Category Archives: In the News

Helping Those in Need this Easter: The Ottawa Mission Serves 4,653 Meals in our Community

Ottawa, ON – During the Ottawa Mission’s special Easter meal service, which was held on April 5 for shelter guests in our dining room and community members through our garage entrance, as well as the week prior through our Mobile Mission Meals food truck program, the shelter served 4,653 meals to those in need.

Shelter guests and community members enjoyed a full roast beef dinner on April 5, while Mobile Mission Meals clients took home a delicious turkey dinner. In addition to warm and nutritious food, the special holiday meal provides a sense of community to those who may find themselves alone.

In 2019 – 2020, the shelter served more than 520,000 meals. Due to the impact of Covid19, the Mission estimates that it will serve 700,000 – 800,000 meals in 2020 – 2021.

“Ottawa was already in a homelessness emergency and an opioid-use epidemic when Covid19 came upon us. Given the overwhelming impact on our collective mental health, finances, food insecurity, and risk of homelessness, we anticipate remaining the first place of refuge for even more vulnerable people after Covid19 has passed,” noted Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley.

“Our dedicated volunteers and also our exceptional kitchen staff worked very hard to ensure that everyone had a delicious Easter. And special thanks to our donors and supporters who have been profoundly generous in their continuing support of the Mission in these continuing difficult times. A huge thank you to all,” Tilley concluded.

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2019-2020, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 197 men every night and served an average of 1,422 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of a new housing department.

 

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo

Director of Communications

T 613.234.1144 x 305

C 613.712.3092

aleo@ottawamission.com

Helping Those in Need During COVID19: The Ottawa Mission Will Feed Even More People Who Are Hungry This Easter

Ottawa, ON – As Easter approaches, we want to assure our community that, in these continuing difficult times, The Ottawa Mission will be serving an in-house Easter meal to our residents, and also a special take-out Easter meal for community members.

The current pandemic has made food insecurity in Ottawa much worse, and the shelter expects to feed well over 4,000 people this Monday and during the week leading up to April 5 through our food truck program Mobile Mission Meals.

WHEN: Monday, April 5, from 11:00 am until 12:00 noon for the shelter residents, and also a special take-out meal for community members from 11:00pm until 3:00pm.

WHO:  The following individuals will be available for media interviews on behalf of the Ottawa Mission:

  • Chief Executive Officer Peter Tilley
  • Director of Food Services Chef Ric Allen-Watson

WHERE: Media are requested to gather at the entrance to the shelter at the corner of Waller and Besserer Streets just before the beginning of the community take-out meal service at 10:45 am for media availability with Mr. Tilley and Chef Ric.

Please note that due to current strict infection controls to minimize the risk posed by Covid19, in order to protect our clients, media will not be allowed to enter the Ottawa Mission to film. Further, in order to protect client confidentiality during the community take-out meal service, filming and photography will be limited to shooting from the back of the meal line and of individual servers providing meals as the meal progresses.

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2019-2020, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 197 men every night and served an average of 1,422 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of a new housing department.

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
C: 613.712.3092
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

Helping Those in Need Made Worse by the Pandemic: The Ottawa Mission Serves an Astounding 5,762 Christmas Meals

Ottawa, ON – During this Christmas season, The Ottawa Mission served an astounding 5,762 meals to people across the city of Ottawa, the highest total of special holiday meals ever in the shelter’s history. Normally The Mission serves 2,000 – 2,500 Christmas meals each year. This year, the current pandemic has made hunger in Ottawa much worse, and in response, The Mission served a full Christmas meal with all the fixings to:

  • our shelter guests;
  • clients in our take-out community meal program (along with two other meals);
  • food truck clients from December 14 – 18;
  • clients within the Routhier Covid19 self-isolation centre and the Dempsey overflow homeless shelter;
  • residents within Ottawa Community Housing; and
  • other community organizations throughout the city.

“Our kitchen volunteers and staff worked very hard to ensure that everyone had a delicious and healthy Christmas dinner.” says Chef Ric Allen-Watson, Director of Food Services at The Mission.

Also on the menu were: savory stuffing (70 pans); mashed potato (750lbs); glazed carrots (600lbs); vegetarian quiche (150 portions); fresh baked rolls (3,000–4,000 dozen); giblet gravy (65 gallons); vegetarian quiches (400); and bottled water and juice (1,500-2000 units; beverages were not served at the food truck).

“I’ve been at The Ottawa Mission for 19 years, and I’ve never seen hunger this bad in our community. I want to thank the people of Ottawa for their incredible generosity by donating so many turkeys, produce and other food items to ensure that we could help meet this need by providing a full Christmas dinner to so many people,” Allen-Watson added. In addition to warm and nutritious food, the Christmas dinner provides a sense of shared community to those who may otherwise not only go hungry, but also find themselves alone.

