Welcome to our Covid-19 update page. Here you can find all the relevant information from Ottawa Public Health and the City of Ottawa related to the Coronavirus. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office at Mathieu.fleury@ottawa.ca or visit www.ottawapublichealth.ca

January 22

COVID-19 Vaccine: Seeking community feedback 

Ottawa Public Health (OPH), in collaboration with the City of Ottawa, are continuing to hear from residents about their ideas, thoughts, perceptions, and understanding of current COVID-19 recommendations. This week a new COVID-19 survey was launched. 

This phase of engagement is focused on COVID-19 vaccines in Ottawa. Phase 5 of our engagement strategy has been launched, with a new survey available on Engage Ottawa in English or Participons Ottawa in French. It is important that the City of Ottawa and OPH continue to receive feedback from those in our community. Please share this engagement opportunity widely with your constituents.   

Since May 2020, the City of Ottawa and OPH have completed four separate public surveys to gather feedback from the individuals on their experiences during the pandemic. The full reports are available here: 

·        Phase 1- What We Heard report 

·        Phase 2 – What We Heard report 

·        Phase 3 – What We Heard report 

·        NEW: Phase 4 What We Heard report 

This feedback is incredibly valuable as it is taken into account in the City’s and OPH planning. Information provided by residents will continue to help OPH and the City of Ottawa meet our community’s needs and expectations. 

Update on the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination in Ottawa 

As noted in a memo distributed on Monday, January 18, the City’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), in collaboration with OPH, the Ottawa Hospital (TOH) and other health care partners are working together to vaccinate eligible residents against COVID-19 as quickly as possible and in accordance with the Provincial framework. 

As of January 15, 2021, the first dose of the vaccine has been made available to residents, workers and essential caregivers in all 28 long-term care homes (LTCH), with over 92% of all LTCH residents having now received their first dose.  

In the coming weeks, the focus will be to administer second doses to those who have already received their first dose of the vaccine. The timeline for completion is dependent on the supply of vaccine the city receives from the Province. 

Given the planning assumptions relating to timelines and availability of vaccines and the roles of various partners and stakeholders, OPH and the City’s EOC are collaborating to do all that we can to ensure Ottawa residents who want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to access it as quickly and efficiently as possible. The total amount of vaccine that will be distributed to the City of Ottawa and precise delivery dates are not yet known. These decisions are made by the Province and subject to vaccine availability from the federal government. 

OPH is continuously updating available information regarding the COVID-19 vaccines on our website. If you have questions such as “how does mRNA vaccines work? or “What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?”, please visit OPH’s website for updates to the Frequently Asked Questions regarding COVID-19 vaccines. 

Ottawa’s mobile vaccination teams: Working together to save lives  

The City, OPH, the Ottawa Paramedic Service and The Ottawa Hospital are working together to meet the challenge of bringing the COVID-19 vaccine to Ottawa’s residents. Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the work being done across the City in this feature story focusing on Ottawa’s mobile vaccination teams.  

COVID-19 Dashboard 

OPH’s Daily COVID-19 Dashboard is the number one resource for up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Ottawa. Data found in the dashboard includes case status in Ottawa, time trends & exposures, outbreaks and monitoring indicators.  

This week, OPH added information regarding the number of vaccines received and administered in Ottawa to the OPH COVID-19 Daily Dashboard. This data will be updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  

The dashboard is updated daily at approximately 12:30. To receive an email notification when it is updated, please scroll to the bottom of the page, click “Receive Email Updates…” and confirm your subscription. 

Sports on outdoor rinks 

Since the latest provincial announcement regarding the province-wide shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, OPH and the City have received many questions regarding what is and what is not permitted on outdoor rinks. 

OPH and the City of Ottawa continue to follow the lead of provincial authorities, who set the guidance and protocols with respect to emergency closure orders and any relaxation of these rules. As you know, on December 21, 2020, the Government of Ontario announced a province-wide shutdown, effective December 26, 2020. This includes restrictions on the use of outdoor recreational amenities. Specifically, the Provincial order states:  

“A permitted outdoor recreational amenity may only open if:  

·        Any person who enters or uses the amenity maintains a physical distance of at least two metres from other person using the amenity (excluding members of the same household)  

·        Team sports, or other sports or games where people may come within two metres of each other, are not practiced or played within the amenity  

·        Any locker rooms, change rooms, showers and clubhouses remain closed, except to the extent they provide access to equipment storage, a washroom or a portion of the amenity that is used to provide first aid”  

It is important to understand that neither OPH nor the City of Ottawa have the authority to “waive” these restrictions nor can we grant exemptions.   

Given the Provincial order, hockey sticks, pucks and other sports equipment are not permitted on outdoor rinks. We recognize that this is a very tough subject to communicate, however the objective is to prevent people from being in situations where physical distancing cannot be maintained, with or without a mask, to limit the risk of community transmission as much as possible. This is especially important as we work to address the risk of the importation of the UK variant, which is more transmissible and would make bringing the virus level in the community lower even more difficult. 

Residents are encouraged to wear a mask in all scenarios when physical distancing of 2 metres is not possible – both indoors and outdoors.   Wearing a mask is part of being COVID Wise and is one public health measure to help resume economic and social activities while COVID-19 is still in our community.   

Encouraging the wearing of masks in all settings where people congregate can help build consumer confidence in the health and safety measures that local businesses and organizations are implementing to prevent transmission of COVID-19.  

Physical activity and spending time outdoors are important to our wellbeing and mental health and we encourage everyone to get outside and safely enjoy Ottawa’s beautiful winter amenities. We also strongly encourage everyone to be COVID Wise, even when outdoors – maintain physical distance and avoid crowded areas. 

Extending remote learning 

OPH continues to consult with the Province to discuss measures to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa and open schools as soon as possible. Reopening and keeping schools open is a top goal of the pandemic response. At this time, we understand the concern about the rate of infection in the community having implications for introduction of COVID-19 into schools.  

We appear to be turning the curve in Ottawa and OPH is ready to support a safer return to school with an added emphasis on the daily screening and testing for people with symptoms to keep COVID-19 out of schools. We are working with school boards to reinforce the infection prevention and control measures that limit COVID-19 transmission in schools. 

We understand this is a challenging time for parents. We are asking all employers to please continue to be understanding if employees who are parents need to have more flexible schedules. Additionally, parents can find resources and support on our Parenting in Ottawa website, including helping your children cope during the pandemic, back to school and learning at home resources and frequently asked questions. 

OPH would also like to acknowledge the hard work all our teachers and school staff have been doing to provide our children with virtual education. We know this hasn’t been easy for you either; we see you and we appreciate you. 

When schools are ready to reopen, OPH will be there to support families and schools in as safe a return as possible. 

The importance of testing children 

We continue to see school-aged children and youth testing positive for COVID-19. Testing must continue, even if children are not attending school in person, to help make schools safer when they do return. 

Although children have been participating in school virtually, the infection can spread from children to members of their household and then to others in the community. This spread has resulted in added pressures on the health care system and could lead to the extension of the lockdown and school closures. Testing and self-isolation are important tools that help decrease virus spread in the community. 

Visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDTesting for more information. 

January 19

COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Update

The purpose of this memo is to update Members of Council on the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines in the city of Ottawa. This information is subject to change depending on vaccine availability and as new developments emerge from the provincial and federal governments.

The City’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), in collaboration with Ottawa Public Health (OPH), the Ottawa Hospital (TOH) and other health care partners are working together to vaccinate eligible residents against COVID-19, as quickly as possible, in accordance with the Provincial framework.

Vaccine Administration in Ottawa

Since the week of December 14, 2020, TOH has been receiving a steady supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. To date, Ottawa has not received any of the Moderna vaccine. According to data from the Ottawa Hospital, 22,425 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been received and 21,938 doses have been administered to date.

The supply for this week will be used to administer second doses to ensure that those individuals who have received the first round of vaccinations become immunized, as directed by the Province. The total amount of vaccine that will be distributed to the City of Ottawa next week, as well as following weeks, and precise delivery dates are not yet known. These decisions are also made by the Province.

On Friday, January 15 the Federal Government announced that Canada will be experiencing a temporary delay in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments and the anticipated shortage will result in an average of 50 per cent of doses delayed over the next month. While shipments will continue in the coming weeks, the City will receive fewer doses than previously anticipated.

Following the federal announcement, the Province announced new direction with respect to second doses, including:

  • Long-term care and high-risk retirement home residents and their essential caregivers, who have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, will receive their second dose in 21 to 27 days. Staff who were vaccinated in the homes at the same time as the residents will follow the same schedule.
  • All other recipients of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine must receive their second dose after 21 days and before 42 days.

Currently in Ottawa, TOH receives the vaccine supply and maintains the inventory. Given the recent announcements TOH is reviewing how best to optimize the schedule of second doses over the next month to account for the anticipated shortage.

Vaccine Rollout

Most of the vaccines received to date have been administered at TOH clinic (16,580) to workers in long-term care and retirement homes, essential caregivers and health care workers in high-risk settings (i.e. COVID ward and emergency departments). Once the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was approved for transportation the week of January 4 the City’s rollout operations immediately shifted to focus on higher risk residents in long- term care homes.

As of January 15, 2021, the first dose of the vaccine has been made available to all 28 long-term care homes. Vaccinations were provided to residents, workers and essential caregivers. Over 92% of all LTCH residents received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Residents, staff and caregivers in 20 of the 28 long-term care homes were vaccinated by Ottawa’s mobile vaccination teams, which are rely on the Ottawa Paramedic Service for immunizers. Each team consisted of two paramedics to administer the vaccine, one paramedic to provide patient care, and one OPH public health nurse to provide overall leadership and one OPH staff member for administrative support. Several of these teams were deployed to each location, based on the number of residents, staff and essential caregivers. The remaining long-term care homes’ staff were able to vaccinate their residents, workers and essential caregivers with onsite nurses working in those facilities. Additionally, TOH and CHEO provided pharmacy staff to support the dilution of the vaccine on site.

OPH followed the provincial ethical framework to prioritize COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and prioritized long-term care homes to ensure the appropriate sequencing. The ethical framework is based on the principals of stewardship, trust, equity and transparency. The framework evaluates the patient population risk of exposure; the risk of severe disease or outcomes, and health system capacity to ensure ongoing care to the population. There is a limited number of vaccines available and therefore, the vaccine distribution framework helps guide decisions to ensure equitable distribution. It also supports the goal of reducing the risk to Ottawa residents who are more severely impacted by COVID-19.

In addition to the 28 long-term care homes that have been provided the opportunity to receive their first doses, one high-risk retirement home and one congregate care home with older adults have also been provided the opportunity to receive their first doses, given the availability of vaccine supply. Both homes were experiencing exceptional health concerns and as a result, OPH prioritized the administration of vaccines to these two additional sites to protect our community, in-line with the provincial guidance to protect high risk homes following the LTCHs.

Next Steps in Phase 1

In the coming weeks, the focus will be to administer second doses to those who have already received their first dose of the vaccine. The timeline for completion is dependent on the supply of vaccine the city receives from the Province.

As supply allows, the focus will shift to higher risk retirement homes identified by OPH in accordance with the ethical framework, described above. Select congregate care settings for older adults and high-risk healthcare workers will follow under Phase 1 of the Provincial approach. Other Phase 1 populations to be immunized are adult members of First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities and adults with chronic home care.

OPH has established a local Vaccine Sequence Strategy Task Force to advise the City’s EOC on how to implement the sequence of vaccines given local context, including maximizing uptake among groups sequenced ahead of others. This Task Force includes representation from groups highly affected by COVID-19, such as newcomers, Indigenous, racialized people, older adults, and healthcare workers. The Vaccine Sequencing Task Force relies on the framework established by the Province of Ontario.

New tools to provide situational awareness

Given the planning assumptions relating to timelines and availability of vaccines and the roles of various partners and stakeholders, OPH and the City’s EOC are collaborating to do all that we can to ensure Ottawa residents who want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to access it as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, these plans are subject to change, and this reflects the current planning assumptions at this time. The total amount of vaccine that will be distributed to the City of Ottawa and precise delivery dates are not yet known. These decisions are made by the Province and subject to vaccine availability from the federal government.

The City’s Data Management, Monitoring and Surveillance team has been working on a mechanism to update the public on the number of vaccines supplied and administered in Ottawa. Effective today, the number of vaccines received and vaccines administered will appear in the OPH COVID-19 Daily Dashboard and will initially reside on the ‘Vaccination and Testing’ page. These numbers will be updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Further, EOC staff are committed to providing situational awareness to Members of Council. Beginning this week, the Incident Commander of the EOC Command Team will provide weekly updates to Councillor’s offices, which will include an updated FAQ document to assist with inquiries from constituents.

It is important to note that it will be several months until a vaccine is available to the general public. In the meantime, we all must continue to do our part to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the community: limit your close contacts to those within your household, practice physical distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands, stay home except for essential reasons and follow local and Provincial guidance.

January 18

Pandemic Parenting

Hello. Bonjour. Kwey.

With the recent Provincial announcements placing all Ontario municipalities in a state of emergency, the stay-at-home-order and extension of school closures, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) would like to draw your attention to the mental health and well-being of Ottawa parents. The following provides information, resources, guidance and tips that we would appreciate your help in sharing broadly with your various networks. 

Supporting parents in our community

Given the current Provincial restrictions and school closures, the next month may be challenging for parents and guardians who have children learning from home as they try to balance that with work obligations, projects, deadlines, meetings and so on. OPH is asking all employers to please be understanding of their employees’ needs, including flexible work schedules, particularly if they are parents or guardians. Parents and guardians are encouraged to speak to their employer to ensure they are aware of their situation and to discuss their options. 

In addition, OPH is encouraging individuals to check in virtually on extended family, neighbours, friends and colleagues. Individuals might consider dropping off food or sending a meal, treats, crafts or games to families with children or sending a letter, card or care package to a loved one. Suggestions for connecting virtually and more can be found here: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/SocialWise.

Mental health supports for parents and children

In order to be able to take care of others, parents need to take care of themselves. OPH would like to remind parents that their mental health and well-being are as important as ever and that it’s okay to not be okay. Several free online resources are available for parents and children, including:

In addition to the above resources, OPH would like to promote the benefits of getting outside as an important part of mental health. Parents are encouraged to take breaks during the day to get outside with their children, seeking out safer activities that limit their family’s contact with people from outside their household and allow for physical distancing and mask wearing as much as possible. More information on keeping active during the pandemic can be found here: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/ActiveDuringCOVID19

COVID-19 safety reminders for parents

We know parents and guardians are doing their best right now to keep children safe, healthy and entertained. As we try to reduce the currently high levels of COVID-19 in our community, OPH is asking parents to keep the following in mind:

  • At this time, playdates and recreational activities with other households are not recommended. We all need to take steps to reduce transmission of the virus in our community, including limiting close contacts with those from outside our immediate households. 
  • Parents and guardians should be limiting their children’s contact with other children except for childcare needs. Licensed centre and home-based childcare remains open with enhanced health and safety measures and emergency child care is available. If required, families would be permitted to have an exclusive contact with another household for the sole purpose of providing support.
  • Daily screening of children for COVID-19 symptoms continues to be important, even if children are not attending school in person. If ANYONE in the home has symptoms of COVID-19, everyone must stay home while waiting for COVID-19 test results. Parents can screen their children for symptoms by accessing OPH’s daily screening tool

The importance of COVID-19 testing for children

While OPH appreciates parents’ efforts to follow public health guidelines and limit their children’s contact with others, we are still seeing a significant increase in the number of children and youth testing positive for COVID-19. At the same time, we’ve seen a significant decline in the number of children and youth being tested. This decline, combined with the surge in the number of people testing positive, has resulted in an overall positivity rate of 14 per cent with 21 per cent among children aged 5-12. We know there are likely many more undiagnosed infections in our community and unless we test more, we will not be able to identify them and proactively work to protect others with whom they may have come into contact. 

