While we are all trying to cope with COVID-19, the tragic events of April 18 and 19 in Nova Scotia have further devastated many in our country. My heart goes out to all the families and community members impacted by these horrific acts of violence.
Normally when tragedies like this happen, we would take comfort from each other, and gather collectively to grieve. With that not being possible, a locally-organized vigil called “Nova Scotia Remembers,” will take place on Friday, April 24 at 6pm EDT/ 7pm ADT and will also be streamed on Facebook and YouTube. Links will be made available at heartcolchester.ca.
When it comes to gun violence, thoughts and prayers are never enough. I remain committed to a moral responsibility and continue to call for stricter gun control laws. We need the federal government to prohibit the availability, sale, possession, and use of handguns, assault rifles, semi-automatic military assault weapons, and parts that are used to build these firearms in Canada. We need stronger background checks, limitations on the sales of firearms and stronger regulations for a proper gun registry and around the transportation of a gun. These are important steps in keeping all communities safe, including those rural and urban.
Every life impacted by the preventable tragedy of gun violence is one too many. During my time in office, I have been tireless in my commitment and action to enact stricter gun control legislation and address root causes of gun violence. I have advocated for the retention of the long-gun registry and its data, promoted the idea of regulating and banning bullets from our city limits, calling for a national handgun ban and most recently for the strengthening of the new gun control legislation Bill C-71: An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms.
“With health workers, policy makers, and all Canadians focused on the COVID-19 crisis and efforts to keep patients, communities, and families safe,” said the Canadian Doctors for the Protection from Guns, PolySeSouvient, Coalition for Gun Control and Danforth Families for Safe Communities in a recent joint letter , “but the consequences of gun violence are not constrained by a virus: firearms remain a serious public health concern, even during a pandemic.”
It is shocking to many that military weapons such as the AR-15 are still sold to civilians in Canada. I strongly support the urgent call to the federal government to take one decisive, achievable action right now: ban the new sale of military style assault weapons. Contact the Honourable Minister Bill Blair, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness by phone at (613) 995-0284 or by email at Bill.Blair@parl.gc.ca.
We cannot ignore that gun violence has a gendered impact. On Sunday, unconfirmed reports came in almost immediately that the perpetrator killed his former partner and her partner during his rampage. For those working to end violence against women, this is not surprising, as the majority of mass shootings in the USA have involved violence against a current or former female partner. Firearms, most often long-guns — rifles and shotguns — are an all too frequent element of domestic violence and women and children in these situations suffer disproportionately from a lack of controls on firearms. Women’s Shelters Canada has put out a call to the RCMP and the federal government to acknowledge the gendered aspect of this weekend’s mass shooting in Nova Scotia.
The senseless violence that took the lives of so many is hard to understand. 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.
I want to take a moment to wish Ramadan Mubarak to the Muslim communities across the city who will be celebrating during the month of Ramadan. As we have seen over the last few weeks, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on religious celebrations and days of observance. From Easter to Passover, the norms of religious observance have shifted.
During the month of Ramadan, every day, Muslims fast going without food and water from sunrise to sunset. At the end of the day families gather for a communal meal to break their fast followed by night prayers. This year Ramadan will look and feel very different. Ramadan is time for community and reflection. For many, this will be the first Ramadan where evening meals are not shared with family and friends. Where nightly congregational prayers in mosques are cancelled due to physical distancing rules.
Despite this shift, mosques across the city have been coming up with innovative ways to stay connected, from virtual iftars to virtual sermons. The 4th Annual Fast in the 6 event will be held virtually this year on April 24, 2020. At sunset, they will be inviting to virtually #shareyourmeal to kick off the start of Ramadan. More information can be found on their website.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
The Regent Park Sewing Studio has begun to make and sell homemade masks in hopes of generating financial supports for their members. The Sewing Collective is a Regent Park based social enterprise composed of members of all ages and cultural backgrounds who come together to create various sewing projects. The Regent Park Sewing Circle provides: sewing skills, a social network, social supports, and self-confidence through learning new skills including language supports. Many of the members of the sewing studio are newcomer women. As a result of COVID-19 they have seen a significant decline in financial support and participation in their services. Learn more about the Regent Park Collective.
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 marks one month since Mayor Tory declared a State of Emergency in the City of Toronto following advice from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Office of Emergency Management.
Over the past month, the City has acted and responded to the pandemic, working together with other levels of government, agencies, corporations, businesses, and community organizations to stop the spread of COVID-19. Throughout the month, all emergency services – including police, fire and paramedic services, have continued to operate normally.
