Critical news is rounded up under headings for the date it was posted. Other news can be found further down the page (to jump to this section, click here)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ZNews talks to family of man who recently passed away in long-term care from COVID-19 complications
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.
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.
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.
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.
This follows the previous bulletin, which detailed the latest email extortion scheme targeting Canadians.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to best clean surfaces in your home
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
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.
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.
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.
$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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
CARP hosted an emergency town hall to educate our members on the coronavirus outbreak and how to best protect themselves and their families
Other recent stories from Governments:
- Ontario announces $4 an hour pandemic pay increase for front-line workers
- Parliament passes Ottawa’s $107 billion COVID-19 aid package
- Parties near tentative deal on Ottawa’s $82 billion COVID-19 aid package
- All provinces/territories have declared emergency + Trudeau says most premiers don’t think Emergencies Act needed yet
- Ontario and Quebec release lists of essential businesses to stay open
- Quebec and Ontario order closure of all non-essential businesses to slow spread of COVID-19
- Trudeau announces new funds for farmers, vaccine development and urges Canadians to stay home
- Federal cabinet considers leveraging military in mobilizing health manufacturing sector against COVID-19
- Ontario extends the deadline to renew licence plates, licences and health cards
- COVID-19 fraud on the rise
- B.C. declares provincial state of emergency to respond to COVID-19
- Trudeau unveils $82B COVID-19 emergency response package for Canadians, businesses
- Canada, U.S. closing border to non-essential traffic
- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney declares public health emergency
- Canadian snowbirds told to come home as some insurers warn medical insurance will be restricted
- Ontario premier declares state of emergency amid COVID-19 outbreak
- PM says financial measures on the way to help ‘millions of Canadians’ get through COVID-19 crisis
- Ottawa advises Canadians not to travel abroad
- COVID-19 spreading in Canada with no known link to travel, previous cases
- Border agency steps up airport screening measures to stop spread of COVID-19
- Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says government needs to ‘act now’ to contain coronavirus epidemic
- Canada to bar entry to most travellers who are not citizens or permanent residents
The following information comes directly from the Public Health Agency of Canada, and is updated frequently:
- Current risk to Canadians
- Current number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, by province/territory
- How to be and stay prepared
- Prevention and risks
- Symptoms and treatment
- How Canada is monitoring the outbreak
- Fact sheets and resources
- Canada’s response to the outbreak
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.
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:
- 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.