EDITORIAL – Masks and gloves are more important than caps and stress balls

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

HAVE YOU EVER been to a conference that has booths set up for service and product providers of interest to the delegates?

They’re the ones in which you can circulate and chat with company or government-department representatives and, while you’re there, put your business card in a fish bowl for a draw, and pick up some swag.

I used to collect a lot of cheap pens with logos on them, as well as tote bags, water bottles, key chains, stress balls and even socks. The socks are a relatively new thing at these booths and they’re a good score if you can find them.

It’s common practice for corporations and agencies to buy swag adorned with their logos, the idea being that if a potential customer walks off with some and uses it, he or she will have kind thoughts about the provider.

So, getting to the point, WorkSafeBC hands out swag. WorkSafeBC is the outfit that makes sure businesses are following Dr. Bonny Henry’s rules for re-opening. It has said that, because the pandemic has eaten up its $2 billion surplus, it can’t afford to help with personal protective equipment for frontline workers.

However, it has come to the public’s attention that WorkSafeBC feels able to buy a bunch of swag. Among the items it is seeking bids on are stress balls, hoodies, pens, ball caps, tumblers and stainless-steel water bottles. With the WorkSafeBC logo on them, of course.

This has some people wondering why swag is more important than providing masks and gloves to those putting their health at risk fighting COVID-19.

Just how much the swag will cost is unclear, since it’s open to bids, and the actual amount of merchandise needed is uncertain, so we don’t know how much this money could help with PPE.

But that’s the point: every bit helps, and it would certainly help more than ball caps and stress balls.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8485 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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