Document 1














Text Box:
























October 2005






Program description. 44

Purpose. 44

Guiding Principles. 44

Implementation. 45

Role of City of Ottawa. 45

Role of the Shelter Operator 45

Definitions. 46

standards. 47

1.        CLIENT SERVICE. 47

1.1.       Intake.. 47

1.2.       Shelter 47

1.3.       Food Service.. 48

1.4.       Personal Support 48

1.5.       Services to children. 49

1.6.       Service Restrictions. 49

1.7.       Client Rights and Responsibilities. 50

1.8.       Client Medication Management 50

2.        FACILITY. 50

2.1.       Building Premises. 50

2.2.       Health and Safety. 51

2.2.1.        General 51

2.2.2.        Food Services. 52

2.2.3.        First Aid.. 52

2.2.4.        Fire safety. 52

2.2.5.        Emergency preparedness. 53

3.        GOVERNANCE. 53

4.        ADMINISTRATION. 53

4.1.       Policies and procedures. 53

4.1.1.        General 53

4.1.2.        Human Resources. 53

4.1.3.        Record Keeping.. 54

4.1.4.        Confidentiality. 54

4.2.       Financial accountability. 54



Program description


The City of Ottawa provides, directly and through purchase of service agreements, emergency shelter services including safe and secure accommodation, food, and personal support through a case management process for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. 


Providers of emergency shelter services in Ottawa have a long history of being reliable, responsive and responsible partners in serving the needs of homeless people. 




The Ottawa Emergency Shelter Standards were developed to:


·          Provide a framework of consistent shelter services for all homeless individuals and families in Ottawa;

·          Ensure that these services are delivered to at least a minimum acceptable standard; and

·          Provide a tool to ensure accountability for the purchase of these shelter services by the City of Ottawa.


All emergency shelters that provide service to clients subsidized by the City of Ottawa must comply with the Shelter Standards.  The Standards document is part of the purchase of service agreement between the City and each shelter operator.


This document is not meant to dictate shelter policy or operations but rather to provide a clear set of standards for all stakeholders, including clients, and can be a tool to identify areas where policy or service procedures need to be developed. 


The Shelter Standards are not intended to be all-inclusive.  Therefore, for issues not covered by these standards it is expected that shelter operators will exercise reasonable judgment and/or consult with City staff where necessary. 


Any applicable federal, provincial, or municipal laws, by-laws, regulations, codes, orders or directives will supersede the Shelter Standards.


Guiding Principles


The following principles are embedded in the Shelter Standards:


·           There is a focus on core client services and the supports needed to deliver them. 

·           There is recognition that shelters provide a level of service in excess of these minimum standards in many areas, both value-added and adjunct services.

·           The articulation of City of Ottawa expectations will help service providers review operations and identify areas in which to develop capacity.

·           Compliance with the standards benefits clients, staff, management and the entire service system.

·           Compliance with the standards is a sign of accountability.

·           An understanding that, as far as practicable, the client will have service provided in the official language of his/her choice.




The successful ongoing implementation of the Shelter Standards depends on both the City of Ottawa, through the Housing Branch, and the shelter operators fulfilling their roles and responsibilities.


Role of City of Ottawa


As the primary funder for emergency shelter services in Ottawa, the City of Ottawa, through the Housing Branch, is accountable to the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) for ensuring that:


·           Per diem funding is expended only for eligible clients and services;

·           Shelter operators distribute Personal Needs Allowance in a timely manner to those clients who are eligible;

·           Clients have equitable access to core services;

·           Services are delivered in compliance with the purchase of service agreement that includes the Shelter Standards; and

·           The shelter service system is coordinated and supported.


To this end, the Housing Branch will:


·           Continue regular site visits to shelters;

·           Be available for sharing information, resources, etc. that support both client services and developing organizational capacity;

·           Conduct complete Shelter Standards Reviews at least once every 30-month period;

·           Conduct partial reviews as deemed necessary by the City or MCSS and/or as requested by the shelter operator; and

·           Support each shelter operator as a contributing member of the overall service system for the homeless and at risk population in Ottawa.


Role of the Shelter Operator


As a primary delivery agent of emergency shelter services, each shelter operator is responsible for ensuring:


·           Compliance with the Shelter Standards;

·           Availability for Shelter Standards Review by the City of Ottawa through the Housing Branch; and

·           An understanding of their role as a key stakeholder in the emergency shelter service system in Ottawa.


