Vaccination Hotspots, Variant Transmission, First Parliament, and COVID-19 Updates

Last week, many of us in Ward 13 were thrilled to learn that the province was opening up vaccine eligibility to residents aged 18-49 in three neighbourhoods: M4X, M5A, and M5B. Unfortunately, when the Premier made this announcement he did so before communicating with the city, and without increasing the allocation of vaccines being made available. This led to much confusion and frustration over the weekend, as I struggled to get clarity and answers for residents.

In response, Toronto Public Health is working hard on an implementation plan for that rollout with the Ministry of Health. I assure you that as soon as we have more details, I will let you know. 

In Ward 13, the only places we are aware of that are booking vaccine appointments for people under 50 who do not need to meet any other Phase 2 criteria are 40 Oak St in Regent Park and Wellesley Community Centre in St James Town. These are both operated by Unity Health and can be booked online. 

Some confusion over the weekend was about the exact eligibility criteria for the pop-up clinics. On Monday I was able to confirm that 40 Oak St and Wellesley Community Centre are booking vaccines for residents aged 18-49 in the following postal codes M4X, M5A, M5B, and M4Y.

Currently, they are only booking 7 days in advance and all bookings for the next week are full. They are working quickly to increase capacity. If there are no appointments available when you try to book, new appointments will be added every Thursday at 7 p.m. 

The City of Toronto continues to work on its own vaccination implementation strategy for residents aged 18-49, and we anticipate more pop-up and mobile clinics in hot spots to open shortly.  

In spite of the challenging rollout of the vaccine, I want to thank all the residents who are working hard to help their neighbours and community access information. I especially want to thank Dr. Jonathon Herriot, an HIV primary care doctor and faculty member at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine for compiling this helpful resource. While not Ward 13 specific, I hope it can aid you in accessing a vaccine appointment. 

Unfortunately, we will not be able to vaccinate our way out of this third wave. For many, this is the most dangerous moment of the entire pandemic. I know that everyone is tired of the lockdowns and the sacrifices. I know it’s hard, but I can’t stress enough how important it is that we stay vigilant. I have found that learning more about the pandemic makes it easier to understand the recommended health measures, so I want to share with you some updated information shared by Gisele Gordon, and fact-checked and edited by David Fisman, professor at the University of Toronto. 

What we now know about transmission:

  • COVID-19 is airborne, and it can hang suspended in the air for hours and travel much farther than 6 feet (two metres), especially indoors. 
  • The virus can spread to others from someone who is infected but not showing symptoms (either pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic).
  • The majority of cases in Canada are variants of concern which are 1.2-2.2 more contagious, and 60% more deadly.
  • The highest risk individuals for COVID-19 infection are now young healthy people 10-39 years of age. 
  • A single dose of approved vaccines protects against severe illness, but you’re not fully protected until two weeks after your second dose. The level of protection may change as variants evolve. 
  • Cloth masks do not provide enough protection indoors unless they are lined with polypropylene; KN95 masks or those with similar levels of filtration are recommended. 
  • Mask fit is critical, even small gaps greatly reduce your protection. 
  • Outdoors is safer than indoors; transmission is greatly reduced, but transmission can occur in close or crowded conditions, and masking further reduces risk. 

Seriousness of illness:

  • Young, healthy people are deteriorating quickly at much higher rates.
  • Brain disorders affect 1 in 3 COVID-19 survivors.
  • 1 in 4 people diagnoses with even mild cases of COVID-19 report long COVID-19 symptoms months after recovering.
  • The death toll of COVID-19 is likely much higher than official numbers as evidenced by the much higher than average expected deaths all over the world. 

I hope you will consider this information as you go about your day. If a trip can be delayed, please do. It is for your health and safety as much as your friends and families. Especially in light of partial measures at the Provincial level, we must remain apart for a little longer to protect one another. 

Keeping each other safe is the theme of another issue I want to draw your attention to. This morning, three years after the arrest of Bruce McArthur, Justice Gloria Epstein released her independent review findings into how the Toronto Police Service conducts missing persons investigations. 

I would like to thank Justice Epstein and all those involved for their thorough investigation and community conversation. There is no perfect outcome. Beloved members of our community have died and will not return to us. I hope that we take this opportunity to learn and do better. We must forge new partnerships as recommended by Justice Epstein to ensure that those who we have lost will not be in vain. I hope you will read my full statementand join me in sending love to the families of Selim Esen, Abdulbasir Faiz, Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, Majeed Kayhan, Andrew Kinsman, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam, Alloura Wells, and Tess Richey. 

