In this section

  • Learning Together: Emergency Shelters and Substance Use Centres
    • Virtual Learning Together Series

Virtual Learning Together Series

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the urgency to share learning across care settings, in real time. The need to move quickly to improve support for underserved people, and the people who care for them, is especially critical as existing gaps in health and care widen.

In response, Healthcare Excellence Canada has launched a new platform to connect residential substance use centres and emergency shelters so lessons learnt can be shared and together, we can expand the reach of what’s working so more people can benefit.

We recognize that people have limited time and different learning and networking preferences. So, we created this learning series so it includes a mixture of formats - webinars, huddles, discussion forums and workshops.

  • Webinars run for an hour and typically include a detailed presentation around a specific topic followed by question and answers from the audience. Webinars are a good opportunity to take a dive into an issue. Webinar recaps and recordings are made available afterwards.
  • Huddles are shorter, running for just 30 minutes. There is usually a brief presentation and then more time for chatting between participants and the presenter. Huddles are a good opportunity to make connections with others facing similar challenges in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Discussion forums are ways for people to come together to discuss challenges and opportunities facing emergency shelters and substance use centres. There is no formal presentation, rather an unstructured conversation led by people working in the area and subject matter experts.
  • Workshops – we plan to schedule a workshop in the summer, more details to come!

The specific topics we cover are based on feedback and conversations with those who are participating.

This series is part of the Learning Together program, however everyone interested in this series is warmly welcomed to participate.

Register to attend

Registering gives access to all webinars and huddles – you can simply pick and choose which ones you would like to attend based on your interest and availability. 

Upcoming events

Thursday October 7, 12:00pm – 12:30pm (ET)

HUDDLE: Addressing Moral Stressors and Moral Injury in Service Providers During COVID-19 

With the Centre of Excellence on PTSD - Fardous Hosseiny and MaryAnn Notarianni 

This huddle will focus on the continuum of moral stressors and associated outcomes, including moral injury, in service providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centre of Excellence on PTSD will discuss using a whole-of-organization approach as a best practice for mitigating the risk of moral injury at the organizational, team, and individual levels. 

Register to attend


Friday October 15, 12:00pm – 1:00pm (ET)

WEBINAR: Equitable Care: The Palliative Education and Care for the Homeless (PEACH) Program 

With: Dr. Naheed Dosani 

In this webinar, Dr. Naheed Dosani will join us to talk about providing care to those experiencing homelessness. The concept of equitable care will be explored through discussion around the gaps between those experiencing homelessness and their ability to access high quality care. Dr. Dosani will highlight strategies the Palliative Education and Care for the Homeless (PEACH) program uses to support those experiencing homelessness and how these strategies have been adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Register to attend

Thursday November 4, 2021, 12:00pm – 12:30pm (ET)

HUDDLE: Infrastructure for Harm Reduction - Responding to Multiple Public Health Emergencies

With Dr. Bernie Pauly, Professor, Nursing, University of Victoria & Scientist, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research

This huddle will focus on building infrastructure for harm reduction in the context of responding to multiple ongoing declared and undeclared public health emergencies including the opioid crisis, housing crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Bernie Pauly will discuss a 10-step plan intended to support substance use facilities, supportive housing, and emergency shelters in their efforts to adopt harm reduction practices.

Register to attend

Tuesday November 16, 12:00pm – 1pm (ET)



Thursday December 2, 12:00pm – 12:30pm (ET)



Tuesday December 14, 12:00pm – 1pm (ET)



Past events

September 13WEBINAR | Wellness Together Canada – a mental health portal for everyone in Canada 

Speakers: AnnMarie Churchill, PhD, Executive Director, Stepped Care Solutions

Watch the recording via YouTube 

Download the Webinar Recap

In this webinar, AnnMarie Churchill walked through Wellness Together Canada (, a free, on-line mental health and substance use support available to everyone in Canada 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This portal provides resources for self-directed learning, peer-to-peer connection and counselling via phone or text. AnnMarie Churchill discussed how the portal can address the unique needs of those providing health and care services.

