Today we received confirmation that a resident at Seaton House has tested positive for COVID-19. This individual and other residents identified as high risk are being moved into immediate isolation. Toronto Public Health (TPH) is working with Inner City Health Associates and Shelter, Support Housing and Administration (SSHA) to ensure that all health precautions are in place to further protect residents and staff. This recent infection is once again confirmation that more needs to be done and faster to protect the City’s most vulnerable residents - those who are elderly, homeless and immunocompromised.
Every year on April 7 is World Health Day and this year's theme asks us to support nurses and midwives. Today we honour the work of nurses and midwives and remind political leaders of the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy. This is a worthy and important celebration every year, but especially apt in the midst of a global pandemic.
To echo the sentiments of the World Health Organization, “nurses and other health workers are at the forefront of COVID-19 response - providing high quality, respectful treatment and care, leading community dialogue to address fears and questions and, in some instances, collecting data for clinical studies. Quite simply, without nurses, there would be no response.”
On World Health Day, I want to honour all the nurses on the front lines, and pay a special tribute to two nurses, whose dedication and sacrifice taught us so much in the lead up to the COVID-19 response.
I want to honour Nelia Laroza, who lost her battle with SARS in 2003, becoming the first Canadian nurse to die from the disease. Nelia emigrated to Canada in 1978 from the Philippines with her husband and I am thinking of her children, Grace and Kenneth.
I also remember Tecla Lin, one of the first health workers to put aside the risk to her own health, take on additional shifts and volunteer to take care of SARS patients. She was not only the mother of my high school friend, Tecla was the second nurse to succumb to SARS.
Remembering Nelia and Tecla highlights the commitment all nurses have to their patients day after day, regardless of the dangers. They truly are heroes. That is how we must remember them.
I also want to recognize that both Nelia and Tecla were racialized women who emigrated to this country. In honouring their lives and contribution to Canada, I want us to think about the fact that many of the people who are most adversely impacted by COVID-19, those who are least likely to be eligible for the new emergency benefits, are women with precarious immigration status, and who are often racialized.
Our responsibility to our neighbours, and our value as residents of Toronto does not begin and end with our immigrations status. The need for healthcare and a safe place to live does not begin and end with our immigrations status. I hope you will join me in asking the Government of Canada to extend benefits to everyone in Canada, regardless of their immigration status. A pandemic is not contained by national borders, neither should our response be.
Tuesday Tips for Working from Home from the Ward 13 Team
Like many people, the Ward 13 team is adjusting to working from home and staying inside. We wanted to share some of the ways we are making the most of staying home.
Farhin - While staying at home and staying sane is difficult and a challenge on its own, I am currently learning a new language, which keeps me busy for a long time. Cooking new dishes (some restaurant-style ones, as we can’t eat out). Cooking is really therapeutic. Especially important as we are being given information and important updates on a daily and hourly basis; to this end, I am taking a break from all media every day for at least an hour
Robin - My mum and I have been participating in an only task-based challenge. Three times a week we are given a random task (e.g. turn your bathroom into a place for a great night out) and you have to send in a short video of yourself completing the task. Check out #hometasking on Twitter for loads of examples!
Lisa - Working from home can be very challenging, especially during these times! It’s been helpful to create a routine, drink lots of water, go on safe walks (while maintaining a physical distance) and have “no tech time” to get away from the screen. I’ve started watercolour painting and journaling again, which has been very therapeutic, and catching up with friends over video.
Lorraine - Video dates with friends. Stuff we’d do together anyway, like sitting down to a traditional afternoon tea, with all the treats; watching a tv show together, or syncing up a stretching video on YouTube and doing that together. Cooking, long walks, sewing, and home projects. When the weather gets nicer, I’ll do some gardening.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shoutout goes to COVID-19 Frontline Workers Nightly Cheer! This growing group with supporters all over the city step out onto balconies, porches, sidewalks and verandahs every night at 7:30, typically a change in shift for hospital workers, and make noise, cheer and send out loud encouragement to our amazing frontline workers. Whether you do this for 1 minute or 1 hour, it shows your appreciation for our essential workers who are keeping us safe and risking their health and safety for our communities. Thank you to the Bloor East Neighbourhood Association for highlighting this fun initiative. Learn more here.
They also shared this fun mural on the side of the Anndore House overlooking George Hislop Park. The message perfectly captures the current mood of our city. So to all of you, we say “hang in there!” We’ll get through this together.
Please continue to email my office at [email protected] 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 Distance!
