Today the Province of Ontario released their epidemiological modelling data on COVID-19. These scenarios are scary and they underscore what could happen if we don’t take the public health interventions seriously. But they also provide a path forward. I know that “epidemiological modelling” is a very new term and a new concept for most of us. It is important to know that these models are not snapshots of a pre-determined and unchangeable future. These models describe a range of possible outcomes, and those outcomes are highly sensitive to our actions.
The epidemiological models released today by the Province are statistical equations used by our public health agencies to predict how COVID-19 is likely to progress, and help inform public health interventions. This is how the different levels of government have been deciding when to close schools or businesses, when to increase physical distancing protocols, and other interventions to help slow or halt the spread of infectious disease.
Do not let the high numbers of potential illness or death discourage you. Take this warning to heart, and then do everything you can to change the course of this virus. It is up to every single one of us to create the best outcome - and that means taking very seriously the current public health advice of physical distancing. You have the power to make a difference here, and I know that you will take it.
I also know that if you are reading these updates everyday, you are probably already following this advice. Please continue to share information with your friends, families and neighbours who might not have the same awareness of the severity of the challenge before us. Staying home is power. Sharing credible information is power. You can be a powerful advocate in combating COVID-19 to save lives.
As you heard yesterday, the City of Toronto is enforcing the two metre distance in public. If you see groups of people not following best physical distancing practices, you can always call 311 to have an enforcement agent attend. Please see below for more information on how enforcement will be taking place.
City of Toronto Addressing Financial Impacts of COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exert major stresses globally, the City of Toronto has been daily assessing, evaluating and monitoring the financial impacts. Today, the City announced that it is experiencing a financial pressure estimated at $65 million a week. The pressure is driven by decreased TTC and other revenues, coupled with increased costs associated with locally fighting the pandemic.
To address the situation, the City has assembled a COVID-19 financial impact working group to focus on stabilization and rebuilding. The working group is assessing the implications of COVID-19 on the City of Toronto budget, as well as the financial impacts that could result from this emergency continuing for an extended period of time.
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. Led by the Mayor, the City is engaging other orders of government and requesting relief funding from the federal and provincial governments to offset the cumulative financial impact to City expenditures and revenues as a result of the pandemic emergency. You can read the full press release here.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s community care shoutout goes to Jamii, an arts organization in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood, for an amazing (physically distant) performance parading through the neighbourhood. By creating shared memorable arts-based experiences, Jamii is on a mission to bring Esplanadians closer together to form greater social cohesion and bonded community. This beautiful original song features singer Domanique Grant, and I’m sure brought some joy and love to the streets. They were even featured on BlogTO! Thank you for bringing creativity, music and love to our community when we needed it the most! Learn more about Jamii here.
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 Physical Distancing!
For those in our community who live in apartments or condos, I personally know that physical distancing can be more difficult, and that you have less control. Large residential buildings with a high number of units should adopt new practices and a rigorous cleaning routine to prevent viral spread. Some protocols include:
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer or a hand washing station with soap and water should be placed at all building entrances.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be available in all common areas that remain open, such as laundry rooms.
- Close non-essential common areas such as bathrooms, gyms, playrooms, playgrounds and other high traffic areas.
If your condo or apartment has not implemented these measures, you can share these resources with your property owner or condo board, or send their contact information to my office and we will be in touch with them directly.
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 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.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
Yesterday, Mayor Tory signed a bylaw under the City’s Emergency Declaration to impose a two-metre physical distancing rule in all City parks and public squares to ensure people practice social distancing in Toronto. This includes:
- Any two people who don’t reside together and fail to keep two metres apart will be subject to prosecution and potentially liable for a fine of up to $5000
- This bylaw will be in place for at least the next 30 days
- 200 bylaw officers will be deployed to ensure compliance
- There are 42 actively managed park hot spots and have been 1180 complaints regarding people gathering
- 15 sets of concrete blocks are being delivered to Toronto parks including Sunnyside
- City will tow cars that park in closed parking lots
In addition, these measures will be in effect for at least the next 12 weeks, and include:
- 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.
Anyone over the age of 70, as the Province already announced, is strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible.
City-operated long-term care homes are experiencing significant increases in COVID-19 cases. They are result of previous exposure to COVID-19 or the result of community spread that occurred 14 days ago. Since March 14, all non-essential visits to long-term care homes have been suspended. The City has implemented every available option and adhered to all recommendations to ensure that resident care needs and staff health and safety needs are being met.
