Convenience industry offers to help with vaccine distribution
Michelle Warren for CCentral
The Convenience Industry Council of Canada has put forward an offer to the Government of Ontario to use its members’ existing transportation network to distribute vaccines throughout the province at no additional cost.
As CICC points out, “With a distribution network that moves over $55 billion in goods and services annually, a system is already in place to get to hard-to-reach communities, where the local convenience store is often the only shop in town.”
As essential services, convenience stores have remained open throughout the pandemic, with distributors filling an integral role in the supply chain by ensuring essential items made it to store shelves in remote communities. Now, these distributors are offering to do what they do best, getting much-needed vaccines to hard-to-reach places.
“Premier Ford and his team put out a call-to-action for the private sector to lend a hand. In addition to our front-line workers in local stores, our distributor members are here to help get vaccines from point A to point B,” says Anne Kothawala, president and CEO of the Convenience Industry Council of Canada. “Now that the vaccine supply is increasing, a challenge Ontario faces will be distribution, especially to small towns. We are hoping to be part of the solution as a critical link in the supply chain. I want to thank the Government of Ontario for considering our offer.”
Core-Mark International and Wallace & Carey already deliver high-value and highly-regulated products and their trucks are tri-temperature, which means they can accommodate many of the vaccines, as well as other critical medical and personal protective equipment.
“The size and scope of Ontario and its road system cannot be over-stated, especially during the winter and spring seasons,” Eric Rolheiser, president, Core-Mark International, said in a statement. “Our drivers are familiar with the routes and the local communities, and the deliveries are often the main source of produce and key supplies. We’d welcome the opportunity to be part of Ontario’s distribution plan.”
In a letter responding to the offer, the Government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force Secretariat said that it is evaluating needs and, “We recognize that your industry has expertise in handling highly regulated products and we are grateful for your commitment to ensuring the health and safety of our communities.”
Dan Elrod, president, Wallace & Carey, echoed his company’s commitment to helping with vaccine distribution. “We’re a family-run and Canadian-owned business celebrating our 100th year – our team would be honoured to take on this task and I can’t think of a better way to acknowledge our roots than by giving back to the communities we serve.”
For example, Tehkummah (population 436) is inland and houses the only remaining general store, which has been in operation since 1922. It operates today as a mainstay of the village.
On Friday, Premier Ford announced that essential workers in the convenience industry would be included in Phase 2 vaccinations, acknowledging the important role the convenience industry has, and continues, to play during the pandemic.