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Team News

The Spectrum Office will be closed Monday October 12, 2020 


COVID-19 Updates

Back to Basics – Part 1

It’s been six months since the Province started implementing measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 and six months since we started providing regular updates on Spectrum’s pandemic planning.  Some of the guidance has changed over this time as health experts have learned more about this virus.  We know much more than we did six months ago.  Spectrum will continue to provide the most up-to-date information and to take our lead from the provincial and federal health authorities.  To that end, we thought this would be a good time to review some of the fundamentals of our Covid-19 strategy.

Primary Sources

There are countless sources of information on Covid-19, some more reliable than others.  We will continue to focus on the information and guidelines provided by the provincial and federal health authorities, including the Government of Canada, the Province of BC and BC Centre for Disease Control.  We are also following the direction of CLBC regarding the safety of individuals served and of WorkSafe BC regarding the safety of our employees.

Safety of Individuals

The health and safety of the individuals we serve is our top priority.  About half of the individuals in Spectrum’s services have health conditions or other vulnerabilities that put them at higher risk for serious illness if they are exposed to Covid-19.  We have carefully assessed the risk factors for each individual and implemented safeguards to address each person’s unique situation.  We will continue to review and revise these plans over the coming months.

Safety of Staff and Caregivers

Protecting the staff and caregivers who provide essential support to individuals is also a top priority.  Providing access to PPE, training and enhanced health benefits are important parts of our overall human resources strategy.  We want everyone providing support to feel safe and to have the necessary tools to do their job safely.  We will continue to work closely with our teams to identify needs and respond to them promptly.  If staff have any questions or concerns about their safety, we encourage them to speak to their supervisor or to HR.

Back to Basics Part 2 – Staying Healthy

Welcome to Part 2 of our “Back to Basics” update, which will focus on staying healthy.  Taking care of ourselves, physically and mentally, is our first line of defense against Covid-19.  Ensuring that the individuals we serve and their supporters stay healthy is a cornerstone of Spectrum’s pandemic plan.

Supporting individuals to stay healthy

Many of the people supported by Spectrum have health conditions that put them at higher risk of serious illness if they are exposed to Covid-19.  Others struggle with making healthy choices or accessing supports to stay healthy due to a variety of factors.  Some of the ways we can support the health and well-being of individuals include:

  • helping people to understand and follow prescribed treatment plans
  • maintaining contact with health care supports (doctors, nursing supports, counselling)
  • getting enough sleep
  • getting daily exercise
  • having access to healthy meals and snacks

In our residential services, teams have been working closely with individuals’ families and professional supports to ensure that each person is maintaining optimal health.  In our community inclusion and outreach services, much of our support over the past six months has focused on keeping people connected to the activities and supports that will keep them healthy, both physically and mentally.  We know how vitally important this support has been, especially to those who have limited social, emotional or financial resources.

We have all been learning how to keep ourselves and others safe from the virus by washing our hands, keeping our distance, and wearing masks when we are in spaces where keeping our distance is difficult.  The Spectrum office has a supply of fabric masks and a good supply of medical disposable masks.  Talk to your manager to put in an order.

Helping people to stay strong and healthy will be even more critical as we head into the fall and winter.

Supporting staff and caregivers to stay healthy

Spectrum’s services depend on the staff and caregivers who show up every day to provide essential supports.  Their health and well-being are critical for the continuity of our services.  Some of the ways we can support the health and well-being of staff and caregivers include:

  • ensuring that staff stay home if they are not feeling well
  • ensuring that shared living providers have ample support, including respite
  • checking in regularly with staff and caregivers
  • providing a supportive work environment
  • ensuring that staff have ample breaks and time off between shifts
  • expanded health care benefits and employee assistance plan
  • flexible work schedules that support healthy work/life balance

We are so very grateful for our dedicated staff and caregivers who have stepped up to meet the challenges of the last six months with professionalism, compassion and genuine concern for the individuals they support.  For all who rely on their support, it’s important that we recognize their need to take care of themselves and their families.

