In addition to being your City Councillor for Kanata North, I have the honour to serve as the Chair of the Community Protective Services. This gives me a unique front row seat to the amazing work that our city is doing to support our most vulnerable in our community. This is tremendously important work that we should be proud of that our city is doing. These are difficult times and we must try our best to ensure that no one is left behind and that everyone is supported.
For these reasons, the city has created The Human Needs Task, an agile group of talented city staff experts and stakeholders that are working together to support our community’s most vulnerable. This group includes partners from all sectors, including United Way, Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres of Ottawa, Ottawa Community Housing, Ottawa Food Bank, The Good Companions, Canadian Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Ottawa Public Health, to name just a few.
Here’s a small overview of the services that are available to those in need:
Food Security: From a city perspective, the Human Needs Task has several community partners that include the Ottawa Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Monfort Renaissance, and the Champlain Community Support Network of more than 20 local non-profit agencies that are working together to deliver food hampers and groceries to seniors and other at-risk residents. Of course, in Kanata North we are lucky to be served by a group of amazing volunteers who do this work for the Kanata Food Cupboard. Additionally, the city is constantly assessing the food needs of the community and the sustainably of the food security system. As the demand grows, this work takes a bigger importance.
Outreach to Isolated and Vulnerable Residents: The task force is working closely with the Community Health and Resources Centre Coalition, which includes the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre in our community. They are carrying out wellness checks for vulnerable residents. This is done to ensure that their needs for mental health, food, and other basic needs are met. The task force is also working with the Champlain Community Support Network to join regional COVID-19 responses. This regional response will have a portal that will serve as a hub for information for isolated seniors, people with disabilities, and others who are struggling throughout this crisis. The city is also doing important work with United Way to coordinate funding to non-profit organizations where it is most needed. Additionally, the city and United Way are jointly funding Volunteer Ottawa as a one-stop shop for volunteer recruitment, training, and volunteer placement across the city. Here in Kanata North we have our own volunteer program, coordinated by myself and my team, which has over 160 volunteers. You can sign up here.
Urgent Transportation: The task force is working with the Champlain Community Support Network agencies to provide urgent transportation to medical appointments, grocery, and food pick up. This is being done to help people who have financial constraints and mobility issues.
Housing and Homelessness: One of the most critical areas in the COVID-19 pandemic response is ensuring that the 1,200 individuals in the shelter system and the homeless are protected as much as possible from COVID-19. To assist with this, the Routhier Community Centre has been opened as an isolation centre. This is for homeless who need to self-isolate. The centre has on-site services provided by Ottawa Inner City Health, and Ottawa Public Health. The Federal Government has provided additional funding to support this work, which has allowed the city to allocate $1.65 million to 50 agencies to cover expenses related to COVID-19. In addition to the community centre, the University of Ottawa has stepped up and provided 29 units for families that need shelter to self-isolate. Additional work is being done to increase the capacity that is available to the city.
This is just a small sample of the tremendous work that the Human Needs Task force is doing throughout our city. I know there’s also excellent work being done by local agencies across our community, which has quickly adapted to follow Ottawa Public Health guidance for COVID-19. For example, the West Ottawa community Resource Centre is doing virtual counseling services, online groups for youth, and virtual caregiver support. You can find a complete list of the services offered here. You can also see helpful services for Survivors of Violence During the COVID-19 Pandemic, and a helpful guide on benefits.
I know there’s a lot of anxiety in our city and community over how best to cope with the circumstances brought on by COVID-19. However, I’m proud of our city’s work on the Human Needs Task Force and I am proud of the countless community partners that have stepped up to provide support for those in our community. Thank you!