Finally, yesterday the Province announced new plans to develop the entire First Parliament site - lands primarily owned by the City of Toronto - which raises more questions about why the province is so insistent on bulldozing the local planning process. 

Residents, community leaders, City staff, and City Council have been engaged in the difficult assembly of land and the design of the First Parliament for a number of years. Since 2018, the City of Toronto has undertaken a Master Planning process for the First Parliament site, consulting with local communities on their priorities which include significant affordable housing, a library, expanded parkland, and more. Building complete communities is largely a local effort, working with impacted stakeholders, business owners, and residents to create a strong and vibrant neighbourhood. 

On April 15, 2021, I will be hosting a public town hall bringing together local representatives, the City of Toronto, CreateTO, Metrolinx, and Infrastructure Ontario to present their work and plans for the future of Canada’s First Parliament site, an urban space that holds a historical place in our nation’s birth. The evening will be organized around presentations and a robust and constructive community Q & A for the community. Visit FirstParliament.TO to learn more and to register to attend the town hall.

Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.

Kristyn


Council Round-Up

Picture of Councillor Wong-Tam during April 8th's Council MeetingPicture of Councillor Wong-Tam during April 8th's Council Meeting

Last week’s City Council meeting brought many wins for our community. I am thrilled City Council voted in support of my motion to study & consult on a new east-west ActiveTO route on Bloor & Danforth. OpenStreetsTO will support our transportation staff in carrying out the review. There's great potential with this 19.5 km route focused on economic development, physical health & social equity.

Building upon my previous motions and on the advice of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the City’s Ombudsman, City Council voted to request that the Police Service Board enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ombudsman Toronto to independently conduct policy and program reviews and that the MOU include ongoing engagement with external stakeholders and a scheduled review period and process. My motion to ensure the Ombudsman be given a broad legal mandate in their work was also successfully approved by City Council resulting in a historic first in Canada when it comes to extending public accountability and oversight over-policing. This additional overview would allow the Ombudsman to make public findings and recommendations to improve the way the TPS procedures and programs we review affect people in Toronto.


Protect First Parliament Town Hall

First Parliament Town Hall promotional graphicFirst Parliament Town Hall promotional graphic

The historic First Parliament site is a nationally significant parcel of land that saw the formation and governance of Upper Canada, the beginning of a united country, and the industrial growth of Toronto. The First Parliament lands are located in downtown Toronto at the intersection of Front and Parliament Streets. It is a full city block, bounded on the west by Berkeley Street and on the south by Parliament Square Park.

The City of Toronto and CreateTO, in consultation with the local community, have been undergoing a master plan process to help protect, preserve and support community priorities for this civic site. Learn more about Canada’s First Parliament site here.

With the current proposal, the Ontario Line will intersect with Canada’s First Parliament site. As a Master Plan process has already been underway, it is critical that we coordinate and collaborate to expedite transit while supporting building complete communities. 

On April 15, join Councillor Wong-Tam for Protect First Parliament, a town hall with special guests from Metrolinx, City Planning, CreateTO, City Planning, and Transit Expansion Office for presentations followed by Q & A. Residents will have the opportunity to submit questions in advance as well as over the course of the meeting.

When: Thursday, April 15, 2021
Time: 6:00 p.m. to 8: 00 p.m.
Where: Zoom, registrants will receive a link to join. 

Please RSVP and submit your questions here.


TDSB Update from Trustee Chris Moise

Trustee Chris Moise bannerTrustee Chris Moise banner

As you are aware, Toronto Public Health, following the decision of Peel Public Health, issued a Section 22 order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act that required all schools in Toronto to be closed to in-person learning as of Wednesday, April 7, 2021, and remain closed up to and including Sunday, April 18, 2021. Given the unprecedented rise in the number of cases, hospitalization and ICU admissions, and deaths over the last few months, this was a critically important decision. One that I wholeheartedly support. An extension of this order may be considered based on COVID-19 epidemiological data for Toronto. The TDSB will keep you updated and informed as more information becomes available.

Throughout the pandemic, Trustees and Staff at the TDSB have been committed to providing mental health and well-being support for students, their families, and staff. For helpful resources and coping strategies, please visit the TDSB webpage for Mental Health and Well-Being. The last year has been so difficult for everyone and now we are in the midst of a third wave that was entirely preventable. While other jurisdictions around the world have returned to normalcy, our Provincial Government continues to mismanage the COVID response by implementing half measures and acting too slowly on the advice of public health officials. We're not only feeling fatigued, but we're also experiencing a whiplash effect and the constantly changing politically-driven decisions are inconsistent and creating confusion.