To this end, the Shelter Operator will:


·           Ensure full understanding of the requirements of the Shelter Standards in order to implement them;

·           Be available for a scheduled Shelter Standards Review at least once every 30-month period; this includes having ready all documentation necessary to support compliance and being prepared to arrange interviews/questionnaires for selected staff, volunteers, clients and Board members;

·           Be available for partial reviews as requested by the City of Ottawa Housing Branch;

·           Ask City of Ottawa Housing Branch to schedule a review if it is deemed an exercise that could be helpful in developing organizational capacity; and

·           Collaborate with other shelter operators in order to strengthen client service delivery as a shelter service system.



The following definitions reflect the meanings of terms as they are used in the implementation and operation of the shelter standards and are intended to provide a greater understanding of some key language.


Act: The Ontario Works Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c.25, as amended, and any successor legislation.

Admission: The formal process of giving a person access to a shelter and its services.

Assessment: Systematic gathering of information from all available sources and evaluation of the information in order to develop an individualized service plan.

Bed: A bed refers to a piece of furniture with a mattress intended for sleeping. Note: Cots and sleeping mats are used in extreme weather emergencies when maximum regular capacity has been reached, or in other unique circumstances, as approved by the City.

Bed Capacity: The maximum number of beds in a shelter facility, as documented in the purchase-of-service agreement.

Bed Registration: The process of reserving a bed for an incoming or registered shelter client.

City: Refers to the City of Ottawa.

Client: A person receiving residential service from a shelter.

Disability: Includes any degree of physical disability, cognitive impairment or developmental disability, learning disability and/or mental illness (adapted from Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001).

Discharge: The process of concluding an individual’s stay at a shelter.

Eligible Client: A person determined by the shelter to be eligible for per diem subsidized stay, as set out in the service agreement. 

Final Bed Count: The process of counting individuals in assigned beds. The count takes place once in a 24-hour period, typically during the middle of the night. Final bed counts must be consistent with bed occupancy information submitted for per diem payment.

HIFIS: The Homeless Individuals and Families Information System is a computerized shelter management system used to book-in and book-out clients, maintain health records, preserve historical client records, communicate amongst users through bulletins, and collect information on the shelter population.

Per Diem: A daily rate paid to shelter operators as set out in the service agreement for emergency shelter services rendered to eligible clients.

Personal Needs Allowance (PNA): An amount paid by emergency shelter operators to eligible clients for the purchase of personal need items as set out in the service agreement; the City reimburses each shelter for all eligible PNA payments.

Procedure: A written set of instructions to achieve a given task.  A procedure may form a standard against which to evaluate the performance of that task.

Service Restrictions: The withholding of shelter services to a client for a limited duration due to a particular incident or behaviour.

Shelter Operator: The non-profit agency providing emergency shelter services under a purchase of service agreement with the City of Ottawa.

Summary Discharge: A shelter initiated discharge done immediately, not as part of a formal service plan.

‘Time out’: A negotiated temporary referral of a client from one shelter to another.




1.1.                    Intake


The shelter operator develops, implements and reviews regularly written policies and procedures to ensure that:

1.1.1.         There is 24–hour intake to shelter services;

1.1.2.         No one is denied access solely because of:

·         substance abuse or mental health issues;

·         a disability, providing the facility is accessible;

·         sexual orientation; and/or

·         self-identified gender,

but, rather, on the overall behaviour/actions of the client that may place that client, other clients and/or staff at risk;

1.1.3.         As much information as possible is gathered from the client at intake in order to collect all necessary information as found on the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) intake form;

1.1.4.         There is a determination of eligibility for per diem funding in accordance with the service agreement;

1.1.5.         Bed assignment is recorded;

1.1.6.         The client is informed of, and agrees to, the shelter rules during his/her stay in the shelter; the rules are posted where clients can see them and a copy is provided to clients upon request;

1.1.7.         The client is informed of services available to him/her and how to access these services;

1.1.8.         A bed will be held after curfew only when arranged ahead of time for employment, cultural, religious, or family obligations;

1.1.9.         The client is referred to another shelter or overflow facility if all appropriate shelters are full; an effort is made to assist with his/her transportation if necessary;

1.1.10.      The client will not be assigned a sleeping mat unless other appropriate beds (available beds in another shelter serving same client population) are full, or in exceptional circumstances to accommodate the client’s unique needs; and