We understand parents and children have many reasons to refrain from testing, including concerns about the long lines experienced earlier in the pandemic, guilt over socializing during the holidays or fear of the Nasopharyngeal swab. However, refraining from testing is adding to the growing risk of community spread, which could lead to added pressures on the healthcare system, delays for needed care, and could ultimately lead to an extension of the lockdown and other restrictions. OPH is strongly encouraging parents/guardians who have children with COVID-19 symptoms, or who have been in close contact to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, to please get them tested as soon as possible. Doing so could mean saving a life. For more information on COVID-19 testing for children, please see the attached document in both English and French; we would encourage you to please share it amongst your channels.  

OPH knows parents/guardians are doing their best right now to balance work and home obligations, their children’s virtual learning and their own personal care and well-being. We have data showing that the stress caused by this situation is significant and are asking the community to be compassionate, accommodating, and supportive of parents, guardians and one another during this difficult time. 

Thank you. Merci. Meegwetch.

Dr. Vera Etches

January 15

This week, the Province of Ontario reported that the number of COVID-19 cases is at its highest since the start of the pandemic. To stop the rise in cases and protect our healthcare system, the Province declared a second provincial state of emergency and issued a stay-at-home order. 

The stay-at-home order, which will be in effect until at least February 11, requires everyone to stay home except for essential trips for groceries, medical appointments, exercise or work that cannot be done remotely.

We have received the regulations from the Province and can now confirm there will be some impacts to how we deliver our services.  

Effective end of day Friday, January 15, the City will be suspending its current in-person counter services and moving to online or alternate delivery formats. There will be no public access to administrative buildings, including 100 Constellation and Ben Franklin Place. Public access to City Hall will be restricted to the Service Ontario counter and the municipal daycare service. 

All indoor recreation and cultural facilities will remain closed to the public, excluding respite centres, COVID-19 assessment centres, municipal childcare centres (ages 0 to 4), inclusive recreation programs and Before-and-After School Programs when elementary schools resume. Ottawa Public Library facilities will remain closed but will continue to provide contactless curbside services.

For any of you affected by these closures, the team in Human Resources continues to work closely with our unions to redeploy impacted individuals to departments with new and emerging needs to support the City’s pandemic response. 

Our people play an important role in this emergency. We will continue to provide essential, front-line and emergency services, including the important work taking place to vaccinate those most at-risk in long-term care and retirement homes. 

As the Premier noted, anyone who can work from home, should do so. 

Those of you who are operationally required to be on-site to deliver services, access resources in the workplace, or who have individual accommodations in place, should report to work as usual. Please continue following all required health and safety protocols including completing the self-assessment form before each shift. A letter confirming your employment with the City is not required at this time, unless you are a resident of Quebec travelling to or from work during curfew hours. If you need a certificate of employment for this reason, please speak to your supervisor or manager. 

Your leadership team is here to support you and will keep you informed on any specific impacts to your department, so we can continue to provide critical services to our residents and to each other. 

For parents juggling work, child care and at-home learning please keep conversations going with your manager and supervisor to explore flexible working arrangements and accommodations, if required. Free emergency child care for school-aged children is available for designated front-line municipal workers. For more information, speak with your supervisor or manager. 

Finally, I want to stress the importance of continuing to follow the advice from our public health experts so we can stop the upward trend in cases and get back on track. Continue to maintain physical distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands and stay home when you are sick. As a reminder, all City employees must wear a mask in City vehicles, when more than one occupant is in the vehicle and in all areas of City facilities accessible to the public. Our people have great visibility in our community, and we need to set an example by following these rules and guidance.

Also, don’t forget to check in on one another and continue to work together as One City, One Team to keep our community and each other safe. 

Keep up the good work. Together we can do this.

January 14

City updates how Province’s stay-at-home measures will impact some in-person services and facilities

The City of Ottawa has clarified how the Province of Ontario’s new stay-at-home measures will alter public access to some of its facilities and temporarily suspend in-person counter services.

The Province is requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for permitted purposes or activities, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for work where the work cannot be done remotely.

What facilities are opened and closed:

  • The City will continue to operate and provide some services during the stay-at-home order, including virtual arts and recreation programming.
  • No public access to administrative buildings, including 100 Constellation and Ben Franklin Place.
  • Public access to City Hall will be restricted to the Service Ontario counter and the municipal daycare service. Municipal counters, such as ServiceOttawa, will be closed as of the end of the business day on Friday, January 15, 2021 and will be moving to online delivery.
  • All indoor recreation and cultural facilities remain closed to the public, excluding respite centres, COVID-19 assessment centres, municipal childcare centres (ages 0-4), inclusive recreation programs and Before-and-After School programs when elementary schools resume.
  • Ottawa Public Library facilities will remain closed – including the bookmobile – but will continue to provide contactless curbside services.

Outdoor rinks and sledding hills remain open

Outdoor rinks – community and refrigerated – and sledding hills will remain open with the current 25- person capacity restriction and masking requirements outlined in the order issued by Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health. Outdoor refrigerated rinks will continue to operate with the online reservation system on ottawa.ca/skating.

People are reminded they must maintain two-metres from others and masks must be worn in public accessibility areas that are within 15 metres (50 feet) distance of the edge of the ice surface. While masks are not mandatory when skating, OPH recommends wearing one for added protection.

Under Provincial Regulations, no team sports are permitted and the City is directing that only skating take place on all rinks with no sticks, pucks, balls or other sports equipment permitted on the ice.

Temporarily suspended in-person services include:

  • City Hall and Ben Franklin Place (100 Centrepointe Drive) Client Service Centres and Building Code Services counters. Client Services Centres will suspend our current in-person counter services which will move to online delivery. Building Code Services will move to an alternate format such as mail services, electronic submission, phone, etc.
  • The Provincial Offences Act courthouse, located at 100 Constellation Drive, Nepean, will remain closed.
  • EarlyON Child and Family Centre remains closed from the current shutdown
  • The Business Licensing Centre at 735 Industrial Avenue is open for drop-off of documents only and clients can call 3-1-1.

Altered services include:

Complaints for unauthorized parking on private property will continue to require new electronic procedures for proof of authority.

  • Residents needing financial assistance are asked call us at 3-1-1 and select option #4 for Social Services for information on all programs and services.
  • People cannot visit the Employment and Social Services offices, but staff are available to help residents by phone, email and mail from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday.
  • Ontario Works claimants do not need to drop off any documents, including income reporting statements. Those documents can be given the case worker at a later date.
  • Virtual arts and recreation programs will be offered with registration starting on January 14 at 9 pm.

Parking enforcement

To support those staying home during these provincial measures, By-law and Regulatory Services will not be enforcing overtime parking on streets that do not have posted time limits. All other parking restrictions that ensure safety and mobility remain in effect, including parking bans due to snow accumulation, no-stopping zones, no-parking zones, fire routes, accessible parking spaces, pay and display, and rules around sidewalks, driveways and fire hydrants.

Acquiring services or doing transactions online or by phone or cheque

While all counter services are suspended, residents can acquire some services and complete payments and registrations online or by phone or cheque. Please confirm with your City contact prior to mailing a cheque.

Residents can go to myservice.ottawa.ca to pay water bills and your interim property taxes. If you do not have an account, registration is simple – just sign-up with your email address. Once registered, you’ll need your account or property roll number to pay your bill.

City bills have other payment options besides the myservice.ottawa.ca accounts, which include:

  • Paying by credit or debit card online at ottawa.ca
  • Paying through your financial institution by creating a payee number on your institution’s mobile app or through an ATM machine
  • Paying by phone with your financial institution
  • Sending a cheque by mail
  • Residents can access many other services online as well. You do not need to come in-person to a Client Service Centre if you want to:  Register or renew a pet registration
  • Apply or renew an open-air fire permit
  • Pay a parking or traffic ticket
  • Look up extension or reopening applications
  • Apply for a Food Premise Business License
  • Sign-up for future recreation programs
  • Load and manage a Presto Card

The City of Ottawa thanks all residents and businesses for their continued patience, kindness and resilience in doing their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. The rate of spread is at a dangerous point. We need to pull together again as a community by staying apart, respecting all measures, and practicing all preventative measures.

New Ontario COVID-19 measures: NCC assets remain open

Following the new measures announced yesterday by the Ontario government, the National Capital Commission (NCC) today announced that its outdoor assets will remain open for exercise and local use. 

The NCC understands the importance for people to get outdoors to exercise during the pandemic. That said, consistent with public health directives, we ask that residents utilize those NCC assets closest to their homes. We have greatly expanded our winter offering this year, and there are plenty of winter trails to explore in all parts of the National Capital Region.

In consultation with public health authorities, the NCC is also proceeding with preparations for the safe opening of the Rideau Canal Skateway. As its purpose will be to provide space for exercise only, food and beverage concession stands, rentals, and fire pits will be closed. The NCC will add sanitization stands as well as bi-directional staircases, where possible. We will also be asking all users to wear masks while on the Skateway. 

To help create additional outdoor space for those living in more densely populated areas of the Capital, the NCC will be opening a section of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway for active use only, 7 days a week, from 9 am to 5 pm. Information pertaining to timing and sections will be announced shortly. 

Due to the provincial public health guidelines, the NCC Bistro at Remic Rapids Park will not open during the state of emergency. 

We are also counting on the cooperation of users to comply with the newly issued provincial measures as well as those we have all practised for many months: frequent hand washing, maintaining a safe distance from others, and wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible to maintain.  

Due to the NCC’s limited capacity to enforce public health measures, we count on everyone’s compliance to ensure safe public access.

January 13

Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches following the the Provincial measures announced yesterday.

Hello. Bonjour. Kwey.

Current trends indicate that levels of COVID-19 in our community are among the highest yet since the beginning of the pandemic. More people are testing positive, the positivity rate and hospitalizations are increasing at a rapid pace, we are seeing more outbreaks and there are more close contacts per individual testing positive. The COVID-19 wastewater viral signal continues to trend upward over the past few weeks.

All of our monitoring indicators for COVID-19 mean Ottawa is once again in crisis territory.

People of Ottawa, I need you to commit to what you are going to do next to improve the situation.

Some may have gathered with a few family members over the holidays. Some might have been in crowded stores or on crowded rinks. Children may still be playing with their best friends to blow off steam after online school classes. Others might still be meeting with friends or extended family without distance.

It’s too late to change today’s numbers. It’s not about what we did last week, or yesterday. It’s what we do next that will make a difference.

The Provincial measures announced today will support us to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community by limiting the number of opportunities for COVID-19 transmission. While these measures make rules for public spaces, it’s what we do next – our everyday, individual decisions – that will lead us out of this difficult place.

It’s not what any of us wanted, but it’s what we need to bring levels of COVID-19 down. To stop outbreaks. To protect hospital capacity. To save lives.

We have seen how quickly things can change, even in the last few weeks. For example, on December 11, the seven-day average of people testing positive was 43. On January 11, yesterday, it was 137Another staggering figure is the number of people testing positive by week. For the week of January 3, 1,008 people tested positive for COVID-19 – by far the highest number we’ve seen in one week since the beginning of the pandemic. What these numbers tell me is more people are coming into close contact with people from outside their households. 

Ottawa, I know you’re exhausted. I know parents are trying to balance work life, helping their children with virtual learning and their own personal life. We have data that the stress caused by this situation is significant. We need to be compassionate and realistic about what we can achieve at this time. We are asking employers to once again be compassionate and accommodating if their staff require more flexibility in their work schedules. I know businesses are struggling. People living with mental health issues are struggling. Our isolated older adults, racialized populations, caregivers, those who are more severely impacted by COVID-19. Teachers. Health care workers. Those with a loved one in long-term care. Those who have recovered from COVID. Those who have lost someone to COVID.

We are all hurting right now.

Which is why we need to band together. Crisis is a powerful teacher. We’ve learned a great deal about our strengths as well as our limits, and if there’s one thing that stands out to me it’s that we are strong and we are resilient. We will make it through this pandemic. But only when we come together as a community to support each other. We can’t do this alone. There is help available if you are struggling. Many free mental health resources can be found on our website.

This is a collective task, one where we need to support – not blame – each other through this dark time. We have the power to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the community: limit your close contacts to those you live with plus essential supports such as childcare. Practice physical distancing, wear a mask as much as possible, wash your hands frequently and stay home except for essential reasons. These same tools and strategies will continue to bring down COVID rates in the weeks and months ahead.

So for now, Ottawa, we have a lot of work to do. We have tools that work. The goal is to get back to a place of balance, like in November and early December when we were using our tools to live with COVID, with declining or stable levels that allowed schools  and more businesses to stay open. We need to maintain these behaviours as our routine for the coming months until we have clear protection from COVID-19 vaccines. I know we can do it. We’ll continue to be in this with you every step of the way.

Thank you. Merci. Meegwetch.

January 12

Ontario Declares Second Provincial Emergency to Address COVID-19 Crisis and Save Lives

Province Issues Stay-at-Home Order and Introduces Enhanced Enforcement Measures to Reduce Mobility

In response to a doubling in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, the real and looming threat of the collapse of the province’s hospital system and alarming risks posed to long-term care homes as a result of high COVID-19 transmission rates, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a second provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA).

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

“The latest modelling data shows that Ontario is in a crisis and, with the current trends, our hospital ICUs will be overwhelmed in a few short weeks with unthinkable consequences,” said Premier Ford. “That’s why we are taking urgent and decisive action, which includes declaring a provincial emergency and imposing a stay-at-home-order. We need people to only go out only for essential trips to pick up groceries or go to medical appointments. By doing the right thing and staying home, you can stay safe and save lives.”

Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for permitted  purposes or activities, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for work where the work cannot be done remotely. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people’s mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings for these purposes, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.

These new public health measures will help stop the spread of COVID-19 by reducing concerning levels of mobility as the province continues its vaccine rollout and ramps up to mass vaccination when the federal government is able to provide the necessary supply to do so.

Additional Public Health Restrictions

Since the implementation of the Provincewide Shutdown over two weeks ago, the latest modelling trends in key public health indicators have continued to worsen, forecasting an overwhelming of the health system unless drastic action is taken. Escalating case counts have led to increasing hospitalization rates and intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy which has resulted in cancellations of scheduled surgeries and procedures.

Provincial modelling shows growth in COVID-19 cases has accelerated, leading to increased hospitalization rates and ICU occupancy. ICU occupancy by COVID-19 patients is now over 400 beds and is projected to be as high as 1,000 beds by early February which has the potential to overwhelm Ontario’s hospitals. The number of COVID-19-related deaths continues to rise and is expected to double from 50 to 100 deaths per day between now and the end of February. Notably, data shows that mobility and contacts between people have not decreased with the current restrictions.  A new variant of COVID-19 emerged in November. If community transmission of this variant occurs, Ontario could experience much higher case counts, ICU occupancy and mortality.

In response to the alarming and exceptional circumstances at hand, and to further interrupt the deadly trend of transmission in Ontario communities, hospitals, and long-term care homes, the following additional public health measures will take effect January 13, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.: 

  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
  • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres.  
  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.

These measures will come into effect between Tuesday January 12, 2021 and Thursday, January 14, 2021, including the provincial declaration of emergency under the EMCPA, orders under that Act, and amendments to regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020

“Despite our best efforts, COVID-19 is continuing to spread in our communities, our hospitals, our long-term care homes, and our workplaces. We are continuing to see concerning trends across the province, including a tragic number of deaths,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We have made great strides in vaccinating tens of thousands of Ontarians, and we can’t let these efforts go to waste. Urgent action is required to break this deadly trend of transmission, ensure people stay home, and save lives.”

