The Ontario government has provided $1,461,769 to help Oxford respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases in some emergency shelters and help keep vulnerable people safe.
“Ontario is making sure that our most vulnerable stay safe and protected during the pandemic,” stated Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman in a media release. “This funding will provide Oxford’s social service managers with the tools and resources they need to protect shelter residents and staff from COVID-19.”
The funding is part of the province’s $255 million in additional spending through the Social Services Relief Fund. The province says municipal service managers and Indigenous program partners can use the funding to acquire motel and hotel spaces to support physical distancing of shelter residents, hire more shelter staff, purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies, and add to rent and utility banks to prevent more people from becoming homeless.
“It is directly attributed to dealing with the social services’ cost associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Paul Beaton, Director of Human Services, Oxford County.
“The money is used to support individuals and agencies that have seen an increase in business or an increase in traffic because of COVID.”
In Oxford, some of the funds have been spent on PPE.
“We’ve primarily used it to support agencies like The Salvation Army, Operation Sharing, Domestic Assault Services of Oxford, Ingamo Family Homes, those types of agencies that deal directly with our clients,” said Beaton.
Operation Sharing’s ‘The Inn’ now provides improved separation, and has increased its hours, which include full-day programs on weekends.
“We haven’t seen a lot of expense related to the PPE, most of it around keeping the separation of people, the use of hotel rooms when people have to be isolated. The Inn had to be closed recently because of an outbreak, so we’ve hotelled a lot of people,” said Beaton. “We’ve put a fair bit into Operation Sharing and Inn Out of the Cold.
“We support multiple Salvation Army branches throughout Oxford,” Beaton continued.
sk of homelessness.