Today we learned that a resident at the Rekai Centres' Sherbourne Place facility has passed away, and three others have tested positive for COVID-19, following an outbreak of the virus at the facility.
This news is personal to me. This morning I spoke to my friend who lives on the outbreak floor of the Rekai Centre. She’s scared but knows the excellent staff are doing their best for residents. Daily, I’m grateful to frontline workers caring for our most vulnerable.
As the days go on, more of us are going to be personally impacted by COVID-19, whether by the serious illness or death of a friend, co-worker or family member.
Just two weeks ago, on March 18, Toronto had 145 COVID-19 cases, with 10 people recovering in hospitals. Four were in intensive care, there were no outbreaks and there were no COVID-19-related deaths. As of March 31, Toronto has 763 cases of COVID-19, with 66 in hospital and 33 in intensive care. There are now 11 outbreaks reported and, tragically, eight deaths.
These are stark numbers, and we know that they don’t reflect the full number of people who have contracted the disease, or even the full number of people who have been hospitalized.
Today Mayor Tory and Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, announced the need for immediate, and stronger adherence to all physical distancing recommendations and directives. Many of these directives are not new. Many of you have already been following these measures. But if we fail to act now, many more people in our city will become sick, and more will die.
I have included more details about the announcement below. Please use this urgent call to action with your families and your neighbours. Right now, we have a window of opportunity. We need to flatten the curve and limit community transmission, so that we don’t overwhelm our hospitals and health care system.
COVID-19 Economic Support & Recovery for Businesses
As we begin to appreciate just how long these physical distancing measures will be necessary, I want to recognize the importance of protecting the long-term viability of all the small and medium size businesses that make our communities so vibrant.
I am speaking regularly with BIAs and businesses, and I have heard over and over that they need rent, mortgage and tax relief, not just deferrals. The anxiety of growing debt, and trying to make up the shortfall in the future is real for many small businesses. We have heard that many landlords are not passing on mortgage and utilities breaks to tenants.
To those landlords, I want to reiterate Mayor Tory’s ask that you find ways to support your tenants. I ask you to extend leniency, and to make use of the financial support being made available to you through the Federal and Provincial governments.
We must ensure that when we’re all able to be together again, that we still have the retail shops, bars and restaurants, galleries and music venues we love. We must do everything we can to support our businesses to get through this together.
We know that LGBTQ2S+ cultural and safe spaces were at risk before COVID-19, and the recent announcement to cancel or postpone Pride this year puts them at even more risk. We know this is true for small businesses across Ward 13 and the City of Toronto. In the last two weeks alone, the economic loss to the retail sector is estimated to be $291 million.
The City, through the Mayor’s Economic Support & Recovery Task Force, is working to quickly determine what support and stimulus work needs to be done. The City will work with industry partners to identify actions to support businesses, workers and residents. This Task Force will enable the City to better respond to the evolving challenges of COVID-19. If you are a business and haven’t already done so, I encourage you to complete this City survey to share how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting their business, and what information or supports you and your employees need.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s community shoutout goes to The Neighbourgood. This is a not-for-profit initiative where Torontonians can support the small businesses they love through purchasing gift cards during this time of uncertainty. The proceeds go to immediately relieve some of the financial struggles of your favourite businesses through this time, as many have closed their doors to keep their staff and community safe. When the health and safety measures have been lifted, these gift cards can be redeemed for their goods and services. Thank you for your work to bring together the community and support small businesses.
Please continue to email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Practicing Social Distancing!
As the City of Toronto evokes these new measures for public health, please remember to keep practicing 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 practice 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 traveled, 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
Today, Mayor John Tory announced that the City of Toronto, under the strong advice of its Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, is taking action to aggressively halt the spread of COVID-19 in Toronto.
The following measures will take effect immediately for up to 12 weeks:
- All individuals with COVID-19 are ordered by the Medical Officer of Health to stay home, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act for 14 days
- All individuals who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are also ordered to stay home by the Medical Officer of Health for 14 days
Anyone who is not ill or has not travelled, is strongly directed to stay home except for the following reasons:
- accessing healthcare or medication
- shop for groceries once per week
- walk their dogs
- get daily exercise while maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres
- People returning from international travel must stay home, already a federal order
- Anyone over the age of 70, as the province announced this week, is strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible
- Increased supports for self-isolation for those experiencing homelessness
- Only essential businesses remain open, and those businesses maximize physical distancing and infection prevention and control practices, and limit in-person access to those businesses, as much as possible
- Increased cleaning and active screening of employees at all businesses.
These unprecedented measures are meant to stop the spread of covid-19 and save lives. If we do not take these actions today, we will see substantially increased loss of life, and may not begin to recover, economically and as a society, until the end of 2020.
I strongly urge you to adhere to these orders and strong recommendations in the interest of public health and safety. By following the direction of public health officials and limiting COVID-19 exposure to essential and critical workers who keep the city functioning, we can ensure that emergency services, garbage collection, water, gas, electricity, public transportation, emergency daycare, and support for our most vulnerable can continue to function.
Province of Ontario Updates
The province’s announcement today reiterated how critical physical distancing measures are over the next few weeks to help flatten the curve. With increase of community spread, Ontarians compliance with physical distancing and staying at home are of critical importance.
Ontario’s Partnership with the Private Sector
The government is working to increase partnerships with the private sector to fight COVID-19. The Ontario government introduced a $50 million fund to help businesses provide innovative solutions or retool their operations in order to manufacture essential medical supplies and equipment. This includes gowns, masks, face shields, ventilators, etc. This one-time funding of $50 million will be available to companies and organizations who are willing and able to support the province’s need of essential equipment and supplies.
Update from Ontario’s Solicitor General
Yesterday evening, Ontario’s Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones, announced that people who are being charged with an offense under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) will be required to identify themselves if asked by a provincial offenses, which includes police officers, First Nations constables, special constables and municipal by-law enforcement officers.
This temporary power was approved by the Ontario government today through an emergency order. If individuals are found in non-compliance with any of the emergency orders (i.e. closure of non-essential businesses, price gouging, or social gatherings of more than five people), they will be required to correctly identify themselves.
Government of Canada Updates
Residents will be able to start applying online for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) beginning April 6. Applicants must check in monthly to confirm their employment status. If an individual has already applied for Employment Insurance, they need not reapply for CERB. Please visit the Government of Canada website for more information.
The Federal Government has also been working through the backlog of employment insurance (EI) claims. They expect that this backlog will be addressed within the week.
A new mobile app has also been created to provide updates on COVID-19 and public health advice. A self-assessment tool is also included for people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. You can learn more, including how to download the app, by visiting its website.
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.
Telephone: 311 (The City is only accepting 311 requests through phone)