To help quickly identify and isolate cases of COVID-19 in workplaces and service providers permitted to remain open such as long-term care homes and schools, the province will provide up to 300,000 COVID-19 tests per week to support key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain and food processing, as well as additional tests for schools and long-term care homes. This volume of rapid tests would support antigen screening for up to 150,000 workers per week over the next 4-5 months in Ontario’s most critical workplaces. The province is expecting to receive 12 million Panbio tests from the federal government over the next several months and continues to pursue opportunities to purchase additional rapid tests.

“The trends in key public health indicators are continuing to deteriorate, and further action is urgently required to save lives,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “By strictly adhering to all public health and workplace safety measures, we can reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and keep our loved ones and our communities safe. It will take the collective efforts of us all to defeat this virus.”

The government knows that in order to keep Ontarians safe, it is important that they are not forced to leave their homes during the new state of emergency. Ontario is exploring all options available to put a temporary residential evictions moratorium in place, and will have more to say in the coming days.

The additional public health restrictions introduced expand on the existing measures put in place to keep Ontarians safe and healthy. On January 7, the government extended the shutdown for Northern Ontario to at least January 23, 2021 to align with the rest of the province. These time-limited measures will be evaluated after 14 days to determine if any restrictions need to be extended or lifted.

New Enforcement Measures

The province will provide authority to all provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors in places open to the public, subject to limited exceptions, as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce requirements under orders under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act (ROA) or EMPCA. Those who decide not to abide by orders will be subject to a set fine and/or prosecution under both the ROA and EMCPA as applicable.

In addition, all provincial offences officers will have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who are in contravention of gathering limits an order and will be able to disperse people who are gathering, regardless whether a premise has been closed or remains open such as a park.

“Strong, new measures will be enforced to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We are taking extraordinary action to provide law enforcement officers with the tools and support they need to protect the health and wellbeing of Ontarians.”

Schools and Child Care Centres

Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, schools in the following public health units (PHUs) will not return to in-person instruction until February 10, 2021:

  • Windsor-Essex
  • Peel Region
  • Toronto
  • York
  • Hamilton

By January 20, 2021, the Chief Medical Officer of Health will advise the Ministry of Education on which public health units (PHUs) will be permitted to resume in-person instruction, based on the most up-to-date data and modelling. Before- and after-school programs can be offered when in-person instruction resumes. Schools in northern PHUs will continue to remain open.

To continue to keep students, staff and communities safe, the following new health and safety measures will be put in place for in-person learning:

  • Masking for Grade 1-3 and requirements for mask wearing outdoors;
  • Enhanced screening protocols; and
  • Expanded targeted testing.

The government will also implement new health and safety measures in Ontario child care settings, such as enhanced screening to align with school requirements, voluntary participation in targeted testing and additional infection prevention and control measures to align with schools. These enhancements are in addition to the existing health and safety measures already being implemented in child care settings across the province.

Child care centres for non-school aged children will remain open, and emergency child care for school-aged children will end in approved PHU regions on January 22, 2021 as these elementary schools return to in-person learning.During this extended period of online learning, in areas where in-person elementary learning is suspended, emergency child care will continue for eligible families in regions subject to school closures, as identified by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“At the heart of our continued efforts to protect against  the spread of COVID-19 in our communities is a firm commitment to return kids to school safely,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “Protecting our students, staff and their families is our top priority, and these additional measures build on our comprehensive plan to reopen schools and keep young children in child care safe.”

Workplace Safety

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is taking additional steps to protect workers with the launch of the “Stay Safe All Day” campaign, focusing workplace inspections in areas of high transmission, including break rooms, and providing new educational materials to employers to promote safe behaviour before, during and after work.

Evidence gathered from COVID-19 related workplace inspections to date shows the vast majority of employers and workers are following COVID-19 safety requirements when working. However, when in a break room, a vehicle or not on the clock, there is a tendency to forget about the importance of wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and hand hygiene. 

As part of the “Stay Safe All Day” campaign, inspectors will use a data-driven approach to focus on workplaces with reported COVID-19 outbreaks, manufacturing businesses, warehouses, distribution centres, food processing operations, construction projects and publicly accessible workplaces deemed essential, such as grocery stores. The Ministry is also using a new data-sharing program, in conjunction with the Ministry of Long-Term Care and the Retirement Regulatory Authority, to focus onsite inspections of long-term-care homes and retirement homes. 

“We know the majority of businesses are operating safely and responsibly to protect their workers and customers. But as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, we all need to step up and take additional measures to stop the spread,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “This includes increasing our inspections to look at everything workers do both while on the job and throughout the workday.” 

In the unfortunate event that an employee becomes infected with COVID-19, they may be entitled to federally funded paid sick leave of up to $500 a week for two weeks. Workers can also access Canada’s Recovery Caregiver Benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks if they are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care.

Over the summer, the government enacted a new regulatory amendment that put non-unionized employees on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to COVID-19, ensuring businesses aren’t forced to terminate employees after their ESA temporary layoff periods have expired. As part of the Safe Restart Agreement, the federal government is funding a temporary income support program that allows workers to take up to 10 days of leave related to COVID-19, preventing the risk of further spread in the workplace and allowing workers to focus on their health.

January 11

Ethical Framework for Prioritization of the COVID-19 Vaccine

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) follows the provincial ethical framework to prioritize COVID- 19 vaccine roll-out. The ethical framework is based on the principals of stewardship, trust, equity and transparency. The framework evaluates the patient population risk of exposure; the risk of severe disease or outcomes, and health system capacity to ensure ongoing care to the population. There is a limited number of vaccines available and

therefore, the vaccine distribution framework helps guide decisions to ensure equitable distribution. It also supports the goal of reducing the risk for those who those more severely impacted by COVID-19 in Ottawa.

As per the priority populations identified by the Government of Ontario , OPH conducted a census of long-term care and retirement homes in order to rank the facilities based on the established ethical framework. OPH worked closely with the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to evaluate the identified priority settings with the objective of preventing COVID-19 from entering facilities through community transmission.

Facility Ranking and Vaccine Distribution Planning

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now approved for transportation to long-term care homes. As per the ethical framework to prioritize COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, noted above, all long-term care homes have been ranked. Long-term care home administrators will work with those who are eligible to receive the vaccine in their facilities to secure consents and other logistics.

Memo

  1. Perley Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre
  2. Carlingview Manor Long-Term Care Home
  3. Peter D. Clark Home (City of Ottawa facility)
  4. St. Patrick’s Home of Ottawa
  5. Garry J. Armstrong (City of Ottawa facility)
  6. Saint-Louis Residence – Bruyère
  7. ExtendicareMedex
  8. ExtendicareWestEndVilla
  9. Extendicare Laurier Manor
  10. The Glebe Centre
  11. Madonna Care Community
  12. Extendicare Starwood
  13. Garden Terrace
  14. Centre d’Accueil Champlain (City of Ottawa facility)
  15. Granite Ridge Care Community
  16. Forest Hill
  17. Villa Marconi
  18. Carleton Lodge (City of Ottawa facility)
  19. Revera Montfort Long-Term Care Home
  20. Osgoode Care Centre
  21. Salvation Army Ottawa Grace Manor
  22. Hillel Lodge
  23. New Orchard Lodge
  24. Revera Longfields Manor Long-Term Care Home
  25. Résidence Élizabeth Bruyère
  26. Manoir Marochel
  27. Sarsfield Colonial Home
  28. Royal Ottawa Place

With respect to the above, the Perley Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre, Carlingview Manor, and Peter D. Clarke Home have now received vaccinations, with Gary J. Armstrong and St. Patrick’s Home of Ottawa scheduled to receive their vaccinations today. Staff will continue to rollout vaccines, per the list above, subject to vaccine availability. Specific dates cannot be determined at this time given vaccines are received from the Province weekly and in amounts that fluctuate week over week. Distribution planning must also consider inventory requirements for second vaccine doses, which have started to be administered. After the 28 long-term care homes are completed, the next priority is higher risk retirement homes.

Vaccine Administration

OPH has designated mobile vaccination teams that can be deployed to long-term care and retirement homes to administer vaccines on-site. OPH is developing this model based on existing best practices that have been established as part of regular vaccination clinics, such as influenza and meningitis (i.e. process, supplies, delivery practices, etc.).

Other City services and The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) will support OPH with coordinating logistics and building resource capacity by identifying immunizers from other organizations/service providers like the Ottawa Paramedic Service, area hospitals and non- clinical staff support.

Next steps

OPH is working closely with partners, including TOH and the LHIN, to support the vaccination efforts at long-term care and retirement homes in the region. We are proud of the work done to date to vaccinate workers in long-term care and retirement homes as well as essential caregivers in long-term care and some retirement homes in Ottawa and will continue to build on this momentum in the weeks and months ahead to eventually provide the vaccine to all Ottawa residents who wish to be vaccinated.

Given the planning assumptions relating to timelines and availability of vaccines and the roles of various partners and stakeholders, we will work together and do all that we can to ensure Ottawa residents who want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to access it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

January 10th

St Paul’s Respite Centre update

  • St Paul’s Respite Centre averaged between 100 to 125 clients, with approx. 200 service interactions per day.  
  • Their highest peak attendance was on January 5, 2021, where they served 128 clients that day
  • This past week, the St Paul’s Respite Centre averaged between 100 to 125 clients, with approx. 200 service interactions per day.
  • Their highest peak attendance was on January 5. 2021, where they served 128 clients.
  • Within the past week, they handed out:
  • Over 350 take away meals provided by the Ottawa Mission Catering Services
  • Had a total of almost 600 unique service interactions (such as clothing, food, warming, washrooms, and referrals to nearby services)

Within the past week, they handed out: 

  • Over 350 take away meals provided by the Ottawa Mission Catering Services 
  • Had a total of almost 600 unique service interactions (such as clothing, food, warming, washrooms, and referrals to nearby services)
  • They continue to implement client rotations when site capacity is reached (max 1 hours stay)

Additional Highlights:

  • A local member from the community assisted with the purchase of some much-needed Winter gloves for clients- 
  • Ongoing outreach with local businesses and residents to identify and work through any concerns. Specific outreach this week included; Remac Convenience Store and Tim Hortons.
  • ESS Case Workers are now on-site at all three locations. They are finding it to be a good opportunity to connect with clients and assist them with their individual needs.
  • We are continuing with the additional garbage pickup twice weekly through the City of Ottawa Waste Management Branch
  • One of our Respite Centre Leads from St. Pauls, was recently featured on Ottawa.ca: https://ottawa.ca/en/interview-megan-dowe-st-pauls-respite-centre
  • Highlight of the week: A local member from the community assisted with the purchase of brand-new Winter gloves for clients in need- THANK YOU 🙏
  • Urgent Call-Out:  We are in need of men’s and women’s Winter Gloves
  • To donate, email donations@ottawa.ca to set up an appointment for drop-off. Remember to follow physical distancing when dropping off donations. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

January 9th

City updates on COVID19 vaccine distribution

The City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health (OPH) are taking a proactive planning approach, outlined below, to ensure readiness as additional vaccines are approved by Health Canada and more doses are received from the Province.

As you read through this document, please keep in mind that there are new developments emerging daily about vaccines and the federal and provincial distribution plans. The information below reflects a moment in time in an ongoing and evolving project. Please rest assured that staff are continually monitoring for updates and aligning our planning efforts in response to new developments.

Jurisdictional Framework

The federal government has taken the lead on the approval and procurement of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada. The federal government has stood up its National Operations Centre through the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), led by Major-General Dany Fortin.

The provincial government receives COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government and is responsible for identifying priority population groups, as it distributes vaccines across Ontario. The Province is also responsible for vaccine tracking and healthcare records management and has established the provincial COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, led by General (retired) Rick Hillier. The Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) and the Ministry of Health’s Emergency Operations Centre have also been stood up.

OPH will eventually receive vaccines from the Province to administer in accordance with the provincially mandated prioritization groups. The City has established a COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force with partners from OPH and The Ottawa Hospital and has also stood up the municipality’s Emergency Operations Centre in support of these efforts.

Vaccine Approvals

Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on December 9, 2020, and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on December 23, 2020. There are other potential vaccines expected to follow, including vaccine candidates from Janssen, AstraZeneca and Novavax, among others. The Public Health Agency of Canada has announced that the federal government has negotiated agreements with seven vaccine manufacturers that would provide access to COVID-19 vaccines to everyone living in Canada by September 2021.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses. Currently, the Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine is approved for people aged 16 and older and the Moderna vaccine is approved for people aged 18 and older. Reports have indicated that the vaccines are close to being equivalent in efficacy. Based on the data from the vaccine trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 95 and 94.1 percent effective respectively, at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 infection, following 2 doses of the vaccines.

There are different cold storage requirements for both vaccines. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine must be stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius whereas the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. For this reason, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires ultra-cold freezers that public health units, doctor’s offices and most pharmacies do not have. As of today, only some hospitals are equipped to BioNTech vaccine, whereas the Moderna vaccine may be administered by a wider range of health care providers with the acquisition of special freezers that can meet temperature store and administer the Pfizer-storage requirements.

Vaccine Distribution

Overall, Canada has secured access to 20 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses and 40 million Moderna doses, with options to purchase more if needed. The total amount of vaccine that will be distributed to the City of Ottawa and precise delivery dates are not yet known. These decisions are made by the Province.

Various tactics will be used to distribute and administer vaccines across Ottawa based on the quantity and type of vaccines received throughout 2021. The main tactics that will be used include: hospital clinics, mobile vaccination teams, community clinics, pharmacies, primary health care providers like family doctors and by other health care professionals such as nurses working in congregate living settings, including long-term care homes and shelters.

Provincial Timeline

The table below outlines the three phases that the Province has announced for the rollout of vaccines in Ontario. The Province has also announced that public health units should be prepared to convert flu clinics under Phase 2 of the rollout. These timelines are subject to change based on the supply/availability of vaccines.

Phase 1 and Pilot Phase

Canada expects to receive a combined total of 6 millions doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for distribution in the first quarter of 2021 – enough for 3 million to be vaccinated with the recommended two-doses. The Ontario government previously announced that it expects to receive approximately two million doses by the end of March, which would amount to roughly one million people fully vaccinated.

If these vaccines were to be distributed on a per capita basis, Ottawa would see up to 160,000 doses by the end of March, enough to fully vaccinate 80,000 residents within the priority groups. However, given that there are areas in the province that have been more severely impacted by COVID-19, the large geographic size and remote areas of the province, and other factors, it is reasonable to assume that the number of doses received in Ottawa could fall below this optimistic projection.

The three main tactics that will be used in Phase 1 include hospital clinics, mobile vaccination teams and nursing staff working in congregate living settings for seniors.

On December 15, 2020, the Ontario government selected The Ottawa Hospital (Civic campus) and the University Health Network in Toronto to receive and administer a small amount of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as part of a provincial pilot. The City and OPH have supported The Ottawa Hospital with their pilot clinic, and as of December 31, 2020, they have received 12,675 of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Currently, the Civic clinic has the capacity to inoculate up to 1,200 people per day.

The Province recently announced that 17 more hospitals in Ontario would be opening similar clinics (all outside of Ottawa) with more hospitals to follow. Each hospital will be responsible for the storage and administration of the vaccines they receive. Given the cold chain requirements of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and that it cannot currently be moved from the site where it is received from long-term care and retirement homes, as well as essential caregivers, are receiving the vaccines at the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital. Additional essential health care workers, such as emergency room and intensive care unit staff, those working on Covid-19 wards, paramedics and others can also receive the vaccine hospital clinic.

