Important COVID-19 Updates from EVA BC

Updates from the EVA BC Office:
Through these challenging times, EVA BC has adapted our work to ensure the safety of our staff, partners, and colleagues while doing what we can to continue our work.

To honour the BC and Canadian governments’ orders regarding social distancing, EVA BC has moved predominately to remote-working until March 30th, 2020, after which we will reassess the situation and determine our next steps.

Contact EVA BC Staff:
EVA BC staff are all still available online through email. Please visit our Contact Us Page to connect with specific staff. We are also checking our voice messages remotely, but to get the quickest response please contact us by email.

Trainings, Workshops, and Presentations:
EVA BC’s trainings, workshops, and presentations have either been postponed, rescheduled, cancelled, or moved to an online platform. EVA BC staff who coordinated the training, workshop and/or presentation have or will connect directly with registrants with updates.

EVA BC Listservs:
For our Member Programs, our Listservs are still live and we encourage those of you who are subscribed to connect with each other through the Listservs. For more information about the Listservs, please visit Join a Listservs.

Social Media:
EVA BC will continue posting regular updates, news, and information on our Social Media feeds. Please visit our Facebook Page and our Twitter Page.

A Message From EVA BC Executive Director Tracy Porteous

Dear EVA BC Members, Colleagues, Partners, Friends, and Supporters:

I know we are all feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, both in our personal and work lives. We felt it was important to reach out to all of you involved in the work of responding to, or supporting the response to, gender-based violence in BC.

We want to say that first and foremost, we hope you are safe and that you have found ways to physically distance yourself from others for your own safety and to contribute to #FlattenTheCurve. At the same time, we hope you are able to stay connected to the people you love and to the clients/community members who may need you right now.

Gender-based violence increases during disasters

Many of you will know that sexualized violence, intimate partner violence, and child abuse have been found to increase dramatically immediately when disasters strike, as well as in the short-, medium-, and long-term recovery times post-disaster. This has been true in areas where there have been earthquakes, forest fires, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, and other disasters. This has been documented in BC and around the world.

The situation we currently face is unprecedented in its reach and in its potential period of impact. Those with expertise in the area of gender-based violence and disasters have helped us to understand that while the vast majority of people will rise to the occasion to assist others, there remains a small segment in society, those with histories of violence, who may try to take advantage of the vulnerability of others.

Additionally, because of the stress caused by loss of income or jobs, loss of housing and other losses, people who may have already acted out in violent or abusive ways may all be doing this at the same time. So, although disasters don’t cause people to act out in these ways, destabilizing factors can lead some to be short tempered and to lose control and others to be downright abusive and violent.

Please see our past EVA Notes on this subject.

We are ready to provide you even more support

Together, we have put in place many strong mechanisms in BC to assist those of you on the front lines with managing and mitigating risks from gender-based violence. Our collective hats continue to go off to you, the first responders to gender-based violence. It is our hope that your ICATs are able to carry on their work in ways that are safe, such as secure Zoom meetings or conference calls.

We hope that those who do not have an ICAT will know that EVA BC’s virtual doors remain open. We are ready to provide you even more support than on regular days. We are prepared with a full complement of staff, both from our EVA BC office and in our Community Coordination for Women’s Safety program.

New economic measures provide nation-wide support

On March 18, the Prime Minister of Canada announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy and help Canadians affected by the impacts of this challenging period. These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, plus $55 billion to meet liquidity needs of Canadian businesses and households through tax deferrals to help stabilize the economy.

Combined, this $82 billion in support represents more than 3 per cent of Canada’s GDP. This wide-ranging support will help ensure Canadians can pay for rent and groceries, and help businesses continue to pay their employees and their bills during this time of uncertainty.

$50 million to sexual assault centres, shelters and more

This includes $50 million to help sexual assault centres, shelters, and other community anti-violence programs in their capacity as first responders during the current health crisis, to prevent or manage outbreaks in your facilities and/or other COVID-19 related capacity impacts to gender-based violence. This, of course, includes funding for facilities and programs in Indigenous communities.

I just now got off the phone with Minister Monsef’s office [Maryam Monsef, federal Minister of Women and Gender Equality], which wanted to make sure we knew about this coming support and to assure us that they are working fast to get this funding into the gender-based violence response programs that need it. Please stay tuned in the coming days for more detail about where and how to apply for the funds. Bravo to Minister Monsef and Prime Minister Trudeau!!

BC Provincial Court to delay cases

You may have also heard the announcement from BC’s Provincial Court this past Monday. They let us know about their own response to COVID-19 that will entail putting forward some cases until May. While completely understandable, we want to let you know that if you are worried that such court date changes will impact anyone’s safety, we want to help — that is, if you are unable to find a resolution in your community.

Critical incident process to come

As soon as we can, we will be touching base with BC Prosecution Services, RCMP E Division, the BC Chiefs of Municipal Police, MCFD, and BC Corrections so that we can put in place a critical incident process to fasttrack anything that is urgent, life threatening or where severe violence is imminent. We are here to assist you, so please don’t hesitate to be in touch. Email is likely the best route.

