Community and Protective Services Committee Update
This past Thursday I attended, the first Community and Protective Services Committee (CPSC) meeting of 2021, as a voting member. During this meeting we received and approved a report on Ottawa’s emergency shelters and transitional housing programs These supportive agencies will soon offer improved standards of operations and service delivery.
The new standards outline minimum guidelines for; governance, operations and service delivery, reflecting best and current practices and policies, including measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Equally important, they will ensure to set the expectation that service delivery is based on accepting and respecting the inherent dignity, diversity, experiences and abilities of all people, and mandate changes that will improve service for clients with disabilities, independent youth, children, LGBTQ2S clients and Indigenous clients.
The first Ottawa Emergency Shelter Standards (OESS) were developed and approved by Ottawa City Council in 2005. In 2018, the City of Ottawa undertook a process to update the 2005 Ottawa Emergency Shelter Standards to reflect the changing shelter environment.
Staff conducted a comprehensive literature review, an environmental scan of seven other municipalities in Canada. Over 2019 and 2020, Housing Services sought feedback from internal and external stakeholders on a draft OESS. The OESS will be reviewed and updated every five years, with the opportunity for feedback and input.
Through the review of shelter standards process, it was determined that a separate set of standards should be developed for transitional housing program providers and the Ottawa Transitional Housing Program Standards were developed separately.
The City considers shelter clients that receive more than short-term accommodations and basic needs to be residents in transitional housing programs. Residents of transitional housing participate in programming while also receiving accommodations.
Housing First is the cornerstone of the City’s efforts to reduce chronic, episodic and absolute homelessness. The City recognizes that transitional housing can play a role in the continuum of housing options for certain situations and for priority populations.
Transitional housing programs are provided in a variety of settings including dedicated buildings, or at a site where emergency shelter accommodations and drop-in support services are offered. They may be single or shared rooms and provide less private space than most permanent housing.
While the areas to be covered in the Compliance Reviews for Transitional Housing are similar to those of the OESS, they may vary according to the client group, program parameters and type of transitional housing.
In addition to the report a motion was approved to refer a two-year work plan for the 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan to a special joint meeting of the Finance and Economic Development Committee and the CPSC on Tuesday, March 2 at 9 am.
I encourage residents that have input and recommendations on these items to please share them with the committee coordinator CaroleA.Legault@ottawa.ca. Residents are welcome to submit written comments or ask to speak as a delegate at committee where they have five minutes to present.
Councillor Catherine McKenney brought forward a motion regarding integration of the Butterfly model of care into our City’s four Long Term Care (LTC) facilities. The Butterfly model is a type of care that creates a more home-like atmosphere in LTC rather than treating residents as inmates in an institution. It focuses on delivering emotion-focused care that connects with people in a dignified, human way. It addresses the holistic needs of the individuals and supports quality of life for each person living with a dementia across the whole of their lived experience.
Although the City is considering moving in that direction it is also waiting to hear from the province of Ontario on recommendations for LTC facilities from the Commission that was set up in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Changes will be needed to ensure all LTC facilities across the province are truly caring for those in need of fulltime care. Private, for-profit LTC had the worst outcomes however we anticipate there will be recommendations coming forward for all LTC, including our four municipal facilities which rated far better in caring for residents during this pandemic.
I am disappointed on further delays in setting up quality programs for our most vulnerable individuals but the ball is now in the Province’s court to make significant recommendations and spend more money to ensure that those living in LTC are looked after with care and kindness.
Recommendations from last Thursday’s CPSC meeting will rise to Council on Wednesday, February 24, 2021.