Yesterday, the Province of Ontario’s released its updated COVID-19 projections and announced that the curve of community-spread cases of the virus has peaked. Encouragingly, this is weeks earlier than originally projected. Following this announcement, our own Medical Officer of Health also confirmed that Toronto is currently in the peak period for reported cases. These announcements show that the 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. Taking these measures seriously is working. Together, let’s continue to double down on our efforts and continue to flatten the curve.
The only way to maintain this early success is by keeping these measures in place. Your hard work and sacrifice ensures that we will be able to come through on the other side of this pandemic safely together.
As part of the City’s response to limit the spread of COVID-19, the City’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) are working on various fronts to help house people who are in the shelter system in self-contained units. This move is key to promoting physical distancing. During the City’s press conference yesterday, SSHA highlighted the Rapid Rehousing Initiative and confirmed their plans to explore opportunities to temporarily house individuals and families in vacant Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) units that are scheduled for future revitalization.
Residents in Regent Park who are living in buildings slated for revitalization may notice TCHC staff working on refurbishing vacant units. At the request of the City, TCHC is preparing available vacant units should they be needed as part of the City’s COVID-19 response. Although the decision has not been finalized, no clients who are COVID-19 positive will be placed in TCHC units nor will clients who are exhibiting symptoms be placed into these vacant units. The City will directly notify tenants currently living in the affected buildings should vacant units be used as part of the COVID-19 response plan.
I look forward to providing further communication and details to community members as soon as it is available to me.
National Volunteer Week
This week is National Volunteer Week! I’d like to take a moment to give a huge shout out to all the volunteers in Ward 13 who help build strong community ties. They donate their time and talents to support neighbours and community groups. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, Ward 13 has some of the most caring residents who are fiercely dedicated to improving the lives of those around them and of those most vulnerable.
I am proud of the outpouring of generosity and compassion that I see across the ward. Let’s all join together to applaud the immense contribution from Ward 13 residents and business owners to our city, and beyond!
The messages of encouragement and offers of support that I continue to receive from residents who want to give back and help others during this crisis is truly heartwarming. Many have expressed an interest in helping the vulnerable, isolated residents and struggling families during this emergency period. If you are interested in helping support the City’s response efforts from home, you can register with Spark Ontario and/or with Volunteer Toronto to get alerts for volunteer opportunities (some of which may be remote). Call Volunteer Toronto at 416-961-6888 or email email@example.com to connect with an advisor to discuss volunteer opportunities. I would also like to remind you that the City has set up 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.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
As of Sunday, April 19, Volunteer Toronto has identified 99,600 volunteers in Toronto delivering essential services, creating supplies and providing remote care to our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. These volunteers include those involved at the grassroots level, supporting food security initiatives, working with core social services agencies and non-profits delivering essential services, as well as helping frontline workers. Thank you Volunteer Toronto for coordinating and gathering this information for us. It’s so amazing to see our communities working hard to help each other in this time of crisis. Today, Volunteer Toronto has organized the #CheersToVolunteers Challenge to thank our volunteers for their continued hard work!
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 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
Today, Mayor Tory announced that the City of Toronto has received three million ATSM (American Society for Testing and Materials) Level 2 surgical masks. The masks, ordered from Canadian distributor AMG Medical Inc. in late March, arrived in two shipments with the final shipment of two million masks delivered to the City earlier today. The new masks have passed inspection by City staff.
Surgical masks are used extensively by staff in the City's emergency shelters and long-term care facilities. This new inventory adds approximately 127 days of stock at current consumption and would provide 60 additional days of protection in the worst-case scenario.
Yesterday, Dr. Eileen de Villa explained that while Toronto is currently in the peak period for reported COVID-19 cases, the situation in congregate facilities is very different with higher-rates of COVID-19 infection expected to continue. This new influx of PPE will ensure staff can continue to help the most vulnerable Torontonians in our shelters and long-term care facilities.
Additionally, Dr. de Villa urged residents that the only way we will continue to be successful is if we continue to keep our current health and safety practices in place by staying at home and continuing to practice physical distancing. Mayor Tory stressed the need for Toronto to stay the course and continue to follow public health recommendations and government orders implemented to save lives.
