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COVID-19: Emergency Aid, Support and Helpful Links

COVID-19: Emergency Aid, Support and Helpful Links

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19, or Coronavirus Disease 2019, is a respiratory illness similar to the flu or common cold. Symptoms include cough, sneezing, fever, sore throat and difficulty breathing.  

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience a mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness (Source: WHO).

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The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The best ways to prevent and slow down transmission include:

  1. Stay home outside of essential tasks such as grocery shopping.
  2. Practise physical distancing. Stay at least 2 metres or six feet from others.  
  3. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If you have to go out, try to avoid touching surfaces that others have touched.
  4. Avoid touching your face–particularly your eyes, nose and mouth.

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What to do if you feel sick

If you think you have been exposed to the virus or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, stay at home and be prepared to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor your health.

BC has launched a self assessment tool which you can access here.

The Government of Canada self assessment tool can be found here.

You can call 8-1-1 anytime to talk to a nurse at HealthLinkBC and get advice about how you are feeling and what to do next.

If it becomes harder to breathe, you can’t drink anything or feel much worse than when you got tested; seek urgent medical care at an urgent care clinic or emergency department. If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. Call ahead before you get medical care.

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Emergency Aid and Support


BC211 – Safe Seniors Strong Communities Program

The BC211 program matches seniors who need help with non-medical essentials, with volunteers in their community. At the same time, bc211 is looking for volunteers to help assist seniors residing in their community. Seniors who are unsure where to go for help are encouraged to call for everything from groceries and medication to virtual visits and social calls.

Please contact bc211 to register for services or to volunteer and assist seniors in your community. Phone 2-1-1 or complete an online form.

TTY Access for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community in BC is available by dialing 604-875-0885.

BC211 has just extended their hours of operation. Phone calls are free, confidential, multilingual, and available 24/7. Online chats with a specialist are also free, confidential, and available 7 days a week from 8am to 11pm PST.

For more information on bc211, please visit

If you are having difficulty registering for this service and need assistance, contact JSA Peer Support Services at 604.267.1555.


Jewish Family Services Community Care Hotline

The JFS Community Care Hotline has been set up as an emergency response resource in light of COVID-19. It is now available 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., 7 days a week to provide emergency essential services to anyone throughout Metro Vancouver. Call 604-558-5719 or email


Caregiver Support

As a caregiver, you may be concerned about the spread of the COVID-19 virus and what to do during these difficult times. The Family Caregivers of BC’s Caregiver Support Line is available from MonFri 8:30am to 4pm. Call 1-877-520-3267


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Benefits and Services



Apply for the new federal emergency response benefit here or employment insurance here

British Columbians who receive federal employment insurance or the new federal emergency response benefit qualify for a one-time payment of $1,000. The application process for this payment, which will be sent out in May, is not yet available.

Employees  can take unpaid job-protected leave related to COVID-19 if they’re unable to work for a variety of reasons listed online

Anyone having issues with their employer regarding the Employment Standards Act can submit a complaint to the province online. 

For More information about your rights as an employee visit WorkSafeBC

Due to COVID-19, BC has implemented new emergency measures to ensure that people on income or disability assistance and low-income seniors, do not encounter additional barriers. To learn more, Click Here.


Housing Expenses

Renting: The province announced supports for renters and landlords, including rent increase freezes, a rent rebate and rental supplements. BC Housing expects the public will be able to apply online in early April. More information here.

Mortgages: Six Canadian banks have announced six-month deferrals on payments to help ease financial hardship. Property owners are advised to get in touch with their bank or broker directly.

Utility Bills: Those worried about paying utilities bills can defer payments or apply for grants by calling BC Hydro’s customer service line at 1-800-224-9376. 

FortisBC waived late payment fees and says it will ensure no one is cut off. For more information, contact 1-866-436-7847 regarding electricity, or 1-888-224-2710 for natural gas, or send an email. 


Income tax

The federal government has deferred the filing date until June 1, though it advises anyone expecting to receive benefits to try to file as early as possible. Taxpayers can defer sending any money owed until after Aug. 31. More information here


Car Insurance

You can now renew your car insurance by phone (1-800-665-6442) or by email. Here’s more information from ICBC. Call ICBC for information on deferring payments if necessary for up to 90 days.


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Helpful Links and Information



Non-Medical Information

B.C. launched a new phone line for people looking for information on COVID-19 not directly associated with medical concerns (eg: travel, funding support).

The line, 1-888-COVID19, is staffed 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can also text 604-630-0300, or fill out a contact form to receive answers through email. For deaf callers. Dial 711 for Service BC.


Provincial and Municipal News


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South Vancouver Seniors Network COVID-19 Webinar and Information Sessions

South Vancouver Seniors Network is hosting a series of COVID-19 Webinar and Information sessions on Thursdays, from 10:30am to 11:30am.  Sessions include two guest panelists to discuss the serious challenges and concerns of caregivers during COVID-19.

To register for this webinar please fill out this form:

We also encourage you to view the most recent South Vancouver Seniors Network COVID-19 Update newsletter that was published in order to share information on resources available to seniors and caregivers during the COVID-19 outbreak. To view the latest newsletter Click Here.


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