Shelter Point Distillery near Oyster River had pivoted to produce hand sanitizer for Vancouver Island hospitals and first responders when a supply shortage loomed during the pandemic. (Shelter Point Distillery/Facebook)

Shelter Point Distillery near Oyster River had pivoted to produce hand sanitizer for Vancouver Island hospitals and first responders when a supply shortage loomed during the pandemic. (Shelter Point Distillery/Facebook)

MPs urge support for small-scale Island distilleries after feds give sanitizer contracts to big firms

Trio calls on feds to financially support distilleries like Shelter Point, Wayward and Ampersand

Vancouver Island MPs and mayors have come out in support of local distilleries on the Island that pivoted to producing hand sanitizer during the pandemic.

Three NDP MPs have called on the federal government to acknowledge the invaluable contribution made by small-business distilleries with more financial support, after reports of the federal government awarding paid-contracts to large, out-of-province companies emerged.

In a statement, North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney, Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns and Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor listed out distilleries in their ridings that produced “tens of thousands of litres of hand sanitizer during the first wave of the pandemic despite having to close their doors to the public and losing their source of income.”

They pointed to the works of Shelter Point Distillery in Oyster River, Wayward Distillery in Courtenay and Ampersand Distilling and Stillhead Distillery in the Cowichan Valley.

After the pandemic blew up in March, many alcohol distillers in B.C. began producing and supplying hand sanitizer to address supply shortage.

Some, like Shelter Point Distillery suspended distilling operations to switch production capacity to manufacture medical grade sanitizer after medical clinics on the Island informed them of the trouble they faced in procuring the product.

READ MORE: Shelter Point Distillery switches production to sanitizers

According to a report by CBC, the federal government spent close to $570 million dollars on purchasing hand sanitizer from outside the country when distillers in the country were producing it for free.

Eventually when the government signed agreements with Canadian manufacturers, it was the big companies like Fluid Energy Group in Calgary, Hawktree Solutions in Ottawa and Irving Oil in New Brunswick that got the deal.

This move did not sit well with the New Democrats who felt that it was not fair to the smaller producers/businesses.

“After small businesses did this at a financial loss, it’s really a slap in the face that this government then paid huge companies to do the work they’d been doing for free, said MP Johns.

“It’s incredibly disappointing to see that the government doesn’t have small businesses’ backs the way that they should,” said MP Blaney.

Criticizing the government’s move, MP MacGregor said that for many local business owners this is just another example of how the Liberals have let them down during the pandemic.

“These businesses stepped up when people in our communities needed help. Instead of making deals with big business, the government should be there to support them now,” said MacGregor.

Some local leaders have also stepped up to support and commend the work of these distilleries and encouraged citizens to continue to support these local entrepreneurs. In a tweet, Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom said “Our federal government may have shut out the smaller players but we can still make a difference for them.”

“I know our municipality & RD purchased from Shelter Point as have I. Be sure to support the local, innovative entrepreneur to thank them for helping us during COVID,” read Wickstrom’s tweet.

vancouverisland

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A single-vehicle motor vehicle incident slowed traffic on Highway 19A Wednesday afternoon.
Single-vehicle motor vehicle incident causes delays in Courtenay

Roads were wet with a mixture of snow and rain falling throughout the day

Flowers poke through the snow in Courtenay as the area got a taste of winter weather this week. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Valley not out of the winter woods quite yet: meteorologist

“It’s winter; we’ve got to get through it together.”

The Village of Cumberland is moving ahead on bringing in possible speed limit reductions. Record file photo
Cumberland council moves on slower speed zones

Mayor says goal is to have ‘blanket zone’ in place by summer

Wind turbines are seen on a dike near Urk, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. A group of scientists, including five Nobel laureates, called Friday for more action to adapt the world to the effects of climate change, drawing comparisons with the faltering response to the coronavirus crisis, ahead of a major online conference on climate adaptation starting Monday and hosted by the Netherlands. (AP Photo / Peter Dejong)
Comox Valley groups host course on actively implementing solutions to climate change

The Sustainable Action group for the Environment (SAGE) and the Comox Valley… Continue reading

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

Health officials planning new measures to ensure people verify where they live before inoculation

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

Most Read