COVID-19 Update from the City of Ottawa

The City of Ottawa is now posting weekly roundups with information regarding the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also keep up with City updates daily on COVID-19 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  • The Jim Durrell Arena has been converted to a temporary shelter for people in the shelter system to help mitigate the spread of the virus within the shelter environment. The Complex will open on Saturday, May 2.


City to invest $11.4 million in COVID-19-related social services

Today, I was joined by Councillor Jenna Sudds, the Chair of the City’s Community and Protective Services Committee, to announce how the City will disburse $11.4 million in federal and provincial funding for homelessness initiatives and for community agencies that help at-risk residents respond to COVID-19.

The City received $6.6 million from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This represents about half of the $13.3 million the Province has committed to the City of Ottawa this year from the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative’s Social Services Relief Fund. The City also received $4.8 million in federal Reaching Home funding under the government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, bringing the total of immediate funding available to $11.4 million.

The City will use $8.4 million to strengthen its response to homelessness initiatives. Funds will be distributed immediately to support emergency shelters; isolation centres and hotel rooms for self-isolation; and physical distancing centres and hotels for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. It will also fund housing and homelessness outreach, basic needs and day programs.

The remaining $3 million will go to community agencies supporting at-risk residents in response to the pandemic.

This funding is in addition to $1.75 million the City already distributed to housing and homelessness partners for priority needs like food supplies and vouchers, added staffing and personal protective equipment.

How to apply
Funding will be available for non-profit organizations in two categories:
• Homelessness service providers and Residential Services Homes that serve individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness
• Agencies that provide essential services and supports to other at-risk residents and communities during the pandemic

Essential services are defined as food security, coordination of services to meet extraordinary needs, and direct support to isolated seniors, at-risk communities and equity-seeking communities – most notably, Indigenous people, low-income households, seniors, women (including those fleeing violence), youth, people living with disabilities, immigrants and newcomers, and rural residents.

Agencies can find application packages at Ottawa.ca.

The application process opens on Monday, April 20. The City will accept applications by email until end of day on Monday April 27, with the aim to disburse funding to our partners in early May. Partners will be notified about funding decisions by Thursday, May 7.

The City anticipates the next $3.3-million installment of the $13.3 million Social Service Relief Fund in July and will continue to assess the evolving needs of the community.


Announcement: Service and Workforce Adjustments due to COVID-19

Ottawa – In order to help flatten the curve and protect the public from the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Ottawa has closed public facilities and has suspended non-essential services, activities and programs.

Today, in consultation with Ottawa Public Health, the City of Ottawa is extending the closure of City facilities, services and large public gatherings until June 30, 2020, as part of a dedicated effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The City of Ottawa remains in a State of Emergency and the City’s Emergency Operations Centre will continue to respond and coordinate all activities associated with keeping Ottawa safe.
Due to the closure of City facilities and cancellation of programming, many part-time employees are without work. As a result, the City of Ottawa has worked in partnership with CUPE 503 to place approximately 4,000 part-time employees from the Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Department (RCFS) and approximately 280 part-time employees from the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) on an unpaid, job-protected legislated leave of absence, or declared emergency leave, under the Employment Standards Act. During the period that City facilities are closed, there is insufficient work for these employees and this negotiated agreement ensures that staff are not laid-off.
These are not permanent reductions and those impacted will retain their status as City of Ottawa employees. But by taking this step, the City is allowing part-time employees to apply for federal supports. This decision was necessary to ensure the financial well-being of our staff members.
The City of Ottawa will also defer the 2020 summer student employment program until May and will review the viability of the program on a regular basis as the situation evolves.
During this unprecedented time, the City of Ottawa will continue to provide municipal services that residents rely on. City staff are working on a plan to ensure the City’s finances remain stable, municipal services continue and that the full complement of City resources is deployed to support these efforts. Staff will provide an update on the coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the City Council meeting on April 8.
By following the direction of Ottawa Public Health and limiting COVID-19 exposure to essential and critical workers, we can all do our part to ensure that emergency services, garbage collection, water services, public transportation, roads services and support for our most vulnerable can continue.
Quotes

