CITYNEWS – Some of Canada’s biggest celebrities are joining forces this weekend for an evening of hope and togetherness in a national salute to front-line workers combatting COVID-19.
Canadian artists, actors and athletes are uniting for Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble – a 90-minute, commercial-free show benefitting Food Banks Canada.
The historic event begins Sunday, April 26 at 6:30pm on Citytv and Citytv.com.
Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, Ryan Reynolds and more will share their inspiring stories. The goal is to raise money for Food Banks Canada’s $150-million campaign to provide immediate support to food banks across the country during the pandemic.
Other celebrities participating: Shania Twain, Michael Buble, Mike Myers, Bryan Adams, Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan, Burton Cummings, Chris Hadfield, Margaret Atwood, Sam Roberts, Connor McDavid, Barenaked Ladies, David Suzuki, Scott Helman and many more.
The benefit comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has left thousands of Canadians unemployed and battling food insecurity – some for the very first time. Food banks across the country are trying to meet that increased demand.
“Canadians live from paycheck to paycheck,” said Ann St. Arnaud, the director of communications at Sun Youth in Montreal. “And they’ve said if people were to miss one paycheck they’d be in trouble. Now we see it.”
In order to promote self-isolation measures, Sun Youth in Montreal is now offering a delivery service: people can receive food baskets directly at their doorstep. That means more volunteers are needed to help the service run smoothly.
“The logistics is completely different and it’s a lot more work,” said St. Arnaud. “But we want everybody to be safe. Our staff, our clientele.”
Added Rodney Skerritt, Sun Youth’s basketball coordinator: “You become more aware. You’re more aware of the fact that there are people who actually look forward to these bags of groceries every month. You know, there are people who need, but you don’t see them. I get to see 25 of them every workday.”
According to HungerCount 2019, an annual report released by Food Banks Canada, Canadians already made more than one million visits to food banks every month prior to the COVID-19 crisis.
During the 2008 recession, food banks across Canada saw an increase of 200,000 clients every month – and that spike could be even bigger now due to COVID-19.
An international student from India, who lost his part-time job because of the pandemic, says he’s not eligible for financial support from the federal government. The easy access to a food bank is crucial.
“We need to pay the rent and utility bills,” he said, preferring to remain anonymous. “If we have something, we can survive, and we can cut down the cost for groceries. At least for one month, because they are providing for one month. So it’s beneficial for us and the people who are struggling.”
Food banks across the country are asking for help to continue feeding Canadians and make sure no one goes hungry during this pandemic.
Tune in to Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble – Sunday, April 26 at 6:30pm on Citytv and Citytv.com.