Backlash from public and salons on Beard for Bucks

cjos ian boddy

Organizers likely did not see this coming - huge back lash from the community after Saturday's Beard for Bucks fundraising event in Owen Sound.  

The event, involving 9 local politicians from across the region was live streamed on the Facebook page of the Owen Sound Regional Hospital Foundation  with proceeds going to their special Covid 19 fund for PPE for health care workers.  

Since Saturday,  members of the public and several hair salons have been lambasting those involved because beard trims by stylists are currently not permitted under Phase 2.  

Many stylists took to social media to talk about how much money they're currently still losing by not being permitted to do any facial grooming including beard trims or waxing. 

The other issue was the gathering together at times without physical distancing or wearing of masks.

Some deference was shown to current health protocols at times.  

Politician were to take turns entering the building downtown to have their beards shaved but of course could not wear masks during the actual shave. 

And they tried to physical distance as much as possible for the group shots.  

The stylist was shown wearing a mask. 

92.3 The Dock was present as well and our staff member did wear a mask. 

Here is a statement issued by just one of the local salon owners - 

I am writing this letter while still feeling the sting of the slap in the face from our local politicians regarding the Beards for Bucks Fundraiser.

Although a wonderful fundraising idea for a great cause this was not the time.

As a spa/salon owner who is struggling to keep a business afloat in these times, I am outraged and disgusted that our leaders would participate in this fundraiser while still being restricted under phase 2 of reopening. Phase 2 of reopening allowed for personal service settings such as salons and spas to reopen for some services but it is clearly stated in the Grey Bruce Public Health Unit protocol along with the Ontario Public Health protocol that all services on the face are not permitted. This includes facials, facial hair removal, lash services and beard trims.

As a business that specializes in facial therapy and skin care, I am only operating at 20% of my service menu which is not sustainable. We are now approaching almost 5 months of mandated restrictions. That is 5 months of loss of income to our business. I have collaborated with fellow local colleagues, salon and spa owners that I highly respect and we have all lobbied to local political offices as well as the health unit to permit the reopening of our services in which we are highly trained in infection control practices, and yet the restrictions remain.

To see an event such as this with our Mayor, MPP, MP and city council members blatantly displaying a lack of physical distancing, numerous health violations including the absence of masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, screening protocol, and other infection control measures that are expected in our day to day operations, is a huge slap in the face to myself and fellow industry professionals who are still not permitted to operate our businesses even though we are confident we can do so with the utmost safety of our team, clients and community in mind.

What a poor display of leadership. Each and every participant has lost my respect and my vote in the future.

Mindy Biggar
The Spa West 9th Street
Owen Sound


Several participants have issued public apologies. 


Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy - 

Nine elected officials from all levels of government, including myself, supported our front line health care workers by raising over $8,000 for COVID19 related supplies. The Hospital Foundation is going to use these funds to purchase PPE for our emergency workers, and other supplies to support patients during these unprecedented times.

I take full responsibility for my participation in this event. I was honored to recognize the outstanding men and women of our health care community who have reduced the COVID19 caseload to one active case in our region. In retrospect, those involved in the event should have taken more precaution and done a better job in demonstrating our leadership, and for this I am truly sorry.


MP Alex Ruff 

This past weekend I participated in the Owen Sound Hospital Foundation “Beards for Bucks” fundraiser and I’m thankful to all the donors who contributed.

That being said, it was unfortunate during the actual shaving of the beards on July 11th that we, the participants, were not completely compliant with current provincial health protocols. Constituents expect better from their elected officials. I personally should have known better and I will do better going forward.


MPP Bill Walker - 

For the past 4 months, Ontarians have been making sacrifices and working hard to fight COVID-19. I am thankful for their continued efforts and the hard work that our frontline workers have been doing to limit the spread of this virus in Bruce and Grey counties and across the province.

This weekend I participated in the Beards for Bucks fundraiser. Despite being aware of measures in place to protect Ontarians, I received a professional shave as part of the event.

I apologize for any misunderstanding my participation has caused. I recognize the need to remain vigilant in adhering to all public health measures and will ensure that all future public events I attend are in full compliance with the measures in place.

Aakash P. Desai Deputy Mayor - Municipality of Grey Highlands

On Saturday July 11, 2020 I participated in a fundraising event called “Beards for Bucks” which was aimed at raising funds for the Owen Sound Regional Hospital Foundation. In particular the funds raised would go to the COVID-19 Critical Response Fund. As part of the event, my beard was shaved off by a stylist. When I had agreed to participate in the event, I was told that I would be shaving my own beard. I didn't realize the plans had changed until it was too late. Nevertheless, I should have spoken up when I realized. I unreservedly apologize for my inaction & I vow to do better in the future. As someone from a small business background myself, I understand the frustrations that many of them have shared. I should have considered how the optics of the event and my participation in it the would be perceived and I regret not having done so. I also want to thank those who have reached out to me with criticisms as well as those who have sent messages of support. I am taking this as a learning opportunity and ensuring that I will do better in the future.


Local resident Peter Reid -

Covid-19 has been a struggle for business and charities over the last few months. Between the closures and restrictions on reopening, and the reduced spending and giving, everyone is challenged.

For myself on the business side, two out of three of my commercial tenants are still closed under “Phase 2” rules.  Their businesses are generating zero revenue, yet they are following the rules like responsible citizens. To help them survive and be able to reopen I’ve waived 100% of their rent.

I also sit on the board of a charity in Grey Bruce. With the onset of Covid-19 we were forced to cancel our two major fundraisers. We did the right thing and followed the rules. It makes keeping the charity functioning a struggle and I know we aren’t the only ones facing these challenges. 

I can’t fathom how the elected members of 4 levels of government, and a licensed hairstylist, did not know it was against the rules to provide beard trims or shaves at the current time.

We often hear how closely Dr. Arra is working with local politicians. Perhaps it’s more a case of them thinking they are above the rules. Perhaps all the charities should just invite these guys to their events and the rules won't apply?

To be completely clear I believe this was a great idea for a fundraiser. What I find offensive is the total disregard of the regulations that everyone else must follow.

Perhaps we just need people who lead by example.


And from the Grey Bruce Health Unit who says they were not made aware of the event - 

Public Health was not made aware of the beard shaving fundraiser event.

From what we understand from published media articles, we see two separate matters related to this event.

The first matter is a successful fundraising initiative lead by local political leaders in support of the hospital foundation in its response to the COVID-19 emergency. We encourage all efforts that can support the same cause.

The second matter is a professional operator of a licensed Personal Service Setting who, according to the media articles, did not follow the provincial regulations. The Grey Bruce Heath Unit has communicated to all Personal Service Settings and their operators the COVID-19 guidance document that highlights restrictions including services involving the face. Although we have not received a formal complaint about the operator in this incident, our team has already initiated the appropriate follow up according to our protocols.

We acknowledge the hardship that the Personal Service Settings professionals have been operating under in order to meet the requirement of the provincial regulations to keep the community safe.

We encourage all operators to proactively consult with public health if they are planning to participate in fundraising activities, and we continue to work with them to increase the understanding of the provincial regulations.




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