This Week in Toronto: Ramped-Up PPE Efforts, Virtual Company Retreats, Canada’s Takeout Day, and More

BizBash's Toronto column from Calvin Barr covers the week's biggest event news.

Celebrated Canadian bridal gown designer Rita Vinieris (whose fall 2019 collection is pictured here) has launched a campaign to raise money and sew facial masks to help protect healthcare workers in Canada and the U.S.
Celebrated Canadian bridal gown designer Rita Vinieris (whose fall 2019 collection is pictured here) has launched a campaign to raise money and sew facial masks to help protect healthcare workers in Canada and the U.S.
Photo: Courtesy of Rita Vinieris

TORONTO—Welcome to BizBash’s Toronto-based column, where Calvin Barr covers the week’s biggest local news. Got a tip? Get in touch!

Moves and Milestones
SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors & Music Publishers of Canada) announced the resignation of CEO Eric Baptiste after 10 years in the role. Senior vice president of operation and reproduction rights Jennifer Brown, who’s been on SOCAN’s executive team for nearly 10 years, has been named interim CEO.

In Case You Missed It
The Beach Village Business Improvement Area Association, which represents more than 300 Queen Street restaurants and shops near the Beaches, held an online auction via Instagram on April 15. Twenty businesses submitted items for bidding, including a $100 gift card to Veloute Bistro & Lounge, collectible Toronto Raptors gear from Pro League Sports, and personalized name engraving on a seat at Toronto’s historic Fox Theatre. A share of proceeds also went to support the Toronto Food Bank.

Drunken Cinema and Drunken TV, which host boozy live screenings at Toronto venues year-round, premiered the first of four Beverly Hills 90210-theme at-home viewing parties on April 9. While re-living the '90s fashion, music, and catchphrases—as well as the highs and lows of Brenda and Dylan’s relationship—viewers are able to interact in chat rooms and play drinking games that organizers have provided.

With spring fashion events on hold, Canadian bridal gown designer Rita Vinieris has organized a Toronto-based fundraiser to support frontline healthcare workers. She and her team set a goal to sew 10,000 fabric masks and purchase 17,000 surgical masks for hospitals in Ontario and New York via a GoFundMe campaign. With more than $7,000 raised so far, all proceeds go towards purchasing fabric and elastic, as well as the medical-grade gear. The Government of Canada website has provided guidelines regarding the use of fabric and homemade masks. 

Meanwhile, volunteers for the “Stop COVID-19” campaign, a fundraiser for procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, delivered 200,000 masks to hospitals in downtown Toronto as well as Sunnybrook, North York General, and Markham Stouffville Hospital on April 14 and 15. Teams working with the support of local charities and community organizations are expected to deliver 300,000 more units within the next two weeks. The program is led by Dr. Joseph Y. K. Wong, founder and chair emeritus of Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care, which hosts Toronto’s annual Dragon Ball Chinese New Year gala.

Toronto-based technology start-up Retreatify, an online platform designed to simplify corporate retreat, event, and meeting planning, has launched a virtual activities and workshops service to help ease the stress of isolation during quarantine. “From the comfort of their own home, employees can participate in customized workshops led by TED speakers, yoga and meditation instructors, musical performers, wine connoisseurs, and leadership facilitators, just to name a few,” explains co-founder and COO Ron Zahavi. Retreatify facilitates event bookings with over 15 Toronto-based venues, including Hotel X, Supernova Ballroom, and Eglinton Grand

Related: 15 New Ideas for Virtual Events, Ice Breakers, and Other Teambuilding Activities

Turn of Events
Hundreds of chefs, restaurant owners, and celebrities took part in the nationwide Takeout Day on April 15. Canadians are encouraged to support their local food and hospitality businesses by ordering takeout on coming Wednesdays and sharing the hashtag #TakeoutDay on social media. Canada's Great Kitchen Party is providing virtual entertainment hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos, featuring musicians, comedians, athletes, and chefs. Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo), Ed Robertson (Barenaked Ladies), and Alan Doyle (Great Big Sea) are among the Canadian musicians set to perform. 

“Gaming has exploded like never before to become the new social currency and a cultural force. To put the opportunity into perspective, consider that gaming is now a $139 billion a year (and growing) business, making it bigger than the NFL, NBA, MLB, and the NHL combined. From an esports perspective, the $30 million prize pool for Dota 2: The International was almost three times larger than that of either the Super Bowl or the Masters Tournament."

—Paul Traeger, Havas Media's senior vice president and group director of communications strategy, speaking to Now Magazine about COVID-19’s impact on the online gaming industry, which has seen a 75-percent increase in traffic.

On the Scene
Residents of the Bob Rumball Canadian Centre of Excellence for the Deaf celebrated Easter by baking a bunny-inspired cake.

What’s Next?
The seventh annual National Canadian Film Day is happening online on April 22. More than 40 Canadian movies—available via multiple broadcasters and streaming platforms—will be recognized, and a live broadcast featuring interactive activities and interviews with Canadian filmmakers and industry professionals will take place via the organization’s website and YouTube channel from 6 to 10 p.m. EST. 

GTApreneurs, a Toronto-area networking and public speaking organization for small business owners, is hosting a lunchtime networking event via Zoom on April 22. Attendees are encouraged to share their business background, practice delivering their elevator pitch, and share tips for maintaining positive mental health during isolation. 

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