The holiday season designated driving service Operation Red Nose will not be operating in Thompson or elsewhere in Manitoba this December.
The national organization announced the cancellation of the service, which offers people who have been drinking rides home in their own cars and is provided by volunteers, for the second straight year on Oct. 13.
“We were really looking forward to bringing the safe ride service back this year,” said national Operation Red Nose executive director Anne-Marie Audet in a press release. “We have put a lot of thought into our decision, and it was a very hard one to make. We were hoping, up to the very last minute, to be able to announce that we would be back on the road this year. The safety of our volunteers and clients is our priority, so the hard choice to push our safe ride campaign to 2022 is ultimately the most reasonable one given the current health situation.”
Operation Red Nose Manitoba announced on social media that it would follow the national organization’s lead.
Safety Services Manitoba, one of the major sponsors of the program in this province, said it supports the decision to cancel.
“Given the current public health situation, we understand and support Operation Red Nose in this important decision,” said Safety Services Manitoba executive director Ron Janzen. “In all circumstances, Operation Red Nose and Safety Services Manitoba invite you to plan for a safe way to get home by calling a friend, a relative, a cab, or designating a sober driver.”
Operation Red Nose has been operating in Manitoba for 25 years and 2019 was the 21st consecutive year of the designated driver program being offered in Thompson.
Thompson volunteers gave 355 rides and received more than $8,000 in donations in late November and December 2019, the fourth-highest totals in the province in each of those categories. They also had the fifth-most volunteers, with 195.