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• 24 août 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold earlier this year, Ralph Goldfinger knew his business would need to adjust and adapt quickly if he was going to be able to protect his company and the jobs of his employees.

So when the Co-Chief Executive Officer of Canada Sportswear – a Toronto-based apparel company that produces and distributes outerwear, shirts and tracksuits – noticed demand for the company's products beginning to slide, Goldfinger made a decision to reimagine operations to find a new way to help.

In collaboration with the Impakt Foundation – a non-profit organization devoted to providing vulnerable or marginalized groups who face barriers to accessing the job market with gainful employment – Canada Sportswear quickly transitioned to making reusable face masks, hospital gowns, face shields and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare and other frontline workers, and general consumer use.

It wasn't long before 35 sewers at Canada Sportswear had shifted from making polo shirts and jackets to producing reusable face masks. TD procured more than 120,000 face coverings through Canada Sportswear, which went to frontline TD employees helping Canadians.

"By choosing to procure locally produced face coverings for its employees, TD is supporting working Canadians in these vulnerable times," Goldfinger said. "Our staff has avoided much of the stress and psychological effects that come along when job security is disrupted."

Through their collaboration, Impakt and Canada Sportswear are donating PPE to organizations in need, including shelters, food banks, nursing homes, community health centres with few resources, and Indigenous communities.

"The spread of COVID-19 is creating additional burdens on our communities, including some of the most vulnerable members of society," said Steve Smillie, Associate Vice President, Business Operations Procurement, TD Strategic Sourcing Group.

"We are proud to support suppliers like Canada Sportswear who are hiring and providing career development opportunities to people who may be facing barriers to employment in these unprecedented times."

In addition to working with local suppliers, TD has allocated $25-million to help strengthen community resilience today and into the future through the TD Community Resilience Initiative.

The TD Community Resilience Initiative is part of the TD Ready Commitment, the Bank's corporate citizenship platform, and is a comprehensive program that includes funding, employee engagement and on-going collaboration with community organizations to help provide immediate and long-term support for COVID-19 response and community recovery.

Canada Sportswear's long-standing commitment to protect employees

The drive to protect and provide opportunities for employees has been part of Canada Sportswear's mission since the company was founded by Goldfinger's father in 1954.

His father immigrated to Canada from a Displaced Persons Camp in Austria following World War II and founded Canada Sportswear to offer employment opportunities to those who face similar obstacles, and for other newcomers to Canada.

Goldfinger said Canada Sportswear's team of sewers have embraced this new initiative and are thrilled to be making a difference.

"One of our employees, on behalf of many others, approached me and indicated that they were willing to work five days a week and only get paid for four because they wanted to give back to the community," Goldfinger said.

"While I was very touched by their dedication, naturally I refused the offer."

Impakt in action

One of the organizations that has received a donation of face masks from the between Impakt and Canada Sportswear is the Parkdale Community Food Bank (PCFB) in Toronto.

The food bank's volunteers rely on masks to help keep them safe as they continue to work, packing food hampers, offloading trucks, and handing out food to those in need.

"Masks are extremely important to our organization at this time, as they allow us to help our volunteers feel safe and protected," said Kathleen Costa, Food Bank Manager at the PCFB.

"The reusable masks also help us reduce waste in comparison to using disposable masks, while aiding us in reducing costs related to purchasing disposable PPE which is quite expensive at the moment."

Since the masks are reusable, the PCFB no longer needs to worry about running out of disposable masks, increasing their volunteers' sense of security in this difficult time.

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