It is with a very heavy heart that I begin by recognizing yesterday’s tragic events in Nova Scotia. This is a devastating day for so many, and as we learn more details, we are collectively shaken to the core. Investigators continue to piece together the details of Canada’s deadliest mass shooting. I have family in Truro, just a half-hour drive from Portapique and I hold them and all the great people in Nova Scotia tight in my heart.
The senseless violence that took the lives of so many will be hard to understand. I know these times can carry an emotional burden already heavy as we manage the fallout from a global pandemic. Please check-in with family and loved ones, if you can. Reach out to trusted friends. Please know that you are not alone. If you or someone you know is struggling, please consult our mental health resource page. There are services available to you. Please use them if necessary.
Today, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that a virtual vigil will be held this Friday, April 24. I will share more details regarding the vigil once they are made available.
Frontline Workers Need Protection
Thousands of frontline workers who are caring for our most vulnerable and sick have no paid sick leave. They are our personal support care workers, nursing home workers, cashiers security guards, and custodial staff. They are essential service workers and are putting their own health on the line daily to take care of our most vulnerable. If they get sick or need to self-isolate, they have to decide if their financial situation forces them to go into work rather than staying home. Many have to make this difficult choice and it shouldn’t be this way.
Following recent tragedies in long-term care homes, group homes and hospitals, frontline workers have come together to sound the alarm over working conditions that put workers, patients, and the broader public at risk - especially during the COVID-19 crisis. Personal support workers and other frontline care workers need adequate protections and paid sick time. In 2018, the Ford government scrapped paid sick days without consulting the Ministry of Health and ignoring the advice of public health experts. Now, in the middle of a pandemic, this decision puts frontline health care workers directly at risk.
“We know that low-pay and part-time hours make it almost impossible for workers to take unpaid time off. As a result, many health workers, food and sanitation workers, security guards and others are under immense pressure to continue working, despite being sick,” said Carolina Jimenez, registered nurse and coordinator of the Decent Work and Health Network. “It is becoming clearer and clearer that some of the most undervalued workers are, in fact, our most important.” Listen to Carolina Jimenez on why frontline workers need paid sick days, decent wages and basic protections.
It is important to highlight that this work is largely done by women, often racialized and mothers who are the primary caregivers of their own families. In a report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Katherine Scott writes, “Women are on the front lines fighting this crisis. Our primary care and long-term care systems are staffed largely by women. Women represent over 90% of nurses, 75% of respiratory therapists, and 80% of those working in medical labs. Up to 90% of the Personal Support Workers (PSWs) who do the lion share of work in long-term care homes and home care work in the community are women. Over two-thirds of people who clean and disinfect our hospitals, our schools, and our office buildings are women.”
They have risen to the greatest challenge of our time to protect us and I think we need to do the same - rise and speak out to support frontline workers!
Supporting Indigenous Business
This weekend, the Government of Canada announced a new $306.8M fund has been created to help Indigenous companies and businesses. This funding will allow for interest-free short-term loans and non-repayable contributions for maximum flexibility. Financial support for Indigenous businesses will be provided through Aboriginal Financial Institutions and administered by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association and the Métis capital corporations in partnership with Indigenous Services Canada.
I am hopeful that this funding will provide critical support that Indigenous-owned businesses need during this time, and beyond. As many of you know, I’ve been working closely with the local Indigenous community to build Canada’s largest Indigenous business incubator and accelerator, the Indigenous Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ICIE). The ICIE will be centrally located in the heart of Ward 13 at the intersection of Dundas Street and Jarvis Street, only a quick walk to Yonge-Dundas Square, Ryerson University, prominent Indigenous service providers and rapid transit. This multi-year project began with community engagement and thoughtful planning in 2012. With the strategic advice from Toronto’s Indigenous Affairs Office and the Leadership Advisory Council, I hope the ICIE can play a key role in helping accelerate the COVID-19 economic response and recovery efforts for Indigenous business owners.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today I would like to acknowledge the group Conquer COVID-19. This group is composed of physicians, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and other volunteers who are working together to ensure frontline workers responsible for the health and wellbeing of Canadians have access to masks, gloves, and other supplies that are essential in treating patients and minimizing the spread of the virus.
They have been:
- Brainstorming unconventional ideas to solving healthcare challenges;
- Collaborating with other grassroots networks that have come together to source PPE;
- Reaching out to business leaders and others in the community to secure donations of products or funds to purchase products;
- Sourcing donations of items in need from the community at large;
- Taking guidance from key stakeholders from within the healthcare and disaster relief communities; and,
- Ensuring products are delivered to those that require them.
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!
Access to Community Supports
Although many places across Toronto have been closed due to physical distancing measures, there are still social service supports available for residents in need. Through 211, operators can connect residents to income supports, distress lines, and mental health supports to name a few. Call 211 or text 21166 to live chat with 211 agents Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can also visit 211toronto.ca to search for services.
A City-Community Response Table meets daily and includes representatives from more than 30 agencies across Toronto and 11 City divisions. This group is working together to identify new and emerging issues affecting vulnerable Torontonians during the COVID-19 emergency and to plan city-wide responses to address and resolve these issues.
Residents who need to access or are seeking information on social and community supports and services should call 211 for non-emergency requests and information. 211 is a 24/7 help line and web service that connects residents to social and community services.
211 is working closely with community agencies to ensure they are continually updating their database with the most up-to-date programming and resource information.
