Update #21 from Bruce McDonald

Everyone,

We have two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the B&M ranks since my last update. Both have occurred in our Kansas City operation and fortunately the individuals are recovering without serious issue thus far. These are the first known infections in our cohort of American colleagues. 

Many Canadians may smugly think that this occurrence was only a matter of time given the grim resurgence of the virus in many areas of the United States. But for all the ballyhoo about the setbacks south of our border, we Canadians continue to experience some of our own. On this past Friday, the province of Saskatchewan experienced the highest number of new cases since the pandemic began. This is a community with an impressive record of containing COVID-19 through great care and caution. It is out there, as eager as ever for an invitation to our homes or workplaces.

I can say with confidence that B&Mers everywhere are prudently applying the controls and protocols within our workplace to protect ourselves from COVID-19. To date, we have experienced 8 confirmed cases. This equates to 140 cases per 100,000 people, a figure which is half the experience rate for Canada and one third of Ontario’s provincial rate where the majority of our people reside and one eighth of the US rate. We have not experienced colleague-to-colleague transmission since our first cases in Toronto Field Services operation in late March. It is clear to me that we are taking care and staying home when unwell. I also believe that appropriate safety gear, rigorous distancing and hygiene practices are well-adopted at our jobsites and offices. I greatly admire and appreciate everyone’s professionalism and persistence throughout this crisis.

Unfortunately B&M’s success is yesterday’s news because this virus is an everyday threat. No matter how well we have all navigated the pandemic thus far, we have to continue to win the fight every day – during every activity and every job and at every worksite and every gathering place including home. Four months in, I have no doubt that every B&Mer understands the new rules. Our challenge is maintaining our commitment to the rules and overcoming the creeping complacency and apathy that weakens our resolve. It means being the only adult in the room at times. The everyday threat of COVID-19 requires nothing less than a 24-7 response.

So as governments in many B&M geographies relax restrictions, we will be maintaining and, in many cases, increasing ours. “Raise shields” as Captain Kirk so regularly commanded in the face of uncertain threat and in defense of his starship Enterprise and its crew. I do not see this as a hard choice. It is the only choice. We are fortunate to have work to do and customers who need us. Our company is one of the few safe havens during this pandemic storm and we should continue to do everything to preserve that.

I believe we can all be more vigilant about masking at work. I hear this from our managers and our safety professionals. I deduce this from our consumption of disposable masks. As a result, we are now implementing stricter requirements for masks in many of our regions. In our personal lives, we should be doing the same. A recent poll suggested barely 50% of Canadians are regularly wearing a mask. I find this number appallingly low. This is the general public with whom we are mingling as restrictions ease. At B&M and as responsible citizens, we can and must be better.

The three things that will get us through this pandemic crisis are community, personal responsibility and common sense. Our community is based on trust. Trust in each other. Trust in your neighbor to do the right thing. The foundation of that trust is personal responsibility. We have a duty to ourselves and each other to behave in the right way. The differences in people’s values and needs are not as wide as politicians and muck-rakers would have us all believe. There is basic human decency hard-wired into nearly every sound-minded North American. Each of us bears the obligation to not only exercise our goodness regularly but also to use it to guide every personal decision we make.

Following your moral compass is not quite enough though. We need to apply common sense every time we walk and talk. No more so than when it comes to personal safety. Most recognize that the last step of a ladder is a fool’s domain but that understanding is often not enough to prevent a momentary visit in the interest of expediency or just plain carelessness. No amount of political directive, government regulation, monitoring and enforcement, corporate social responsibility, and Twitter admonishments are going to keep people off that top rung. Sure, the rules, policing, and communication about conduct and consequences steer people in the appropriate direction and build awareness and social response in our communities. But the only person really stopping you from doing something careless or unsafe is you.

Staying apart. Washing your hands. Wearing a mask on your face not your chin. These are sensible and community-minded new norms. So please, keep doing it. Everywhere. All the time. Do it without the occasional selfish exceptions and without the dangerous momentary lapses. Encourage others to do it. If you observe someone not doing it then politely intervene. 

We are all bearing a heavy load of worry about our health and livelihood and concern about the change and disruption around us. Our ability to do things, get things and enjoy our regular life has shrunk. But our freedom to make morally sound and sensible personal choices has not.

So make the choice to be your very best every time you possibly can.

Bruce