COVID-19: What you need to know today

covid19-coronavirus

Updates

Critical news is rounded up under headings for the date it was posted.

We’ve also collected videos about COVID-19 into a frequently updated playlist, which you can watch here.

Need some positivity in your day?

Read some Words of Wisdom about coping with COVID-19 from our Members!

July 8

CARP’s Barrie Chapter addresses Mayor in virtual meeting

On July 8th, our Barrie Chapter invited the city’s Mayor to participate in a virtual meeting, asking him their pressing questions about how COVID-19 is being handled in their community.

Watch a recording of the meeting

July 2

CARP Members share advice on staying positive during a pandemic

June 30

CARP Atlantic Virtual Membership Meeting

CARP’s Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador Chapters hosted a virtual meeting of Atlantic Region CARP members.

A panel of experts representing PEI, NFLD, NB and NS discussed the issues most important to seniors currently and the spotlight now shining on deficiencies in long-term care.

Watch a recording of the meeting

June 12

Ontario lifts 30-day prescription limit

Starting Monday, seniors in Ontario will be able to get their full 90-day prescription refills.

Get more information on the 30-day drug cap issue

June 11

Families in ON soon allowed to visit loved ones in long-term care

Beginning June 18th, families of Ontario seniors in long-term care, retirement homes and other residential care settings will be allowed to visit their loved ones.

Read the announcement

June 5

Grandparents share with ZNews their struggles during COVID-19

Many grandparents are finding it hard to connect with their grandchildren while maintaining physical distance.

June 4

Previously announced top ups for OAS and GIS to come July 6th

Today, Prime Minister Trudeau provided an update on the previously announced financial supports promised to seniors. People should see the money in their accounts on July 6th.

Read CARP’s commentary on these supports

CARP fights to keep ageism out of medical triage

In a recent interview with the Canadian Medical Association, CARP drove home the importance of keeping ageism out of the equation when it comes to the difficult task of triaging scarce medical resources during a pandemic.

Read the interview

June 2

In case you missed it: theZoomer on the need to invest in home care to keep seniors out of the broken long-term care system

As Ontario’s Long Term Care Death Toll Rises, Ombudsman to Investigate Role Played by Ford Government

A recent report by the Canadian Armed Forces describing terrible conditions in five Ontario nursing homes has prompted the province’s ombudsman to launch an investigation into the province’s handling of its COVID-19 response in long-term care.

Get the full story

ZNews talks to Toronto man who pulled his mother out of long-term care

May 27

CARP connects members in BC with Seniors Advocate in virtual meeting

On May 27th, CARP hosted a virtual meeting for its Chapters in BC, welcoming special guest Isobel Mackenzie (provincial Seniors Advocate) to join the conversation.

Watch the video

Update: damning military report on Ontario long-term care conditions goes public

Read the full report

May 26

Report by Canadian military exposes nightmarish conditions in long-term care

The Canadian Armed Forces, which have been providing front-line support to several struggling long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec, have submitted a shocking report detailing multiple accounts of abuse, neglect and failure to comply with procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between staff and residents.

Read CARP’s statement

May 22

CARP presents to federal standing committees on government’s response to COVID-19

This month, CARP participated, via webconference, in 2 pivotal meetings addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and government’s response in regards to older adults.

Get the details

May 21

Saskatchewan lifts 30-day prescription limit

Effective as of yesterday, seniors in Saskatchewan can receive a longer-lasting supply of most prescriptions, barring shortages of specific drugs. CARP’s Regina, SK Chapter was instrumental in pushing this change through government, and we celebrate this win alongside them!

Read more about the 30-day prescription cap issue

May 19

CARP supports Ontario’s commitment to an independent commission into long-term care

CARP congratulates Ontario for being the first province to announce an investigation into long-term care, and looks forward to working with government on the commission as it rolls out.

Read more

Nova Scotia lifts 30-day prescription limit

Seniors in Nova Scotia can now go back to receiving 90 days worth of their prescriptions (as long as supply levels remain adequate). This announcement comes as a result of CARP’s hard work in the province over the last few weeks.

Nova Scotia joins the growing list of provinces that have removed these restrictions, which were causing financial strain to many low income seniors.

May 15

COVID-19 is changing the face of volunteerism

Seniors make up a significant portion of the volunteer force in Canada. With physical distancing measures keeping them at home, how has the climate of volunteerism changed over the last couple of months?

AUDIO CLIP: Listen to CARP’s comments

May 13

New CERB scam targets Vancouver-area seniors

Upwards of 100 seniors have been contacted by a scammer, trying to take advantage of them, and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

The warning is coming from Vancouver-Kensington NDP MLA Mable Elmore, who says she was contacted Tuesday night by dozens of Seniors at the Columbus Building on Joyce.