With Health Canada’s approval of the Moderna vaccine, the ability to immunize seniors living in specified congregate settings will exist once supply is received from the Province. Ottawa is not expected to receive the initial doses of Moderna, which will go to harder-hit areas of the province and remote northern communities. In the meantime, staff are working with long-term care and retirement homes to understand their needs and capacity to immunize their residents with the nurses working in those facilities, as applicable. There are 28 long-term care homes and 90 retirement homes in the City of Ottawa.

In addition to the availability of nurses working in congregate living settings that are delegated the authority to administer vaccines, OPH is designing mobile vaccination teams that can be deployed to long-term care and retirement homes to administer vaccines on- site. OPH is developing this model based on existing best practices that have been established as part of regular vaccination clinics, such as for influenza and meningitis (i.e., process, supplies, delivery practices, etc.). Other City services will support OPH with coordinating logistics and building resource capacity by identifying immunizers from other organizations and services like the Ottawa Paramedic Service and local hospitals, as well as providing non-clinical staff support.

Notwithstanding that the Province has indicated that the conversion of existing flu clinics will not be required until Phase 2 of the rollout, the City and OPH will be prepared to launch its four community clinics as soon as mid-January for the population groups targeted in Phase 1. These clinics have been identified as a contingency measure should more vaccine become available (or arrives sooner) than expected. The four clinic sites are identified as follows:

Memo

1. Horticulture Building, 1525 Princess Patricia Way
2. EvaJamesMemorialCentre,65StonehavenDrive
3. Orléans Client Service Centre, 255 Centrum Boulevard 4.NepeanSportsplex,1701WoodroffeAvenue

OPH will leverage its existing flu and meningitis vaccine clinic model to establish these COVID-19 community vaccine clinics with specific provisions set out by the Province, for such things as space requirements (15,000 square/feet), layouts/flow of the clinic, technology (e.g. registration system), etc. These four clinics have the capacity to administer 1,200 vaccines per day at each site, and to ensure enhanced access, they will operate 7- days a week from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. The total capacity for these four clinics would be 134,400 vaccines per month.

If 160,000 vaccines are received in Q1 2021, the operation of hospital clinics, mobile vaccination teams, nurses working in congregate living settings and the potential to launch community clinics as a contingency will ensure that the City has the capacity required as part of Phase 1 of the Province’s rollout plan.

Phase 2

For the second quarter of 2021, Ontario expects to receive a combined total of approximately 15 million doses. This is enough for an additional 7.5 million Ontarians to be fully vaccinated. On a per capita basis, an allocation model which has not been confirmed by the Province, Ottawa would receive approximately 1.2 million doses in Q2 2021. The Q1 2021 projections estimate that approximately 80,000 residents would be vaccinated, and another 600,000 residents would be vaccinated in Q2 2021. This means that up to 680,000 Ottawa residents, who are eligible, could be immunized by the beginning of July, based on current Provincial estimates and the availability of vaccine supply – two variables that are highly susceptible to change.

The four main tactics that will be used in Phase 2 include an expansion on hospital clinics, mobile vaccination teams, launching community clinics and pharmacies.

Distribution of vaccines to pharmacies across Ontario will be contingent on the Province. Pharmacies have existing infrastructure and capacity to immunize residents and are well distributed across the city to make a significant contribution to support vaccination efforts.

For Phase 2 of the vaccination rollout, the City will continue to deploy mobile vaccination teams to complete the Phase 1 population group that includes long-term care and retirement homes, other congregate care settings and Indigenous communities. In addition, the City will be prepared to expand on the four community clinics noted as a contingency in Phase 1 above, with three additional community clinics for a total of seven mass immunization clinics. These locations have not yet been determined and staff are assessing various options that align with the guidance provided by the Province.

These new sites will require an additional 90 immunizers and 60 non-clinical support staff to operate. There will likely be other resources needed to support these sites to meet logistical needs as well. To staff these sites, the City is reviewing various options, such as redeployments and new recruitments. These options will also consider existing redeployments that are already in place with OPH for testing and contact tracing. Existing hospital clinics established under Phase 1 would also continue and potentially be expanded to other local area hospitals, as dictated by the Province.

If Ottawa receives 1.2 million vaccines in Q2 2021, immunization through pharmacies, mass immunization community clinics, hospital clinics, mobile vaccination teams and nurses in congregate settings will ensure that the City has the capacity required as part of Phase 2 of the Province’s rollout plan.

Phase 3

If Ottawa receives the estimated doses from now until July 2021, by Phase 3 we could potentially return to a steady state with regular vaccination delivery mechanisms, such as through flu clinics, pharmacies, and primary health care providers.

Key Considerations

The Province had noted that this will be the largest vaccine rollout in a generation. The vaccine logistics and distribution processes are complex, and the City is collaborating with public health experts and industry partners, such as hospitals, to ensure vaccines are administered in a way that is timely, efficient and safe.

There are many logistical challenges to consider, including but not limited to :

  • Staff scheduling
  • Client booking
  • Transportation
  • Supply management (e.g clinical supplies, personal protective equipment, etc.)
  • Clinic technology and data management
  • Vaccine storage, handling and distribution
  • Traffic and parking
  • Security

The above-noted considerations will be factored into the different phases through the rollout of the vaccines.

The City’s Vaccine Distribution Task Force was created on November 16, 2020 and began working with key stakeholders, like OPH and TOH. The Task Force quickly established its governance structure and has regularly met on a weekly basis. Various members on the Task Force have joined provincial roundtable discussions, while others are working closely with area hospital CEOs, Ontario Health and other public health units.

The Vaccine Distribution Distribution Force has proactively secured facilities to help convert OPH flu clinic into Covid-19 community clinics and has retrofitted sites to meet requirements set out by the Province relating to cold storage, security and inventory management, among others. As a result of the City’s declaration of a state of emergency, staff were also able to quickly procure three additional freezers as a public safety contingency to proactively prepare to maintain its Moderna vaccine supply at total cost of less than $20,000.

In addition, a robust communications and community engagement strategy is being rolled out to promote the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, along with ensuring alignment across the many partner organizations.

Part of this work will also include a comprehensive community outreach plan for populations that are marginalized, racialized and higher-risk across Ottawa and consider the mobilization of community clinics in areas that are most impacted by COVID-19.

Emergency Management

To ensure Ottawa is well prepared for what will be another historic year, the City’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is also evolving as part of our Incident Management System (IMS) model, which is a best practice for emergency management across North America. As such, the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force is evolving into an Incident Command Team with key IMS functions that will be expanded in our Emergency Operations Centre.

The EOC Control Group is made up of the Senior Leadership Team along with other key leaders from across the city (Medical Officer of Health, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Paramedic Chief, etc.). This group will remain as is and continues to focus on developing strategies and setting corporate policy direction for the emergency response. The Command Team has a focus on city-wide continuity of operations and consequence management, while the Operations Group manages the day-to-day operational needs of the services. Together,these three groups will ensure a well-coordinated city-wide response.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the City has had to respond quickly to new and changing information that continues to come at an unprecedented pace. Despite this challenge, we have adapted quickly to meet the needs of our residents and to support our staff during the COVID-19 response. We will continue to do so as we work to ensure our readiness to administer vaccines to communities across Ottawa to help bring an end to this pandemic.

January 7

City implements 25-person limit at rinks and sledding hills, reservation system for refrigerated rinks

Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches, has issued an order under the  Health Protection and Promotion Act to restrict the number of people at skating rinks and sledding hills to 25 at one time – ensuring physical distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

For the City’s four outdoor refrigerated rinks, the City will implement an online reservation system to book free 45-minute skating times at ottawa.ca/skating. Starting this Saturday, January 9, reservations will be required to skate at the following peak times: 

  • City Hall Rink of Dreams, 9 am – 11 pm daily
  • Jim Tubman Chevrolet Rink of Dreams, 10 am – 10 pm weekends, 8 am – 10 pm weekdays
  • Lansdowne Park Skating Court, 9 am – 10 pm weekends, 5 pm – 10 pm weekdays *hours subject to change
  • Ben Franklin Place Skating Rink, 9 am – 10 pm weekends, 5 pm – 10 pm weekdays *hours subject to change

Those who have made a reservation must show a copy of their confirmation email upon entry, either on a mobile device or on a printed-out paper. Refrigerated rink openings are weather-dependent, so be sure to check ottawa.cabefore arriving for your reserved skating time. The 25-person limit remains in effect at all times.

The reservation system will open on Friday, January 8 at 6 pm for residents to book skating times for Saturday and Sunday. Moving forward, reservations can be made up to two days in advance with new spots opening at 6 pm daily. A maximum of four skaters can be booked on each reservation. 

For community outdoor rinks and sledding hills, the 25-person capacity also applies. Think about others and limit your time during busy periods so everyone can get a chance to skate or sled. Residents are encouraged to come back at another time if the rink or hill is at capacity. On-site signage will be posted and rink ambassadors will help to make people aware of the 25-person limit. Additionally, a dedicated team from By-law and Regulatory Services will proactively monitor these areas.

The order from Ottawa Public Health addresses reports of large crowds at skating rinks and sledding hills– impeding the ability to maintain proper physical distancing of two metres. In addition, Ottawa is currently under a 28-day provincial shutdown and it has seen a steady increase of cases over the past week – including four straight days where the counts exceeded 100 cases.

In addition to the Order, under Provincial Regulations no team sports are permitted and the City is directing that only skating take place on all rinks with no sticks, pucks, balls or other sports equipment permitted on the ice. People are reminded that masks must be worn in public accessibility areas that are within 15 metres (50 feet) distance of the edge of the ice surface. While masks are not mandatory when skating, OPH recommends wearing one for added protection.

City’s new Virtual Arts and Recreation Centre opens its door to fitness, creative arts, and special interests right into your home

The City’s new Virtual Arts and Recreation Centre opens opportunities to get fit, learn a new language, recipe or instrument, or discover your talents with a brush and palette – virtually, right in the comfort of your home. The winter class offerings will be online at ottawa.ca/recreation on Monday, January 11, with registration starting on Thursday, January 14 at 9 pm.

A mix of short workshops and multi-week courses will begin on Monday, January 25. There will be offerings for every age group. Programs will include:

  • Language classes (French and Spanish)
  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs (STEM)
  • Cooking classes
  • Visual arts: drawing, painting, digital arts
  • Fitness: Zumba©, bootcamp, yoga
  • Dancing: ballet, hip hop and others
  • Martial arts, Tai Chi
  • Leadership programs

Virtual classes help support everyone’s COVID-19 prevention efforts. Staying active and occupied with live-streamed, interactive classes is a perfect way to promote physical and mental well-being.

December 30

Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law 2020-186

Every person who enters or remains on outdoor ice skating rinks operated by the City of Ottawa or on the City’s behalf, including publicly accessible areas that are within a fifteen (15) meter distance of the edge of the ice surface, shall wear a Mask in a manner that covers their mouth, nose, and chin.

Duration:

Effective December 30, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. until January 28, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., twenty-four (24) hours per day, seven (7) days per week.

Exemptions:

  • As prescribed by By-law 2020-186 (as amended) including but not limited to young children, persons with medical or cognitive conditions, persons engaged in athletic/fitness activity
  • Outdoor rink operators when performing rink maintenance when the public is not on the surface of the ice rink

December 23

Impacts to City Services following Province-Wide Shutdown

The purpose of this memo is to provide you with an update on City service adjustments and impacts following the province-wide shutdown announced on Monday, December 21, 2020. The City is committed to supporting residents and businesses during this challenging time while respecting provincial guidelines and keeping our people safe.

1. Counter services remain operational

City counter services will remain open to provide urgent, essential services to support vulnerable populations and local businesses unaffected by the shutdown. Service counters at City Hall, Ben Franklin Place, the Business Licensing Centre at 735 Industrial Avenue and the Rent Supplement Office at 100 Constellation will be available for residents who have scheduled appointments online. Residents will be encouraged to take advantage of self-serve options on ottawa.ca instead of in-person service whenever possible.

Limited counter and document drop-off services will remain available at all Employment and Social Services offices.

These City facilities have appropriate safety measures and booking protocols in place to protect staff and the community we serve.

Members of Council and their staff will continue to have access to their offices at City Hall as required.

2. On-street parking

To support those staying home during the shutdown, By-law and Regulatory Services will not be enforcing overtime parking on unsigned residential streets.

All other parking restrictions that ensure safety and mobility remain in effect, including parking bans due to snow accumulation, no-stopping zones, no-parking zones, fire routes, accessible parking spaces, pay and display, and rules around sidewalks, driveways and fire hydrants.

3. Recreation services and childcare services

The biggest impact from the shutdown will affect programs and services run by Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services. As of December 26, the City will temporarily close City- managed recreation and cultural facilities to the public including recreation complexes, community centres, arenas, swimming pools, theatres and museums. This excludes respite centres, COVID-19 assessment centres and childcare centres.

According to the provincial regulations, municipal day cares will continue to operate but the City will be suspending all holiday day camps. Before-and-after school programs will resume on January 11, when in-class learning resumes.

Under the provincial order, emergency day care will resume and staff in the Community and Social Services Department will be supporting the sector to get this service up and running.

Finally, please be advised that a PSA will be issued shortly with more details on specific City services and programs impacted by the shutdown and information will be available on ottawa.ca.

December 22

I support Ottawa Public Health’s request for the Province to revisit its lockdown approach in Ottawa. 

Here is why:

On December 21st, the Province of Ontario announced another lockdown, although this action may be necessary for certain parts of our province, but considering Ottawa’s incredible hard work, diligence and commitment to being COVID-wise, I echo our Chief Medical Officer and the Mayor when I say these measures are not a one-size fits all solution to all Ontario municipalities. I want to once again thank you for staying safe and following the rules throughout this pandemic

Our small businesses, workers and parents who were forced out of work were just getting back on their feet with regulations that locally demonstrated effectiveness.

On Monday, Ottawa registered 31 new cases of COVID-19. Toronto reported 611 and Peel reported 480 cases. This is a stark difference.

Ottawa has gotten the handle on the pandemic, by staying vigilant and continue to working on ensuring we solidify our weakest links. Here we are not only managing our numbers, as a region, including Gatineau, we have limited movements, reduced indoor capacity, facilitated hand washing, wear a mask indoors and distancing no matter which side of the Ottawa River you live on.  

Premier Ford’s announcement is a blow to a City who has been working hard to stay safe.  Important decisions are made at the provincial level to address the current red zone but blanket approach is adding to the anxiety many of us already feel.

Many parents and kids also fear going back to online learning.  Schools have been an important safe environment to keep our kids active, learning and healthy.

Local MPPs need to advocate for our unique area and City.
I like many political leaders, health professionals, businesses and parents will continue to push the Provincial government to understand our City’s reality.

While we are forced to move into this 28-lockdown I want to encourage everyone to continue to support local businesses, most who have successfully pivoted to curb side pick-ups and online ordering.

I want to also acknowledge all our essential workers. What you do, day in and day out to keep our City operating, whether it’s feeding us, keeping us safe, caring for our seniors, teaching our kids, transporting fellow essential workers to and from work,  or taking care of the sick – each one of you are our local heroes.
So thank you.

Finally, I call on the province to reconsider this province-wide lockdown. If not, we need more clarity on risk levels and data that led to changes to the regional approach leasing us to a lockdown and impacting all residents in Ottawa

Stay safe and healthy.

Mathieu

December 21

The current status of COVID-19 in Ottawa

Provincewide shutdown

The restrictions from the Provincewide shutdown start at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, December 26, 2020 and will continue in Ottawa until Saturday, January 23, 2021.

Based on the latest provincial data, cases in Ontario are expected to continue to grow, with multiple models predicting rates of at least 1,500 cases per day for several weeks under current restrictions. Daily mortality is also increasing in Ontario.