“The pandemic has made a significant change in the daily operations of The Ottawa Mission, including the shelter’s meal program to minimize the risk of Covid19 while delivering desperately needed food,” noted Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley.

“Poverty, homelessness and food insecurity are serious public health issues and have been made worse by this pandemic. We at The Ottawa Mission are doing our part to address food insecurity and keep people healthy through our meal program,” Tilley concluded.

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2019-2020, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 197 men every night and served an average of 1,422 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of a new housing department.

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
C 613.712.3092
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

 

Update on donation of clothing or other gift-in-kind items

Recently we’ve received questions as to why we’re not accepting donations of clothing or other gift-in-kind items. Unfortunately, these donations can’t be accepted under present circumstances due to the ongoing pandemic.  Our current protocols are based on many sources to keep our shelter guests and vulnerable community members, employees, volunteers and partners as safe as possible while we continue to deliver desperately needed services to our shelter guests and vulnerable community members who rely upon us.

During the pandemic, we’ve accepted some donations on a very selective basis such as PPE and food items, always applying guidelines on a case-by-case basis to ensure safety. For example, we are able to accept donations of clothing and other items if they arrive directly from the manufacturer in boxes that are unopened. Regarding returning to accepting donations as we did before the pandemic, unfortunately we currently don’t have the capacity in terms of space, time or staff to do so since daily operations within Covid19 protocols consume these resources.

We have to continue to operate under Covid19 protocols for as long as the current pandemic as current infection rates have surged during this second wave and people who are homeless (including our shelter guests) often have serious health conditions that placed them at greater risk of Covid19. Under these protocols, all staff colleagues wear PPE (masks), and frontline and clinician staff colleagues wear full PPE (masks, gloves, gowns, and googles or face-shields).

We appreciate the concern of our supporters for vulnerable community members who turn to us for help regarding how they will remain warm and well cared for this winter if we can’t accept your generous offerings. Fortunately, because of the generosity of our community, our clothing room was well stocked prior to the pandemic and we’ve been able to use our existing inventory of clothes to meet the needs of our shelter guests for warm clothing during the pandemic. In rare instances, we’ve purchased selective clothing items such as winter coats or boots if our inventory was low on these items (as we’ve done in past years).

We’ve always been very grateful for the generosity of our community and hope that with the approval and widespread dissemination of a vaccine in the new year that we’ll be able to return to accepting gift-in-kind donations to help those who rely upon us. We’ll let the community know when we’re able to return to accepting these donations.

Thank you again for thinking of us and we appreciate your understanding.

Ottawa Mission Food Truck Experiences Explosive Growth In Response to Worsening Hunger in Ottawa due to Covid19

Ottawa, ON – As Covid19 continues to affect our community, The Ottawa Mission gathered with community partners and supporters to update the community on its new food truck initiative and to express serious concern regarding worsening food insecurity as a major consequence of the pandemic.

The food truck project was launched at the beginning of September 2020, and the need for its services across the city of Ottawa has grown exponentially in less than three months. “Many people who came to our shelter for community meals have been negatively impacted by the pandemic as well as people who were just getting by but didn’t have to come to us for a meal. Many people also went hungry because they couldn’t come to our shelter because of disability, lack of money for bus fare, or other reasons. We started the food truck program to bring meals to people where they live to serve even more people in need,” stated Chef Ric Allen-Watson, Director of the Food Services for The Ottawa Mission.

The food truck program began with five stops delivering about 100 meals at each stop. Now the truck has 13 locations rotating throughout Ottawa each week and delivers over 2,000 meals per week. Since the launch of the program, almost 14,000 meals have been served through the program.

Last year, The Ottawa Mission served over 1,400 meals every day and a total of over 520,000 meals. The addition of the food truck has pushed its daily average number of meals served to more than 2,000, and will push its yearly total meal count to well over 600,000. The Mission is exploring options to expand its food truck program through purchasing a second vehicle to reach even more people in need by broadening its network of community partners.

“We’re incredibly grateful to our partners and sponsors for their generous support. We couldn’t do this without their help. While we’re grateful, we’re also very worried about the increasing need we see each day. I’ve personally seen people who use our meal program who are so hungry they rip open the bag as soon as they receive it. We need solutions to food insecurity in our community,” Allen-Watson added.

