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We’re World Leaders in Social Capitalism, Says Telus

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The future looks more than just friendly for one of Canada’s Big 3 telecommunications companies, Telus, as the company soars to new financial heights despite worldwide turmoil, according to a profile in the Financial Post.

Back in 2017, Telus Corp.’s venture division made a hefty investment in Toronto-based Akira Health — a company working on revolutionary virtual healthcare solutions. In 2019, Telus bought the company entirely and re-branded it to ‘Akira by Telus Health’.

Telus is one of only six non-financial companies in Canada that even have venture divisions, and its venture division certainly made a winning pick by acquiring a tele-healthcare company right as the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the globe and ushered in a pressing need to move everything from education to healthcare online.

Telus executive vice-prisident, François Gratton, noted Telus Health saw 350% growth in 2020, compared to 2019.

The company’s health venture is beyond professional sports, radio and television, unlike rivals Rogers and Bell, as the latter markets are being affected by COVID-19.

“We’ve transformed ourselves from a telco to a major IT player,” said Gratton.

On the one hand, Telus pledged $150 million USD to support Canadians, front line healthcare workers, and communities affected by the pandemic.

But on the other, Telus, along with Bell and Rogers, grabbed close to a quarter-billion CAD from the federal wage subsidy program, while also increasing dividend payouts to shareholders.

The revelation has invited public outcry and calls for the Big 3 to return every penny they took from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program.

“We believe we’re world leaders in social capitalism”, said Telus’s Chief Social Innovation Officer Jill Schnarr, during an interview with the Financial Post in the midst of all of this.

“We would invest in more of a social challenge and leverage our technology and productivity to address a social challenge”, added Schnarr.

Telus believes it can succeed in the technology and social space, unlike the content bet by its competitors. Time will tell to see how these new ventures pay off.

According to Telus, the CEWS program has enabled the company to avoid layoffs from its staff of 30,000, which makes up the fifth-largest shareholder of the company.

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