Saskatoon Inter-Agency Response to COVID-19
The Saskatoon Inter-Agency Response to COVID-19 (Inter-Agency Response) is a group representing over 50 community-based organizations and government agencies. The collaboration was formed to address the unique challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic for agencies serving vulnerable residents.
An Incident Command Structure was adopted through City of Saskatoon emergency management, and was staffed by reallocated staff from front line community and government agencies.
Priority was given to assisting agencies serving residents experiencing deep food and housing insecurity.
Core work has consisted of maintaining situational awareness, responding to incidents, gathering and sharing safety information, liaising with partners, advocacy, procurement, and financial assistance.
The Inter-Agency Response June Report identified many trends and needs, using a 401-reporting tool that received 110 responses from 61 organizations.
Resource requests were:
- Personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies
- General Funding
- Operational needs, staff, space, transportation
- Tecnhology, internet, phones
- Food, supplies, services
- Other medical needs
Gaps identified included:
- Guidelines for income assistance, direct payment of landlords
- Access to vacant social housing units
- Mobile testing sites located where people are
- Services for lonely, isolated seniors and children
- Increased demand for food services
- Avoidance of public transportation due to safety concerns
- Mental health issues worsened by and continuing beyond the pandemic
- Inmates released without housing planned
- Support for staff mental health
- Concern for reopening and austerity in the future
The Inter-Agency Response to these resource gaps used a coordinated approach for services, sharing information formally, developing public messaging, raising funds, providing isolation and transitional housing, and providing testing with a harm reduction model. Additional work is being done by task forces addressing technology barriers and the lack of access to public washrooms.
The report authors acknowledge that the unprecedented pandemic has revealed existing social inequalities and the consequence of making populations unequally vulnerable during and after crises. They credit the “personal and professional commitment”of numerous collaborators in providing a “well-coordinated, useful, timely response that reduced hardship and saved lives.”
Source: Report on COVID-19 Vulnerable Sector Response in Saskatoon March-May 2020 by Jacob Alhassan, Hilary Gough, Bonnie Heilman, Lori Hanson, Colleen Christopherson-Cote
Read the full report here: Inter-Agency Response June 2020 Report