Equity and Inclusion
The work and expertise that OLIP brings to our community is so important as it helps us to build bridges and break down silos.  I look forward to our continued work together. 

Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa
Canada has been shaped by people who came from all over the world to build this country. WOW offers a platform for us to celebrate this history and the future it will help…

Alex Munter, Chair of the OLIP Council and President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre
We are very pleased to have done the “Opportunity Cost of Not Investing in Interpretation” report – it is so important to have clarity on these challenges and…

Hindia Mohamoud, Director, OLIP
All the WOW events that I went to were great – WOW does give a sense of a community trying to improve its attraction and retention!

Caroline Andrew
Professor, University of Ottawa
The Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre is so happy to have joined the OLIP Health and Wellbeing Sector Table. It is clear that OLIP cares about immigrants and refugees and…

Wendy Tang, Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre
The City of Ottawa will continue to play a lead role in the implementation of the Ottawa Immigration Strategy, just as we did in the founding of OLIP.

Steve Desroches
City Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Ottawa
I was happy to see integration to Algonquin territory and indigenous culture related programming in 2014 WOW. Please continue to involve local Aboriginal organisations and…

Linda Manning
WOW 2014 participant, Senior Fellow, University of Ottawa
My nomination is an indication that our hard work in building Canada is recognized. All we do is to serve the community in return for embracing us when we needed it.  

Mehdi Mahdavi
Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneurship Awards Nominee
The WOW seminar on immigrant women’s nutrition and health was a step in the right direction towards closing the gap between academic researchers and service providers.

Josephine Etowa
Associate Professor, School of Nursing, University of Ottawa
OLIP helps to unite and share scarce resources for greater impact by working together in the field of student education.

Walter Piovesan
Associate Director of Education, Ottawa Carleton District School Board

Equity and Inclusion in COVID-19 Response

August 9, 2020

By Sawsan Al-Refaei, Partner and Stakeholder Initiatives, Community and Social Services, City of Ottawa

The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on the lives of Ottawa residents. As with most epidemics, COVID-19 has had a disproportionally negative impact on the lives of Indigenous Peoples and equity-seeking groups. It can make existing gender and other inequalities worse.

From the beginning of this crisis, the City recognized the importance of applying an equity lens to all stages of its pandemic response. An equity lens considers the differences in access to resources, experience of barriers that people have based on their socio/cultural/economic reality and demographic identities. Applying an equity and inclusion lens means to integrate mitigation strategies in policy development and resource distribution to address these differences and level the playing field.

The City of Ottawa’s Human Needs Task Force (HNTF), through its work with community partners and allies, used an intersectional and gender lens.  The HNTF included staff from various departments and more than 45 community organizations working to assess local needs during the COVID-19 emergency and enhance the City’s response in collaboration with community partners to ultimately support the most at-risk people in our community. Staff, community organizations, networks, and frontline service providers continue to participate weekly in HNTF virtual meetings and continue to inform and respond to existing and emerging service gaps and needs affecting vulnerable populations.

During these meetings information is shared on how Indigenous Peoples and community equity seeking groups have experienced disproportionate impacts of COVID-19. Women, especially racialized and Indigenous women, are at heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19 as they are overrepresented in the “5 C jobs”: care, catering, cashier, cleaning and clerical jobs. Women are at a higher risk of abuse and gender- based violence due to limited access to social support and isolation, and youth and seniors are at risk of feeling isolated. Data continues to demonstrate the extreme mental health challenges faced by young persons, and the unique barriers faced by 2SLGBTQ+ community. Lack of technology, internet and language are main barriers faced by immigrant and refugee families to access services during the pandemic.

The City of Ottawa’s Community and Social Services Department developed a series of documents and tools that help City staff and community organizations apply an equity lens to COVID-19 response and recovery. These documents consulted national and local data and reports as well as feedback from HNTF subgroup members and other stakeholder tables such as United Way Community Response Table, OLIP Health and Wellbeing Table and CAWI weekly check-in meetings.

The Equity and Inclusion Lens is equally important in terms of COVID-19 recovery as it is during the emergency response. It is important to recognize equity barriers that may prevent equity seeking groups and Indigenous Peoples from promptly going back to their academic and professional lives. This includes ways to foresee eroded resilience of new community groups who may fall into homelessness, mental health illness and food insecurity during recovery. The Equity and Inclusion Lens to the COVID-19 response and recovery has been discussed among City staff and management and presented to several community response tables and other municipalities.

The Equity Lens documents on COVID-19 are being revised to ensure they stay current and relevant to City staff and community stakeholders. The documents will be available on City’s website in the Fall of 2020.