Happy Saturday! I hope you are all finding moments of joy and togetherness during this time of physical distance.
This week my office received a number of inquiries about whether or not residents should wear non-surgical masks to protect themselves and others when they leave their homes for essential trips.
I want to continue to stress that the single best way for Torontonians to protect each other right now is to stay home and practise physical distancing to prevent COVID-19 spread.
However, we know that people who are not ill, or exhibiting symptoms, and have not recently travelled do need to go outside for short periods of exercise and essential shopping.
The most recent advice from Dr. Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, is that people can wear non-medical masks when in public as “an additional measure” to protect other people amid the pandemic. Wearing a mask does not replace existing advice around physical distancing and increased sanitation efforts. You must still give people space (2m!) and wash your hands regularly.
There is growing evidence that people infected with COVID-19 are able to transmit the virus before they develop symptoms, and while wearing a non-medical mask has not been proven to protect the person wearing the mask, it may help protect others if you are a carrier but still asymptomatic.
If you don't have a mask at home, Dr. Tam recommends using material from cotton shirts, sheets or bandannas and elastic bands to create face coverings. Please do not try to source medical-grade masks - save these for our frontline workers. Please see today’s Community Care for more information on creating or sourcing a mask!
I find it helpful to remember that this is a new virus, and scientists are continuing to study and understand COVID-19. As medical practitioners' understanding of the novel coronavirus evolves, so will medical advice, so please continue to seek credible and up-to-date sources of information.
Stay home and stay safe.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Province Overrides Municipal Noise By-Law
An alarming new regulation was introduced this week which may have significant impacts on when construction can occur in the city, which will allow residential developers -- those still oddly considered “essential” -- to work outside the City’s noise by-law between 6am and 10pm, seven days a week.
It was announced on Thursday that the Province of Ontario was seeking to provide noise exemptions to essential construction projects to allow for 24/7 construction work for projects such as medical facilities and other related services to help speed up the response to COVID-19. The Province also announced that ALL construction that did not meet that criteria to be permitted to work between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week.
From the beginning, when the Province released their list of essential workplaces that could remain operating during this pandemic, many questions were raised about why residential construction sites were considered an “essential service.” A public health rationale has never been provided. Construction sites require a large number of contractors working in close proximity to one another, making physical distancing very challenging, and one wonders how these new residential condominium units, very few of them affordable, will assist Ontario in combating COVID-19.
Following the initial list of essential services released, the Province ordered residential construction projects that had not received an above-grade building permit to stop. The rationale that those projects with an above-grade building permit should be deemed essential and those without it be non-essential, has not been clarified. For the Province to allow developers the automatic ability to go well beyond what the City’s noise by-law permits is shocking and entirely unacceptable, in light of the fact that residents are being told to stay home. We are now subjected to noise early in the morning and well into the late evening.
One of the most common complaints my office receives is about noise, particularly noise from construction sites. For those unaware, under the City’s noise by-law, construction equipment can only operate Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. No construction noise is permitted on Sundays and statutory holidays. These by-law hours were established after extensive consultation with residents, noise experts, developers and the construction industry. They provide a balance to allow residents living near construction sites the reasonable ability to enjoy their homes while allowing construction to occur at a reasonable pace.
This new regulation the Province introduced will allow developers to not only provide an additional four hours to run noisy construction equipment during the week but will allow a developer to wake us up at 6 a.m. every day of this holiday weekend, through your virtual holiday celebrations with your friends and family, ending at 10 p.m. where you then have an eight hour period to get sleep before you are woken up again at 6 a.m. the following day. Currently, this Provincial regulation is set to expire in October 2021.
If there is a public health rationale for residential construction during a health pandemic to be considered “essential” - especially housing that will not address our very vulnerable homeless population - then the Provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health needs to provide it. If the province is going to override municipal noise by-laws, then they must be surgical in their approach, not broad. It is easy to see how this change will benefit condominium developers, and hard to see how this will benefit residents trying to manage living through COVID-19.
If you hear a residential construction site beginning work before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m., Monday to Friday and before 9 a.m. and after 7 p.m. on Saturdays, or at any time on Sundays or on holidays, I urge you to contact the Province’s hotline at 1-888-444-3659 between the proper hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and ask why the Province has deemed residential construction essential, and why the Province is permitting this noisy work to occur more frequently, especially if you are expected to stay in your home. You can also contact Premier Doug Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org and his legislative office at (416) 325-1941 to lodge your complaint. I know I will.
