Loblaw Companies Ltd. is spending $75 million for a minority stake in telemedicine company Maple Corp., which helps connect people with doctors and medical specialists using a smartphone or computer.
The company said Tuesday the investment would be made through its Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. subsidiary.
Shoppers Drug Mart president Jeff Leger said the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that Canadians need new ways, particularly virtual ways, to get access to care.
"We believe that our store network and infrastructure, combined with Maple's technology can help better connect Canadians to the health care support they need, whenever and wherever they are," Leger said in a statement.
Shoppers Drug Mart has already been working with Maple and its virtual care is available in more than 160 Shoppers Drug Mart locations in B.C.
The two companies also worked together early in the pandemic to help enable virtual care visits.
"We've watched virtual care solve some of the most complex healthcare issues around the globe, as well as right here in Canada through our own programs," said Dr. Brett Belchetz, CEO and co-founder of Maple.
"We're thrilled to work hand-in-hand with Shoppers Drug Mart to bring the reliable, convenient, and high-quality access to care that we've developed over the past five years to more Canadians than ever before."
Shoppers Drug Mart has almost 1,300 stores under its Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix banners.
The investment by Loblaw in Maple comes as part of the company's investment in healthcare.
The company, which in addition to the Shoppers Drug Mart chain operates pharmacies in its grocery stores, owns electronic medical records company QHR and virtual care service Medeo.
It also runs the Health Clinic by Shoppers, a primary-care and family practice clinic, and Wellwise, a new retail chain offered by Shoppers Drug Mart.