COVID-19 Resources for Winnipeg’s Homeless-Serving Sector

These resources have been compiled to support agencies delivering essential services for those experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg. For up to date information on Public Health guidance and best practices for COVID-19, visit Shared Health Manitoba.

For information on community resources and services available to individuals experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg during the pandemic, visit HelpSeeker or 211 or email info@endhomelessnesswinnipeg.ca. A list of community resources available during winter weather can be found in the appendix of the Winter Weather Response Plan, downloadable in .pdf format here.

COVID-19 Screening, Testing and Isolation

What to Ask: Screening

All staff and visitors across Manitoba’s health system are being screened. Your employer should have a staff screening process in place for you to complete prior to each shift. Clients and visitors should also be screened. The Shared Health Online Screening Tool can help assess symptoms to determine whether testing is advised or further information and direction is needed from Health Links, Primary Care or 911. The Screening Tool is available in Interactive Voice Response format by calling 1-877-308-9038. In cases where the Screening Tool is unavailable, the following print resources can assist:

Some service locations will require a temperature check before entry. As of September 28, 2020, a mask is required for entry to all indoor locations that are open to the public. Most service locations will require a mask for entry, even if public access is restricted.  Most service locations will also require hand sanitizing or hand washing at entry, using supplies provided.

What to Do: If an Individual Presents with Symptoms or Exposure

Symptomatic individuals and those who have been exposed to COVID-19 can self-refer to any testing site if screening indicates the possibility of COVID-19, the individual does not require urgent medical attention and has not recovered from COVID-19 within the past 3 months. Symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 in people who have recently recovered from COVID-19 should be investigated for other causes, and are not likely to require testing or isolation. Call Health Links at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257, or direct an individual to a Primary Care provider, for further information and direction as needed. A Mobile Testing service is available by referral for people who are unable to access a testing site. Where an individual requires transport to a testing site, you may choose to:

  • Accompany the individual on foot, maintaining physical distance of at least six feet.
  • Call 204-986-8410 to arrange a pick-up time for WRHA COVID-19 transportation with Blue Line.
  • If Blueline wait times are a barrier, the Salvation Army offers a backup transportation option weekday afternoons from 1-5pm. Call  204-995-2410 to arrange pick-up.
  • Provide cab fare and a mask. Keep the windows of the cab open if at all possible and position the individual as far apart from the driver as possible. Advise the driver to disinfect all interior surfaces of the cab after the trip, wearing disposable gloves that are placed in the trash after use.
  • While waiting for transportation, ensure the symptomatic individual maintains physical distance of at least six feet from others and wears a mask. If possible, have the individual wait in a designated area or room for symptomatic segregation that is disinfected following use.
  • Driving an individual using a personal or work vehicle is not advised. If you choose to transport an individual to testing, ensure that you wear PPE and that the individual wears a mask. Keep the windows of the vehicle open if at all possible. Position yourself and the passenger as far apart as possible. Disinfect all interior surfaces of the vehicle after the trip, wearing disposable gloves that are placed in the trash after use.

If Screening or Health Links indicate that a visit to Primary Care or testing is required, but Primary Care and testing sites are closed because it is after hours, individuals should be directed to urgent care or emergency. If symptoms are mild or not present and the individual prefers to await daytime testing hours, Salvation Army offers a “pre-isolation” unit that can be accessed 7pm-9am by calling 204-946-9173. Transportation to this space is available if identified as a need when calling.

If an individual appears in medical distress or displays difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion, drowsiness or loss of consciousness, call 911.

What Happens Next: Quarantine and Isolation

Following testing, an individual will need to quarantine while awaiting results. If results are positive, or a person is identified as a close contact of a positive case by Public Health, the individual will need to isolate for at least 10 days. To accommodate these needs for individuals experiencing homelessness, low-barrier quarantine and isolation spaces have been established by Main Street Project and the WRHA.  The Province of Manitoba has also established alternative spaces for anyone experiencing difficulty isolating. Ensure that the individual you are supporting discusses their options for quarantine and isolation with their testing provider, so they can access an appropriate space as needed.

Timelines for COVID-19 test results can vary and may take several days. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by Public Health. Once available, results may be accessed online or by calling Health Links at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257. Individuals who provide a cellphone number at testing may receive a text message letting them know when their results are available online.

Information to Share: Infographics, Posters and Fact Sheets

Individuals may face barriers to accessing accurate health information on COVID-19. It is extremely important to share accessible and reliable health and prevention information with everyone in the community. Place the plain language posters, graphics and fact sheets below in shared spaces, or print copies to distribute:

How to Help Safely: COVID-19 Guidelines for Serving People Experiencing Homelessness in Winnipeg

What to Wear: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Non-Medical Cloth Masks

If you are able to maintain physical distancing of at least six feet from others, wash or sanitize hands frequently, and wear a non-medical mask, PPE may not be necessary. In other cases, eye protection, procedure masks, and/or disposable gloves can be worn for personal protection by direct service staff.

Eye protection should be disinfected and reused if possible. Procedure masks should be disposed of every time they are removed, including the end of a shift or if they become wet or soiled. Disposable gloves should be replaced (and hands washed or sanitized) between each contact. In some settings, disposable gowns are advised. Fabric masks and face coverings are not considered PPE but should not be shared, touched by your hands while worn, or used if damp or soiled. If you’re at higher risk of more severe illness if you get COVID-19 or exposure to COVID-19 because of your work or living situation, you should wear a non-medical mask or face covering that includes a layer of filter fabric or a replaceable filter. Place worn fabric masks or face coverings directly into a bag or washing machine, launder on a hot cycle and dry thoroughly before reuse.

PPE is in high demand so supplies may be short. Review applicable guidelines below and follow as best possible:

PPE suppliers: Bargains Group; Viceroy Distributors; Grainger CanadaCanadian Shield makes eye protection shields; Patent 5 Distillery is producing sanitizer free for non-profits. The Free Press has produced a Mask Maker Matchmaker to connect people making non-medical cloth masks with those that need them. Shelters can request PPE for staff who participate in screening clients, through Shared Health Supply Chain Management: 204-926-3766 or SCMCommandIntake@sharedhealthmb.ca.

Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sanitizer

Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that people touch often (e.g., door handles/knobs, railings, light switches, etc). Regularly clean and disinfect, or if possible, remove high touch objects (pens, cups, magazine racks) from shared areas. Ensure all surfaces are cleaned and then disinfected at least twice daily. Regularly touched surfaces and objects need to be cleaned and disinfected more often.

Cleaning removes germs and dirt using soap and warm water. Disinfecting kills germs using diluted bleach (4 tsp bleach/1L  water), 70% alcohol solutions, or EPA-registered household disinfectants. Ensure disinfectant stays on the surface/object for one minute. Soft surfaces and items like rugs, curtains, toys or bedding should be cleaned with appropriate cleaners or in a washing machine using hot water if possible. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects, and wash or sanitize hands before and after.

Harm Reduction

Shelters/Service Points

Outreach/Drop-ins/Food Providers

Housing First/Housing Supports

Family Violence