COVID-19 Updates

  • Community Update

News as of April 2, 2020

Ontario Increasing Mental Health Support During COVID-19

Improving access to online and virtual support

Ontario government is making it easier for everyone, especially those on the front lines, to reach out for mental health support during the COVID-19 outbreak. To improve access, the province is providing emergency funding of up to $12 million to immediately expand online and virtual mental health supports and $2.6 million to hire new psychologists and other mental health workers to support Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) personnel.

These services will help people experiencing anxiety, stress and other mental health challenges, including people who are unable to access their regular in-person counselling supports. These resources will address the needs of youth and adults and will include more dedicated supports for those working on the frontlines who are dealing with the difficult realities of COVID-19 every single day.

The emergency funding will immediately expand services, based on evidence-informed cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), on a range of platforms including:  

  • BounceBack: A guided self-help program for adults and youth aged 15 and over using workbooks with online videos and phone coaching support.
  • Kids Help Phone: 24/7 virtual support service offering professional counselling, information and referrals as well as volunteer-led, text-based support to young people in both English and French at 1-800-668-6868.
  • Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT): Online CBT , supported by therapists; available in English and French.
  • iCBT for frontline health care workers: Online CBT targeted at frontline health care workers experiencing anxiety, burnout or PTSD. Those requiring intensive levels of care could be referred to virtual face-to-face care. 
  • Training for Brief CBT-based interventions: Training will be provided to frontline workers in organizations such as Telehealth and emergency departments in order to better support individuals experiencing acute anxiety due to the pandemic.

Where to Find Help:

  • For Ontarians currently receiving mental health and addictions services and supports, please contact your current service provider to learn about potential virtual care options.
  • For Ontarians interested in public addictions services and mental health services for those over 18, they can contact ConnexOntario, Ontario’s mental health, addictions and problem gambling help line at 1-866-531-2600.
  • Children and youth under 18 can locate mental health services through the Ontario.ca and Kids Help Phone websites, or contact Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) for 24/7 support, if they need someone to talk to.
  • Good2Talk is a free, confidential mental health support service providing professional counselling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being to postsecondary students in Ontario, 24/7/365. Learn more at www.good2talk.ca[RR(3] .
  • To access BounceBack and their guided self-help program using workbooks with phone coaching support, visit bouncebackontario.ca or ask your primary care provider for a referral.

Ontario Protecting Seniors in Retirement Homes During COVID-19 Outbreak

A temporary order has been made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act that will help retirement homes address emergency staffing needs as they respond to COVID-19. With this temporary action, retirement homes will have more flexibility to recruit and reassign staff to address the impacts of this new virus and will be able to focus more resources toward implementing the protocols and procedures put in place to keep residents safe.

Retirement homes are also required to report any outbreak of COVID-19 to the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority, as well as the local medical officer of health.

These important measures are aligned with similar orders issued for hospitals and long-term care homes and will allow retirement homes to more quickly deploy personnel as needed.

Food Security during COVID-19

In order to ensure grocery store shelves remain full and families have food on the table during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government of Ontario is launching a new web portal, connecting workers with employers looking to fill positions in the agri-food sector. This new online tool will make it easier to match people to essential jobs and training resources throughout the provincial food supply chain.

Ontario’s agriculture and food industry relies on hundreds of thousands of people to work in diverse jobs from farming and food processing to transport and food retail, and the need for workers in many other parts of the food system remains strong. Ontario.ca/AgFoodJobsprovides access to information on job opportunities and training resources in all parts of Ontario’s food supply chain – from grocery retailers to bakeries and cheese processing plants to opportunities on farms.