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 ultimately support the most at-risk people in our community. The purpose of this memo is to share how the HNTF and the Community and Social Services Department have been supporting the community over the last three weeks, and to recognize the efforts and collaboration of the community organizations on the HNTF.
Support for the Community
Outreach to isolated and vulnerable populations
- Red Cross Wellness Visits: The Human Needs Task Force has partnered with the Red Cross to conduct door-to-door wellness visits for all Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) residents who were not reached by check-in phone calls. Multi-language resource and support kits were created as a handout for residents during these wellness visits. The wellness visits began April 21 and ensure that all isolated residents are reached, regardless of their access to phones.
- Conducted over 1,400 total visits to date.
- More than 80 per cent of residents on the identified list have received a visit.
- Returned to units who were unreachable last week and reported a 50 per cent success rate.
- Connected more than 100 residents with identified support services to date.
- Several residents expressed needing additional supports and services. A triage team was created to provide follow up supports to these residents. The triage team have been contacting these individuals and have been assisting them in coordinating food delivery and support services, as well as connecting them with OPH Nurses to provide ongoing support.
- Next steps
- Planning with Ottawa Community Housing to determine next steps to broaden outreach.
- Working with school boards to determine how to outreach to those students whom they have not been able to reach.
- Expanding door to door outreach in priority neighbourhoods.
The HNTF has created a Food Security Subgroup to identify ongoing needs and gaps within Ottawa’s food network and develop a coordinated approach to address these needs. The Subgroup meets weekly and includes members from the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Food Bank, Champlain Community Support Network, Good Companions, and many other community support agencies that provide essential food services.
- The HNTF Food Security Survey received 39 responses out of approximately 50 sent out to partner organizations.
- High level findings indicate:
- 84 per cent of respondents provide free food
- Majority of food provided is in hamper format
- 86 per cent provide food to seniors
- 81 per cent provide free delivery
- Survey reflects and validates what members have shared: food security system is performing well under current circumstances, no one in need is being turned away.
- Food Security Subgroup members are connecting actively to fill gaps in emergency food provision, especially prepared food provision to the homeless and street entrenched populations.
- Engaged with Ottawa Public Health and community partners to expedite opening of community kitchen at Rideau Hub to support a community agency (Food for Thought Cafe) to utilize kitchen and increase food production to assist with feeding food insecure populations.
- The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) worked with key departmental stakeholders and a community partner (Just Food Ottawa) to establish guidelines, including physical distancing, for working in community gardens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- High level findings indicate:
- Team to develop a one-pager on food sources to the homeless, especially prepared food.
- Further explore gaps within the food security system in the following areas:
- Volunteer training
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Online/credit payments (a challenge for some seniors who typically make payments with cash)
- Accessibility when it comes to door deliveries (a barrier for people with mobility concerns) ▪ Connecting food banks to the Ottawa Food Bank for product shortages
Housing and Homeless Needs
There are approximately 860 individuals living in the community shelter system on any given night and an estimated 90 that continue to live rough on the streets. These individuals face greater risks of contracting COVID-19 and face higher rates of having poor outcomes. 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 will pursue acquisition opportunities, such as hotels/motels, modular constructions, etc., that may present themselves as a result of current economic factors and will create a business case for funding from all levels of government.
- On May 6, 7 and 8, 32 women moved from Shepherds of Good Hope (SGH) and Cornerstone to identified sheltering space to support physical distancing (22 moved from SGH, and 10 from Cornerstone).
- On May 4, Centre 454 opened. This Centre provides shower facilities to those in need. Hours of operation are from 9 am to 2 pm, Monday to Friday.
- On May 2, the Jim Durrell Arena opened to provide physical distancing space for homeless men. The centre offers temporary accommodation for up to 140 single men and will fill gradually as shelter providers identify candidates from within the shelter system. To-date, 23 clients have moved to the Jim Durrell Arena from three downtown shelters.
- On April 24, the McNabb day program site opened. It is staffed by Recreation and Cultural Facilities Services (RCFS) staff and community partners. It sees an average of 75 recurring visitors a week.
- On April 20, Vanier Community Service Centre at 290 Dupuis opened its washroom facilities. Hours of operation are from 8:30 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday.
- As of May 8, 12 portable toilets installed in downtown core.
Volunteer coordination and donations
- Gabriel’s Pizza donated a total of 3,500 meals to various partners so far, with another 1,500 meals planned for delivery by the end of May.
- Gabriel’s connected with Capital City Mission and will provide pizza for their Lunch to Go canteen on May 13.
- Telus donated 100 tablets, each with a one-year data plan.
- Connection made between Period Packs and Sawsan Al-Refaei, Women and Gender Equity Specialist with the City. o Period Packs provided to five agencies; Aboriginal Women’s Support Home, Oshki Kizis Shelter, Tewegan Aboriginal Youth Housing, Tungasuvvinigat Inuit and Carty House.
- Connected donor with Caldwell Family Services Centre for masks, as well as reached out to Conquering COVID-19 who will be able to fill their need for masks and gloves.
- Continue to work with Conquer COVID on a donation of PPE to community agencies.
- Received a generous donation of toiletries. Donation is for 2,000 sets of hotel size shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion and bar soap. Donations Management will coordinate delivery and distribution to respite centers and shelters.
