UGM’s Response to Cases of COVID-19

Blog Updated: January 18th, 2021

The wellbeing and safety of every single person who passes through our doors is always our top concern, now more than ever—whether it’s a guest, resident, donor, staff member, volunteer, or a visitor. Because our community means the world to us, we are sharing that we are responding to cases of COVID-19 in our community, and taking new steps to heighten our safety protocols.

Recent Cases as of January 18th, 2021: 

  • On January 17th, 2021, we received word that a resident at 601 E Hastings has tested positive for COVID-19. They are now self-isolating and receiving care and guidance from health authorities. VCH will be notifying those who may if considered close contacts, if any.
  • On January 13th, 2021, we received word that two additional staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, one from our Men’s Recovery team who was last onsite Jan 12th, and one from the Sanctuary team, who was last onsite Jan 11th. Both had been following all safety precautions. Anyone who needs to be notified of potential exposure will be notified and will be taking precautions by self-isolating.
  • Over the weekend of January 9th, we were notified that two staff tested positive for COVID-19. Their last shifts onsite were Jan 7th. It is not believed these cases have resulted in community spread onsite at UGM. Our fervent prayers and support are with these valued staff members, who are receiving care and guidance from health authorities, and who are currently taking precautions by self-isolating. They will not be returning to work until they are well and have been cleared by health authorities. Any close contacts who should be notified will be notified.

We are constantly reviewing how to adjust our operations to best protect our guests and community. Health authorities have affirmed our current health and safety protocols and we continue to take extra precautions to ensure well-being of our staff and community. Past and current cases of COVID-19 are not considered an outbreak by health authorities. Important updates will be found on this webpage, if and when they become available. 

UGM facility

Safety Steps

We are dedicated to ensuring the safety of our guests, many of whom rely on UGM for meals, shelter, and safety daily for survival. Their lives are on the line, and we will continue to serve them with dignity and respect through new extra safety measures.

Our Emergency Management Team is responding swiftly to minimize any risk of transmission and keep our guests safe. These include but are not limited to:  

  • Following health recommendations of the health authority.
  • All staff that are able to work from home, must work from home
  • Staff must wear masks when they are indoors at UGM, including in shared office spaces as per Dr. Henry’s new expectation that everyone wears masks while in indoor public spaces. Staff who are working closely with other staff will wear medical masks instead of cloth masks for increased protection.
  • Making PPE available for all staff and tenants, executing a deep clean of all relevant areas and our 601 East Hastings facility, and enhancing sanitation efforts across the board.
  • Implementing social distancing measures, and continuing to screen guests for any symptoms while working with health authorities to best care for those in need. 
  • Making masks available for guests who request one
  • Notifying our staff and residents on how to prevent and recognize COVID-19
  • Following UGM’s pandemic plan.
  • Reviewing how to best proceed or amend our operations in order to best protect the wellbeing of our community. 
  • Implementing engineering controls throughout UGM to create space and Plexiglas barriers in high traffic areas
  • Adjusting shelter operations to protect guests. UGM is fortunate that our shelter was designed specifically with dignity and illness control in mind. Still, we are implementing more social distancing as possible in our shelter to space guests further apart in separate rooms and separate floors. We are also screening guests for COVID-19 symptoms to ensure our shelter is a safe refuge and will be referring any severely sick patients to 9-1-1.
  • Instead of gathering hundreds of people inside our dining room together, we are offering hot meals ‘to-go’ in biodegradable containers through our doors and serving hundreds more. This reduces risk and follows the advice of health authorities to limit public gatherings.

As COVID-19 forced many organizations to scale down, the compassionate support of people like you means that UGM has been able to fill critical gaps. We’ve increased emergency supports for low-income families and are maintaining our most essential life-saving programs like meals, emergency shelter, and housing:

  • Dramatically increasing delivery of food hampers to vulnerable families by 500% from our pre-pandemic levels. Find out more at 
  • Being there for those who are on the fringes of our society through our Mobile Mission, providing extra food, hygiene items, outdoor gear, connection, and health information, as we’re seeing over twice as many people camping out in hard-to-reach places than before the pandemic 
  • Having our Cornerstone Drop-in Centre open for a few hours in the afternoons with social distancing measures so our guests have a place to rest and connect during the day 

There may be more information in the coming days about these cases of COVID-19 or other developments. We will provide further information if and when possible.

We will rely on health recommendations moving forward and advise anyone with questions to contact your local health authority for all COVID-19 information. 

We appreciate your continued prayers and support as we face this ever-changing situation.

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