Jim Foster, Owner of the Pelican Seafood Market and Grill, donated the food truck to The Ottawa Mission for at least one year to help meet the need for healthy food. “Our food truck wasn’t parked downtown during lunchtime since people have been working from home due to Covid19. We wanted to put it to good use and so reached out to Chef Ric and the rest is history. It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done.”

Pastor Mathew Feeley of the Ottawa East Seventh-Day Adventist Food Bank, one of the community partners of the food truck project, also noted the impact of Covid19. “Overbrook has many people who live in poverty and with hunger, which has now been made worse by Covid19. Our food bank has been in operation since April 2020. Over 100 people receive packages of food for families of two to six people. We’ve seen the number of people who access our food bank grow from 20 people since we established it in April to 120 people now in November. Many men, women and children depend on us to ensure that they don’t go hungry. We’re pleased to do our part, while seeing the need for nutritious food increase each and every day. We’re extremely grateful to partner with the Ottawa Mission with their food truck ministry.”

Ralwson King, Councilor for Rideau-Rockcliffe, noted the impact of poverty, food insecurity and Covid19 on his ward. “While Ottawa is a prosperous city, it contains deep pockets of poverty, food insecurity, marginalization, and now with Covid19, serious health issues. Of the 107 ridings in Ontario, Ottawa-Vanier, which includes this area, tops the list for food bank use. While 12% of Ottawa residents overall live on low incomes, over 30% of residents in this ward have low incomes. Half of the children in this ward live in poverty and many live with food insecurity. Overbrook-McArthur also has among the highest rates of Covid19 infection in our city.”

King also emphasized the need for policy solutions to address food insecurity. “We need a community-driven poverty reduction strategy for the City of Ottawa that includes ways to ensure that we’re making progress on providing healthy food for all our citizens. To do this, we need to have a food security coordinator at the city to lead this effort since we have a lot of initiatives but no coordination and no leadership from the city. We need measurable, costed initiatives and clear timelines to lift people out of poverty and ensure that they can afford healthy food.”

Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley noted the connection between housing and food insecurity. “Hunger and homelessness are linked. A main cause of food bank and meal service use is a lack of affordable housing. People use these services when they have to spend more than they can afford on housing. In January, City Council unanimously declared a homelessness emergency in January. Since March, homelessness has worsened further due to COVID19 and the continuing lack of affordable housing. As Covid19 drags on, we see ever-increasing levels of need for both shelter and nutritious food.”

“In 2019, Nanos Research confirmed that people in Ottawa thought that homelessness should be the number one priority of City Council. However, the 2021 draft budget for Ottawa contains no municipal increase for affordable housing. The Mission will continue to do our part in collaboration with our partners and supporters to ensure that people don’t go hungry. But we need governments to do their part as well, both on food security and also on homelessness,” Tilley concluded.

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T – 613.234.1144 x 305
C – 613-712-3092
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

Help The Ottawa Mission Feed the Hungry this Christmas by Donating Frozen Turkeys

Ottawa, ON – As we head into the holiday session, planning is well underway for The Ottawa Mission’s annual Christmas Dinner, which will take place on Sunday, December 20th.

Covid19 protocols to keep shelter guests, community members, employees and volunteers safe while continuing to deliver essential support remain in place at the shelter. Accordingly, the Christmas meal for shelter guests will begin at 11:00 am in the Mission dining room. The Christmas meal for community members who would otherwise go hungry will be available at the garage entrance beginning at 12:45 pm. To continue to support vulnerable community members as much as possible, The Mission will also continue to provide two additional meals for community members to take with them.

In 2019–2020, The Ottawa Mission served 520,373 meals to shelter residents and those in need in the community. Because of Covid19, food insecurity in our community has grown much worse. This is why the shelter has introduced its new food truck service, which has grown to providing 2,000 meals per week in locations throughout the city. The week before December 20, at food truck stops, The Mission will serve a full Christmas dinner to anyone who requests one. Because of the addition of the food truck meals, The Mission estimates that it will serve 3,500–4,000 holiday meals this year, significantly up from the 2,000–3,000 meal totals in previous years.

“It will take between 3000-3500 pounds of turkey, or about 140 large turkeys, to feed everyone who comes to our special Thanksgiving dinner,” says Chef Ric Watson, Director of Food Services at The Mission. “Our kitchen volunteers and staff are working very hard to ensure that ensure everyone will have a delicious turkey dinner by preparing for this very special event in advance.”

Also on the menu will be: savory stuffing (70 pans); mashed potato (750lbs); glazed carrots (600lbs); vegetarian quiche (150 portions); fresh baked rolls (3,000–4,000 dozen); giblet gravy (65 gallons); vegetarian quiches (400); and bottled water and juice (1,500-2000 units; beverages will not be served at the food truck).