September 9 | HUDDLE | Serving LGBT2SQ+ Communities 

With: Tanya Neumeyer from Rainbow Health Ontario (RHO) 

In this huddle, Tanya highlighted educational resources and tools that Rainbow Health Ontario has developed to support service providers in learning how to provide welcoming, inclusive, and affirming care to LGBT2SQ+ communities. 

Recording and summary of this discussion is not publicly available. 

August 24, 2021 | WEBINAR | Serving Indigenous Youth

Speakers: Molly Rader from Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA)

Watch the recording via YouTube

Download the Webinar Recap

This webinar focused on how to provide culturally safe care to Indigenous youth. Molly discussed philosophies of care including two-eyed seeing, culture as therapy, trauma-informed care, harm reduction, and person-centered care and how these philosophies are applied in a shelter setting. Molly also discussed the impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous youth and pandemic support strategies that UNYA has used.

July 15, 2021 | HUDDLE | Harm Reduction - Virtual Overdose Response Line

Speakers: Dr Monty Ghosh (Doctor of Internal Medicine, Disaster Medicine, and Addiction Medicine) and Kim Ritchie (Executive Director, Grenfell Ministries)

Recording and summary of this discussion is not publicly available.

June 29, 2021 | WEBINAR | Supporting the Wellbeing of Staff in Shelters and Substance Use Centers – Part II

Speakers: Ivy Bourgeault from the University of Ottawa

Watch the recording via YouTube

Download the Webinar Recap

Ivy discussed how mental health and psychological safety at work is heavily influenced by sex and gender, and how recognizing this can help managers build their capacity to support employees’ mental health in the workplace. Ivy also presented the “Mental Health in the Workplace: A SGBA+ Informed Toolkit” which provides with promising resources to address workplace stress and mental health, work life balance, workplace discrimination, diversity and bias, harassment and bullying, and stigma, disclosure and help seeking.

June 17, 2021 | DISCUSSION FORUM | Vaccination

Facilitators: Nikolija Lukich from the Ottawa Hospital, Jeff Karabanow from Dalhousie University, and Eric Jonsson from Navigator Street Outreach

Watch the recording via YouTube

This discussion forum focused on ethical considerations and challenges of vaccinations in shelters and substance use facilities.

June 1, 2021 | WEBINAR | Harm Reduction

With Scott Elliott, Clem Fong and Patrick McDougall from the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation

Watch the recording via YouTube

Download Webinar Recap

Scott, Clem and Patrick shared strategies the Dr. Peter Centre uses to provide harm reduction services during the pandemic and in times of crisis. They also discussed how to provide person centered harm reduction services and the supports required for other organizations to do this.

April 28, 2021 | WEBINAR | Supporting the Wellbeing of Staff in Shelters and Substance Use Centers – Part I

With Jeanette Waegemakers Schiff from the University of Calgary and Alana Jones from Fred Victor

Watch the recording via YouTube

Download Webinar Recap

This webinar focused on organizational and individual responses to the increased traumatic stress amongst homeless services staff, which has been greatly exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. Jeanette Waegemakers Schiff discussed the importance of psychosocial and trauma informed training, education and supports for staff experiencing increased traumatic stress and working in vulnerable and high-risk situations. Alana Jones discussed strategies she has implemented to support staff well-being throughout the pandemic.

March 23, 2021 | WEBINAR | COVID-Alert Risk Evaluation (CARE) program

With Grace Richandi and Tina Kaur from Inner City Health Associates

Watch the recording via YouTube

Download the Webinar Recap

Inner City Health Associates led this webinar and shared details about their CARE program that was developed as response to the complexities and vulnerabilities of people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. CARE offers individual and shelter-level COVID prevention and mitigation interventions as well as immunization planning tools for Toronto based shelters.

Learning Together: Emergency Shelters and Substance Use Facilities is a collaboration between the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and AddictionBC Patient Safety and Quality Council and Healthcare Excellence Canada.

This program was originally launched in February 2021 as LTC Expanded.

Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

BC Patient Safety & Quality Council