My friend and colleague Josh Matlow has also started an open letter, requesting that the Province of Ontario provide the public with a rationale for Limitation 2 to Ontario Regulation 130/20 of the City of Toronto Act concerning construction by-laws. You can view and sign the letter online.
Community Care in Ward 13
Our community shoutout today goes to The Sewing Army. The Sewing Army was created by Toronto Fashion Designer, Diana Coatsworth, of Diana Coatsworth Design to respond to the shortage of PPE for Healthcare, frontline, and essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis. The Sewing Army brings together sewers, makers & helpers across North America to sew face masks & scrub caps for organizations in need. The Facebook group is a place we can come together, ask questions, share resources and support one another. Please remember that these masks are not medical grade or replacements for N95 masks and should not be used as such. They are providing patterns, and opportunities to trade supplies (at a distance) if you are missing any materials. Thank you so much for providing this opportunity!
Please continue to email my office at email@example.com to share examples of community care in your neighbourhood and ways you are supporting your community at this time. I’ll be happy to promote it, space permitting, in our communication to the residents and business owners in Ward 13. Every bit goes a long way!
Keep Practising Physical Distancing!
As the City of Toronto evokes these new measures for public health, please remember to keep practising social distancing. I know it’s challenging, and I thank you for your continued hard work. Please remember to stay off of closed parks amenities and facilities, or you may be subjected to a fine. If you must leave your home, please stay at least 6 ft (2 metres) away from others on the streets. These measures are crucial to protect the greater public health.
The single best way for Torontonians to support each other right now is to stay home and practise physical distancing to prevent COVID-19 spread.
- If you have symptoms of illness, do not leave your home under any circumstance until you have spoken with a medical professional and been given the all-clear.
- If you have just returned from travel, do not leave your home under any circumstance for 14 days.
- And even if you are not sick and have not travelled, unless you work in an essential industry, stay at home.
Thank you for doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our communities. For more tips on social distancing, please visit toronto.ca/covid19.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
The City is exploring options to respond to the increased need for accessible toilets, handwashing stations and support services for homeless and other vulnerable populations.
Beginning next week, in partnership with Toronto Public Health, Seniors Services and Long-Term Care will be providing regular home-specific updates, including case counts related to COVID-19.
Efforts continue to promote the importance of staying home and physical distancing. Renewed physical distancing signage has been created and will be put up in City parks beginning early next week
Compliance efforts continue to enforce
- Parks and public squares (a targeted blitz of Toronto parks is taking place this weekend)
- Closure of non-essential businesses
- Municipal and provincial public health measures
Province of Ontario Updates
The Province has announced that they are launching the next phase of testing in Ontario. They are expanding testing and will be proactively testing several priority groups including:
- hospital inpatients;
- long-term care and retirement home, healthcare workers/caregivers and first responders (paramedics, police and firefighters);
- Indigenous and remote/isolated/rural communities and
congregate living facilities (group homes, prisons and shelters);
- as well as specific vulnerable populations including:
- chemotherapy, hemodialysis and transplant patients;
- pregnant persons, newborns; and
- cross border agents.
Anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms (difficulty breathing, fever, cough, fatigue, headache, muscle ache, sore throat and runny nose) can and will be tested at the recommendation of their physician or at the recommendation of their physician at a COVID-19 assessment centre
The Province’s also updated its list of COVID-19 symptoms to include:
- Hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, loss of sense of smell or taste, diarrhea and nausea and vomiting
- (for seniors) chills, delirium (no other obvious causes), falls, acute functional decline, increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure
The increased access to testing will allow the province to complete up to 8,000 tests per day by April 15 and 16,000 per day by May 6.
Government of Canada Updates
Today, the House of Commons will meet to pass the largest economic measures, including the wage subsidy bill, undertaken in Canada since World War II.
We hope that this will include measures to help fill the gaps in the CERB and ensure that all Canadians who need financial support now get it.
We will have more updates from the Federal government in Tuesday’s update.
COVID-19 Information and Resources
Now is the time to stay informed through credible sources, and to follow the advice of our public health professionals. Together we can limit the spread of COVID-19.
Phone lines for telehealth, TPH and 311 continue to experience very high volumes. Please help keep the phones lines open for people who are sick by visiting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19
Call if you develop symptoms!
Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services, or to report people
Telephone: 311 ( The City is only accepting 311 requests through phone)