Hello Federation Members,
Thank you for joining us on Thursday, September 9, 2021, for our monthly Member Support and Information Exchange call. Below, please find updates for this week:
- Member Discussion
- National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
- Improving child and family service delivery
- Free cloth masks
- Proof of Vaccination program
- BC Restart Plan Phase III
- Donating to the Federation Youth Bursary
- Accreditation Circle
Our Member Calls Have Changed
You have noticed this month we are shifting our ‘Covid-19 and Your Organization’ member calls to calls on the 2nd Thursday of the month, beginning today. The new name is Member Support and Information Exchange and we want to keep the focus on the Federation supporting members to ask questions and share their ideas and practices. We invite your ideas for topics. The Federation is creating space for a second call in the month if members say they would like that to happen. The upcoming calls will be:
- September 23th from 10:00-11:00 AM
- October 14th from 10:00-11:00 AM (with guests from the CSS Health and Safety Council)
- November 18th from 10:00-11:00 AM (with guest Jonny Morris, CMHA BC and a focus on mental health for clients, staff and leadership)
Before our introduction circle, we began with a minute of silence in respect of the ongoing findings of the unmarked graves at past Residential Schools. We shared information on BC’s Proof of Vaccination and hosted Dr. Brian Emerson, Deputy Public Health Officer to provide clarity on COVID-19 impacts. If you have questions for the Public Health Office regarding COVID-19, please email them to Sherry Sinclair at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are grateful to Dr. Emerson who will keep us informed as we move through the fourth wave of the pandemic and into Phase 4 of BC’s Restart plan.
Here is a recap of the members’ discussion:
Q: Are there restrictions for staff working in long-term (LT) care and also in Community Social Services (CSS)?
A: My understanding in LT care, programs are resuming with safety protocols in place. There was the instance of a single site and specific circumstance where such restrictions applied, however, there should not be a restriction for them working between LT care and CSS setting simultaneously.
Q: Are vaccinations mandatory for Supported Housing Programs, where 24-hour care is provided?
A: Not at this time. Mandated for long-term, extended care, home care and other residential care settings. The next move is certain hospital care settings/programs and extended care. (Something to consider would be where do health care and other services begin.)
Q: We received confirmation that Proof of Vaccine (PoV) is not required for CSS Board of Directors, do you expect that to change soon?
A: Numbers have started to rise and we are in the fourth wave of this pandemic. Review of limits and restrictions is ongoing (during a pandemic), especially if an area starts to show the trend of increased numbers infected. The main focus is to promote vaccination. As the number of vaccinated people increases and the number of critical care cases goes down, we can consider opening business further. If any restrictions are to come out, it will be similar initiatives such as the vaccine card which is gear toward discretionary activities (accessing non-essential services such as recreational and leisure).
Q: Is there a number to direct people to ask technical questions? Re HR mandatory vaccination, staff required for outreach, staff request to vaccinate, etc.
A: Dr. Emerson is good contact regarding the Vaccination Card. Dr. Behn-Smith is away right now. In terms of accessing these places, where people are required to ask for proof of vaccination, and in regard to whether a worker is not vaccinated, it is important to keep in mind that the purpose is to encourage people to vaccinate (the Province has tried to limit areas where this is required; e.g., in-persons recreational or leisure activities). People can still access some of these services via ‘take-out.’ It is when a person wants to access these services in person that proof of vaccination comes into play (e.g., if you wish to dine in a restaurant, use a public gym facility, attend ticketed sports events/venues, indoor concerts, casinos, bars/pubs).
Q: What is the difference between getting takeout and in-person services? Can a person go into a restaurant?
A: You can enter to pick up food but if ‘sitting down,’ you will be required to provide proof of vaccination. Individuals will still have to follow social distancing requirements when picking up takeout; however, because dining-in involves longer periods that increase lengths of potential exposure and or transmission, proof of vaccination will be required.
Q: Re: health sector and mandatory vaccination—some organizations require staff to meet people outside in restaurants, etc. Can we ask and can we require vaccination?
A: Restaurants are required to ask for proof of vaccination. This could be a problem if the client or worker is not vaccinated. Again, one factor of proof of vaccination is to try to limit places this is going to be required so there are alternatives. It is more limited to sit-down table service, concerts, theatres. When it comes to HR matters, there are definite limits to what information you can ask from them and issues about what you can ask about personal medical histories. Agencies are encouraged to get a legal opinion.