CARP encourages our members to be skeptical of any communication from the “government” about CERB or anything else regarding their finances. When in doubt, hang up and call back at an official number you can trust!

Find out more

Ontario seniors receive relief from increased prescription dispensing fees

Seniors using the Ontario Drug Benefit Program will not be required to pay any co-payment until July 1, 2020 for any prescription of 30+ days that is now being dispensed in installments. In addition, existing and new Trillium Drug Program households can apply for an income reassessment to help reduce the financial burden for families during the outbreak.

Read CARP’s joint press release with Ontario Pharmacists Association

Read more about the 30-day prescription cap across Canada

May 12

CARP commends additional financial supports for seniors, urges action to address threatened retirement security

Today, Federal Seniors Minister Deb Schulte announced additional financial supports for seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new measures include one-time tax-free payments of $300 and $200 for those who qualify for OAS and GIS, respectively. The government is also investing an additional $20 million in the New Horizons for Seniors program, which provides funding for community programs that help to reduce isolation in older adults.

Read more

May 11

CARP weighs in on COVID-19 triage protocols with Ontario Human Rights Commission

On May 7, 2020 CARP sat on a panel of experts in the fields of law, human rights, and aging to highlight points of concern for older adults regarding the Ontario government’s clinical triage protocols—a set of measures created to deal with a potential surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Find out more

Will Nursing Home Lawsuits Over COVID-19 Handling Spark Positive Changes to How We Care For Our Elderly?

CARP cautions that lawsuits won’t fix long-term care—legislation needs to be overhauled to create real change.

Read the story

May 8

Manitoba lifts 30-day prescription limit + provides refundable tax credit for seniors

The Government of Manitoba made a couple of steps today to provide relief for seniors in the province.

Find out more

May 7

Ontario promises to review broken long-term care system

Ontario’s Minister of Long-term Care has promised to review the long-term care system in Ontario, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

Read more

In case you missed it: theZoomer on the future beyond COVID-19 and what innovations might come out of a global pandemic

CARP writes to Saskatchewan Government demanding prescription relief for seniors

In coordination with CARP Chapters across the country, our Members in Saskatchewan (Regina) recently wrote to their government demanding financial relief for low income seniors struggling to pay the increased costs for their prescriptions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full story

May 6

In case you missed it: theZoomer on the 30-day prescription cap during COVID-19 and how it impacts seniors

Ontario allows certain retailers to reopen over coming week

The Government of Ontario announced today that specific types of retailers will be allowed to open starting this weekend. Garden centres and hardware stores are allowed to open, and retailers that have street entrances will be allowed to offer curbside pickup and delivery. In all cases, businesses will need to follow strict guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health’s Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces and occupational health and safety requirements.

Premier Ford stressed that Ontario has a long way to go before other businesses are allowed to open and that, when they do, they’ll need to follow sector-specific health guidelines in their operations.

May 4

Newfoundland & Labrador join other provinces in calling off 30-day prescription limit

Over the next 2 weeks, Newfoundland & Labrador will phase out the policy limiting prescription refills to 30 days, as long as the supply chain remains healthy.

This move will ease financial strain on seniors in the province, while reducing their need to venture out more frequently to obtain their medications. The province joins several others that have taken similar measures, but there are still many provinces/territories that have not made a commitment to lifting the restriction. CARP and our nationwide network of Chapters will continue to press governments in this matter until it is holistically resolved across the country.

Read more in our recent advocacy update

May 1

ZNews talks to family of man who recently passed away in long-term care from COVID-19 complications

April 29

CARP meets with President of the Treasury Board of Canada

With the goal of having an earnest and honest discussion about the financial struggles faced by seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic, CARP presented a list of asks that would signal a commitment by the federal government to prioritize seniors’ needs in a time of unprecedented uncertainty.

Read more

People with asthma at increased risk of severe effects of COVID-19

How to be a good ‘physically-distanced’ grandparent

Our own Bill VanGorder, of CARP’s Nova Scotia Chapter, recently created a list of ways seniors can be the best grandparent they can be, while following the important guidelines of physical distancing during COVID-19.

Read the story

CARP calls for more financial support for seniors during pandemic

Seniors are being left on the sidelines while other groups receive financial help from the federal government. It’s time for our Members to be moved to the front of the line.

Read more

April 28

Loan scams become newest trending form of fraud

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has released another update warning seniors to watch our for fraudulent loan scams.

