Back to School, Small Business Tax Class, and COVID-19 Updates

Last week, the Province announced their plans for back to school in September. The goal is to get as many students back in the classroom and learning alongside their peers as possible. Part of this plan includes mandatory masks while indoors for grades one through 12, and is recommended for students in kindergarten. 

Elementary school students will remain in a cohort like we saw this past winter. Where distance can be maintained, school libraries and cafeterias will be available and schools are permitted to have assemblies. While the option to return to the classroom full time is available, the Province has offered virtual classes for parents and students who are more hesitant to return. 

This “new” plan is much the same that we saw last winter, and unfortunately places the burden on individual schools and their boards to establish protocols for any potential outbreaks in schools as well as the responsibility of improving their HVAC systems to improve ventilation. These facility upgrades are done at additional cost to the schools and will result in a ventilation lottery. Schools are also expected to create an entrance and egress strategy for students at peak hours of the school day. 

All staff and students will have to self-screen daily, and the Ministry of Education may require schools to confirm these self screenings in peak periods of transmission but have yet to indicate how that will be mandated. 

Currently, there is no strategy announced for students who are unvaccinated or any metrics to guide when a school closure might be necessary. Instead, Premier Ford and his government have once again downloaded that responsibility to teachers and their schools. Without a detailed safe September reopening plan, this latest announcement represents more confusing and meek guidance from the Province, as schools are left to decide what’s appropriate for each school. After almost two years of demanding more from our education staff, in the face of cutting their salary and services, it is impossible to continue to demand they keep our students safe without additional staffing, services, and funding. 

While it is encouraging to see students possibly return to the classroom, parents and educators still need a clear policy around unvaccinated students. Students under the age of 12, who are not even eligible to receive a vaccination, need policies in place to protect them and their families. Ford is yet again missing key elements to any recovery strategy, and parents and students are left wishing, hoping, and praying in the face of a Delta variant. 

Over the past week, we have seen cases of COVID-19 almost double. While numbers are still nothing compared to what we saw during the third wave, we need to remember that many countries have now seen a fourth wave and Canada will likely be no exception. 

With the economic recovery in mind, I’m excited to share that after years of advocacy, op-eds, press conferences, and motions moved, the City of Toronto is conducting consultations for a small business tax class to support our local businesses and main streets. Announced in late 2020 by then Minister of Finance Rod Phillips, as part of the Provincial budget, municipalities were to be given the powers to create a small business tax class- unfortunately, that announcement came with no subsequent regulations or details until now.

We know our small businesses have been suffering, especially considering the exorbitant commercial rent and property tax in the downtown core. We need to do everything we can to support our small businesses which in turn uplift our main streets. These businesses are not only a part of the cultural fabric in Toronto but also serve to animate the public realm to help create safer and more inclusive streets. 

With the development of a small business property tax class, we can focus on preserving and rebuilding Toronto’s Main Streets; broad tax relief for small businesses, and the need to reduce property taxes for small businesses who have endured increases in property assessments over the last number of years. 

The next public consultation hosted by the City of Toronto is tomorrow:
When: Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Time: 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: Click to join!

City staff will be consulting on how a small business will be defined; how many businesses may be eligible, and what is the total amount to be funded to provide a tax rate reduction; how the tax rate reduction will be funded and how the program will be administered. 

I would also encourage any interested residents to complete this survey as soon as you’re able in order to have your say. It is critical that we get this right for the future of our small business community across the city. 

Please continue to practice public health guidelines and consider how to make your activities safer as businesses and our communities open up again. We can all work together to keep protecting our communities. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to get your vaccine as all residents over the age of 12 are eligible. More information is available at

Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.


What’s In Today’s EBlast?

Toronto Centre Projects

Toronto Centre Projects promotional graphicToronto Centre Projects promotional graphic

Toronto Centre Projects is designed to engage community members and crowdsource neighbourhood projects supported by the Councillor's office and your neighbours. Over the next year, my office will be launching consultations for several parks and dog off-leash area revitalizations, public realm improvements, and more.

