Yesterday marked the beginning of Passover, and tonight marks the beginning of the Easter Holiday long weekend. With Ramadan beginning soon, many of us are having to adapt our holidays for the first time.
In addition to adapting our holidays, we also have to think differently about our long weekend plans. It is crucial that everyone maintain their commitment to physical distancing. Please limit any non-essential trips and travel. That means no weekend escapes to the cottage. This means limiting your trips for only essential items. The desire to see people, or to spend more time outdoors is natural, but we must collectively resist the urge. Together, we are saving lives.
Long weekends also mean store closures. I am so grateful to everyone working in our grocery stores and pharmacies, our truck drivers and those picking and growing our food, or working the line in manufacturing. They deserve this break, and so I was glad to see that Premier Ford confirmed that grocery stores and pharmacies will close on Friday and Sunday this week.
If you are shopping for your Easter or Passover meals, please do so safely. Please remember to:
- Stay 2 metres away from other customers and staff
- Shop alone, not in groups
- Respect any shopping hours for healthcare workers, seniors and vulnerable residents
- Practice patience and understanding!
- Plan ahead to limit your trips out of the house
Access to Mental Health Supports
I know these are tough times for many residents. The City of Toronto has developed a mental health strategy to support the mental health needs of residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. To assist residents experiencing stress and anxiety due to being isolated, quarantined with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, experiencing financial hardships or other mental health stressors, the City has partnered with key mental health service providers to support the mental well-being of Toronto's most vulnerable residents during this time.
Residents can call 211 to access support and get connected to one of seven primary mental health service partners for direct phone support. Mental health service information is also available at 211toronto.ca.
To support children and youth, seniors, frontline workers, and those with intersectional identities, such as Indigenous, Black, persons with disabilities and LGBTQ2S+, who are struggling with isolation, stress and anxiety exacerbated by COVID-19 measures, the City has partnered with:
- Kids Help Phone and Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone;
- Progress Place Warm Line;
- Toronto Seniors Helpline;
- Ontario Psychological Association for frontline workers in community agencies;
- Caribbean African Canadian Social Services (CAFCAN) for Black residents;
- Across Boundaries for Black and Indigenous People/Persons of Colour (BIPOC);
- Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) for Indigenous residents; and
- Gerstein Crisis Centre.
Supporting Food Access for Toronto’s Most Vulnerable
We also know that due to the COVID-19 response, many people are unable to leave their homes and face financial hardship. Also, many of the community supports they regularly use have closed or altered their services in keeping with recommended public health measures. As more than 40% of food bank programs have closed during this crisis, the food programs continuing to operate are under immense pressure to meet the increased demand.
The City is working with several community programs to address food access, including Second Harvest, Daily Bread Food Bank, North York Harvest Food Bank, Red Cross, and the Salvation Army. Led by the City, this group is focused on identifying ways to keep existing food programs open and to fill the gaps left by the closure of some programs.
Food delivery for seniors
Responding to the Province of Ontario’s recommendation for everyone over age 70 to self-isolate, the City is working with Red Cross and other partners to provide food hamper delivery to seniors and others in need who are unable to leave their homes to access food. The Red Cross will be accepting calls at 1-833-204-9952 for those who require this service. With support from United Way Greater Toronto, this service is made available for qualifying seniors and others that are in self-isolation and do not have alternative access to food through family, friends, or other food delivery services, and are not receiving assistance from another community food program.
Access to food banks
Four new food banks are now open at Toronto Public Library locations, with another two that opened on April 7. The first location opened on March 25 in partnership with the North York Harvest Food Bank. Three opened this past week in partnership with the Daily Bread Food Bank. Eventually, nine locations will be open. The City is also facilitating food banks in Toronto Community Housing buildings for tenants and in specific community centres where possible.
Food for kids
The City is working with student nutrition program partners to repurpose resources to support the Food for Kids program, which is getting grocery gift cards to families of children in need.
The City is providing support for the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC) to coordinate food access for Indigenous communities facing similar challenges created by the COVID-19 response, including increased access to food and financial support.
Providing equipment to community food programs
The City is providing requested equipment to support community food program operators to help maintain operations and serve residents. To date, the City has provided City fork lift operators to Daily Bread Food Bank to assist with warehouse operations and has trucks and drivers on standby to help transport food.
Connecting resources to those that need them
The City is working to connect offers of free services and other resources, such as free hot meals, food delivery, free spaces, and available equipment to agencies and communities that need them.
