Gatineau responds to Covid-19
City offers help for vulnerable citizens, releases employees to volunteer
Two measures to help vulnerable residents and community organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, were announced by Gatineau officials on May 4. Several municipal representatives were on hand for the online announcement, including Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin and Renée Amyot, Limbour councillor and President of the Gatineau, Ville en Santé Commission.
The mayor opened by explaining that the City had been aiding CISSSO since the beginning of the crisis - notably sharing the message to act responsibly, lending service rooms and safety equipment and by allocating funds to different organizations. Pointing to the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the region, Pedneaud-Jobin said that the situation had been relatively positive so far. Noting that the crisis was far from over, he said that a return to normalcy likely wouldn’t be happening anytime soon, especially for vulnerable citizens.
He added that the local health care system, community organizations and senior citizens would need all the support they could get, as social distancing regulations lighten in the coming weeks. “We don’t know what kind of effects the progressive deconfinement will have,” Pedneaud-Jobin said, “or the effects of an increase in the number of businesses reopening, or even the eventual resumption of certain hospital activities.”
The mayor then announced that the city was setting up a team dedicated to making courtesy calls to seniors during the pandemic. Amyot – who came up with the initiative – said that it was all about reassuring and supporting senior citizens and lightening their self-isolation woes, noting that employees would check in to see if people are mentally and physically in good health and refer them to the proper resources for help. She added that the calls will be made to people aged 70 and up living in communities with other vulnerable citizens, going along with CISSSO’s plan to reach out to seniors during the crisis.
Pedneaud-Jobin added that the city and its union representatives had negotiated to establish a list of municipal employees wanting to volunteer for CISSSO and different community organizations. He invited employees who could be relieved of their duties to add their names to the list, noting that the full functioning of municipal services was paramount. The mayor said a lot of positions urgently needed to be filled, including administrative positions and helpers in CISSSO’s long-term care facilities, as well as various positions at the Gîte-Ami, the Manne de l’Île and Pop ta soupe.
Employees who volunteer with certain organizations will maintain remuneration for their efforts and the city and its union representatives will ensure that volunteers are safe, Pedneaud-Jobin said. While only around 10 positions need to be filled as soon as possible, the mayor said it was important for the city to prepare for the future by implementing a protocol that would allow it to be more proactive.