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COVID-19, Your Health And Holiday Celebrations

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As many people in the Surrey begin to plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations, its necessary to follow considerations to help protect individuals and their families, friends, and communities from COVID-19. These considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any provincial safety laws, rules, and regulations with which holiday gatherings must comply.

When planning to host a holiday celebration, you should assess current COVID-19 levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel, or limit the number of attendees.

Virus spread risk at holiday celebrations

Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household poses low risk for spread. In-person gatherings pose varying levels of risk. Event organizers and attendees should consider the risk of virus spread based on event size and use of mitigation strategies.

There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with the virus that causes COVID-19 at a holiday celebration. In combination, these factors will create various amounts of risk, so it is important to consider them individually and together:

  • Community levels of COVID-19 Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees.
    Family and friends should consider the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when considering whether to host or attend a holiday celebration. Information on the number of cases in an area can be found on the area’s health department website.
  • The location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation, such as those with open windows or doors.
  • The duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
  • The number of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between attendees, and provincial health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.
  • The locations attendees are traveling from – Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area. Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, or where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees.
  • The behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering – Gatherings with attendees who are not adhering to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearing, hand washing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than gatherings with attendees who are engaging in these preventative behaviors.
  • The behaviors of attendees during the gathering – Gatherings with more preventive measures in place, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing, pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented.

People who should not attend in-person holiday celebrations

People with or exposed to COVID-19

Do not host or participate in any in-person festivities if you or anyone in your household

  • Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
  • Has symptoms of COVID-19
  • Is waiting for COVID-19 viral test results
  • May have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • Is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19

People at increased risk for severe illness

If you are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or live or work with someone at increased risk of severe illness, you should

  • Avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household.
  • Avoid larger gatherings and consider attending activities that pose lower risk (as described throughout this page) if you decide to attend an in-person gathering with people who do not live in your household.

General considerations for fall and winter holidays

Fall and winter celebrations, such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Halloween, Día de los Muertos, Navratri, Diwali, Thanksgiving, Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and New Year’s, typically include large gatherings of families and friends, crowded parties, and travel that may put people at increased risk for COVID-19.

Before you celebrate

Hosting a holiday gathering

  • If you will be hosting a celebration, follow safety tips for hosting gatherings. Below are some additional considerations for hosting a holiday celebration:
  • Host outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible. If hosting an outdoor event is not possible, and you choose to host an indoor event, avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, or fully enclosed indoor spaces.
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather.
  • Host activities with only people from your local area as much as possible.
  • Limit numbers of attendees as much as possible.
  • Provide updated information to your guests about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Provide or encourage attendees to bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy. For example, extra masks (do not share or swap with others), hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and tissues.
  • If you are planning in-person holiday gatherings with people outside of your household, consider asking all guests to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.

Attending a holiday gathering

If you will be attending a celebration that someone else is hosting, below are some additional considerations for attending an in-person holiday gathering:

  • Outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities. If participating in an outdoor event is not possible, and you choose to attend an indoor event, avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, and fully enclosed indoor spaces. Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather.
  • Check with the event host, organizer, or event venue for updated information about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and if they have steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy. For example, bring extra masks (do not share or swap with others), hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and tissues.
  • If you are planning to attend in-person holiday gatherings with people outside of your household, consider strictly avoiding contact with people outside of your household for 14 days before the gathering.

Holiday travel

Traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.  If you decide to travel, follow these safety measures during your trip to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public places.
  • Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about 2 arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Get your flu vaccine

Gatherings can contribute to the spread of other infectious diseases. Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health this season. September and October are good times to get vaccinated. However, flu vaccines are still useful any time during the flu season and can often be accessed into January or later.