For its long-term care homes, the City has:
- Reassigned all non-essential seniors and long-term care home staff resources to meet the essential service needs
- Begun the process of hiring 40 nursing students to support and backfill personal support worker positions
- Redeployed over 70 City staff to work in our long-term care homes and initiated the redeployment of an additional 230 staff
- Redeployed 22 additional counsellors to support frontline operations
- Implemented monitoring, screening and enhanced cleaning practises in all homes
- All staff wear the appropriate PPE when in a care home
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, the requirements for PPE are increasing. The City worked proactively to manage PPE and robust management processes remain in place:
- To maximize buying and delivery power, the Government of Canada is coordinating the PPE supply chain directly and will provide the required PPE to the provinces for local distribution
- Through the Emergency Operations Centre, the City has requested the supply of more than 184 million articles of PPE required for City operations.
The City along with Shelter Support and Housing (SSHA) has opened 650 new rooms for those living with homelessness. We know that this is not enough to match the demand and the city is examining every opportunity for further opportunities. SSHA is continuing to explore opportunities for additional hotels spaces to increase physical distancing within our existing shelter system during COVID-19.
City staff from SSHA are working with Inner City Health Associates (ICHA) and partners to identify those at greatest risk to move first, as well as working with community agencies to determine their capacity to support programs through hotel locations, otherwise City staff will be providing onsite support. There are also isolation spaces for those who have symptoms and/or are awaiting testing and medical assistance onsite. For more serious cases, folks are moved to hospitals. Risk assessments are made regularly to help protect our frontline workers. Learn more about Shelter and Supports for those experiencing homelessness here.
Province of Ontario Updates
This afternoon, the province’s public health officials presented modelling projections about the spread of COVID-19. The head of Public Health Ontario, Dr. Peter Donelly, explained that had Ontario not enforced public health measures such as the closures of schools and physical distancing, the province may have suffered 100,000 deaths. With that being said, today’s projections demonstrated that with strict public health measures, the province may experience 3,000-15,000 deaths. Dr. Donnelly reinforced that people can change the province’s outcome by staying home and physically distancing.
Mental Health Supports
Yesterday afternoon, the province announced the addition of $12 million in emergency funding for mental health support and resources, including virtual counselling, for Ontarians who are struggling with anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are a few details from the government’s increase for mental health supports:
- Province will provide $2.6 million in funding to hire new psychologists and other mental health workers to support Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) personnel
- Mental health agencies will receive emergency funding to hire and train more staff and purchase necessary equipment, appropriate technology and additional licenses
- Emergency funding will expand services for various mental health platforms: e.g. BounceBack and Kids Help Phone
Revision of Essential Businesses
Following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is reducing the list of businesses classified as essential and ordering more workplaces to close. The government is ordering all businesses not covered by the updated Emergency Order to close effective as of Saturday, April 4, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days, with the possibility of an extension as the situation evolves.
As a result of these changes, the government will be closing down parts of the construction industry. All private sector industrial, commercial and institutional projects will have to stop their work. Public sector infrastructure work will remain unaffected. In addition, construction projects related to health-care sector will be exempt. Most existing residential construction projects remain allowed to proceed, although new projects will not be. .
Government of Canada Updates
The Federal Government is asking those Canadians who can support food banks during COVID-19. Many food banks require both volunteers and food donations. In Ward 13, you can reach out to organizations such as Yonge Street Mission and the Daily Bread Food Bank. Other organizations, including many churches, also operate food banks so please check in with them if you can. To find a food bank near you, please contact 211.
For its part, the Federal Government will be providing $100 million to organizations such as food banks to improve access to food for Canadians facing social, economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is set to allow registration beginning Monday, April 6, 2020. If you are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) you are being asked to apply as well. If you applied for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15, 2020 or later, your claim will be automatically processed through the CERB. Please visit the Government of Canada’s website for more information. The Federal Government is asking Canadians to visit their bank’s website to determine how to implement direct deposits for CERB and other benefits.
While details are to be determined, there will be a GST tax credit that will be provided in April to help support families.
The Federal Government has not yet released national projections and modelling, but have said they will be sharing that information once the accuracy of the data can be confirmed. Canadians choosing to #StayHome will be critical to stop the spread of COVID-19.
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 peopl
Telephone: 311 (The City is only accepting 311 requests through phone)