Download the latest bulletin

This follows the previous bulletin, which detailed the latest email extortion scheme targeting Canadians.

Download the previous bulletin

CARP Member shares advice on coping during pandemic

Maria Mikelenas-Mcloughlin, former President of the CARP Etobicoke Chapter, recently wrote an article about her experience coping with isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emphasizing a need to stay connected with community, and engaged in advocating for one’s rights during challenging times, Maria offers sage advice for seniors to stay well today and in the weeks to come.

Read the article

BC announces additional support for family caregivers

As part of British Columbia’s emergency COVID-19 response plan, the Province is doubling this year’s funding for Family Caregivers of British Columbia to $1 million, helping support both caregivers and seniors.

Read more

New online portal helps ON seniors get help during COVID-19

The Ontario Caregiver Organization has created CaregivingCommunities; a new online portal that provides an easy way for seniors and organizations in Ontario to find the support they need.

Find out more

April 27

CARP pushes ON to cut mutual fund deferred sales charges

In a recent letter to the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), CARP pushed Ontario adopt new rules set out by The Canadian Securities Administrators, committing to abolish deferred sales charges (DSC) on mutual funds by June 1, 2022. Every other province/territory has adopted these rules, which help protect the financial security of seniors redeeming their mutual fund investments.

Read the full story

April 24

Advocacy Update

CARP has been actively lobbying to protect seniors on multiple fronts during the pandemic. Recent issues of focus include 30-day prescription restrictions, RRIF reform, financial support for seniors and long-term care.

Read the update

April 23

ZNews talks to family of woman who died from COVID-19 in Eatonville long-term care home

 

 

CARP and Ontario Pharmacists Association urge relief on prescription co-pays during outbreak

In a letter sent to the Ontario Premier, Deputy Premier and Minister of Seniors and Accessibility, CARP and the Ontario Pharmacists Association made a plea for prescription copayment relief for seniors.

Read the letter

April 22

Survey results: CARP members speak out on government inaction in long-term care

In response to the ongoing devastating effects of the coronavirus on vulnerable residents in long-term care and retirement homes, CARP surveyed its members for their feedback on governments’ responses and what needs to be done to protect seniors from further harm.

View the survey results

April 21

CARP Nova Scotia scores win on reducing negative impact of 30-day prescription restriction on seniors

In a recent press conference, CARP spokesperson Bill VanGorder received a commitment from Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil to address the negative effects of the 30-day prescription restriction on older adults in the province. In addition to increased dispensing fees, the restrictions force seniors to venture out more frequently to refill their prescriptions, increasing their risk of infection.

CARP will continue pursuing this commitment from health officials across Canada.

Latest COVID-19 fraud bulletin

Frauds and scams continue to proliferate during the pandemic.

Read the latest fraud advisory

April 17

CARP condemns lack of preparation ahead of pandemic’s arrival in long-term care

Since the coronavirus hit long-term care homes, CARP has been actively calling on government to prioritize care for seniors.

View our ongoing media commentary

April 15

Federal government opens up eligibility for CERB (Canadian Emergency Response Benefit)

After receiving criticism that the eligibility for the benefit was too exclusive, leaving out seasonal workers or those have lost some but not all of their income, Trudeau announced today that more Canadians will now be eligible for the $2000 / month awarded by the CERB.

The eligibility now includes Canadians who:

  • Have lost wages, but are still making less than $1000 / month
  • Are seasonal workers
  • Have recently exhausted their EI benefit

Essential workers, including those in long-term care, will also receive a wage boost to increase their income up to $2,500 / month. This is a commendable action taken by government to support the hardworking staff who are caring for vulnerable seniors in long-term care homes while facing precarious safety conditions in the face of the pandemic.

Learn how to apply for the CERB

How to best clean surfaces in your home

April 6

For our 3rd COVID-19 interactive town hall, we brought together our Members and experts to discuss the financial impacts of the pandemic

CARP members enjoyed priority access to ask the expert panel the questions at the top of everyones’ minds—how will this crisis affect my retirement and what can I do to protect my financial security today and in the future as the situation develops?

Application opens for Federal COVID-19 benefits

Find out how to apply

April 3

CARP calls for mandatory RRIF withdrawals to be temporarily suspended

As markets decline, CARP members worry about outliving their savings due to mandatory RRIF withdrawals.

In response to COVID-19, CARP is renewing its call to the federal government to remove mandatory RRIF withdrawals, at least until the pandemic has come to an end.

Seniors deserve to be in control of their retirement savings, especially during a global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 3 in 4 of our members support this change—it has never been more necessary than it is now.