"We are constantly reviewing the situation, in consultation with the Medical Officer of Health, to determine what is best for the health of our residents. This is not easy for anyone. But to our affected employees, I want to say thank you for your hard work and dedicated service to our community and our residents. I can assure you that this is only a temporary measure, and we look forward to bringing you back to offer the programming that benefits tens of thousands of families across the city.”
Jim Watson, Mayor, City of Ottawa

“As we all respond to the impacts of COVID-19, the City of Ottawa is taking significant steps as an organization. While managing the day-to-day operations, staff are also looking at what a return to our new normal might look like. We anticipate that it may take many months to return the City to full service. I can assure you that we all look forward to the day when we can re-open our facilities, restore our impacted services, and bring our valued employees back to work.”
Steve Kanellakos, City Manager, City of Ottawa

For more information on City programs and services, visit ottawa.ca or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-9656). You can also connect with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


COVID-19 Update

With more cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Ottawa, including confirmation of community spread, we are urging that everyone either practice physical (social) distancing or self-isolate if applicable. Each of our efforts are needed as a community.

The actions you take will affect not only you, but your loved ones and the most vulnerable people in our community. By acting now, you may be saving lives – the life of a family member, a neighbour, a friend, or a coworker.

For individuals with respiratory symptoms (such as fever or cough):
• You must self-isolate for 14 days from when your symptoms started, or until 24 hours after symptoms have FULLY resolved, whichever is longer
• You must not leave your home if you have respiratory symptoms.
• If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, please visit your nearest emergency department.
• If you think you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, fill out the self-assessment tool at Ontario.ca/Coronavirus to help determine how to seek further care.
For individuals who are returning from travel, you must self-isolate for 14 days:
• The Federal Quarantine Act requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. Leaving your property to go for a walk is not permitted under the Quarantine Order, issued on March 25, 2020.
• Do not go to community settings, including the grocery store. If you need groceries or other essential items, have a family member, friend or neighbour do this for you and leave items at the door.
• If you have respiratory symptoms, follow guidance in the section above.

For ALL Ottawa residents (except those listed above):
• Practice physical (social) distancing – Avoid all non-essential trips in the community
• Household contacts (people you live with) do not need to distance from each other unless they are sick, or have travelled within the past 14 days
• Cancel ALL group gatherings.
• Connect via phone, video chat, or social media instead of in-person
• Talk to your employer about working from home (if possible).
• Avoid visiting elderly friends or relatives unless the visit is essential.
• Keep windows down for essential community trips via taxi or rideshares.
• You can go outside (for example - to take a walk or kick a ball with members of your household, who are already close contacts). While outside, avoid crowds and maintain a distance of two metres (six feet) from those around you. Make an effort to step-aside, or pass others quickly and courteously on sidewalks. Passing someone on the sidewalk is not considered close contact or a significant risk for exposure to COVID-19.

Human Needs Taskforce
Our community partners are working together through the City’s Human Needs Task Force for those requiring assistance. The task force is receiving, assessing and triaging all social and human needs inquiries, while mobilizing and supporting community organizations to address urgent community needs. The Human Needs Task Force aligns internal city resources, external partners, existing funding and new funding to community need.

Outreach to Isolated Seniors
The Good Companions’ Seniors Centre Without Walls has expanded its services with a focus on outreach to vulnerable and isolated seniors and other populations. Emotional and practical support is provided via telephone. In addition, they have trained 20 agencies (32 staff) to do similar outreach calls through various programs.
Rural Ottawa Support Services is working with Good Companions to provide similar telephone outreach and practical supports to isolated seniors through their A Friendly Voice program, which does wellness calls connecting seniors to local services and programs.
Ottawa Community Housing has facilitated wellness check phone calls to approximately 2,700 residents, focusing on people identified on the Fire Evacuation List.