Spectrum staff and caregivers, like everyone else, have their own health issues or may be living with vulnerable family members.  Let’s all work together to support our front line supporters to stay healthy.

Back to Basics Part 3 – Staying Safe

In Part 3 of our “Back to Basics” update, we review some of the important safety practices that help to limit the spread of Covid-19 and protect individuals and their supporters.

Exposure Control Plan

Spectrum’s Exposure Control Plan lays out our overarching plan for preventing exposure to the virus, including:

  • Links to Spectrum policies on universal precautions and communicable diseases
  • Continuity of services – how we will maintain essential supports through the pandemic
  • Risk assessment and risk management (see below)
  • Responsibilities of key personnel

Risk Assessment

Risk assessment refers to the steps we take to increase our awareness of the risks in any situation.  Assessing the risks related to Covid-19 is an ongoing part of our pandemic planning, covering all parts of the organization from our homes to the office to our HR and finance activities.  Clearly identifying the risks allows us to develop targeted solutions rather than simply imposing across-the-board restrictions.  Much of this risk assessment happens at an organizational level and informs the steps we’ve taken to safely continue our day to day operations.  At an individual level, staff and caregivers play an important role in assessing risks in their particular situation or work environment, for example:

  • Pre-planning – checking in with yourself before coming to work (am I feeling well, symptom-free?),  checking in with individuals who receive intermittent or occasional services (see community inclusion / outreach guidelines), knowing what the plan is for the day’s activities
  • Point of care risk assessment – before any close personal interactions, doing a quick scan to ensure the environment is safe and that you and the other person are ready for the interaction
  • Reporting of illness or symptoms – if staff, caregivers or individuals are ill or showing any symptoms, reporting immediately to the supervisor or HR

Risk Management

Risk management refers to the steps we take to minimize the identified risks.  At an organizational level, this includes things like limiting the number of staff working in each location, providing access to PPE and cleaning supplies, and office use guidelines that allow for the safe continuity of our administrative supports.  At an individual level, it includes all the safety measures that have become so familiar to everyone, including:

  • Staying home if you are sick or showing symptoms of Covid-19
  • Physical distancing – maintaining 2 metre distance whenever possible
  • Masks – wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible
  • Handwashing – washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after any physical interactions, when preparing food, using the washroom, or using shared items
  • Disinfecting shared items and surfaces
  • Use of PPE – using appropriate protective equipment when providing personal care or caring for someone who is ill or may have been exposed to the virus

Ongoing communication and training are an important part of Spectrum’s risk management plan.  We will continue to provide regular updates as new information becomes available and as we refine our safety practices.  Staff training on these measures will continue to be a focus.  We encourage anyone who has questions or concerns about anything related to health and safety to speak to their supervisor or HR

The next Service Provider Call is now scheduled for Tuesday, September 29th and you should be receiving this information from CLBC over the next day or two.  I have also included it here so that you can enter it into your calendars.

Service Provider Call
Date: Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Time: 2 – 3 p.m.
Call in:
Vancouver: 604-681-0260
Elsewhere: 1-877-353-9184
Participant code: 37568#

Spectrum’s Covid Relief Team

A critical piece of our pandemic planning is to ensure that we have enough staff not only to meet the day to day needs of each team but also to provide essential care and support if someone becomes ill with Covid-19. The first and best option would be for those who are closest to the person to continue providing support, but where this is not possible or if staff also become ill, we will need a pool of people to draw from who can step in and provide additional support.

We are inviting Spectrum employees who have some extra capacity to join our Covid Relief Team. This team will provide backup support to our existing teams in the event of an outbreak. Support could be either in-person direct care – working in the home alongside existing team members – or supplemental support, such as delivering meals to the home or assisting with administrative tasks. If you are interested or want to learn more, please contact our HR department or email We will be hosting an information session to provide more information and answer questions. Staff who are selected for the Covid Relief Team will be fully trained and compensated for their time, including their attendance at training sessions and team meetings. If you are interested or want to learn more about this opportunity, please let us know! The first presentation to the COVID Relief Team is available on Sharevision.

