On Sunday night during the #StrongerTogether benefit concert to support Food Bank Canada, I proudly made a donation to help feed hungry children and families across Canada. More than one million Canadians have lost their jobs during the lockdown recession caused by the global pandemic.
Turning the attention closer to home, I encourage you to support the local food banks and the hungry families that they serve here in our own neighbourhoods. In particular the Yonge Street Mission (YSM) that operates the largest food bank in the east side of downtown Toronto. They are experiencing record-high client demand for their food programs all the while seeing a decline in food availability for their food bank. This means YSM needs to supplement its food supply by purchasing 30% or more of the food required, including fresh meat and produce to keep their shelves stocked. To keep this critical food bank and all their food programs operating for the next 11 weeks, they need to urgently raise $330,000 to close a funding shortfall.
Which is why I am proud to announce #YSMrelay, a new fundraiser for Yonge Street Mission at this critical time. It’s a virtual fundraising relay that will have corporate partners each donating to support the Yonge Street Mission food bank. A company can make a donation and then pass along the fundraising baton to the next corporate donor.
Today we launched the #YSMrelay with Capital Developments and their generous donation of $30,000! When their Co-Founder and Managing Partners heard about YSM’s food bank needs, they pledged to help and offered to reach out to the business community to raise more money.
This amazing news will be made even more amazing when Capital Developments tell us who they will be passing the #YSMrelay fundraising baton to in the days ahead. So we’re definitely off to the races and a goal has been set - to raise $30,000 each week, for the next 11 weeks to support the YSM food bank. Stay tuned for more details.
In these unprecedented times, it is important that we come together with the common purpose of supporting our most vulnerable residents. For over 124 years, YSM has been there for adults experiencing chronic poverty, street-involved youth and families in need. With the impacts of COVID-19 cutting across nearly every aspect of one’s life, support services for those less fortunate are now more important than ever before.
As Muslims across the city have begun observing the month of Ramadan, new ways of celebrating and experiencing this month have also followed. As a result of COVID-19 and its impacts on large gatherings, daily attendance at Mosques have been cancelled. In light of these changes, Mosques across the city have been marking sundown by broadcasting the call to prayer over their speakers.
I am pleased to say that two Mosques in Ward 13, Omar Bin Khattab and Masjid Rahmah will be joining the list of Mosques broadcasting the call to prayer every evening for approximately two minutes to mark the end of fasting for the day. The daily broadcasting call will end on the final day of Ramadan, May 23rd.
I want to extend Ramadan Mubarak to all those who are observing Ramadan!
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shout out goes to World in Focus, a youth non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness surrounding eye care and sponsoring cataract surgeries for youth in developing countries. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have decided to shift their efforts. They will be running a social media challenge to collect and match donations up to $1,000 for Unity Health which will aid health care in Toronto during this critical time. Unity Health is an organization partnering St. Michael's Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Providence Health, which has been providing mental support for patients, health workers, and keeping hospitals safe during this time. They have opened a GoFundMe page to fundraise for Unity Health. World in Focus is promoting and educating the importance of physical distancing. Thank you for the work that you to help our vulnerable communities.
Please continue to email my office at email@example.com 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
The City of Toronto has partnered with telecommunications companies to provide free free internet access for residents in lower-income neighbourhoods, seniors in long-term care homes and clients in many City-operated shelters. This will allow more people to connect online to social supports and vital services while still complying with directives to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
People who cannot afford home internet face barriers to receiving public health information, pandemic support services, and emergency income supports and have difficulty staying connected to family and friends. The donations from these telecommunications companies will help connect 25 large residential apartment buildings in low-income neighbourhoods with temporary free internet access for one year, with the first buildings deployed starting in early May.
These donations include:
- hundreds of permanent mobile access point hardware and contribution of fees for some internet circuits from Cisco Canada
- service management and maintenance from OnX Canada
- fibre and hosting of core infrastructure from BAI Canada
- fibre and single point of presence for internet from Beanfield Metroconnect
- volunteer labour provided by the civic tech community.
