A survey by the Town of Sidney says “many” residents reported difficulties procuring products such as sanitizer, general household products and food during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the online survey through SurveyMonkey, residents also reported, albeit it to lesser degrees, difficulties procuring medical goods and medications; home improvement products; office and stationary supplies; and other items.
“When asked if there were any items or services they would like to purchase or obtain locally, but can’t currently find, the majority of items indicated were cleaning products, masks and personal protective equipment, clothing, electronics and medical services,” it reads.
The survey, open between June 18 and July 5 with results officially before council Monday touched on a range of issues, drawing 618 submitted surveys with individuals able to skip questions. Staff consider 618 an “excellent response” rate with 73 per cent of respondents saying that they live in Sidney, 17 per cent in North Saanich, seven in Central Saanich, and three per cent in other municipalities.
With 564 individuals responding to a question about whether they experienced increased difficulty in obtaining any goods or supplies since the COVID-19 outbreak, 329 reported difficulties obtaining cleaning products such as sanitizer.
Almost 200 respondents (190) reported difficulties securing general household products, while 144 respondents said they struggled to secure food — so just over a quarter of submitted responses.
The survey also asked respondents to identify what they considered primary concerns for both themselves, as well as their community.
Residents listed physical health; mental health; safety; investments; as well as food and nutrition as the top five concerns, with health leading the way among the 573 individuals who responded to that question, with each being able to choose up to five issues.
“When asked the same question about their top concerns for their community, the top five concerns listed in order are the economy, mental health, employment, safety, and physical health,” it reads.
Other concerns, according to the staff report, include education; childcare; housing and utilities; as well as individual responses such as lost social and recreational opportunities; missing family visits; access to doctors and medical services; viability of businesses; increase in homeless population; and inconsistent community take-up of physical distancing and health precautions.
Within this context, it is important to note that 35 per cent of respondents said they have pre-existing health conditions that cause them to be more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, while 65 per cent indicated otherwise. Nearly half (45 per cent) of respondents said that they were retired, with 34 per cent working full time, eight per cent part-time and eight per cent self-employed.
These sociological data may also explain why just one out of 10 respondents accessed financial support. According to the survey, 88 per cent indicated that they had not applied for any personal funding assistance related to the pandemic, while 12 per cent that they had applied for funding.
While individuals circumstances vary, retirees can generally count on a steady, reliable source of support, thereby making it less likely that they would apply for support designed to extraordinary circumstances.
Sidney conducted the survey after the municipality’s emergency operations centre (EOC) found in April that a survey of residents “would be a key component” in gathering information on how the COVID-19 pandemic was affecting the local community.
According to the report, EOC staff drafted the survey questions with “consideration given to what information would be helpful in shaping pandemic response and recovery actions to support the community.”