View the campaign

April 2

How to protect yourself against COVID-19 scams

While Canadians try their best to self-isolate and follow physical distancing protocols amid the COVID-19 crisis, a new breed of scammers is taking advantage of the anxiety, fear and desperation we’re all experiencing.

Learn how to protect yourself

March 30

Ontario emergency order puts seniors in long-term care at risk

CARP is deeply concerned that a recent emergency order by the Government of Ontario in response to COVID-19 could place seniors in long-term care at serious risk. Recent reports suggest that the order removes restrictions on hiring practices.  This opens the potential for unqualified staff who lack the expertise or credentials needed to work with seniors in long-term care, to cause further harm to one of our most vulnerable populations.

Read CARP’s full statement

$9 million in community supports for seniors announced by federal government

Trudeau has announced additional funding for seniors affected by COVID-19, to be delivered via United Way Canada. At this time, the government has not announced direct financial supports for these seniors, but says they are currently “looking carefully” at other measures to support Canada’s older population.

Read more

March 27

We’ve posted our 2nd COVID-19 information town hall, which brought together thousands of our Members and leading medical experts to address the concerns and questions of Canada’s older adults. View the video now.

March 26

All COVID-19 financial supports that have been announced so far

Many of our Members have expressed concern over the financial hardships they are experiencing, or are worried they will experience, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve compiled a list of all currently announced financial supports available to seniors

Critical update for Snowbirds returning to Canada

Starting today, anyone returning to Canada will now be forced to quarantine for 14 days, under the Quarantine Act, whether or not they have symptoms of coronavirus. The federal government has announced strict legal penalties for anyone who violates these new sanctions, including fines of up to $1 million and jail time.

Find out more

Additional financial supports for seniors

There have been additional measures announced to support seniors affected by COVID-19 and the resulting economic effects that continue to mount during the pandemic.

Low income seniors in Ontario will see their Guaranteed Annual Income System payments double for 6 months

Working seniors suffering wage or job loss will qualify for the new COVID-19 benefits program

March 25

In Canada, half of the more than 2,584 cases are now related to community spread, as opposed to travel or close contact with someone who has travelled, says Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

About 90 per cent of new infections in the last week were not related to travel.

It’s incredibly important to practice social distancing and proper hand washing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially to those who are more vulnerable to extreme health risk, like seniors.

If you’re not feeling well, self-isolate immediately and monitor your symptoms. Learn how to protect yourself and others here.

Not feeling well? Worried you might have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19?

Take the latest self-assessment for coronavirus (Ontario adapted its assessment from the one being used by Alberta)

Confused about when/if to wear a mask for protection?

With supplies of medical masks dwindling, the medical community is struggling to protect front-line workers with the equipment necessary to continue working as safely as possible. Consumers stockpiling masks for personal use is contributing to the problem, and health officials are urging the healthy younger general public to prioritize practicing social distancing over wearing masks.

Who should wear a mask and when? This video explains.

Are there exceptions where healthy people should wear masks in public?

Maybe. In a recent article in the Lancet, researchers led by Elaine Shuo Feng, a postdoctoral researcher with the University of Oxford Vaccine Group, suggested it would be “rational” to recommend wearing face masks in public to:

  • Healthy people in quarantine (or self-isolation) if they need to leave home for any reason.
  • Vulnerable people, such as older adults, and those with underlying medical conditions.

Gardam said while wearing a mask makes “zero sense” while walking down the street, there is a logic to using one if you’re forced to be in an enclosed space, such as public transit or a crowded grocery store (although many grocery stores are now limiting the number of customers inside).

March 23

Today, CARP hosted a second COVID-19 town hall, inviting over 10,000 of our Members to join the conversation with medical experts via phone. 

Income support for seniors

As part of its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the Government of Canada is reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020, in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings. This will provide flexibility to seniors that are concerned that they may be required to liquidate their RRIF assets to meet minimum withdrawal requirements. Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan. Read more.

Reaching out to isolated seniors

Seniors are most likely to suffer the worst effects of social isolation, especially at this critical time. Learn how to best reach out and help older people in your community.

March 19

CARP hosted an emergency town hall to educate our members on the coronavirus outbreak and how to best protect themselves and their families


Other stories from Governments:

View the current number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, by province/territory

Important Information

The following information comes directly from the Public Health Agency of Canada, and is updated frequently:

You can also stay up to date on the coronavirus outbreak at Everything Zoomer.

Overview

There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:

  • aged 65 and over
  • with compromised immune systems
  • with underlying medical conditions

As our members often fall within these categories, CARP is keeping a close eye on developments so that we can communicate them as necessary. We also want to provide links to critical and current information to keep you and your loved ones safe.