1.1.11.      Referrals to other shelters/services are recorded.


1.2.                    Shelter


The shelter operator has procedures in place to ensure that each client:

1.2.1.         Is assigned a bed or clean sleeping mat (if in overflow);

1.2.2.         Receives a blanket, two clean sheets, pillow with clean pillowcase and one shower towel; these linens are replaced with a clean set at least once a week;

1.2.3.         Has access to bath and/or shower facilities;

1.2.4.         Has access to laundry facilities;

1.2.5.         Receives hygiene products as necessary in an emergency or if client has no money;

1.2.6.         Has access to common areas during the day;

1.2.7.         Has access to sleeping quarters during day if ill or working night shift; and

1.2.8.         Has access to a storage area, which can be secured for safekeeping of clothes and personal possessions.


1.3.                    Food Service

The operator of a shelter that provides food service ensures that:

1.3.1.         Clients are provided with three meals a day that are prepared in accordance with Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy eating;

1.3.2.         Clients who miss served meals for valid reasons (e.g. work, school, medical appointments, late book-in) are provided with a bag/box lunch;

The operator of a shelter that does not provide food service ensures that:

1.3.3.         Clients are provided with food or access to funds to purchase food;

1.3.4.         Clients have easy access to appropriate facilities for the storage, preparation and consumption of meals;

All shelter operators ensure that:

1.3.5.         When obviously undernourished, clients are encouraged to seek a medical assessment to determine the need for food supplements; and if required, are assisted in seeking funding for food supplements from a financial income source;

1.3.6.         Clients know what the daily menu is;

1.3.7.         There is a posted notice at the beginning of the food service that the shelter cannot guarantee allergen free food; and

1.3.8.         All food (including donated food) is stored, handled, prepared and served in accordance with the Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.7, as amended [Ontario Food Premises Regulations 562/90].


1.4.                    Personal Support

The shelter operator will provide documented case management services by ensuring that each client has access to a staff person who will assist him/her in:

1.4.1.         Identifying and assessing needs;

1.4.2.         Developing an individual service plan, which might include

·          Achievable goals

·          Referrals to on-site or community resources as needed for reintegration into the community for:

§         Financial benefits

§         Healthcare:  physical, mental health, addictions

§         Employment/training

§         Clothing, furniture

·          Housing search plan

·          Discharge/follow up plan;

1.4.3.         Accessing a housing search service provider;

1.4.4.         Obtaining ready access to a physician or health care center; appropriate referrals to essential health care services, when required; and

1.4.5.         Obtaining home-care services, or emergency nursing care; the shelter will allow such home care services or nursing care to be provided as the shelter can reasonably accommodate (Refer to the Health Insurance Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.6, as amended, and its regulations, for a definition of home care services).


1.5.                    Services to children

The shelter operator will have policies and procedures in place to ensure that:

1.5.1.         Staff actively works with parents/guardians to promote positive parenting techniques and share information on a variety of age appropriate play experiences for children and dependent youth within the shelter or off-site;

1.5.2.         Staff provides information on, and referrals to, available community resources;

1.5.3.         The safety and security of children is protected;

1.5.4.         Any program plans and/or outlines of planned activities are shared with parents/guardians and conducted with written parental/guardian consent;

1.5.5.         Staff works with parents/guardians and/or school boards to encourage children’s regular attendance at school;

1.5.6.         In the case of child minding, there are a maximum number of children another client may be responsible for at any one time; the client is aware of what to do in the event that a parent does not return; and

1.5.7.         Staff knows their obligations under the Child and Family Services Act, as amended.


1.6.                    Service Restrictions

The shelter operator will have policies and procedures for the following restrictions of service (if applicable):

1.6.1.         Overnight passes eligible for per diem funding (note: overnight passes must relate to the individual service plan and cannot exceed three days without approval from the City);

1.6.2.         Reserving beds;

1.6.3.         Summary discharge; and

1.6.4.         ‘Time out’ arrangement with other shelters.


1.7.                    Client Rights and Responsibilities   

The shelter operator will have policies and procedures:

1.7.1.         Concerning the rights and responsibilities of clients;

1.7.2.         To make clients/visitors and staff aware of the rights and responsibilities; provide a copy of the policy to clients upon request; and

1.7.3.         For receiving, addressing and documenting client suggestions, concerns, or complaints in a clear, fair and objective manner.


