WINNIPEG -- The City of Winnipeg has announced a new partnership to help support elderly residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, the city announced it’s teaming up with the United Way Winnipeg and A & O: Support Services for Older Adults Inc. for the new service.

“The City of Winnipeg’s 311 will become the contact centre for vulnerable seniors in need,” announced MP Terry Duguid at a news conference on Thursday, noting some of the other organizations that will help with this program include CAA and Skip the Dishes.

“Really there are so many individuals and organizations that are stepping up which really speaks to the incredible community Winnipeg that we live in.”

The city said with the new program, older adults who are feeling isolated or need help during the pandemic can call 311 to be connected with resources available through A & O, which include help with groceries, medications and specialized social services. The city noted that 311 can also help them access other well-being resources.

“We know that many Winnipeggers take much comfort in knowing that they can call 311, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a live person will answer their call,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Now we’re encouraging older adults to reach out to 311 if you’re looking for supports, but unsure of where to find them.”

Bowman said for many older adults in the community basic functions, such as getting groceries and medications, have been especially interrupted for elderly people during the pandemic.

“They may be feeling isolated and unsure of where they can reach out for assistance,” he said.

“Today’s announcement is a great partnership that will support older Winnipeggers by getting them assistance in obtaining access to information such as housing, groceries and meals, health and other well-being resources.”

The funding for this program is from the federal government’s $9 million investment in United Way Canada, including $170,000 of this money which the city is receiving for local organizations to support services for seniors. The Winnipeg Foundation is also providing funding.

Connie Walker, president and CEO of United Way Winnipeg, said everyone is always concerned about leaving people behind so they are excited about how the community has rallied to make sure older Winnipeggers are supported during the pandemic.

“I want to thank the federal government for recognizing the United Way as an organization that works with the community to ensure that we’re providing the best support in the best way possible,” she said.

“I also want to thank the City of Winnipeg, their 311 team, CUPE 500. We knew from day one that we needed a call centre so that our older adults could access support quickly and easily and you guys jumped up to that challenge and we are so grateful that you’ve taken it on.”

Amanda McCrae, the CEO of A & O: Support Services for Older Adults is thrilled to be a part of the initiative.

“People will be connected so they’ll get the services they need when they need them,” she said, noting the specialized social service aspect to the program, including helping with counselling and elder abuse.


Health officials have said that those over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions are most at risk for the virus, though all ages have been affected.

Earlier in the month, CTV News reported that nearly half of known COVID-19 deaths in Canada are linked to long-term care homes, according to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

On Thursday, CUPE called for personal protective equipment and staffing strategy for long-term care facilities in Manitoba.

This is a developing story, more details to come.

- With files from CTV’s Devon McKendrick and Rachel Aiello.