Some 200 employees of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. will again this year be helping out with cleaning, painting and various other chores and activities at 15 Montreal-area organizations as part of their 15th annual Community Partnership Day, during which they leave their offices for the day to do volunteer work for non-profit groups. It is part of a global effort by Novartis employees that involves 20,000 employees in 55 countries.
Three new activities for the Dorval-based head office employees this year include doing spring cleaning at Camp Bosco, a summer vacation camp for disadvantaged families in Valleyfield, Quebec, spring cleanup at Le Nichoir, a wild bird rehabilitation centre in Hudson, Quebec, and doing spring gardening at the historic Ste. Anne's Church in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, at the western tip of the Island of Montreal.
Employees will be returning to help out at: Share the Warmth, the West Island Palliative Care Residence, the Omega Centre, West Island Women's Shelter, Centre Multi-ressources de Lachine, the West Island Assistance Fund, Welcome Hall Mission, West Island Association for the Intellectually Handicapped, the West Island Cancer Wellness Centre and West Island Citizen Advocacy.
Another place where employees will be returning to is Parc-des-rapides along the Lachine Rapids in Montreal where a team of 50 employees will lend their efforts to the ongoing work to rid a 300-metre stretch of the shoreline of nuisance plants, particularly large reeds.
"It's not glamorous work by any means, but it is a very important job," says Patrick Asch, director of habitat restoration projects for the non-profit group Héritage Laurentien, which has a mandate from the Montreal boroughs of LaSalle and Verdun to manage the sensitive ecology of the shoreline along the Lachine Rapids. "The large reeds, which are not native to this area, choke out the native plants and can destroy 50 percent of the biodiversity of the shoreline. The labour-intensive work of destroying the reeds is the only way to get rid of them and let the native plants recover to provide necessary habitat for wildlife. It takes time, but the work that Novartis was involved in last year as well, is starting to show results."
Employees will also be holding a fundraising car wash on the grounds of the company headquarters in Dorval, with the money raised going to the West Island Cancer Wellness Centre. In addition, about 50 Novartis employees located in various towns and cities across Canada will also be volunteering at hospitals, oncology clinics and other community organizations.
"Every year in the spring, our Community Partnership Day provides an opportunity for our employees to express their personal commitment to corporate citizenship. I have seen the impact this effort has had in many countries and I am gratified that we also make an important difference in Canada", said Riad Sherif B., President of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.
Along with Community Partnership Day, another major part of the Novartis global philanthropy effort is its programs to get medicines for diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, tuberculosis and leprosy to patients who need them. In 2010, these programs helped 85 million patients worldwide, with medicine donations valued at US$1.54 billion.
In Canada, Novartis contributes to a wide range of charities, patient groups and community organization with its Community Investment Program. Along with Community Partnership Day, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada employees are also keen participants each year in the "Run for the Cure" for breast cancer research, including a "Ride for the Cure," a four-day fundraising bicycle journey from Toronto to Montreal.
NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS CANADA INC.