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Continuing to lead the world when the world needs us most

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·25 min read
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TELUS CEO, Darren Entwistle, issues letter to its shareholders, customers and communities

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 07, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Open Letter from the CEO

May 7, 2021

Dear shareholders, customers and communities,

In the 12 months since my last letter, your Company has continued to direct our human and technological innovation toward providing the tools, resources, information and care necessary to keep our fellow citizens, customers and communities – globally – connected, productive, safe and healthy amidst the global pandemic. TELUS has successfully navigated the evolving health crisis and subsequent public health measures by remaining focused on the cornerstone of our leadership in social capitalism: leveraging our world-leading technology and human compassion to enable remarkable outcomes in the communities where we live, work and serve.

To date, TELUS, our team members and retirees, as well as our friends and family members, have committed $150 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts for the benefit of the many stakeholders we serve. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have offered more support to our communities than any other Canadian organisation and it is my privilege to share some of the highlights in this regard.

A response guided by experts inside and outside TELUS

Our response has been informed by the expertise of both our Emergency Management Operating Committee (EMOC) and our TELUS Medical Advisory Council. Notably, TELUS’ EMOC continues to drive best-in-class business continuity practices in respect of pandemic planning, return-to-work initiatives and vaccine rollout support, which we have shared with our business customers and partners in both the public and private sectors since March of 2020. Similarly, we continue to consult with our Medical Advisory Council to develop appropriate safety protocols, as well as to provide information and counsel as vaccination initiatives roll out across the country.

Supporting our customers throughout the evolving health emergency

Since the start of the pandemic, we have consistently leveraged our world-leading technology to enable up to 95 per cent of our team members, globally, to work from home, supporting our customers safely and productively. To help ensure their continued health and well-being, our domestic team members currently working from home will continue to do so until at least the end of September 2021, consistent with the timelines associated with national immunisation efforts offering protection to all Canadians who wish to be vaccinated. Similarly, we continue to leverage our work-from-home capabilities for the majority of our international team members whilst also accommodating limited teams working safely in our sites as required to meet the specific needs of our customers.

Serving our consumer customers safely and effectively

Across Canada, TELUS has been operating as an essential service throughout the pandemic, pivoting to accommodate various provincially mandated health restrictions, lockdowns and staged re-openings. We have remained steadfast in protecting our customers and team members in our retail stores, warehouses and administrative buildings as well as our technicians working in the field.

Notably, your Company has created a safe, touchless in-store service experience, inclusive of plexiglass at the cash, triaging at the entrance, social distancing throughout the store and the mandatory use of masks. Additionally, to best utilise our resources during lockdowns and reduced traffic in our stores, some team members were redeployed to support busier areas of our organisation. This proactive reassignment strategy resulted in full employment for our retail team throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

At the end of March 2021, TELUS launched a testing pilot programme with select customer-facing team members who are now being screened for COVID-19 twice a week. The programme, which offers an added layer of protection for team members and customers, is being piloted at our TELUS Health Care Centres with plans to expand to additional customer-facing teams in the coming months.

Revolutionising field installations to promote physical distancing

These enhanced in-store protocols have been complemented by our industry-first virtual installation and repair processes for the fulfillment of services at the homes of our customers.

Our TELUS touchless fulfillment process remained our primary means of interacting with customers for most of the past year, and as the country emerged from various lockdown measures, we offered clients the option to proceed with DIY, virtual installations or in-home professional support. These innovative field services were designed to protect both customer and team member safety.

Addressing the evolving needs of our customers through digitised services

During the pandemic, our advanced digital capabilities have enabled Canadians to do business with us when and how they wanted, from wherever they needed to be connected. Indeed, during the lockdowns, our enhanced digital platforms allowed us to put our customers first by absorbing much of the volume from our traditional channels and offsetting the impact of store closures.

Furthermore, with more people working, learning, socialising and transacting online, we introduced TELUS Online Security. Through this service, we are providing nationwide capabilities including device protection, virtual private networks, proactive identity and credit monitoring, as well as identity theft restoration and reimbursement coverage.

