Four Ottawa-based Homeless Shelters urge Ontario

Government to fund Pandemic Pay for Front Line Workers

Ottawa’s largest shelters informed Ontario Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy Monday in a two-page email that the shelters have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on pandemic-related expenses since last Aug. 14. That was when government funds allocated to the shelters’ essential workers ran out. The four shelters have spent most of the funds on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), increased staffing and enhanced cleaning protocols.



 See the shelters' full letter here to Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy here:

February 4, 2021
Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy
Minister of Finance & President of the Treasury Board
Government of Ontario

Sent via Email: peter.bethlenfalvy@pc.ola.org

Dear Minister:
RE:  Pandemic Pay for Front Line Workers

As leaders of Ottawa’s largest homeless shelters, we wrote to you on August 6, 2020 to applaud the decision by your government to fund pandemic pay for essential workers. At the time, we stated our concerns that the support for our essential workers was scheduled to end on August 14.

Homeless shelters in Ottawa have incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional costs for pandemic related expenses such as PPE, enhanced cleaning protocols, increased staffing and other costs to minimize the risks posed by Covid19 in a 24/7 environment.  We felt that it was important to continue supporting those who are delivering essential services to many of the most vulnerable people in our community.  This is being done by hundreds of staff across our four shelters.

On July 27, the government of Ontario announced almost $4 billion in provincial and federal funding for municipalities to help stabilize their finances in the wake of Covid19. In its funding announcement, the provincial government identified homeless shelters, women's shelters, food banks, public health and transit as potential beneficiaries of the funds that flowed to municipalities. We were grateful for this support.

The Government of Ontario provided pandemic pay for essential workers from the beginning of the health crisis which demonstrated respect and gratitude for these workers who place the health and well-being of those they serve above all else. Workers who occupy a variety of frontline, clinical, cleaning and food service positions at Ottawa’s emergency shelters received that pay. As noted by Premier Ford on April 7: “During these dark days, the Ontario spirit continues to shine through with everyday acts of heroism, courage, and compassion by our frontline workers.

These people put themselves in harm’s way to care for our sick and vulnerable citizens. I am truly grateful, as are the people of Ontario, for their service, and it’s time we give something back to those who sacrifice so much day in and day out.” And as you also noted Minister, “The pandemic payment recognizes the valiant efforts of our frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19. These heroic workers are delivering critical services that support all Ontarians, including the most vulnerable members of our communities, often putting themselves or their loved ones at risk. They are saving lives and we owe them an incredible debt of gratitude.”

The pandemic pay supported by the government of Ontario ceased as of August 14.

Since then, essential workers throughout the province, including those at Ottawa’s homeless shelters, continued to place the needs of their service users above all else and have worked hard to balance that with the needs of their families, friends and community.  The risks associated with Covid19 have not disappeared.  In fact, there are now significant outbreaks in COVID19 transmissions throughout our shelters and our staff work tirelessly every day to support our community’s vulnerable adults. As such, they deserve our continued respect and support.

On August 6th, we asked that you assume the costs of paying our essential workers the pandemic pay they so deserve for the remainder of the course of the pandemic.  As charitable, not for profit organizations, our shelters cannot afford to offer this on an on-going basis.

Our teams have worked exceptionally hard for the better part of a year to support people experiencing homelessness and those who are precariously housed in the midst of a world-wide pandemic.  At the same time, we also have a severe housing crisis and a devastating opioid crisis.  Our employees deserve to be recognized and be compensated for their incredible professionalism and dedication to supporting the most marginalized members of our community under unprecedented challenging conditions.

Covid19 continues.  Please - we urge your government to continue supporting our frontline champions through the provision of pandemic pay, retroactive to August 14, 2020 and until such time as vaccinations have been administered to our community.  They deserve no less.


Sarah Davis
Executive Director
Cornerstone Housing for Women

Also signed by the senior managers of the three other shelters:

Peter Tilley
The Ottawa Mission

Marc Provost
The Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre

Deirdre Freiheit
Chief Executive Officer
Shepherds of Good Hope


Feb 2, 2021

Dear Shelter and OICH Staff,

As everyone knows, we are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak in our shelter system in Ottawa.  The good news is that most people don’t have symptoms.  The bad news is that most people don’t have symptoms making it harder to detect and manage.

For the next while, Ottawa Public Health is recommending that all staff who work in a shelter have a weekly COVID test.

We are asking that each staff make their own arrangements to get a test.  We want to make this easy for you..

  • You can book an appointment at an assessment centre. You will need to give the outbreak number from the place you work in order to get tested. 

Outbreak numbers Ottawa Mission-2251-2021-28778  Cornerstone 2251-2021-29860  Sheps 2251-2021-29770  Sal 2251-2021-29677.

  1. If you are working at the Mission, please see the clinic for testing.
  1. If you are working at Shepherds, please see the nurses working there for testing
  1. If you work at the Sal, the nurses are only there during the day for testing.
  1. If you work at Cornerstone, please book online and come to the Inner-City Health office (very close) for your test
  1. If you work in a housing program, you don’t have to get a test but, if you also work downtown or want a test please see your nursing team.