Food Security
Ottawa Food Bank is supporting the emergency food centres and are coordinating with other task force members to sort and deliver food where needed. Demand has increased by 30 per cent across community food banks. They are working with the Salvation Army to support distribution of food hampers offered by local restauranteurs. The City is providing facility space for safe storage of food hampers.
Meals on Wheels has been increasing offers of frozen food for seniors in the Ottawa area and connecting with Ottawa Food Bank to provide hamper supplies and deliveries. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, they are delivering 100 fresh and 700 frozen meals daily. These services have ensured a supply of full dinners for those individuals in need.

Urgent Transportation
Working with other non-profit organizations, the Good Companions and Champlain Community Support Network are coordinating urgent transportation to medical appointments, assessment centres, and food centres/grocery stores for those with financial constraints, transportation difficulties, and/or health and mobility issues.
Services can be accessed by contacting Good Companions website or by telephone at 613-236-0428.

Volunteer Coordination
The City and United Way of Eastern Ontario are developing a plan to support volunteer coordination during the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteer Ottawa has established a pool of pre-screened volunteers and will continue to accept new applicants.

Buy Local
In partnership with its Economic Partners Taskforce, the City of Ottawa today launched the first phase of an online promotional campaign to help local businesses during these challenging times.

The campaign encourages residents to support their favourite small businesses by taking immediate and concrete steps now:
• Buy from local businesses online.
• Purchase gift cards from local businesses to use later.
• Order delivery or takeout from area restaurants.
• Send local businesses messages of support on social media.

These actions will help local shops, restaurants and services by providing them with critical income during this challenging period.

The campaign includes targeted ads that will reach residents on several online platforms over the coming weeks and direct them to ottawa.ca/buylocal. There, residents will find links to sites listing businesses serving customers virtually or providing takeout and meal delivery.

The City is also launching a web page on ottawa.ca to provide businesses with access to essential information and support programs. The page will have links to provincial and federal assistance programs, as well as details on measures offered by the City to help businesses in the coming weeks and months. This includes the property tax deferral and other relief measures that Council approved at its meeting on March 25.

Ottawa is a caring community and clearly recognizes the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our small businesses, their owners and employees. These shops, restaurants and services are the foundation of our local economy. Any support residents can provide during these challenging times will help businesses continue to operate online and keep staff employed.

Grace period for interim property tax payment
With the interim property taxes mailed out in mid-February, the City extended a grace period to Wednesday, April 15, with no late payment applied between the original March 19 deadline and the new date for those unable to make payment by the due date. The interim property tax bill covers 50 per cent of the entire property tax bill.

New 2020 Interim Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program
The City has also established a 2020 Interim Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program for qualifying residents, as well as businesses that have an assessed property value of up to $7.5 million – which captures 91 per cent of all commercial properties in Ottawa. The program extends both the interim property tax deadline (March 19) and the final property tax deadline (June 18) to Friday, October 30, 2020.

To qualify, your account would need to have been paid up to date before the interim tax installment. The application deadline is July 31, 2020.The application form, as well as other qualifying criteria and program information, is available on ottawa.ca/taxrelief.

View, Print and Payment options
Ottawa residents can sign up for paperless billing for property tax and water bills. This is a secure website where you can manage, view, print and pay your bills online. It is free to set up, easy to use and provides residents access to their account information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Visit ottawa.ca for more information.

Residents have several payment options for property tax and water bills that can be done from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
• My Service Ottawa portal
• Telephone and online banking through their financial institution
• Debit or credit payment online at ottawa.ca
• Pre-authorized debit
• Mail

Remember to check in with others by phone or other technology. Be courteous. Support your neighbours if you can. Check in with yourself. It’s ok not to be ok. Reach out to the Distress Centre of Ottawa to connect with someone at 613-238-3311 if you need help or are having trouble coping.