Enabling our business customers during difficult times

To ensure similar levels of safety for our business customers and the team members who support them, we offered the same virtual installation, service and repair support to our business customers, including pharmacies, long-term care homes, hospitals and clinics across Canada. In addition, we supported our business customers in their transition to a digital-first strategy, providing 90-day free trial offers and empowering more than 6,400 businesses with our virtual work solutions. To show our support, TELUS shared our pandemic planning framework with over 500,000 businesses, and also held panel discussions focused on sharing best practices to ensure customer and employee well-being as those businesses re-started their commercial activities.

To demonstrate our support and help improve the circumstances for small businesses during the lockdowns and periods of enhanced commercial restrictions, TELUS launched #StandWithOwners. This $500,000 commitment to support, promote and help business owners became the number one trending topic on Twitter.

Building on the momentum of our #StandWithOwners campaign, in October, we kicked off Small Business Month with a series of special offers for business owners, reminding Canadian businesses and consumer customers of our ongoing commitment to supporting the small business community.

Providing innovative solutions to keep people safe, informed and connected

Connecting communities with Optik TV

We leveraged the power of our Optik platform to bring communities together and amplify the reach of important local content. Appreciating the central role that faith-based services and community programming play in the lives of many citizens during this time of physical distancing, our team pre-emptively implemented Optik TV enhancements and collaborated with community institutions to enable religious ceremonies to be broadcast virtually. Additionally, to help seniors stay connected, we deployed a “local camera” capability, which allowed live video-feeds from on-site chapels to be delivered through Optik TV to long-term care facilities.

In addition, we offered live feeds of learning content from our science centre partnerships and worked with community partners, including performing and visual arts organisations, to help these companies reach their audiences, virtually.

Leveraging Optik to promote mental and physical wellness

We further supported the well-being of our customers and their families by connecting them to content that promotes mental and physical wellness. Supplementing our TELUS Healthy Living Network, we offered customers access to apps like Calm and virtual yoga classes through Yyoga, helping even more people stay mentally well and healthy, virtually.

Promoting online safety with our TELUS Original “Dark Cloud”

As citizens, including our youth, increased their online activity, TELUS further promoted the importance of mental health and highlighted the risks of online bullying. Notably, our team launched a new TELUS Original, “Dark Cloud: The High Cost of Cyberbullying”, which explores the causes of cyberbullying and offers strategies for prevention. This content supports TELUS’ ongoing efforts to combat the nefarious practice of bullying by way of our TELUS Wise programme, through which we amplified access to online digital safety resources in 2020, including introducing new online workshops for adults. By the close of the year, we had reached more than 90,000 Canadians through TELUS Wise online or virtual workshops.

Staying entertained during the lockdown

As fewer new television programmes were being released due to reduced production schedules, TELUS launched “TELUS Presents”, comprised of curated, difficult-to-find content from around the world. In addition, our TELUS Talks podcasts with veteran journalist Tamara Taggart continued to share insightful and timely narratives that resonated with our audience as we navigated the pandemic together.

To share TELUS’ vision for the future of technology and how we are delivering value, driving innovation and making the future friendly for citizens around the world, our team launched “Future Builders”. Created in collaboration with Elevate, a leading-edge organisation that shares TELUS’ desire to answer society’s greatest challenges, this podcast/video series features discussions with TELUS experts who provide insight into key areas of TELUS’ innovation (such as agriculture, artificial intelligence, 5G and more), reinforcing our team’s passion for leveraging our world-leading technology to drive positive social change.

Driving better outcomes with Data for Good

As part of TELUS’ commitment to helping reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19, we have been leveraging the vital data available to us to support public health and safety efforts, whilst remaining acutely aware of privacy considerations, through Data for Good. This programme provides an advanced approach to de-identified data analytics to help all levels of government and public agencies in making more strategic and informed decisions based on real-world information. Importantly, Data for Good makes it possible for health authorities and academic researchers to use strongly de-identified data from TELUS Insights to measure progress and assess additional opportunities to help stop the spread of COVID-19 without compromising the personal privacy of Canadians.

