Sherbrooke office cut by Canadian Cancer Society

By Gordon Lambie

Although efforts here and there continue to provide at-home fundraising options for the Canadian Cancer Society, the organization is being hard hit by the restrictions on gathering imposed in order to help control the spread of COVID-19. According to Denis Lalonde, Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Society for Quebec, the organization expects to take in 40 per cent less money in donations this year than normal, amounting to a roughly $80 million loss. In light of that massive shortfall the organization is taking cost-cutting steps like permanently closing some of its offices, including the one in Sherbrooke.
“There are four offices in Quebec whose leases will not be renewed this year, including Sherbooke,” Lalonde said explaining that the decision has been made both in light of the significant cost of the organization’s 57 offices across the country, and also the discovery of how much work could be accomplished through telecommuting. He estimated that more offices will be following suit in the years to come as other leases come up for renewal and the organization adjusts to working in new ways.
“Our main objective is to continue to offer services,” the executive director said, explaining that the whole organization has been in the midst of a massive period of reflection since offices closed because of the pandemic on March 12.
In addition to the office cuts, Lalonde said that the cancer society has also temporarily laid-off 350 employees across the country, or 40 per cent of their workforce, as a cost-saving measure. Although the government support programs currently in place mean that all of those employees can maintain their benefits and some form of income until August, the Executive Director told The Record that he thinks it unlikely that they will all be rehired in the fall.
“We will have some difficult decisions to make,” he said, stressing the fact that none of the people who are out of work at the moment find themselves in that situation because of poor job performance.
Looking to the future, Lalonde said that the cancer society is still trying to sort out the answers to what these changes will mean for the work of the organization both regionally and as a whole.
“I don’t have all the answers at the moment,” he said, emphasizing the organization’s focus on ongoing support for the 53,000 Quebecers who will receive a cancer diagnosis this year and adaptation to a new digital reality.
Speaking on behalf of the group of volunteers who organize the annual daffodil campaign in Lennoxville and the surrounding communities, Maureen Quigg told The Record that the news of the Sherbrooke office closing comes as a disappointment.
“They were great people to work with,” Quigg said adding, however, that if the group has to build a connection with another office in order to continue to organize its annual fundraiser they will certainly do so. “Everyone is very committed,” she said.
The next major fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society is the “Relay at Home” a reimagined version of the Relay for Life, set to take place on June 13. More information on that event and the work of the Canadian Cancer Society is available at

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