Ontario's human services sector has a critical role to play in supporting Ontario's most vulnerable residents and responding to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. First and foremost, we would like to thank our members across Ontario for their action and dedication to ensuring that their communities are supported during this time.
OMSSA's number one priority is to support our members in responding to this crisis, through proactively sharing information, ensuring our members stay connected to the provincial and federal governments, and helping members share information and resources with each other as their responses to this crisis evolve.
OMSSA has set up this webpage to share links to key resources, information and announcements about the COVID-19 crisis, particularly as it relates to our members. New information will be posted as it becomes available.
Members can also log into our Members' Portal to access resources shared by other members (more information below).
OMSSA has moved quickly to set up and host regular conference calls (weekly, or more often if required) for our Leadership Table and our four member networks (Children's Services Network, Housing and Homelessness Network, Employment and Income Network and Emergency Social Services Network) to ensure our members can share important information and updates on how they are responding to this crisis and how they are adjusting their policies and services in key areas.
If you are not a member of one of our networks and would like to join, you can find instructions on how to do so here on our website.
You can also contact Darryl Wolk at firstname.lastname@example.org to request to be invited to upcoming calls, as appropriate.
In addition to regular conference calls, OMSSA is working to make it simpler and easier for members to share and access resources and information on how they are working to respond to this crisis in their communities.
OMSSA will be compiling and sharing the information we receive from members in a central location in our Resource Library within our login-only Members' Portal.
To access these resources, log into OMSSA's Members' Portal, click "Access Resources" and then "Document Library". Our COVID-19 resources folder is located at the very top of the Document Library.
OMSSA is asking all members to please share any information or resources that may be useful to other members (business continuity plans, internal and external messaging, relevant policies and procedures, etc.), so that we can make them available in the portal.
Please send these resources to Darryl Wolk at email@example.com.
We also recognize the importance of working and connecting digitally at this time. OMSSA has reached out to members with information on how they can access and use OMSSAs Members Portal to share information and stay connected through this crisis and onwards.
OMSSA is consulting regularly with our partners in the provincial and federal governments to source the most up-to-date information, program and policy directives relevant to our members, and to relay key information from our members back to our partners. Provincial ministries are also working to connect directly with OMSSA members where possible.
OMSSA is working with relevant ministries to set up conference call updates with senior human services leaders whenever necessary and possible.
If you have specific priorities or information that will be important to share with the Province as they continue to develop their response, please contact Darryl Wolk, OMSSA's Manager of Policy and Public Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OMSSA has asked its staff to work remotely for the time being in order to protect the health and safety of our staff and those around them. We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our policies as appropriate.
OMSSA is cancelling or replacing all in-person meetings with teleconferencing options.
Regarding our future scheduled events, OMSSA will be following the direction of Health Canada, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and local public health officials.
Registrants will be updated if cancellations or alterations are required.
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Government of Canada:
Government of Ontario:
Municipal World Pandemic Response Document Collection (must register to access)
CityShare Canada (resources, tools and stories on community responses to COVID-19)
CityTalk Canada (conversations, analysis and commentary on the new urban reality under COVID-19)
Congregate Living Settings:
Non-Profits and Community Services:
Wellness Together Canada (resources, tools, and professional support services to help with wellness, resilience, mental health and substance use)
Mental health, wellness and addictions support (Government of Ontario resources)
211 is a helpline and online database that provides information and referrals to Ontario's community, social, health-related and government services.
211 Ontario is working to support people and communities through COVID-19 by collecting and sharing the most up-to-date information on what services and supports are available at the community level.
Ways to contact 211:
Dial 2-1-1 (available 24/7)
Toll-free: 1-877-330-3213 (available 24/7)
Chat: https://211ontario.ca/chat/ (Mon - Fri, 7 am - 9 pm ET)
Other 211 Resources:
211 Regional Service Partners work together to provide the 211 service across the province. Click here for service area maps and contact information for the six 211 Ontario Regions.
211 Ontario is asking service providers to contact them with up-to-date information about service changes or new services.
OMSSA is a non-profit, member-based association whose role is to support, connect and represent its members.
OMSSA does not play an oversight role and OMSSA is not involved in the allocation or distribution of government funding.
The links below provide information on financial support and benefits available to individuals, families and employers through funding from the Federal and Ontario Provincial governments.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides financial support for employed and self-employed Canadians who have been directly affected by COVID-19, providing a payment of $2,000 for a 4-week period for up to 16 weeks. Individuals can apply online or by phone beginning April 6, 2020.
Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits
Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. Canadians who are quarantined can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim.
Emergency Assistance (Ontario)
You may be eligible for emergency assistance if you live in Ontario and if you are in an emergency situation (ie. you have been affected by COVID-19; you are being evicted from your home; you are in or are leaving an abusive relationship; you are worried about your safety). If you are eligible, the amount you get will depend on your specific situation. In most cases you will not get more than what you would get on Ontario Works. Current recipients of Ontario Works or ODSP are not eligible for emergency assistance.