Connecting Canadians through our world-leading networks

Our fast, reliable and world-leading broadband networks have ensured that Canadians within our wireless or wireline footprint have access to the tools and resources needed to stay connected. This includes providing hospitals and healthcare facilities with connectivity to support them in performing their critical – and life-saving – work.

Why connectivity matters

Our team understands that having access to fast, reliable and ubiquitous connectivity – in urban and rural regions alike – matters as it drives innovation that enables the diversity and competitiveness of our country’s private sector, supporting economic growth and job creation for our nation. It matters because it helps us answer society’s most pressing social challenges in health, education and the environment, whilst improving economic equality in our digital world.

Accelerating the expansion of our 5G and PureFibre networks

The health emergency has reinforced the need for fast, reliable connectivity, particularly in rural regions, where improved network access is all the more vital. Notably, by year-end, we will have connected more than 279 communities to our leading TELUS PureFibre network and expanded our wireless network to reach 99 per cent of the population, with 70 per cent covered by 5G. This includes providing vital connectivity for 60 Indigenous communities across B.C., Alberta and Quebec.

Our commitment to connecting remote communities was exemplified through the expansion of our world-leading LTE Advanced networks to nearly 5,000 citizens across 14 communities on Quebec’s Lower North Shore, located 2,000 kilometres east of Montreal. For the first time ever, these 2,000 households, businesses, schools and healthcare centres have access to high-speed internet, mobile phone service and virtual care.

To continue to serve our customers effectively, including those in rural regions, we will invest $54 billion through 2024 to accelerate our network builds and technology deployment to further improve data speeds and network performance for citizens and businesses. These investments exemplify the nexus of our time-tested growth strategy and our social capitalism thesis to leverage our world-leading technology to enable critical connections and opportunities for our customers and communities, regardless of where in Canada they call home.

Providing the network strength to keep Canada working – remotely

The strength, speed and consistency of our country’s networks have bolstered our nation’s productivity throughout the pandemic. The Global Remote Work Productivity Tracker, an independent report examining the impact of working from home, determined that Canadians recorded a 170 per cent increase in remote work following the onset of the global pandemic, contributing to an overall increase in productivity of 25 per cent. By comparison, Europe and the United States saw productivity declines of 8.2 per cent and 7.2 per cent, respectively, as a result of remote working.

Remaining steadfast in our commitment to delivering globally leading networks

The enhanced level of reliable connectivity we have provided for our customers is thanks to our award-winning wireless and wireline networks, enabled by our amazing engineers, technologists and network innovators. In February 2021, our world-leading wireless network was recognised by the independent UK-based Opensignal as Canada’s best network for the ninth time. Opensignal further acknowledged our next-generation 5G network in April with six awards for superiority in respect of speed and coverage. In addition, U.S.-based Ookla gave our network top honours for Best Network in Canada, naming us the Fastest Mobile Network for the seventh consecutive time and awarding us Best Mobile Coverage in Canada for the fourth consecutive time in its Speedtest Award.

This recognition from Opensignal and Ookla complements the countless accolades TELUS has received over the years. In 2020, TELUS was recognised by other independent, industry-leading experts, including U.S.-based J.D. Power, Victoria-based Tutela and U.S.-based PCMag, building on an outstanding record of achievement with respect to network excellence. Similarly, our PureFibre network received international recognition in 2020. By way of example, U.S.-based PCMag ranked our PureFibre network as Best for Gaming and recognised TELUS as the fastest internet service provider, nationally.

Exemplifying our leadership in social capitalism

Connecting for Good in a multitude of ways

We have continued to reach out to our most vulnerable communities to ensure access to vital connectivity and healthcare resources. Our Connecting for Good programmes have extended their reach throughout the pandemic, connecting even more traditionally underserved Canadians from coast-to-coast.

By way of example, we expanded our Mobility for Good programme to Saskatchewan, Quebec, Northern Canada, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and P.E.I., making this initiative truly national and available to 20,000 vulnerable, young Canadians transitioning out of foster care. Building on the success of this initiative, we launched the TELUS Mobility for Good programme for Seniors, providing eligible elderly, low-income Canadians with access to low-cost wireless connectivity, keeping them connected to loved ones, whilst reducing feelings of isolation, helping to manage their mental well-being, and providing access to important healthcare and government resources. Moreover, since the start of the pandemic, we have donated over 14,000 phones, tablets and plans – valued at $16 million – to hundreds of not-for-profit organisations supporting Canadians through the health emergency.