On Wednesday, the Provincial Government announced that residents over the age of 18 living in hot spot postal codes would soon be eligible to be vaccinated. This is very welcome news! It means that about 75% of residents in Toronto Centre will be eligible for the vaccine to address the high cases experienced in St. James Town and Regent Park. However, the Provincial Government has been vague and has yet to release details as to how people can register to receive their vaccine.

Front-line essential workers including teachers, educators, custodians, support staff, and childcare workers must also be prioritized. On March 19, Interim Director of Education Karen Falconer sent a letter to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, the Toronto Central LHIN and local health partners about the urgency of prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations for education workers in our Board.

On a different note, I am very happy to report that on March 25, 2021, the Toronto District School Board made arguments to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Divisional Court) before a panel of three judges about changes to the Education Act to allow the TDSB to collect Education Development Charges, which could generate about $500 million in additional revenue over the next 15 years to make investments in our schools.

Education Development Charges, or EDCs, are funds that a developer is charged for each new residential unit sold. Last year, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) collected $2,093 per dwelling unit and $1.18 per square foot of Gross Floor Area; this year that number goes up to $2,393 per dwelling unit and $1.24 per square foot of Gross Floor Area.

I have been advocating for changes to Education Development Charges since before being elected in 2016. EDCs could go directly to offsetting the TDSB's $3.5 billion maintenance backlog and would be a funding stream that could repair our schools as needed year after year as well as address growth-related infrastructure needs across Toronto such as building new schools.

Lawyers for the Government of Ontario and Building Industry and Land Development Corporation also participated in the hearing and argued against the changes proposed by the TDSB. As expected, following the three-hour hearing, the Court reserved judgment and will render its decision at a later date.

Finally, this month I am hosting two virtual public meetings, one to provide updates on Jarvis Collegiate Institute's field and underground project as well as our monthly Ward Forum. I hope you will be able to join us and I look forward to seeing you.

I'd like to thank you all very much for your patience and resilience. We will get through this very difficult time by supporting each other and working together.

Yours in Service,

Chris Moise


Community Care in Ward 13

A picture that reads "Thank you Jamii"A picture that reads "Thank you Jamii"

This past weekend, I was excited to join Jamii at the unveiling of their new outdoor photo exhibit LOOKS LIKE US. A part of CONTACT Festival of Photography, this exhibit features 27 photographs from members of The Journal collective and curated by 13 young women from The Esplanade community. These photos document the human experience during this ongoing pandemic and were taken by female photographers from around the World. This beautiful exhibit was made possible by a collaboration between Jamii Esplanade and a global collective of more than 400 female photographers called The Journal. Learn more about the exhibit here. 

A picture of the Councillor at the outdoor photo exhibitA picture of the Councillor at the outdoor photo exhibit

A picture of the Councillor at the outdoor photo exhibitA picture of the Councillor at the outdoor photo exhibit

Thank you to Abel Tesfaldet for the above photos and you can follow him on Instagram at @EplanadesVeryOwn.

The set of photos at their three sites have already inspired and will continue to inspire residents and visitors of The Esplanade from Parliament to Jarvis, especially in such times when we are not able to visit galleries or enjoy visual arts as we once had. I know we are all looking for new, safe ways to enjoy arts and culture in our communities and I hope that this brings some joy to the neighbourhood. 

I would encourage you to learn more about the exhibits on Facebook and Instagram as well! 


COVID-19: Vaccine Information 

For updates about Toronto’s vaccination rollout and booking system, please visit my website.

Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic by phone through the provincial call centre, 1-888-999-6488.

Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic online at www.toronto.ca/covid-19. For online bookings, you will need: 

  • Information found on your Government of Ontario photo health card;
  • Birthdate;
  • Postal code; and
  • Email address or phone number.

The provincial system will verify your eligibility to book an appointment for vaccination based on this information and will then guide you to the scheduling system. 

Please do not call 311 or Toronto Public Health to book an appointment. The City 311 contact centre and Toronto Public Health staff do not have access to the booking system.


COVID-19: Ongoing Tips to Reduce Virus Spread

As we begin to again restrengthen our public health measures, we will all continue to live in this new normal. Wearing a mask or a face covering is mandatory in all public indoor spaces and on the TTC. Our commitment must be to continue minimizing the impact of COVID-19, especially on our most vulnerable residents, while reducing negative social, economic, and broader health impacts on our community. In the coming months what this means for our residents is:

  • Continuing to work remotely, wherever possible;
  • Maintaining physical distance from people outside our household or social circle/bubble;
  • Avoiding crowds and congregations in closed indoor settings;
  • Wearing a cloth mask or face covering in any public indoor setting, including stores, transit, offices; and where
  • physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
  • Staying home whenever we are sick for any reason.

