Gateway Gazette

Alberta’s Free Mask Distribution a Huge Success

The first phase of Alberta’s distribution of free non-medical masks has ended, with more than 14 million masks handed out at A&W, McDonald’s Canada, and Tim Hortons drive-thrus across the province.

An additional six million masks have been or will be shared directly with municipalities, seniors organizations, Indigenous partners, places of worship and others to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Thanks to the success of the program, we have paused the distribution of free non-medical masks at the three restaurant partners until the second phase in July. Albertans who have not received a mask can continue to call 211 to request a package.

Alberta is the only province in Canada to make free non-medical masks available to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Another 20 million masks will be distributed in July, via drive-thrus and other partners. Details will be announced in the next couple of weeks.

“Thank you to all our partners for helping our government distribute millions of non-medical masks to every corner of Alberta. No other province in Canada has accomplished such a feat. A program of this scale would not have been possible without your hard work and community support. We will continue to support Albertans as we move through stage two of relaunch, and people continue to get back to work.”Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

This initiative is a key part of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy to safely reopen our economy while protecting Albertans from COVID-19.

In addition to the masks shared via drive-thru windows, the Alberta government provided masks directly to:

  • Edmonton Transit, Calgary Transit, and municipalities without convenient access to a drive-thru
  • First Nations and Metis Settlements
  • Seniors organizations and independent living facilities
  • Long-term care and permanent supportive living facilities
  • Women’s shelters, homeless shelters and street outreach programs
  • Addiction treatment centres
  • Foster and kinship parents
  • Albertans who contacted 211 and couldn’t access a drive-thru partner or the alternate municipal or community providers

The distribution of masks to municipalities without easy access to a drive-thru, First Nations, Metis Settlements and other local agencies will continue following the timelines set by those groups.

As of June 19, government has received 1,000 requests for masks from places of worship across the province, and more than two million masks will be provided to them in the next few days for distribution to their congregations.

Quick facts about the mask distribution

  • More than 20 million non-medical masks have or will soon be shared with Albertans.
  • 14 million masks were shared through nearly 600 A&W, McDonald’s Canada, or Tim Hortons drive-thrus.
  • About 95 per cent of Albertans live within 10 kilometres of the drive-thrus through which the masks were distributed.
  • Mask use is not mandatory; they are an option for situations where maintaining a distance of two metres is not possible.
  • Alberta 211 is a community service partner supporting the distribution of masks. Any concerns about the distribution of masks should be directed to the feedback form on alberta.ca/masks.
  • Instructions for proper care and use of non-medical masks are available at alberta.ca/masks.

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