During the celebration

Follow these tips to reduce your risk of being exposed to, getting, or spreading COVID-19 during the celebration:

Social distance and limit close contact

  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet or more from people you don’t live with.
  • Be particularly mindful in areas where it may harder to keep this distance, such as restrooms and eating areas.
  • Avoid using restroom facilities at high traffic times, such as at the end of a public event.
  • Avoid busy eating areas, such as restaurants during high volume mealtimes, if you plan to eat out at a restaurant.
  • Minimize gestures that promote close contact. For example, do not shake hands, bump elbows, or give hugs. Instead wave and verbally greet others.

Wear masks

  • Wear a mask at all times when around people who don’t live in your household to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
  • Avoid singing, chanting, or shouting, especially when not wearing a mask and within 6 feet of others.

Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items

  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible. Use EPA-approved disinfectants.
  • Use touchless garbage cans if available. Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.

Wash hands

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Keep safe around food and drinks

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or eating is associated with directly spreading COVID-19. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food, food packaging, or utensils that have the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way that the virus is spread. Remember, it is always important to follow good hygiene to reduce the risk of illness from common foodborne germs.

  • Make sure everyone washes their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after preparing, serving, and eating food. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Instead of potluck-style gatherings, encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only.
  • Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible.
  • Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.
  • If serving any food, consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
  • Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments.
  • Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations. Use grab-and-go meal options, if available.
  • If you choose to use any items that are reusable (e.g., seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash and disinfect them after the event.
  • Look for healthy food and beverage options, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low or no-calorie beverages, at holiday gatherings to help maintain good health.

After the celebration

If you participated in higher risk activities or think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions (in addition the ones listed above) for 14 days after the event to protect others:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Consider getting tested for COVID-19.
  • If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or if you test positive for COVID-19, immediately contact the host and others that attended the event or celebration that you attended.
  • They may need to inform other attendees about their possible exposure to the virus. Contact your health care provider and follow the public health recommendations for community-related exposure.
  • If you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results, stay home until you have a result, and follow the instructions given to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health worker may contact you to check on your health and ask you who you have been in contact with and where you’ve spent time in order to identify and provide support to people (contacts) who may have been infected. Your information will be confidential.
  • If you are notified that you were a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Stay home for 14 days from the last time you had contact with that person.
  • Monitor for symptoms of coronavirus.
  • Get information about COVID-19 testing if you feel sick.

Surrey604 is an online magazine and media outlet based in Surrey, BC. Through writing, video, photography, and social media, we secure an intimate reach to the public. We promote local events and causes.

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SMH Sim Lab Trains Healthcare Workers To Handle COVID-19

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Photo: Surrey Memorial Hospital Simulation Lab program training frontline healthcare workers

Surrey Memorial Hospital Simulation Lab is Game Changer in Training Healthcare Workers to Handle COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis

Surrey Hospitals Foundation Investing $100,000 in New Simulation Technology

The Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) Simulation Lab has been credited as a “game changer” in helping train healthcare workers to better handle COVID-19 pandemic crisis situations.

The Surrey Hospitals Foundation is investing another $100,000 for new simulation technologies for the SMH Simulation Lab, contributing a total of $1.3 million including seed funding since 2015.

The SMH simulation Lab is one of two regional simulation centres supporting the Fraser Health region. It is a partnership between Surrey Memorial Hospital, Fraser Health and the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine.

“Our Simulation Lab has been very successful in training and preparing healthcare workers in various emergency situations and ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it has been instrumental in helping frontline hospital staff handle crisis situations,” says Lisa Ewart, Clinical Practice Consultant and Simulation Program Lead in Fraser Health.

“In addition, our Simulation Lab has facilitated and identified ongoing improvements in healthcare procedures, especially related to COVID-19, that has been adopted and implemented across the region.”

Between March and June 2020 alone, the SMH Simulation Lab has conducted 217 COVID-19 process simulations and trained over 900 hospital staff, using scenarios that were developed based on current pandemic guidelines from the Emergency Operations Committee.

