Francis was so happy she was double-vaccinated, but then she said, “It’s really hard to get through and get a card when I don’t have an address. I got both my vaccinations, why can’t I get proof?” Proof isn’t easy to get because our guests experience barriers on all kinds of levels when applying for a card. While a certain percentage of Manitobans experience difficulty getting a card, most have the tools to communicate with someone to get one issued. Not so for many of our guests. To contact Shared Health and order the card, you need reliable internet access or access to a phone for an extended period of time. You also need a mailing address that matches the address on your Manitoba Health Card. If you don’t have a Manitoba Health Card, or the address doesn’t match, they need to start the process all over again. Most guests have access to wireless and phones only when they are in places like Oak Table, and our phones usually have a time limit so someone else can have a chance to use them. Guests like Francis don’t find the process very easy or helpful. The ordering process is really only designed to be simple for people who have a current address and Manitoba Health Card. Those who are unhoused, don’t have a stable address, live with a disability, or are recent or temporary migrants all experience exclusion because they are missing a vital piece of what is needed to qualify for a card.
At Oak Table we provide hospitality, support, and advocacy for those in need of a safe community. We love the under-loved and serve those who are under-served. To date, we have helped 28 guests get their card, and 216 vaccinations have been given through our clinics. We see close to 600 unique individuals each month, so although we’ve made progress, we still have a long way to go. Many more need vaccinations, many more need access to their card.
You can be part of the support system at Oak Table that helps guests get vaccinated, and helps people like Francis, “get proof,” and feel included in society. Donate today by clicking the link below: