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COVID-19 Agency Updates – Cowichan Region

Last updated: April 9, 2020

The United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island and Our Cowichan, will do our best to keep our communities posted of any social service agency closures/hour changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic that may impact those experiencing (or at risk of experiencing) homelessness. This list will be updated as information comes in. Please email any updates to us at




The Cowichan Valley Basket Society food bank has incorporated a serving of hot food along with bag lunches. We are now serving about 100 people from noon to 2:00pm in the back of the foodbank. The building remains closed to protect the staff and volunteers while they remain dedicated to providing this essential service. Our hamper program is serving on average 30 families a day, 3 days a week and we have enlarged our area of service to include folks that are traditionally served by the smaller food banks at this time.

We will be distributing pre-made hampers Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11-1:30. People are now encouraged to phone and we will put their name on the list. We will also accept walk-ins as previously as people adapt to this new delivery system. They will be given a time and asked to bring their health care cards. We are accepting new registrants.

All hampers will be pre-made.

By Monday, March 30, we hope to incorporate take out bag lunches that will be premade each morning and will include soup once we have containers. They will be handed out outside in the parking area between 11-1. Everyone will be expected to respect social isolation and the safety protocols put in place.

At this time there will be no entry into the building for clients.  



  • For now, our offices are closed to the public with most staff working remotely. We feel the thousands of pounds of excess food from the grocery stores we pick up and get out to emergency food providers needs to continue. As does our low-cost grocery store that folks who are really facing financial hardships need to access. And of course, the dozens of Meals on Wheels clients, who rely on, what for some, is their only meal of the day.
  • If you need access to food, please connect with us at 250-748-8506. We will try to respond within a few hours. Please also come to our store at 360 Duncan Street next to the Duncan Garage (ignore the street work, you can get around it). We are requiring use of sanitizers when you enter, save your reusable bags for later and send a friend if you're not feeling well.


  • We are hand out food only and do this outside for reduced days and reduced hours 1-2:30 Mon & Wed and 11:30-1:30 Fri.
  • Youth activities, tax filing, daily drop-in & lunch, workshops, tutoring, etc. are all closed.
  • Anyone needing clothing can contact us and we will arrange something. We're setting up deliveries where possible for seniors and those with mobility issues. 
  • We are no longer accepting donations of clothing or household items, but are accepting food. If anyone would like to make a financial donation, we ask that they use our  online CanadaHelps account


COWICHAN VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT 79 - Thomas G.S. Longridge, Associate Superintendent

  • The School District in partnership with Nourish Cowichan and Starfish provided 39 Bags of food for families of students within our district. Nourish, in concert with Starfish provided the food bags and the school district provided transportation and distribution.  This was only week one of our plan to support students and families in our school district who are experiencing food security challenges.  We are planning on expanding this to more students and families over the coming weeks in partnership with Nourish, other not for profit organization, and district and school-based resources



  • We are still open, operating with a skeleton staff.  Program staff/counsellors are working from home, available by phone.  They regularly reach out to their clients, they find texting/phone or social media is effective.
  • Our Homeless program is operating. the breakfast is five days per week.  Although we got funded for enhanced hours, we have been unable to sustain the weekend services due to staffing shortages. 
  • The service is scaled down, 10 people at a time for social distancing.  People wait outside to come in.  Like-wise with the shower and laundry, limited numbers so we can keep up with sanitizing. 
  • The homeless people are angry.  They don’t know which is worse, starving or the COVID-19. 
  • We are presently working on a plan to give them bagged lunches before they leave. 





  • STV counselling, Community-based Victim Services, Child and Youth Counselling are all still operating both through phone/video or face to face as needed with careful restrictions.  Groups have been cancelled but creative solutions are being looked at. Please call our office for more details.  
  • Poverty Law Advocate is doing work through phone calls and if necessary face to face with careful restrictions.  
  • Horizons - All pre-employment sessions with our Horizons program are through phone calls.  
  • Somenos House - our Transitional safe home is still operational with some restrictions.  Please call for details. 
  • Office: 250-748-7000
  • ​​​After the School Board decision March 24, 2020 - We will remain closed indefinitely for sleeping services but will continue to hand out food and clothing
  • We just had to make the tough decision to close the shelter for sleeping tonight due to the extreme staff shortage.  We will be handing out bag lunches for our current clients and handing out clothing and blankets as women come to request them.  The hours will be 7-9 pm for getting food/clothing at the door and 6-8 am for morning breakfast and clothing needs. We will continue to serve women only.   


