Be proud of yourself, Ottawa, for your compassion during COVID-19

Source: Ottawa Citizen

How we treat the most vulnerable during times like these is a testament to the kind of city we are. And, hands-down, the response of our city staff, community partners and residents since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic makes me very proud. You are caring and compassionate, Ottawa.

As chair of our Community and Protective Services Committee, I have the privilege to work closely with and see the incredible amount of work being done behind the scenes by many key departments in the city’s operations, as well as the tireless work of many community agencies working to meet the needs of our residents. The Emergency Response Command Centre and the unwavering commitment of our first responders continues to exemplify all that is good in our community. The City of Ottawa has carried out a science based approach in responding to this unprecedented pandemic. Ottawa Public Health, led by Dr. Vera Etches and her amazing team, has been relentless in helping our community. It has truly been a one-city, one-team approach and everyone continues to do all they can to help our residents.

The city’s Community and Social Services Department is ensuring our most vulnerable residents are well-supported during this pandemic. I am extremely proud of the work these teams are doing – receiving, assessing and triaging all social and human needs inquiries, while mobilizing and supporting community organizations to address urgent community needs. As the lead for the Human Needs Task Force, the Community and Social Services Department is bringing together city staff and community partners to respond to this pandemic. This includes outreach to isolated seniors, ensuring food security, transportation, volunteer coordination, and addressing housing and homeless needs.

It is our duty as a city to ensure that vulnerable people, including people who experience homelessness and rely on emergency shelters, have access to the necessary support during this pandemic. Recently, the city opened a temporary isolation centre for individuals who must self-isolate in order to limit the spread of the virus in the shelter system. Similarly, work is underway to establish a service for vulnerable families who need to self-isolate. There is still more work to be done; however, the compassion and execution of the efforts underway give me full confidence that we will continue to ensure no one is left behind.

While many of us are practising physical distancing, others are asked to continue to go to work because their jobs are essential to keeping our communities functioning during this outbreak, and I would like to extend a big thank you to all health care and other essential workers who are putting their own health and lives at risk to protect others.

No doubt, it is a challenging situation for all. Everyone’s struggle may be different, but it is real, whether you deal with loss of income, loneliness, are overwhelmed working from home while trying to homeschool your children, or feel scared during these unprecedented times. It is OK not to be OK. While practising physical distancing, please continue to reach out and support each other. Check in on family, friends and neighbours, and support our city’s small businesses if you can.

Thank you, Ottawa, for being caring and compassionate. Together, we are strong. Together, we will get through this.

Jenna Sudds
Chair, Community and Protective Services Committee
City Councillor, Kanata North