There has been a significant decrease in people staying home, especially when compared to the Spring. We also continue to see trends of people travelling across different public health unit regions.

Public health and other experts have expressed significant concerns that the current transmission trends, combined with the potential high levels of movement of residents related to social and consumer activities over the holiday period, could overwhelm our health care system and public health sector capacity in the new year

The restrictions from the provincewide shutdown affects:

  • Businesses, organizations and facilities
  • Organized public events
  • Social gatherings (including religious services, rites or ceremonies
  • Schools
  • Child-care
  • Post-secondary institutions
  • Day camps

Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches 

Kwey. Bonjour. Hello.

Over the weekend, I connected with Dr. Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, about the shutdown which was announced earlier this afternoon.

I want to acknowledge the dire situation much of our province is facing and how important the next weeks will be to stem the tide of COVID transmission across Ontario before it leads to unprecedented hospitalizations and cripples our health care system.

In my discussions with Dr. Williams, I highlighted the incredibly hard work and significant sacrifices Ottawa residents and businesses have made over the last several months to keep COVID transmissions down. I also mentioned the important role that schools play in enabling people to work and providing structure in children and youth’s days.

Through that hard work and most recently this fall, we have seen the number of hospitalizations and outbreaks decline in Ottawa. While no longer in decline, the levels of COVID in our community remain stable, and we know even a small increase in the number of close contacts we have can quickly lead to a significant rise in COVID-19 levels here. We know our hospitals in Ottawa are ready and not seeing the worrying trends seen in other parts of the province. We want to see elective surgeries continue and not be cancelled. We also know we are seeing a rise in numbers in neighboring regions and we are all connected.

I am disappointed with the decision by the provincial government to apply a 28-day shutdown on the city of Ottawa and I have asked the provincial government to reconsider a two-week shutdown for Ottawa, one that would be as short as possible in consideration of the evidence of the COVID indicators in our community.

We know that in a shutdown, we lose balance in our mental health and freedoms in our lives. For people living with domestic violence, home is not a haven but a dangerous place. Many business owners in the service industry are facing devastating economic impacts and their livelihoods are at risk. Self-isolation and loneliness are having a severe impact on mental health.

People are suffering and everyone is tired.

Today is the winter solstice, the day of the year with the longest hours of darkness. And today, in Ottawa, we are feeling that darkness. BUT the darkest time comes just before the light and I want you to know that I will continue to keep fighting for the people of Ottawa. I will continue to keep speaking to the province, to make it as clear to make this shutdown as short as possible for the city of Ottawa.

Today, there is hope in our community. Last week, nearly 1,500 long-term care workers received the first Pfizer COVID vaccines in Ottawa. There will be a phased and scheduled vaccine campaign to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to everyone who wants it, and we are in the process of reaching out to all long-term care home and retirement home operators and staff to continue to offer more doses of the vaccine. Staff who work at a long-term care or retirement home in Ottawa are asked to contact their employer today for information about how to book your vaccine appointment.

Ottawa, I am proud of the hard work you have done. I know you are committed and that you care deeply about your community.

In the days ahead, please do not gather with people you do not usually live with.  This Christmas must be different. Stay with people in your household only. If you choose to see family and friends outside your household, physically distance and wear a mask. Do as much as possible outdoors.  Stay home if you are sick and wash your hands regularly.

Caring for your loved ones means doing these things. These are both the simplest things but the hardest, especially THIS Christmas.

We need to keep each other closer than ever before, while being physically apart. Many people are struggling and need you to check in. These are your family, your friends, your neighbours who will struggle with their mental health, who will need food, support, even a friendly hello. No one is alone. Our community is all of us and please connect with them to see how you can bring light to someone’s world.  

Thank you. Merci. Meegwetch. 

December 18

Ottawa public Health

On behalf of Ottawa Public Health, I would like to sincerely thank you and your teams for all your hard work, dedication and support. Thank you for collaborating with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) through what has been a year like none other. Over the past 10 months, the City of Ottawa has truly embodied our motto, “One City, One Team”. I cannot say enough how thankful I am to have had your support behind OPH through 2020.  

Together with the community, with our partners and with your support, we have accomplished so much. We see the results of our efforts today with cases stabilizing in Ottawa. It is clear, Ottawa residents, motivated by their care for others, have adopted new behaviours.

As we celebrate the coming of the new year, it is important that we all continue to support the collective efforts to keep COVID-19 transmission as low as possible in our community. The advances in the planning and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine at the federal, provincial and municipal levels are encouraging. I remain hope-filled for the new year. While 2021 will present a new set of challenges, I know that we will overcome them together.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much – from where and how we work, to who we socialize with and how we spend our time. But it has not changed the support OPH receives from our elected officials – if anything, we feel closer to you and your teams than ever before. In the new year we hope to continue to build these relationships and look forward to your continued support.

I hope you take the opportunity to relax and enjoy some time with your households and those close to you over the coming weeks and look forward to connecting with you in the new year. 

Sincerely,
Vera

COVID-19 Vaccine

On December 9, 2020 Health Canada authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, made by Pfiezer-BioNTech. Several other vaccines are currently at various stages of regulatory approval by Health Canada. As part of Phase One of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program, the Ottawa Hospital (TOH) will be participating in the COVID-19 vaccine readiness program in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Pfizer- BioNTech. The first COVID-19 vaccines were administered in Canada on Monday December 14, and a Personal Support Worker (PSW) was the first resident of Ottawa to receive the vaccine on Tuesday, December 15.  Health care workers providing care at 10 Ottawa long-term care homes have been selected to receive the initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in Ottawa. 

The City of Ottawa’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force continues work on a plan for vaccine distribution as it awaits further details from the provincial and federal governments.

OPH has launched a COVID-19 Vaccine page at OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVID19Vaccine with information on the Ottawa context, how the vaccine works, as well as precautions and considerations for residents to be aware of.

COVID-19 Safe Voluntary Isolation Site Program

Today, I had the pleasure of virtually joining Minister Catherine McKenna, MP Mona Fortier, MP Chandra Arya and MP Marie-France Lalonde to announce the Ottawa Safe Voluntary Isolation Site Program. This will be a welcoming and secure temporary home for people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to self-isolate, especially those who cannot do so safely in their own homes.  

With the capacity for up to 107 rooms, those choosing to stay at the centre will be offered a comfortable private room, meals, and transportation to and from the site before and after their self-isolation period. There are no costs associated to their stay. This is an opportunity for these individuals to rest and recover, without fear or anxiety of transmitting the virus to their family, loved ones, roommates and others they live with.  People with COVID-19 infections will be prioritized, but other individuals may also be eligible, for example health care workers and international travelers who face barriers to self-isolating where they usually live, or who may be living in a setting experiencing an outbreak. OPH staff will identify those who qualify through the case management and contact tracing process, and the decision to stay at the centre is completely voluntary.  

The site will operate from December 21 until June 30, with a possibility of extension. Please note the exact location is undisclosed to protect the privacy of the clients and reduce stigma. 

The centre is an important part of Ottawa Public Health’s efforts to reduce community transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Voluntary isolation is a proven way to help reduce the risks of spreading the virus among household contacts. Please share this important new information with your constituents. Those who are in need of the services of the new centre or are in need of additional mental health supports while isolating can reach out to Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744or at healthsante@ottawa.ca .

OPH would like to express gratitude to the local hotel operator for use of the site, and funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada and federal government.  

Holiday/New Year messaging

With the holiday season upon us, OPH is encouraging residents to be social wise during holidays and celebrations. With COVID-19 continuing to be present in our community, OPH recommends keeping the number of people you interact with small: those in your household plus essential supports. If you live alone, one or two contacts outside your home can be important social supports to draw on. Please visit our website for more information on how to Be social wise during holidays and celebrations.

While we are contemplating how the holidays and celebrations are going to look and feel different during the pandemic, it is also important that we all continue to practice non-COVID related behaviours that ensure the safety of our communities and loved ones. These behaviours include arranging for a designated driver when consuming substances like alcohol and cannabis, ensuring proper food handling practices and considering the impact of the cold weather and winter storms.

Mental Health through the Holidays 

As the holidays approach, it’s so important to check in with ourselves and our loved ones to see how things are going and to make sure we are using good coping skills to support our mental health.    

For some, this can mean getting back to good habits like getting enough sleep, being more active and eating well or developing new habits such as mindfulness to add to your coping tool kit. For others, this can mean checking in with some of the many local supports and professionals to talk about our mental health and ways to manage through these challenges.   

OPH would like to remind everyone that the holidays are a time for caring about one another and there are resources available to help. 

  • The Walk-in Counselling Clinic at (613) 755-2277 offers free in person sessions as well as video or phone counselling sessions in English, French, Arabic, Somali, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese at a variety of locations. 
  • The Counselling Connect service in Ottawa offers free access to a same-day or next-day phone or video counselling session. 
  • If you need immediate help, call the Distress Centre Ottawa and Region 24/7  at (613) 238-3311 in English or Tel-Aide Outaouais at (613) 741-6433 in French.

Showing Support for those Isolated or Living Alone

The holidays can be a difficult time for many members of our community who are isolated or living alone. The efforts to reduce COVID-19 transmission might make this year especially challenging. A member of our community who lives alone has recommended that we show our connectedness from our homes. On December 25th at 8:00pm, we are inviting everyone to flip their lights on and off for one minute and make some noise to show members of our community that they are not alone or isolated during the holidays!

Please share this message through your social media channels: Show your support on December 25th at 8pm!

Showing Support for Older Adults

Our partners at the Geriatric Psychiatry Community Services of Ottawa (GPCSO) are highlighting that many older adults are worried and anxious about the upcoming season, as the holidays can be joyful and sometimes hard. The GPCSO has released a FACE the Holidays Guide 2020 to help all of us think creatively about what truly matters this season.

They encourage all of us to FACE the Holidays: 

F – FOCUS on what’s in your control

A – ACKNOWLEDGE this year is different

C – CONNECT creatively

E- ENGAGE safely

OPH Holiday Hours 

The Ottawa Public Health Information Centre (OPHIC) will be closed for general calls on December 25, 28 and January 1.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind residents that when calling the OPHIC line you may request the assistance of an interpreter. This service is available in over 170 different languages. When accessing this service, callers are placed in a 3-way call with the interpreter, who will provide an opportunity to discuss the inquiry in the language of the caller’s choice.

Additional OPH Holiday Service changes 

  • Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 phone line at 613-580-6744 will be open from 8:30 am until 3:30 pm on December 24, closed December 25 and 26, open from 9 am to 4 pm on Dec. 27, open from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm December 28, 29 and 30, open from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm December 31 and closed January 1st.   
  • The Site program office and supervised consumption services at 179 Clarence Street will be closed Friday December 25th to Monday December 28th and Friday January 1st to Sunday January 3rd. The Site mobile van will be closed on Thursday December 24th but will operate from 5 pm until 11:30 pm December 25th to January 3rd.
  • The Sexual Health Clinic and satellite clinics will be closed Thursday December 24th to Monday December 28th and Thursday December 31st to Sunday January 3rd.  The clinic will be open for appointments on December 29th and 30th.
  • The St. Laurent dental clinic  will be closed on December 25, 28 and January 1.
  • The  baby help line will be closed on December 25, 26 and 28 and on January 1st

Holiday Poem

With the holidays near, our team members are displaying their incredible creativity when promoting COVIDWise messaging. Share the holiday spirit with your networks and retweet and follow OPH’s Twitter account.

A holiday poem from OPH

We can still bring cheer

To the holidays this year

By being near 

to those we hold dear 

but let’s not forget to adhere 

to safety measures that are clear 

and not become cavalier and 

keep COVID out of here. 

https://bit.ly/3lxZBmj

COVID-19 vaccine distribution update

In advance of the upcoming holidays and in light of the first delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, we wish to provide an update on the work of the City’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force (CVDT), the Ottawa Hospital (TOH) and other community partners.

This has been a truly historic week for Ottawa, with health care workers who work in some of Ottawa’s long-term care homes becoming the first individuals in the city to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at TOH. 

There will be a phased and scheduled vaccination campaign to make COVID-19 vaccine available to everyone in Ottawa, however it will take many months before large segments of the population are vaccinated. We are confident that residents of Ottawa will keep doing their best to protect their friends, family and coworkers while the vaccinations continue.

The CVDT and partners are in the process of developing logistical and inclusive phased-in plans to administer vaccinations when more become available. The planning includes vaccination logistics and locations as well as the most effective means to reach and inform all residents. With these initial vaccinations happening now, we will take the best vaccination administration practices and continue to implement them into our larger plan. 

The tests and trials on the Pfizer vaccine have been reviewed and approved by Health Canada. This phase of the rollout is not about testing the safety of the vaccine; it is about determining how to best administer the vaccine.

We know there are individuals with questions and concerns about this new vaccine, and to ensure residents have the most up to date information, OPH has launched a COVID-19 vaccine website page, which will be updated regularly. 

While the various indicators tracking COVID-19 levels in Ottawa remain stable, our numbers are no longer declining. It only takes a small increase in the number of individuals’ close contacts to quickly lead to a significant rise in COVID-19 levels in our community. As we enter the holiday season, we need to continue to make informed decisions to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the COVID-19 virus. Avoiding crowded places and close contact with people outside our households are most important.

We must stay consistent, stay strong, stay focused in the weeks and months ahead. OPH has updated its website to reflect the holiday guidance announced by the provincial government and provide residents with information on how to celebrate more safely. We continue to ask that celebrations happen only with the people you already live with, virtually or physically distanced with anyone else, and that those who live alone can exclusively join one other household. 

With a new vaccine available and others anticipated in the weeks and months to come, there is a light on the horizon. We are adding another layer of protection to add to our toolkit. Every single action to prevent COVID-19 transmission counts, and the next few months will require our patience and perseverance.  The mask use, physical distancing, hand washing and staying home when ill are practices that will remain important layers of protection against the virus, including for people who are vaccinated. Residents can expect further updates and more detailed information on the COVID vaccine rollout in the coming weeks.

December 17

Ottawa’s Daily Testing Update

Please note that today’s update includes information about Ottawa’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre holiday hours between Wednesday, December 23, 2020 and Monday, January 4, 2021.

December 16

Respite Centre

They will be at: Tom Brown Area (Centretown West/Hintoburg), Bernard Grandmaitre Arena (Vanier/Overbrook) and St. Paul’s Eastern Church (Downtown). These sites are opening to respond to the needs of our most vulnerable, who have limited access to drop-in, day time services due to physical distancing requirements. Some of the services offered include food services, a warm place during the day, along with several other drop-in services. These respite centres are temporary in nature to provide additional resources throughout the winter months.   

For any questions about the St. Pauls’ Center, residents are invited to contact Respite Centre Operations mobile at 613 806-7306 or via email at StPaulsRespite@ottawa.ca directly to raise any immediate concerns or questions about the respite centre.  The Grandmaitre Center can be reached at: 613-806-7291 or Bernard-GrandmaitreRespite@ottawa.ca

FAQ Opening of Bernard Grandmaître Arena Respite Centre

Q.  When did the McNabb Arena Respite Centre close?

A:  The McNabb Arena Respite Centre closed on Friday October 9, 2020 due to the inability to properly provide heating to the facility. An alternate location was secured, and the Tom Brown Respite Centre was opened effective November 2nd.

Q.  When will the Bernard Grandmaître Arena Respite Centre open?

A:  The Bernard Grandmaître Arena will open fully as a respite centre by November 9 with projected hours of operation, Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 4 pm. A soft launch of the respite centre will start November 5 with full services starting November 9.

Q. Are there other respite centres in the city?

A: We currently have three respite centres identified.