M’AKOLA HOUSING SOCIETY – Audrey George, Assisted Living Manager

  • We are “Essential Visits” only which would be Island Health, pharmacy and food/essential needs delivery only.
  • No guests, visitors, and no meal bookings.
  • We are serving boxed meals only and all recreational activities are cancelled until further notice.



The Shelter gates are now closed 24-hours per day.  Clients needing to use services, are buzzed in so that we can manage how many people are inside at any one time.   People who are not transitional housing tenants are not permitted to gather inside.  Tables in the dining area have been further spaced apart, and meals are served directly to people.  Some meals are provided as bag lunches.




ALZHEIMER SOCIETY OF BC – Jane Hope, Support and Education Coordinator

We will be increasing our phone outreach via our First Link® support calls to caregivers and people living with dementia.

First Link® Dementia Helpline

The First Link® Dementia Helpline provides people living with dementia, their caregivers, health-care providers and the general public with information and guidance on dementia and memory loss.

We have extended the hours of our Helpline, which are now open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. to provide evening service in English. Our Mandarin, Cantonese and Punjabi support will continue to be available between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call us:

  • English: 1-800-936-6033
  • Cantonese and Mandarin: 1-833-674-5007
  • Punjabi: 1-833-674-5003


Connect with dementia support and knowledge from anywhere through our webinars.

Click here for more details on all our upcoming webinars and to access the full webinar archive.

Helpful Resources



  • We are currently operating electronically only



Our need, and that of so many we serve, has never been greater. This week, many other local agencies, including the Duncan Foodbank, have had to close because of possible COVID-19 exposure.  This leaves even more people who are struggling in poverty and who are homeless or street-entrenched counting on Warmland House for meals. 

We are presently serving extra meals each day, most of it by take-out, outside our front doors at 2579 Lewis Street. Although very grateful for contributions of food by a number of local stores and restaurants, we are still in need of more.  

Here is a list of other items we also need.   If you are on social media, please share our list. 

  • If you are a business owner and have food that may spoil because you are now closed, please consider donating to the Shelter (call to discuss 250.715.1132).  Tax receipts can be arranged for larger donations. 
  • If you are able, Donate Now to help us meet the needs of the hungry, homeless and hurting. Secure online donations can be made here. 




CMHA Cowichan Valley Programs Update:

To comply with strict health guidelines, we have taken the following precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19:


The Shelter gates are now closed 24-hours per day.  Clients needing to use services, are buzzed in so that we can manage how many people are inside at any one time.   People who are not transitional housing tenants are not permitted to gather inside.  Tables in the dining area have been further spaced apart, and meals are served directly to people.  Some meals are provided as bag lunches.




Will remain open, operations as usual, with extra disinfection and extra distancing between clients.


Continuing to operate but with extra disinfection and extra spacing between tables to provide distance between clients.


Continuing to connect with people, but with added precautions.


Continuing to operate.  Open Door staff will no longer be making breakfast, at this time we are making brown bag lunches for the youth.


Counsellors will be connecting with clients remotely.


All programs closed until further notice.   Program staff is working to keep in touch with youth via social media and other online options.


Cancelled until further notice.


Cancelled until further notice.


Coaches will be operating remotely.


Currently closed to the public.   Staff are working remotely.   To connect with us, send an email to

We thank you for your patience and support during this challenging time.



  • Cowichan Family Caregivers recognizes this is a challenging time for family caregivers. You are not alone. Our services will still be there to support you through this time.   We continue to provide family caregivers one to one support by phone and email.
  • Contact: 250-597-0886        Main email:


COWICHAN FAMILY LIFE - Rick Stordeur, Clinical Supervisor

Cowichan Family Life Association is maintaining its one- to-one counselling to its clients by providing this service by phone or internet. Clients call the usual number (748-8281) and leave a message. We get back to them to schedule a phone or internet intake. The client is then assigned to one of our counsellors.