- Secured hand sanitizer, socks and menstrual products for Somerset West CHC.
- Connected donor from the National Gallery of Canada to supply Centre 454 with required plexiglass for its re-opening, and with Centre Espoir Sophie and St. Joe’s Women Center to assist in their re-opening.
- Connected two individual donors who had offered PPE to a senior resident in an OCH building for distribution among the other senior residents.
Employment and Social Services
- As a result of the pandemic, 55 Employment and Social Services (ESS) staff are supporting the redeployment within CSSD for priority response areas such as the physical distancing centres.
- As of May 4, all four of ESS’s physical offices have shifted their service delivery model to the public to support physical distancing. Staff remain available for clients by phone, email and other service delivery options such as MyBenefits – more than 60 per cent of staff are now mobile.
- ESS received the expected increase in requests for financial assistance in early April but requests have since decreased to more normal levels expected for this period. This is due to the implementation of various federal income support programs.
Emergency Child Care Services
On April 29, the Province announced a second expansion of the list of essential workers eligible for emergency child care (ECC). Eligible parents/guardians can register for emergency child care on the City of Ottawa website.
- The ECC facilities are at full capacity, accommodating approximately 11 children at each location.
- There are currently 124 eligible children on the ECC waitlist who have an immediate need for care: 12 infants, 15 toddlers, 19 preschoolers, 33 kindergarten-age children, and 45 school-age children.
- To meet local needs, Andrew Fleck Children’s Services (AFCS) has now been approved by the Ministry of Education to provide centre-based and home-based emergency child care to children 0 to 12 years old including children with special needs.
- The City has re-established the Child Care and Early Years System Planning Advisory Group and held a first virtual meeting on April 30. The Advisory Group will meet on a bi-weekly basis to identify local needs and the measures required to further support parents, guardians, children and local child care and early years service providers during and following the COVID-19 closure.
- AFCS is in the process of placing children in home-based emergency child care. Centre-based care for up to 15 children, depending on ages, at Overbrook Child Care Centre is set to open on May 20 with the support of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board.
- Additional AFCS group sites were approved by the province and will be opened should there be demand.
- Children’s Services is advancing third quarter funding to assist with cash flow and viability concerns of local service providers.
- On May 9, the Province announced a child care funding sustainability plan to support service providers and ensure the sustainability of the sector. Additional information was provided by the Province on May 11 further detailing the flexibility that Service System Managers have to support service providers during the closure period. In addition to the broader Federal and Provincial supports available to service providers, this added flexibility will provide supports for fixed overhead costs, salary and wage.
- The City will continue to work in collaboration with our sector partners to facilitate implementation and identify measures required to further support parents, guardians, children and local service providers.
Update on Testing in Emergency Child Care Centres and Long-Term Care Homes
The Province requested that all staff working in child care centres currently open for essential workers be tested by May 15. On April 21, the Province requested that all staff and residents at Long-Term Care (LTC) Homes be tested. Children’s Services and LTC are working in collaboration with OPH to coordinate testing.
- At present, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the three licensed City of Ottawa Emergency Child Care (ECC) facilities.
- At present, the testing in all of the City’s four LTC homes has been completed. To date, there have been ten positive COVID-19 cases in staff, and nine positive cases in residents.
- ECC and LTC continue to work closely with OPH to coordinate testing and prevent further spread.
Support for Community Partners
Funding On April 9, the City received $6.6 million of a $13.3 million commitment from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing through the Social Services Relief Fund for 2020-2021. This funding is in addition to the $4.8 million previously received through the federal Reaching Home funding under Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, bringing the total immediate funding to $11.4 million. This funding is intended to support the needs of vulnerable people during this crisis including people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, people living in community or supportive housing, people with low incomes, social assistance recipients, or others who require social services.
- In addition to the $4.8 million received from the Reaching Home funding, $1.65 million was previously distributed to community partners.
- To support non-profit and charitable social service agencies experiencing immediate and ongoing needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, $3 million of the Social Service Relief Fund (SSRF) was allocated to community agencies. Please refer to the memo sent to Council on Friday, May 8 for more information.
The Human Needs Task Force (HNTF) community partners have played a key role in providing essential supports and services to residents in need during the COVID-19 emergency. Since the development of the HNTF in March, numerous initiatives have been implemented by community organizations to support the needs of Ottawa residents, including, but not limited to:
- The Ottawa Food Bank has increased fundraising efforts and food provision to local food banks to strengthen the food security network in Ottawa and meet the increasing demand for their services.
- Food security partners are working collaboratively to address all food need gaps. This includes delivery to isolated populations and the provision of specialty items like baby food, halal, and kosher meals.
- 211 continues to work with community partners to ensure they are providing up-to-date information to their callers on essential resources available in the community.
- Collaborative partnerships have been established between the City, The Red Cross, and Ottawa Community Housing to ensure that isolated residents received the support they require.
- All community partners are actively assessing the urgent and emerging needs as they arise and bringing forward innovative and creative ways of addressing the gaps.
- To date, the HNTF has received 716 inquiries/tasks from community organizations, with a 95 per cent completion rate. The top four categories of inquiries/tasks have been:
- Communication sharing from community organizations
- General information
- Food security