These simulations occurred in emergency, intensive care, cardiac care, medical/surgical cohort units, COVID-19 testing centers and involved interdisciplinary participation.

The SMH Simulation Lab allows learners to practice high risk, low-frequency procedures – such as trauma from a car accident, or how to care for a patient in a pandemic – in a safe, risk-free environment.

Simulation encourages team training, by building on teamwork and communication skills, identifying roles or practicing use of protocols during a crisis or code blue situations.

The Simulation Lab supports healthcare workers, hospital staff, students, social workers, lab technicians and other learning groups such as community first responders.

Pediatric Emergency Department Simulation Practice

The Simulation Lab also takes part in the Surrey Hospital Foundation’s Mini Med School Education Program which gives high school students an opportunity to explore a variety of medical specialties with small-group workshops with physicians and technicians.

Interesting facts about the Surrey Memorial Hospital Simulation Lab:

  • 3 high tech rooms, 2 debrief rooms, 3 skill rooms, 1 virtual reality surgical simulation room.
  • Pediatric simulations to support pediatric emergency department, child health centre and pediatric psychiatry.
  • In 2020 alone, the SIM Lab completed more than 2,400 hours of simulation education and more than 800 simulation sessions compared to 401 hours and 153 sessions in 2016.
  • The pediatric mannequins that were bought in 2020 have been used in more than 60 simulations sessions and over 110 hours of clinical training.
  • The adult mannequins from 2015 have had 17,000 compressions, been ventilated 2,400 times and been shocked 700 times.

“Our Foundation provided the seed funding when the SIM lab was first launched in 2015, and we are proud to continue supporting this crucially important education program to help improve the quality of our healthcare and health outcomes of our patients,” says Jane Adams, President and CEO of the Surrey Hospitals Foundation.

About Surrey Hospitals Foundation:

Surrey Hospitals Foundation is the largest non-government funder of health care for families in Surrey and surrounding Fraser Valley communities.

The Foundation supports the major health facilities in the region, Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) and Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre (JPOCSC), as well as numerous specialized programs for newborns, children, adults and seniors.

The Foundation invests in the future of health care by funding innovative research in Surrey that can lead to medical breakthroughs.

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BC Government Announces Additional AstraZeneca Vaccines Available At 20 London Drugs Locations In The Lower Mainland

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London Drugs Opens Online Appointment Booking System for those Aged 55 to 65

London Drugs will open up online appointment booking after the province has announced limited additional supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Starting at 12:45 p.m. (PST) on Monday April 5, those aged 55 to 65 can visit the online booking system at LondonDrugs.com/covid19 and follow the prompts to find available appointments.

2200 doses will be distributed amongst 20 London Drugs locations in the Lower Mainland before the end of day Monday April 5 with additional supply expected in the coming weeks.

“With the overwhelming demand, we are happy to see the government now accelerating the distribution of the vaccine through our pharmacies,” said Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy at London Drugs.

Patients will now be able to join a waitlist on a first-come-first-serve basis so that when vaccine inventory is depleted, they will be notified when more appointments become available.

Patients on the waitlist will also be notified if there are “no shows” to previously booked appointments. Everyone wanting an appointment must go through the same online booking system.

“We are doing everything we can to quickly respond to changing vaccine supply and help the government ensure a widespread, easily accessible and equitable vaccination campaign as we do every year for flu,” said Chiew. “Thank you to our customers and patients for their patience. And to our pharmacy staff for their early efforts in what will be one of the largest public immunizations efforts ever undertaken in the province.”

For months, London Drugs pharmacists have been assisting with the Province’s vaccination efforts by administering the COVID vaccine on-site at various assisted living facilities and hospitals in B.C. to help speed up delivery to those most at-risk.

