Co-op’s $1 million donation and local employee help gives boost to Red Cross emergency response in Western Canada

Topics: British Columbia and Yukon, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Emergencies and Disasters in Canada
April 04, 2013

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) and its 235 member-owned retail Co-ops are donating $1,000,000 over five years to help local Co-ops and the Canadian Red Cross work together to provide effective, community-based emergency response throughout Western Canada. This is the largest single, multi-year donation in the history of the Co-operative Retailing System (CRS).

The Red Cross will receive $100,000/year to pre-position goods across the West in order to respond quickly to local crises. Another $100,000/year will be available to match local retail Co-ops’ emergency donations to the Red Cross.

Equally important, Co-op employees will have the opportunity to step up as volunteers to assist in the event of local emergencies. In the first year of the partnership retail Co-ops with operations in and around Brandon, Portage La Prairie, Prince Albert, Yorkton, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat, Aldergrove and Comox are encouraging employees to become volunteer reservists with their local Red Cross.

"For almost a century, Co-ops and their employees have built a reputation of being good neighbors who are always there for individuals and communities when disasters strike," says FCL CEO Scott Banda. "The Co-operative Retailing System is excited to be partnering with the Red Cross in taking our support during times of local emergencies to the next level."

In 2012, the Red Cross provided assistance to 4,531 individuals during 359 emergency situations ranging from individual house fires to floods across Western Canada.

"Preparing for disasters is vitally important for residents of Western Canada," says Sue Phillips, Director General Western Canada, Canadian Red Cross. "FCL and retail Co-ops have recognized the importance of preparedness through their generous gift of $1 million dollars. Thanks to Co-op’s foresight and initiative, communities will be better prepared for disasters, and Co-op employee reservists will have the ability to support Red Cross teams during local disasters."

The Red Cross has worked carefully with FCL to select the eight retail Co-ops participating in the volunteer reservist program in 2013. These Co-ops were selected based on the Red Cross’s assessment of where it believes there is the greatest potential for disasters to occur, and where the need for additional local volunteer support is the greatest.

One of the Co-ops chosen for the first year is the Prince Albert Co-operative Association, which employs approximately 450 people and provides goods and services to 30,000 members in 13 north-central Saskatchewan communities.

"Partnering with the Canadian Red Cross to help people within our communities during crisis fits well with our values of a locally invested and community minded co-operative," says Dave Marchant, General Manager, Prince Albert Co-op.

Marchant added, "We’re excited about the opportunity to involve our employees in this initiative, and I know that our employees will step up to help their neighbours should the need arise."

Richard Ahenakew, Prince Albert-based member of the Saskatchewan Red Cross Executive Committee and Sandra MacArthur, Saskatchewan-based Red Cross reservist commended Federated Co-operatives Limited and Prince Albert Co-op for their monetary support and participation in the reservist program.

Co-op employees volunteering for the reservist program will receive training from the Red Cross. General duties include registration of evacuees, distribution of clothing vouchers, feeding, fundraising and donations management. They will be available for a period of up to two days per year and more if agreed to by the Co-op, employee and Red Cross.

This year all partners will test the program to ensure that everyone understands roles and responsibilities, and to make adjustments based on their feedback. The plan is to continue to enroll additional retail Co-ops in the future.

(Editors: For more information please contact: FCL’s Daryl Oshanek, 306.649.5070; Prince Albert Co-op’s Dave Marchant, 306.953.2054; and the Red Cross’s Heidi Pfeiffer at 403-261-6230.)