Our group programs, Healing Anger and Personal Power remain suspended.


COWICHAN HOSPICE – Gretchen Hartley, ED

·March 30, 2020 UPDATE: Cowichan Hospice trained volunteers continue to provide emotional support and information/navigation to people living with advancing illness and their family members, by phone.

·       One to one grief support is available by phone or using video tools, depending on the preferences of client. Grief support groups are also being offered by video conference.

  • Volunteers can also offer telephone emotional support to isolated frail seniors.
  • Since Tuesday, March 17th, we have made the following decisions regarding hospice services in Cowichan:
    • We are offering all clients support over the phone or by video-call.
    • We welcome those interested in using Hospice programs to contact us by phone, email or fax (please see numbers below) and will connect new clients with supporting volunteers for phone or video calls.
    • We have suspended all wellness sessions, at the Hospice office, in homes and in facilities, and have suspended all visits to patients in hospital.
  • This situation is evolving rapidly and we will work to continue providing support to individuals and families in our community while taking the necessary steps to keep clients, volunteers, and staff safe. If you or someone you know would like to use hospice services please get in touch with us by phone at: 250-701-4242 or 1-888-701-4242 (toll-free from Ladysmith)  Fax: 250 701-4243,  or by email at:
  • Events:
    • You may have heard that Reel Alternatives fundraising films have been cancelled for March and April. This is following the advice of our provincial government to cease all gatherings of 50 people or more.
    • Our Annual General Meeting, which usually takes place in early May, has been tentatively moved to June 9th.
    • Happily, construction on Cowichan Hospice House continues to be on schedule.
  • We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as they become available. Please check our Facebook and our website for up to date information.
  • The Cowichan community is strong, loving and compassionate, and we will get through this together. And remember, wash your hands!
  • Thank you for your continued support during this challenging time.



CIS has moved services/supports online/by phone, including:

  • For existing clients:
    • English classes and tutoring/mentoring
    • Youth groups and children’s reading group
    • General settlement services (assistance with housing, employment-related, health-related, education-related, etc.)
  • We can still accept referrals – our clients are newcomers to Canada settling in the Cowichan Region.  They can have any immigration status, including permanent residency, temporary work permit, student visa, asylum seeker, naturalised citizen, no status.
  • ​​For new clients:
    • General intake and needs/assets assessment
    • Information & orientation
    • No Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) assessments taking place at this time

We can screen/on-board new volunteers remotely if anyone is interested in being an English language tutor.

We are not running daycare currently.


COWICHAN TRIBES – Cynthia Jamieson

Cowichan Tribes will remain on Essential Services indefinitely and until further notice to help protect the community by preventing the transmission of Coronavirus COVID-19 disease.

  • Cowichan Tribes schools and daycare, the Si’em Lelum Gym, and the Youth Centre are closed. Medical Transportation is not available at this time.
  • Our Elders Program is providing Meals on Wheel to a select Elder population, as well as boxes once a week to many of our Elders. Our Elders nurses reach out daily Monday-Friday for phone checks.
  • Community Health Nurses are in office available for phone conversations at (250) 746-6184 or via text at (250) 732-4205. Pre and postnatal clients are being followed via phone and food bags are being arranged for our prenatal clients.
  • Slhexun Sun’ts’a Primary Care Clinic (250-715-3322) Clinic is open and doing virtual visits over the phone. They are seeing select clients face to face depending on health concern (250) 715-3322
  • Kwun’atsustul (Mental Health): (250) 746-6184 to For after-hours, call the crisis line: 1(888) 494-3888
  • Social Development: (778) 422-2255
  • Cowichan Tribes Security: (250) 732-1449
  • Housing Emergency (24/7): (250) 715-3302
  • Kwunatsustul suspending groups but doing on call crisis and regular check-ins with Community Members. Will do intake for new cases starting next week but we will have a wait list.