AstraZeneca Vaccines will be available for eligible British Columbians aged 55-65 at the following locations:

West Broadway, 525 West Broadway , Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z 1E6, (604) 448-4804

North Vancouver, 2032 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver, British Columbia V7M 2K5, (604) 448-4805

Guildford Town Centre, 10355 152 Street, Surrey, British Columbia V3R 7B9, (604) 448-4809

Granville and Georgia, 710 Granville Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 1E4, (604) 448-4802

Lougheed Town Centre, 9855 Austin Avenue, Burnaby, British Columbia V3J 1N4, (604) 448-4825

Kerrisdale, 2091 W 42nd Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia V6M 2B4, (604) 448-4810

London Plaza, 5971 No.3 Road, Richmond, British Columbia V6X 2E3, (604) 448-4811

Coquitlam Centre, 2929 Barnet Highway Coquitlam, British Columbia V3B 5R5, (604) 448-4815

West Oaks Mall, 32700 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford, British Columbia V2T 4M5, (604) 852-0936

Wessex – Kingsway, 3328 Kingsway Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia V5R 5L1, (604) 448-4828

Park Royal North, 875 Park Royal North, West Vancouver, British Columbia V7T 1H9, (604) 448-4844

Valley Fair Mall, 22709 Lougheed Hwy, Maple Ridge, British Columbia V2X 2V5, (604) 448-4847

Ironwood Plaza, 11666 Steveston Hwy, Richmond, British Columbia V7A 5J3, (604) 448-4852

41st & Victoria, 5639 Victoria Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia V5P 3W2, (604) 448-4853

Gibsons, 900 Gibsons Way, Gibsons, British Columbia V0N 1V7, (604) 886-8720

Morgan Crossing, 15850 26th Avenue, South Surrey, British Columbia V3S 2N6, (604) 448-4881

Garibaldi Village, 40282 Glenalder Place, Squamish, British Columbia V8B 0G2, (604) 898-8270

About London Drugs

Founded in 1945, B.C.-based London Drugs sells to every province and territory in Canada through its online store www.LondonDrugs.com and has 81 physical stores in more than 35 major markets throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

London Drugs offers consumers a range of products from personal protection equipment for pandemic safety, to digital cameras and cosmetics to computers and televisions. Renowned for its creative approach to retailing, the company employs more than 9000 people with pharmacy and health care services being the heart of its business.

Committed to innovation and superior customer service, London Drugs has established itself as a reputable and caring Canadian company that supports Canadian brands and continues to position itself for future growth and development.

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Mayor Doug McCallum Urges Everyone To Do Their Part And Get Vaccinated When Turn Comes Up

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Surrey, BC – Mayor Doug McCallum is asking everyone to get vaccinated when their turn comes up. Eligibility to book an appointment in Mayor McCallum’s age bracket came into effect yesterday. The Mayor promptly went online and scheduled an appointment for his immunization shot, which he received this afternoon.

“The light in this long tunnel that we have been travelling in is getting brighter everyday. We can get there sooner if everyone gets vaccinated when it is their turn. I can assure you that booking an appointment was easy and fast through Fraser Health’s online process and that the shot I received today was done safely, quickly and virtually pain-free. Let’s stamp out COVID. Book your immunization shot as soon as your turn comes up.”

The City of Surrey is supporting Fraser Health’s mass immunization clinics by offering space at three Recreation Centres. Eligible residents can book vaccination appointments beginning March 29 for clinics at Cloverdale Recreation Centre and South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre. Fraser Health is planning to open a third Surrey clinic at Guildford Recreation Centre and a date will be announced soon.

Visit fraserhealth.ca/vaccine to learn more or to book a COVID vaccination appointment.

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3 Surrey Recreation Centres To Serve As Mass Immunization Clinics For Fraser Health Authority

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Surrey, BC – In support of Fraser Health Authority’s (FHA) COVID-19 vaccination rollout, gymnasiums at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre, South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre, and Guildford Recreation Centre will serve as sites for mass immunization clinics.

