01 Apr Addressing Community Needs – UPDATE
We received an update from Donna Gray, General Manager, Community and Social Services last night that lists an extensive summary of all the efforts underway by the Human Needs Task Force to help Ottawa residents through this current crisis. I have posted a few highlights below and encourage you to review the entire document when you have time.
Financial Supports to individuals and Families
All levels of government have taken direct and immediate action to support low-income households directly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. A significant number of income and wage support programs have been introduced by both the federal and provincial governments since Tuesday, March 17 to support those that have faced either a reduced or a total loss of employment earnings. The Provincial Ontario Works changes have been implemented immediately through our local Employment and Social Service offices. Most federal programs will be up and running by mid-April. All individuals requiring financial assistance should be directed to 3-1-1, and to push 4 for social assistance.
The Province has announced additional Social Services relief funding, which has three components:
- Enhanced emergency financial assistance funding for households who are not in receipt of Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), to assist with food, rent, utilities and other basic needs
- Expanded OW and ODSP discretionary benefits, with increased funding flexibility for existing OW and ODSP clients to address extraordinary expenditures as a result of COVID-19
- Expanded funding for Service Managers to support the delivery of social services to vulnerable populations under the provincial Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (details are anticipated this week)
- An expedited Employment Insurance (EI) program with an online application process and reduced benefit wait times
- A one-time increase to the May 2020 Child Care Benefit payment of $300 per child
- A one-time GST credit payment in May 2020 of up to $400 for a single and $600 for families
- New Federal Government Emergency Measures Benefit Program to provide household income support funding of up to $2,000 per month (up to 16 weeks), staring in mid-April
- New Federal Wage Support Program to provide employers a wage subsidy of up to 75 per cent of employee wages during the period of COVID-19 restricted activity, retroactive to Sunday, March 15
Additional information and links to these programs are available at canada.ca or by clicking the image to the top right.
Several community partners – including the Ottawa Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Montfort Renaissance and the Champlain Community Support Network of more than 20 local nonprofit agencies – are working to deliver food hampers, hot meals and groceries to seniors and other at-risk residents across Ottawa, including in rural areas. By working with community partners to reach out to rural communities, we are ensuring all residents have access to food. Anyone who needs food can contact any of these agencies through 2-1-1 or directly as identified previously in the Human Needs Task Force fact sheet.
The City is assessing the food needs of the community and the sustainability of the food security system in anticipation of additional funding and food hampers from the provincial government and from Feed Ontario in the coming month.
Outreach to Isolated and Vulnerable Residents
The City is working closely with the Community Health and Resource Centre Coalition, Ottawa Public Health and the Red Cross to plan for door-to-door wellness checks, starting shortly in West Carleton. In the meantime, the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre, the Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre and the Nepean Osgoode Community Resource Centre continue to reach out to rural residents to ensure to meet their needs for mental health supports, food and other basic needs.
Seniors and at-risk residents are receiving wellness-check phone calls. That includes the 1,451 residents on Ottawa Community Housing’s (OCH) emergency contact list, 80 per cent of whom are seniors. In addition, OCH’s on-site partners are calling residents to check on them. For instance, Options Bytown are calling 80 tenants per day across their sites, with Salus and Aging in Place doing the same.
Over the longer term, the Task Force is identifying solutions to support residents facing the greatest barriers – those with no phone, no computer, no internet, and limited peer supports and rural geographic and connectivity barriers.
The City is working with the Champlain Community Support Network to join their new regional COVID-19 response site/portal as a one-stop information portal for isolated seniors, people with disabilities and others who are struggling through this crisis.
The site will be available in both English and French and will support access to:
- Grocery and pharmacy delivery
- Transportation to essential medical appointments
- Telephone safety checks
- Meals on Wheels
The site will have direct links to important Ottawa Public Health and City of Ottawa information. Further information including links to this site will be forwarded to Council when it is operational next week.
The City of Ottawa, United Way and Community Foundation of Ottawa are aligning funding envelopes to coordinate funding to non-profit organizations, where it is needed most. The City will work closely with the United Way to support allocation of the recently announced federal funding to assist seniors through this crisis.
The City of Ottawa, United Way and Community Foundation of Ottawa are jointly funding Volunteer Ottawa as a one-stop shop for volunteer recruitment, training and placement. This new arrangement with Volunteer Ottawa allows a focused approach to addressing the priority need for volunteers in key agencies and across the community.
The Champlain Community Support Network agencies are providing urgent transportation to medical appointments and grocery and food pick up for those with financial constraints, transportation difficulties or health and mobility issues.
The full memo is available at the link below, the Highlight page and the Financial Assistance links.