The Saskatoon Inter-agency Response to Covid-19 (SIRC) is dedicated to meeting the needs of people who are especially vulnerable to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic due to entrenched housing and food insecurity.
Since the start of July, the Saskatoon Interagency Response to Covid-19 (SIRC) has been operating in “maintenance mode.” This means we’ve suspended the operation of the Incident Command System (ICS) that was built and managed from March – June by an incredible team of staff seconded from 13 different agencies (not including the many agencies that took part in working groups)!
The Covid specific supports created by the ICS continue to operate and are maintained by the Interagency Maintenance Committee (IMC), including: Procurement/distribution of PPE and critical supplies; Safety Chats and onsite consultations; Covid testing and isolation processes; Covid related food delivery model(s); and the Community Response Fundraising portal. The IMC is also maintaining situational awareness and monitoring for triggers that indicate if/when the full Incident Command Structure needs to be reinstated or if other interventions by the IMC and/or other SIRC members are required.
Homelessness (rough sleeping, hidden homelessness)
Housed in systems (prison, health care, etc)
- Lacking adequate, affordable access to appropriate and healthy food
We recognize that the legacies of colonialism and systemic racism in Saskatchewan have caused the over-representation of Indigenous people in the vulnerable population. As such, special attention is being paid to ensure that Indigenous service providers receive equitable access to funding and support to work in collaboration with the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Response and provide essential services for the urban Indigenous people who call Saskatoon home.
Vulnerable Sector Strategy
The Saskatoon Inter-agency created a Vulnerable Sector Strategy with six critical components that are interdependent. Without all six, the strategy will fail.
To assist vulnerable community members comply with social distancing and other health directives, the Hub is providing in person help to homeless and precariously housed people so they can gain access to housing and other necessary supports.
To provide immediate, temporary shelter for those who will otherwise have no way to social isolate, the Hotel Group is creating a process that is strategically aligned to SHA’s provincial hotel framework Hotels are not a long term solution for all; this process is tied tightly to the Housing Group.
To support the year-round work of transitioning people into long term housing, the Housing Group (led by SHIP), is matching people to available, appropriate housing options where possible. In hopes of expediting access to the Ministry of Social Services’s Sask Housing Authority stock, which has been promised to be made more available and accessible, the Housing Group is developing the most efficient and effective process to identify vulnerable people in shelters, hotels, as well as those being release from Health or Justice systems, to move them immediately into furnished Housing Authority suites and identify wrap around services needed.
Testing & Isolation
To facilitate early detection and isolation of COVID-19 cases within the vulnerable population, the Testing & Isolation Group (led by SHA) has opened a client-centred COVID-19 test centre(s) to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in Saskatoon. COVID-19 suspected clients will be connected directly to the Hotel process in order to accommodate the public health directives of social isolation for 14 days.
To prevent additional burden on emergency and health services, the Harm Reduction Group is working to limit infectious disease spread and mitigate increases in overdoses due to change in drug supply and decreased access to community supports. This team also plays a critical role in supporting the efficacy of the Hotel and Housing Groups, recognizing that some of the hardest to house vulnerable people will be in these shelter spaces.
To coordinate, support, monitor and report emergency food provision (pick-up and delivery) for the vulnerable population, the Food Group is collaborating with existing food providers (ex. Friendship Inn, White Buffalo Youth Lodge, Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre). Access to safe, affordable and appropriate food will be embedded in the Hotel and Housing Group process to ensure people are supported while being isolated.