The Canadian Chamber of Commerce brings together a vast network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade and more than 200,000 businesses, from all regions and sectors of the economy. This network represents diverse viewpoints; the opinions expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
By: Garrick Tiplady, Managing Director, Facebook Canada
Throughout the pandemic, the business community has stepped up in incredible ways. From pivoting operations to make personal protective equipment to getting online overnight — this past year was a testament to Canadian businesses’ resiliency and ingenuity.
Take Sisters Sage for example. Run by sisters, Lynn-Marie and Melissa-Rae, Sisters Sage is a natural wellness brand based in Vancouver. Inspired by their indigenous culture and traditions, the duo launched their brand in 2018 and began selling their products at local farm markets and pow wows. When the pandemic hit, they needed to pivot fully online. Looking for a way to tell their story and reach new customers, they started using personalized ads and managed to double their sales, reaching new customers across Canada and around the world. This is an extraordinary accomplishment, even more so in the middle of nation-wide lockdowns and increased restrictions for small businesses.
Now, one year later, as vaccines start to roll out and restrictions lift, businesses like Sister Sage must shift their model once again to bridge the digital and physical – managing online sales and in-store shopping. But we won’t see true recovery until vaccines are widely accessible and it’s clear we need to act quickly, and we need to get this right. Challenged by limited vaccine supply, the next critical step for Canadian’s and our economy is to amplify public health messages encouraging vaccine acceptance. The business community has an important role to play.
THE ROLE OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN VACCINE CONFIDENCE
With millions of Canadians connecting across our platforms, at Facebook, we know we have an opportunity to support national health agencies in their efforts to encourage vaccine confidence and acceptance. Working with leading health authorities, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, Facebook has already connected over two billion people from 189 countries to reliable information about the coronavirus through our COVID-19 Information Center.
In collaboration with the Government of Canada, today we’re hosting a Facebook Live with Canada’s top doctors – Dr. Theresa Tam and Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s Chief and Deputy Chief Public Health Officers, Dr. Evan Adams, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at Indigenous Services Canada, and Dr. Supriya Sharma, Chief Medical Advisor at Health Canada, to answer Canadian’s COVID-19 vaccine questions. Samantha Yammine, PhD, and popular science communicator better known as Science Sam, along with Danielle Nadin from CIHR Institute of Gender and Health will lead the discussion. I encourage you to check it out if you have a chance.
We’re proud to use the scale of our platform to support Canadian health authorities’ efforts to reach millions of Canadians with COVID-19 vaccine information. You can learn more about this effort here.
Creating real momentum with cross-industry collaboration will be essential in connecting people and businesses with credible sources of information from health authorities about vaccines, especially with what looks like a longer runway to mass accessibility. That’s why business-led initiatives like the Ontario Vaccination Support Council are so important, and I am proud to support their efforts as co-chair.
SUPPORTING COVID-19 VACCINE EDUCATION
Facebook Canada is focused on supporting health leaders and public officials in their work to vaccinate billions of people against COVID-19. But this work is two-fold. First, we’re working to support public health authorities reach a broader group of people, including Canadians, on the efficacy and safety of these vaccines. Second, we’re working to prohibit misinformation that could harm public health efforts.
For people to trust the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, we need to remove false claims on our platforms. With promising vaccination developments announced late last year, we began removing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts on Facebook and Instagram. More recently, we expanded our efforts and now remove false claims about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines, and vaccines in general during the pandemic. So far we’ve removed millions of pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram globally for containing misinformation on COVID-19 that may lead to imminent physical harm, such as content relating to fake preventative measures or exaggerated cures.
As a third line of defence, our global network of more than 80 fact-checking partners continues to review content and debunk false claims. When they rate the information as false, we dramatically reduce its distribution. We also apply strong warning labels and notifications on fact-checked content, so people can see what our partners have concluded and decide for themselves what to read, trust and share. Lastly, we’ve blocked people from running ads that aim to exploit the situation for financial gain.
Our work keeping people safe and informed has been a year-long process, and we’re not going to take our foot off the gas pedal any time soon. The Canada business community needs to continue working together to amplify public health efforts to help ensure the rollout is as efficient and swift as possible – our health and the health of our economy depends on it.