Proposals Now Open for Allan Gardens Dog Off-Leash Area (OLA)

Allan Gardens OLA TCP promotional graphicAllan Gardens OLA TCP promotional graphic

What features, surfacing, fencing, etc would you like to see in a revitalized Off-Leash Area for Allan Gardens? Submit your proposals or vote on existing ones for the revitalization of the Allan Gardens OLA at 

Have ideas to make our communities more liveable, vibrant, and safe? Submit them at

Vaccine Pop-Up Clinic at St Lawrence Market Tent

Vaccine Pop-Up Clinic at St Lawrence Market TentVaccine Pop-Up Clinic at St Lawrence Market Tent promotional graphic

Hosted by Spadina-Fort York Community Centre, MPP Chris Glover, and MPP Suze Morrison, on August 15, 2021, there will be a vaccine pop-up clinic at St Lawrence Market Tent. First and second doses of Pfizer and Moderna are available, and no proof of address or OHIP is necessary. 

When: Sunday, August 15, 2021
Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: St Lawrence Market South Tent, 125 The Esplanade

If you have any questions, please contact [email protected].

Have Your Say: Eat, Play and Explore Toronto Island! 

Graphic design of a sun setting over waterGraphic design of a sun setting over water

The City of Toronto is looking to hear from residents once again about the Toronto Island Master Plan! This much shorter survey centers around how you can eat, explore and play at the Island. Please take a moment to complete the survey and share with your friends, family, and communities. Please complete the survey before August 15, 2020

Learn more about the Toronto Island Master Plan

Reduce and Recycle at REMarket!

Let’s keep unwanted items out of the garbage! The St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association Waste Reduction Group is holding two days for the collection of Electronics, Textiles, Books, and Art & School Supplies. Bring them to be re-used or recycled by one of their great partners. Repair Café Toronto will be repairing small appliances, home electronics, and general housewares. Charlie's FreeWheels will provide free bicycle maintenance service. 

Service: Donations with The Salvation Army and RCT
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2021, and Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Time: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Tuesday) and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Wednesday)

Service: Repair Cafe Toronto
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Time: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Service: Charlie’s FreeWheels
Date: Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Time: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Do not leave donations earlier or later than the stated times. Find more information about this initiative hereDonated textiles should be in tied plastic bags. Covid regulations will be in place. Masks and distancing are required. Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

City of Toronto Implements New Enhanced Youth Spaces (EYS)

A poster that says "Youth Space"A poster that says "Youth Space"

On July 26, the City of Toronto announced the expansion to Enhanced Youth Spaces and Youth Hubs at community centres and Toronto Public Library locations across Toronto.

We are excited to know that one of the 10 Enhanced Youth Spaces are in Toronto-Centre. Both the Regent Park Community Centre and Wellesley Community Centre (in Collaboration with the 519), will house the Enhanced Youth Space. Spaces will be open five to seven days per week, ensuring dedicated space, dedicated staff, and programming that responds to the local community. Spaces will also include skill-building and pathways to employment. The expansion plan was done through a neighbourhood assessment process, including collaboration with the City’s Youth Space Advisory Committee (with youth, youth-serving agencies, school boards, and other City divisions).

This is a much-needed addition to existing programs in our neighbourhoods. We know that the long periods of lockdowns and virtual schooling during COVID-19 have disproportionately impacted young people. This timely expansion will provide safe spaces, youth programming, and enhanced training opportunities. Learn more about youth and recreation programming in the city, including a list of Enhanced Youth Spaces. 

Access, Equity and Human Rights Awards Deadline Extended!

The City of Toronto’s Access, Equity and Human Rights (AEHR) Awards recognize people, organizations or programs that have created a more equitable city by addressing discrimination and working to eliminate barriers to equality. The awards are community-driven, nominations come from Toronto residents and are selected by a panel made up of community members with expertise and knowledge of issues relevant to the award categories and nominations are now open! Each award winner will receive an honorarium of $500. 

