Bell Canada Awarded the 2012 Freeman Philanthropic Services Award for Outstanding Corporation
November 30, 2011
Nominated by the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter
Bell Canada is the country’s largest communications company with a long history of charitable giving. Most recently, the company has launched the largest support program for mental health in Canada and taken an extraordinary leadership role in addressing one of the most pervasive yet underfunded health issues facing the country.
The Bell Let’s Talk Initiative is a five-year, $50 million program that will benefit a range of charities focused on mental health. In addition to this significant funding, the company is supporting the initiative through leadership and employee engagement and encouraging other organizations and the public to get involved.
A critical way that Bell Canada is supporting the initiative is through trying to remove the stigma of talking about mental health issues, encouraging people to be open about asking for and receiving treatment. Through its Let’s Talk national campaign, Bell Canada contributed five cents for every long distance and text message its customers made on Feb. 9, 2011 to further fund mental health initiatives. The company engaged Olympic medalist Clara Hughes as a spokesperson for this program, and she shared her own experiences with depression. The result was more than 66 million calls and texts and more than $3 million raised.
In May, Bell Canada made the largest corporate gift to mental health ever in Canada, a $10 million contribution to the CAMH Foundation. The gift is funding redevelopment of facilities, a pilot education program for healthcare professionals serving patients with mental health issues and a Knowledge and Innovation Support Hub that will help create and deliver clinical tools, assessments and other resources for mental health professionals.
Bell Canada is working with corporations across Canada and the health care community to develop and adopt mental health best practices in the workplace. Its work is focused on enhancing access to information and establishing training and resource programs for its leaders, including mandatory training for all people managers in reintegrating employees returning to work from disability leave. In July, the company pledged to help fund the creation of the first national standards to help improve the psychological health and safety of employees across the country.
Research is another critical aspect of the initiative, with Bell providing support for new research chairs and fellowships at hospitals, universities and other institutions across Canada over the next five years. Bell’s initiative has also inspired other companies to support the mental health initiative through contributions to mental health programs.
Bell Canada has been a remarkable corporate citizen and has taken an important philanthropic leadership role through its Let’s Talk Initiative. AFP is pleased to present the Freeman Philanthropic Services Award for Outstanding Corporation to Bell Canada.