The Sudbury Star article published December 22, 2020
By Colleen Romaniuk
Elliot Lake city councillors voted to extend the community’s Age Friendly Delivers program into the new year at a regular city council meeting on Monday.
Council last approved an extension of the program to the end of December, but because of a steady demand for service, city staff recommended the program continue until March 2021.
“The program, in my opinion, should be considered a success,” said the city’s economic development coordinator Ashten Vlahovich. “It has been running pretty smoothly for the last eight or nine months now, and it has served a purpose in a meaningful way.”
The Age Friendly Delivers program is a grocery shopping and delivery service that was established by the city at the onset of the pandemic this year.
Vulnerable members of the community, including the elderly, can take advantage of the service which allows them to submit a grocery list and have the items delivered to their door.
“As of Dec. 3, there were just under 2,700 deliveries, 457 clients have been served, and almost $200,000 groceries purchased,” said Vlahovich.
The city is currently completing about 200 deliveries per month, with 27 clients who have used the service over 20 times. April was the highest month in terms of usage to date, with 735 clients served.
According to a report Vlahovich submitted to city council, the preferred method of payment for most clients is via credit card over the phone, and 99.3 per cent of invoices have been paid in full.
“Being considered a retirement community, Elliot Lake has a higher average age than most Canadian cities resulting in a high percentage of vulnerable persons and many without local family for support,” said the report.
“Knowing this staff identified potential issues with the recommended isolation for such a large percentage of the population, being access to necessities and contact while in isolation.”
To address this challenge, the city established the Age Friendly Delivers program along with Age Friendly Check-ins.
The Age Friendly Check-ins program is a daily contact service for those in self-isolation.
Initially, the check-in program was administered by the city, but the Elliot Lake Family Health Team has since taken over.
The grocery delivery service is still being run by the city, with one full-time shopping/delivery staff, treasury staff for invoicing/payments, economic development for oversight and managing the phone line, and one recreation staff for taking/processing orders.
The program is funded by the COVID-19 Relief funding Elliot Lake received from the provincial government.
“With cases in Ontario still at some of the highest rates, the continued recommendation from public health officials to limit exposure by staying home as much as possible, and the constant demand by community members, it is recommended that council continue to support the Age Friendly Delivers program,” concluded the report.
City councillors voted unanimously in favour of extending the program.