British Columbia

The Good Doctor donates TV show's protective equipment

The show had recently finished filming when producers figured its wardrobe department could help protect health-care workers in Vancouver against COVID-19.

Film industry gathering PPEs from workers and shows amid continent-wide production collapse

A promotional shot for the medical drama The Good Doctor shows a young, white man in scrubs standing next to a bed in a hospital room with medical instruments laid out in front of him on a steel tray.
The Good Doctor is a TV show about a young doctor with autism. (ABC)

Popular TV show The Good Doctor has given health authorities the gowns, face masks and gloves usually worn by its actors to help in the fight against COVID-19.

The show, about a young doctor with autism, filmed in Vancouver and aired on CTV in Canada, had recently finished filming its latest season when producers, like producer Shawn Williamson, decided parts of the wardrobe department could help in the fight against COVID-19. 

"The health-care workers are heroes. We just are trying to give them what they need to be safer," said Williamson from his Vancouver office. 

Williamson says teamsters delivered two palettes of highly sought after personal protective equipment to Vancouver Coastal Health on March 20. The health author says the materials were tested to ensure they abide by national safety standards and added to regional supplies. 

Crew from TV show The Good Doctor donated a couple of palette's worth of personal protective equipment like gloves, masks and face shields. (Shawn Williamson)

The donation is just one of many from shows and crew members across North America. 

Williamson says he heard other medical shows and film industry workers were handing over equipment as health professionals across the continent call for more protective equipment to safeguard them against patients infected with the coronavirus. 

Members donation drive

The head of one of the industry's leading unions, IATSE, recently called on its members to gather any protective equipment like gloves and face shields they may use as part of their work and bring it into their local union office for donation to health authorities. 

Phil Klapwyk, business representative for IATSE local 891, which represents about 9,000 trades-focused members and 5,400 permittees across British Columbia, said they partnered with the local chapter of the Directors Guild of Canada to wrap up a second successful drive last week. 

Klapwyk says the two organizations have donated 23,790 nitrile gloves, 2,515 N95 masks and 36 litres of hand-sanitizer, among several other items. 

Some IATSE members were also using their 3D printers to make "ear-savers" to protect health-care workers from the chafing that can accompany the use of some face masks, he said. 

'Ear savers' like these can be made using a 3D printer. (Aaron Lu)

Most IATSE members have extra time on their hands these days as the industry faces a complete shutdown because of the pandemic.

Klapwyck emphasized that it was important for the union to keep its members safe and do their part to flatten the curve, but the shuttered operations will have an enormous economic impact on the province. 

According to Creative B.C., the organization that supports the film industry, the motion picture industry brings in $3.2 billion each year, and creates the equivalent of 71,140 full-time jobs across the province. 

'It's brutal'

Normally at this time of year, Williamson would be working alongside about 120 people on The Good Doctor and a handful of other productions led by his company, Brightlight Pictures.

But on Wednesday, it was just him and one other person in the office keeping the ship afloat.

"The film industry is completely brought to a halt with this," he said. "It's brutal but it's a tough time for the world."

The Good Doctor had finished shooting for the season, but he says some of his other productions like The Mighty Ducks and a couple of Hallmark films were in the midst of filming when they closed down. 



Maryse Zeidler


Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at