In March, the Federal Government announced $9M in funding for seniors living in vulnerable situations that are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include seniors living in isolation, or in low income and who, because of COVID-19, cannot access the social supports and programs they need and are accustomed to using.

The funding for senior-serving programs is provided by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program and is distributed to local agencies through the United Way Centraide network.

“While physical distancing is essential to protecting seniors from COVID-19, it risks isolating them from their community. That is why the Government of Canada is proud to work with United Way Centraide Canada to help support the needs of seniors during this difficult time. By using local expertise, this funding will help provide support tailored to the unique, local needs of seniors across the country. As we work together to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus, the government is supporting Canadians every step of the way,” says The Honorable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors.

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The Honorable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors

This funding is being rolled out via the social service agencies and organizations that United Way Centraides (UWCs) work with in local communities. It will be used to ensure that seniors living in vulnerable conditions have access to:

  • Help getting groceries
  • Regular phone check-ins
  • Help getting to medical appointments
  • Food delivery programs like Meals on Wheels
  • Mental health supports

Across the country, local UWCs are working with community agencies to ensure these funds meet the urgent needs of seniors.

Early examples of programs for vulnerable seniors

In Winnipeg, for example, United Way Winnipeg has partnered with the City of Winnipeg 311 Call Centre, A&O Support Services for Older Adults, CAA, the Winnipeg Foundation and community organizations who serve older adults to use 311 as a simple point of contact for vulnerable seniors (55+) who need access to healthy food and daily wellness checks.

In Prince Edward Island, United Way Prince Edward Island (UWPEI) has partnered with Hospice PEI, and using the funds from Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program has launched No Islander Alone, a program for vulnerable senior citizens. No Islander Alone will see Hospice PEI’s specially trained volunteers providing wellness checks and support by phone for seniors across the Island. They’ll also help seniors to identify and navigate any additional supports that seniors may need during COVID-19.

These are just two examples of the funds being put to work through local United Way Centraides across Canada. We’ll keep Canadians updated with more information as more programs are funded in communities from coast-to-coast.

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If you’d like to know what programs are available in your community please visit 211.ca or call 211 (where available).