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. Resources available during summer weather can be found here.

Don’t Wait: Vaccinate!

On January 27, 2021 the Province of Manitoba announced its COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy. People experiencing homelessness and staff who work with them are prioritized in this plan. Staff at provincially-funded agencies in the homelessness and social housing sectors who have direct, ongoing contact with clients or the public are required to be fully vaccinated by October 31, 2021, or undergo COVID-19 testing up to 3 times per week.

Anyone born on or before December 31, 2009 is eligible to be vaccinated. Call 1-844-626-8222 to book an appointment for yourself or with an individual you are supporting. People booking by phone can access service in over 100 languages and request professional interpreter services to be arranged for their appointment at a super site. People with an email address and health card number can also book online.  People can also use the Vaccine Finder to locate a community clinic or pharmacy that provides the vaccine, and contact it directly to book an appointment. Some sites, including Urban Indigenous clinics at Aboriginal Health and Wellness and Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata, provide vaccines on a walk-in basis. All vaccine providers have a process for immunizing eligible people who present without a health card. People without a health card should bring any other ID they have. People can also bring a support person. To receive the vaccine, a completed consent form is required. You can print the form here to fill it out ahead of an appointment.

Vaccines are administered in two doses, spaced several weeks apart. To book a second dose appointment, you will need to know when you received your first dose and the type of vaccine you received . If you do not recall this information and you have a Manitoba Health card, you can visit the Shared Health website to access this information. If you do not have a Manitoba Health card, you can contact a public health office. If you have received both doses and seek proof of your immunization, you can request an immunization card online if you have a Health card, or request proof of immunization at a public health office if you do not have a Health card.

Third doses are available to  people who are immunocompromised, require a third dose for travel, are residents or staff of First Nations care homes in Manitoba, or who previously received doses of vaccines that are not approved by Health Canada. For more information about third doses, visit https://manitoba.ca/covid19/vaccine/eligibility-criteria.html#third.

Sharing accurate information about vaccination is critical, to support individuals making informed choices and plans. Download, print or share the following factsheets, posters and information:

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:

As of August 28, 2021, a mask is required for entry to indoor locations that are open to the public in Manitoba. Most service locations require a mask for entry even if public access is restricted.  Most will also require physical distancing while indoors. Some service locations may also require a temperature check before entry, or hand washing or sanitizing using supplies provided.

What to Do: If an Individual Presents with Symptoms or Isolation Needs

Symptomatic individuals, those who have been exposed to COVID-19, or those arriving from out-of-province can self-refer to any testing site if screening indicates the possibility of COVID-19 or a need to isolate, and the individual does not require urgent medical attention. Symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 in people who have recovered from COVID-19 within the last 3 months 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 Health Links at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257 to arrange a pick-up time for WRHA COVID-19 transportation with Blue Line.
  • If Blue Line wait times are a barrier, the Salvation Army offers a backup transportation option weekdays from 9am-4pm. 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, call 431-277-5374 to inform the Alternative Isolation Accommodations manager of arrival and client information; then call Inter Facility Transport at 204-986-8410 to arrange a pick up for transportation to after hours testing and isolation. Otherwise, individuals may 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, 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 individuals discuss 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. 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, wear a non-medical mask, and wash or sanitize hands frequently, PPE may not be necessary. In other cases, eye protection or face shields, procedure masks, and/or disposable gloves can be worn for personal protection by direct service staff.

Eye protection and face shields 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. Review applicable guidelines below and follow as best possible:

PPE suppliers: Bargains Group; Viceroy Distributors; Grainger CanadaCanadian Shield makes eye protection shields. 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).  Ensure surfaces are cleaned and disinfected at least twice daily. Frequently touched surfaces and objects may 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