Technical solutions and signal strength may vary throughout each building but the aim is to provide enough coverage and strength to read news, submit online forms, and use messenger apps. Buildings will be identified for this service based on the size and location of the building, proportion of low-income residents and residents without internet access and technology feasibility.
Long-Term Care Homes
The City of Toronto’s Technology Services Division has deployed free 24/7 Wi-Fi access throughout all 10 City-operated long-term care homes: Bendale Acres, Carefree Lodge, Castleview Wychwood Towers, Cummer Lodge, Fudger House, Kipling Acres, Lakeshore Lodge, Seven Oaks, True Davidson Acres and Wesburn Manor. Previously, free Wi-Fi was only available in common areas. These new Wi-Fi hot spots will allow residents to stay connected to friends and family who are not able to visit during the pandemic and help alleviate the feeling of social isolation.
Rogers is donating free Wi-Fi for three months to four permanent City of Toronto shelter locations as of April 2020. The Wi-Fi is enabled by fixed wireless access devices to ensure the coverage is available throughout the shelters. It has also been installed in five temporary shelter locations, to help facilitate physical distancing. Since 2018, there has been free public Wi-Fi access in common areas in all permanent shelter locations. With the closure of most public Wi-Fi locations, including libraries, malls and restaurants, many vulnerable people no longer have access to the vital supports they need. The delivery of Wi-Fi at these shelter sites will help support people to maintain physical distancing and isolation during the pandemic period. Read the full news release here.
Province of Ontario Updates
Helping Businesses Deal with Challenges from COVID-19
The Ontario government is launching the COVID-19: Tackling the Barriers website to help businesses overcome the challenges created by the global pandemic. Businesses working to retool their operations to produce health-related products, or those that want to continue their operations in this new environment of physical distancing, can submit any potential roadblocks to the website. The province is prepared to allow temporary changes to provincial rules and regulations in order to remove any barriers that are hindering business and negatively impacting Ontario's supply chain. Visit the COVID-19: Tackling the Barriers website here.
To support the ongoing work of businesses during COVID-19, the provincial government outlined a process where businesses can request a temporary regulation or policy change to help:
- assist the health care system meet the needs of needs of the emergency;
- assist businesses in retooling or producing essential or health-related products and supplies; and/or
- make it easier for businesses trying to operate remotely or in a non-traditional fashion and are facing unexpected challenges.
In addition, the province is also pausing or extending public consultations, delaying non-urgent related consultations while the emergency situation remains in place, and considering extending deadlines for reports and audits.
Details regarding today’s announcement can be found here.
Government of Canada Updates
Today is recognized in Canada as the National Day of Mourning. This event commemorates workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness due to workplace related hazards and occupational exposures. With the advent of COVID-19, many Canadians working in hospitals, long-term care homes and other critical facilities have faced this risk and contracted this virus. This year we pay tribute to all frontline workers.
The federal government also spoke out about racism against Asians in our communities and anti-Semitism. As Prime Minister Trudeau said today, “Now more than ever we have to stand up against discrimination and racism.”
The federal government released new modelling and data today which shows that efforts to combat COVID-19 in Canada are working. The curve is flattening. However, it is still too early to begin lifting measures; a vaccine is still far away. Re-starting the economy will be gradual, careful and guided by science. Canadians are again urged to #StayHome.
Six million surgical masks are being shipped out to provinces and territories this week, with 100,000 face shields coming soon as well.
Businesses can now apply for the new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program. As many small businesses in Ward 13 are struggling, I encourage those employers who qualify to apply. Eligible companies will be able to receive up to $847 per employee per week, with money to start being distributed by May 7. Please visit the Federal Government’s CEWS website for more information.
Please note that if you are eligible to receive CEWS, you will not be able to receive the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) concurrently.
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)