Shelter Support for Those Experiencing Homelessness
There is a housing crisis in Toronto and the current global pandemic has exposed even more gaps in our current system.
We know that everyone who sleeps on the streets or in tents may not be willing to move into shelters when given the option for a variety of personal reasons. The City of Toronto is working on a number of resources to support this group and will provide an update with specific details by the end of this week. Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) staff is working 24/7 to provide options for all of their clients and open up spaces to help with isolation and physical distancing in a variety of settings.
In the meantime, below is some information on SSHA’s current approach for clients who sleep outside:
Street Outreach and Moratorium on Evictions of Homeless Encampments
There has been a moratorium on clearing of encampments since the start of the pandemic, and SSHA’s focus has shifted to the safety of those in encampments living outdoors. Outreach teams offer information on the current status of COVID-19 in our communities, guidance on preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and referrals to shelter, healthcare and other social services.
The City will continue to work with people sleeping outdoors to ensure they’re aware of the services available to them, including medical and housing needs. Some of you have reached out about the need for sanitation, portable toilets and enhanced waste management around encampment sites. For the past four weeks, I have been regularly raising these issues along with the urgent need to move homeless individuals directly into hotel accommodations, shelters and housing. City staff have advised me that some of the initiatives to support vulnerable residents are underway, and that they have also been developing a comprehensive plan to address these concerns.
Changes to Drop in Programs
SSHA has encouraged all of our City-funded daytime drop-ins to review all business operation plans and determine which programs and services are essential and non-essential for the populations served. This information will be used to inform a business continuity plan. Access to bathrooms, showers and additional services will be assessed through the development of these plans.
Additionally, the City has opened seven portable toilet and hand washing stations in the downtown core and is exploring opportunities to open additional locations. Supplies at these stations will be replenished regularly:
- Alexandra Park
- Regent Park
- Dundas Square
- Wellesley Community Centre
- Moss Park
- Sunnyside Park
- Little Norway Park
- Yonge and Dundas
Partnership between TTC and Toronto Paramedics
Working together, the TTC and Paramedic Services have repurposed five decommissioned TTC buses to safely transport both ambulatory and stretcher-bound patients, including those on ventilators. Each bus can transport three stretcher-bound patients or eight to ten ambulatory patients (dependent on spacing for physical distancing), plus three paramedics and one driver. These vehicles provide a variety of multi-patient options, including inter-facility patient transfers, the provision of a staging area for large incidents and shelter for facility evacuations. Vehicles will be driven by TTC drivers with paramedics seeing to medical needs of patients. As this situation continues to change, so too do the needs of the community. The City will continue to explore innovative solutions to adapt and be flexible in its response to COVID-19.
Province of Ontario Updates
Additional Relief to Vulnerable Populations
The Ontario government is providing additional support to Ontario's most vulnerable citizens, including seniors and persons with disabilities, during the outbreak of COVID-19.
The province is working with the Ontario Community Support Association to launch a new Ontario Community Support Program to expand existing Meals on Wheels services to reach low-income seniors and people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions across Ontario. The program will also develop the capacity of community organizations and others to help deliver medication and other essentials.
This week the province will be issuing the first doubled Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments. Individuals will receive up to $166 per month and couples will receive up to $332 per month. These doubled payments will continue for six months and provide an additional $75 million to 194,000 vulnerable seniors who may need more help to cover essential expenses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
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.
Government of Canada Updates
Today, the Federal Government announced $350 million to help community organizations including charities and non-profit organizations. The funds can be used for support including training volunteers, increasing at-home deliveries for seniors and driving people with disabilities to appointments.
Employers will be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy starting April 27. The government has launched a calculator on the Canada Revenue Agency website to help companies calculate what exactly the forthcoming wage subsidy will cover. The maximum benefit is $847 per employee, each week.
Despite the positive news on the COVID-19 modelling, the Federal Government is asking Canadians to continue with public health measures to beat the virus. Beating this will require a marathon, so it is important to plan and pace ourselves. Remember to #StayHome!
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.)