Thank you, Chair, and hello, members of Parliament.
My name is Angela Bonfanti, and I am the senior vice-president for the CNIB Foundation.
Before I begin, I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge that this is National AccessAbility Week. While this is an important week every year, given today's current events related to racism and discrimination, this year's National AccessAbility Week is even more important.
For over 100 years, CNIB has been combatting discrimination and advocating for the equity of all Canadians. We serve all Canadians living with sight loss, regardless of age, gender, race or sexual orientation, because blindness, unlike an unfortunate number of people in our world today, does not discriminate. Far too many members of our community must deal with the reality of being marginalized not only for the colour of their skin, for example; they must also deal with additional the discrimination from travelling with a white cane, for example, or a guide dog. At CNIB we have worked diligently, and will continue to do so, until everyone can live, work and play without barriers. We challenge discrimination and support the rights of every Canadian.
I'd like to take this opportunity to highlight how COVID-19 has impacted over one and a half million Canadians living with sight loss. CNIB's mandate is to remove barriers, combat negative ramifications of isolation, and do what we can to help Canadians living with sight loss live the lives they choose. At a time when isolation was being mandated for all, we knew that our community needed us now more than ever. Almost immediately, every one of our staff members picked up the phone and called every participant in our database. Nearly 10,000 Canadians have been phoned to date.
From these calls and these conversations, we have received insights on what the community wants from us during this pandemic and beyond. The response has resulted in hundreds of new virtual programs serving thousands of Canadians with sight loss in just the last 11 weeks alone. Our programs range from technology training sessions to peer support programs to groceries and prescription drug pickup and drop-off services for our clients who are in need.
Also, as we know all too well, every household with children, including mine, has become a school of its own. For families with children who are blind or partially sighted—