New as of April 2
Ontario Increasing Mental Health Support During COVID-19
Additional Resources will Improve Access to Online and Virtual Supports
Ontario government is making it easier for everyone, especially those on the front lines, to reach out for mental health support during the COVID-19 outbreak. To improve access, the province is providing emergency funding of up to $12 million to immediately expand online and virtual mental health supports and $2.6 million to hire new psychologists and other mental health workers to support Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) personnel.
These services will help people experiencing anxiety, stress and other mental health challenges, including people who are unable to access their regular in-person counselling supports. These resources will address the needs of youth and adults and will include more dedicated supports for those working on the frontlines who are dealing with the difficult realities of COVID-19 every single day.
With this investment, mental health agencies will receive emergency funding to hire and train more staff and purchase necessary equipment, appropriate technology and additional licenses. The emergency funding will immediately expand services, based on evidence-informed cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), on a range of platforms including:
- BounceBack: A guided self-help program for adults and youth aged 15 and over using workbooks with online videos and phone coaching support.
- Kids Help Phone: 24/7 virtual support service offering professional counselling, information and referrals as well as volunteer-led, text-based support to young people in both English and French at 1-800-668-6868.
- Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT): Online CBT , supported by therapists; available in English and French.
- iCBT for frontline health care workers: Online CBT targeted at frontline health care workers experiencing anxiety, burnout or PTSD. Those requiring intensive levels of care could be referred to virtual face-to-face care.
- Training for Brief CBT-based interventions: Training will be provided to frontline workers in organizations such as Telehealth and emergency departments in order to better support individuals experiencing acute anxiety due to the pandemic.
The hiring of additional mental health workers for the OPP is in response to four of the 66 recommendations made by the OPP Independent Review Panel (IRP) in its final report. Established in April 2019 to examine the OPP’s workplace culture, the IRP was also tasked to look into how the OPP addresses issues of mental health, occupational stress injuries and suicide among its members and provide a series of recommendations. The funding will help the OPP hire mental health workers who will:
- Provide clinical services to members of all ranks and make referrals to external services if needed;
- Develop and deliver mental health support programming specific to unique policing needs (e.g. geographical, specialized services, cultural);
- Facilitate educational programs to both uniform and civilian members to reduce stigma and promote resiliency and access to help when facing mental health challenges; and
- Provide guidance in peer support programs.
Where to Find Help:
- For Ontarians currently receiving mental health and addictions services and supports, please contact your current service provider to learn about potential virtual care options.
- For Ontarians interested in public addictions services and mental health services for those over 18, they can contact ConnexOntario, Ontario’s mental health, addictions and problem gambling help line at 1-866-531-2600.
- Children and youth under 18 can locate mental health services through the Ontario.ca and Kids Help Phone websites, or contact Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) for 24/7 support, if they need someone to talk to.
- Good2Talk is a free, confidential mental health support service providing professional counselling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being to postsecondary students in Ontario, 24/7/365. Learn more at www.good2talk.ca[RR(3] .
- To access BounceBack and their guided self-help program using workbooks with phone coaching support, visit bouncebackontario.ca or ask your primary care provider for a referral.
Ontario Strengthening Victim Services in Response to COVID-19
Attorney General announces $4 million to support victims and protect front-line justice staff
Attorney General Doug Downey today announced emergency action to support victims of crime and protect front-line staff who continue to uphold the administration of justice in response to COVID-19.
The government of Ontario is providing an emergency payment of more than $2.7 million to support services for victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes during the COVID-19 crisis.
This additional one-time emergency payment will help more than 50 community agencies across Ontario, including victim crisis assistance organizations (VCAOs), Indigenous organizations and those based in rural areas, stay operational and accessible to victims during the public health crisis. Funds will help front-line staff respond to challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis and enhance access to immediate supports for victims, including extended hotels stays, and transportation and meal vouchers available through the Victim Quick Response Program Plus (VQRP+).
Ontario is also working closely with justice partners to ensure critical services continue while keeping essential front-line workers and all Ontarians safe.
To support these efforts, the government is investing $1.3 million in technology to help courts and tribunals continue the transition to remote operations. Investments include additional laptops, conference lines and doubling the complement of digital recording devices for court use. This funding was announced on March 25th in Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.
Ontario’s courts and tribunals continue to shift to audio and video conferencing to hear priority matters. To date, all courtrooms in the Ontario Court of Justice are operating remotely. Matters involving individuals held in custody are now being held remotely, removing the need for transportation and transfers between correctional facilities and courthouses.
Ontario is also working with justice partners to support the transition to remote operations, including expanding e-filing tools.
Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation issued the following statement on supporting truck drivers during the COVID-19 outbreak:
“In these extraordinary times, we have extraordinary heroes. Our truck drivers are these heroes. They are working long hours, day and night delivering food and equipment and other essential supplies for Ontario families.
Our truck drivers deserve our respect, our support, our thanks and our best efforts to help them as they continue to make sure we can put food on our tables and pick up other necessary items.
We have heard from those working within the trucking industry of the treatment that truck drivers have faced while travelling on our roads. In response, we are calling on all business owners to support truck drivers when they are stopping to rest, get gas or use washrooms.
This will better keep our truck drivers safe and healthy and on the road.
We expect businesses who rely on truck drivers to provide necessary facilities for these heroes. We need everyone to do their part to make sure drivers can keep doing their jobs safely.
As a government we are working closely with truck drivers and associations to respond to the issues they face on the road.
We are providing more safe places for truck drivers to stop and rest across the province and are keeping all 23 ONroute travel plazas open for take-out, grab and go and drive-through services, including washrooms with enhanced cleaning. We are also providing portable washrooms at 32 truck inspection stations so trucks have a place to stop and rest safely.
