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 [email protected]. A list of community resources available during extreme hot weather can be downloaded 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 asked basic screening questions. The Shared Health Online Screening Tool can help assess symptoms to determine whether 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 procedure or non-medical cloth mask is required for entry to all indoor locations that are open to the public. Most service locations will require a mask or face covering for entry, even if public access is restricted.  Most service locations will also require hand sanitizing or hand washing before entry, using supplies provided at the location.

What to Do: If an Individual Presents with Symptoms

Symptomatic individuals can self-refer to any testing site if screening indicates the possibility of COVID-19 and the individual does not require urgent medical attention. You can also call Health Links at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257 for further information and direction, or direct an individual to a Primary Care provider. As of May 11, a Mobile Testing service is available by referral for people who are unable to access a testing site. Where an individual requires transport Primary Care or a testing site, you may choose to:

  • Accompany the individual on foot, maintaining physical distancing of at least six feet.
  • Call 204-986-8410 to arrange a pick-up time for WRHA COVID-19 transportation with Blue Line.
  • 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 distancing of at least 2 metres from others and wears a mask or face covering. 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 primary care or 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 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, the individual will need to isolate for at least 14 days. To accommodate these needs for individuals experiencing homelessness, a low-barrier quarantine and isolation space has been established by Main Street Project and the WRHA.  The Province of Manitoba has also established alternative spaces for anyone experiencing difficulty isolating. Ensure the individual you are supporting discusses their options for quarantine and isolation with their Primary Care or testing provider, so they can access an appropriate space if needed.

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 6ft/2m from others, PPE should not be necessary. In other cases, eye protection, procedure masks, and/or disposable gloves can be worn for personal protection by direct service staff, in addition to frequent hand washing or sanitizing and physical distancing (6ft/2m apart) from people as much as possible. Non-medical cloth masks and face coverings are another option to protect others, although these are not considered PPE.

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. 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 when damp or soiled. 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; Lite Box is producing washable non-medical cloth masks; 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 [email protected].

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/General

Outreach/Drop-ins/Food Providers

Housing First/Housing Supports

Family Violence