PDG Bill MacKay introduced today's speaker.  With a total of 50 years of experience in the investment industry, John Stairs was a Vice-President, Portfolio Manager, RBC Dominion Securities Inc. until his retirement July 2019.  John's Rotary experience includes being the Charter President, Rotary Club of Burlington North, 1994.  When Bill first met John, he was the Centennial District Governor, District 7080 from 2004 - 2005.  As this is Rotary Foundation month, John will be speaking about our Rotary Foundation.  John was a Member, RI Investment Advisory Committee, Rotary Foundation, Evanston, IL 2007 to 2018 and Vice Chair, RI Investment Advisory Committee from 2016 to 2017.  He is also a member of the Investment Advisory Committee, Rotary Foundation of Canada 2007 to present and is current the President of The Rotary Foundation Canada.  In his spare time, John is a private pilot since 1979 and is also a Flight Instructor with Spectrum Airways, Burlington air Park and Owner, Stairs Air Services and holds a Commercial license with night, seaplane, multi-engine and instrument ratings.  Occasionally he fakes playing golf (when the weather is not good enough to fly) and enjoys travelling and reading.
John was pleased to appear, virtually, to our Club in the month of November, Foundation month and to share upcoming news on the Rotary Foundation Canada and the economic effects COVID-19 is having worldwide. 
The Rotary Foundation (Canada) is an official associate foundation of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.  

The mission of The Rotary Foundation is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.

The Rotary Foundation (Canada) is a Canadian federally chartered corporation and Canadian registered charity supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of The Rotary Foundation who share its vision of a better world.

The Rotary Foundation was created in 1917 by Rotary International's sixth president, Arch C. Klumph, as an endowment fund for Rotary "to do good in the world."

John spoke about the five-year partnership between Global Affairs Canada and the Rotary Foundation (Canada). The Government of Canada has provided Canadian Rotary Clubs and Districts with $1.2 million dollars per year to be added to the Global Grants program of the Rotary Foundation.  The program ends December 31st, but has been very successful with the number of grants that have been applied for and approved, increased significantly over the program term and helping thousands of people.  This Canadian model is the first ever done and it is anticipated that more of this type of partnerships between Rotary and governments will continue.
John spoke about the End Polio Now program, a huge amount of work, but has resulted in Rotary having a distinct advantage of learning how to distribute and manage immunization in developing worlds.  This is a shout out from the roof tops.  Rotary has the capability and volunteers to continue mass immunization, door to door, country to country and this will be paramount when the COVID-19 vaccine is ready to roll out around the world.
COVID-19 has affected all of us, including the Rotary Foundation.  Contributions have kept on track and actually the annual fund has grown by 20% which is truly remarkable in today's environment.  People still want to support the Rotary Foundation.  But there has been economic pullback as the Rotary Foundation and Rotary Foundation Canada are conscious of people who are struggling.  Some staff in the Foundation have been let go.  Response times are slower with respect to grant approvals.  The World Fund has called a temporary halt to matching grant requests based on dwindling funds.  A six month hiatus has been recommended.  Demand has outstripped the funding, but Rotary has made good on promises made and has met its mission.  We should be proud of that accomplishment with the current challenges of COVID worldwide.
Encouraging is the fact that we are at a moment in time when access to information is the best ever.  We are reaching a wider audience through virtual meetings.  Technology has widened our audiences, resulting in increased contributions in the area of endowment and Arch C. Klumph Society membership (contributions of $250,000 U.S. or more to the Rotary Foundation) through on-line fundraising.
The Rotary Foundation (Canada) supports a variety of local and international charitable and social welfare programs and activities that advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty. TRF(C)programs consist of the following:
  • PolioPlus program provides funding, mobilizes Rotary volunteer support, and promotes polio eradication around the world;
  • Global humanitarian projects and packaged projects are strategically focused, high-impact international activities with sustainable and measurable outcomes in the areas of:peace and conflict prevention & resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development;
  • District-level projects that enable Rotary clubs and districts to address immediate needs within their local communities and abroad.
And in closing John quoted Rotary International's President Holger Knaack who stated that COVID has presented an unprecedented challenge for everyone.  But it is also an opportunity for Rotarians to find new, meaningful ways to lead individuals and communities to connect and do good in the world, to protect and strengthen our communities at home and across the globe.
Past President Doug Peterson thanked John for presenting information to us on a very complex topic, a testament as to what can be done.