These actions build on measures announced last month that allow the 24-hour delivery of goods without the restrictions of municipal noise by-laws, and the extension of the validation of driver’s licences, Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration certificates and other products that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
Ontario is committed to supporting the trucking industry and we would like to thank commercial carriers and truck drivers for everything that they’ve done to keep goods moving during the COVID-19 outbreak.”
I am joining you today to speak about how our officers are serving our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you are all aware, our service is now responsible for the enforcement of the rules set out under the Ontario Emergency Management and Civil Protections Act relating to gatherings of more than five people, restaurants offering dine-in options to customers, businesses open without an exemption and gatherings in City parks, including the use of play structures.
Yesterday our officers received 130 calls in regards to Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act issues and closed parks.
We had complaints about a farm allowing horseback riding lessons, hair salons continuing to operate, groups playing soccer at Millennium Park in Orleans, beach volleyball at Britannia Beach … neighbours gathering in each others back yards.
We have heard concerns from residents not sure when they should be contacting 3-1-1
Let me be clear. If you see residents playing on a soccer field, or on a play structure in a park … regardless of whether it is on City or Private property, you can report this to 3-1-1.
If you see a restaurant offering dine-in services to customers, or a non-essential business that is operating …. Call 3-1-1.
We have a dedicated team of Officers who are not only responding to these calls but are proactively visiting parks across the City.
Our goal right now is to educate the public … to let them know these rules are in place for their safety… We have issued dozens of verbal warnings at this point … but please know that failure to comply with our verbal warnings can result in fines under the provincial Act of up to $100,000 for individuals, $500,000 for a director of a corporation or $10-million for a corporation itself.
I would like to remind the public that these orders have been put in place for public safety and to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. I thank each and every resident who has been adhering to these new regulations. We know physical distancing is not easy, but by following these rules we will make a difference and we will get through this together.
We want to ensure that all residents have important information about measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, regardless of whether they can access our webpage or social media channels. Therefore, every household in Ottawa will soon receive a handout in the mail with detailed information about physical distancing. A reminder that when receiving a package, newspaper, or mail, to always wash your hands well with soap and water after handling it. If you have questions about mail and parcels and risk of COVID-19, check out our updated FAQ on this topic.
It is imperative that all residents continue to practice physical distancing and keep contacts limited to those within your household as much as possible.
More people are being asked to self-isolate: people with confirmed COVID-19 and their close contacts, adults older than 70 years of age, people with respiratory symptoms, and anyone returning from travel. When self-isolating, it is important to stay in a separate room from other people in your home as much as possible and when you are in the same room to keep a distance of at least two metres and wear a mask. Additional guidance for self-isolation and also for household members is available on our website.
As of 4 pm yesterday, OPH is investigating 252 lab-confirmed cases in Ottawa in the community and five outbreaks in institutions. That’s 58 new cases since our last report. Again, this increase is mainly due to the backlog of tests with specimens collected on or before Mar 20, and not a spike of recent cases.
The number of people hospitalized and in intensive care also changes daily. There are currently 24 people in hospital – one less than yesterday, and seven of them are in ICU, which is the same as yesterday. We have had no increase in the number of facilities experiencing an outbreak since yesterday’s report. This includes: three retirement homes, one long-term care home, and one group home.
There continues to be discussion about who should wear a mask and the effectiveness of masks. At this time, we are advising that anyone who is sick or is caring for someone who is sick to wear a mask. It is very important that people with symptoms wear a mask, especially when going to an appointment, clinic or a hospital. Overall, we need to make sure our healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of caring for people have first priority for medical masks.
For people who are healthy and not coughing and sneezing, you are not required to wear a mask. I would first stress the importance of hand washing and physical distancing – these are known strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While homemade masks alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19, I would not discourage people in the community who want to wear a homemade mask.
Yesterday, Dr. Tam and Minister Hadju also provided updated guidance on the use of homemade masks.
A homemade facemask may prevent you from touching your nose and mouth and may help cover a cough or sneeze to keep it to yourself. To improve effectiveness:
- a mask should be well-fitted with no gaps;
- you must wash your hands before and after handling a mask;
- and you need to follow proper handling and washing as the outside can become contaminated.
We do have guidance on our website how to put a mask on properly if you need or decide to wear one.
Thank you again for your ongoing patience and cooperation in keeping residents informed. Please continue to visit: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus
Please note our MPP Ottawa South Free Tax Clinic Scheduled for April 18 has been cancelled
You should always protect yourself from financial fraud, especially during a period of uncertainty. Unfortunately, fraudsters will prey on consumers’ fears and misinformation over the COVID-19 pandemic. You may get phone calls, emails and texts regarding COVID-19. Be very cautious when receiving them.
Here are a few things to consider in order to protect yourself from financial fraud:
- never click on links or attachments in unsolicited or suspicious emails
- never give out your personal or financial information by email or text
- note that financial institutions will never ask you to provide personal, login or account information by text or email
- when banking online, enter your financial institution’s website address in your browser yourself
- beware of questionable offers related to cures, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is
- if you have concerns about your insurance coverage, contact your insurance company directly
- if you need information on COVID-19, refer to a trusted source such as the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 page
Remember that if you didn’t initiate contact with a person or a business, you don’t know who you are dealing with.
The Canadian Anti-fraud Centre has more information on scams and tips related to COVID-19 to help protect yourself from fraud.
Ontario has created a new self-assessment tool
If you think you have 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use this self-assessment to help determine if you need to seek further care. Visit here.
If you require help in Ottawa South, please visit our website for Community links and contacts.
Ottawa Public Health
For the latest updates, please click here.
Government of Ontario
Every day at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET, the Province of Ontario’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) web page will be updated with the most up-to-date information including the status of cases in Ontario.