ABB Canada joins forces with competitors, government to vaccinate

‘The sooner we accelerate the vaccination, the better it will be for our own people but also for the economy’

ABB Canada joins forces with competitors, government to vaccinate
ABB supports the CAE vaccination centre, located in Montreal.

As more and more companies begin to plan inoculating employees, one Quebec company wanted to help the provincial government by offering people and resources.

ABB Canada, a robotics and automation company, heard about the industry-led Industry for Vaccination (IFV) that was spearheaded by CAE, which is best known for its aircraft simulator training.

“It’s really important for our employees [because] the sooner we accelerate the vaccination, the better it will be for our own people but also for the economy too,” says Sophie Langley, HR Business Partner for ABB Canada, in Ville Saint-Laurent, Que. “It wasn’t a question of ‘Should we participate or not?’ but it was more ‘How can we participate? And what can we do in terms of resources?’”

To help support a series of government vaccination hubs, ABB will be hiring 20 new full-time employees as ABB ambassadors, as well as tapping about 30 currently active and retired employees who have already indicated they wanted to help. The volunteers and new ambassadors will act as on-site greeters and guides.

They will be operating in two or three locations in Quebec and possibly expanding later to Ontario and Alberta. The initial goal is to vaccinate up to 500,000 Quebecers over the next four months.

The company will be offering training to those people with the goal of joining the effort by May 10.

“There’s all the PPE requirements they have to wear: the glasses, the masks, the face shield, the clothing, all the measures that they have to put in place [and] we’re thinking about half-a-day of training for these volunteers and these new resources,” says Langley.

In addition, the new hires will be given code-of-conduct training, she says: “Because these are ABB ambassadors, we want our employees and these new ambassadors, to be part of the ABB values.”

As well, when they are helping out with the vaccination efforts at government-run hubs, there are a number of safety measure they will be educated on, says Langley, such as not bringing in food from home.

“Coffee will be provided, water [but] we don’t want that cross-contamination. There are strict measure to be put in place to make sure they are safe, and they do not contaminate the population.”

Sophie Langley

In the early days, the hubs will be vaccinating Quebecers according to the provincial guidelines but the hope is ABB employees may also be allowed in, once they reach the proper age criteria, says Langley.

For the HR department, this effort is just a continuation of the support it has been providing since the beginning of the pandemic, she says.

“We’re kind of the glue between the different initiatives and the communication team and unions. We do have white collar, blue collar people working remotely so it’s always thinking ‘How can we offer better support for employees?’ and, definitely, the vaccination effort was one of them.”

By partnering with CAE, they are showing that the fight to vaccinate is important for all, says Langley.

“I’m very proud of the fact at ABB; it’s the first time in all my career in HR that we collaborate and that we put the competition aside and we work all together for the same effort or the same objective,” she says. “We’re not getting anything from the government by doing so. It’s all about helping the economy to recover as fast as we can and get back on our feet for the best of all.”

Meanwhile, in Alberta the government is making it easier for employers to set up rapid testing, while Ontario is looking into setting up employer-operated vaccination clinics.

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