Applicants may nominate themselves or another candidate, with their consent.

  • Complete the application form
  • Include two letters of reference that highlight the nominee(s)’s skills and experience from someone with direct knowledge of the nominee(s)
  • Include a biography/profile of nominee
  • Indicate consent and verification from nominee
  • This application has one (1) question (up to 500 words) about why the nominee is deserving of an award
  • The award is open to residents of Toronto or non-profit organizations that provide a program or service

The Awards categories are:

  • Mino Bimaadiziwin Award (Indigenous Award)
  • Disability Access Award
  • Constance E. Hamilton Award for Women’s Equality
  • Pride Award
  • William P. Hubbard Race Relations Award

The deadline for nominations has been extended to August 27, 2021! Nominations can be submitted and information about each of the five award categories can be found at

Celebrating Little Canada

A picture of Councillor Wong-Tam at the Little Canada attractionA picture of Councillor Wong-Tam at the Little Canada attraction

I had the honour of visiting "Little Canada"- a celebration of all things Canada which is a remarkable and one- of-a-kind attraction that has captured the sights and sounds of the nation in miniature scale. Located in the heart of Yonge-Dundas, Little Canada occupies its home conveniently at 10 Dundas Street.

A picture of the Little Canada attractionA picture of the Little Canada attraction

This installation, from artist and Canadian immigrant Jean-Louis Brenninkmeijer, captures the wonder of Canada as experienced through the eyes of children. When guests first enter the premise that shares its floors with the Dollarama and the Dundas Subway Station, they have no idea of the magic that awaits them. The attraction features magnificently realistic renditions of Toronto, Ottawa, Niagara, the Golden Horseshoe and Quebec City and will grow in the next years to encapsulate the marvels of  Montreal, the Prairies, the Rockies and both coasts, as well as a temperature-controlled Little North.

We are grateful that Toronto is home to this attraction and if you’re able to afford it, I would encourage everyone who has the opportunity to visit this unique representation of Canada.

TTC Construction Notice- Church Street north of Shuter Street

Starting August 9, 2021, for approximately 8 weeks, the TTC will be rebuilding an existing underground utility chamber on the west side of Church Street, just north of Shuter Street. The chamber is part of a network in the city that provides access to electrical and communication cabling for TTC, as well as for other utility companies. 

Activities will include curb lane excavation to expose the utility chamber, rebuilding the concrete chamber, and restoring the road. Some equipment and materials will remain on-site overnight. Work will take place Monday to Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Efforts will be made to complete the work sooner by working Saturdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., as required. 

As a result, a southbound curb lane reduction through the work zone is required to ensure safety. There may be some parking restrictions on Church Street approaching the work zone. The sidewalk adjacent to the work zone will remain accessible. All pedestrian crosswalks and private driveways will be maintained. The work zone will remain in place until the completion of the project. 

With many construction projects underway, there are many lane reductions in neighbouring streets, which has inconvenienced many area residents. I understand the frustrations and the challenges during a period where the neighbourhood is inundated with construction activity. Lane reductions and closures means that visible and proper traffic signage is required for drivers to appropriately maneuver through the changes. During the Toronto East York Council Committee in May, I tabled a motion requesting Staff to update traffic signage to ensure public safety on the affected streets to bring some relief to the area.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Paul Tran, Community Liaison Toronto Transit Commission at [email protected]

COVID-19: Vaccine Information 

For updates about Toronto’s vaccination rollout and booking system, please visit my website.

Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic by phone through the provincial call centre, 1-888-999-6488.

Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic online at For online bookings, you will need: 

  • Information found on your Government of Ontario photo health card;
  • Birthdate;
  • Postal code; and
  • Email address or phone number.

The provincial system will verify your eligibility to book an appointment for vaccination based on this information and will then guide you to the scheduling system. 

Please do not call 311 or Toronto Public Health to book an appointment. The City 311 contact centre and Toronto Public Health staff do not have access to the booking system.

Vaccinated Against COVID-19? What Does It Mean For Me?