We will continue to use these channels to provide you updates. Together, we are stronger and so while we all keep physical distance, let’s stay connected. Please also see below.

Until our next update, please stay safe and please know that EVA BC is with you.

Sincerely, Tracy

Supports to Victims and Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

 VictimLinkBC: 1-800-563-0808

  • VictimLinkBC provides information and referral services to all victims of crime and immediate crisis supports to victims and survivors of family and sexual violence. VictimLinkBC is a toll-free, confidential, multilingual telephone service available in BC and the Yukon 24/7. 

 Anti-Violence Services in BC:

  • A directory list of front-line anti-violence programs in BC

 bc211: or dial 211

  • bc211 is a nonprofit organization that specializes in providing free information and referral regarding community, government and social services in BC.
  • 211 is a confidential, multilingual telephone and texting service available in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Squamish-Lillooet, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and Sunshine Coast Regional Districts. 211 provides free information and referral to a full range of community, social, and government services, and operates 24/7.

 BC Society of Transition Houses: 

  • The BC Society of Transition Houses is a member-based, provincial umbrella organization  that provides support to Transition, Second and Third Stage Houses, Safe Homes and PEACE (formerly Children who Witness Abuse) and Violence is Preventable programs.

BC Housing:

  • BC Housing develops, manages and administers a wide range of subsidized housing options across BC. They support individuals who are homeless, individuals with disabilities, Indigenous individuals and families, women and children at risk of violence, low-income seniors and families, and buyers of new homes.

Resource from the National Domestic Violence Hotline: Staying Safe in the Time of COVID-19


Tips for Working From Home for Anti-Violence Workers

While we understand the importance of social distancing in containing this pandemic and staying well ourselves, we wanted to provide you with some information on how some of your colleagues in anti-violence programs across the province are trying to balance protecting themselves and their families with providing much needed service to their clients:

  • Most agencies are encouraging or directing employees to work remotely. As much as possible, workers are being provided with work cell phones to avoid use of personal phones. Some have made changes to their online records management system to allow workers to access databases and client files while working remotely. For those of you not accustomed to working remotely, here are links to a couple of articles on working from home
  • Often it is necessary for some core staff to continue to come into the workplace. Agencies are rotating who comes in to work, and heightening workplace cleaning/sanitizing procedures of all shared surfaces such as door handles, light switches, and water coolers, and also individual work stations, including desks, phones and computer keyboards. They are also advising staff to try to remain two to three metres away from each other.
  • A lot of agencies have closed their doors and suspended in-person services, and are instead serving clients over the phone and/or electronically (email, texts, messaging services, video chats, etc.) only. For example, one Community-Based Victim Services program has created a protocol with Crown Counsel where they arrange a three-way call with a client and Crown Counsel for pre-trial interviews. Some agencies serving marginalized clients continue to remain open, but ask that anyone feeling unwell not come in.
  • Generally, all meetings, groups, trainings, events, etc. are being cancelled, postponed, or moved to a conference call or online platform such as Zoom or Skype. If staff must meet with each other or a client in person, they are keeping as much physical distance as possible, assuring the meeting room is well ventilated, keeping the meeting short, and washing and/or sanitizing their hands and all commonly touched surfaces before and after the meeting.
  • Be aware that both staff and clients’ past trauma and PTSD will be triggered and exacerbated by the endless and inescapable news reports and talk of the pandemic. Many managers are increasing formal and informal supports to their staff, and strongly encouraging them to practice self care.
  • In the weeks and months to come, it is likely that we as individuals and organizations are going to need to continue to evolve and change the way we work and offer services in the face of a continuing pandemic. We will have to get creative in the face of unprecedented challenges such as court shutdowns and school closures.

As always, thank you for the difficult work you do to support survivors, and please continue to contact us here at EVA BC with questions, concerns and ideas on how best to get through these difficult times, and help your clients to get through them as well. We would love to hear any suggestions you have that were not included here.

Information and Resources about COVID-19

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada’s main page on COVID-19 – the Government of Canada’s main page for information on COVID-19 along with updates, advice, and response strategies.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Q/A page on COVID-19 -this resource can support you in understanding what COVID-19 is, how it is transmitted, and how to take precautions, along with any other frequently asked questions about the virus.

Informative graphic on the best way to wash your hands to prevent the spread of COVID-19 – Public Health Agency of Canada.

Informative page/graphic on knowing the difference between self-monitoring, self-isolation, and isolation, COVID 19 – Public Health Agency of Canada.

COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool – BC Government

The Government of Canada is taking steps to reduce the financial burden of the COVID-19 outbreak. Want to know your economic options and what economic measures the Government of Canada is taking to support you during the COVID-19 outbreak? Check what options you might have here. Some applications will be available in April 2020.

Dedicated COVID-19 CTV coverage – Stay up to date on all the latest news related to COVID-19 in Canada and around the world.

Letter to Social Sectors  – from the Provincial Health Office, March 18 2020