Frozen turkey donations can be dropped off between 7 am – 5 pm at the garage entrance to The Ottawa Mission at the corner of Waller and Besserer. Please ring the bell and a staff person will arrive to receive your donation.

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and hope. In 2019-2020, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 197 men every night and served an average of 1,422 meals every day. The Ottawa Mission also provides health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and men’s clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of a new housing department.

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

The Ottawa Mission’s Letter regarding the City of Ottawa Budget 2021

November 2, 2020

Dear Members of City Council

Re: City of Ottawa Budget 2021

In 2013, the City of Ottawa adopted its 10-year housing and homelessness plan. Unfortunately, over the life of the Plan, homelessness has worsened in our community, not improved.

In 2019, homelessness in Ottawa was epidemic: over 8,000 people were in emergency shelters, over 12,000 people were on the waitlist for affordable housing, and almost 100 people were sleeping outside. That’s why Ottawa City Council unanimously declared a homelessness emergency and crisis in January 2020.

Since that time, the situation concerning homelessness has worsened due to COVID19, the continuing lack of affordable housing, and other factors. Every night, 1900 individuals are sleeping in a shelter bed, and the number of people sleeping outside this year has doubled since March.

We appreciate that of the $201M spent on housing in Ottawa, over $107M comes from the city, with the provincial and federal governments contributing $66.7M and $26.7M respectively. We also appreciate the commitment of $15 million in the annual budgets of 2019 and 2020 to new affordable housing.

Unfortunately, despite municipal investments in housing, from 2011-16, units in Ottawa renting under $750/month declined by 7,700 units, but only 1,033 new such units were added. As such, for every new affordable unit built in Ottawa, seven existing lower rent units were lost. Since 2017 new rental construction has increased substantially, however rents for these units are over 170% of the average level.

In June 2020, the City released its refreshed 10-Year Plan concerning homelessness as well as updated shelter data. In contrast to previous alarming increases in shelter users and the centralized wait list for affordable housing, increases this past year were much smaller, and there were declines in shelter users across categories except families. Having said this, there are areas of concern:

  • Shelter nights increased by 13.5% and the number of families in off-site motels increased by 37.5%;
  • Shelter length of stay has increased by 12.2%, with increases in youth above age 17, older people, newcomers, and Indigenous women; and
  • There were significant increases in chronic and episodic homelessness across almost all populations.

Now, over eight months into Covid19, the pandemic has imposed a significant burden on our citizens, including financial pressures, compromised wellbeing, and increased risk of homelessness. According to recent Nanos Research polls for The Ottawa Mission and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness:

  • Over one-third of Ottawans indicated that Covid19 has negatively impacted their personal finances.
  • Nearly one in five Ottawans stated that COVID19 has increased the risk of homelessness for those they care about. Just under one in 10 stated that Covid19 has increased their personal risk of homelessness.
  • Canadians view homelessness as an urgent issue: one in five believe it is urgent to work to end homelessness in Canada. And due to COVID19, nearly one in five Canadians reported being worried or somewhat worried about paying their housing costs. Astonishingly, 36% of Canadians report having been homeless themselves or knowing someone who has been homeless.

At the provincial level, the prohibition on evictions due to Covid19 has been rolled back and it is legal in Ontario to once again evict tenants who through no fault of their own have been unable to pay rent. In Ottawa, there are 36,000 households who spend more than 30% of their income on rent, the threshold for affordable housing. Because they spend more than what’s affordable, they’re already at risk of losing their housing. Lifting the ban on evictions despite the continuance of Covid19 heightens that risk and draws that line between those who are homeless and those who are not even thinner.

Prior to the establishment of the Jim Durrell Centre as an overflow shelter for homeless men earlier this year, The Ottawa Mission had been at over 100% capacity for emergency shelter beds for the past three fiscal years, worsening with each passing year. That meant that we laid down mats on our chapel floor each night to accommodate those who needed shelter. The overflow centre eased this situation and enabled us to enhance social distancing measures within our shelter to further minimize the risk of Covid19 while continuing to deliver desperately needed services. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the City to address this issue and enhance the opportunity to keep our shelter guests safe.

However, the need for emergency shelter beds is steadily increasing here, and we’re concerned in advance of colder temperatures since occupancy at The Mission usually increases by 10% or more during the winter.

At the federal level, the new Rapid Housing Initiative announced in October aims to provide up to 3,000 new affordable housing units within 12 months. Under this initiative, Ottawa will be allocated $31.9 million toward reducing chronic homelessness in our community.