Joint Statement on BC’s COVID-19 Response and Latest Updates – Wednesday, Sept 23, 2020

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Stephen Brown, deputy minister of health, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response in British Columbia:

“Today, we are announcing 91 new cases, including five epi-linked cases, for a total of 8,395 cases in British Columbia.

“There are 1,376 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 3,368 people who are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and 6,769 people who tested positive have recovered.

“Currently, 62 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, 18 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

“Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 3,016 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 4,302 in the Fraser Health region, 203 in the Island Health region, 515 in the Interior Health region, 273 in the Northern Health region and 86 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

“There have been no new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 227 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks, and outbreaks at Bear Creek Villa independent-living facility and Normanna long-term care facility have been declared over. In total, nine long-term care or assisted-living facilities and five acute-care facilities have active outbreaks.

“There have been no new community outbreaks, although there continue to be community exposure events. The outbreak at the Loblaws warehouse has been declared over.

“Public alerts and school notifications are posted on the BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) website, as well as on health authorities’ websites, providing details on where the potential exposure occurred and what actions to take – whether to self-isolate or monitor for symptoms.

“New cases and clusters of COVID-19 remain higher than where we would like them to be.

“The impact of this means that thousands of people in B.C. are now under active public health monitoring and care, with many forced to deal with the stress and anxiety that comes with having to self-isolate away from work, friends and family.

“Each of us has the ability to make a difference by continuing to follow the COVID-19 safety basics: washing our hands frequently, giving the space to stay safe and using a mask when that is difficult, limiting our social interactions and always staying home when ill.

“By using the layers of protection, we reduce our personal risks and the number of new cases, and we make our communities safer.

“We want to ensure we are in the best position possible to protect our communities and keep as much as is safe open and operating during the pandemic. To do this, we need everyone to do their part today to help push our curve back down tomorrow.”

Inclusion Canada, our National Federation, has provided highlights from today’s Speech from the Throne. There were some very significant and positive announcements regarding federal disability issues.

150th Speech From The Throne
Inclusion Canada Highlights
September 23rd, 2020

The Speech from the Throne opens every new session of Parliament. The Speech introduces the government’s direction and goals and outlines how it will work to achieve them. The items below may be of interest to federation members from today’s 54 minute speech in the Senate:

Disability Specific

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities, and highlighted long-standing challenges. The Government will bring forward a Disability Inclusion Plan, which will have:

  • A new Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors;
  • A robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities;
  • And a better process to determine eligibility for Government disability programs and benefits.

Other Significant Highlights


  • $19 billion investment in healthcare infrastructure in partnership with P/Ts for COVID-specific PPE
  • Universal vaccine access for all people in Canada + investments in distribution network
  • Further access to mental health supports
  • Committed to National Universal Pharmacare program including:
    • A rare disease strategy
    • Commitment to keep prescription drug prices low
    • And working with Provinces and Territories to move these items along
  • Strengthen food supply chains


  • A robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities;
  • Campaign to create 1 million jobs by using direct investments in social sector, infrastructure, training, incentives for employers to hire and retain workers
  • Extending Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to Summer 2021
  • Scaled up youth employment strategy
  • EI will be sole mechanism for employment benefits, including self-employed and those in gig economy
  • Support job-creating businesses – wage subsidy extension, expand Canada Emergency Business Account, introduce further support for industries hardest hit (travel and tourism, cultural industries)
  • Focus on targeted investments in middle class, build resiliency, generate growth, tax extreme wealth (limit stock option deduction)
  • Largest investment in Canadian history through a robust employment strategy
  • Support manufacturing, natural resource, farming industries in reducing emissions and growing green initiatives
  • Invest in international development and the recovery of developing countries economies

Income Security

  • A new Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors;
  • Federal wage subsidy for personal support workers


  • Action plan for women in economy to ensure a feminist, intersectional approach to recovery led by a government-appointed taskforce
  • Accelerate women’s entrepreneurship strategy
  • A national action plan on gender-based violence