Resources for Seniors
For seniors not living in long-term care facilities, the City continues to provide essential support services to seniors requiring assistance with personal care, medication reminders and safety checks through our Supportive Housing program. Many community agencies offer support to seniors including Meals on Wheels, transportation to appointments, personal support and adult day programs. Seniors and caregivers should check with the individual agencies to confirm continuity of service delivery. Call 211 (available 24/7 in 150+ languages) to obtain up-to-date information.
Other resources for seniors include:
- Toronto Seniors Helpline:416-217-2077 or 1-877-621-2077, for support and referral to services;
- Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) Home Care: 310-2222 (no area code required) to find out about services in their area
- Distress Centres of Toronto: 416-408-4357, 416-408-HELP; and,
- Seniors Safety Line (Elder Abuse Ontario): 1-866-299-1011.
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.
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 except for essential trips.
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
Use of benches in City parks
At this time, parks are not meant to be destinations like they used to be. You can walk or run in our park system to get some exercise and fresh air but you must keep moving. These prohibitions have been set in place by the Province and the City on the advice of public health officials and this advice has been clear and consistent. We must reduce all contact with others as much as possible by staying home except for essential outings.
Right now, benches are not destinations where people can begin to congregate. Benches are not sanitized. People may unknowingly spread the virus by sneezing or touching the bench, passing it to the next person who comes along and sits down. Use of a bench is prohibited by order under the Province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, and is being enforced by the coordinated COVID-19 Enforcement Team. The use of a bench or other outdoor amenities is subject to a set fine of $750.
The enforcement team has been asked to exercise discretion when enforcing the order as it relates to benches to allow temporary respite for those that need it. Staff is ensuring people use benches for a short period of time only as needed to prevent congregation on these structures in violation of provincial orders, physical distancing directives and the City’s physical distancing bylaw.
Data Patterns in Toronto
Dr. Elieen de Villa, the Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto, shared insight on COVID-19 patterns in Toronto. In the city, 23% of COVID-19 cases are in residents over 80 years of age. In hospitals, 35% of cases are residents between 40 and 59 years of age. Looking at transmission, 35% of cases are the result of being a close contact of a confirmed case, underscoring the importance of strict isolation for those that are ill or may have been exposed to COVID-19. Trends and patterns in data help public health officials understand how and where the virus is spreading and inform and evaluate the public health response. See Dr. Elieen de Villa’s full remarks.
As announced on April 3, the City assembled a COVID-19 financial impact working group, which continues to assess the financial implications that may result from this emergency and focused on a plan for stabilization and rebuilding. Through research and modelling, the group has created impact projections under various scenarios.
A best-case scenario for the City is a projected total pressure of $1.5 billion for 2020. $938 million is estimated for the direct impacts relating to lockdown impacts and $590 million for a six-month recovery period once restrictions are eased. This pressure may be driven higher if there is a significant real-estate market impact, physical distancing measures are extended beyond 12 weeks or if there continue to be additional waves of COVID-19 throughout the remainder of the year.
Work is underway, led by the Mayor's Economic Support and Recovery Task Force, to begin the rebuilding efforts after the City transitions into the recovery phase, with a focus on growth and building resiliency. The recovery of the local economy will need ongoing stable sources of funding and new fiscal relationships with other levels of government.
These financial impacts are not unique to Toronto. The Mayor has been working with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to request relief funding from the federal and provincial governments to offset the cumulative financial impact to City expenditures and revenues as a result of the emergency.
Province of Ontario Updates
Updated COVID-19 Modelling
The Ontario government today released updated COVID-19 modelling, which shows that the enhanced public health measures, including staying home and physically distancing from each other, are working to contain the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. Despite the positive sign of this modelling, the Chief Medical Officer of Health says emergency measures must remain in place to continue reducing the number of cases and deaths. We must continue to work together and practice physical distancing.
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.Key highlights from the modelling update include:
- The wave of new community spread cases of COVID-19 in Ontario appears to have peaked;
- Outbreaks in long-term care and congregate settings continue to be a major concern. Concerted actions are underway to protect vulnerable people in these settings;
- Ontario is now trending toward a best-case scenario rather than a worst-case scenario and has significantly improved its standing as compared to March modelling;
- The province has avoided a significant surge in cases. Total cumulative cases are forecast to be substantially lower than worst-case or even moderate case scenarios projected by previous models;
- While several hundred new cases are identified daily in Ontario, hospitals across the province have not been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 outbreak as a result of capacity planning and the public health measures currently in place. The rate of growth day-over-day is declining; and,
- To further reduce the number of cases and deaths, it remains critical that Ontarians continue to adhere to public health measures, including staying home and practicing physical distancing if they must go out for essential reasons only.
The provincial government’s full announcement can be found here.
Government of Canada Updates
A virtual vigil is going to be created for this Friday in support of the 18 lives lost in Nova Scotia yesterday due to the largest mass shooting in Canadian history. Meeting virtually is not ideal, but with the COVID-19 outbreak preventing public gatherings to mourn, it will allow Canadians to emotionally support the Portapique and neighbouring communities and families of those impacted. The vigil is scheduled to be held on the Colchester- Supporting our Communities Facebook page at 7pm on Friday, April 24.
Broadly, the Federal Government is seeing COVID-19 case numbers “trend in the right direction.” While optimistic signs, they continue to urge Canadians to #StayHome and practice safe physical distancing and other safety measures, and thank Canadians for doing their part.
This week is National Volunteer Week, recognizing all the volunteers who are out there assisting in places like food banks and supporting our frontline workers with homemade masks. A single week is not enough to properly thank our volunteers; you are making a difference!
Kids are being encouraged as part of National Volunteer Week to help their loved ones out at home. Help your parents and loved ones clean the home, cook dinner and be sure to video chat with family you cannot be with right now.
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)