Face Masks and Coverings Offer Best Protection

Image description: Informational graphic from Toronto Public Health titled, "Face Masks & Coverings Offer Best Protection." Through visual examples, the graphic shows recommended and not recommended ways of wearing a mask. The recommended way for wearing a mask says, "should cover your nose, mouth, and chin without gaping." The following are not recommended: face shields, masks with exhalation valves, or clear plastic masks.

How to Safely Wear a Mask

Image description: Toronto Public Health infographic about how to safely wear a mask. Information on the infographic is listed below.

  • Do wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off
  • Do make sure it fits to cover your mouth and nose
  • Do wash your cloth mask in the laundry
  • Do clean surfaces that a dirty mask touches
  • Don’t touch your face or mask while using it
  • Don’t use masks on children under 2 or those who can’t breathe with them on
  • Don’t share your mask with others
  • Don’t wear medical masks, keep them for health care workers
  • The best protection is to stay home, keep a 6-foot distance, and wash hands often.

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 the City’s website or download this info sheet.


City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates

City of Toronto Awards $5.5 Million in COVID-19 Vaccine Engagement Teams Grants to Local Agencies for Vaccine Outreach in Vulnerable Communities

Mayor John Tory announced the recipients of the City of Toronto’s $5.5M COVID-19 Vaccine Engagement Teams Grants – a key part of the City’s COVID-19 Community Mobilization and Engagement Plan to connect with vulnerable residents and communities across Toronto.

City of Toronto Completes Gardiner Rehabilitation Between Jarvis and Cherry Streets

The City of Toronto has achieved a significant construction milestone by completing the rehabilitation of the elevated section of the Gardiner Expressway between Jarvis and Cherry Streets with traffic resuming on all lanes on Monday, April 12.

City of Toronto to Open Three COVID-19 Immunization Clinics Tomorrow

Monday, April 12, the City of Toronto will open three additional City-operated COVID-19 immunization clinics at Cloverdale Mall (Etobicoke-Lakeshore), North Toronto Memorial Community Centre (Eglinton-Lawrence) and Carmine Stefano Community Centre (Humber River-Black Creek) to vaccinate eligible residents with confirmed vaccination appointments who are age 60 years or older or 50 years and older from COVID-19 hot spots.

City of Toronto Opens New Indigenous EarlyON Child and Family Centre in Malvern

The City of Toronto’s newest EarlyON Child and Family Centre, which focuses on the cultural needs of the Indigenous community, was opened as part of a new community hub at the Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centre. The centre is located at 31 Tapscott Rd. in Scarborough and will be operated by Native Child and Family Services of Toronto. Holistic, culture-based programs and services will be offered to Indigenous children and their families and caregivers.

City of Toronto Working with Healthcare and Community Partners to Launch Phase 2 Vaccine Rollout in Priority Neighbourhoods

The City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health are working with healthcare partners and community leaders from across Toronto to ensure that Phase 2 vaccines get into the arms that need them most.

City of Toronto Urges All Residents to Follow New Provincial Order and Stay Home to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. The Province of Ontario declared a provincial emergency and announced that the entire province will be subject to a Stay-at-Home order as of 12:01 a.m Thursday, April 8.

Toronto City Council Approves More Flexible and Expanded ActiveTO Program

Toronto City Council approved the return of a more flexible and expanded ActiveTO program in 2021.

Toronto Fire Services and First Alert Working Together to Protect Toronto Communities

Toronto Fire Services is working with First Alert as part of an ongoing commitment to ensure all residents of Toronto have the required smoke alarms needed to stay safe.

City of Toronto Vaccination Clinic Bookings Opening Tomorrow to Residents Age 50 and Older from 53 Postal Codes Identified as COVID-19 Hot Spots

Starting last Friday at 8 a.m., residents age 50 and older living in COVID-19 hot spot postal codes will be able to book vaccination appointments at City-operated immunization clinics. This expanded eligibility is part of the Phase 2 Team Toronto vaccine rollout, ensuring every dose available is used to protect the most vulnerable.

City of Toronto Allocates Additional $2 Million to Build the Spirit Garden on Nathan Phillips Square

Toronto City Council allocated an additional $2 million towards the construction of the Spirit Garden, also known as the Indian Residential School Survivors (IRSS) Restoration of Identity Project, on Nathan Phillips Square to honour residential school survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.


