Feds devoting $5.6 million to help Ottawa homeless

An isolation centre for Ottawa's homeless community will open on Monday in Lowertown. (Leah Larocque/CTV News Ottawa)

The federal government is devoting $5.6 million to help people in Ottawa experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds are part of the $157.5 million announced last month by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help Canada’s homeless population.

The government released new details of the funding breakdown Saturday morning.

“Canadians experiencing homelessness, and those at risk of experiencing homelessness, are at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19,” Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen said in a statement. “That is why is so important that we act now to ensure that the homeless-serving sector is prioritized.”

Ottawa has about 1,200 people living in its shelter system and unsheltered.

The city of Ottawa said earlier this week it’s devoting funding from the federal government to 50 local agencies for coronavirus-related expenses such as additional staffing and cleaning supplies.

Last month, the city opened an isolation centre for the homeless population at the Routhier Community Centre in Lowertown, with a capacity of 40 people.

Trudeau also announced Saturday that the government is devoting new money to help other vulnerable Canadians during the pandemic.

He said  $40 million will go to Women and Gender Equality Canada, with another $10 million for Indigenous Services Canada's network of 46 emergency shelters.

-With files from The Canadian Press