The Medical Officer of Health and Toronto Public Health have taken a number of critical actions over the last month, including:
- Conducting more than 3,820 investigations into cases of COVID-19 to prevent further virus spread;
- Redeploying hundreds of staff to respond to this unprecedented situation;
- Issuing a class order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act requiring self-isolation for those with confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 and their close contacts;
- Collaborating with City Information Technology Division to develop the Coronavirus Rapid Entry Case and Contact Management System (CORES);
- Developing, in collaboration with community scientists, enhanced expertise in epidemiological modeling to enable better understanding of the pandemic outbreak in our community;
- Promoting physical distancing by closing all park amenities, and cancelling recreation programs, City-led events and permits for events on streets and in City facilities; and
- Responding to nearly 18,000 calls to Toronto Public Heath.
Under the Declaration of Emergency, the City has also taken several important actions, which include:
- Continued emergency planning efforts, including establishing dedicated operational taskforces, securing supplies of important personal protective equipment for frontline workers, and simultaneously preparing to address other environmental risks such as flooding;
- Enforcing the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and the orders issued by the Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
- Creating more capacity for physical distancing within the shelter system which includes opening 11 new shelter facilities with more than 470 new spaces, securing 11 hotels with more than 1,020 rooms, and establishing one hotel with 200 rooms as a dedicated recovery site;
- Developing solutions to promote physical distancing for Ontario Works recipients picking up their cheques;
- Implementing the Food Access Strategy, developed with community groups, and included opening temporary food banks in 11 Toronto Public Library branches and activating additional community resources to deliver food hampers to those in need;
- Opening six emergency child care centres to offer free child care 24/7 for frontline healthcare workers and essential City employees;
- Providing support for businesses through the newly launched BusinessTO Support Centre, tripling funding for Digital Main Street, and leveraging the expertise of the business and technology sector to launch Distantly.ca;
- Launching DonateTO, 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.
- Redeploying approximately 500 City staff to provide much-needed support for critical City service areas such as shelters and long-term care homes;
- Developing plans to host the first-ever virtual Toronto City Council meeting so that Council can continue to work together to serve the public; and much more.
Toronto’s State of Emergency remains in place in order to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Residents are urged to continue to take every precaution to protect themselves and others by continuing to stay home, stay safe and only venturing out to buy essential supplies once a week.
Insights shared by Dr. de Villa earlier this week suggested that Toronto’s strong public health measures and residents’ adherence to those measures are beginning to be reflected in Toronto’s curve. Residents must continue to abide by public health orders in order to realize the benefits of these measures and the City will continue to act and make decisions based on the expert advice of public health officials.
Province of Ontario Updates
Ontario Extends Emergency Orders
On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is extending all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 6, 2020. This extension will help protect the health and well-being of people across the province and stop the spread of COVID-19.
This Emergency Order extension includes the closure of outdoor amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces, public places and bars and restaurants, along with restrictions on social gatherings and limiting staff from working in more than one retirement home or long-term care home.
A number of emergency orders have been extended until May 6, 2020 including:
- Closure of establishments
- Prohibiting public events and gatherings or more than five people
- Work deployment measures for health care workers
- Drinking water and sewage
- Electronic service of documents
- Work deployment for long-term care homes
- Off-peak electricity pricing
Increase Support for Vulnerable Populations
Ontario is delivering a new COVID-19 Action Plan for Vulnerable People to better protect vulnerable populations during the outbreak of COVID-19. This plan builds on the government's previous actions to protect people living in high-risk settings, including homes serving those with developmental disabilities, shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking, children's residential settings, and those residential settings supporting vulnerable Indigenous individuals and families both on and off reserve.
Details of the plan were unveiled today by Premier Doug Ford, Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.
The COVID-19 Action Plan for Vulnerable People focuses on three specific areas:
- Enhanced Screening and Reduced Exposure to Prevent Spread
- Infection Control: managing Outbreaks and Limited Spread
- Sustaining Staffing and Managing Staff Shortages
Details about this announcement can be found 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.
Government of Canada Updates
In the fight against COVID-19 the Federal Government has committed an additional $1.1-billion for national medical and research strategy has been announced with three pillars:
- $115 million for vaccine development;
- $350 million expanding national testing and modelling; and,
- $62 million for clinical trials.
The goal is to test a million Canadians as part of this strategy. To echo the words of the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, “Go science!”
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.)
For more Links and Resources, please visit www.kristynwongtam.ca/covid19