Similarly, we expanded our Internet for Good programme to include 200,000 people living with disabilities in B.C., Alberta and Quebec and introduced enhancements to expedite access to the programme for K-12 students in need across B.C. and Alberta. Since inception, 95,000 family members and people with disabilities have benefitted from low-cost high speed internet by way of the programme.

We continue to provide primary and mental health care to people experiencing homelessness and others in need through our Health for Good programme, and in January, we launched two new Health for Good mobile clinics in Vancouver and Toronto. This builds on the seven clinics we introduced in 2020, bringing our total to 13 clinics in operation, nationwide. Importantly, many of our provincial Health for Good partners are utilising the clinics to provide COVID-19 testing and assessments. In total, we have supported nearly 59,000 visits and completed almost 18,000 COVID assessments and tests.

Augmenting our support for diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) have always been central to our commitment to social capitalism and in 2020, your Company undertook a series of initiatives to ensure our organisation evolved toward an even more accurate representation of the customers and communities we serve. Notably, we welcomed our inaugural Chief D&I Officer, introduced a resource group to support our Black team members, and updated our board diversity policy. In this regard, after exceeding our initial target for gender diversity, TELUS is leading the way in board diversity by adopting and surpassing our revised board diversity targets for gender, visible minority and Indigenous representation this year.

Sharing our social capitalism thesis through the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good

Building on our team’s legacy of using our core business to amplify a greater social purpose that benefits all of our stakeholders, we launched the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good in 2020. At $100 million, it is one of the largest corporate social impact funds in the world. Providing early-stage financing to entrepreneurs, as well as new and established companies – in Canada and abroad – the Fund enables purpose-driven companies to scale and bring socially innovative, sustainable businesses to life.

By way of example, early in 2021, the Pollinator Fund for Good invested in Raven Indigenous Capital Partners’ Impact Investment Fund, the world’s first Indigenous impact fund. Through this investment, we will ensure greater opportunities for Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs, whilst helping to address some of the most pressing issues facing Indigenous communities across Canada.

Promoting food security thanks to TELUS Agriculture

The health emergency identified vulnerabilities in our food supply that can be mitigated through transformative, connected technology. In this regard, we also directed our human and technological innovation toward improving access to a nutritious food supply that is safe, sustainable, expansive and connected through the launch of TELUS Agriculture. This line of business will create a fully-connected agriculture value chain, enabling TELUS to improve outcomes for citizens by helping to safely and securely feed an increasingly hungry world.

Doing well and doing good through tax morality

A central tenet of our social capitalism thesis is a belief that in order to do well in business we must also do good by the stakeholders we serve. One of the many ways in which we are doing good in our communities is through tax morality. In this regard, your Company has paid more than $46 billion in total tax and spectrum remittances, since 2000, to our federal, provincial and municipal governments. These funds support the infrastructure and public health and public policy initiatives we all rely on as citizens – something which has taken on additional importance as we continue to weather the ongoing health crisis together.

Enabling the health and wellness of Canadians, virtually

Over the course of the pandemic, we have supported vulnerable Canadians unable or unwilling to leave their homes through innovative digital health solutions. By way of example, Babylon by TELUS Health virtual care was extended from B.C. to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario over the course of 2020. As a reflection of the diverse communities we serve, physician consults are offered in multiple languages.

For those physicians currently using a TELUS electronic medical record (EMR) product, the Virtual Visit functionality has enabled more than 588,000 virtual visits since it was launched last spring. Akira by TELUS Health, which enables employers to support the health of their employees, realised year-over-year growth of almost 300 per cent in 2020. More than two million Canadians and their families are covered by one of these solutions, including our recently acquired EQ Care. In late 2020, we implemented the Health Report Manager (HRM), a programme managed by OntarioMD that allows for communication directly between our Akira by TELUS Health platform and 12,000 family physicians in Ontario.

