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

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Chemainus teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

Pamela Anderson was given a Ladysmith Heritage Award for the restoration work on the Arcady Auto Court property that she purchased from her grandparents. (Pamela Anderson photo)
PHOTOS: Star-studded Ladysmith Heritage Awards honour local commitments to heritage

Barrie McDonald, Pamela Anderson, John & Luke Marston, and the Ladysmith Maritime Society recognized

Kim McGregor died in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run accident in Chemainus. (Photo submitted)
Victim identified in Valentine’s Day Chemainus hit-and-run

Kim McGregor grew up in Chemainus and had recently returned to be close to his parents

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

The Ladysmith Museum has two new exhibits open to the public. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith museum opens up with two new exhibits

The museum is featuring Prime Predators of Vancouver Island and ‘Red Flag, Red Flag’

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

RCMP say a woman turned herself in to police after hitting a pedestrian and fleeing the scene of the accident in downtown Nanaimo on Friday morning. (File photo)
Driver flees, then turns herself in after hitting pedestrian in downtown Nanaimo

RCMP say woman was struck in marked crosswalk after driver ran red light

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
All B.C. Ferries sailings cancelled due to winds, adverse weather

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

Most Read