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Team News

Physical Distancing and the Risks of Social Isolation

It has been almost four months since the government announced a state of emergency and asked everyone to stay home and stay safe because of COVID-19.  British Columbians listened and the COVID-19 virus was not able to spread throughout the community with person-to-person contact.  People stayed home and kept their distance when out, so the virus only spread in situations where people were working close together or providing personal care without the proper equipment and instructions. Staying home kept us safe from the Corona Virus, but it also led to increased social isolation, which can have its own negative consequences.

Below is an infographic from the Government of Canada that highlights some of the ways that people with disabilities are more vulnerable during this COVID-19 pandemic.  We can see from this graphic that many people with disabilities experience social isolation due to living alone, having limited social connections outside the home, or relying on services and supports to meet their daily needs.  COVID-19 has compounded the problem.

The effects of social isolation can be far reaching:

  • Isolation can lead to loss of friendships
  • Isolation can lead to loss of social skills
  • Isolation can lead to depression and other mental health effects
  • Isolation can lead to decline in personal hygiene and physical wellbeing
  • Isolation can increase the risk of abuse and neglect

One of the largest studies on social isolation showed that “lack of social connection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day…and increases risk for premature mortality” (Holt-Lunstad, 2015).  Another study noted that “lacking encouragement from family or friends, those who are lonely may slide into unhealthy habits” (Valtorta, 2016).

For all of these reasons, it’s important that we focus on helping people get back to some of their normal routines and connections, while keeping up the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Finding ways to safely re-engage with family and friends is a priority as we move forward with our recovery plans.  The summer weather and longer days make it easier to get together outside for walks or picnics.  As businesses re-open, some of the people we support are heading back to work and connecting with co-workers they haven’t seen in a while.  Others are finding safe ways to visit with family and friends who they’ve been separated from.  These connections are so very important for helping people to stay healthy and safe.


What are some ways you’ve found to maintain or increase social connections during the pandemic?

Infographic: Persons with disabilities and COVID-19

 BC Government Extends $300 Supplement

People who receive PWD benefits and income assistance in BC will be receiving the $300 Covid-19 supplement for two more months (July and August).

British Columbians who are receiving both CERB benefits and PWD benefits or income assistance will also see a two month extension of an exemption policy that prevents clawbacks of the benefits. The Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson made the announcements yesterday.

Spectrum’s Summer Picnic (Not this year)

People have been asking about our Summer Picnic and we want to confirm that it has been cancelled for this year.  We typically have over 200 people through the afternoon visiting and sharing food in potluck style, and that just cannot happen safely right now.  Here’s a picture of a previous year’s picnic to refresh your memory:

Small social gatherings may be OK for you though, if you have the space in your yard, or in a park nearby, to host an afternoon picnic, it would be a great way to reconnect with friends.  Some safety steps to consider though:

  • Keep your invite list small.
  • Everybody brings their own food, drinks, dishes and napkins.
  • Bring your own lawn chairs so you can set up with safe distancing from each other.
  • If you are feeling sick, please stay home.

How have you been connecting with family and friends, now that the weather is getting better?

British Columbians invited to have their say on recovery

British Columbians are invited to share their feedback as the Province continues to build a strong economic recovery that works for people.

“The pandemic has been challenging, but our province has already accomplished so much in this fight, thanks to British Columbians. We are at our best when we work together, and that’s how we’re going to move forward,” Premier John Horgan said.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve been meeting with businesses, labour, First Nations, not-for-profits and more to get their perspective. We’ve heard lots of good ideas, and we are taking action. We want to hear directly from British Columbians to make sure the recovery works for them.”

There are three main ways for people to share their ideas, experiences and priorities:

• An online survey is the fastest and easiest way to provide answers to some important questions and give advice. Visit:
• Respond to the paper, Building B.C.’s Recovery, Together: Have Your Say, which was released on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. Ideas and responses can be submitted to:
• Participate in virtual town halls. British Columbians can learn more about the virtual town halls here:

The full announcement is here:

– Wash Your Hands
– Keep Your Distance
– Stay Home if you are sick


Here is a summary of the office use guidelines for June and July 2020.

  • The Office is available for appointments on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • Pick up of supplies on Wednesdays each week – order supplies and forms in advance with Judy
  • Reimburse receipts on Friday – send totals to, bring in receipts, get reimbursement on Friday each week.
  • Sign in at the front as soon as you come to the office.