In 2019, Nanos Research confirmed that people in our community thought that homelessness should be the number one priority of Ottawa City Council. The Ottawa Mission understands and appreciates that housing has to be joint responsibility of the City of Ottawa and the provincial and federal governments. This is why we continue to advocate at each level of government to work together toward solutions regarding our urgent and overwhelming need for affordable and appropriate housing, especially for vulnerable populations.

Accordingly, we advocate that the City of Ottawa:

  • Increase its annual allocation dedicated to new affordable housing to $20 million.
  • Accelerate plans within the refreshed 10-Year Plan to move forward with an inclusionary zoning bylaw to ensure that new developments include affordable housing units.
  • Write to Premier Doug Ford and Minister Steve Clark to request that the provincial government immediately restrict all residential rental evictions, except in case of threats to public safety, and maintain this moratorium on evictions until the COVID-19 pandemic is effectively contained.
  • Bring forward proposals for submission under the new federal Rapid Housing Initiative.

Many cities across Canada, such as Calgary, Medicine Hat, Chatham-Kent, ON, Dufferin County, Guelph-Wellington, Moncton and others have seen declines in homelessness through adopting innovations in their housing strategies.

Ottawa City Council showed tremendous leadership as the first city council in our country to declare an emergency concerning homelessness. I urge you to build on this leadership position by moving forward with the actions above to meet the needs of our citizens for appropriate and affordable housing to call their own.

Sincerely,

Peter Tilley

Chief Executive Officer

The Ottawa Mission

La COVID-19 aggrave les problèmes financiers, la maladie mentale et la perception du risque d’itinérance chez les Ottaviens et Ottaviennes, qui appuient en majorité un programme de revenu de base

Ottawa ON – Alors qu’Ottawa s’engage dans la deuxième vague de la pandémie de COVID-19, La Mission d’Ottawa a publié un sondage d’opinion publique réalisé par la firme Nanos Research qui montre l’impact de la pandémie sur les finances, la santé mentale et le risque d’itinérance perçu chez les résidents et résidentes.

« L’an dernier, l’itinérance atteignait un niveau jamais vu dans la collectivité et le conseil municipal d’Ottawa déclarait unanimement un état d’urgence en la matière en janvier de cette année. Aujourd’hui, sept mois après l’arrivée de la COVID-19, ce sondage montre le fardeau que la pandémie fait porter à nos citoyens et citoyennes, notamment en ce qui concerne les pressions financières, les atteintes au bien-être ainsi que les préoccupations liées au risque accru de sans-abrisme. À l’approche de l’hiver et face à la levée des interdictions d’expulsion en raison de la COVID-19, il nous faut un plan dès maintenant pour endiguer l’itinérance dans notre ville », a déclaré l’agente de liaison spéciale en matière de logement et d’itinérance, la conseillère Catherine McKenney, qui a présidé la conférence de presse tenue aujourd’hui.

Nik Nanos, président de Nanos Research, a présenté les conclusions accablantes du sondage. « Plus du tiers des répondants ont indiqué que la COVID-19 a eu un impact négatif (18 %) ou plutôt négatif (18 %) sur leurs finances personnelles, attribuable selon la plupart à une perte de revenu ou d’emploi. Un peu moins d’une personne sur cinq a dit que la pandémie a accru (6 %) ou plutôt accru (11 %) le risque d’itinérance des personnes qui leur sont chères. Un peu moins d’une personne sur dix a dit que la pandémie a augmenté le risque qu’elle court de devenir sans-abri. »

En novembre 2019, Nanos Research avait révélé que près de la moitié des résidents et résidentes d’Ottawa avaient dit connaître une personne chère qui risquait de devenir sans-abri et que l’itinérance était pour eux la question la plus préoccupante au niveau municipal. En août 2020, dans un sondage réalisé pour l’Alliance canadienne pour mettre fin à l’itinérance, Nanos Research a signalé qu’une forte majorité (72 %) trouvait urgent de continuer à lutter contre l’itinérance au Canada, un peu plus d’un Canadien sur sept étant inquiet (5 %) ou légèrement inquiet (11 %) de pouvoir payer ses coûts de logement.

Selon le nouveau sondage Nanos réalisé pour La Mission d’Ottawa, plus d’une personne sur dix à Ottawa (6 %) ou un membre de son ménage (6 %) touche la Prestation canadienne d’urgence (PCU), une majorité d’entre elles (42 %) craignant ou craignant quelque peu (31 %) la fin de la PCU. Par ailleurs, un répondant sur deux est préoccupé (20 %) ou quelque peu préoccupé (30 %) par un possible impact négatif d’une deuxième vague de COVID-19 sur ses finances. Près des deux tiers des répondants seraient favorables (51 %) ou quelque peu favorables (17 %) à la création d’un programme de revenu de base.