To Get a Test at an Assessment Centre

COVID-19 CHEO Assessment Centre and Kids Come First Care Clinic at Brewer Park Arena

  • Ages: 
    • For testing at the COVID-19 CHEO Assessment Centre, ages 2 months to 18 years
    • For care at the COVID-19 CHEO Kids Come First Care Clinic, ages 6 months to 18 years (infants less than 6 months of age must visit the CHEO Emergency Department)
  • Hours:
    • Monday to Thursday: 8:30 am to 7:30 pm
    • Friday to Sunday: 8:30 am to 3:30 pm

View other locations

COVID-19 Care and Testing Centres- Heron, Moodie and Ray Friel locations

View other locations

COVID-19 Assessment Centre for Adults at Brewer Park Arena

  • Ages: Anyone 18+ years old
  • Hours: 
    • Monday to Thursday: 8:30 am to 7:30 pm
    • Friday to Sunday: 8:30 am to 3:30 pm

View other locations

COVID-19 Drive-Thru Assessment Centre at City Hall/National Arts Centre 

  • Ages:  14+ years old
  • Hours: Seven days a week, 10 am to 6 pm
  • Services provided: By appointment only, drive-thru testing only with a valid Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card
  • Location: 

**Please note** Patients must register at City Hall Parking Garage before being tested at the National Arts Centre Parking Garage. Please arrive at City Hall Parking Garage, Elgin St. Entrance at your appointment time.

View other locations

COVID-19 Assessment Centre at McNabb Community Centre

View other locations

COVID-19 testing at three of the Ottawa Community Health Centres

  • Ages:  Testing adults and children above 6 months of age at Centretown and Sandy Hill sites. Testing adults and children aged 13 years and above at the Somerset West site. 
  • Services provided: By appointment only, testing available for those living in Ontario without a health card
  • Download factsheet: Important information about COVID-19 testing at three of the Ottawa Community Health Centres
  • Locations:
    • Centretown Community Health Centre: 
      • Location: 420 Cooper St., Ottawa (Entrance off Somerset Street West, next to 395 Somerset and across the street from the Wine Rack)  
      • Hours: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
      • Click here to book an appointment or call 343-553-2661
      • Please note telephone booking is reserved for those who do NOT have internet access. It is NOT an information line.
    • Sandy Hill Community Health Centre: 
    • Somerset West Community Health Centre:
      • 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Wednesday.
      • 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Thursday. 
      • 9:00 am to 2:30 pm on Friday



(October 19, 2020) 

CFS (Food Bank)

  • Service is by appointment ONLY
  • Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 9am-4pm
  • To schedule contact 613-241-1573 extension 268/221 · Inquiries (for agencies) diana_javier@saobc.org
  • Note: Supportive Housing providers who have residents requiring our Food Bank services, can if they are able to, make arrangements to pick up their residents' food on their behalf:

Ø Send Diana Javier an email request for food request identifying:

o Client’s first and last name

o Client DOB

o Any relevant food restriction for any specific client

Ø Email request must be submitted to Diana by Friday each preceding week for order pick up available the following week.

Ø She will send an email confirmation of food order received along with specific time on Tuesday for food pick up.

Ø This is a reminder to clients with a scheduled food pickup: Vehicles are not permitted in our parking lot. You are advised to seek parking across the street.

*Unfortunately we are unable to make deliveries at this time.

  • Clothing and Household vouchers are currently unavailable until further notice.



  • By appointment only.
  • For inquiries, or an appointment, you may call a caseworker at 613-241-1573, ext 255 or 256.



  • Services fully functional. No changes in services.


Housing Response (HRT)

  • HRT staff working off site and reduced house visits.


Street Outreach

  • Street Outreach fully functional, same hours.



  • No change.


Special Care Unit

  • A few beds have been made available for quarantine until the quarantine residence opens.


Life Skills & Stabilization Unit

  • No change other than classes and group activities cancelled.


Transitional House

  • No change other than group meetings cancelled.


Addiction Services (Anchorage Section)

  • Please note that we are not accepting any new admissions until further notice.
  • No outside meetings.
  • Classes cancelled for Anchorage and Stabilization.


Correctional Services

  • Corrections staff working off site, email communications available.
    Intakes on hold at this time
  • SUP Classes on Hold.
  • CSO placements limited


Spiritual Care Department

There will be a chaplain onsite most days for staff and clients to have one on one spiritual counselling and prayer.

• Chapel services for all groups are cancelled until further notice.

• Spiritual Care classes for all groups are cancelled until further notice.

• Spiritual Care Hospitality hour will be cancelled until further notice.


Thought of the Day

Tony's thought of the day

RSS Good News

Read more >

Thought bubble Stories

Read more >

Heart How to Help

Find out how to make a difference in your community.

Support >

The Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre is a non-profit Christian organization committed to helping those in need.