Long Term Care

  • Federal government will support seniors while working alongside P/Ts
  • Work on criminal code amendments regarding senior neglect
  • Work with P/Ts on new national standards for LTC for seniors
  • Additional action to help people stay in their homes longer
  • Boost CPP survivor’s benefit
  • Targeted measures to support PSWs
  • The Government will work with Provinces and Territories on new standards for long term care homes

To watch or read the full speech from the throne, go to the website:

Back to Basics Part 4 – Staying Connected

Part 4 of our “Back to Basics” update focuses on maintaining social connections.  Staying connected to family, friends and community is essential for our mental health and wellbeing.  Below is an infographic we shared a while back 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; it can lead to loss of friendships, loss of social skills, depression, and it can increase the risk of abuse and neglect.

Family and Friends

It’s been great to see people finding creative ways to stay connected to their family and friends, including gathering outdoors for picnics, talking on the phone more often, and learning to use other technology solutions like zoom and facetime.  With the cooler weather people will be focusing more on indoor gatherings which of course need to remain small.  Social isolation is a major concern for many of the people we support, particularly those who live alone.  Spectrum will continue to encourage and support people to stay connected to their family and friends as we recognize how very important this is to individuals and their networks.

Stay Home and Stay Safe – Ideas collected by Spectrum folks

PLAN – 5 ideas for staying connected during the Covid-19 pandemic

Safe Seniors, Strong Communities – links to resources that help seniors to stay safe and connected

Community Connections

Another way to ensure that people stay connected to others is by continuing with as many of their regular community activities as possible.  While some activities like community centre classes are still not available, people are finding alternative activities and ways to stay engaged in their neighbourhoods and communities.  Connecting with the cashier or barista who knows the individual as a regular customer, being greeted by a familiar bus driver or bank teller, catching up with the next door neighbour – these are all meaningful social interactions that help to keep people feeling engaged.  Spectrum’s community inclusion services have continued throughout the past six months, with some reductions or modifications depending on individual circumstances.  We plan to maintain as much of this support as possible through the fall and winter.

Vote By Mail Information

During a pandemic, vote by mail is a good option for voters with underlying health conditions and for voters who do not wish to vote in person at a voting place.

You can request a “Vote By Mail” package now, so you are ready for the Fall provincial election on October 24th, 2020.  On the Elections BC website, the following information is required to request your package:

You will need to provide your name, date of birth, address, and one of the following identification numbers:

  • your B.C. driver’s licence number,
  • your B.C. Identification Card number,
  • the last six digits of your Social Insurance Number,or
  • the last six digits of your Personal Health Number.

To request a vote-by-mail package, you will also be asked to provide an email address or telephone number where you can be reached.

Let us know if you have any questions or need any assistance.

CLBC Teleconferences for Individuals and Families

The recording of the Teleconference from September 17th 2020 is now on the CLBC website.

The speakers on this call were:

  • Honorable Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction
  • David Galbraith, Deputy Minister, Minister of Social Development Poverty Reduction
  • Dr. Daniele Behn Smith, Deputy Provincial Health Officer
  • Michael Prince, CLBC Board Chair
  • Ross Chilton, CEO Community Living BC

Plain Language Summary of the presentation:

The next teleconference for individuals and families is scheduled for October 15th.

Subscribe to receive CLBC updates, including the CLBC Individual and Family Update here

If you have an unanswered question, please send to


September 23, 2020

Update: Speech from the Throne

Earlier today, Governor General Julie Payette shared the speech from the throne, which continued to reinforce the government’s commitment to the health and well being of Canadians.

The government committed to accelerate its action on pharmacare, including work on the previously announced rare disease strategy and national formulary. At Sun Life, we support access to affordable medicines for everyone. By building on the strengths of the public and private sectors, we believe that our country can develop an approach that is affordable, achievable and protects the workplace benefit plans that are highly valued and relied upon by millions of Canadians.

We’re happy to see the government’s continued support for virtual care and mental health. Lumino Health Virtual Care continues to be an important resource for our plan members.

For more information, please contact your Sun Life Group Benefits representative.