COVID-19 Update, April 16

This week, the Ontario legislature approved the extension of the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act for an additional 28 days. This extension, which is being debated today at Queen’s Park, is set to last until May 12, when MPPs will have the choice to extend it further.

Not having a clear end date to this crisis is hard on everyone’s mental health. Please take the time to check in with family and friends, while also taking care of yourself. Don’t forget that there is a list of mental health supports available on my website. Help is available to you. 

Community and Self Care

I also want to reiterate how grateful I am for all the messages I continue to receive from residents who want to give back and help others during this crisis. Thank you for proving over and over that Ward 13 Toronto Centre is the best place to live and work. 

To make it easier for residents to give back, Mayor Tory announced yesterday the launch of DonateTO: COVID-19, an online portal which allows businesses and residents to make donations of products, services and funds in support of the City’s pandemic relief efforts. There are many ways the community can support the relief efforts, including donations of personal protective equipment (PPEs), other goods and services, food, and financial gifts. All donations help the City, in coordination with our community partners, to enhance much needed services, especially for the most vulnerable and those who support them.  

Residents, business and academic institutions have already reached out to the City asking how they can help support Toronto's front-line efforts and over the last few weeks donations valued at more than $1.5 million have been received including units of cookware, dinnerware, towels, bed linens, mattresses, personal care products and cleaning products for vulnerable residents. Any questions about donations can be directed to donate@toronto.ca

Read the full press release here. 

I was also grateful to read that Prime Minister Trudeau has further extended eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to people with reduced earnings. This now includes gig and seasonal workers making $1,000 a month or less, along with those who have run out of EI, and those whose seasonal work won't materialize. I look forward to hearing more about relief for post-secondary students without jobs soon. More information on how to apply for CERB can be found here.

City of Toronto Mental Health

As a reminder, I have compiled a full list of government supports and resources, which I am continuing to update as announcements are made and programs are made public. Please continue to use and share this resource with your friends and family.

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

Kristyn


Community Care in Ward 13

Built on the foundation of 40 years of providing services to Canada’s most vulnerable, the Institute for Advancements in Mental Health (IAM) knows firsthand the struggles facing those living with and supporting those with serious mental health challenges. Their vision is to redesign society for better mental health, that helps anyone impacted by mental health issues thrive. This means creating environments that are more inclusive, positive and accepting for people with mental illness, and within our innovation platform, partnering with others to create solutions that can improve mental wellbeing.

As the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, their services have gone virtual. This means that their counselling support, community groups and other support options are moving to online and telephone options. Their support line is staffed by a multidisciplinary team of mental health counsellors who provide individualized supportive counselling, system navigation, and customized information and education to caregivers, individuals living with chronic mental illness. Whether someone is dealing with increased stress and anxiety due to the pandemic, or experiencing challenges related to a mental health issue, they’re here to help! Thank you for your continued support to our communities!

Call them at 1-855-449-9949, or leave a confidential message for one of our counsellors at counselling@iamentalhealth.ca.

IAM InformationPlease continue to email my office at councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca 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 Distance!

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.

Physical Distance

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. 

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 

Today, Toronto Public Health launched a new technology solution to enhance case and contact tracing work. Case and contact tracing is a critical component of Toronto Public Health's (TPH) COVID-19 response and work to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.    

Case and contact tracing information provides insight into how COVID-19 spreads from one person to another, the extent of community spread and how long the virus can incubate. It also provides information on the overall impacts on our health and what we can to do further protect our residents. Other important data sources are symptoms, testing results, hospitalizations, deaths and what other jurisdictions are experiencing and what we can learn from them. 

CORES will allow TPH to quickly and easily document each individual case investigation efficiently and share data with the provincial Ministry of Health. It will allow TPH to better keep up with the volume of new reports and prioritize individual cases that require urgent follow-up such as healthcare workers as the local COVID-19 evolves. Importantly, this system also allows more of our front-line staff to work remotely from home.  

Our Long-Term Care Homes

Despite best efforts and proven measures to contain outbreaks, this virus has had a devastating impact on those who work and reside in long-term care homes, nursing homes and other institutions where our most vulnerable receive care. The City of Toronto operates just 10 of the more than 80 long-term care homes in Toronto.  

