was normally taught in a group setting.
Even during a pandemic, disasters did not stop. Red Cross teams provided comfort and care to people when more than 2,800 households experienced a personal disaster, such as a house fire. 
Our teams also responded to two large-scale disaster or emergency responses in Canada. The first being the horrific shooting in Nova Scotia, where 22 people were killed, and several others injured. Red Cross teams were there to provide support to the families and communities impacted by this tragedy. Using our experience in case management for disruptive events, the Red Cross worked closely with representatives of the impacted families, the government and other partners to ensure the most effective and compassionate use of the donations provided generously by Canadians to the Stronger Together Nova Scotia Fund, which helped to address some of the immediate and longer-term needs of families devastated by this tragic event.
The other major response was in Fort McMurray, Alberta when flooding in the area caused more than 13,000 people to evacuate their homes. Working alongside the municipality, Red Cross was there to help provide assistance. For some people impacted by the flooding, it was many months before they could return home. Sadly, for others, some lost their homes for a second time in the last four years because of separate natural disasters.
Around the world
More than 2.5 million people were reached internationally through direct programming of the Canadian Red Cross, as well as in partnership with other National Societies and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Following public health guidelines, Canadian Red Cross supported 93 international humanitarian missions to 25 countries. This includes the assistance provided to Central America after Hurricanes Eta and Iota impacted millions of people and severely damaged hospitals in the region. We deployed the medical clinic of our Emergency Response Unit, along with personnel, to assist people in need of clinical care after the devastating hurricanes.
Of course, the work of the Red Cross – here in Canada and internationally – would not have been possible without the dedication of our volunteers and staff. When including our COVID-19 operations, more than 22,000 people were part of our humanitarian mission last year.  
Thank you to everyone who contributed time, talent and resources to help people in need during this pandemic. This has certainly been a year that none of us will forget, and I am proud of all that has been accomplished together.
May we continue to help people live safe and healthy lives, with hope for the future.
Conrad Sauvé
President and CEO
Canadian Red Cross
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