Toronto, ON – November 3, 2020 – Woodbine Entertainment (Woodbine) proudly released its 2019/20 Corporate Responsibility Report that summarizes the company’s recent achievements during the April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 fiscal year. While the report focuses on this period, it also includes information on how Woodbine’s operations were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Titled Breaking New Ground, the 2019/20 Woodbine Corporate Responsibility Report focuses on the company’s commitment to the communities in which it operates, philanthropy, industry leadership, property development and sustaining the horse racing industry.
“While this year has been extremely difficult for so many, including those in horse racing, we have been highly focused on strengthening our foundation to prepare us for a future of prosperity across the industry,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “Through this preparation, and despite the ongoing uncertainty caused by the global pandemic, we are optimistic about our future based on the quality of our racing, strength of our brand and efficient management of our operation.”
The report highlights contributions to three broad areas that encapsulates Woodbine’s charitable initiatives including Supporting Community Health, For the Love of Horses, and Our Footprint. Additionally, the report provides an update on the status of key endeavours such as industry leadership, optimal land development, world-class racing, people and culture, and more.
COVID-19 Response Highlights:
- Backstretch remained open as an essential service to provide stabling and care for upwards of 1,700 horses.
- Frequent communications with Standardbred and Thoroughbred stakeholders via new weekly updates.
- Developed “Woodbine’s Guide to Working and Racing Safely” that documents policies and procedures created to operate and race in the safest way possible.
- Responsive and comprehensive planning contributed to being the first professional sport in Canada allowed to return to competition since pandemic closures.
- Rigorous health and safety protocols saw screening of 500-1,000 essential workers per day on site.
- Pivoted to safely hosting spectator-free premier races, including The Queen’s Plate, Pepsi North America Cup, Ricoh Woodbine Mile and Mohawk Million.
Charitable highlights within the 2019/20 Corporate Responsibility Report include:
- Supported more than 100 community-based organizations and charitable causes.
- Created the Breeders’ Crown Charity Challenge which had a record one-time donation of $282,996.00 to five local charities including $109,484.00 won by the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society.
- Hosted six 50/50 draws at Woodbine Racetrack and Woodbine Mohawk Park raising more than $27,500.00 for five different charities.
- Received the Osler Award for Philanthropic Leadership for being a long-term supporter of the Etobicoke General Hospital.
- Hosted (2019) for the third time, the Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer event that saw more than 1,900 participants raise a record-breaking $3.1 million for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.
- Addressed food insecurity through the production and distribution of hundreds of pounds of food from the Woodbine Cares Community Garden to local community organizations.
- Honoured to receive naming rights of the emegency waiting rooms at Etobicoke General Hospital and Milton District Hospital as acknowledgement of Woodbine’s long-term and sustained financial support of both medical centres.
Business highlights within the 2019/20 Corporate Responsibility Report include:
- Hosted three industry summits called “Stronger Together” to increase communication to industry stakeholders in order to educate them on the workings of the industry, our operations and policies and generally introduce a new level of transparency.
- Invested in our industry through opening a new seven-furlong Kentucky Bluegrass inner turf course and new Standardbred paddock.
- Commenced the first phase of land development at Woodbine Racetrack including a planned Metrolinx train station and municipal infrastructure necessary for the development of a world-class casino resort.
The economic impact of horse racing continues to be significant with the industry contributing more than $2.3 billion annually to Ontario’s gross domestic product. Additionally, the horse racing industry employees more than 60,000 people or 45,433 full-time equivalent jobs.
“Every year, we work to build relationships,” said Zenia Wadhwani, Woodbine’s Director, Community Relations and Corporate Affairs. “To be a good neighbour and give with the intent of making an impact in the lives of individuals, families and communities. To bring our employees together and foster the value of caring for each other and those around us. To make decisions that will be good for the environment and to be a better corporate citizen. Each year, we aim to improve upon what we have accomplished the previous year. This report is a glimpse into how we do that.”
As a responsible corporate citizen, Woodbine Entertainment has produced a Corporate Responsibility Report every year since 2006. The 2019/20 report is publicly accessible and is available for download or online viewing at WoodbineCares.ca.