COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. To flatten the curve, people in Calgary are staying home, which can bring plenty of challenges.
But if there’s one thing we really love about our city, it’s the way people always come together in a crisis.
There’s help out there.
Here are some of the best places you can go to for COVID-19 support and information.
Official Government Website
Everyone has their favourite news site, and those can be great to get a rundown of what’s going on locally, nationally, and worldwide when it comes to COVID-19. However, if you're looking for accurate and up-to-date information that’s tailored specifically for those living in Alberta, starting with the government’s website is your best bet.
Here, you can see the number of cases in Alberta and in Canada. And while we all know that we’re supposed to be practising social distancing and washing our hands all the time, you can also get some more specific information about what that really means through this site.
COVID-19 is having a significant effect on the economy. Since businesses are seeing big drops in revenue, they have to make tough decisions - some have had to lay off employees while others have had to drastically reduce hours.
The good news is that the government is already stepping up. Alberta Student Loan payments are being paused for six months, and no interest is accruing. If you are experiencing financial hardship, you can apply for a deferment on utility payments, and banks may be willing to work with you regarding other loan payments.
Additionally, there are government programs like the Employment Insurance sickness benefit and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit that can help you get through this rough patch.
The government has asked Canadians to put in their applications based on their birth month:
- Mondays: January, February and March
- Tuesdays: April, May and June
- Wednesdays: July, August and September
- Thursdays: October, November and December
- Fridays: Any month
This program will provide up to $2,000/month for the next four months. A few other details are that you must be a Canadian resident at least 15 years of age and you must have made at least $5,000 in the past year.
This applies to Canadians who have:
- lost their job
- are sick, quarantined or taking care of someone who is sick
- are still employed but not receiving income
- are staying home without pay to take care of children
Visit the Alberta government’s page for more info on other specific financial programs.
Daycares shut down March 15, but some have reopened to care for the children of essential workers.
New rules help keep both kids and workers safe. For instance, enrollment is extremely limited, and workers remain vigilant about cleaning. They also tend to try to maintain social distancing protocols within the daycare, so you shouldn’t expect a typical daycare experience.
The trick is that those spots really are reserved for essential workers. You can’t necessarily call up to reserve a spot. Most of the time, you need to wait for a call from them. However, there’s a Facebook group you can join where people are offering each other support.
Remember that having your child interact with others outside of the home increases the risk they will be exposed to the virus. You should only use these services if you absolutely need them.
Some people are taking advantage of the time they gain from social distancing by taking classes. Right now, the University of Calgary is offering webinars that can help you brush up on skills or just feel a little bit better in a troubled world. Some examples include “Career Resilience” and “Mental Wellness: Coping through the Crisis”.
Udemy offers a wide variety of courses at affordable prices. They’re currently offering steep discounts. Here, you can pick up a variety of business and life skills, such as computer programming, network security, photography, and pet grooming.
It would be impossible to touch on all of the resources available to help people through this. You can also look for community support in a variety of other places. If you’re in an apartment building, people may have been doing things like posting announcements by the mailboxes.
We often see people reaching out for support on various Facebook groups. For instance, on the YYC COVID-19 Volunteers group, people post for a variety of reasons. Some are looking for a few virtual hugs because they’re feeling lonely. Others are asking for a volunteer to bring an ageing parent a few groceries. It’s really amazing to see how people are working together to support one another.
Current events can be frightening, but there is plenty of support for those who need it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for whatever type of help you might need.