Pandemic women in crisis get communication boost

Communications firms continue donations of phones, tablets

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing further support for women in threatening pandemic situations Saturday, Rogers has joined the fray, unveiling help for women in B.C. shelters.

In April, Trudeau announced $40 million for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres nationally. On May 16, he said further support would be coming, including further support for indigenous women.

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On May 19, Rogers joined other communications companies that have pledged support for those in precarious situations due to the crisis, specifically targeting women.

B.C.’s Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity Mitzi Dean said in a statement that the isolation required to respond to COVID-19 has made it difficult to communicate, access services or ask for help without a cellphone.

“We must do everything we can to care for women and children in crisis and getting devices into the hands of vulnerable women during the pandemic will help save lives,” Dean said.

Rogers is providing hundreds smartphones to shelters, aid groups and transition houses in Vancouver, Victoria and the Okanagan. That includes including more than 100 to B.C. women’s shelters and 58 to Big Sisters of B.C. Lower Mainland.

“Rogers is committed to finding ways to help provide an essential digital lifeline and critical supports for British Columbians who need it the most,” said Rogers B.C. region president Rick Sellers. “Whether calling emergency services, accessing support, or staying in touch with loved ones, the donations are aimed at helping vulnerable women with their immediate and crisis needs.”

Rogers joins 7-Eleven, Telus and its own subsidiary Fido in providing phones to those unable to access computers and other means of communication during the pandemic.
Earlier in May, 7-Eleven and Telus announced 3,500 phones would be distributed province-wide to assist vulnerable people, including the homelessness, in having access to services.

Atira Women’s Resource Society CEO Janice Abbott said the phones assist phone line workers helping others and isolated women in receiving help.

Abbott said the phones could help women without their own phones, women who need to self-isolate and need food, medicine or cleaning supplies.

She said such phones also help women facing domestic violence where they might not be able to use a home phone.

Rogers’subsidiary Fido is providing local chapters of Pflag – or Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays -with tablets and free wireless data to enable virtual peer-to-peer support meetings for the LGBTQ community. Tablets will be distributed to five chapters in B.C., including Vancouver, Surrey, Abbotsford, Nanaimo and Penticton.



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