CanadaOne Auto set to expand dealerships, investment in mental health for youth

November 2, 2023

CanadaOne Auto is scheduled to announce the purchases of 12 dealerships in the next few weeks that would more than double its total in the last three years, while also launching a non-profit to donate $30 million towards mental health.

Pat Priestner, CEO of CanadaOne Auto, told Canadian auto dealer the company will be announcing the new purchases over the next few weeks. He expects by the first quarter of 2024 the company will have 42 dealerships. Three years ago it had 20.

“We’re very selective buyers, and we’ve just had an opportunity to see a lot of stores presented to us over the year,” said Pat. “We’ve probably looked at 30 and we’re going to close on maybe 10 to 12 of them.”

Priestner also talked about a five-year plan to donate $6 million each year towards mental health. The plan, which was launched in the last few weeks and will continue through to 2028, is part of a non-profit foundation he and his wife Diana founded. It’s called: Well-Being Canada. It was founded with assistance from leading experts in mental health, social emotional learning, education, and youth engagement.

“Each year we will be adding to that curriculum in the classroom,” said Diana. “We’re hoping to get spokespeople such as athletes, musicians, influencers, and others to speak to their own well-being journeys and experiences.”

The first phase of it is being directed toward students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to support their own well-being and mental health. It integrates the latest science and empirical research to give young people the tools they need to support their own well-being.

“The research shows getting to kids early (with help) can prevent some of the anxiety and depression later,” said Diana. The program will be put into a format where teachers can easily access it.

Diana is hoping the program will help students foster self-care habits and translate that knowledge into impactful action for a healthier generation. She also hopes the program will change the stigma associated with mental health. She said COVID-19 exacerbated the mental health crisis, which is why she and her husband are specifically addressing it.

“We started looking more at it, and obviously we know people in our lives and talk to people all the time that are experiencing this and know loved ones that are experiencing issues,” said Diana. “So we thought maybe we should focus on one area of our giving to really make a difference.”

The Priestners have been providing money annually to dealerships to distribute to charities or organizations of their choice, but that money through Well-Being Canada will contribute to non-profit organizations and initiatives that promote well-being in the communities of our dealerships,” said Pat.

Pat has had a specific interest in things related to well-being and mindfulness. He has written a book about well-being that will be published in January. It is called Notes For The Children, and was originally written for the couple’s children to talk about the life philosophies and lessons he’s learned.

He said the book was written before the idea for the mental health program was initiated.

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