This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone. I’d like to thank you for your cooperation with physical (social) distancing from others and thank people who are helping each other.
Supporting our neighbours is essential for us to make it through this pandemic.
For more information on COVID-19, please visit: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus.
Information on financial and social supports is available on Ottawa.ca.


Mayor Watson’s statement following Ottawa’s first death related to COVID-19

“First and foremost, I would like to offer my most sincere condolences to the family of the resident who has passed away today. This is Ottawa’s first death related to COVID-19, and my thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased.

Although most residents are making efforts to flatten the curve, this serves as a sad and important reminder to us all of the severity of the situation we are facing.

I encourage residents to continue to wash their hands regularly, to respect social distancing guidelines, limit trips outside the house to essential ones, and to check in virtually on family, friends and neighbours. We must all do our part to help save lives in our community.”

 

 


Ottawa City Council: March 25, 2020 - Mayor's Opening Remarks

"Good morning.

I want to thank everyone for joining us today for City Council’s first virtual meeting.

I want to recognize residents, members of the media and City staff who are watching online or on Rogers Television – thank you for your support and for staying connected.

These are unprecedented times in our city, our country – and all over the world.

Today, I am announcing that we are declaring a State of Emergency for the City of Ottawa, in response to the increasing spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Declaring a state of emergency will help our City Manager Steve Kanellakos and his team deploy our emergency operations in a quicker and more nimble fashion.

Amongst other things, it will enable a more flexible procurement process, which will help us to rapidly purchase the equipment that our frontline workers and first responders need, as it becomes available in the coming weeks.

We have been preparing for all scenarios – and we are moving to this State of Emergency to ensure we have all the tools available to protect our healthcare workers and our residents.

We need these tools to support our social services agencies helping those living on the streets – and the thousands of nurses, doctors and first responders fighting this fight…

The City's Emergency Management staff, who are working behind the scenes to coordinate the City's response.

Our staff in the Community and Social Services Department, who are on the front lines helping our most vulnerable residents.

They are caring for our elderly in our Long-Term Care homes – and caring for those who are homeless and in shelters.

They are supporting the efforts of hundreds of community agencies, who are able to continue to serve their clientele thanks to the support of our staff.

The Employment and Social Services staff who continue to deal with thousands of residents who need their social assistance payments and other personal supports to put food on the table.

And our Child Care staff who will be reopening their centres shortly to look after the children of frontline workers.

These women and men are working under extremely difficult circumstances – and with rules and processes that are changing daily.

And last but not least, we need these tools to support the extraordinary efforts being deployed by our courageous public health team, led by Dr. Vera Etches – as they continue to work around the clock to protect residents and provide us with the best advice and support as we get through this pandemic.

Their efforts are limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Ottawa and flattening the curve in order to reduce the strain on our healthcare system and the dedicated doctors and nurses, who are literally on the battle ground in this fight.

As reported yesterday by Dr. Etches, we currently have 25 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa.

And it is crucial that we – as a community – follow the direction from our federal, provincial and municipal health officials if we want to be successful in this fight.

And we are all asking residents to do the same thing: Stay home.

Don’t meet up with friends or family.

Don’t go out unless it’s an essential errand – like groceries or medication.

And if you do go out for those essential errands or to get fresh air – please keep your distance and wash your hands when you get back home.

Social distancing is essential to help flatten the curve and to save lives in our community.

And we must remember: No one is immune from catching this virus.

I want to take a moment to thank our provincial and federal partners, who are stepping up in a very big way to help our city and our residents get through these challenging times.

They have been very accessible, and I have had almost daily calls with local Ministers Catherine McKenna and Lisa MacLeod – and I’m grateful for their help and support.

I’m encouraged by their commitments to get funds moving quickly to help the tens of thousands of workers in our community – who work in hospitality, services and retail – who’ve lost their entire income in the last few weeks.

As the pandemic continues to evolve around the world, I want to take a moment to recognize some of the unsung heroes in our community – those who are working around the clock every single day to provide essential services and keep Ottawa’s residents safe.

