COVID-19 Information for Social Services Sector

We are going to update this page regularly during the COVID-19 epidemic to keep the sector informed with the latest developments affecting our work, employees, clients and communities. Stay well!

The provincial government is asking all businesses and organizations in BC to undertake an inventory of critical supplies in their possession, including personal protective equipment, medical supplies and cleaning. Local governments are asked to share this request with businesses and organizations in their community, says the Union of BC Municipalities.

The goal is for all supplies and quantities currently held by businesses and organizations to be compiled, with businesses and organizations noting whether they would be able to send the supplies to centralized provincial distribution facilities, located in the Lower Mainland and Victoria, for further distribution across B.C. At this time, the province is seeking quantities of 100 units or more. Businesses and organizations are asked to please return the spreadsheet by Tuesday, April 2 to: ESMOC.DIRECTOR@gov.bc.ca

The BC Government declared a state of emergency on March 26 and have put together a list of essential services. The designations most affecting our sector are at the Vulnerable Populations heading in the government’s online list.

Here are some important updates on extensions and deferrals related to WorkBC processes and requirements.

Non-profits are eligible for financial relief through the federal Temporary Wage Subsidy, which provides relief of up to $25,000 a month ($1,375per employee) from March through June through reduced payroll remittances. Get the details here on how to make that happen.

Health authorities have now been given the power to order long-term care workers to work in a single LTC site. However, those workers are cleared to have second jobs in community social services and community health. Here’s information from the Hospital Employees Union on that directive.

Update for CLBC providers, March 24, 2020. “For the vast majority of supported individuals the safest place for them right now is at home. That is why if you haven’t already done so we are requiring you to work with families, home share providers, and other support agencies to quickly transition supports to be provided from or in the individual’s home.”

WorkSafe BC is granting extensions on any occupational first aid, or equivalent certificates due to expire between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020. These certificates will now be acceptable in the workplace for 90 days beyond their original expiry date. More details here.

The federal government has announced a $107 billion aid package to deal with the economic fallout of COVID-19. Here’s a CBC story on that; scroll down to the bottom for a bulleted list of the initiatives. The BC government has announced some aid measures as well, including support for renters and landlords.

Meanwhile, the Emergency Coalition of Canadian Charities and Imagine Canada are appealing to the federal government for an $8-10 billion “emergency stabilization fund” that will allow charities to stay afloat, pay staff, cover critical expenses, and continue essential frontline operations during the pandemic. “Given our sector’s significant employment numbers and GDP contributions, we estimate that this fund will need to be at least $10 billion to be effective – a total that is proportional to the size and impact of the sector,” the coalition notes in the letter. More details here.

Thank you to the Federation of Community Social Services of BC for its comprehensive information on managing the threat of COVID-19 in our workplaces. Here is the letter from the Provincial Health Officer to BC’s Social Services Sector with advice and recommendations on managing services in these critical times.

>> Groups of people must remain smaller than 50 persons
>> Groups of people must be able to maintain the recommended social distancing
>> Enhanced disinfecting of surfaces, particularly “high touch” surfaces
>> Frequent hand washing takes place and people avoid touching their face
>> Decreased opportunities for cross-group interaction

The provincial health officer notes that dahering to these conditions may require some changes in how services are delivered (e.g., more outside time, virtual programming, not travelling on transit, bringing groups together in smaller numbers). Government has asked our sector to adapt services as best we can, balancing the safety risks for staff and clients with the social risks of not providing vital services to British Columbians in a time of great need.

Thanks for all your efforts to maintain services to British Columbians in these difficult times! Board Voice is circulating all directives as soon as they become available