By getting vaccinated, you benefit from the protection you get against COVID-19 and the easing of restrictive measures in your community. You still need to follow local public health advice in public settings (e.g. workplaces, public transit). Their advice considers community risk levels. 

A majority of people in Canada have now had their first shot and many will soon be fully vaccinated. Below is a handy chart created by Public Health Canada to inform your actions depending on your vaccination status. This advice is based on the current state and will be updated as vaccination rates continue to increase and cases decrease.

COVID-19: Ongoing Tips to Reduce Virus Spread

As we begin to again restrengthen our public health measures, we will all continue to live in this new normal. Wearing a mask or a face covering is mandatory in all public indoor spaces and on the TTC. Our commitment must be to continue minimizing the impact of COVID-19, especially on our most vulnerable residents, while reducing negative social, economic, and broader health impacts on our community. In the coming months what this means for our residents is:

  • Continuing to work remotely, wherever possible;
  • Maintaining physical distance from people outside our household or social circle/bubble;
  • Avoiding crowds and congregations in closed indoor settings;
  • Wearing a cloth mask or face covering in any public indoor setting, including stores, transit, offices; and where
  • physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
  • Staying home whenever we are sick for any reason.

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 the City’s website or download this info sheet.

City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates

City of Toronto Reopens Select Counter Services at City Hall and Civic Centres Today

The City of Toronto begins the safe and gradual reopening of City buildings to visitors with a phased reopening of select in-person counter services at City Hall and civic centres, in alignment with the provincial reopening plan and in accordance with public health guidelines.

Registration Now Open for City of Toronto’s DineTOgether to Support Local Restaurants

registration opened for the City of Toronto’s DineTOgether, part of the ShowLoveTO initiative, to support the recovery of local restaurants and celebrate Toronto’s diverse culinary scene. Registration will remain open for eligible restaurants until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, August 31 here.

City of Toronto to Engage Toronto businesses on Small Business Tax Relief

This month, the City of Toronto will be engaging with the small business sector on the potential creation of a separate property tax class for small businesses in Toronto, which if implemented, could provide a measure of property tax relief for small and Main Street businesses in the city.

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.

Province of Ontario Updates

​​Canada, Ontario, and Toronto Invest Over $2.9 million to Revitalize the Spadina Museum National Historic Site

The safety and well-being of Canadians are top priorities for the governments of Canada, Ontario, and the City of Toronto. Investments in Ontario’s infrastructure during this extraordinary time provide an opportunity to create jobs, economic growth, and make our communities more sustainable and resilient.

Ontario Training Young People for Careers in Creative Industries

The Ontario government is investing almost $1 million to expand on-the-job training for 350 young people in creative industries like film, music, gaming, and animation. The initiative is focused on youth over 16 with disabilities, who are newcomers to Ontario, Indigenous or Black. This initiative is part of the government’s effort to ensure that youth, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, can connect to promising careers and contribute to the strength of our economy.

More updates from the Province of Ontario.

Government of Canada Updates

Helping Ontario Food and Beverage Processors During COVID-19

The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $6 million in projects to help Ontario food and beverage processors improve their operations, increase their competitive edge and adapt to challenges as we move beyond the pandemic.

All updates from the Government of Canada can be found at the link here.

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:

Telehealth Ontario
Call if you develop symptoms!
Telephone: 1-866-797-0000

Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Telephone: 416-338-7600
TTY: 416-392-0658
Email: [email protected]

311 Toronto
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)

Support for People Living with Homelessness

If you see someone living with homelessness and in need of support you can call Streets to Homes at 416-338-4766. For mental health support, the Gerstein Crisis Centre is a valuable 24-hours a day, seven days a week service in our community and they have crisis workers on standby at 416-929-5200. More resources, including additional how to report information, are available on my website at

Toronto Police

If you or someone else is confronted with life-threatening danger, please call 911 immediately. Alternatively, the Toronto Police request that online reports be submitted at or to You can also call their non-emergency line at 416-808-2222. 

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