The police officers, firefighters, paramedics and emergency personnel that continue to protect our community.

And our staff who remain out in the field: they are running our water treatment plants and our landfill…

They’re making repairs to our infrastructure, inspecting buildings and construction sites, as well as maintaining our fleets.

And for those of us who still need to get to work or to essential appointments, we know the women and men at OC Transpo will get us there safely.

We hope you are following proper social distancing guidelines when you’re out there – because we all need you to stay safe and in good health.

And although not as visible as our frontline personnel, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the City staff from all departments who have mobilized to support these efforts and deliver services to our residents from home.

I realize it’s not easy to work from home, and especially with kids running around – but thank you for your resourcefulness in these challenging times.

I know we’re all thankful for the hard work of our IT team, which is making all of these remote operations possible – including today’s meeting.

To those of you delivering the essential services that keep our city running: I thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting the lives of your fellow residents ahead of your own.

That is the true embodiment of public service.

And to those keeping essential businesses running – employees working in grocery stores and pharmacies, or in maintenance and cleaning services – you are showing up every day to provide our residents with the food and medication they need.

Thank you all for what you’re doing to help our community through these difficult times.

I recognize the sacrifice that you are making – being away from your family at this difficult time, in order to continue to serve the public.

And thank you to all my Council colleagues, who are working very hard to keep things running in their communities – as well as staying connected with residents, answering questions, and offering support.

It’s inspiring to see so many people working together to ensure that everyone remains safe and healthy.

I hear of so many people offering to do a grocery run for those who are in quarantine or cannot get out.

I see stories on social media about neighbourhoods organizing events – like a shamrock treasure hunt – that children can enjoy from a safe distance.

I see local businesses stepping up and offering to help residents in need and supporting our healthcare workers with prepared meals and food boxes.

Neighbours sending birthday cards to kids who can’t have a birthday party to brighten their day and make their celebration a little more special.

And I must tell you, I’m proud to be the Mayor of such a caring and compassionate city.

Working with our many partners, the City of Ottawa has taken several measures to both protect and assist our residents during this period.

At today’s Council meeting, Councillor Dudas and I are bringing forward a number of measures that would provide small businesses and residents with an opportunity to defer their property tax.

Thanks to the good work of Chief Financial Officer Wendy Stephanson and her team, the new 2020 Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program would extend the tax deadlines to October 30.

The program would also assist affected small businesses with an assessed property value of up to $7.5 million – which captures 91% of commercial properties in Ottawa.

And I urge all commercial property owners who will benefit from this deferral to pass it down to their tenants – the restaurants and shops that are the backbone of our economy – they are the ones who desperately need this flexibility in the coming months just to stay afloat.

I also urge residential investment property owners to provide this same flexibility to their renters – many of whom were in precarious employment situations before this crisis.

One idea for them might be to use their tenants’ last month’s rent deposit to cover the rent in April, providing relief for both landlords and tenants while we get through these difficult times.

The Chief Financial Officer’s proposal includes a number of other measures to alleviate the financial burden of small businesses and residents through these challenging times – and I hope I can count on your support to adopt this relief package today.

Last week, we established a Human Services Task Force to ensure we are responsive to the emerging needs of our community.

 In addition to representatives from City departments and Ottawa Public Health, the task force includes partners from all sectors, including:

  • Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition
  • United Way East Ontario
  • Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres of Ottawa
  • Ottawa Community Housing
  • Ottawa Food Bank
  • Canadian Red Cross
  • The Salvation Army; and
  • Ottawa Inner City Health.

The task force is planning how to provide food, shelter and psychosocial supports, as well as address emerging issues, service gaps and community concerns throughout the pandemic.

In addition, we have opened the Routhier Community Centre in Lowertown as an isolation centre to help protect Ottawa’s homeless population – and I want to thank everyone involved in getting the centre up and running this past week.

But as this pandemic brings everything to a stop, we realize the profound impact it is having on our local business community.

