Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and service providers: Providing services to your clients
On this page
- Focus on critical services
- Offer your services remotely
- Stay safe while offering services online
- If you must provide critical services in person
- If you can’t provide services
- Get coverage for your clients under the Interim Federal Health Program
- Share COVID-19 resources with your clients
Focus on critical services
Until you have clear guidelines for safely reopening your offices, focus on providing critical settlement and resettlement services to your clients.
Critical Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) services include
- arranging for on-site primary health-care screening, either directly or by following the advice of your local clinic
- providing temporary accommodations, food and cash allowances for the full duration of their stay in temporary accommodations
- completing applications for provincial health-care insurance, a social insurance number and the Canada Child Benefit
- providing information over the phone (with an interpreter if needed) on
- addressing any other urgent need clients may have
Critical settlement services for vulnerable clients include
- providing information and orientation
- setting up medical appointments and helping with interpretation
- offering crisis counselling
- providing family and gender-based violence supports and referrals
Whenever possible, provide these services by telephone, email or online.
Treat family and gender-based violence services as essential
Service providers in Canada and globally have seen family and gender-based violence (GBV) increase during COVID-19.
Services that give newcomers access to prevention and emergency resources are essential services. Keep providing these critical family and GBV services to newcomers so they have what they need to stay safe.
What your organization needs to keep doing:
- Strengthen your relationships with anti-violence and LGBTQ2 community organizations and make referrals to them.
- Make sure your services are available by phone, online or in person (if needed, and only if it’s safe).
- Make sure you follow the confidentiality and privacy requirements in your agreement.
- If you can do it safely, provide GBV outreach and prevention information informally, through unrelated activities. For example:
- Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada classes
- conversations about schoolwork
- while offering other services (if safe)
Find more resources at
Offer your services remotely
You shouldn’t provide non-critical services in person until there are clear guidelines for safely reopening. In the meantime, you can still provide services remotely. Some remote services you can offer include
- regular check-ins with clients (by telephone or email)
- online workshops (for example, on COVID-19, quarantine and mental health)
- online mentoring and buddy systems
- a lending system for tablets with Internet access to help vulnerable newcomers access webinars and other online services
Remote language training
Offer language training online to support your clients while following health recommendations on physical distancing.
Stay safe while offering services online
When offering services online and working remotely, your security and privacy challenges will also change.
Protect client information
Take extra security measures to protect your clients’ personal information while your employees are working from home. Make sure you and your employees follow all reasonable security practices.
Be flexible when verifying your clients’ identity
When delivering services online, it can be harder to verify your clients’ identity. Try to offer more than 1 option to your clients, like calling them at their registered phone numbers, to make it easier for them to verify their identity to you. You can confirm your services were delivered to the right people when in-person service restarts.
If you must provide critical services in person
Our priority is the well-being, safety and security of your clients and employees. While we support adjusting your processes to reduce social contact with clients, it’s not always possible. You may need to offer some critical services in person.
Increase pay for staff providing critical services in person
We’ll support requests from service providers to increase pay by up to 15% for front-line employees delivering critical services in person. This increase will apply for the period between April 1 and June 30, 2020. Depending on the situation, wage increases may be extended after June 30, 2020, for some regions.
These pay increases should be funded within your existing budget. If you can’t fund them in your existing budget, contact your program officer right away.
Use protective equipment and supplies
Keep your employees and clients safe. If you have to buy protective equipment and supplies to provide services in person, contact your program officer. The cost may be an eligible claim in your contribution agreement.
If you can’t provide services
We won’t penalize you if you can’t provide the services outlined in your agreement because you’re following
- our guidance
- the guidance of your local health authority
If your service delivery is affected, contact your program officer to discuss your situation.
Get coverage for your clients under the Interim Federal Health Program
During COVID-19, many Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) clients were not able to access
- non-essential or elective health services
- supplementary benefits, in some cases
We worked with the provinces and territories to improve access to these services. For example, we started covering new service delivery options, including appointments by phone and online.
If your client’s eligibility expired before they could get a health service
It’s possible some of your clients were approved for a service under IFHP before the pandemic started but weren’t able to access it before their IFHP eligibility expired.
If you have clients in this situation, tell them
- that their health care provider can submit a request for coverage to our claims administrator, Medavie Blue Cross (Medavie)
- We’ll assess these coverage requests on a case-by-case basis.
- to ask their health care provider to contact Medavie to confirm it will be covered before they get a health service
If your clients aren’t covered by IFHP, they should contact their provincial or territorial government to learn about their coverage options.
Getting the Resettlement Assistance Program exceptional allowance
We may reimburse your clients directly if
- they can’t afford to access health services because of COVID-19
- they aren’t covered by an existing program, like IFHP
Expenses that may qualify for direct reimbursements include
- cost of thermometers
- home delivery fees for medical supplies and equipment
Contact your program officer to learn more about direct payments.
Share COVID-19 resources with your clients
Make sure you help your clients stay informed. Share client-focused COVID-19 information, including
- information for refugees, asylum claimants, sponsors and PRRA applicants
- This page includes a handout for refugees that explains COVID-19 and the quarantine requirements for all travellers arriving in Canada.
- information for landed permanent residents
- resources in multiple languages from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
- resources, links and information from Refugee 613
- financial assistance information in multiple languages
Share COVID-19 information in multiple languages with your clients
You can help newcomers understand COVID-19 by sharing resources in multiple languages on the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) website. These include
- fact sheets
You can find the languages of each resource under its description.
Share resources, links and information from Refugee 613
Refugee 613 is maintaining a Google Docs database of COVID-19 resources. They focus on the information that newcomers and refugees need.
Called the COVID-19 Community Information Exchange (links to a Google Docs database), this resource includes
- the source of its products and information
- when they were created
- available languages
Refugee 613 has also
- developed a COVID-19 vaccine bulletin in multiple languages (hosted on Google Drive)
- created a Facebook group for front-line workers who work with and support refugees and newcomers
- This is a closed Facebook group. To view this content, you and your clients must request access.
Share financial assistance information in multiple languages with your clients
Employment and Social Development Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency have information about financial assistance that your clients may be eligible for. Some of this information is now available in multiple languages, including details about the Canada Child Benefit and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
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