Sault Ste. Marie lab techs produce hand sanitizer for front-line workers

By day, PSAC lab technician Tim Ladd and his colleagues tackle invasive insect species like the emerald ash borer that are devastating Canada’s forests. 

But with supplies of hand sanitizer dwindling because of COVID-19, his team at Natural Resources Canada’s Insect Production and Quarantine Lab in Sault Ste. Marie knew they had a chance to help front-line workers who are desperate for more. 

After all, they had a stockpile of hospital-grade chemicals right at their fingertips. And for the past six weeks, their team has produced more than 800 litres of hand sanitizer for 24 organizations serving the public, including police forces, hospitals, border services officers, Canada Post staff and long-term care homes.  

“We knew we could help the community in a time of crisis,” said Ladd.  

Left to right: Ken Boissoneau, Tim Ladd, Kerry MacDonald, Sarah Crispell, John Dedes at the IPQL.

Above and beyond their crucial work cultivating wasp colonies to attack emerald ash borers, they’re volunteering extra hours to produce the precious elixir. 

“We’ve even done it on weekends, and we’re happy to do it,” said Ladd. 

“The feeling you get when you’re doing something, and you know it’s directly helping people, it’s a tremendous feeling.” 

As a staunch union activist for more than 20 years and a member of his health and safety committee, he also knows the importance of being active in the workplace during this crisis.  

“We have a role in making sure people know that they have to follow personal distancing rules, and what the consequences are if they don’t,” said Ladd. 

He’s grateful for the warm response their team has received from the community, and he hopes others continue to pay it forward throughout the pandemic.  

“Hopefully the work that we’ve done inspires others to pitch in and do what they can to make masks or anything else they can do to help,” he said.  


April 21, 2020