Ontario Takes Further Action to Protect Homeless Shelters during COVID-19
March 09, 2021
TORONTO — The Ontario government is providing $255 million to help municipalities and Indigenous program partners respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases in some emergency shelters and help keep vulnerable people safe. The new funding will protect homeless shelter staff and residents, and help prevent more people from becoming homeless. "Our government is once again taking immediate action to save lives by responding to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in some shelters across the province," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "This investment will provide our municipal service managers with the financial ability to take any means necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19 in shelter spaces." Municipal service managers and Indigenous program partners can use the social services relief funding to acquire motel and hotel spaces to support physical distancing of shelter residents, hire more shelter staff, purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies, and add to rent and utility banks to help prevent more people from becoming homeless. "At the onset of COVID-19, our government directed service managers to put outbreak management plans in place, complete Infection, Prevention and Control (IPAC) education by Public Health Ontario, and prepare for increases in COVID-19 cases in shelter spaces," said Minister Clark. "With new COVID-19 variants of concern now in Ontario, there is an increased risk of spread to vulnerable people. That is why in addition to new funding, we recently directed service managers to attest that outbreak management plans in all emergency shelter facilities have been updated in accordance with IPAC guidance, to report any gaps in IPAC requirements and planned next steps, and to be transparent about the use of new and existing Social Services Relief Fund spending." Under the Social Services Relief Fund, the province has provided $765 million to help service managers and Indigenous program partners support shelters, create longer-term housing solutions and help vulnerable Ontarians affected by COVID-19, including those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Quick Facts
Ontario's plan for distributing and administering COVID-19 vaccines is being rolled out in stages. It includes high priority groups, such as those who live and work in the shelter system.
Ontario’s service managers and Indigenous program administrators are responsible for providing shelter or housing and supports for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, and members of Indigenous communities who are in need.
Ontario launched the Social Services Relief Fund in March 2020 to help protect the health and safety of the province’s most vulnerable people during COVID-19.
As part of its Community Housing Renewal Strategy and response to COVID-19, Ontario is investing approximately $1.75 billion in 2020-2021 to help sustain, repair and grow community housing and help end homelessness. This includes the Social Services Relief Fund.
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