SCIO Community Magazine
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Responding to a Crisis

Since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a global pandemic in early March, SCIO has responded by working to ensure the safety and well-being of our community.

 For the SCIO Community
  • We posted an information resource webpage on COVID-19, featuring links to reliable and relevant sources.
  • We helped build an emergency guideline for COVID-19 with our national partners.
  • We closed our offices and established alternative methods of service delivery, including regularly calling our clients to troubleshoot day-to-day issues and launching our VIP4SCI virtual platform to provide online services and support to SCIO clients and family members. Access at and read more here.
  • We set up an emergency strategy with medical supply manufacturers and assistive device companies.
  • We worked with distillery companies to bottle much needed hand sanitizer.
  • We updated our Cortree Disability Education Centre to be free to all. Access at and learn more here.
  • We created a video information session on how people with SCI can protect themselves and others during the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring U of T PhD student and SCIO community member John Shepherd. Access at
  • We’re working with government to improve policies at this critical time:
    • We ensured assistive devices vendors were on the essential services list.
    • We worked with ODSP to make access to funding for medical supplies easier.
    • We are working with disposable gloves companies to meet the needs of our clients. 
 For SCIO Staff
  • We transitioned to a fully operational home-based organization during COVID-19 and made the decision to cancel or postpone all SCIO meetings and events involving staff and community until at least August 31.
  • We shared with staff our stringent health and safety policies with the expectation of extra diligence in upholding them.
  • We increased access to and expectations of use of online meeting applications, such as Zoom. 
  • We’re hosting weekly online town hall meetings with all staff to stay connected, supported and help each other solve daily challenges.

Need SCIO Support?

Reach out to the Peer Program Co-ordinator or Regional Services Co-ordinator in your area. See contact info at or email us at [email protected].
(Bell Canada is having problems providing service for our toll-free number:
1-877-422-1117. You can use 416-422-5644 and, if the call is long distance, we’ll be happy to return your call.)

For the most up-to-date health information on COVID-19, refer to your local public health unit, Public Health Ontario and the Public Health Agency of Canada. 

Thoughts from SCIO Staff

SCIO Staff on a Zoom Call

During our weekly staff town halls, which we participate in online, SCIO staff share our challenges, solutions and stories on how we’re making it through this crisis. The ability to support our clients has been the top priority and topic of conversation. It’s usually an emotional chat; evidence of how much we rely on and support each other to move forward. Here’s a sampling of quotes from staff over the last few weeks.

For us as Regional Services Co-ordinators, and those working on the front lines, it’s tough when we can’t see clients face-to-face.

We are brainstorming short-term and long-term ideas because sometimes when we go through adverse situations, we come up with great solutions that have long lives.

We are opening up ourselves to listening. Our clients have expressed that they are really thankful for having our undivided attention.

We’re really grateful that corporate partners are stepping up and helping us out in big ways.

Our community as a whole has really come together, doing the best that can be done to serve our clients.


Cover image: This post’s cover sends the clear message that ‘You are not alone” (this issue’s theme) during this pandemic and that SCIO staff and peer mentors are here to help. The photo features staff and community members who attended CSCIRA’s 2019 National SCI Conference in Niagara Falls: John Chernesky, Anita Kaiser, Christa Henry, Ruth Dilao, Robert Asham, Oda Al-anizi, Tara Jeji, Randy Upper, Chris Channon and Anthony Viao.
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