‘No intention to offend local businesses,’ says Walmart Canada after fundraiser reenacts what hairdressers can’t do in Ontario

CORNWALL — Walmart Canada says no offence was intended yesterday when two employees at its Cornwall, Ontario, store staged a hair-colouring charitable fundraiser that inadvertently highlighted public resentment over unequally applied pandemic restrictions, especially the treatment of hair stylists and barbers.

Shared on Facebook, the photo of one Walmart employee seated in a clothing section, while a colleague works on her hair, was an apparent finger in the eye to those in the industry who are told by the Ford government that their shops remain too dangerous to reopen until at least July 5th. As part of the CHEO Foundation fundraiser, the Walmart associates wore full PPE equipment similar to what hairdressers would be using today if allowed to operate — and have been using during those relatively rare times the province has allowed them to work during the pandemic.

“We have only worked 5 weeks this year because of the shutdown and we are abiding by what we have been told but then Walmart does this,” commented Denise Garcia in an NVN Facebook thread about the image originally shared by Cornwall area hair stylist Marc-Andre Levac.

A Russell-area hairdresser, Garcia described it as a “slap in the face,” as did a number of other posters.

“Unbelievable. Charity or not this is in poor taste!!” wrote Christine Lascelle.

Others questioned why they have to wait weeks to get a legal haircut, but it’s OK to visit a massage therapist.

“If we can go for a massage, to a physiotherapist, dentist, optometrist, why can’t we go to hairdresser/barber. All are hands on. Does not make sense,” observed Helen Lagace.

“Wth?! Maybe all the money they raise should be given to all the hairdressers who can’t make a living right now!!! Come on people…think!” exclaimed Katrina Loucks in the same thread.

Walmart responds

Responding to NVN by email, Felicia Fefer, Corporate Affairs Manager at Walmart Canada Corp., confirmed the Cornwall store’s “well-intentioned associates were raising money for the CHEO Foundation as part of our annual fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network.”

Fefer added that Walmart employees “always go above and beyond, especially when it comes to raising money for their local children’s hospital and supporting the community. There was no intention to offend local businesses.”

 

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