  • Tom Brown Arena Respite Centre – Open
  • Bernard Grandmaitre Respite Centre – Opening November 9
  • Downtown location (TBA) – opening by end of November

We continue scouting additional locations to open future respite centres by year’s end.

Q. How many people used the McNabb Arena Respite Centre?

A. The McNabb Respite Centre received an average of 200 clients per day. Since April 24 to September 24, the following services/interventions were offered:

  • 3057 showers
  • 1487 restroom visits
  • 1113 clients seeking cooling during summer heat warnings
  • 7632 requests for food
  • 138 crisis interventions

Q.  What services will be offered at Bernard Grandmaître Arena Respite Centre?

A: The Bernard Grandmaître Arena Respite Centre will offer numerous drop-in services to our most vulnerable residents. In addition to the access to showers and washrooms, clients will have a place to rest during the day. The centres will also provide essentials like toiletries, food, clothing, crisis intervention, and referrals and links to other primary care services.

Q. Will the Bernard Grandmaître Arena Respite Centre include a supervised consumption site?

  1. . However, crisis intervention staff from partner agencies will be on site to offer supportive counselling and case management.

Q. Why was the Bernard Grandmaître Arena selected for a respite centre?

A. Thoughtful consideration was given to location and physical distancing measures when it comes to why the Bernard Grandmaître Arena was chosen as a site for a respite centre.

This site was selected due to its location in the community and the size of building allows for both proper space for physical distancing and adequate number of washroom and shower facilities, including accessible use of services. 

With the announcement of new provincial restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, many activities were impacted including indoor team sports such as hockey therefore there was limited impact to existing programs. 

Q. Will meals be provided to those who are using the respite centre?

A: The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health will be providing take away meals initially. The Parkdale Food Centre will then be providing take away meals through the Cooking for a Cause program and will be exploring opportunities with local partners to incorporate culturally appropriate food options in the serving of hot meals.

Q. How will the issue of discarded needles be addressed?

A. Staff will be performing perimeter sweeps multiple times daily as well as monitoring and coordinating disposal of sharps containers installed on site. Calls made to 311 regarding discarded needles will continue to be prioritized.

Q. How will safety concerns be addressed?

A. The City will continue to contract a security service for regular monitoring of the Respite Centre during and after operational hours. Security will be on site from 8:30 am to midnight on weekdays and on weekend patrols as well. The City will also continue working with Ottawa Police Service to support respite centre staff in ensuring their presence in the community and address resident concerns. In addition, ongoing consultation with Ottawa Public Health are taking place to ensure current regulations are being met to keep patrons, clients and employees safe in the use of this facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. The safety and well-being of residents and those using the respite centre is of utmost importance to City staff.

Q. Will there be ongoing check in opportunities for key community residents?

A. We are committed to having ongoing meetings with the Bernard Grandmaître Arena Respite Centre community group. The expectation is that they be weekly for the first month, with a reduction in frequency afterwards if warranted.

Q. When will the Bernard Grandmaître Arena Respite Centre close?

A. The centre will be open until the end of the winter at which time we will assess the need and state of the COVID-19 situation

Q. Will there be any impact on ice time?

A.  With the announcement of new provincial restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, many activities were impacted including indoor team sports such as hockey. City staff are assisting with the relocation and consolidation of limited ice time to other facilities when possible, allowing for Bernard Grandmaître Arena to be used as a respite centre.

Q. Will beds be installed once the hockey is moved out of Bernard Grandmaître Arena?

A. Bernard Grandmaître Arena is a Respite Centre and is not identified as a physical distancing centre therefore will not have overnight stays.

Q. What should residents do if they have any concerns?

  1. For Bernard Grandmaître Arena Respite Centre immediate concerns, residents may call the Respite Centre Operations mobile at 613-806-7291, Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 4 pm. Outside of these hours, this number will be forwarded directly to 311 for response. You can also email us at Bernard-GrandmaitreRespite@ottawa.ca

FAQs provided by 3-1-1

Q. What should you do if you find used needles or other drug paraphernalia on the ground? 

A. You can pick-up discarded needles by following Ottawa Public Health’s safe handling instructions. If the material is in a location that is publicly accessible (such as a sidewalk or a parking lot), you may also notify the City of Ottawa by calling 3-1-1.

Q. What if I find used needles or other drug paraphernalia in my backyard?

A. To ensure the safety of our employees, the City of Ottawa will attend on private property to collect these materials so long as the area is publicly accessible. For areas that are not publicly accessible, property owners should pick-up and dispose of these by following Ottawa Public Health’s safe handling instructions.

Q. I picked up a used needle; where can I dispose of it?

A. If you have picked up a needle or other sharp paraphernalia, you may bring it to one of our Needle Drop Box locations including one installed on site at Bernard Grandmaître  Arena.  

Q. How can I file a noise complaint against the respite centre at Bernard Grandmaître arena?

A. To file a noise complaint, please visit ottawa.ca/en/3-1-1/report-or-request/noise or call 3-1-1.

Q. I noticed garbage and litter on the ground near the Bernard Grandmaître Arena. Who can clean this up?

A. Please call 3-1-1 to report garbage or litter at or near the Bernard Grandmaître Arena. An agent will notify the appropriate department for clean-up.

Q. What should I do if I notice loitering on private property?  A. If you witness loitering on private property, please call Ottawa Police reporting unit by dialing 613-236-1222, extension 7300. If this is a life-threatening emergency, please call 9-1-1.

December 14

Ottawa’s Daily Testing Update: December 14, 2020

December 4

Update from Ottawa Public Health

Kindness campaign 

As we move into the next phase of the COVID-19 response, it is important that we continue to be gentle with one another as we transition and adapt in response to new challenges.  OPH has launched a Be Kind campaign. The campaign focuses on how we are all connected and promotes how the small individual actions we take can impact others and help to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. This campaign will include messaging on supporting each other beyond COVID-19, including taking care of both our mental and physical health needs, and treating each other with civility, respect and kindness. Please see an example of some of OPH’s COVIDKind messaging on social media this week: COVIDKind on OPH Twitter.  

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women 

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women will be recognized on December 6th 2020. On this day, OPH is remembering all those who have experienced gender-based violence, including those who have lost their lives in the tragedy of the École Polytechnique attack. This day is still a difficult time for many. OPH will be sharing messaging on social media reminding everyone that it is completely ok to feel affected and that asking for support is a sign of courage, not weakness. By learning from our past, listening to survivors & speaking up, we can work together to take action. Additional supports and information on how to help end violence against women can be found here: Violence Prevention 

Misinformation 

In light of the need for timely and accurate health information during the ever-changing situation relating to the pandemic, OPH would like to remind residents to be wary of the potential for disinformation (false information deliberately and often covertly spread) and misinformation  (incorrect or misleading information that is spread regardless of the intent to mislead). Disinformation and misinformation can be a danger to population health. In the context of COVID-19, false information about cures, treatments, and fake preventative measures can cause serious illness. Misinformation and disinformation can cause long term damage to our health system. The spread of false health information can erode public trust in the health organizations that are striving to limit and control the COVID-19 pandemic. There are credible sources to find the best health information online. OPH encourages residents to refer to reliable and updated health information by verified and trusted health organizations such as local public health units, Public Health Ontario, Health Canada and the World Health Organization, to think critically about what they are seeing and be discerning about the information they share. Misinformation on OPH Twitter  

Vaccination success 

OPH is entering the fourth week of our influenza vaccination campaign and demand this year has far surpassed previous years. During the 2019-2020 OPH influenza vaccination campaign, 11,321 residents were vaccinated against the flu during the fall and winter months. In comparison, since launching in October 2020, OPH has already vaccinated over 48,000 residents to date through our OPH-run community clinics. 

Ottawa Community Action Plan Virtual Summit 

The Ottawa Community Action Plan Virtual Summit took place on November 20th and was hosted jointly by Ottawa Public Health (OPH), The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, the Community Addictions Peer Support Association (CAPSA), the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), and the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA). The Summit brought together over 150 individuals representing a cross-section of national and community organizations, agencies and individuals from healthcare, municipal government (including law enforcement and first responders), individuals with lived and living experience, and various other community organizations.   

Since the previous Summit, in February of 2019, many strides have been made to advance the Ottawa Community Action Plan, to make tangible improvements in mental health and reduce the harms from substance use, with a focus on opioids, across the lifespan. These achievements have included improving coordinated access and creating innovative ways of delivering services while also focusing on subgroups of the population that have been underserved. The successes in Ottawa are being shared on a national level through the partnership with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction so that other jurisdictions can learn and implement similar programs and processes.    

While there has been much success, improving mental health and reducing harms from substance use continue to be top priorities in Ottawa. Current challenges, as cited by keynote speakers during the Virtual Summit, include: lack of services; lack of knowledge on where to access services; opportunity for greater collaboration between sectors; and a number of at-risk groups, such as the Black and Indigenous communities, continuing to be underserved. Challenges also remain in terms of ensuring that people with lived experience are at the forefront of the conversation and are engaged as an integral part of the solution. Understanding these challenges, there was a consensus that collaboration was an important focus and something that provided hope to participants.    

A full report is being prepared and will be shared with elected officials in the new year. OPH is committed to this work and furthering these partnerships to ensure that these groups’ needs are considered in the Ottawa Community Action Plan and addressed overall. For more information on the supports available to the community, please visit the following resources: OPH’s Mental Health and Substance Use Services and ResourcesStop Ottawa Overdose; and Counselling Connect.  

Board of Health Meeting summary 

On Monday evening, the Board of Health held its last meeting of the year, via Zoom.  As part of her verbal report, Dr. Etches provided updates on this fall’s influenza immunization campaign and preparations for an eventual COVID-19 vaccine, the reopening of some of our dental clinics, OPH’s focus on mental health supports, and a recent report on COVID-19 and Racial Identity in Ottawa.  The Board also considered and approved the Draft 2021 Operating Budget for the Ottawa Board of Health.  

Official plan update 

Part of Monday’s Board of Health meeting focused on the City’s draft Official Plan (OP), with Stephen Willis and Emily Davies presenting to the Board on how the draft OP incorporates principles of healthy and inclusive communities.  In particular, their presentation focused on the unique collaboration with OPH through the co-location of two (2) OPH staff with the Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Department (PIED). Through this collaboration, OPH has contributed to policies throughout the OP, including in areas such as mobility, urban design, housing, schools, food, air quality, sustainability, and urban heat islands. OPH also advanced an equity and inclusion lens, and the 15-minute neighbourhood as a fundamental organizing principle for how the city grows. Extensive discussions about the health perspective and advancing other 5 Big Moves goals for many OP polices proved to be a powerful way to develop collaborative solutions that advanced the goals of both PIED and OPH.  

This partnership is ground-breaking in Canada and will help ensure the integration of health perspectives into land use and transportation planning, allowing for the influencing of upstream interventions on the environments and conditions that shape our health and well-being, and our daily decisions.  

December 2

COVID-19 Response in the Vanier Community

Beginning Tuesday, December 1, a temporary COVID-19 testing site opened at the Vanier Community Services Centre (Centre Francophone). Unlike other assessment centres in Ottawa, Vanier’s testing site is intended to mobilize supports around high needs residents and underserved communities. This response in the Vanier community extends well beyond testing-only to include access to other social supports including food, housing and health education.

This temporary testing site serves residents who face barriers accessing other testing locations. Residents who meet the testing criteria and who don’t have a car, experience language barriers, or who need additional supports to self-isolate are encouraged to book an appointment by calling 613-288-5353. The site is open at 270 Marier Avenue on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m.

There is ongoing outreach with combined efforts with the team at CSCV and OPH staff over the next weeks to ensure those in need are accessing this site.

November 30

COVID-19 and Holiday Celebrations

We understand that often elected officials plan events to celebrate the holidays with their communities. We know this is a valuable connection for residents and OPH would strongly encourage that you seek opportunities to engage with residents virtually this year. We know this year the holidays will be like no other and would encourage you to consider safer alternate arrangements such as those listed in this section that do not include in-person activities. We hope that the steps we take together this holiday season will support our ability to bring communities together next year at traditional gathering events. 

This holiday season is bound to be unforgettable for many, if only for the fact that people across the world will be celebrating in new and innovative ways as a result of the pandemic. This winter season, OPH is recommending keeping the number of people you interact with small: those in your household plus essential supports. This means limiting gatherings to those who live in your household and those providing essential support services, such as a caregiver. If you live alone or are a single parent, one or two contacts outside your home can be important social supports to draw on.     

OPH has updated our website to help Ottawa residents prepare for a COVIDWise holiday season, including suggestions for hosting virtual holiday gatherings and ideas for finding memorable ways to celebrate that will keep everyone as safe as possible, such as opening gifts during a video call with family or friends, organizing a Zoom Karaoke night or virtual dance party and other creative ideas. 

We are also encouraging residents to share how they will be celebrating differently this year through Engage Ottawa.

OPH will continue to communicate these resources to residents. Please help amplify our message by sharing our posts on Twitter and Facebook.

With Ottawa’s proximity to Quebec, we know that there are many Ottawa residents who may be unsure of what public health advice to follow to celebrate safely this year. We will continue to work with our colleagues in the Outaouais to help people understand advice for the holidays despite different approaches in the two provinces. 

Please consider taking the opportunity to remind your constituents to sign up on the City’s website to receive the most recent information in the language of their choice. Updates are provided on the COVID-19 response, City Council and other City meetings, health issues, heritage and cultural happenings, winter parking restrictions and more.

The sign up for City of Ottawa eSubscriptions can be found here. Please ensure the appropriate box is selected to ensure delivery of the information in the language of choice. 

COVID Wise Together

Ottawa Public Health and the City of Ottawa are calling on all businesses to be COVID Wise Together this holiday shopping season! OPH is relaunching the COVID Wise Together campaign to support businesses in implementing health and safety measures, promote their actions to help prevent transmission of COVID-19 and help build consumer confidence in our local businesses.  

Participating businesses are asked to commit to implementing COVID Wise measures at their public locations. A fulsome list of measures can be found here: COVID Wise measures.

Businesses that implement the measures are invited to use COVID Wise Together resources, including a window decal, poster, digital graphics and sample social media posts to promote that their business is COVID Wise. 

Please note that COVID Wise Together is not a certification from Ottawa Public Health, but an acknowledgment of the businesses making efforts as part of our community wide response to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Safe Holiday Shopping

The holidays are always a busy time for Ottawa’s brick and mortar stores and shopping centres. Leading up to the holiday season, we have heard concerns from residents and employees working in retail regarding in-person shopping during the pandemic. Understandably, there are concerns about the ability for individuals to ensure physical distancing and adhere to proper masking in a busier environment.

OPH has been reaching out to businesses and reminding retailers about their responsibilities to implement strategies to ensure patrons and employees can physically distance from others while in stores. As we head into the holiday shopping season, we encourage business owners to review their current practices and make any necessary changes to ensure they are creating a safer shopping experience. 

OPH recognizes that the majority of businesses and workplaces in our city are working hard to continue services in the safest way possible. Some strategies to ensure physical distancing measures for employees and customers include enforcing capacity restrictions to ensure patrons can maintain a two-metre physical distance from others in all areas of the store and consider staffing requirements to monitor. Signage should be posted to remind everyone about wearing a mask and maintaining physical distancing, along with posted directional arrows to provide visual instructions to maintain physical distancing. 

For employee safety, OPH is also reminding retailers to ensure COVID-19 safety plans in workplaces are developed that include physical distancing and masking measures in staff-only rooms; this is a new requirement in the provincial regulations. It’s also recommended to consider limiting the number of staff in common rooms at a time based on the size of the space to ensure physical distancing. If staff rooms are small and do not allow for physical distancing, business owners should consider repurposing unused spaces or create a schedule. Staff are required to wear masks in common rooms except when eating or drinking, according to the provincial face coverings and face masks guidance. 

