United Way taps Ottawa’s Ruckify to loan electronics to community in crisis

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Ruckify co-founder Steve Cody. File photo

Ottawa-based Ruckify is putting its rental platform to work for the United Way and its clients left vulnerable by the COVID-19 pandemic and is asking the community to provide its unused electronics to those needing to connect.

Ruckify announced a partnership with the United Way East Ontario on Friday to help distribute laptops, tablets and other devices that can be used to connect service workers to their clients amid strict social isolation procedures across the country. Many of the United Way’s clients don’t have regular access to technology that can enable virtual appointments, meaning a laptop with video-calling capability could make the difference in an individual receiving care.

Ruckify’s fleet of delivery people will pick up, sanitize and deliver the devices to the Eastern Ontario residents that need them. Items rented on the company’s platform are also insured if lost or damaged.

Usually Ruckify would take a cut of the processing fee from individuals or businesses renting their unused equipment over its platform, but the Ottawa-based startup will waive that charge during the COVID-19 crisis.

Ruckify asks any business, association or individual with unused equipment to visit the signup form here to contribute to its effort.

The initiative comes as access to in-person services is contracting across the country. The federal government announced late Thursday it is shutting down the network of in-person Service Canada centres over COVID-19 concerns.

Some of the offices, such as one tucked inside Ottawa City Hall, have already started to close as confirmed cases of COVID-19 have increased and workers were needed elsewhere, or felt uncomfortable about going in due to health concerns.

The Liberals say the move shouldn't affect most unemployed workers who seek employment insurance benefits since the vast majority of applications are done online – but that requires access to a personal computer at home.

Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen, who is in charge of Service Canada, says officials will make alternative arrangements for those who still need personalized services, a group that tends to include seniors and Indigenous Peoples.

– With files from Canadian Press