Wellness monitoring solutions for some of our most vulnerable citizens

TELUS is now the largest Canadian-owned Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) service provider. By way of example, in September, our LivingWell Companion service, which provides personal emergency support for elderly citizens living independently, was launched nationally and we now offer the service in French, Cantonese, Mandarin and Punjabi, in addition to English. Additionally, our TELUS Home Health Monitoring (HHM) solution provided virtual support to 11,800 patients across our footprint, a tenfold increase over 2019. Recently, our HHM programme was augmented with the TELUS LivingWell Companion fall detection devices as part of Vancouver Island Health Authority’s innovative new Hospital at Home deployment, where acute care patients are safely monitored in their homes as an extension of the acute care ward.

Helping first responders and frontline healthcare teams stay connected and well

The mental and emotional toll the prolonged fight against COVID-19 has taken on many first responders and healthcare workers is significant and the criticality of supporting their mental health needs cannot be overstated. In this regard, your Company launched our Espri by TELUS Health mental wellness app. The app continues to be adopted across the country by first responders, law enforcement and healthcare teams and the organisations that support them.

Assisting government partners in the vaccination rollout

Consistent with our commitment to social capitalism, we have extended our human and technological innovation to improve the health outcomes of our fellow citizens by reaching out proactively to provincial governments to offer our support as the national vaccine programme expands and accelerates.

To date, we have created a contact-free, electronic vaccination record solution through our EMRs for physicians and pharmacists in Quebec. We have pivoted our Health for Good Mobile Clinics to bring vaccine efforts to marginalised and homeless individuals, including being the first mobile vaccine clinic in Toronto to reach out to the traditionally underserved Parkdale community. In total, we have provided 500 vaccinations through our Health for Good mobile clinics.

In Alberta, we installed monitoring lines to ensure the deep freezers needed to store vaccines remained at consistent temperatures, whilst also working with health authorities to improve efficiencies at their call centres during the initial week of vaccine appointment bookings.

Importantly, we have built, staffed, connected and continue to monitor call centres for both the B.C. and Ontario health authorities. Notably, thanks to the amazing efforts of the nearly 1,800 TELUS team members volunteering in the call centres for all five health authorities across the province as part of the Immunise B.C. initiative, all British Columbians will be able to receive a vaccination by the end of June – two full months ahead of schedule. See how this meaningful initiative is positively impacting our volunteer team members.

In addition, as one of the inaugural members of the Industry for Vaccine (IFV) coalition, TELUS has been offering financial resources and the support of our team to help in the creation of community hubs to support the vaccine effort in Quebec. Through this innovative private-public partnership launched in late March, TELUS has been working collaboratively with other private sector organisations to support the creation of 30 vaccine centres in local communities around the province.

Our TELUS team is also leveraging the technology associated with our electronic medical records to support citizens through our electronic vaccination record (EVR) initiative. Our EVR is currently deployed across 27 mass-vaccination sites in Quebec, enabling a contact-free patient experience. To date, we have documented more than a quarter of a million vaccines in our system.

Giving back to our communities with our hearts and our hands

The pandemic has compelled your Company to redirect many of our traditional in-person community giving projects to virtual. As such, in 2020, the TELUS team completed 1.2 million acts of giving, virtually and safely, to help build stronger, healthier communities. This included sewing masks and other personal protection items for frontline workers, delivering food and supplies to local food banks and families in-need, donating blood, and conducting phone check-ins for isolated seniors.

Throughout 2020, our TELUS family volunteered 1.25 million hours and contributed $85 million, representing five per cent of pre-tax profits, to charitable and community organizations worldwide. This includes $8.9 million contributed by the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation (TFFF), of which $6.5 million was distributed through our TELUS Community Boards, and $2.4 million by way of TFFF rapid response grants. Last year alone, the TFFF helped over five million Canadians through the funding of grants that supported public health.

Protecting citizens and raising funds through our TELUS critter masks

In 2020, we introduced our popular reusable critter masks. Since launch, we have sold 80,000 masks, helping to keep our neighbours safe, whilst also raising $605,000 for the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation (TFFF).