1.8.                    Client Medication Management

The shelter operator develops, implements and reviews regularly written policies and procedures to ensure that:

1.8.1.         Staff follows and encourages clients to follow City by-laws and policies concerning the proper disposal of syringes;

1.8.2.         Clients have access to their prescription medication when needed and that such medication is:          Kept in one or more locked cabinets and properly identified as to the drug name and user;          Made available only to those clients for whom they have been prescribed and that this release of medication is recorded;          Given to the client to whom they belong when that client is discharged and, if practical, a receipt is signed by the client; and          Disposed of following proper medical and legal procedures if they are unclaimed.





2.1.                    Building Premises

The shelter operator ensures that:

2.1.1.         The shelter is free from all hazards to the safety of clients, staff or visitors;

2.1.2.         The shelter is in a clean and sanitary condition at all times;

2.1.3.         An adequate supply of potable and hot water, which adheres to all provincial and municipal legislation, is available at the shelter to meet clients’ needs;

2.1.4.         An adequate sewage and waste disposal system, which adheres to all provincial and municipal legislation, is in place at the shelter to ensure safety and cleanliness;

2.1.5.           Sleeping areas provide 3.5 square metres (37.7 square feet) per single adult age 16 and over.  For safety reasons (e.g. in the event of an evacuation), a separation distance of .75 metres (2.5 feet) between the edges of beds (bunks, cots or mats) must be maintained;

2.1.6.         In the case of families, each family member (except couples) has his/her own bed or bed-equivalent (e.g. cribs, small children may use a mattress or cot);

2.1.7.         Dining area(s) provide an adequate eating capacity for all clients to eat comfortably; this may be accommodated by having more than one sitting for a meal;

With regard to toilet and bathing facilities:

2.1.8.         Each client has privacy;

2.1.9.         No toilet room or bathroom is within, or open directly into, any dining room, kitchen, pantry, and food preparation area or storage room;

2.1.10.      One bathtub or shower is available for every twenty clients;

2.1.11.      One washbasin and toilet is available for every fifteen clients (washbasins shall have a supply of liquid soap and paper towels);

2.1.12.      Bathrooms, toilets and shower rooms have locks that can be readily released from the outside in the case of an emergency;

2.1.13.      The bottom of each bathtub and shower is equipped with non-skid material;

2.1.14.      The temperature of all rooms and halls is maintained at not less than 19 degrees Celsius from September 15 until May 31 in any given year, or at other times when heat is required; and

2.1.15.      A maintenance plan that clearly specifies the manner in which preventive maintenance, emergency repairs, routine upkeep and long-term replacements are to be done is in place.


2.2.                    Health and Safety

2.2.1.   General

The shelter operator develops, implements and reviews regularly written health and safety policies and procedures to ensure that:          Clients are safe and secure within the facility;          Pest control inspection and treatment plans are in place;          Garbage is stored in such a way as to discourage insect or rodent infestation;          Individual cases, or outbreaks, of infectious diseases are prevented, handled, and reported as per the most up-to-date recommendations for tuberculosis testing, immunizations, and routine practices found in the “Health Education Resource for Infection Control in Shelters and Drop-In Centres” reference binder developed in partnership with the City of Ottawa Public Health Department;          All shelters and other primary service providers, such as drop-in centres, are notified when there is an outbreak of any kind in a facility;          Environmental hazards such as chemicals and cleaning compounds are safely secured and stored in accordance with WHIMIS;          Children may enter kitchen and laundry areas only when accompanied by an adult;          Mattresses are safe and hygienic; and          Cribs, high chairs and playpens conform to specifications approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or other government agency; all draperies, blinds, or any other items that have cords of any kind are regularly checked to ensure there are no hazards to children.


2.2.2.   Food Services

The shelter operator ensures that:          Staff, clients and volunteers are trained to adhere to the highest possible levels of hygiene in the food preparation and food storage areas in adherence to the Ontario Food Premises Regulations 562/90, as amended;          At least annual Health Inspections conducted by the City of Ottawa Public Health Department, and any requests resulting from such inspections, are completed; and          During food preparation times at least one current staff member on duty, whose function is to assist or prepare food, has a certificate from the Food Handlers Training program. 


