September 22, 2020
The Human Needs Task Force (HNTF) continues to assess local needs during the COVID-19 emergency and enhance the City’s response, in collaboration with community partners, to support the most at-risk people in Ottawa. The Task Force and the Community and Social Services Department are working with community agencies on service resumption and with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) on supports that are essential to community agencies.
The purpose of this memo is to share how the HNTF and the Community and Social Services Department (CSSD) have supported the community over the last two weeks, and to update on some of the services that have resumed.
The HNTF and CSSD continue to work with OPH in planning for a resurgence of COVID-19 cases within the community and are assessing current capacity and future needs. As the colder weather approaches, the City and its community partners will work to enhance capacity for supports, shelter and housing. Ongoing initiatives are detailed below and further plans for a medium to long term approach are being developed.
Outreach and Social Services
Neighbourhood Ambassador Program
The Boys and Girls Club has been contracted to work with the City to conduct a youth outreach pilot in priority communities focusing on identifying needs in the areas of mental well-being, youth leadership and employment – which is the Neighbourhood Ambassador Program (NAP). The NAP team is engaging youth in common neighbourhood spaces, such as parks, basketball courts, and community centres.
- The NAP just finished its third week of operation
- Three teams of 11 Boys and Girls Club staff, ages 18-26 years make up the NAP teams
- Three neighbourhoods have been selected for the pilot: Vanier, Overbrook and Herongate.
- A fourth neighbourhood has recently been added as part of the outreach areas – Bayshore. • OPH is providing training and information to the NAP teams on safe COVID practices – actively promoting and educating youth and young adults on being COVID-wise.
- NAP teams have been able to engage with 1,037 people in the following age categories since the beginning of the program up until September 17, 2020:
- o 4-5 years: 187
- o 6-12 years: 348
- o 13-15 years: 283
- o 14-18 years: 133
- o 19-25 years: 40
- o 26 + years: 46
- NAteams will be distributing masks, water bottles and small hand sanitizers to youth in the coming weeks.
- An evaluation is being created to measure the effectiveness of the NAP in supporting youth mental well-being and educating and promoting
Cloth Mask Distribution
Total of cloth masks distributed since August 25: 3,750
- Provided children’s masks to youth programs in priority neighbourhoods (Alexander, Overbrook, Carlington, Foster Farm, Michele Heights)
- Provided 800 cloth masks to Ottawa Public Library to distribute through their branches and Bookmobile in priority neighbourhoods (Alta Vista, Greenboro, Elmvale Acres, Main, North Gloucester)
• Tech Insights continues to provide hand sanitizer to the community, most recently 1000 454ml bottles that will be distributed to all the CHRCs in the City.
Homelessness and Sheltering
Housing Services, Ottawa Inner City Health, local hospitals, shelter providers, housing support services and Ottawa Public Health are working together to ensure suspected COVID-19 cases within the shelter system are quickly assessed, isolated and supported. The City has opened various physical distancing/isolation spaces since the beginning of this pandemic.
|Physical Distancing / Isolation Space||Total People on Site*||Site Capacity|
|Routhier Singles Isolation Centre||5||40|
|Dempsey Singles (Men) Physical Distancing Centre||35||55|
|Singles (Women) Physical Distancing Hotel||18 women 2 couples 22 total||50|
|University of Ottawa Family Isolation Centre Hotel with Capacity to Accommodate Isolation||0 families 1 family||12 families|
|Youth Isolation Centre||0||8|
New Federal Rapid Housing Initiative
On Tuesday, September 21, 2020, the Federal Government announced a new $1 billion initiative to cover costs in terms of acquiring and converting existing buildings to create affordable housing, as well as the acquisition of land and construction of modular housing. The initiative is a response to emerging pressures from COVID-19 and it is expected that all funds will be committed by March 31, 2021. The Government of Canada also announced an additional $236.7 million under Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy to help extend and expand the emergency response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Of the $157.5 million announced under this program in April 2020, the City of Ottawa has received $5.7 million. The City does not yet have any information on how these two streams of funding will be allocated.
The City continues to work across departments and with community partners to address the diverse needs of the increasing number of people sleeping rough, including in encampments, with a focus on the cleanliness and safety of surrounding neighbourhoods, and exploring opportunities for designated, safe spaces for people to receive services. An interdepartmental taskforce has been established and developed a short term action plan which includes continuing enhanced outreach services, increasing the identification, monitoring and patrols of encampment, implementing a ByWard Market Cleanliness Strategy, exploring options for a designated indoor/outdoor space for people to congregate, and engaging the downtown business improvement areas (BIAs) and hotel association.
Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit
The Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) is a housing allowance which households can apply to a private market rental unit. Indigenous women, women who are victims of domestic violence or human trafficking, single women and lone female-led households residing within the emergency shelters have first priority for the COHB. This benefit has allowed these families to secure affordable rental units in locations that meet their housing, support and children’s schooling needs. The program has recently been expanded to also include the same demographic who have been waiting the longest on the Centralized Wait List for Rent-Geared-to-Income Housing. These women have been waiting 7 years or more for affordable housing.