Le nouveau sondage révèle aussi l’incidence significative de la pandémie sur la santé mentale des répondants, la majorité d’entre eux ayant signalé un impact négatif (17 %) ou quelque peu négatif (47 %) causé par la quarantaine et l’isolement ainsi que des problèmes de santé mentale comme l’anxiété, le stress et la dépression.

« Il est clair que la pandémie a touché fortement les gens d’Ottawa. Cela soulève de très graves questions sur l’atténuation des impacts en début de deuxième vague de COVID-19 », d’ajouter Nik Nanos.

En parallèle avec le nouveau sondage Nanos, La Mission d’Ottawa a publié un rapport de recherche qui a analysé les conditions de santé et de vie de 283 invités ayant séjourné au refuge entre 2015 et 2019. On a conclu que le niveau de besoin de 48 % des clients était moyen et élevé pour 48 % d’entre eux. Stephanie Rattelade, PhD, gestionnaire de données et d’évaluation de La Mission, a présenté l’analyse qui révèle que :

  • 76 % des invités du refuge ont souligné un problème de santé mentale ou une déficience cognitive qui entrave leur vie de tous les jours;
  • 71 % ont souligné au moins un problème de santé grave ou chronique;
  • 49 % ont souligné une consommation excessive de substances ou d’alcool;
  • 40 % ont souligné des problèmes de santé mentale ou d’abus de substances concomitants; et
  • 51 % ont souligné des antécédents de traumatisme ou de mauvais traitements directement liés à leur état d’itinérance.

Les invités du refuge ont aussi mentionné d’autres aspects problématiques de leur vie comme leur présence dans des situations à haut risque, la difficulté à gérer l’argent et le manque d’activités utiles dans leur vie.

« Les niveaux des besoins de santé complexes des répondants étaient élevés par rapport aux autres études portant sur des populations de sans-abri. Ces résultats mettent en évidence les défis quotidiens que rencontrent certains des hommes sans-abri de notre ville », a dit Stephanie Rattelade.

Avant l’installation de lits provisoires pour hommes sans-abri au Centre Jim Durrell, La Mission d’Ottawa était en surcapacité depuis trois ans pour ce qui est des lits en refuge d’urgence et installait des matelas sur le sol de la chapelle pour répondre aux besoins. Le Centre a amélioré la situation et permis à La Mission de renforcer les mesures d’éloignement social au sein du refuge afin de minimiser le risque posé par la COVID-19. Mais les besoins en lits d’hébergement d’urgence sont en augmentation constante au refuge, ce qui crée de réelles inquiétudes à l’approche du temps froid puisque le taux de l’occupation à La Mission monte généralement d’au moins 10 % pendant les mois d’hiver.

« Un bien mince écart sépare les sans-abri de ceux qui ont un logement. Bon nombre de nos invités au refuge sont durement éprouvés par des conditions de santé qui sont compromises, surtout des problèmes de santé mentale, et des situations difficiles comme des problèmes financiers. La COVID-19 a aggravé les problèmes de santé mentale et le stress financier dans l’ensemble de la collectivité. En ce début de deuxième vague, je crains réellement que ces problèmes s’aggravent et que plus de gens soient incapables de préserver leur logement ou leur santé mentale », a souligné Peter Tilley, président et directeur de La Mission d’Ottawa.

« En 2019, on a confirmé que les membres de notre collectivité croient que l’itinérance doit être la priorité numéro un du conseil municipal d’Ottawa. En 2020, on apprenait que deux personnes sur trois à Ottawa sont favorables à un programme universel de revenu de base, qui serait de compétence fédérale, afin de s’attaquer à l’impact financier de la COVID-19. Étant donné l’ampleur du phénomène de l’itinérance à Ottawa ainsi que les répercussions de la COVID-19, tous les niveaux de gouvernement sont appelés à oeuvrer ensemble pour répondre au problème dès maintenant et prévenir qu’un plus grand nombre d’Ottaviens et d’Ottaviennes se retrouvent sans-abri », a conclu Peter Tilley.

À propos de La Mission d’Ottawa

Depuis 1906, La Mission d’Ottawa est au service des sans-abri, des affamés et des âmes perdues, leur offrant des repas, des vêtements, un refuge et de l’espoir. En 2019-2020, La Mission d’Ottawa a hébergé en moyenne 197 hommes toutes les nuits et a servi en moyenne 1 422 repas par jour. La Mission d’Ottawa offre également aux milliers de personnes en difficulté des soins de santé, des programmes de santé mentale et de traitement des dépendances, des soins palliatifs, des soins dentaires, de l’aide en éducation, de la formation à l’emploi, du soutien spirituel ainsi que des vêtements pour hommes. En septembre 2020, La Mission d’Ottawa a souligné la millionième heure de service du refuge depuis sa fondation en 1906. En 2019, le lancement d’un nouveau département du logement a permis à La Mission de devenir un refuge centré sur le logement conforme à son engagement selon lequel un logement est un droit humain.