Province of Ontario Updates

Ontario Expands COVID-19 Vaccination Locations to More Pharmacies

The Ontario government is rapidly increasing capacity in its COVID-19 vaccine rollout with the addition of over 700 pharmacies across the province. These locations will start offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to individuals aged 55 and older throughout this week.

Ontario Identifies First Two Subway Transit-Oriented Communities

The Ontario government has initiated discussions and shared preliminary plans with the City of Toronto to build two proposed transit-oriented communities located at the future East Harbour Transit Hub and Corktown Station along the new Ontario Line subway. Municipal review of these preliminary proposals has formally commenced, and the province will host public consultations with local communities, Indigenous partners and stakeholders starting in the Summer and Fall of 2021.

Ontario Supports Local Manufacturing of Disinfectant during COVID-19

The Ontario government is investing nearly $850,000 in Dimachem Inc. to locally produce Pine-Sol Multi-Surface Cleaner-Disinfectant, which has been proven to be effective in killing SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) on frequently used hard, non-porous surfaces. The Windsor-based company is planning to manufacture about 12 million bottles of Pine-Sol per year, and create 14 jobs. The funding is being flowed through the Ontario Together Fund.

Ontario Enacts Provincial Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a third provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA). These measures are being taken in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission, the threat on the province's hospital system capacity, and the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants.

Additional Protections for Schools to Keep Students and Staff Safe

The Ontario government is introducing new measures to protect schools against COVID-19 which include refresher training, enhanced cleaning, and asymptomatic testing. As these new measures are being introduced, the government will begin offering registration for vaccinations to education workers during the spring break.

Ontario Protecting People's Health and Economy Through Major Infrastructure Projects

The Ontario government released the April 2021 P3 Market Update, which highlights 41 major infrastructure projects across the province using the public-private partnership (P3) model. The P3 Market Update, released quarterly, is a list of public projects in the pre-procurement and procurement stages for which Ontario has committed investments. The list helps potential local and global private-sector partners organize their time and resources to make sure Ontario gets robust, innovative, and competitive bids for its P3 infrastructure projects.

Ontario Helps Farmers and Agri-Food Operators Keep Workers Safe During COVID-19

The Ontario government is providing $10 million to allow more farmers and agri-food operators to purchase personal protective equipment, enhance cleaning and disinfection and redesign workstations to better protect workers. This announcement is part of the 2021 Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economy.

Workplace Inspection Campaign Launching In COVID-19 Hotspots

The Ontario government is launching a series of zero-tolerance workplace safety inspections in sectors and regions hardest hit by COVID-19, beginning tomorrow with warehouses, food processors and manufacturers in Peel and Halton Regions.

More updates from the Province of Ontario.


Government of Canada Updates

Government of Canada to Announce Federal Support for COVID-19 Testing 

On behalf of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, will announce federal support for a COVID-19 rapid screening program.

Government of Canada Investing Over $12 million to Improve Worker Safety and Increase Capacity of Ontario Meat Processing

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions to Canada’s food system, while demonstrating the need for more diversified food processing capacity. As a result, Canadian livestock producers and meat processors have taken on unexpected and exceptional activities to manage health and safety during the pandemic. The Government of Canada is helping meat processors invest in safety measures to protect their workers and in facility improvements that strengthen Canada’s food supply.

Update on COVID-19 Vaccine Extended Dose Intervals in Canada

On April 7, 2021, National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and government officials will provide a technical briefing on NACI's evidence summary update for the extended dose interval for COVID-19 vaccines.

More updates from the Government of Canada.


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

Telehealth Ontario
Call if you develop symptoms!
Telephone: 1-866-797-0000

Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Telephone: 416-338-7600
TTY: 416-392-0658
Email: [email protected]

311 Toronto
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)

Support for People Living with Homelessness

If you see someone living with homelessness and in need of support you can call Streets to Homes at 416-338-4766. For mental health support, the Gerstein Crisis Centre is a valuable 24-hours a day, seven days a week service in our community and they have crisis workers on standby at 416-929-5200. More resources, including additional how to report information, are available on my website at kristynwongtam.ca.

Toronto Police

If you or someone else is confronted with life-threatening danger, please call 911 immediately. Alternatively, the Toronto Police request that online reports be submitted at torontopolice.on.ca/core or to torontopolice.on.ca/community-complaints. You can also call their non-emergency line at 416-808-2222. 

Phone: 416-392-7903
Constituency Office: 100 Queen St W, A5, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2