As the City of Toronto evokes these new measures for public health, please remember to keep practicing social distancing. I know it’s challenging, and I thank you for your continued hard work.
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 except for essential trips.
Many people have asked for more clarification on when and if you can take walks outside. You can go for a walk if you:
- have not been diagnosed with COVID-19
- do not have symptoms of COVID-19
- have not travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days
Think of your walks as part of the essential trips you have to take, like going grocery shopping, and take the same precautions. If you go out for a walk, do not congregate and always practise physical distancing. When outside, you must keep at least 2 metres apart from others at all times and stay off of closed parks amenities and facilities, or you may be subjected to a fine.
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
Yesterday after reports of ripping and tearing, the City of Toronto discovered that a recently-purchased order of more than $200,000 worth of surgical masks do not meet the specifications the City requires. Four-thousand boxes containing 50 masks per box were received, and 1,252 boxes, or 62,600 masks, were distributed to the City’s long-term care homes on March 28. These masks have been recalled.
The City’s occupational health safety staff have been contacted and the City is investigating to determine how many employees in the City’s long-term care homes were caring for a patient while wearing these masks, and if there was possible exposure to COVID-19. The masks are being returned, and the vendor has committed to a full refund.
I know many of you are concerned about loved ones and your own personal safety. Please be reassured in knowing that the City is retrieving its stockpile of surgical masks as a stop-gap measure until new, appropriate grade masks can be purchased, and delivered on a priority basis. The loss of this inventory makes for a significant shortfall of surgical masks for the City. We have been in contact with the Province to help expedite this new order. Additionally, the City has undertaken a quality control review of its supply chain, and all future orders of personal protective equipment will be subject to heightened verification to ensure the products it receives meet the specifications ordered.
The global supply chain of PPE is a known concern around the world and all efforts are being made, by all governments, to ensure the products shipped and received on an urgent basis meet established standards. The health and safety of our residents and essential workers remains the utmost priority.
Province of Ontario Updates
Telehealth Ontario Update
In yesterday’s press conference, the Health Minister responded to questions about long wait-times for Telehealth. The current average wait time for COVID-19 related calls is approximately 23 hours. As the government works with Telehealth Ontario to decrease the average wait times, they are asking Ontarians to call their family doctor to discuss their health care concerns. The government is also directing individuals to use the online self-assessment tool.
Measure to Protect First Responders
In response to growing concerns around the safety and protection for first responders, the provincial government outlined new emergency measures to protect Ontario first responders and to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The government has made an emergency order that will allow police, firefighters, and paramedics to receive information about an individual’s COVID-19 positive status. This is limited to individuals who are coming into direct contact with. The information disclosed will be limited to an individual’s name, address, date of birth, and whether the individual has had a positive COVID-19 test result. This information will allow first responders to take the necessary safety precautions when responding to incidents.
This emergency order will only be shared with the appropriate first responders. The data will be made inaccessible to first responders once the emergency declaration is lifted.
Province Launches Online Portal for Health Care Workers & Employers
With the decrease in capacity of our hospitals, the provincial government has begun to actively recruit health care workers to increase the frontline capacity of hospitals, clinics, and assessment centres. The province launched an online system that will match skilled frontline workers with employers. This includes retired or non-active health care professionals, internationally educated, students, and volunteers with health- care experience.
Employers and interested health care professionals can visit the portal here and create a profile. Once registered, professionals can add their availability and employers can enter their request for support. Registrants will receive an email notification if matched.
Government of Canada Updates
The Federal Government continues to work to bring and manufacture additional PPE to Canada. Eight million surgical face masks were delivered to Canada from China yesterday, and more are expected to come. Approximately 40,500 ventilators are currently in production to join the approximately 5,000 existing in Canada.
Canadians are being told to #StayHome where possible, and follow public health rules and practice physical distancing when outside. It is being encouraged to wear non-medical masks if you are outside, especially if maintaining physical distancing is challenging. Any face masks however are not a replacement for physical distancing and frequent hand washing.
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.
My office is compiling all the resources we can find and posting them to our website.
311 and Access to Information
The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services and social supports. Check here for answers to common questions before contacting the 311 or Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline.
311 is available 24/7 by telephone for essential service inquiries and service requests. Those calling 311 should expect longer than usual wait times as 311 continues to receive a high volume of calls.
- 311 (within city limits)
- 416-392-2489 (outside of city limits)
- 416-338-0889 (TTY)
Please note, email and social media accounts are not being monitored and the 311 Knowledge Base and online service requests are not available.
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.
Email: [email protected]