COVID-19 Update, April 17

It has now been 5 weeks since my team and I started working from home. It is incredible to think back on how much has changed since then. Children are now trying to adjust to online learning from the kitchen table and parents continue to balance tele-working while providing homecare. We have new by-laws restricting access to park amenities, and people are finding creative ways to connect with family and friends virtually. New communities are forming and old ones are adjusting. 

In earlier updates, my team shared some of the ways they are making the most of this period of self-isolation. This was a lighthearted way to help us connect, but some of you correctly pointed out that there weren't enough tips for families with children adjusting to our new #StayHome reality. Families in modest apartments, houses and condos are finding different ways to keep children learning, work-at-home partners are scheduling access to devices and laptops to accommodate work, school and entertainment needs. Getting exercise, making meals and keeping children engaged with toys, crafts and books while maintaining your own mental well-being in between changing diapers, nap strikes and temper tantrums is a huge challenge!

Like many of you, I am working from home with a little one strapped to my back in a baby carrier. In fact, Kiyan, our active and curious 10-month-old son keeps us literally on our feet. He’s not a fan of us sitting down (at all) and hopefully that will change sometime very, very soon. 

My wife and I alternate meeting times and take conference calls from our makeshift working spaces in the apartment. Daily calls with my team, City staff and community members are often punctuated with baby noises and gurgles, and thank goodness everyone has been good natured about it. I think one of the new remote working norms in the COVID-19 environment is our young ones video jumping into online meetings as we try to balance parenting and working simultaneously. Despite the challenges this brings, I am grateful for this time I have with my loved ones. 

Bobo and Kristyn

I would love to hear from you and please share your stories of working from home with young children. How are you and your family coping? Have you discovered a great hack we should share with our Ward 13 community? Do you have any resources that you’ve found helpful? Do not hesitate to reach out to my office and email me at councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca. We are happy to share your helpful advice and stories!

I hope you all have a safe and healthy weekend. Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.

Kristyn


Community Care in Ward 13

Our community care shoutout goes to Amanda Moore, who in early April donated blood for the 94th time! This is a scary time for many, and I know how much our hospital staff, medical workers, and those in need deeply appreciate your generosity. If you have any questions about donating blood, or which clinics remain open, please call 1 888-794-5147. If you feel ill, please continue to self isolate and stay home.

Learn more about donating blood.

Amanda Giving Blood

Please 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 

Gardiner Expressway Rehabilitation Update

On Sunday April 19, the Gardiner Expressway's westbound Sherbourne/Jarvis off-ramp will reopen after being closed since October 2019 as part of Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation Plan.

This weekend, crews will work to readjust construction staging to prepare for the reopening of the westbound off-ramp to Lower Sherbourne/Lower Jarvis Streets and the simultaneous closure of the westbound off-ramp to Yonge-Bay-York Streets. During this time, two lanes will be closed on the southbound Don Valley Parkway (DVP) and westbound Gardiner Expressway starting from just south of the Richmond Street East exit on the DVP to the Jarvis Street on-ramp on the Gardiner Expressway.

On Saturday, April 18, to ensure a safe transition of the construction staging:

  • both westbound off-ramps (Lower Sherbourne/Jarvis and Yonge-Bay-York) will be fully closed
  • two lanes will be closed on the southbound Don Valley Parkway (DVP) and westbound Gardiner Expressway starting from just south of the Richmond Street East exit on the DVP to the Jarvis Street on-ramp on the Gardiner Expressway
  • the on-ramp to the westbound Gardiner Expressway from Lake Shore Boulevard East near Logan Avenue will be closed
  • the westbound Jarvis Street on-ramp will be the first opportunity for traffic on Lake Shore Boulevard East to access the westbound Gardiner Expressway 

Read the full media release here

Digital Main Streets Program

Mayor Tory announced the expansion of the Digital Main Street program to help local businesses develop or expand their online services during this unprecedented time.

Digital Main Street

Digital Main Street was created by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) in 2016 and the program has helped small businesses with everything from websites and social media, to launching ecommerce platforms and using data to drive new business opportunities. This includes online tools, connections to trusted digital vendors, structured online learning and a Digital Service Squad, who provide one-on-one assistance to help businesses grow and manage their operations. Learn more about the Digital Main Street program.

More information on Affected City Services & Facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.


Province of Ontario Updates

Additional Emergency Child Care to More Frontline Workers

The Ontario government is expanding the list of essential workers eligible to receive emergency child care. This will help additional frontline staff during the COVID-19 outbreak. An emergency order was issued which will offer support to those providing a variety of critical services including people who assist vulnerable communities, emergency response and law enforcement sector staff, more health and safety workers, and certain federal employees.

The additional frontline workers who can now access emergency childcare services include:

  • Staff working in developmental services, victim services, violence against women services, anti-human trafficking services and child welfare services (children's aid societies) and in children's residential settings;
  • Staff working in shelters (e.g., serving homeless populations);
  • Power workers;
  • Pharmaceutical and medical supplies and device manufacturing workers;
  • Non-municipal water and waste-water employees; and
  • Federally employed staff including Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers and Canada Post employees.

A list of emergency child care centres can be found on:  Ontario.ca/coronavirus.

Supports to Make Home Learning More Accessible

The Ontario government has partnered with Rogers Communications and Apple to help meet the educational needs of students and families during the COVID-19 outbreak. iPads are being purchased and distributed by Ontario school boards, pre-equipped with free Rogers LTE wireless data. Apple is providing on-going support in French and English to teachers, parents and students, with a collection of resources to support learning and working from home. 

This week Ontario school boards began distributing iPads to students who don't have either the technology or the internet they need to access the Learn at Home program.  To date, over 21,000 will be sent to the homes of families in need. The free Rogers wireless data will be available until the end of June.

In addition to providing free wireless data, Rogers is also working with Ontario school boards to provide high-speed, low-cost internet to subsidized tenants and members of housing partners across Ontario through its Connected for Success program, as well as the Government of Canada Connecting Families initiative.  The Province has accelerated the delivery of broadband internet access, currently on track to be in every high school in Ontario by September 2020 and elementary school by September 2021. 

The full announcement can be found here.

Essential Workplaces

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

Today, the Federal Government pledged $500 million to support the arts, culture and sports sectors through Heritage Canada, with the support of partners such as the Canada Council for the Arts. The funding will go towards industry non-profits, national sports organizations, television production houses, music associations and media organizations.

In addition, $962 million will go to regional and community development agencies to help small businesses in rural areas. $267 million dollars for innovation and entrepreneurial programs. $1.7 billion will go towards clean up orphaned and abandoned oil wells in Canada. $750 million will be invested in an emission reduction fund, primarily targeting methane leaks. Additionally, support for mid-sized energy companies will be expanded.

For those looking to celebrate Canada’s 153rd birthday since confederation this July 1, the federal government is planning to hold virtual Canada Day celebrations, with the assistance of Canadian artists. Details will be provided soon.

It was also announced that Canada and the United States have agreed to extend the current closure of the border to all non-essential travel for at least another month. As well, negotiations continue whether Parliament will resume.

Over 7.5 million CERB payments made to date. The latest data will be released through the federal government’s open data portal.

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