In this section

Learning Together: Emergency Shelters and Substance Use Facilities

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.

Upcoming events

Tuesday June 1, 2021, 12:00pm – 1:00pm ET

WEBINAR: Harm Reduction

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

Learn about the strategies the Dr. Peter Centre has used to provide harm reduction services during the pandemic and in times of crisis. Scott, Clem and Patrick will also discuss how to provide person centered harm reduction services and the supports required for organizations to do this.


Thursday June 17, 2021, 12:00pm – 1pm (ET)


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

This discussion forum will focus on the ethical considerations and challenges of vaccinations in shelters and substance use facilities. Join this discussion forum for the opportunity to discuss and work through challenges facing these settings when  vaccinating the populations they serve. Participants who would like to attend this discussion forum will need to register by June 1.

Tuesday June 29, 2021, 12:00pm – 1:00pm (ET)

WEBINAR: Supporting the Wellbeing of Staff in Shelters and Substance Use Centers – Part II

Speakers: Ivy Bourgeault from the University of Ottawa and Mary Bartram from the Mental Health Commission of Canada

Thursday July 15, 2021, 12:00pm – 12:30pm (ET)

HUDDLE: Harm Reduction


Tuesday July 27, 2021, 12:00pm – 1:00pm (ET)



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



Tuesday August 24, 2021, 12:00pm – 1:00pm (ET)



Thursday September 9, 2021, 12:00pm – 12:30pm (ET)



Tuesday September 21, 2021, 12:00pm – 1:00pm (ET)



Thursday October 7, 2021, 12:00pm – 12:30pm (ET)



Tuesday October 19, 2021, 12:00pm – 1pm (ET)



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



Tuesday November 16, 2021, 12:00pm – 1pm (ET)



Thursday December 2, 2021, 12:00pm – 12:30pm (ET)



Tuesday December 14, 2021, 12:00pm – 1pm (ET)



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.

Past events

Wednesday April 28

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 >

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.

Tuesday March 23

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.

LTC+ Expanded is a collaboration between the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction, BC Patient Safety and Quality Council and Healthcare Excellence Canada.

Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

BC Patient Safety & Quality Council