As what Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called "the toughest week of the pandemic" so far comes to a close, Kenney announced the implementation of a new program to mobilize Alberta organizations in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The provincial government's newly announced Bits and Pieces program has seen more than 1,100 offers of support from private and non-profit organizations over its first week.
"If you are a manufacturer, if you produce goods that could be in any way useful in this fight against the pandemic, we ask you to come forward, offer your help, and show us the kind of Alberta spirit in innovation, in production, that we can generate to help fight the pandemic," Kenney said Friday during a press conference.
For example, he said, Alberta-based gas and electricity provider ATCO offered to contribute several hundred trailers if needed. These could be used for COVID testing, treatment and quarantining, especially in rural and remote areas without adequate medical facilities.
Calgary-based Fluid Energy Group has signed a letter of intent with the federal government to produce hand sanitizer. Alberta Garment is transitioning to produce hospital gowns.
Alberta’s post-secondary institutions are leading in areas of research, with one researcher at the University of Alberta working to develop a virus-killing medical mask.
Other offers include passenger and commercial vehicles, food and water services, hotel rooms and mobile trailers, face masks, ventilators and other personal protective equipment.
"(This is) a call out to all Albertans to do what you can – if you have material that you think would be helpful to frontline healthcare workers, to staff in our homeless shelters, to people who are in self-isolation, please notify the Alberta Emergency Management Agency Bits and Pieces program," Kenney said.
"Thank you to the thousands of Albertans that have already offered help, and keep it coming, because we are all in this together."
The program was named after one established by Canada's Minister of Munitions and Supply C. D. Howe during the Second World War, which co-ordinated innovative production and procurement efforts from across the Canadian economy to support the war effort.
Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu called the outpouring of support "tremendous," highlighting an offer from the Archives Society of Alberta to give two N-95 respirators. In their submission, the organization noted, "It's not much, but it's what we have."
"This spirit of compassion and kindness has gotten our province through tough times in the past, and it will get us through tough times now," Madu said. "This will help us meet the demand for critical product and services, and to keep Albertans safe."
The Government of Alberta encourages individuals, private companies and non-profit organizations who can offer products and services, including personal protective equipment, to visit the offers webpage at alberta.ca/covid19.