Julie Chamberland, a QSL Human Resources technician, appreciated the panoramic vista of Quebec’s City skyline as she waited the required 15 minutes after receiving her COVID-19 vaccination at the port’s new cruise terminal.
“The view of the Château Frontenac and other buildings beyond the marina is spectacular,” Chamberland shares. “Everyone was enchanted by it and taking photos with their phones.”
Chamberland is among the 25,000 Quebecers expected to take advantage of the vaccination centre set up in early May and open until mid-September.
The Port of Quebec and several of its partners are among the numerous Quebec companies that joined forces to establish the centre with Quebec’s health ministry for the public as well as their own employees and their families.
Managing Director Mario Girard says the Quebec Port Authority was happy to provide the space – which has yet to welcome cruise lines because of COVID-19 – as well as mobilize the port’s operations and security teams.
“This initiative is a natural for us as we commit ourselves every day to guaranteeing the health and safety of all essential workers on the ground, as well as visitors and crew,” he says.
Pascal Raby, Vice President, Operations and Environment, says the port and its partners responded to the province’s call to help speed up vaccinations. “It took some organization, but isn’t that different from moving travelers on or off a ship,” he says. The cruise terminal filled a need in an area with few large venues.
“The building’s size facilitates social distancing along with lots of free parking,” Raby says.
Groupe Desgagnés, QSL, Groupe Océan, G3 Canada Limited, IMTT, and Béton provincial are the port enterprises partnering in the setup. They’re joined by other large Quebec enterprises, namely IA Groupe Financier, Beneva, Beenox, Promutuel, Coveo, Banque Nationale, Couche Tard, Bell and Métro.
Claudine Couture-Trudel, QSL’s Vice President, Strategy and Public Affairs, says the centre makes it more convenient for employees to obtain the shot if they wish to do so.
“We’re always concerned with the health and safety of our employees, but that preoccupation was heightened during the pandemic when we’ve been dealing with a new situation that makes everyone’s work at QSL more essential than ever to keep goods moving,” she adds.
“We also welcomed the opportunity to work with others in this community outreach.”
Mariners given opportunity to get vaccinated
In addition to public access, the port and its partners collaborated with the Quebec health ministry to ensure that domestic and foreign mariners have the opportunity to be vaccinated. “We acted as a bit of an intermediary and arranged to have appointments booked for mariners during their brief stay at the port whenever other people either canceled their appointments or turnout was lower than expected,” Raby explains.
Nicolas Breton, a second engineer with the Groupe Desgagnés polar fleet, appreciated the convenience. “It was great to have access to the vaccination as soon as I returned from my Northern itinerary,” Breton says. “And it was so easy with the company sending us an online link to book the appointment through Quebec’s ClicSanté system.” While Breton appreciated the ease, he says the centre’s availability was all the more welcomed by his mates from other nations who do not yet have access to the vaccination back home.
Claude Dumais, Vice-President of Operations and Special Projects at Groupe Desgagnés, agrees. He says while vaccinating Quebecers is the priority, the shots made available for all mariners – in some cases within the few hours before a departure – are greatly appreciated.
Dumais says the vaccination centre is another example of how the connection between the city’s port industries and community has grown stronger.
“The pandemic made everyone in our industry more aware of how essential it is for us to continue to deliver goods no matter what the circumstances,” he explains.
The port showed that same community outreach last year when it put the employees who’d otherwise have been sidelined by the cruise industry’s halt to work instead as part of a local food drive.
“Since then we’ve also had employees help to drive people to their vaccination appointments,” Raby adds. Raby expects many people will take advantage of the location and ample parking to obtain their second dose as well. All of this is making the new cruise terminal an integral part of Quebec City’s landscape before it even greets its first cruise ship.