A group of Canadian tech CEOs are making a pledge to increase awareness around COVID-19 vaccination and encourage workers to get vaccinated.
The group, a collective of companies associated with the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI), has pledged to provide reliable information from public health agencies to their employees and education to help those employees understand the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
The idea behind the public pledge was sparked after CCI members had a discussion about the national vaccination effort and how tech companies might support it.
“We cannot make shipments of vaccine arrive any sooner, but we can take action within our own sphere of influence.”
“The feeling among CEOs is that this is more important than business as usual, and if there’s any way they can pitch in, they’re eager to do that,” said a spokesperson for CCI. “One idea that came out of the meeting is that, right now, the best these CEOs can do is control what’s in their sphere of influence, which is the companies they run.”
CCI told BetaKit close to 40 of CCI’s more than 100 member companies have taken the pledge. Current signatories include FreshBooks, PointClickCare, Skip The Dishes, Traction on Demand, AltaML, Axonify, and Fiix Inc.
“As Canadian business leaders, we want to do everything in our power to support the mass-vaccination effort; we cannot make shipments of vaccine arrive any sooner, but we can take action within our own sphere of influence, which is the companies we run which collectively employ tens of thousands of Canadians,” a blog post about the pledge states.
In addition to providing employees with up-to-date and accurate information about the vaccine, the companies are also committing to provide information about where, when and how people can be vaccinated once it becomes available to the wider population.
The companies are also pledging to encourage and allow employees to get vaccinated on company time.
Canada is currently in the midst of administering the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Its vaccine rollout plan focuses first on vulnerable populations, like long-term care home residents and staff, as well as healthcare and essential workers.
The federal government is planning to make vaccines available to the general population in April, with the goal of having between 15 and 19 million Canadians (40 and 50 percent of the population) vaccinated between then and June.
However, Canada’s rollout, which is administered by each province and territory, has been slower than expected due to delays from Pfizer and Moderna.
RELATED: MaRS hosting COVID-19 vaccination site for frontline workers
Data collected by Statistics Canada and released in December found 75 percent of Canadians aged 12 and older plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine once is it available. That number does leave, however, one-quarter of Canadians (based on the survey) that expressed hesitancy around receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The report found links to education and willingness to get vaccinated, with Canadians who had a post-secondary education more likely to report a willingness compared to those without.
When asked whether the Canadian tech CEOs would be willing to go further than providing encouragement and information (such as hosting vaccine sites in offices), CCI said there are no plans to do so at this time, but expressed the companies may be open to doing so if needed by the government.
“There’s a huge appetite to do something, and whatever [CEOs] can, because they care about this issue,” he said.
The MaRS Discovery District is currently hosting a COVID-19 vaccination site as part of the University Health Network (UHN), a public research and teaching hospital network in Toronto. The site has been operational since January 5 and was UHN’s second vaccination clinic providing a vaccine deployment site for frontline workers.
The group of Canadian tech leaders are also calling on other businesses to join their pledge.
“By making this pledge, we want to send a message to our workforce, to our employees’ families, and to Canada as a whole, is that this isn’t business as usual, and the vaccination effort needs to be a top priority for Canada,” the blog post read. “We want to do our part and we’re encouraging all business leaders in Canada to join us in making this pledge.”