The COVID pandemic has provided the motivation and an opportunity to learn new skills to make the transition to a virtual environment. It’s been a test of our individual and collective resilience. The Ontario Emergency Measures lockdown was put in place in March 2020. Seniors programming, arts, culture, entertainment and tourism have taken a huge hit because of COVID lockdown
In the past, our work has involved all the above including community engagement, small group art and performance sessions, regional cultural tourism and entertainment in seniors residences. Facilitators, instructors and volunteers spent the past 10 years building momentum for innovative strategies for community partnerships and regional collaborations. However, everything came to an abrupt halt during the winter of 2020. This pandemic forced our members and associates to learn a new way of working and and engaging with our communities.
Our Canadian federal support programs helped while the nonprofit sector made a transition from real life community development to online community development. Here in Canada, we’ve had the benefit of a Community Emergency Response Benefit and a modified Employment Insurance program to help us while the general population received vaccinations for COVID-19 and variants.
We are hopeful most our Canadian seniors will complete the full vaccination program by the Fall 2021. Many are taking a “wait and see” approach until they believe they are protected from serious illness. With the exception of a few existing commitments, we have cancelled our 2021 summer and fall programs. It looks like we won’t be if full operation until the spring of 2022. Until then, we continue to get ready and set to go forward with online community development programs, events and activities.