For more information about local guidelines and recommendations, visit: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDWiseTogether. The provincial government also provides more guidance and resources for workplaces here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/resources-prevent-covid-19-workplace

Report: COVID-19 and Racial Identity

COVID-19 is highlighting differences in health outcomes related to factors such as housing, income, employment status and barriers created by racism and discrimination that negatively impact people’s health and well-being. People’s living conditions and life situations affect the risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and their ability to prevent COVID-19 transmission in households and communities.

This week OPH, in collaboration with community partners, published a report on COVID-19 and Racial Identity here in Ottawa, which confirmed that there has been a disproportionate impact on people who are racialized, particularly Black communities. The report also found that females appear to be over-represented in most racial groups. Only half of people diagnosed with COVID-19 reported English or French as a first language, and among people who are racialized, most are immigrants. Looking at occupation categories, people working in the health sector are most impacted by COVID-19, again even more so, people who are racialized in the health care sector.

This information is vital to our community’s response as it helps orient communications and other engagement to support communities at higher risk with vital resources such as information in different languages, access to testing, or food or mental health supports in case people need to self-isolate. OPH is continuing its work to collect these data to better understand COVID-19 risk in our community. Please take the time to read through the report and share within your networks. 

For more information on how OPH and our partners are addressing the needs of populations at higher risk, I encourage you to review the Board of Health Update and Next Steps on COVID-19 response report.

Stigma and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a rise in stigma and prejudice against people who have tested positive for the virus. The pathways to infection are complex and have to do with contexts such as income, employment and housing status. OPH is seeking to foster a stigma-free environment where people are comfortable and supported to get a COVID-19 test and self-isolate as needed, and where people can easily access help if and when they need it. Everyone in Ottawa can contribute to fostering a culture of compassion and care.

All elected officials and staff are invited to review and share OPH’s position statement on stigma, which will help provide guidance on language to use when reporting on COVID-19, including using person-first language, telling stories and avoiding use of language that blames individuals.

Masks

As we have experienced throughout the pandemic, public health advice continues to evolve based on the latest research. Recently the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that it now recommends Canadians choose masks made of at least three-layers with one of the layers being a filter to add an extra layer of protection against COVID-19. 

When buying or making a mask, you should look for a mask that has:  

  • At least three layers: 
    • two layers of tightly woven material fabric, such as cotton or linen, on the inside and outside
    • a filter-type fabric, such as non-woven polypropylene fabric, for the third (middle) layer) 
  • A secure fitting to cover the nose, mouth, and chin. Should be in contact with the face without gapping
  • No seams over the mouth and nose through which air may leak
  • Re-usable fabric that can be washed after use or when damp and dirty. 

If choosing a mask with horizontal pleats to help fit a variety of faces, the mask should be worn with pleats facing downward

You can continue to wear your well-fitting two-layer masks made of tightly woven materials since they work almost as well as three-layer masks, especially to block your own respiratory droplets from others in the event you have COVID-19. However, as you replace or add to your collection of cloth masks, please look for 3-layered masks.

To help communicate the change in public health advice to resident, OPH produced an updated video on mask wearing. Please consider sharing the video widely on your social media channels.

Mental Health Check-in

As daylight hours get shorter, it’s important to check in with ourselves and our loved ones to see how things are going and to make sure we are using good coping skills to support our mental health.  

Back in June OPH presented some initial results to City Council from a population-level survey on the status of mental health in Ottawa that found that residents were reporting worsened mental health and emotional well-being, loneliness and weaker community connectedness. 

We repeated this population-level survey in October after schools had been opened and just as the province announced the modified Stage 2 restrictions. A preliminary snapshot of the October data reveals that overall, Ottawa residents continue to report worsened mental health and emotional well-being, loneliness and weaker community connectedness. 

We are working to analyze the complete results of the October survey, to see which populations are most affected and we will continue to share these results and use them to inform and drive our work, as well as help inform work with our community partners who provide vital services and supports to our residents.   

It’s normal for situations like COVID-19 to affect mental health. Everyone will experience these events in their own way. It is completely natural to feel stress and concern during these times. The holidays are already a difficult time for many, and the pandemic can compound feelings of sadness or depression. Please check-in with yourself and your loved ones’ mental health. There is a list of local Mental Health Resources available for Ottawa residents on our website.

November 27

Weekly COVID-19 Neighbourhood Clusters Report

BACKGROUND

What is a neighbourhood cluster?

A neighbourhood cluster is defined by a higher-than-expected number of people who have COVID-19 in a specific geographical area made up of dissemination areas within a specific period of time. The analysis corrects for the population in those areas, so that those which have higher populations will be expected to have higher numbers of cases than those areas with lower population. People with COVID-19 included in the analysis have no one common identified source or have a common community source or are part of outbreaks within the community. It excludes people with COVID-19 who were infected through health care or long- term care or retirement facilities. A dissemination area is the smallest area for which population data are collected in Canada and comprises about 700 people or about 300 households. There are several postal code areas within a dissemination area which is how we link people’s residences to the dissemination area.

Temporo-spatial clusters, by definition, may expand, contract, or move over time. The software we use focusses on the more recent cases about 2.5 months prior to the current date. Within that time frame, higher than expected numbers of people (total) with COVID-19 given the population density will be detected with onset dates later than the 2.5-month period and end earlier than the current date.

How to use this information:

This information is intended to help inform community-level planning and response to COVID- 19. Information provided in this summary has been prepared for community partners working in collaboration with Ottawa Public Health (e.g. Ottawa Health Team, Community Health Centres).

NEIGHBOURHOOD CLUSTERS IN OTTAWA

Table 1: Neighbourhood clusters in Ottawa with 20 or more individuals who have COVID-19


*Total Cases reflects the total number of individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 from the 13th of August to the 23rd of November 2020.

This week, 61% of all people with COVID-19 in the community, not including health care institutions, resided in one of these neighbourhoods. The average rate of infection in these neighbourhoods was 5 times that of the Ottawa rate.

Map: Neighbourhood clusters in Ottawa with 10 or more total cases

Summary of methods and how to interpret:

  • Pink circles a represent a group of dissemination areas, not individual homes or addresses
  • Cases include sporadic community clients and clients linked to a community outbreak who are: diagnosed within Ottawa Public Health’s area; have either a confirmed or probable infection; and live within 1.5 km buffer of the cluster dissemination areas.
  • The map includes clusters of <20 individuals who have COVID-19 as the SatScan software is unable to suppress these clusters. Please refer to Table 1 for the complete list of clusters with 20 or more individuals who have COVID-19.

November 22

Browse the winter recreation and arts eGuides on November 30 and register on December 7

Stay active this winter and register for one or more City of Ottawa COVID-modified winter recreation and arts activities, starting on Monday, December 7 at 9 pm. In advance, browse our winter eGuides, which go online Monday, November 30, and discover our selection of recreation and arts activities. 

Winter programming will include:

  • Cross-country and skate-ski lessons for all ages and skill levels, including beginners, at the Terry Fox Athletic Centre, located at Mooney’s Bay.
  • Pottery, dance, digital arts, visual arts, multi-media, and music classes at the City’s three arts centres: Nepean Creative Arts Centre, Nepean Visual Arts Centre and Shenkman Arts Centre.
  • PA and winter break day camps for school-aged children between the ages of 4 and 12, featuring crafts, games and other social activities.
  • Low-ratio inclusive recreation, PA days and winter break camp programs for children, youth and adults with disabilities.
  • French instruction dance classes, PA days and winter break camp programs for pre-school and school-aged children.

Remember, registration for the City’s aquatics programs starts on Tuesday, December 1 at 9 pm. Visit ottawa.ca/recreation to explore our aquatic offerings and to register.

The programs and activities have been developed and modified for a healthy and fun environment for you and your family. Visit ottawa.ca/recreation for more details on City safety protocols and measures.

Staying active is important to you and your family’s physical, social and mental well-being. The City is currently developing more winter activities for you and your family that include virtual and outdoor fun. Stay tuned for more information in the upcoming weeks.

November 20

While we continue to see an increase in COVID-19 throughout the province, many indicators are pointing to a slow decline in transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa. This is good news and it is directly thanks to the residents of Ottawa. 

However, this does not mean we can relax and let our guards down. As a community and as individuals, it is important we keep practicing the protective behaviours that have helped reduce the spread of the virus in Ottawa. Keeping our masks on, staying home as much as possible and always when we are sick (except to get a COVID-19 test!) and keeping a two metre-distance from people outside our household is what will get us through. These simple actions help us avoid hospitalizations and deaths and the closure of businesses and schools, and the corresponding negative consequences of those outcomes.

If we do these simple things, and we continue to grow supports for people who have less choice to work in higher risk settings or to isolate from ill family members, we can keep COVID-19 levels low in the community over the winter months.

Please see below for additional updates regarding Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and the COVID-19 response. Thank you for your continued support and work on behalf of the residents of Ottawa.

Special Focus Report: Acquisition exposures of COVID-19 

Last week, OPH published a report looking at where the transmission of COVID-19 is occurring in Ottawa. To look more closely at the impact of Stage 3 reopening on the spread of the virus, OPH analyzed the data collected from Ottawa residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 to find sources of infection and chains of transmission in our community. 

Common risk factors identified in the report include: 

  1. Socializing outside of one’s own household where talking, eating and drinking was involved – whether that occurred in homes, bars and restaurants, patios or parks (indoors or outdoors).
  2. Close contact in small spaces during social and workplace settings – indoors at home and in sports venues, small poorly ventilated spaces such as locker rooms, cars, meeting rooms, and break rooms. 
  3. Inadequate/inconsistent mask use when interacting with people outside of one’s own household in crowded environments and where physical distancing is not maintained – when socializing, coaching, teaching or caring for friends, family, students or clients. 

These locally identified risk factors align with what the World Health Organization has identified as the ‘Three Cs’ where COVID-19 spreads more easily, particularly when all three overlap: 

1) crowded places with many people nearby;

2) close contact setting with close-range conversations; and,

3) confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.

The full report can be found here. Please share this information broadly within your networks. With this information in hand, residents will be better equipped to make more informed decisions to protect against COVID-19.

Seeking feedback from residents

OPH and the City of Ottawa are continuing to explore how best to support residents and businesses as provincial and local COVID-19 restrictions are modified, while aligning with the Province of Ontario’s Response Framework to Help Keep the Province Safe and Open.

Phase 4 of our engagement strategy launched this week and includes a new survey and forum questions available on Engage Ottawa in English or Participons Ottawa in French. 

This is the fourth phase of the public engagement strategy since the beginning of the pandemic. Reports and findings from the first three phases are linked below.

Please promote the Phase 4 survey with your constituents whenever possible as the data gathered is invaluable for informing and supporting our COVID-19 response. 

Update on the 2020 flu vaccination campaign

This year, Ottawa Public Health’s influenza (flu) vaccination campaign had to be modified from past years as a result of COVID-19. Ottawa Public Health’s fixed site clinics have been fully booked since opening in October, and within the first two weeks of being open the number of Ottawa residents vaccinated by OPH has surpassed the total number of residents who received the influenza vaccination last year. OPH has communicated to the province that we are aiming to vaccinate more people than in previous years and that the local demand for vaccine remains high.

On November 19, the fixed site OPH Flu Vaccination Clinic at Notre-Dame-Des-Champs Community Hall, 3659 Navan Road, was amalgamated with the Orléans Public Library Flu Vaccination Clinic location (1705 Orléans Blvd.)  Please note that this has not resulted in fewer appointments being available for residents as the Orléans Public Library Flu Vaccination Clinic location is able to handle the additional appointments. The amalgamation was undertaken to provide increased support for the mobile clinic operation. Locations and dates for the mobile clinic, consisting of an RV and a bus, are anticipated to be finalized by November 25.

As noted last week, OPH has distributed all the doses of the high-dose trivalent (HD-TIV) vaccine for those 65 years old and older that were allotted to OPH for the 2020-2021 Universal Influenza Immunization Program. The Ministry of Health has also informed OPH that Ontario has received 100% of its order for the high-dose trivalent inactivated vaccine for older adults and that all of the doses have been distributed by the Ontario Government Pharmaceutical and Medical Supply Service (OGPMSS). No additional doses of the high-dose trivalent vaccine are anticipated to be provided to OPH or other health units in Ontario at this time. Please note that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has stated that there is insufficient evidence to make a preferential recommendation between HD-TIV and QIV for people 65 years and older. Both vaccines are effective and recommended for seniors. The most important thing is for seniors to get the vaccine that is available in their location without delay.

For more information about influenza immunization, please refer to www.ottawapublichealth.ca/flu

If you have questions regarding the provincial vaccine order please contact uiip.moh@ontario.ca. Thank you for your patience and for your ongoing support of Ottawa Public Health’s influenza immunization program.

Winter 2020-21

OPH has heard concerns and apprehension from many in the community about the upcoming winter months. There is no doubt that the coming months will be some of the most difficult of the pandemic as winter weather forces more of us inside and we are presented with less opportunities to socialize safely. With shorter days, longer nights and temperatures below 0, it is imperative that we look after our mental and physical health while being COVIDWise. Outdoor activities are good for both physical and mental health and usually carry a lower risk of COVID transmission than indoor activities. For this reason, OPH has developed a poster that can be printed or shared online highlighting a few ways residents can stay physically healthy and enjoy the outdoors during the winter months.

We ask all residents to please consider their own risk factors before participating in any outdoor group activity. For an older person or someone with chronic medical problems, the best decision may be to not participate in group activities at all and instead focus on individual activities, like walking. OPH recommends the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)website to all persons wishing to better understand their personal risks for COVID-19 infection.

Winters in Ottawa can be tough and OPH recognizes that not all residents have the same supports or access to winter activities or winter appropriate clothing. This year, OPH is strongly encouraging those in our community who have new or gently used winter clothing, boots and accessories to please consider donating to local non-profits to help ensure winter activities are available to as many residents as possible.

Testing Taskforce

On Thursday, November 19 Ottawa’s COVID-19 Testing Taskforce, led by sector partners, opened a new COVID-19 Drive-Thru Assessment Centre at the National Arts Centre (NAC). The drive-thru testing is available for those 14 years of age and older, by appointment only with a valid Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card. The new centre is open seven days a week, 10 am to 6 pm. Appointments can be booked online or by calling 613-737-8193. Please note the Drive-thru Assessment Centre at Coventry Road has been closed.

Ottawa’s COVID-19 Testing Taskforce is continuing to issue a daily testing update that provides key highlights about the number of residents tested that day (up to 3pm), the average turnaround time for results, and more. The update also includes any new information regarding testing centres, hours of operation and appointment booking.

November 18

The City is gradually restarting recreation services under Ontario’s orange-restrict status

After reviewing the Ontario government’s new orange-restrict regulations and ensuring all safety protocols are in place, the City is gradually restarting its recreation activities and services at its hub locations. The Province of Ontario moved Ottawa from modified stage two restrictions to the new orange-restrict status on Saturday, November 7.

The start dates for the services are as follows:

  • Weight and cardio rooms will reopen on Saturday, November 14
  • Kindergym drop-ins will resume on Monday, November 16
  • Aquafitness will resume on Monday, November 23
  • Nepean Seniors Centre and Churchill Seniors Centre will reopen on Monday, November 23
  • Arena rentals can now resume for modified game play and scrimmages that avoid physical contact

The orange-restrict regulations also require:

  • Physical distancing be increased to three metres in weight and cardio rooms and fitness classes
  • A limit of 10 people per room indoors and 25 people outdoors for fitness activities
  • Contact information for all patrons and participants
  • A mask must be worn in the facility, except when engaged in athletic or physical activity

Access to most drop-in activities requires reservations in advance. Visit ottawa.ca/recreation for more information on activity offerings, locations, room rentals, reservations and all COVID-related protocols and restrictions.