À propos de la méthodologie de Nanos Research

Nanos a mené une enquête téléphonique par composition aléatoire (lignes terrestres et téléphonie cellulaire) auprès de 801 résidents de la Ville d’Ottawa âgés de 18 ans et plus, du 10 au 20 septembre. Les participants ont été recrutés au hasard par une personne au téléphone et ont répondu à un questionnaire en ligne. La marge d’erreur de l’enquête est de ±3,5 points, 19 fois sur 20. La recherche a été commandée par La Mission d’Ottawa et effectuée par Nanos Research.

POUR DE PLUS AMPLES RENSEIGNEMENTS, PRIÈRE DE COMMUNIQUER AVEC :

Aileen Leo

Directrice des communications

T 613 234-1144 poste 305

C 613 712-3092

Courriel : aleo@ottawamission.com

Covid19 worsens the finances, mental health and perceived risk of homelessness for people in Ottawa, with a majority supporting a Basic Income Program

Public opinion poll and shelter user data illustrate fine line between who is homeless and who is not

Ottawa, ON – As Ottawa enters the second wave of the continuing Covid19 pandemic, The Ottawa Mission has released a public opinion poll by Nanos Research which shows the impact of the pandemic on residents’ finances, mental health and perceived risk of homelessness.

“Last year, homelessness was at a level our community had never seen, which is why Ottawa City Council unanimously declared a homelessness emergency in January this year. Now, seven months into Covid19, this poll shows the burden that the pandemic has imposed on our citizens, including financial pressures, compromised wellbeing, and concerns about the increased risk of homelessness. With winter approaching and the lifting of prohibitions on evictions due to Covid19, we need a plan now to ensure that homelessness in our city doesn’t get even worse,” stated Special Liaison for Housing and Homelessness Councillor Catherine McKenney, who moderated today’s press conference.

President of Nanos Research Nik Nanos outlined the stark findings of the poll. “Over one-third of respondents indicated that Covid19 has had a negative (18%) or somewhat negative impact (18%) on their personal finances, most frequently saying it’s due to lost income or employment. Just under one in five said that the pandemic has increased (6%) or somewhat increased (11%) the risk of homelessness for those they care about. Just under one in ten said that the pandemic has increased or somewhat increased their personal risk of homelessness.”

In November 2019, Nanos Research reported that almost 50% of Ottawa residents indicated someone they cared about faced a risk of being homeless, and homelessness was the number one issue of concern to them at the municipal level. In August 2020, in a national poll for the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, Nanos Research reported that a strong majority (72%) thought it is urgent to work to end homelessness in Canada, with just over one in seven Canadians worried (5%) or somewhat worried (11%) about paying their housing costs.

According to the new Nanos poll for The Ottawa Mission, over one in ten people in Ottawa are receiving the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) (6%) or someone in their household is (6%). A majority of these people are concerned (42%) or somewhat concerned (31%) about the CERB ending. Furthermore, one in two respondents are concerned (20%) or somewhat concerned (30%) about the possible negative impact of a second wave of Covid19 on their finances. Almost two-thirds of respondents would support (51%) or somewhat support (17%) a basic universal income program.

Also according to this new poll, the impact of the pandemic on respondents’ mental health has been significant, with a majority reporting a negative (17%) or somewhat negative impact (47%) due to quarantine and isolation, and mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress and depression.

“Clearly, the pandemic has had a significant impact on the people of Ottawa. This poses very serious questions about how to address these impacts as we enter the second wave of Covid19,” Nanos added.

Along with the new Nanos poll, The Ottawa Mission released a research report which analyzed the health conditions and living circumstances of 283 shelter guests who stayed at the shelter from 2015-2019. Forty-eight percent were deemed moderate acuity (or level of need) and 48% high acuity. Stephanie Rattelade, PhD, Data and Evaluation Manager for The Mission, presented the analysis, which showed that among these shelter guests:

  • 76% reported a mental health challenge or cognitive impairment that impacted their daily functioning;
  • 71% reported at least one chronic or serious health condition;
  • 49% reported actively abusing substances or alcohol;
  • 40% reported concurrent mental health and substance use challenges; and
  • 51% reported an experience of trauma or abuse that directly impacted their homelessness.