Q: Sincron has software that can track vaccination status (Re Variants ). Since the Delta variant came on very strong, what is the plan to monitor and manage other variants so there is a less drastic shifting of gears for businesses?
A: The variants monitoring/management involves measuring the degree of transmission. If we get a variant that the vaccine doesn’t work against, that is when we have to implement a different plan. Right now, we’re not seeing that. The vaccines are effective in lessening the effects of virus. Planning to increase the number of vaccinated people increases the number of people with immunity to the virus, including variants. (Immunity does not stop a person from contracting the virus but affects how the body responds to the virus such as lessened or milder symptoms).
Q: We are seeing some public resistance to backtrack in restriction and people are tired of the pandemic. What is the Province’s position to address this?
A: The province has been dealing with it from the beginning. The government is stepping up to help educate and support through increased communication and education. Sharing the steps we have taken offers transparency, offers the tracking of progress, and overall mitigates resistance to vaccination.
Q: In school settings with young children, we have tried to implement social distancing measures (such as registered drop-in) but it has been difficult. Any suggestions?
A: Fortunately, the effect on children has been minimal and kids will be kids. The recommended plan of action is to promote vaccination for adults around. Regarding the mandate for adults to be vaccinated, it is not mandatory but there is a challenge to consider regarding HR standards and privacy law and labour relations on mandatory vaccination. You are encouraged to seek legal opinions.
Q: Is there leeway for organizations to determine if whether to mandate vaccines within their organization?
A: Go in with eyes open and pay attention to the legal positions.
Q: Neighbourhood Houses are under the banner of social services and run classes such as choir and art. Do staff/participants require proof of vaccination?
A: Yes, if over 50 participants in a class.
Q: Will PHO be following other provincial guidelines around offering booster shots only to immuno-compromised people or will there be a plan for annual boosters for everyone in 2022 and onward?
A: I anticipate we will be following the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). We recently announced that boosters would be offered to a group of clinically extremely vulnerable people, per NACI’s recommendation.
Q: Is the BC Proof of Vaccination going to merge with the Canadian National Proof of Vaccination program?
A: That is yet to be determined.
Q: Is there a FAQ document for the Proof of Vaccination?
A: See https://www2.gov.bc.ca/vaccinecard.html
Over the coming weeks, Dr. Emerson is happy to be the Federation contact for additional questions and concerns. If you have additional questions, please send them to email@example.com and we will forward them to Dr. Emerson.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
The province of BC recognizes September 30th as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, in alignment with legislation passed by the federal government in June 2021. This date coincides with Orange Shirt Day, which began with Phyllis Webstad in 2013 and involved wearing orange shirts to honour Indigenous children forced to leave their families to attend residential schools. According to Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, this National Day can give Canadians a chance to learn about and reflect on a dark chapter in their country’s history and commemorate the survivors, their families and their communities.
Speaking to the administration of this new national holiday, the Public Sector Employers’ Council (PSEC) does not want the employer to bear the expense of administration costs for the day and contracts will be adjusted accordingly. Please click here for the letter from MCFD addressing service providers, the intent of the day and how the administrative costs will be provided for.
National Residential School Crisis Line
A National Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support to former students. This 24-Hour Crisis Line can be accessed at: 1-866-925-4419. At the Federation, we are renewing our commitment, as an organization and as individuals, to take personal responsibility for truth and reconciliation, to make sure our words translate into actions, and to use the power and privilege we have to drive change and decolonize those systems to which we are connected.
Wellbeing Website Portal
The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions (MMHA) has a new website to help connect people with mental wellness services and supports.
Improve Child and Family Service Delivery
Thank you to everyone who has completed the survey for the current mapping research of the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) with the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD). The focus is to map the ecosystems of child and family services delivery for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in the province.
A Project Overview PDF (with a description of the case study approach) is available here as well as a short 12-question PDF survey that you can download and complete. With the intention of being inclusive, and to ensure that everyone affected is aware of this project and has the opportunity to voluntarily participate, we are extending the cut-off date for receipt of questionnaires and participation in case studies to Friday, September 24.
If you would like to participate in a one-hour case study interview, please contact Dr. Helaina Gaspard, Director of Governance & Institutions at the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Completed survey PFDs can be emailed to email@example.com. Thank you very much for your support in this important work!