Discretionary Benefits for Ontario Works and ODSP Recipients (Ontario)
The Province is making discretionary benefits more accessible for those receiving social assistance who need increased support for extraordinary needs. Expanded discretionary benefits are intended to help individuals and families on Ontario Works and ODSP cover exceptional costs related to COVID-19. Individuals receiving support from Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) should contact their caseworkers regarding discretionary benefits.
One-Time GST Credit Payment (Canada)
The Government of Canada is providing a one-time special payment starting April 9 through the Goods and Services Tax credit for low- and modest-income families. The average additional benefit will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples. There is no need to apply for this payment. If you are eligible, you will get it automatically.
Pay Top Up for Frontline Workers (Ontario)
The Province of Ontario is providing front-line staff in long-term care, retirement homes, shelters, supportive housing, social services care settings, and home and community care with a temporary pandemic pay top-up of four dollars per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages for 16 weeks, from April 24, 2020 until August 13, 2020. Employees working over 100 hours per month would receive lump sum payments of $250 per month for each of the next four months.
Student Loan Payment and Interest Suspension (Ontario and Canada)
All student loan borrowers will automatically have their loan repayments and interest suspended until September 30, 2020. In Ontario, this applies to both federal and provincial student loans. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
The Federal government is providing $9 billion in support for post-secondary students and recent graduates, including a proposed Canada Emergency Student Benefit. Students will be able to apply starting May 15 through the Canada Revenue Agency. More information is available here in their backgrounder.
Support for Parents and Families (Ontario)
While schools and child care centres are closed, Ontario parents can apply for direct funding to offset the cost of buying materials to support their children's learning. This funding includes a one-time payment of $200 for each child aged 0-12, and/or $250 for child or youth with special needs aged 0-21. Eligibility and application information is available here on the Ontario website.
Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payments will be increased by up to an extra of $300 per child for 2019-20. This benefit will be delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment in May. Those who already receive the CCB do not need to re-apply.
Temporary Wage Subsidy (Canada)
The Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers is a three-month measure that will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The subsidy is equal to 10% of the remuneration you pay from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020, up to $1,375 for each eligible employee to a maximum of $25,000 total per employer. You do not need to apply for the subsidy, instead you must reduce the payroll remittances being paid to CRA.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will cover 75 per cent of salaries for qualifying employers, for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020. Eligible employers include individuals, taxable corporations, partnerships consisting of eligible employers, nonprofit organizations and registered charities. Public bodies (including municipalities) are not eligible for this subsidy.
Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (Ontario)
The Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners, to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June. To receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75 per cent and commit to a moratorium on evictions for three months. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent. This support is also available to non-profit and charitable organizations.
Emergency Community Support Fund (Canada)
The Federal government is providing $350 million in funding to charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to those in need. The investment will flow through national organizations that have the ability to get funds quickly to local organizations that serve vulnerable populations. More details are available in the Prime Minister's News Release.
Social Services Relief Funding (Ontario)
The Ontario government is providing $200 million to municipalities and organizations that administer social services with funding to support them in their response to COVID-19. More information is available in the Province's news release.
Residential Relief Funding (Ontario)
The Ontario government is providing up to $40 million in funding to support organizations that provide residential services for children and youth, people with developmental disabilities and emergency shelters for women and families fleeing domestic violence. More details are available on the Ontario government's website.
Support for Homelessness Services (Canada)
The Federal government is providing $157.5 million in funding to address the needs of Canadians experiencing homelessness. The funding is being distributed through the Reaching Home program, and can be used for a variety of needs such as purchasing beds and physical barriers for social distancing and securing accommodation to reduce overcrowding in shelters. More details are available in the government's news release.
Support for Violence-Against-Women Services (Canada)
The Federal government is providing $40 million in funding to Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) to support women fleeing gender-based violence. Of this funding, up to $26 million will be provided to Womens Shelters Canada to distribute to approximately 575 violence against women shelters across the country, and up to $4 million will be provided to the Canadian Womens Foundation to distribute to sexual assault centres across the country. More details are available in the government's news release.
Support for Food Banks (Ontario)
The Province of Ontario is providing $8 million in funding to Feed Ontario to launch the Emergency Food Boxes program. The funding will be used by Feed Ontario to purchase food hampers for distribution by food banks, through Feed Ontario lead agencies in communities across Ontario.
Support for Food Banks (Canada)
The Federal Government is providing $100 million to organizations to: purchase, transport and distribute food and other basic necessities; hire temporary help to fill volunteer shortages; and implement safety measures, such as the purchase of personal protective equipment, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among volunteers and clients. These organizations include (but are not limited to) Food Banks Canada, Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada.