Back to School, Gendered Impact of COVID, and COVID19 Updates

As we near the end of August, I know that many parents are watching the school reopening planning efforts very carefully. Children need to be in school for their own wellbeing, and safely returning them to school is a critical component of fully re-opening our day-to-day activities and economy. In April we discussed how women are more likely than men to have had their employment impacted by COVID-19. Women in the workforce represent 84% of all cashiers, 99% of childcare workers, 72% of food prep and service workers, and 80% of community and social services workers. These are jobs that cannot be done from home, and they have seen the most dramatic reduction in employment.

We also know that many women who kept their jobs during the pandemic and worked from home, did it while also taking on the brunt of childcare and home-schooling. Women across the country are loudly proclaiming that this state of affairs is not sustainable. An RBC report from July showed that the pandemic has pushed women’s participation in the labour force down to its lowest level in three decades, with 1.5 million women losing their jobs in the first two months of the recession. Worryingly, the outsized role women play in the industries hardest hit by this recession, together with ongoing uncertainties about the availability of school and childcare in the fall means this lost ground won’t easily be recovered. 

While the Province and local school boards are responsible for the back to school plans, recognizing how critical back-to-school plans are for our COVID-19 response plan, Toronto Public Health has been providing guidance to Toronto school boards on these plans to ensure a safer return to school for children.

Toronto Public Health is establishing a team of more than 70 nurses to provide strong support to our local schools as they reopen. These nurses will be visible in schools and provide education and training sessions to school staff, parents and caregivers to promote infection prevention and control measures, and other public health advice to limit opportunities for virus spread.

Public health teams will also be providing limited mental health and well-being support in school settings, along with rapid-response outbreak investigation, case management, and support the planning process for testing if a COVID-19 case is detected in a school setting.

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has suggested the following additional recommendations to the Ontario Ministry of Education's initial plan, COVID-19: Reopening Schools. 

The recommendations include the following: 

  • Ensuring that class sizes are limited to allow physical distancing of 2 metres between all students; 
  • Strongly encouraging masks for younger students (below Grade 4) where possible; 
  • Prioritizing resources for schools in high-transmission and high-needs areas;
  • Piloting a saliva-based testing option that could be used in homes and schools; 
  • Implementing active daily screening practices; and,
  • Encouraging a flexible start date in order to allow school boards and schools time to prepare and incorporate public health recommendations.

While Toronto has made tremendous progress in reducing transmission, COVID-19 is still a threat to our city. Reopening schools will be a significant test of how we handle the next stage of our response to this virus. As many experts have noted, physical distancing is the most important tool we have to combat the spread of COVID-19. In many classrooms, this will mean that significant adjustments need to be made – but I am confident that if we continue to follow the guidance of our public health experts, as we have since January, we will have taken the steps needed for a safe reopening of schools. 

Finally, in Ward 13 - Toronto Centre, the big news is last night’s announcement that our Member of Parliament and current Finance Minister Bill Morneau is stepping down and not seeking re-election. I want to thank Minister Morneau for his hard work and public service. Being the Minister of Finance is a tough job and made even harder in a global pandemic. I’ll always remember the Minister for releasing Canada’s first Gender-Based Analysis or GBA+ budget in 2017. I wish him the very best in all his future endeavours. This does mean that we can expect a by-election in the ward in the next few months. I will be sure to keep everyone up to date as those details become clear. 

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


Community Care 

I am excited to announce that work on the upcoming Wellesley Community Centre Pool is nearing completion! When finished, the project will feature a new five-lane 25 metre training tank, a shallow leisure pool for children, a warm water conversation pool, a steam room, and a "waterfall" feature. Additional multipurpose rooms will be added as well as a green roof. 

COVID-19, unfortunately, delayed the planned opening of this facility for this summer, but it should be online this fall. Work should be substantially completed by the end of the month. Staff will need to be hired to then run the new facility. Currently, the City is looking at being able to open the pool this October.

Community centres and accessible programming are essential for the health and vitality of a local neighbourhood. Working with my friend and mentor, Councillor Pam McConnell, I directed over $5 million in section 37 funding from the former Ward 27 to help design and build a new aquatic centre at the Wellesley Community Centre. Recreational activities are critical for Toronto's residents, especially youth and seniors. Building the new Aquatic Centre will mean that residents in St. James Town and the surrounding area will no longer have to travel all the way to Regent Park to access pool facilities.

Community Corner

The deadline to register as a candidate for the 2020 City Youth Council of Toronto elections is today, August 18th by 11:59 pm. The City Youth Council (CYC) is a youth-run, federally registered not-for-profit corporation on a mission to foster civic participation among young people in Toronto. The CYC is focused on empowering youth to influence public policy, participate in community development, and learn more about our municipal government through participation.

Learn more and register as a candidate here.

Metrolinx Services Resume and Service Changes

Beginning September 5, 2020, Metrolinx will be resuming and adjusting services along all lines to support Stage 3 of recovery. Resuming services will be supported through increased cleaning, seat dividers on select vehicles and mandatory face-coverings. To learn more about the adjusted schedules and safety measures, please visit Go Transit’s website.

COVID-19: Ongoing Tips to Reduce Virus Spread

As we begin to ease our public health measures, we will all be living a new normal. 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 indoor, enclosed public spaces or where physical distancing is difficult to maintain; and 
  • Staying home whenever we are sick for any reason. 

When you are unable to keep a six feet/two-metre distance from others, wear a mask or face covering. This includes when you are:

  • In any indoor, enclosed public space;
  • In elevators, common areas, waiting rooms or shopping;
  • Using transit, taxi or rideshare services; and
  • Sick and going to a medical appointment.

Be respectful of others who choose not to wear a mask. Some health conditions make it hard to breathe when wearing a face covering.


How to Create a Safe Social Circles

As we continue our shared fight against COVID-19, you can now establish a family or social circle of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. Social circles are a way to safely expand the number of people with whom you can come in close contact. Think of your social circle as the people you can hug and touch, or those who can become part of your daily and weekly routines.

social_circles_small.pngThank 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 

COVID-19 Notification for Brass Rail Tavern (August 4, 5, 7 and 8)

Toronto Public Health (TPH) is notifying people who visited the Brass Rail Tavern located at 701 Yonge St., Toronto, about potential exposure to COVID-19. Approximately 550 individuals may have been exposed in this setting.

A tavern employee who tested positive for COVID-19 attended the Brass Rail Tavern on these dates and times:

  • August 4 from 7:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. (August 5)
  • August 5 from 8:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. (August 6)
  • August 7 from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. (August 8)
  • August 8 from 7:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. (August 9)

There was no risk to anyone attending the Brass Rail Tavern outside of these dates and times. As a precaution, TPH is advising anyone who attended the Brass Rail Tavern during these dates and times to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms for the 14 days after their last visit during this time period.

City of Toronto Statement on Planned Protest of Midtown Shelter Sites

There was a planned protest this weekend in response to the opening of the Roehampton temporary housing program, as well as interim housing site at 55/65 Broadway Ave., which is closing at the end of this month. A rally in support of the sites was also organized by the community for Saturday, August 15 at 10 a.m.

Residents have a right to express their concerns and have shared those concerns with the City in a number of ways. The City readily acknowledges those concerns, particularly on the issue of safety in the community.

City of Toronto Prepares for Back to School with Public Health Resources, Fall Recreation Programs and After-School Care

The City of Toronto is helping students stay safe and healthy as they head back to school in the fall. While the Province and local school boards are responsible for the back to school plans, Toronto Public Health has been providing guidance to Toronto school boards on these plans to ensure a safer return to school for children.

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.

Province of Ontario Updates

Ontario Supports Municipalities with Critical Infrastructure Investments

The Ontario government is investing more than $4.2 million through the Regional Development Program to support important infrastructure projects in the County of Simcoe, the Town of Tillsonburg and the City of Sarnia. These investments will help attract local investment and create jobs as the province starts down the path to renewal, growth and economic recovery.

Ontario Launches First-Ever Climate Change Impact Assessment

The Ontario government has selected a consulting team led by the Climate Risk Institute to conduct the province's first-ever multi-sector climate change impact assessment. The study will use the best science and information to better understand where and how climate change is likely to affect communities, critical infrastructure, economies and the natural environment, while helping to strengthen the province's resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Canadian Armed Forces Share Promising Exit Report on Long-Term Care Mission

The Ontario government is grateful to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) for aiding our long-term care homes during this challenging time for our province as well as the delivery of their comprehensive final report.

Ontario Resumes Infant Hearing Checks

The Ontario government is providing $3.8 million to support hearing checks for infants who did not receive the universal newborn hearing screen due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Over the past several months, Infant Hearing Program lead agencies suspended the newborn hearing screen commonly provided pre-discharge from hospitals and in community locations based on the advice of health officials.

More updates from the Province of Ontario.

Government of Canada Updates

Canada Revenue Agency Opens Applications for Enhanced Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) was created to assist businesses affected by the COVID19 pandemic in keeping workers on their payroll or bringing back previously laid-off employees

Canada and the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach Commit to a New Relationship and to Advance Reconciliation

The Government of Canada is working in partnership with Indigenous peoples to renew the relationship based on the affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

Government of Canada Unveils 2020 Veterans’ Week Poster Marking the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War

During the Second World War, Canadians from across the country and all walks of life would enlist for our country. In all, more than one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in uniform and countless others supported the war effort on the home front. By the end of the war, from Normandy to the North Atlantic to the Pacific, on land, at sea and in the sky, and on battlefields across the world, more than 45,000 had given their lives. 

More updates from the Government of Canada.

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
Email: [email protected]

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 can also call their non-emergency line at 416-808-2222. In the past, by diligently reporting criminal activity, residents were able to see our community policing and other service levels increase. You can do your part: see it, report it.

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