Many resources, such as nonprofits, were almost overwhelmed as tent camps in the area were dismantled and shelters had to be found for these residents, he said.
âWhile this is a critical COVID response, and this response has helped ensure that we do not have COVID in the outdoor settlements in the City of Victoria today, it has pushed many resources to breaking point, âEby said.
The province, along with the local health authority and the city, have announced the creation of 50 new COVID-19 isolation shelters to help those who have contracted the virus and wish to live inside.
The new spaces will be split between 30 places in existing shelters and 20 in pop-up locations, Eby said. They will be temporary and there are no plans to continue mining them after the pandemic.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the city is working with the provincial government and Island Health to find a solution.
The city has been put in the predicament of trying to keep the parks open to the public and allow the homeless to stay as they may be struggling with mental health or other issues, she said.
“Sleeping in a tent in a park is neither a housing nor a health solution,” Helps said.
An emergency meeting was called last weekend, Helps said, with the aim of finding accommodation options for those who are homeless and have tested positive for COVID-19.
Island Health’s chief medical officer, Dr Richard Stanwick, said the health authority estimates that only 30% of the homeless population has received the vaccine, compared to more than 80% for the general population.
âThey are probably not going to use the usual sources of care, so we are providing care to them,â he said of a vaccination and screening program for the homeless.
Provincial health official Dr Bonnie Henry said this week that health officials across the province face similar scenarios as places that were used as temporary shelters resume their original function as hotels or motels .
âWe are increasing vaccination and testing on the streets for people. We are supporting staff at BC Housing and shelters to make sure we can support people in the Downtown Eastside and other communities where this is a problem, âshe said, referring to a Vancouver neighborhood. .
– By Nick Wells in Vancouver.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 1, 2021.
The Canadian Press