2.2.3.   First Aid

The shelter operator ensures that:          At least one staff person certified in Standard First Aid and CPR Level C is on duty at all times in the shelter, in accordance with Regulation 1101 under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, as amended;          An approved first aid kit is available in each shelter and a portable kit must be taken on outings, in accordance with Regulation 1101 under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, as amended; and          Shelters use R.R.O 1990, Regulation 1101, as amended or replaced, entitled “First Aid Requirements”, made pursuant to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, S.O. 1997, c.16, Sch. A,, as a guideline for first aid requirements of the shelter and its clients.


2.2.4.   Fire safety

The shelter operator ensures that:          The Ontario Fire Code, as amended is complied with at all times;          An annual fire inspection is arranged and performed;          A fire plan is prepared, submitted to Fire Services for approval, and implemented.   This procedure shall be followed when a fire alarm sounds; and          An emergency and/or fire evacuation plan that all staff is familiar with, and that it is explained to each client upon admission or as soon thereafter as possible, is created. Diagrams of the evacuation plan must be posted in plain sight on the walls and/or doors of all sleeping and communal areas.


2.2.5.    Emergency preparedness

The shelter operator ensures that:          An emergency preparedness plan is in place with procedures to manage various types of emergencies (e.g. medical emergencies, fire, flood, threats/ assaults, loss of essential services, service disruption, extreme weather conditions, etc.).





The shelter operator, as a non-profit agency will:

3.1.     Be governed by a duly constituted Board of Directors (the Board) or other legally binding governance structure (e.g. governing council);

3.2.     Provide annual reports and minutes from the Annual General Meeting to the City of Ottawa on request, as outlined in the shelter purchase of service agreement;

3.3.     Provide staff with ready access to management, or designate, for decision making; and

3.4.     Have a conflict of interest policy in place approved by the Board of Directors or other authority. 





4.1.                    Policies and procedures

4.1.1.   General

The shelter operator develops, implements and reviews regularly written policies and procedures to ensure that:          Donated food is inspected and distributed in a safe manner; and          Weapons and illegal substances are handled appropriately as determined by the shelter in consultation with Ottawa Police Services.


4.1.2.   Human Resources

The shelter operator develops, implements and reviews regularly written human resources policies and procedures to ensure that:          There is an implemented staff code of conduct;          At all times at least two awake staff are on duty;          Staff is adequately supervised and their performance evaluated regularly;          Staff is qualified, oriented and trained for their job function;          At minimum, regular core training consists of CPR/First Aid; suicide intervention; crisis intervention; health and safety (as per WSIA) training; and          Staff involved in food preparation is oriented to the Ontario Food Premises Regulation 562/90, Health Protection and Promotion Act, as amended, and participates in the Food Handlers Certification Course.


4.1.3.   Record Keeping

The shelter operator ensures that:          Staff record daily incidents and observations necessary to ensure the safety of clients and orderly operation of the shelter in an operations log;          Service restriction records include the name, date, reason(s), and duration of each person denied admission and any follow-up or referral services provided;          Client service data is collected in an organized, consistent, and efficient manner in HIFIS or a computerized data collection system that can be uploaded to HIFIS;          Data are collected and submitted to the City in HIFIS format as per the Service Agreement and Ottawa HIFIS Data Sharing Protocol; and          Serious incidents are recorded and reported to the City within 48 hours of occurrence on a form approved by the City.


4.1.4.   Confidentiality

The shelter operator develops, implements and reviews regularly written confidentiality policies and procedures to ensure that:          The collection, use, disclosure, and storage of all personal information under contractual arrangement with the City adheres to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990 (MFIPPA), as amended;          Staff does not disclose personal information about a shelter client to external parties without signed consent from the client;          Where information about children less than 16 years of age is requested, only the person who has lawful custody of the child may consent to the release of information; and          A Shelter Client Consent Form (as amended) is signed by each client requesting subsidized service in order for specified personal information to be shared with the City for the purposes of determining payment of Per Diem and PNA subsidies for eligible clients.  


4.2.                    Financial accountability

The shelter operator ensures that:

4.2.1.         There are proper books of account and records in place, in accordance with generally accepted business and accounting practices, of the financial management of funding provided under the service agreement;

4.2.2.         Audited financial statements are provided to the City annually or upon request;

4.2.3.         Program and financial budget information is provided annually to the City in a form specified by the City; and

4.2.4.         All invoices for per diem or PNA funding are submitted to the City including the required back up information (e.g. bed logs), as determined by the City and as stipulated in the Service Agreement.