  • Wash your hands:

  • The mailboxes for managers’ mail have moved up front to the book room:

Keep your distance from each other – remember the 2 metre physical distancing:


Other Updates

    • Pandemic Pay – The Province of BC and the government of Canada have announced a $4/hour supplement to front-line workers in government funded services including community social services.  This pay is for a 16 week period beginning March 15th and ending July 4th, 2020.  The pay will be calculated on hours worked at straight time and paid as a lump sum once government has provided the funding to agencies.
    • Emergency Funding for home-share providers – Spectrum has submitted our application for Emergency Advance Funding for the month of June and included a request for the emergency amounts for our home share providers.  Once the applications are approved, we will confirm a payment date for additional amounts for our home share contractors.
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Managers make the requests for PPE supplies for people we support.  Let your manager know if there is equipment you need.  We have a good supply of both medical masks for providing close personal care and fabric masks for times when you know it will be difficult to maintain physical distancing.

Thank you to everyone for your efforts to keep the people we support and their teams safe and healthy!


Hey everybody!

It has been a long journey trying to get Queer ASL set up for online classes on top of everything we have going on in our own lives. But with that said – we are thrilled to say that registration is PAH* open! For this cycle, we are offering ASL 101 – 103 and hope to offer 104 in the fall.

*fun fact: PAH means “finally!” “at last!” “i did it!” in ASL – we write PAH to represent this sign as we use this mouthshape while signing this sign.

Please read on to learn more about what each level offers and register for a class if you’d like to. The registration form will have more in-depth details.

Queer ASL 101: This course covers learning the alphabet, finger-spelling, introductions, likes & dislikes, languages, locations, and much more. At the end, students take turns telling an autobiography about themselves.

This is a hybrid course that has:

  • pre-filmed lessons for self-studying
  • one hour & 15 minutes of live practice via zoom
  • filmed homework to be done after each zoom session

Queer ASL 102: This course covers learning about activities, living arrangements, people, transportation, and much more. At the end, students share & discuss photos of their chosen families with each other.

This is a hybrid course that has:

  • pre-filmed lessons for self-studying
  • one hour & 15 minutes of live practice via zoom
  • filmed homework to be done after each zoom session

Queer ASL 103: This course digs into the world of time grammar, topic + comment structure, directional verbs, space use, and much more. At the end, students do an overall ASL 101 – 103 review through activities.

ASL 103 is not ready to be done using the hybrid approach but we will offer one 103 class which will be fully held on zoom (2.5 hrs per session) and students will have access to our usual vocabulary & homework videos via google drive.

Register For A Class
Please do spread the word by forwarding this email to anyone you think might be interested.

Thank you so much for your support!



If your Emergency First Aid Community Care Training has expired we have good news!

St. John Ambulance (SJA) has resumed Emergency First Aid Community Care training.

To accommodate the new distancing regulations, SJA has reduced class sizes, provides full body mannequins to remove the need of partner activities, and is selling masks for students to wear during the course.  Spectrum can provide you with a cloth mask prior to you attending the course. If you choose to purchase a mask through SJA for $12.99, you can do so separately on the day you attend the course.

If you have already obtained your certificate, please forward a copy of your certificate to the office so we may update your file.

If you have not obtained your first aid certification, please register yourself and email me ( please, letting me know the date you have registered to complete the course.

How to Register for Emergency First Aid Community Care:

  • Call St. John Ambulance: (604) 321-7242
  • They above number is their main line, but they have a number of locations across the lower mainland if you would like to call a location directly:
  • Register yourself for Emergency First Aid Community Care.

If you did not have your first aid certificate upon hire, you are responsible for the initial cost, which is currently $102.00, and Spectrum covers renewal fees.

  • If you are renewing your first aid, ask St. John Ambulance to invoice Spectrum Society
  • Let them know Spectrum Society will be paying for your course fee.

*St. John Ambulance may request authorization from Spectrum. Email with the date/location you want to complete the course and we will call them to confirm your registration.

First Aid is a requirement for employment as indicated in ‘Policy 4: Requirements for Employment.’

If requirements for employment are not met within a timely manner, shifts will be suspended without pay until this requirement is met. Below is a link to Spectrum’s First Aid policy:

Please respond back with your course date by August 1st, 2020.

Please let Judy know if you have any questions or issues registering, by emailing her at



       Please click on the heading to read the entire story.


Ontario Infectious Disease Emergency Leave updates

Recent changes to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) could impact your coverage obligations under your group benefits plan.


Out-of-country travel insurance – what you and your plan members need to know

Provinces and borders are starting to reopen and international travel will start to resume. It’s important that you and your plan members understand their Out of Country coverage. This includes how it applies to COVID-19.


Supporting employees at risk for mental health issues

New webinars help employees struggling with mental health issues get the support they need.


Support for plan members transitioning out of their workplace benefits plan

Recent pandemic-related events have led to changes in many workplaces. This includes the need to lay off employees, sometimes on a permanent basis. If you’re considering a workforce reduction, we can help support you and your employees when making this transition.