While a COVID-19 outbreak is not unexpected in Canada, public health departments have indicated that they are prepared to respond. PHAC, along with provincial, territorial and community partners, continue to reassess the public health risk, based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves.

In order to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, everyone has a role to play. It takes more than governments and action from the health sector to protect the health and safety of Canadians. Each of us can help our country be prepared in the event of an emergency by understanding how coronavirus spreads and how to prevent illness.

Canadians should continue to think ahead about the actions that they can take to stay healthy and prevent the spread of any illness, especially respiratory infections.

Now and always during cold and flu season, stay home if you are sick. Encourage those you know are sick to stay home until they no longer have symptoms.

Since respiratory viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, are spread through contact, change how you greet one another. Instead of a handshake, a kiss or a hug, a friendly wave or elbow bump is less likely to expose you to respiratory viruses.

Practise frequent hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys and door handles.

These are the most important ways that you can protect yourself and your family from respiratory illness, including COVID-19.

Make A Plan

If COVID-19 becomes common in your community, you will want to have thought about how to change your behaviours and routines to reduce the risk of infection.

Your plan should include how you can change your regular habits to reduce your exposure to crowded places. For example, you may:

  • do your grocery shopping at off-peak hours
  • commute by public transit outside of the busy rush hour
  • opt to exercise outdoors instead of in an indoor fitness class

Your plan should also include what you will do if you become sick. If you are a caregiver of children or other dependents, you will want to have thought ahead to engage backup caregivers.

You should also think about what you will do if a member of your family becomes sick and needs care. Talk to your employer about working from home if you are needed to care for a family member at home.

If you, yourself, become ill, stay home until you are no longer showing symptoms. Employers should not require a sick leave note as that will put added pressure on limited health care services.

Your plan should include shopping for supplies that you should have on hand at all times. This will ensure you do not need to leave your home while you are sick or busy caring for an ill family member.

Your plan should build on the kits you have prepared for other potential emergencies. For more information on how to prepare yourself and your family in the event of an emergency, please visit GetPrepared.ca.

Refill Your Prescriptions

Refill your prescriptions now so that you do not have to go to a busy pharmacy if you do become sick. Consider seeing your health care provider to renew your prescriptions ahead of time.

Stock Up On Essentials But Avoid Panic Buying

At this time, it makes sense to fill your cupboards with non-perishable food items, so that you do not need to go shopping if you become sick.

People are encouraged to gradually build up their household stores instead of making large-scale purchases all at once. To do this, you can add a few extra items to your grocery cart every time you shop. Good options are easy-to-prepare foods like:

  • dried pasta and sauce
  • prepared canned soups
  • canned vegetables and beans

It is also a good idea to have extra stores of:

  • pet food
  • toilet paper
  • facial tissue
  • feminine hygiene products
  • incontinence products or diapers (if you have children your home)

The reason for stocking up on these items is not necessarily because you will need to self-isolate. Having these supplies on hand will ensure you do not need to leave your home at the peak of the outbreak or if you become ill.

How To Care For Those Who Are Ill

If you or a member of your family become(s) ill with COVID-19, there are precautions that should be taken in the home. Your health care provider will advise you if hospital care is more appropriate. Refer to the guidance for health professionals when caring for someone with COVID-19 in a hospital setting.

To prepare for this potential situation, you should have on hand:

  • soap
  • facial tissue
  • paper towels
  • alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • household cleaning products
  • regular detergents for washing dishes and doing laundry
  • fever-reducing medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
    • this includes products for children if you are a parent, grandparent, or caregiver
  • plastic garbage bags for containing soiled tissues and other waste
  • household bleach for creating a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to disinfect surfaces

Get Reliable Information

Make sure that you get high-quality information about COVID-19 from reliable sources. The Public Health Agency of Canada is a reliable source of information, as are provincial and territorial public health authorities.

Communicate With Family, Friends and Neighbours

Let your family, friends and neighbours know that you are making plans to prepare for COVID-19. Share your plan with them, as this might motivate them to make their own.

Talk to them about a buddy system in which you agree to check in on each other and run essential errands if you become sick.

This information has been republished from the website of the Public Health Agency of Canada. (PHAC)

Precautions For Those Who Are Traveling

There are several active travel health notices for COVID-19. Each country or area may have different levels of risk. These risk levels may change as the COVID-19 event evolves internationally.

Before you leave, check travel.gc.ca for the most current list of travel destinations that have travel health notices for COVID-19.

The source content for the information above was obtained from the Public Health Agency of Canada.