- Total number of letters of invitation (to apply) sent to eligible recipients: 855
- Total number of allowances approved by the Ministry of Finance or at final approval stage: 74
The Alliance to End Homelessness-Ottawa (ATEHO), the City of Ottawa and community partners have partnered on a “Housing Blitz”, launched in early August, to identify available, affordable rental units in the private market, and match them to people experiencing homelessness who are eligible for various housing subsidy programs.
- 43 units have been identified to date – 17 units have been identified for matching with eligible housing subsidy recipients, with the remaining units considered unsuitable due to their level of affordability.
- The ATEHO and the City have received an enquiry from another municipality about the program because they are interested in implementing a similar initiative.
McNabb Temporary Respite Site
McNabb Arena was opened as a temporary respite centre to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic while services, including day programs, were closed or operating at partial capacity. The site will be closed as of October 2, 2020 and the City has been working closely with day programs, community health centres and clients to ensure a smooth transition.
To support the transition, and address any anticipated service gaps, the City has provided funding to expand hours and/or add new services at The Well, Centre 454, Centre 507, and Somerset West Community Health Centre. The City has also worked with Day Programs that have showers to facilitate reopening this service with guidance from Public Health. St Joe’s Women’s Centre, The Well, Centre 454 and Centre Espoir Sophie will all have their showers available for clients this month.
The City and partners continue to explore more permanent, sustainable options to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness or precariously housed in the Somerset-Centretown area.
Provincial Social Services Relief Fund- Phase 2
The City previously received $13.25 million in provincial funding through the Social Services Relief Fund. In August, the City was advised that it would be eligible for a second round of funding totaling $17.87 million, subject to the submission and approval of a business case outlining proposed uses for these funds. The City submitted its business case on September 11, 2020 identifying a combination of operating and capital initiatives. These initiatives include sustaining and increasing support to homelessness, housing and social service agencies, developing options for physical distancing centres to support the single men and women’s shelter systems over the medium to long term, and exploring options for permanent housing which could be made available before the end of 2021. Approval and/or feedback is anticipated in mid to late October.
Vulnerable / Priority Populations Allocation
This application opened on August 27, 2020 with a deadline of September 10, 2020. The City of Ottawa received 79 applications for a total requested amount of $3.6M.
Applications are currently being reviewed by an allocation committee with applicants being advised of the results on September 28, 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on many Black and Indigenous communities as described in the recent Ottawa Public Health report “Reconciliation, Indigenous Health and COVID-19” and the City of Ottawa’s “An Equity and Inclusion Lens for COVID-19 Recovery.” This disproportionate impact amplifies long-standing social and health inequities these communities face in everyday society, making it more difficult to respond to the needs of Black and Indigenous communities during the pandemic and recovery from it.
Due to the longstanding systemic issues faced by Black and Indigenous communities and the need to provide an equitable response and recovery, priority for this Category B of the Social Service Relief Fund’s Round Two, with an intersectional gender lens, will be given to:
COVID-related safety practices.
- Organizations serving Indigenous communities and residents
- Organizations serving Black, racialized, ethnocultural or immigrant/newcomer communities and residents
Other priority populations include:
- Women, including those fleeing violence
- Low income households
- 2SGLBTQ+ households
- Older Adults
- People living with disabilities
- Rural residents
Child Care and EarlyON Child and Family Centres
New Public Reporting Tool for Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Licensed Child Care
On September 11, the Province of Ontario launched a new online public reporting tool for confirmed cases of COVID-19 in licensed child care settings and schools to support transparency for parents, families and communities. A daily summary of COVID-19 activity provides updates on confirmed cases of COVID-19 as well as information regarding center closures.
Sector Information Sessions
Children’s Services will be hosting two information sessions (one in French and one in English) in collaboration with Ottawa Public Health on September 22, 2020. The invitation to these sessions has been shared with all licensed home and centre-based child care services providers in Ottawa to help support the safe re-opening of child care in our community.
- Three City homes are currently on outbreak due to positive staff test results. Peter D. Clark and Centre d’accueil Champlain were placed on outbreak on September 11. Garry J. Armstrong was placed on outbreak on September 14.
- There is one actively positive resident case at the Garry J. Armstrong home.
- LTC staff continue to follow OPH recommendations to ensure staff and residents are protected.
|Carleton Lodge||Centre d’accueil Champlain||Garry J. Armstrong||Peter D. Clark|
|Actively positive staff cases||0||3||1||1|
|Actively positive resident cases||0||0||1||0|
TOTALS – ALL HOMES
|Item||Total Tests*||Total Positive||Actively Positive||Resolved||Deceased||Negative||Pending|
- The Ministry of Long-Term Care’s updated policy on visiting in long-term care homes took effect on September 9. The new policy allows designated caregivers to access the homes without time limits or the requirement for scheduling visits. In addition, designated caregivers are able to come into homes that are on outbreak.
The Human Needs Task Force and the Community and Social Services Department will continue to report on updates and accomplishments to City Council as we move forward during this pandemic.
Community and Social Services