Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia companies making PPE see flood of job applications

Nova Scotia companies who have switched gears to make personal protective equipment for front-line health-care workers say they've been bombarded with resumés.

MacKenzie Atlantic, Stanfield's receive hundreds of resumés from students to retirees

MacKenzie Atlantic has turned the gymnasiums at Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth, N.S., into production facilities for face shields. (Submitted by Carmen MacKenzie)

Nova Scotia companies who have switched gears to make personal protective equipment for front-line health-care workers say they've been bombarded with resumés.

MacKenzie Atlantic in Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S., typically manufactures items for the defence sector, but it recently landed a $4.3-million contract to make face shields for the IWK Health Centre and Nova Scotia Health Authority. This contract is in addition to their usual work, said a news release from the health authority.

Company co-owner Carmen MacKenzie said their goal was to hire about 50 people for this project, but the response was above and beyond what they expected.

"It's everyone from people who are retired or semi-retired just wanting to come out and help, to high school and university students whose classes obviously were cut short," she said.

MacKenzie said they've also received applications from the teenage children of front-line health-care workers.

Workers are going to assemble more than one million face shields. (Carmen MacKenzie/MacKenzie Atlantic)

"They would love to help us out and they know the importance of PPE, and they'll be there and responsible and passionate about what they're doing," she said.

The company doesn't have the physical space to produce the face shields, so it has set up shop in the gymnasiums at Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth, N.S.

Small stations are now scattered throughout the gyms to maintain physical distancing rules.

MacKenzie said the company went from having the concept to producing 6,000 face shields in just three days. The contract, which runs until August, is for one million shields for the health authority and another 100,000 for the IWK. 

The health authority says it has an additional face shield contract with a New Brunswick company.

In Truro, N.S., Stanfield's is also experiencing a huge response to its hiring campaign.

The clothing company is now making medical gowns and wants to hire about 108 new staff, depending on the number they recall from earlier layoffs.

CEO Jon Stanfield estimated they received well over 500 applications on the weekend. He noted many applications were from men, who traditionally haven't been known as sewers in North America.

"I think it's obviously a viable job for six to seven months and there's a lot of uncertainty that's happening from an economic standpoint," he said.

Stanfield's CEO Jon Stanfield says applicants have been driven by the promise of a steady job through uncertain times, and the desire to help front-line workers. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Stanfield said he was surprised by how young some of the applicants are.

"I think it's twofold for them: I think it's supporting the front-line workers and the need for a job itself," he said.

Stanfield said those factors have contributed to the surge in applications for the company, which has been in business for 164 years.

While MacKenzie said her company has enough applications, Stanfield said they'd be happy to get more through the summer.

He said they may have to add extra shifts or replace workers who find the long days of sewing tough. He also said he'll need to fill gaps when his original staff can return to their jobs producing Stanfield's clothing.

MORE TOP STORIES

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn Ray

Videojournalist

Carolyn Ray is a videojournalist who has reported out of three provinces and two territories, and is now based in Halifax. You can reach her at Carolyn.Ray@cbc.ca

now