COVID-19 related real property activities: Standing Committee on Health—April 15, 2020

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Response to COVID-19

In this section

Surge preparedness


Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is preparing to support requests from departments, agencies, provinces, municipalities and non-profit organizations for additional accommodation space required for COVID-19 related activities or emergencies.

Key messages


To ensure preparedness, PSPC has developed a web map application allowing end users to locate:

Current activities

Over the past weeks, PSPC has supported ad-hoc requests, from various jurisdictions to provide temporary lodging to vulnerable people.

Below is a summary of lodging and space requests.

Northwest Territories

In response to the Northwest Territories Government (GNWT) request to provide shelter in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (NT) as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PSPC, in collaboration with Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada temporarily transferred a 36-unit vacant residential apartment building to the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation to enable members of the community’s homeless population to self-isolate. These residential housing units are made available to the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation at no cost to support and protect these vulnerable members of the community.

Similarly, PSPC is currently working with GNWT to make 4 vacant housing units in Hay River, and 2 vacant housing units in Norman Wells, available for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation to house the homeless or other vulnerable populations. GNWT could potentially request access to 60 additional vacant housing units for a similar purpose in the communities of Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik, Norman Wells and Yellowknife, NT.

Remote Indigenous communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan

Public Services and Procurement Canada is working closely with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) to ensure that needs identified for Indigenous Peoples and communities are identified and addressed. For example, PSPC has contracted for temporary shelters in preparation for COVID-19 outbreak in remote Indigenous communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

City of Montreal

The City of Montreal made a request to PSPC to make use of the former YMCA facility that located at the Guy-Favreau building to temporarily house homeless people that had to be relocated from the former Royal-Victoria hospital.

On March 20, 2020, PSPC entered-into a lease with the City of Montreal for a period of one month with an option to renew for an additional month to provide shelter for at-risk vulnerable populations including the homeless. On April 9, the City of Montreal asked for a renewal on a monthly basis, until approximately end of August.

Bon Courage charitable organization

This charitable organization has seen the number of families requiring support quadruple over the last weeks; from 50 to more than 200 families. This organization was looking for a bigger facility that would meet its needs while providing the ability to enforce social distancing between volunteers.

Given that the former headquarter facility for the National Film Board has been vacant since last fall, the Bon Courage organization reached out to PSPC to enquire about making use of facility to facilitate food distribution. The department is planning to sign a lease agreement with the Bon Courage organization by April 14, 2020. The agreement will be renewed on a monthly basis until approximately end of August.

Mobile units

The department has also been working with National Defence, Indigenous Services Canada and others to source up to 10 easily storable and transportable respiratory care units. These would be intended for use by provincial and territorial public health authorities to treat acute respiratory disease and distress. The competition for these units closed April 6.

Each unit would provide a 100-bed facility, including 20 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, that could be set up in any community facility (for example arena or convention centre) where it could tap into local utilities. It could also operate independently in austere conditions with its own generators. This self-sufficiency makes the mobile care units extremely flexible, and they can be deployed where the need is greatest.


To date, PSPC has been able to leverage its own inventory to meet the needs and provided access to each jurisdiction at no additional cost. Depending on the needs and volume of the demand for lodging, PSPC may need to turn to the private sector (including universities and colleges) to secure space. A source of fund will be needed to enable PSPC to secure lodging solutions and ancillary services (food, security, etc).

Next steps

Public Services and Procurement Canada will continue its engagement with federal and community stakeholders to gain an understanding of possible lodging needs for vulnerable populations and put in place solutions as needed.

Keeping buildings safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic


With global efforts focused on the containment of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak and the prevention of further spread, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has implemented measures in the national real property portfolio to aid in these efforts.

Key messages


Although occupancy levels are currently reduced, PSPC buildings remain operational and all mandatory maintenance and life safety system testing continue on our regular schedule ensuring that essential government functions can be delivered in a safe environment. Additional measures taken include:

Next steps

While social-distancing and telework provisions are reducing general occupancy rates in our buildings at this time, we recognize that, in the future, occupancy levels will begin to increase.

In anticipation of this, PSPC is developing procedures to ensure healthy and productive work environments for the eventual return to full occupancy in our buildings. Examples include reinforcing protocols with client departments on social distancing awareness in high traffic areas, responding to special cleaning requests, ensuring adequate performance of water and ventilation systems in line with up to date industry recommendations, and ensuring elevators and other alternative circulation pathways (stairwells) are well serviced.

Engineering assets

Current status

For all Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) engineering assets, including bridges, dams, Alaska Highway, and Esquimalt Graving Dock, the following measures have been implemented:

So far, there is enough staff to maintain services at all sites requiring operators, for example, dams, Burlington Lift Bridge, Lasalle-Causeway, Esquimalt Graving Dock, and Alaska Highway.

We are monitoring the situation very closely and working with stakeholders on contingency plans.

Construction service maintenance and health and safety of workers

Current status

Parliamentary Precinct

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