In the long-term care sector, workers sometimes work in multiple locations, including other long-term care homes, as well as acute care and community care settings. City of Toronto’s Seniors Services and Long-Term Care (SSLTC) employs approximately 1,300 full-time and 2,200 part-time staff. On Tuesday, an order was issued by the Province of Ontario restricting long-term care staff from working in more than one long-term care home, retirement home or health care setting effective 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.

SSLTC has offered additional hours (up to full-time hours) for part-time staff, and posted an 18 week schedule. Today, SSLTC staff working in one of the 10 long-term care homes will be asked to confirm their decision to work solely for the City. For those unable to commit to the City, they will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence, for the length of the emergency order. Their position of employment remains secure following the end of the pandemic. The City has hired 50 nursing students and Personal Support Worker-certified individuals to support and backfill positions. 

More than 80 City employees from across the organization have been redeployed to SSLTC, and another 80 will be starting soon, with additional staffing support requested from the Emergency Operations Centre. To date, there are outbreaks in three of the 10 homes operated by the City.

Yard Waste

The City of Toronto will continue yard waste collection for another two weeks from April 20 to May 1 to accommodate residents. After these additional two weeks, the City will assess if it can continue to collect yard waste. Residents are asked to put their yard waste out before 7 a.m. on their regularly scheduled garbage/yard waste collection day. If yard waste is not picked up on collection day, residents are asked to leave it out until it’s collected. It is not necessary to call 311 to report a missed collection.

City Hall Live Performances

To help support Toronto artists and lift the spirits of residents during this outbreak, the City of Toronto, in partnership with Unison Benevolent Fund, is moving its City Hall Live performance program online. To date, City Hall Live has showcased more than 150 local artists, working with numerous Toronto music organizations, festivals and events. 

Under the necessary restrictions in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, artists will take their show online. The first City Hall Live Online livestreamed event was today at noon and featured The Weather Station. The series will run Monday through Friday from noon to 1 p.m., with two shows per day until the end of June. More than 100 local artists will be directly compensated for 30-minute performances from their homes. During each performance, viewers can choose to make a donation, 100% of which will support Unison's work to help musicians and music industry workers. View the performances via Facebook Live here.

More information on Affected City Services & Facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.


Province of Ontario Updates

Essential Workplaces Expansion of Hospital Capacity in Ontario

Acting on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health care professionals, the Ontario government has significantly expanded hospital capacity in preparation for any COVID-19 outbreak scenario. The province has added 1,035 acute care beds and 1,492 critical care beds and taken steps to ensure hospitals have the staff available to care for a sudden surge in patients.

Hospitals across the province have taken steps to make more beds available for COVID-19 patients in every region of the province. As a result, Ontario has a total of 20,354 acute care beds with a potential for an additional 4,205 more acute care beds by April 30, 2020. Of Ontario's 3,504 critical care beds, 2,811 are now equipped with ventilators, up from 1,319 when the outbreak first started.

This bed capacity expansion has been organized in coordination with pandemic staffing plans to ensure each hospital has the physicians and staff needed, including in case of a major surge of cases. Measures include:

  • Redeploying surgical nursing staff who can now work with medicine units;

  • Sharing highly trained emergency department and intensive care unit nursing staffs across units;

  • Sharing physician resources across hospitals in a given region;

  • Recruiting family doctors to complete shifts within the hospital; and

  • Recruiting retirees, including nursing and support services.

You can find the government’s full announcement here.

The Province of Ontario maintains an online list of businesses and workplaces it considers essential. If residents or businesses are not sure if a workplace qualifies, you can contact the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

The province has deemed most ongoing residential construction to be essential during this pandemic. It has also overriden the City’s noise by-law during this pandemic to allow construction to occur between 6am and 10pm. Please contact the above number or e-mail Premier Doug Ford to register your objections

More updates from the Province of Ontario.


Government of Canada Updates

Businesses that can qualify for the Canada Emergency Business Account, which provide $40,000 loans to businesses, have been expanded. Now businesses that spent between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019 will be eligible to access the loan.

In addition, the Government of Canada is working with the province to launch a program to allow businesses to cover their rent payments for at least three months. The details of this program have yet to be announced.

Residents are reminded to continue to #StayHome when they can, and practice safe measures such as physical distancing and handwashing when they are outside.

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: 1-866-797-000

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: PublicHealth@toronto.ca

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)

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