Shelter guests also reported other aspects of their lives which were challenging, such as involvement in high-risk situations, difficulties with money management, and lack of meaningful activities in their lives.

“The levels of complex health needs of respondents were high compared to other studies of homeless populations. These results highlight the day-to-day challenges that some of the homeless men in our city experience,” noted Rattelade.

Prior to the establishment of the Jim Durrell Centre as an overflow shelter for homeless men, The Ottawa Mission had been at over 100% capacity for emergency shelter beds for the past three years, laying down mats on its chapel floor to accommodate those who needed shelter. The Centre ameliorated this situation and enabled the Mission to enhance social distancing measures within its shelter to minimize the risk of Covid19. However, the need for emergency shelter beds is steadily increasing at the shelter, which is spawning real concern in advance of colder temperatures since occupancy at The Mission usually increases by 10% or more during the winter months.

“There’s a fine line between who is homeless and who is not. Many of our shelter guests bear a very heavy burden of compromised health conditions, particularly mental health issues, and difficult life circumstances such as financial problems. Because of Covid19, we’re now seeing higher levels of mental health issues and financial stress in the community as a whole. As we enter the second wave of Covid19, I have real fears that these issues will get worse, with more people unable to maintain their housing or their mental health,” noted Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley.

“In 2019, it was confirmed that people in our community thought that homelessness should be the number one priority of Ottawa City Council. In 2020, we learned that two out of three people in Ottawa support a Universal Basic Income program, which would be a federal responsibility, to deal with financial impacts of Covid19.Given the magnitude of homelessness in Ottawa and the impact of Covid19, all levels of government must work together to address this problem now and ensure that even more of our citizens don’t fall into homelessness,” Tilley concluded.

An Analysis of Health Conditions and Support Needs of Shelter Guests at The Ottawa Mission, October 27, 2020 (PDF)

Oct. 27 Nanos Presentation (PDF)

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and hope. In 2019-2020, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 197 men every night and served an average of 1,422 meals every day. The Ottawa Mission also provides health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and men’s clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of a new housing department.

About Nanos Research Methodology

Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) random telephone survey of 801 City of Ottawa residents, 18 years of age or older, between September 10 – 20. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey. The margin of error for this survey is ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The research was commissioned by Ottawa Mission and was conducted by Nanos Research.

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo

Director of Communications

T 613.234.1144 x 305

C. 613-712-3092

E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

Helping Those in Need: The Ottawa Mission Serves 2946 Special Meals this Thanksgiving

Ottawa, ON – During The Ottawa Mission’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner, which was held on October 12th, the shelter served 2946 meals. On any given day, the Ottawa Mission serves over 1420 meals to shelter residents and those in need in the community. During special meals such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, The Mission provides many more meals for those who would otherwise go hungry.

“It takes 2500 pounds of turkey to feed everyone during our special Thanksgiving dinner,” noted Chef Ric Watson, Director of Food Services at The Mission. Also on the menu was: savory stuffing (30 pans); mashed potato (450lbs); roasted vegetables (350lbs); vegetarian quiche (150 portions); fresh baked rolls (250 dozen); giblet gravy (50 gallons); pumpkin tarts with whipped cream (2500 portions); and bottled water and juice (2500 units).

Despite being a wealthy city, Ottawa has some of the highest rates of hidden hunger in the province. The riding of Rideau-Vanier where The Mission is located has the highest use of food banks in Ontario. As well, Ottawa South and Ottawa West-Nepean are among the 10 ridings with the most food bank users per capita.

Food insecurity contributes to poor mental health, diabetes and heart disease. Last year, The Mission served 520,373 meals to those who would otherwise go hungry, the highest number in the shelter’s history. Now, Covid19 has made hunger in our community much worse. This is one reason why The Mission recently launched its new and phenomenally successful food truck program, which delivers 1,200 meals per week at seven community partner locations across the city to ensure that those who cannot travel to the shelter due to disability, lack of funds for transportation, or other reasons do not go hungry.

“Poverty, homelessness and food insecurity are serious public health issues. We at the Ottawa Mission are doing our part to address hunger and keep people healthy through our meal program,” said Ottawa Mission Executive Director Peter Tilley. “Our kitchen volunteers and staff worked very hard to ensure that everyone had a delicious turkey dinner. And our donors and supporters have been profoundly generous in their support. A huge thank you to all,” Tilley concluded.

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and hope. In 2019-2020, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 197 men every night and served an average of 1,422 meals every day. The Ottawa Mission also provides health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and men’s clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of a new housing department.

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
C 613.712.3092
aleo@ottawamission.com