Plans are moving forward for the annual Tour De Rock to visit Cowichan later this year, despite the closure of the Valley’s office of the Canadian Cancer Society. (File photo)

Canadian Cancer Society closes two Vancouver Island offices

Cowichan, Campbell River shuttered, financial difficulties from COVID-19 pandemic to blame

The Canadian Cancer Society has permanently closed its offices in Campbell River and the Cowichan Valley, and similar closures could be comng elsewhere on Vancouver Island.

Tiffany McFayden, the CCS’s community manager for Vancouver Island, said this difficult decision is largely the result of the financial impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and other office closures could also be considered as the society continues to deal with the financial fallout from the health emergency.

“The impact has been significant, to say the least,” she said.

RELATED: Cancer patients urged to keep all appointments, if possible, despite COVID-19

“We are closing most of our office spaces across Canada and have also had to lay off more than one-third of our workforce. The Tour de Rock (bike tour) will still be proceeding to the best of our ability, and we are still working in the community to support those living with and affected by cancer.”

McFayden said that while the society’s organization in the Cowichan Valley is in the process of retooling its fundraising plans and better understanding what its mission services and operations in the region will look like in the future, it has asked its local staff to temporarily “step back” for the time being.

But she said the society will continue to have an important presence.

“Working with our committed volunteers, our goal is to continue to engage the community once this health crisis is behind us,” McFayden said.

“We are deeply grateful to our staff, volunteers and supporters who have demonstrated resilience and their commitment to our mission throughout this pandemic and beyond.”

Margaret Davis, a member of the society’s Cowichan Valley volunteer management committee, said the office closure does not take away from the society’s commitment to people with cancer in the Valley.

“We have shifted resources to our online support services at cancer.ca and cancerconnection.ca,” Davis said.

“We have also added capacity for live chat support and CCS toll-free cancer helpline. Residents can learn more about our support services by visiting cancer.ca or calling our toll-free helpline at 1-888-939-3333. Our trusted health information on cancer.ca, including live online chat and new information and webinars on COVID-19 and cancer, is helping people better manage life with cancer in the context of COVID-19 and beyond.”

McFayden said the society is also in the midst of planning a re-opening strategy for its Lodge in Victoria, and the Camp Goodtimes program continues to run throughout the summer, virtually.

RELATED: PHOTO GALLERY: Tour de Rock in pictures

“The Tour de Rock will also still move forward in the Cowichan Valley this fall which we know will bring inspiration to the community as it does year after year,” she said.

“We are adapting and charting a new path forward for CCS research, advocacy, support programs — one that responds to the pressures caused by COVID-19 and enables us to continue to serve those who rely on us for support now and long after the pandemic passes. We look forward to engaging the Cowichan Valley’s very dedicated local volunteer committee in our plans as we move into the future. We value the many years of knowledge and experience that many of these volunteers offer.”

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robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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