First posted March 16th, 2020
Updated as of December 29th, 2020
Hope this finds you safe and well. NCF was founded to connect our community and we understand that access to the Internet, while always crucial, is especially important now as a connection to family, friends and work, as well as critical news and health information.
At this time, we are taking the following steps to protect the health and safety of NCF members, staff, volunteers and our suppliers, while also ensuring a continued high quality of service.
We are taking guidance on best practices from both the Province of Ontario and Ottawa Public Health. For more information about the health effects and details of COVID-19, please read the information available through Ottawa Public Health here: ottawapublichealth.ca/coronavirus
The latest updates to NCF’s COVID-19 response will be posted on this page.
1) Province-wide shutdown
The province of Ontario implemented a province-wide shutdown to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It took effect on December 26th.
The provincial order states that: “retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service may only permit members of the public to enter the premises by appointment and only for repairs or technical support.”
As such, the NCF office is only open by appointment until further notice. We will continue to offer remote HelpDesk support Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm.
To make an appointment, please call the HelpDesk at (613) 721-1773 ext. 0 or email email@example.com.
We are not allowed to take in-person payments. As such, you can either leave cash, cheque or money order in the lockbox in the stairwell of the ground floor. Or please contact the HelpDesk to arrange other payment options.
Here are the full details of the province-wide shutdown from Ontario.ca: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-provincewide-shutdown
2) Masks and hand sanitizer
All staff wear masks while in the office and we also have disposable masks available to members who require them. We ask everyone to wear masks, in accordance with Ottawa Public Health recommendations.
We have hand sanitizer available on the front counter.
3) Office cleaning and social distancing
At this time we are allowing one member or group of related members into the office at the time, by appointment. We have established socially-distant waiting spaces in the hallway.
We are regularly wiping down the lobby and the rest of the office and have posted signs about hand washing and the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
We respect Ottawa Public Health’s requirements for maintaining two metres space between people whenever possible. We have marked these distances in our office and for members waiting in the hallway.
We have also set-up a plexiglass barrier on the front counter.
4) New office hours and increasing remote work
The office is open by appointment, Monday to Friday 10am-5pm with some remote staff support in addition to those working in the office. The HelpDesk is also available remotely on Saturdays from 10am – 5pm. Please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 613-721-1773 ext. 0. We remain very busy and ask for your patience at this time. We always prioritize members who are out of service but are getting through all our tickets as quickly as possible.
5) Modem testing and loaner modems: drop-off and delivery
We have extended the period for all our loaner modems from two weeks to a month. If you have a loaner modem that you wish to buy, please arrange payment with the HelpDesk.
If you need to drop-off your modem for testing or configuration, you can come into the office or we have installed a lockbox for modem drop-offs that is available in the lobby stairwell of our offices at 1305 Richmond Road. It will be checked and emptied regularly, Monday to Friday.
We wipe down modems before and after testing and configuration, and encourage you to do the same before you drop them off and after you pick them up.
If you make an appointment to drop off a modem to be tested or reconfigured before 1pm, it should be ready for pick-up by appointment by 4pm the same day. We ask that members do not wait in the NCF office while their modems are being tested or reconfigured.
If you are not able to drop off your modem or can drop it off but not pick it up, we can ship it using Canada Post next-day delivery service. There is a cost of $10 for this service. We will send the tracking information, but cannot guarantee delivery timing.
If you wish to purchase a new modem at this time, you can pick it up by appointment during office hours or we can ship it to you for $10.
6) Payment options
We cannot accept in-person payment during the province-wide shutdown. We continue to accept VISA and Mastercard credit and debit, e-transfers, cheques, money orders and pre-authorized debit. There are more details here: help.ncf.ca/Payments_and_Donations
You can also drop off cash or cheque payments in an envelope in the lockbox in the lobby stairwell of our offices at 1305 Richmond Road. It will be checked and emptied regularly, Monday to Friday.
7) Unlimited usage
I’m happy to say we have offered our members unlimited bandwidth since 2017, ensuring no one feels they need to limit their internet usage or risk being charged for overages.
8) Continued investment in our network
It has always been a priority for NCF to ensure there is no congestion on our network and as such, we have invested in bandwidth that supports members’ collective usage during peak periods. We are watching network usage daily and anticipate there may be increased usage or a shift in the times of day people are online. Please know we will increase our bandwidth as necessary. If you wish to troubleshoot your current speed or upgrade to a higher speed, please contact the HelpDesk at email@example.com or call 613-721-1773 ext. 0.
9) Digital literacy work
We have a number of digital literacy workshops in the pipeline but have decided to postpone all workshops and other public events until the New Year.
We are also looking into ways to ensure that our past and future public education work can be shared online from now on, whether it’s access to a video stream of a workshop or handbooks and worksheets.
Please take care and feel free to contact us if you have any questions.