Testing? Self-isolation? Symptoms? How to see a doctor? We’re here to answer!

If you DO NOT have a family physician and live in the Cowichan Valley visit us online to connect to the new online COVID virtual clinic.

(250) 856-0724 FYI - Family Physicians in the Cowichan Valley are now offering appointments by phone or by video for their own patients. If you are unable to reach your family physician, the online COVID virtual assessment clinic can help.


  • A physician-run virtual clinic for patients with questions/concerns about COVID symptoms or potential COVID exposure.
  • For patients who DO NOT have a family doctor, or for patients first tried their family doctor, but are unable to connect. Screening questions will be asked.
  • Supporting the local Indigenous community, where access to physicians is currently limited.
  • Supporting after hours COVID response, diverting patients away from ER o Note: individual clinics may want to consider adding this resource to their answering machines for after-hours referrals.
  • Available for GP clinic overflow referrals, if needed.
  • A source of referrals to the respiratory assessment clinic or screening clinic (see above). · Open to the general unattached public, and physician referrals.
  • Accessible via

What it isn't:

  • A substitute for regular family practice clinics - a patient's first point of contact is always their family doctor.
  • A private enterprise - this is a community-based solution.
  • A clinic for anything other than COVID concerns.



  • Following Public Health and Government recommendations, we have moved our services to virtual contact only.  CVYS is keeping in touch with clients and community partners via email, telephone, text, FaceTime, and Zoom. We are still receiving Intakes and counsellors are available by scheduled phone, FaceTime, zoom or telehealth appointments.  Our office phone will be answered and we will return any phone messages.  We are available our usual business hours, 9:00 to 5:00.  
  • We are beginning to plan some virtual groups: Youth Pride for LGBTQSAI+ youth and an Art group, and with other services we are helping to coordinate the ability to identify and drop off food and essentials for those youth and families that are in need (more information to follow).
  • We will continue to offer our support services virtually until we are no longer being recommended to social distance.  Hope everyone stays safe!



Counsellors at Discovery Youth & Family Substance Use are continuing to stay connected to youth and families by phone and text, and potentially down the road from telehealth. You can reach any of us by phone or email as needed.



The Ladysmith Resources Centre Association (LRCA) is committed to providing services to the most under-served populations in our community. We are limiting the number of people who access our facility, so please phone us for service in advance to make an appointment or receive program specific information. We are working on providing services in modified ways where possible (please see attached table). Our essential services, the food bank program and the shelter will continue to operate as usual, with additional safety precautions in place.

heart on hill.jpg



Literacy Now Cowichan is moving to online and phone service for tutoring and intakes and our office/learning centre is closed to the public. The phone will be answered and calls returned. One staff member is working in the empty office and others working remotely. 


PIVOT POINT – Allison Hutchinson

We wanted to pass along a bit of info as we have adjusted our model of service delivery to allow us to continue to work with the children/youth/families we serve as well as invite new families to join us as needed. 

1. We are offering a series of ONLINE social groups starting week of April 6th and running until the end of June. (See below for descriptions and you're welcome to share about the groups and my contact info if you know anyone who may be interested, or 250-216-6101)

2. Our lead professionals (Behaviour Consultants, Clinical Counsellors and Education Consultants) are available for online sessions either with children/youth directly or providing support to parents.

3. Our Behaviour Interveners and Tutors are also available online!

HANG Online:   

Online Social Groups for Children and Youth with Diverse Abilities

Dungeons & Dragons: Friday’s 3:00-5:00 PM, (ages 8-11 and 12-18)

· Delve into the darkest dungeons and explore ancient ruins in the pursuit of increased social skills, problem solving, co-operation and fun!

Lego Challenge: Tuesday AND Thursdays 1:30-2:30 PM 

· Just because you’re cooped up at home doesn’t mean you can’t think outside of the box!  Join us for building tutorials, speed builds and challenges! A different activity each week with everybody’s favourite building toy, LEGO!

Minecraft: Monday’s 3:00-5:00 PM (Girls Club!), Tuesday’s 3:00-5:00 PM, Friday’s 12:30-2:30 PM 

· Join us as we venture into the world of Minecraft! Our custom Pivot Point Server is going to be hosting building competitions, learning challenges, and all sorts of fun adventures! Learn to use Redstone to code and perform Logic tasks. Let your creativity flow during collaborative builds and interactive games.

 What to expect:

· Facilitated online fun for different age groups!

· Training and tech support provided to families setting up their child.

· All you need is a computer/tablet, access to the internet, and a microphone!

*Eligible for payment through Autism Funding and DL School funding

*Costs vary, reach out for full details



Providence Farm is a service provider to Island Health and CLBC clients in:

  • Mental Health Substance Use
  • Brain Injury Program
  • Geriatric (Seniors social services)
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Behavioural Health
  • Personal Supports Initiatives

At present Providence Farm is closed to on-site programming.  Farm managers are working virtually, in consultation with caregivers, to survey for current and projected desired supports.

Each client/caregiver is being contacted for the purpose of categorizing potential service response which may include:

a) virtual support 

b) one-on-one caregiver and/or client support at Providence Farm in scheduled blocks

Depending on circumstances, Providence Farm may explore providing remote services on location at client homes.



  • We have suspended all activities, programs, and volunteering. 
  • Our Offices, Used Tack Shop, and Barn are closed to the public at this time.
  • We are in communication with our rider families and caregivers and monitoring our phone messages and email.


VOLUNTEER COWICHAN – Cathy La France, Administrative Assistant

Currently we are setting up an initiative to recruit volunteers to pick up groceries and other necessities for those that are in isolation for various reasons. We are also setting up a bank of volunteers to do phone check ins with people who are isolated. Our webmaster is working on setting up a database for this purpose and it should be operational soon. I am currently gathering names and contact information from those interested in participating and gathering information as to how they are interested in volunteering and in what area they are located. You may direct people to me at this email address: Cathy La France,



For now, Warmland Restorative Justice Society's office is closed, but we are still open for business and ready to receive new files, member applications and provide service by email, phone and through our website.  

All Community Justice Forums and training, including the Restorative Justice Facilitator Training for March 27-29 will be rescheduled.

We can be reached by phone/text 250-510-8473, by email, or our website for new member applications


COWICHAN SOCIAL PLANNING – Rosalie Sawrie, Project Director, Facilitator

Please know, SPC is still here and working to source what you need from the community - this could be items in short supply such as sanitizers, gloves and masks. As for masks, we do have a contact who has a supply so be in touch if you are in need.

An Emergency Food Access Task Force has also been formed and we are recruiting financial donations online through this webpage

What else do you need? Just let us know and we will do our best to get it to you.

  • As you may have noticed, there is a lot going on and many different messages happening in the community (more specifically on facebook) around donating items. People want to help.
  • Island Health is not seeking donations from the community at this time. As a result, I am following up with folks I've noticed are collecting donations and letting them know there are other essential service organizations - like you - who are in need. 
  • If you see such posts, please feel free to let me know and I will follow up!

And finally, please check out this link for resources on self-care.



  • Located at 205 Boundary St.  Duncan
  • We are open to the public 9am-12noon 1-4pm
  • Services can be accessed via 1 866 866 0800 as well



  • MCFD’s offices at Craig St and 4th St remain open


UNITED WAY CENTRAL & NORTHERN VANCOUVER ISLAND – Nicole Benson Communications Director

  • Our staff are busy working hard to help our communities. We are mobilizing our resources to best serve our communities and help to keep our neighbours safe and healthy. To stay engaged with our work follow our updates on Facebook, visit our website and sign up for our e-news.
  • Most staff are working remotely and can be reached by email during regular office hours. Our office line will be monitored and answered 250.591.8731.
  • All UWCNVI events, meetings and site visits are cancelled or postponed. We will host as many of these events through teleconference as possible.
  • We are working closely with United Way Canada and other United Ways in BC to talk to federal and provincial funders to see if more resources can be made available for our hard-working agencies in our region.