February 14, 2022

 Special joint statement from Dr. Vera Etches and Donna Gray

Hello. Bonjour. Kwey.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly challenging on everyone over the last two years – physically, mentally and emotionally. And now, residents are experiencing additional challenges due to the ongoing demonstrations in the downtown core and other areas of the city.

Environmental pollution, noise, racism and safety concerns have negatively impacted people’s health and created fear and anxiety in our community far beyond those physically affected. Many residents have felt the need to limit their daily activities leading to further isolation and mental health challenges especially for racialized groups, vulnerable youth, our 2SLGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, older adults and other groups.

Ottawa Public Health is working with the City’s Emergency Operations Centre to monitor and to attempt to address the health impacts the demonstrations have been having on residents. We are actively looking at ways to increase messaging and supports to reach people in Ottawa who are suffering. The Human Needs Task Force continues to assess local needs and enhance the City’s response in collaboration with community partners to help the most at-risk people in our community access food, housing, social services and employment support.

Residents in need can call 2-1-1 for information on government and local community-based health and social services, including emergency financial assistance and food supports.

Additionally, in collaboration with partners, Ottawa Public Health will continue to raise awareness of how to access mental health and substance use health resources and services and provide information to support their mental health and resilience during this time of crisis.

We understand people are feeling anxious, frustrated, isolated, and tired and want this demonstration to end as soon as possible.   We may feel helpless not knowing what we should do.

It’s important to talk about how you are feeling in stressful times. Reach out to friends, family and neighbours. There are resources available, including:

  • Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region support line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 613-238-3311, in French there is Tel-Aide Outaouais – 613-741-6433
  • Counselling Connect which offers free counselling sessions over the phone or video call the same day or the next day.
  • The Walk-In Counselling Clinic (reachable by phone at 613-755-2277) offers free counselling without an appointment. Sessions are offered in French, English, Arabic, Spanish, Somali, Cantonese, and Mandarin by phone or video call.
  • AccessMHA help residents over the age 16 years connect to mental health and substance use health services.
  • 1Call 1Click help connect children, youth and their families (from birth to 21 years of age) to mental health and addiction services and resources.

We want to thank the many health and social services partners and providers across Ottawa who have not wavered in providing critical services to residents throughout these events. This is an incredibly challenging time and we are grateful for the efforts so many are making to support and encourage each other. 

Thank you. Merci. Meegwetch.

Dr. Vera Etches                                               Donna Gray
Medical Officer of Health                              General Manager, Community and Social Services