Province announces plan to support ‘vulnerable populations’ during pandemic

Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Todd Smith, August 13, 2019. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Ontario has announced that it will invest up to $40 million to support organizations that help out the province’s more vulnerable populations.

The COVID-19 Residential Relief Fund will provide financial aid to organizations that support residential services for children and youth, people with developmental disabilities, as well as emergency shelters for women and families fleeing domestic violence.

The fund will cover the costs of any additional staffing that’s required, residential respite for caregivers, personal protective equipment, (PPE) initiatives that support physical distancing, and transportation to help minimize client exposure.

Todd Smith, the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services said the provincial government is doing what it can to help the vulnerable through the pandemic.

“I want to personally thank all the staff and managers who are working on the front lines of the developmental services sector for keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe during this unprecedented time. You exemplify the true Ontario spirit each and every day.” Smith said in a news release.

Ontario is also taking action to help ensure that staffing and resources are available to help care for and protect people with developmental disabilities as well as the front-line workers who support them. These measures are aimed to provide flexibility while redirecting staff and financial resources to  keep individuals with developmental disabilities out of hospitals.

The relief fund will also help with any increased residential costs that emergency shelters for women fleeing domestic violence and survivors of human trafficking are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jill Dunlop, the Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues added that it’s important to stay home to stop the spread of the coronavirus but acknowledged that home isn’t safe for everyone.

“That’s why it’s critical during this time that residential organizations for people fleeing violence have the security they need to continue supporting vulnerable women,” she said.