One Million Free Cloth Masks
As we wait for the delivery of the N95 masks from Brands For Canada, we are offered over a million 3-ply cloth masks. If you are interested in receiving a large quantity or know somewhere they can be stored for distribution, please email Pam Alcorn, firstname.lastname@example.org. Delivery can be arranged to your storage area. We do not have an arrival date for the N95 masks.
BC’s Restart Plan
We continue in BC’s Restart Plan Phase 3 and can move to Phase 4 once the current COVID-19 cases decrease and new cases remain low. We are all continuing to follow the health protocols of frequent hand washing, staying home when ill, and when advised, keeping socially distanced and wearing a mask. As of September 8, 2021, 77.7% of eligible people 12 years and older have received their second shot of the vaccine and 85.2% have received their first shot.
BC Vaccine Card
Requiring proof of vaccination to participate in non-essential activities will begin September 13th. People will have until September 26th to register for a QR code that can be saved to their smartphone, saved as a screenshot, or printed from their computer. This is a temporary measure until the Federal Government develops a National Proof of Vaccination program. The BC Proof of Vaccination website explains everything you need to know.
Dr. Penny Ballem, working with the Health Authorities, has confirmed that community social services (CSS) clients, volunteers, staff and leaders are not required to show proof to attend or deliver CSS activities. This includes training (off- or on-site), programming (off- or on-site), and all manner of business.
If a person does not have a computer or smartphone, you can order a paper copy by phone at 1-833-838-2323 from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM 7 days a week. Proof of vaccination is not required to vote in person for the Federal election on September 20th. Telephone for the Deaf: Dial 711. Video Relay Services (VRS) provides sign language interpretation and is free for registered deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired people.
The requirement applies to all people born in 2009 or earlier (12+) and covers:
- Indoor ticketed sporting events
- Indoor concerts, theatre, dance and symphony events
- Licensed restaurants and restaurants that offer table service (indoor and patio dining)
- Pubs, bars and lounges (indoor and patio dining)
- Nightclubs, casinos and movie theatres
- Gyms, exercise facilities/studios, pools and recreation facilities
- Businesses offering indoor group exercise
- Indoor adult group and team sports for people 22 years old or older
- Indoor organized events with 50 or more people (e.g., wedding receptions, organized parties, conferences and workshops)
- Indoor organized group recreational classes and activities like pottery, art and choir
- Post-secondary on-campus student housing
In an effort to increase vaccination rates, the BC government has introduced an escalated plan implementing Walk-in Wednesday Clinics, along with vaccinations for youth aged 12 years and up. You can call or register online for a walk-in appointment on August 8 or continue to get registered for the first dose and follow-up second dose. Check these web pages out for a collection of most things COVID-19 related or Vax for BC.
Available Training Dollars for Organizations
Last year, The Federation helped to launch the Community Social Services Training Fund. Currently, organizations are able to apply for both the Support for Certification/Education Individual Grant (now with funding of up to $15,000 for multiple employees) and the Organizational Training Grant (funding of up to $10,000) within the same fiscal year.
We ask you to help us spread the good news that these training dollars are for all community social service organizations. The recipient does not have to be a Federation member and we would appreciate you sharing this information with your colleagues.
If you are searching for a way to decolonize and transform your organization, please apply to the Transformative Reconciliation program. All community social service agencies may apply to the Community Social Services Training Fund to cover the entire cost of the Transformative Reconciliation registration fees, regardless if you have applied for Training Fund monies previously.
Help Get Donations for the Youth Education Bursary
The Federation is pleased to announce that our Associate Member, Sincron HR, is offering members a unique way to help support the Youth Education Bursary fund. When any Federation member sets up a meeting with Sincron HR to review their recruitment and onboarding needs, Sincron HR will make a donation to the Youth Bursary Fund. We encourage you to reach out today.
If you are looking for support for your virtual accreditation, please join Federation members on the active virtual accreditation monthly calls. They happen on the 3rd Friday of each month. The next call is Friday, September 17, from 11:00-12:00. Please contact Pam or Stephanie for more information at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Please reach out and let us know how we can support you. Looking forward to seeing you on our next call, September 23rd from 10:00-11:00 AM. The dates and log-in information for future member calls can be found on our webinars page.
Wishing you a lovely Fall 😊
Pam Alcorn, Membership and Public Policy Coordinator
Sherry Sinclair, Director of Programs and Services