“As vaccine distribution is set to ramp up, the City is proud to do its part in supporting Fraser Health’s safe vaccination rollout by offering the gymnasium space at these three civic facilities,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Vaccinating over 600,000 residents is no small feat, but we are confident that by offering these large distribution centres, everyone who wants to be immunized will have access to one near their home.”

Eligible residents can currently book vaccination appointments for clinics within Surrey at both the Cloverdale Recreation Centre and South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre. FHA is planning to open a third clinic in Surrey at Guildford Recreation Centre and a date will be announced soon.

Each site will include a drop-off location for immunization appointments, and residents are encouraged to take public transit when possible. Free parking is available.

Eligible residents can book vaccination appointments by visiting fraserhealth.ca/vaccinebooking or by calling the Fraser Health vaccination appointment line at 1-855-755-2455, which is available 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Please call only when it’s your turn.

Recreational programming will continue at these facilities utilizing separate entrances, and City staff are working to minimize programming disruptions.

Find the latest information on COVID-19 on the City’s social media channels at www.surrey.ca/Covid19.

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A Proudly Canadian Solution to Canada’s Chronic Drug and Vaccine Shortages

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Ensuring Canadians have access to the medications they need means supporting Canadian manufacturers, says London Drugs.

The pandemic has highlighted a glaring weakness in Canadian healthcare: reoccurring shortages of essential drugs and vaccines.

London Drugs says it is important to work now to find solutions to drug and vaccine supply. As the company prepares to join Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, it is pledging support to Canadian pharmaceutical manufacturers to help reduce reliance on foreign suppliers and improve domestic supply of essential medicines and vaccines.

“There is a proudly Canadian solution to the medication and vaccine shortages: supporting domestic drug manufacturers,” says Clint Mahlman, President and COO, London Drugs.

“It’s the right thing to do for our pharmacy patients, for the industry and for the country.” An overwhelming majority of Canadians agree.

A recent survey among members of the online Angus Reid Forum found due to the pandemic, 96 per cent of Canadians feel that it is important to have a strong domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing presence.

Drug shortages have been a challenge for Canada’s pharmacies for many years including epipens and other treatments. The result of longstanding global supply chain issues, shortages can have a real impact on the health of Canadians. Domestic manufacturing may offer a long-term solution.

London Drugs has a long history of supporting local Canadian products and Canadian suppliers. Proudly Canadian signage in stores and online make it easier for customers to find locally made products. Consistent with its commitment to supporting local, in April 2020, London Drugs offered up shelf space in stores to local small businesses who had to close their doors due to COVID-19; the ‘Local Central’ initiative raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Canadian small businesses.

With respect to drug and vaccine shortages, London Drugs is in continuous discussions with Apotex Inc., and other Canadian manufacturers on this issue.

Apotex, Canada’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer says that its fully integrated manufacturing facilities underscore the importance of having a domestic manufacturing capability.

“We have the ability to adjust our manufacturing and distribution in order to meet urgent government and patient needs,” says Raymond Shelley, SVP Commercial Operations- Canadian & Caribbean, Apotex.

In April 2020, the world saw a growing demand of hydroxychloroquine. Apotex shifted its priorities by scaling up production to manufacture more hydroxychloroquine to meet the increased demand. Being its home market, Canadians were the first priority before product was shipped to other markets.

“With support from other Canadian companies like London Drugs, we can help make Canada self-sufficient by ensuring a stable, secure supply of medication and bring new drugs to market,” says Shelley. “That not only means better care for Canadians, but also thousands of new, high-quality, highly skilled jobs.”

*According to StatsCan, the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Canada employs approximately 30,000 people. With an increased pharmaceutical manufacturing presence, Canadians will see a direct economic impact through a growth in employment opportunities.

“As a Canadian owned and operated company, we understand the importance of supporting Canadian businesses. And given the option, we would want more domestic suppliers helping to keep our pharmacies stocked – ensuring our patients get the crucial medications and vaccines when they need it,” says Mahlman.

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