With revenue cut in half and staff layoffs, health charities concerned about patient care

Posted: 04-22-2020

April 22, 2020

For Immediate Release

Health Charities applaud yesterday’s announcement of the Community Support Emergency Fund of $350M to help support charities and non-profits assist vulnerable Canadians amidst COVID-19. This program combined with other previously announced programs under the stimulus plan is an effective measure to support Canadians and employers trying to stay afloat, however, there is more help needed to enable health charities to continue to provide critical services for vulnerable patients during this pandemic. Health charities cannot just stay afloat, they need to be fully operational to care for Canadians living with diseases.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has created an unprecedented challenge for Canada’s health care system as well as the organizations that are actively supporting patients affected by cancer, ALS, heart disease, diabetes and many other debilitating diseases and conditions. As a result of efforts to bend the curve and impacts from the volatile economy, these essential health charities are reporting more than a 50% reduction in donation revenues. This has resulted in organizations laying-off staff while simultaneously being challenged with an increase in demand for services during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The primary concern of health charities is for patients and their families. These organizations are providing psychological and emotional support, access to disease specific information and the provision of essential equipment like wheelchairs and hospital beds. As this pandemic continues to evolve, health charities are concerned about patients being challenged in accessing services and care that they would otherwise receive from the health sector. This concern includes access to medically necessary equipment, ongoing support services as well as health human resource challenges. With an over-stressed healthcare system, the already limited access to personal support workers and other in-home healthcare providers will become even more limited.

The Health Charites Coalition of Canada is in support of Imagine Canada’s sector-wide recommendation for the establishment of a Sector Resilience Grant Program in the range of $8B that will provide immediate support to charities and not-for-profit organizations to cover fixed operating costs such as rent and telecommunications. Measures such as this will assist in stabilizing revenues for health charities and will enable organizations to continue to offer much needed services to Canadians living with disease.

“We are pleased to hear that the government is making important efforts to address the needs of charities and not for profit organizations. While revenues may be down by 50%, the care that Canadians need has only increased. The reality is government needs to provide support to the health charity sector so that they can continue to play a vital role in the care of Canadians and keep stress off the healthcare system. We look forward to working with the Federal government to provide programs that are keeping people safely in in their homes and able to manage their health.”

Tammy Moore, Chair of the Board, Health Charities Coalition of Canada

“With revenues down and staff being laid off, charities are unable to provide the same level of care as they otherwise would. The Canadian health care system needs strong and resilient health charities to look out for patients so that they are supported outside of the formal health care system. We look forward to working with the Federal Government to identify programs for health charities within the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. This is in order to prevent any increased strain on the health care system during this time of crisis and to plan for future recovery.”

Connie Côté, Chief Executive Officer, Health Charities Coalition of Canada

Key Facts:

Health charities have responded quickly to the address the needs of their vulnerable populations in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples include:

  • Transitioned services to virtual platforms to respond to need for disease specific information for patients and their families in understanding risks, managing disease, and maintaining health in this new context.
  • 1000% increase in Infoline requests which required additional staffing resources
  • 3000 patients attended a webinar with a panel of disease experts to share disease specific information in the context of COVID-19.
  • Convening virtual support groups, connecting individuals living with disease to their care team and to each other during this time of social isolation.
  • An increased demand for health charities to supplement care, such as social workers and physical therapists due to the lack of capacity in the healthcare system.
  • Regional managers made over 1700 virtual connections with over 850 families in the first three weeks of the crisis start to reduce anxiety, identify emerging issues, and help to problem solve access issues.
  • Advocating for the needs of their community in the midst of the triage of health care resources.
  • Elevating issues of access to community-based personal support workers and respiratory therapists.
  • Raising awareness of the need for personal protective equipment in community -based settings.
  • Health charities are working to pivot significant aspects of their revenue models – from seasonal in-person fundraising activities to virtual events.

About Health Charities Coalition of Canada

Members of the Health Charities Coalition of Canada represent Canadians with a wide range of medical conditions, each with different key issues. In addition to supporting patients, our members also bring together health providers to set standards of practices and invest in vital health research. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 we have been working with Canada’s Public Health Agency as well as our scientific and medical directors to ensure that Canadians are receiving timely information regarding how to best protect themselves during this pandemic. A complete list of members can be found at www.healthcharities.ca

For more information:

Connie Côté

Health Charities Coalition of Canada









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