Providing our community partners with innovative solutions and support

As the pandemic forced many of our community and not-for-profit partners to rethink their giving and support strategies, our team provided the innovative solutions needed for our partners to connect with their customers and constituents. By way of example, we offered our team’s expertise and support for the Operation Enfants Soleil Telethon, a local telethon in Quebec. In addition to volunteer efforts, the team implemented the cloud-based contact centre needed for the organisation to receive $17 million in donations. Moreover, the team helped build a similar cloud-based contact centre for the Miracle Weekend Telethon supporting the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Similarly, as typical summer activities were cancelled in order to keep children safe, our team worked with Microsoft, TELUS Spark in Calgary and TELUS World of Science Edmonton to introduce virtual science camps. These camps enabled children to leverage immersive technologies to participate in virtual activities spanning a broad range of topics in math, science and coding.

In addition, our team has responded expeditiously to support Indigenous communities, many of which have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. By way of example, our team collected and delivered masks, hand sanitizer and gloves from our local supply to various Indigenous communities to help keep them safe throughout the health emergency.

To support our team members in their desire to spread kindness and positivity, we introduced the Acts of Good programme for our technicians in B.C. and Alberta. Through this initiative, these team members were provided with a gift card to be used to demonstrate their support for their neighbours. Incredibly, more than 1,000 technicians were inspired to give back to their communities by purchasing and safely delivering much-needed food items to local food banks, purchasing flowers for isolated seniors or buying sanitisation supplies for Indigenous communities.

Earning recognition for the TELUS family’s commitment to social capitalism

As a result of the passionate dedication demonstrated by our team, your Company earned significant praise and recognition for our efforts both in supporting pandemic relief and for our ongoing commitment to creating stronger, healthier communities on a global basis. Notably, TELUS was the only telecom company, and only one of three Canadian organisations, to earn a place on the Wall Street Journal’s list of “100 Most Sustainably Managed Companies in the World.” Impressively, The Wall Street Journal named us the 15th company in the world in the category of social capitalism leadership. We were also very proud to have elevated our ranking into the 90th percentile for our industry on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. We are the only North American company on the DJSI World Index in our sector, and one of only eight companies globally in our industry.

We were also recognised for our commitment to sustainability, on a global basis, through our ranking on the Corporate Knights 2021 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations Index for the 9th time. Impressively, TELUS is the highest ranking telco in North America and the second highest, globally, on the Index. In addition, our organisation earned a place as one of Canada's Top 100 Greenest Employers for our global leadership and commitment to building a more sustainable future. Finally, TELUS maintained its #1 global position on the Didtheyhelp.com Heroes COVID Leaderboard for nine consecutive months.

Our team’s ongoing commitment to keeping our team members engaged, healthy, safe and feeling supported earned us national and international recognition, as well. Importantly, TELUS was acknowledged as Canada’s leading global workplace by Forbes World’s Best Employers 2020. TELUS, including TELUS International, was ranked first in Canada by Forbes and listed as 40th in the world, alongside 750 leading international brands. This important recognition is a testament to the expertise, passion and cohesiveness of our incredible team and the extraordinary, globally admired culture that exemplifies our shared values in service to our fellow citizens.

Looking ahead to a friendlier future

We are hopeful that the second half of 2021 will present a multitude of opportunities for our customers and fellow citizens to reconnect and re-engage in a truly meaningful way. Over the course of the past year, we have seen the incredible accomplishments that are possible when we come together to amplify the good we can do in helping our fellow citizens in need. This is why we evolved our brand promise to invite others to join us in progressing a stronger, healthier and more caring planet. Indeed, rather than declaring that the future is friendly, our refreshed brand promise – Let's make the future friendly – welcomes everyone to join us as we strive to make the world a better place.

There is hope on the horizon and our TELUS team is privileged to offer our support in helping to connect citizens to this friendlier future. Indeed, you can count on the 100,000 TELUS team members and retirees around the globe to provide unparalleled levels of connectivity, caring and service excellence for you and your loved ones in 2021 and well beyond.

On behalf of the TELUS team, thank you for your patronage, partnership and support.

Darren

May 7, 2021

Media Relations
Steve Beisswanger
(514) 865-2787
Steve.Beisswanger@telus.com