Ottawa Public Health

Ottawa Public Health, in collaboration with the City of Ottawa, are continuing to explore how best to support residents and businesses as provincial and local COVID-19 restrictions are modified, while aligning with the Province of Ontario’s Response Framework to Help Keep the Province Safe and Open. 

  1. NEW survey for members of our community 
    Phase 4 of our engagement strategy launches today and includes a new survey and forum questions available on Engage Ottawa in English or Participons Ottawa in French: https://engage.ottawa.ca/covid19. Please promote this widely to members of our community.  
  1. What We Heard reports 
    At the beginning of May, we launched a public engagement strategy to gather feedback from the public on their experiences during the pandemic. Since then, we have completed three separate public surveys. The full reports are available here: 
    Phase 1 https://engage.ottawa.ca/covid19/news_feed/what-we-heard-phase-1  Phase 2 https://engage.ottawa.ca/covid19/news_feed/what-we-heard-phase-2  Phase 3 http://engage.ottawa.ca/covid19/news_feed/what-we-heard-phase-3 

This feedback is incredibly valuable to us and will help us meet the needs and expectations of our community. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  

November 17

On Monday, November 9th, 2020, pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced that their vaccine candidate has been 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in ongoing Phase 3 trials. While this is very promising news for one of the many vaccine candidates in development, the rollout of any vaccine is expected to be a complex undertaking in the context of a global pandemic.

To ensure readiness should vaccines become available to Canadians, the City of Ottawa is proactively creating the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force under the leadership of Emergency and Protective Services department with key stakeholders such as Ottawa Public Health and in coordination with the City’s Emergency Operations Centre.

This Task Force will develop a comprehensive plan for vaccine distribution in Ottawa, working with key stakeholders to develop strategies for the orderly and coordinated distribution of possible vaccines. This plan will include consideration of internal and external partners, vulnerable populations, the ongoing work of the City’s Human Needs Task Force and will include the development of an associated communications plan. The Task Force will also monitor developments and refine its planning in response to updates from senior levels of government, public health authorities, pharmaceutical companies and internal and external stakeholders.

Memo

This proactive work will ensure a timely and coordinated distribution plan is ready should vaccines become available in the future. In the meantime, it is imperative that all residents continue to adhere to local public health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

November 16

Taking care with COVID-19 in the community 

Last week, the Province announced a new framework that placed Ottawa in the “Restrict” phase. This past Saturday, Ottawa saw indoor dining in restaurants return and gyms, cinemas and casinos reopen, with certain measures in place. This is a positive step for our community, though we must proceed with caution. Opening venues increases the opportunity for COVID-19 transmission and the possibility of a rapid rise in the infection rate is always with us.  

As we enter the second weekend with these reopenings, the important message to share with residents is that: We have to keep our guard up to keep COVID-19 levels down. Similar to how schools are able to be open with precautions in place, with the current level of COVID-19 in the community, businesses can open with proper precautions in place. This will help us manage COVID fatigue. 

Residents are encouraged to connect with others by catching up with a friend or loved one outside their household, virtually, if at all possible. If residents do choose to meet in person, OPH would like to remind them to always maintain a physical distance of at least two metres, wear a mask and stay outdoors if possible.  

The new provincial framework signals that Ontario is striving for a balanced approach to see us through this pandemic.  It is not about getting over the next “wave”, but about finding sustainable ways to balance life while keeping COVID-19 transmission levels low in the community. Government regulations help protect people, but it is still up to everyone across all age groups and in every neighbourhood to act in a safer way when we go about our daily lives so we can keep the levels of COVID-19 down.  

We are one million people strong and our individual actions – collectively – do make a difference.  

Ontario Budget 

Last week the Ontario government released the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover.As anticipated, the health care sector will be receiving an injection of funding as a part of the pandemic response with hospitals receiving the majority of funding. Some notable initiatives include: 

·         Increasing average daily direct care from a nurse or personal support worker (PSW) per long-term care resident to four hours a day over a four-year period;  

·         Making available $4 billion in 2021–22 and a further $2 billion in 2022–23 in dedicated support to protect people’s health and to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic; and  

·         Investing $60 million over three years starting in 2020–21 in the Black Youth Action Plan, doubling its base funding to extend the current program and create a new economic empowerment stream that will support Black youth in achieving social and economic success. 

Remembrance Day Video 

OPH honored our veterans and military members this November 11 by featuring those who have previously served who are now working at the City of Ottawa in a Remembrance Day video series. OPH would like to thank Councillor Matthew LuloffOttawa Paramedic Annoncia Guay Rouselle and Ottawa Fire Captain John Sobey for their participation.  

Flu Vaccine  

This week, I informed members of Council that OPH has distributed all the doses of the high-dose trivalent (HD-TIV) vaccine for those 65 years old and older that were allotted to OPH for the 2020-2021 Universal Influenza Immunization Program. The Ministry of Health has also informed Ottawa Public Health (OPH) that Ontario has received 100% of its order for the high-dose trivalent inactivated vaccine for older adults and that all of the doses have been distributed by the Ontario Government Pharmaceutical and Medical Supply Service (OGPMSS). No additional doses of the high-dose trivalent vaccine are anticipated to be provided to OPH or other health units in Ontario at this time.  

As a result, OPH is not able to fill any more order requests from local physicians for the high-dose vaccine and the HD-TIV will no longer be available in our community influenza immunization clinics. The vaccine may still be available in some pharmacies or from some physicians in limited quantities. Residents may wish to call their local pharmacy or health care provider to inquire about the availability of HD-TIV, though delaying vaccination is not recommended. Providing that the weekly provincial shipment of quadrivalent (QIV) vaccine continues without interruption, OPH clinics will remain open.   

Please note each year the provincial government allots and distributes a specific number of doses of vaccine for health units to distribute. OPH is not an active participant in the procurement of the vaccines, as that occurs at the provincial and federal levels. The province is aware that we are aiming to vaccinate more people than in previous years and that the local demand for vaccine is high. 

For your awareness, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has stated that there is insufficient evidence to make a preferential recommendation between HD-TIV and QIV for people 65 years and older. Both vaccines are effective and recommended for seniors. The most important thing is for seniors to get the vaccine that is available in their location without delay. 

For more information about influenza immunization, please refer to www.ottawapublichealth.ca/flu. Should you have questions regarding the provincial vaccine order please contact uiip.moh@ontario.ca. Thank you for your patience and for your ongoing support of Ottawa Public Health’s influenza immunization program. 

Taking Care of Your Mental Health  

As daylight hours get shorter, it is important to check in with ourselves and our loved ones to see how things are going and ensure we are practicing good coping skills to support our mental health.  It is important to speak to one another about mental health – this can help us increase dialogue, knowledge, and help-seeking, while reducing stigma.  

OPH encourages everyone to engage in activities that support mental wellness. For some this can mean getting back to good habits like getting enough sleep, being more active and eating well. For others, it can mean checking in with the many supports and professionals we have in town to talk about our mental health and ways to manage through these challenges. 

Please note that the Counselling Connect service in Ottawa is available to residents who are seeking mental health supports. Should immediate support be required, we ask residents to reach out to the Ottawa Distress Centre at 613-238-3311 or the Crisis Line at 613-722-6914. 

Overdoses and Harm Reduction strategies 

Earlier this week, a new report from Public Health Ontario on Opioid-Related Deaths during the COVID-19 Pandemic found a 25 per cent increase in suspected drug-related deaths in Ontario between March and May 2020, compared to the monthly median reported in 2019.  

While the data is still preliminary for Ottawa, we are seeing indications of similar trends. Our data is telling us that opioid-related emergency department visits at Ottawa hospitals have increased in 2020, exceeding those seen in 2019.    

Researchers estimate there will be more than 2,200 opioid-related deaths in 2020 if the weekly rate of opioid deaths continues for the rest of the year. This would be the highest ever in Ontario, rising from 1,512 in 2019. 

More information regarding preventing and responding to overdoses can be found on OPH’s website at  StopOverdoseOttawa.ca.   

November 13

COVID-19 assessment centres opening at the National Arts Centre and McNabb Community Centre

To better meet the needs of Ottawa’s downtown core, two COVID-19 assessment centres will open at the National Arts Centre (NAC) parking garage and McNabb Community Centre. The Ottawa Hospital will issue a news release at noon today to inform residents and media. Please do not communicate this information until the news release has been issued.

The current Drive-Thru Assessment Centre on Coventry Road will be relocated to City Hall and the NAC, which will begin operations on Thursday, November 19. The COVID-19 Drive-Thru Assessment Centre at the National Arts Centre will operate in the parking garage, providing shelter, comfort and warmth to Ottawa residents and staff over the winter months. To accommodate resources and staff transitioning to the site, the Coventry Drive-Thru Assessment Centre will formally close on Monday, November 16 at 6 p.m. To ensure residents in the downtown core, who do not have access to a car, can also access a COVID-19 test within walking distance, the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at McNabb Community Centre will open the following week.

Both the NAC and McNabb Assessment Centres exemplify the ongoing collaboration between Ottawa’s health care system and community partners. These sites are operated by The Ottawa Hospital in partnership with Ottawa Public Health, the City of Ottawa and the NAC, and each of these partners share the unified goal to ensure residents have access to convenient and accessible COVID-19 testing options. Through this collaboration with the region’s health partners, the NAC is also actively contributing to the collective effort to ease the community suffering caused by the pandemic. The NAC is doing so while recognizing its ongoing commitment to “ensure the health and safety of its employees, artists and audiences at the NAC.”

As is the case everywhere in Ontario, it will be necessary to make an appointment before coming to an assessment centre for a COVID-19 test. Online booking will be made available through a website prior to the appointment and for those who do not have internet access, reservations can be made by calling 613-737-8193.

Microsoft Word – EN Downtown AC – City Council Letter – FINAL Nov 13.docx

COVID-19 Drive-Thru Assessment Centre at the National Arts Centre (with validation of registration taking place in the City Hall parking garage)

Location: City Hall Parking Garage, Elgin Street Entrance NAC Parking Garage, Entrée de la rue Albert

Hours: Seven days a week, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Residents will first validate their registration at the City Hall parking garage (P1 level) at the time of their scheduled booking. They will complete their registration process in their vehicle. They will then drive the short distance to the National Arts Centre parking garage entrance on Albert Street to undergo testing. No parking fees will apply.

Microsoft Word – EN Downtown AC – City Council Letter – FINAL Nov 13.docx

COVID-19 Assessment Centre at McNabb Community Centre

Location: 180 Percy Street Hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Individuals who do not have phone or internet access may book a future appointment in-person at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at McNabb Community Centre.

Testing at Ottawa’s Community Health Centres:

Earlier in November, the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, Somerset West Community Health Centre and Centretown Community Health Centre began providing COVID-19 testing to members of the downtown Ottawa community.

All three Community Health Centres (CHCs) serve and prioritize individuals who experience barriers accessing other COVID-19 testing sites in the city, whether that is due to language or accessibility barriers. The CHCs provide COVID-19 testing, health assessments and health education, and have a limited number of appointments available on a daily basis. Online booking is available through a website prior to the appointment day and individuals who do not have internet access may book an appointment over the phone by calling 613-789-1500 (Centretown CHC and Sandy Hill CHC) or 613-327-8145 (Somerset West CHC).

Engaging with people most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19:

Opening the NAC, McNabb Community Centre and three of Ottawa’s CHCs to COVID-19 testing is part of the Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce’s larger testing strategy to engage people most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Ottawa’s CHCs and Ottawa Public Health (OPH) have engaged in targeted outreach and community-based testing within some of the city’s hardest hit communities. OPH data guides the community testing response to individuals, families and communities experiencing higher rates of COVID-19. These communities are provided with local approaches to education, access to testing where and when it is needed, and additional supports while individuals and families remain in isolation.

This community-based model is consistent with what other large cities have already determined to be effective in reaching people most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, core elements of the model were designed with the community itself, and this locally coordinated and comprehensive approach:

Microsoft Word – EN Downtown AC – City Council Letter – FINAL Nov 13.docx

  • Addresses accessibility through flexible, responsive and local testing options;
  • Enables coordinated outreach and education; and
  • Activates a network of providers to offer wrap-around care for those who must remain isolated.

Community testing response teams have been active in Ottawa’s shelters, congregate housing settings, and rooming houses where transmission of COVID-19 has occurred, as well as in neighborhoods experiencing higher rates of COVID-19. This work happens largely behind the scenes, but is nevertheless a critical component of the Taskforce’s ongoing testing strategy.

November 5

Assessment centres open on Thursday, November 5

Location Hours
Assessment Centre at Brewer Park Arena
Brewer Park Arena 151 Brewer Way
8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. By appointment
CHEO Assessment Centre at Brewer Park Arena
Brewer Park Arena 151 Brewer Way
8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. By appointment
Coventry Drive-Thru Assessment Centre
300 Coventry Road
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. By appointment
COVID-19 Care Clinic – Moodie
595 Moodie Drive
Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. By appointment
COVID-19 Care Clinic – Heron 1485 Heron RoadMonday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. By appointment

COVID-19 Testing at three of Ottawa’s Community Health Centres

The Centretown Community Health Centre, Sandy Hill Community Health Centre and Somerset West Community Health Centre are now providing COVID-19 testing to members of the downtown Ottawa community.

All three Community Health Centres (CHCs) will serve and prioritize individuals who experience barriers accessing other COVID-19 testing sites in the city, whether that is due to language or accessibility barriers. As such, all three CHCs will have a limited number of appointments available on a daily basis. As an assessment centre, the CHCs will provide COVID-19 testing, health assessments and health education.

The operating hours and appointment booking information for COVID-19 testing at each CHC is included below:

  • Centretown Community Health Centre: 420 Cooper St., Ottawa Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday Click here to book an appointment or call 613-789-1500
  • Sandy Hill Community Health Centre: 221 Nelson St., Ottawa Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday
    Click here to book an appointment or call 613-789-1500
  • Somerset West Community Health Centre: 55 Eccles St., Ottawa
    Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday Click here to book an appointment or call 613-789-1500

Who is eligible to get a test at an assessment centre?

Ottawa’s assessment centres and labs continue to have capacity to serve our city’s residents and produce timely results. We urge Ottawa residents to book an appointment if they meet the following criteria:

  1. You are showing COVID-19 symptoms OR
  2. You have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by Ottawa Public Health, or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app OR
  3. You are a resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by Ottawa Public Health OR
  4. You are eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care

Microsoft Word – EN Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce – Daily Update – Nov 4.docx

Encouraging Ottawa’s residents to get a COVID-19 test

In recent days, Ottawa’s assessment centres have seen a drop in the number of residents getting tested for COVID-19. Testing is the only way to confirm if you have COVID-19. This is important to protect your family and the people you encounter. Testing also tells us how much the virus is circulating in the community and to inform actions to prevent further spread. Ottawa’s COVID-19 Testing Taskforce is urging any resident who needs a test to book an appointment immediately.

Ottawa’s assessment centres have capacity to serve our city’s residents. If you need to make an appointment to get a COVID-19 test, there will be one available to you at one of Ottawa’s six testing sites. Additionally, with the move to appointment-based testing, there are no longer long lines or wait times. Ottawa’s labs have also significantly cut down the number of backlogged tests and results are being turned around in as little as 24 hours.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or if you were alerted of a high risk contact by Ottawa Public Health or through the COVID Alert App, book an appointment immediately. You are putting your loved ones and community at risk by waiting a day or two days to see if your symptoms improve.

Our actions over the next few weeks will ultimately shape Ottawa’s next few months. We are all in this together and we all play an important role in keeping each other safe.

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