Through these challenging times, we must come together to find ways to support our small businesses, restaurants, tourism operators and special events – as well as the tens of thousands of workers who rely on these jobs to feed their families.

And that’s why I have struck the Economic Partners Task Force – which includes representatives from our local BIAs, the Ottawa Board of Trade, le Regroupement des gens d’affaires, Ottawa Tourism, Invest Ottawa and the Ottawa Festival Network.

I will co-chair this task force, along with Councillor Eli El-Chantiry – a former small business owner and my representative with the BIAs.

The task force will advise City staff in many departments on how we can help the business community get through the pandemic – and especially how we can kickstart the recovery once it’s over.

Tomorrow, working with the Task Force, the City will be launching Buy Local – an online promotional campaign to help local businesses get through these challenging times.

We will be encouraging residents to support their favourite small businesses by shopping local online, buying gift cards for later use, or ordering delivery or takeout from locally-owned restaurants – actions that will help small businesses with cash flow now.

Stay tuned for more details tomorrow.

We recognize that this is not an easy time for anyone.

But even though we are all social distancing, it doesn’t mean we can’t check in on each other.

So call your family members, and reach out to your friends on FaceTime.

Arrange a video dinner date with your neighbours.

We are fortunate to have the technology to be able to keep this communication going – and that is very important to combat the social isolation many of us are feeling right now.

And for those of you who are having a tough time dealing with the unpredictability of this situation – know that this is okay, and that you are not alone.

This is a stressful time.

Some will have access to the support of their Employee Assistance Program.

There are also many public supports available to help our residents – such as the Ottawa Distress Centre, and the Kids Help Phone for our younger residents.

Please: don’t be afraid to reach out and to seek the psychological support you need.

Again, I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to our public health officials, who have been providing us with exemplary professional advice and guidance.

And I remind everyone that OPH – ottawa-public-health-dot-c-a – is the best source of local information related to COVID-19.

I’m confident that by working together, we will come out of this stronger than ever as a community.

I’ll now ask Councillor Egli, Chair of the Ottawa Board of Health, to say a few words and introduce Dr. Etches.

Thank you. Merci beaucoup."


COVID-19: Ottawa and Gatineau ask their residents to limit their interprovincial travel to essential trips

Earlier this morning, I sent a joint public service announcement with the Mayor of Gatineau, Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin:

Ottawa and Gatineau Mayors Jim Watson and Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin today made a point of jointly calling on their residents to reduce their interprovincial travels to essential trips. The COVID-19 situation will not evolve the same way on both sides of the river, and everyone must be prepared to follow to the letter the recommendations of the public health authorities on limiting the virus’ propagation.

“I ask everyone living in the Outaouais and our friends on the Ontario side to reduce travel between the two provinces to the strictest minimum. These days, solidarity sometimes means staying home. This is not the time to go back and forth between your home and the cottage, to shop anywhere other than at local businesses, or to go to parks other than your neighbourhood park. Every time you go out, you make several stops, for instance to get gas, groceries, to mention but a few, which increases the risk of contagion,” indicated Gatineau Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin.

“Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin and I are appealing to the solidarity of the region’s residents: limit your non-essential travels, including between Ottawa and Gatineau. Please stay home, but if you must cross the river to help out family or friends, be sure to take every necessary precaution,” emphasized Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.


UPDATE: COVID-19

Ottawa Public Health has become aware of a second confirmed case of COVID-19 in Ottawa. This case is unrelated to the first case confirmed on March 11.
The confirmed case is a woman in her 40s with recent travel history to Italy. The individual is currently in self-isolation at home with mild symptoms. The individual was not symptomatic during her flight and is not considered a risk to other passengers.
The individual has had no close contacts since returning from Italy.
Ottawa Public Health continues to work closely with local hospitals, health care partners, the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario and national partners to monitor and detect any cases of COVID-19 in the community.
For the latest information on COVID-19 where you live:
OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus
Ontario.ca/Coronavirus
Canada.ca/Coronavirus