ACDS COVID-19 Update: March 18
This email includes

  • ACDS’ COVID-19 related advocacy efforts: update on outcomes following today’s meeting with the Service Provider Partnership Committee   
  • Responding to staffing shortages: connecting and collaborating
  • Federal emergency response package: financial relief for individuals and businesses  
  • COVID-19 information and resources: resource list updated daily

Message from Andrea Hesse
Update on outcomes following today's meeting with the Service Provider Partnership Committee

The Service Provider Partnership Committee (SPPC) met again today by teleconference to discuss the needs of service providers at this critical time. We discussed a number of issues but in particular, raised concerns regarding accessing of Personal 
Protective Equipment (PPE), and the need for direct communication from Community and Social Services (CSS) regarding funding and billing. We have strongly shared the need of organizations to have flexibility in deploying and using staff as necessary to maintain essential services. We also shared the need for organizations that are closing services to have ongoing funding to maintain the capacity for services and facilities so they can be reinitiated after the current crisis. 

A communique will be issued from CSS later today or tomorrow, that includes a commitment to flexibility in funding and contracts to ensure organizations can respond as necessary to staffing challenges and service delivery. In addition, CSS is working to get new contracts done on schedule to ensure advance payments and funding continues to be in place. 
 
With respect to PPE, the message has been communicated that services will not be able to be safely maintained without access to supplies. The Ministry is working to get us access to these supplies and we will share information as soon as it is available. 

The SPPC will continue to connect each Wednesday, and we will continue to advocate for needs and share information. In addition, John Stinson and I have a scheduled daily call, so please continue to be in touch with issues of concern.   
Responding to Staffing Shortages: connecting and collaborating
I have spoken with several of you over the past few days and have seen many regional updates as well. I know some of you are already collaborating on staffing and developing processes for sharing staffing. If you have created processes and agreements to facilitate this sharing of staffing resources, such as a Memorandum of Understanding, please send them to brett@acds.ca so we can add them to the ACDS COVID-19 resources page to assist others in navigating the challenges involved in these arrangements. However, I have also talked to organizations that have minimal residential programs that are finding they have staff at risk of layoffs, while other organizations are sharing concerns about the ability to maintain essential services.  

Although staff training and skill sets may not always align, I strongly encourage organizations to connect regionally if they have available staff that may be able to be deployed to assist other service providers. ACDS is happy to assist with making these connections, so please reach out if you require assistance. We want to support this work but feel it is still best managed regionally than at a provincial level. 
Federal Emergency Response Plan
Today the Government of Canada has unveiled a $82B COVID-19 emergency response package for individuals and businesses.  

We are working collaboratively to assess impacts of these announcements. Some highlights of the budget that may offer some relief to staff and organizations in the Community Disability Sector include: 
  • A temporary boost to Canada Child Benefit payments, delivering about $2 billion in extra support. 
  • financial supports to employees laid off or with reduced hours including those not eligible for EI 
  • a GST credit for low-income Canadians and special support 
  • A new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 biweekly, up to 15 weeks, to provide income support to workers, including the self-employed, who have to stay home and don't qualify for paid sick leave or employment insurance.  
  • A new Emergency Support Benefit to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.   
  • Student loan relief
  • Allowing taxpayers to defer until after Aug. 31 tax payments that are due after today and before September. 


We are also expecting additional similar measures at a provincial level to be announced this week and will work to collect this information and make it available.
COVID-19 Response Resources
ACDS has created a website devoted to COVID-19 related information and resources .  The focus so far has been on pandemic planning and business continuity tools and resources. While these will still be available, the focus will now shift to sharing information about current and new government initiatives to support organizations.

If you come across such measures and initiatives that you would like to share with others, please forward them directly to   jasvir@acds.ca    and  brett@acds.ca . ACDS will be devoting the majority of our communication resources to this effort, as we work to support everyone through information sharing in this fluid environment.
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Alberta Council of Disability Services