Residents who are able are encouraged to donate non-perishable food to food banks or drop off food donations at local fire halls. Restaurants or food businesses with surplus food are encouraged to donate to Second Harvest’s FoodRescue.ca. Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to register with volunteertoronto.ca or sparkontario.ca
The City is working with 211, United Way Greater Toronto, and other Toronto agencies to identify where the greatest needs are and how best to ensure low-income and vulnerable residents continue to have food access.
The best source for up-to-date information on community food program availability is 211. Program listings are updated daily as information is received from providers. Residents can call 211 directly for information or view a map of local service providers on the 211 website.
Thank you for your resilience during this challenging time. It is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shoutout goes to The Good Neighbour Project. This network is connecting individuals wishing to volunteer with members of the community who are vulnerable and in need of assistance, such as grocery pick up or delivery. If you are in need, you can call their hotline at 647-873-2230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued work and effort to help our most vulnerable. You can sign up to volunteer here.
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.
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
As the long weekend approaches and we look forward to a time of connection and community, the City of Toronto urges residents to stay home and to visit with family online or through video calls. Remember that staying home is the most important thing to do at this time. It protects you and your neighbours.
Recently, the City of Toronto has received questions around home child care operators. At this time, home child care operators are exempt from the Government of Ontario’s emergency orders to close schools and child care centres, as well as the prohibition of gatherings of more than five people. The City's directly-operated Toronto Home Child Care, as well as home child care agencies who have a contract with the City of Toronto are currently closed. No new fee subsidy clients are being placed in home child care at this time.
Home child care agencies without a contract with the City may continue to provide service to existing clients under the exemption of the provincial emergency orders. Additionally, home child care providers are not providing emergency child care services for essential workers in Toronto. Home child care agencies are advised to discuss with their providers whether they wish to continue to provide child care service in their homes.
The City has teamed up with the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Blue Jays, TFC and the Argos to encourage Torontonians to stay home to help flatten the COVID-19 curve. Today, the City and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment launched its #TeamToronto video asking for residents to keep Toronto parks, streets and arenas quiet to support all those working on the frontlines, so that one day Torontonians can come together again and celebrate the Toronto way.
Province of Ontario Updates
Update on Testing Guidelines in Ontario
The government released an update to the province’s COVID-19 testing guidelines for priority groups, including health care workers, long-term care and retirements. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health outlined that all health-care workers and first responders should be tested for COVID-19 should they display any symptoms, including atypical symptoms. The Medical Officer also recommends that all newly admitted or re-admitted residents to long-term care or retirement homes should be tested for COVID-19 even if the resident does not demonstrate any signs or symptoms of the virus.
Ontario’s Economic Recovery Plan
Statistics Canada released its monthly job numbers, which showed a 402,800 decrease in employment in Ontario. This afternoon, the provincial government launched a new Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee which will focus on getting businesses up and running and people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. While currently the government's primary focus is on combating the virus, this new committee will be developing a plan to stimulate economic growth and job-creation in the weeks and months ahead.
The membership of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee will include Ministers across various portfolios, including but not limited to:
- Rod Phillips, Chair, Minister of Finance
- Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
- Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board
- Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
The Committee will be consulting with a wide variety of people to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the provincial economy and develop an action plan to move forward, including business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, corporate leaders, small business owners, and entrepreneurs.
If you have any questions or comments about any of the changes from the Province of Ontario, you can call 1-888-444-3659 anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Government of Canada Updates
The Federal Government stressed how important it is for those who are ill to self-quarantine, and for their close contacts to enter a period of self-isolation for two weeks. With the Easter weekend, holiday dinners and celebrations will need to be restricted to immediate members of a household. While you may be physically apart from your family and friends, you are encouraged to connect virtually, if possible. There remains a long way to go in the trajectory of this pandemic.
National-level modelling on the COVID-19 epidemic in Canada was released. This modelling is based on current data, and will likely change as data updates. The numbers remain sobering, but the projected outcomes are not set in stone; if everyone works together by properly physical distancing, washing their hands and seeking to #StayHome we can positively influence the model and reduce the number of people who become infected by COVID-19 and subsequently reduce the number of deaths.
There have been approximately 5 millions Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) applications made since opening on Monday, and 4.6 million of those applications have now been processed.
The Federal Government announced their recovery plan will be expanded, with details to come. They urged Canadian employers to review the wage subsidy being offered to hire back employees that were laid off.
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.
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 phone 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.
The best source for up-to-date information on community social program availability is 211. Program listings are updated daily as information is received from providers. Residents can call 211 directly for information or view a map of local service providers on the 211 website.