We've now been in Stage 3 of the provincial reopening framework for nearly a month, and I'm pleased that Toronto continues to see lower COVID-19 numbers in our city.
This is good news for us, but we can’t take this progress for granted nor be mistaken that all things are back to normal. We are not out of the woods, and we must remember that. I continue to hear from residents who are very concerned about what a return to school will mean for our ability to control the spread of COVID-19, and how they can keep their families, friends and community members safe.
Toronto Public Health anticipates some increases in COVID-19 activity as people are moving around and resuming activities that were paused in earlier months. We also know from the experiences of other cities in Canada and around the world, that rates will climb back up unless we keep following the public health measures we've put in place to keep everyone safer.
This highlights the continued importance of taking our public health measures seriously: to wash our hands, watch our distance, and wear our masks. These measures are simple ways we can all take care of each other.
In addition to the personal actions we can all take, I have been working hard to ensure that the commitment to taking care of each other is reflected in the long-term economic and social recovery of the city.
While Ward 13 has not seen the highest number of COVID-19 infections in the city, we have experienced incredibly difficult circumstances as a result of the pandemic.
In April, Mayor John Tory announced the start of Toronto’s Recovery and Rebuild Strategy including the establishment of an office led by Mr. Saad Rafi, with a public health strategy led by Dr. David Mowat. Toronto’s Office of Recovery and Rebuild will report to the City Manager this September. Its mandate will be to coordinate a city-wide approach informed by public health evidence and best practices from here in Toronto and other jurisdictions, and to bring innovation to the City’s recovery strategies and actions.
I have met with Mr. Rafi a number of times now and helped organize consultations to ensure that women, the LGBTQ2S+ community, and those living with disabilities had an opportunity to underscore the specific ways that COVID-19 has impacted them, and what they need to come out of the pandemic stronger.
We also spoke at length about how the growing and concurrent homelessness, addictions, mental health, and COVID-19 crises have created a nearly unmanageable situation in the downtown east. Overdose deaths are increasing, as are reports of assault, theft, and break-ins. Without adequate sanitation or handwashing facilities, or safe cooking equipment, the encampments are creating a different kind of health crisis for those staying in them and the neighbouring communities.
I have stressed that without a coordinated, intergovernmental recovery plan for the downtown east, Toronto’s recovery will not be complete.
Mr. Rafi will present his report to the City Manager, and City Council will ultimately have an opportunity to review the recommendations, and there will be a series of votes as we decide how we want to emerge from this global pandemic.
For years, City Council has been willing to let the downtown east shoulder the weight of the homelessness crisis. As COVID-19 has forced more shelters into new neighbourhoods, Councillors from across the City are beginning to understand how this crisis impacts them and their communities.
I need your help to encourage and convince my colleagues that their recovery depends on ours. Last week I launched a new education and engagement tool to make it easy for anyone to take action and end homelessness, mental health, and addiction crises.
To learn more about the housing and homelessness crisis, and what you can do to help please visit https://www.kristynwongtam.ca/homelessness
It has taken us years to get to this point, as successive governments have abdicated their responsibility to ensure that people had safe and affordable access to shelter, food, mental health, and addictions support. The repercussions of decades of underinvestment from all three levels of government are not going to be fixed overnight, but we can take meaningful action by working together.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
The Cabbagetown BIA has created an amazing CafeTO experience by partnering with a notable and diverse group of local artists to create an outdoor 'Walking Art Tour' for locals and visitors to enjoy.
Having frequented a few of my favourite restaurants in Cabbagetown recently, I really enjoy and am proud of the work the BIA has done to support their merchants and create a destination experience through beautification and public art.
You can read more about the project and meet the artists on the BIA 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.
Toronto Public Health has received a positive laboratory report identifying Toronto’s first reported case of West Nile virus for 2020 in an adult resident. In 2019, nine laboratory-confirmed human cases of West Nile virus and 10 positive mosquito tests were reported to Toronto Public Health. While the risk of getting infected in Toronto is currently low, Toronto Public Health advises residents to take these precautions to avoid bites from infected mosquitoes.
Starting yesterday, August 24th, Toronto Public Health (TPH) nurses began a phased-in approach to resume in-person home-visiting services to eligible priority families as part of the Healthy Babies Healthy Children (HBHC) program. Now that Toronto has entered Stage 3 of the provincial reopening plan, TPH is resuming the in-person part of the program for families with young children in the HBHC program.
The Ontario government is easing restrictions for facilities that rent out professional meeting and event spaces. Beginning August 21, 2020, facilities can have up to 50 guests for each indoor meeting room or event space within the facility. The facility would have to adhere to a plan approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Canadian Lockdown Stories Unlocked—40 NFB Creators Give A Voice to Millions. NFB Presents The Curve: A Pan-Canadian Perspective On COVID-19
A living document of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Film Board of Canada’s online project The Curve begins its official launch today with three short documentaries from the NFB’s North West Studio: Kristin Catherwood’s In the Garden on the Farm, Melaw Nakehk’o’s K’i Tah Amongst the Birch and Galen Johnson’s Thursday. The Curve will feature the talents of 40 creators and filmmakers, giving a voice to millions whose lives have been touched by COVID-19. From east to west and far into the North, 30 works will present pan-Canadian perspectives on what it’s like to navigate one’s way through this unprecedented time.
New Temporary Public Policy Will Allow Visitors to Apply For A Work Permit Without Having To Leave Canada
Visitors who are currently in Canada and have a valid job offer will be able to apply for an employer-specific work permit and, if approved, receive the permit without having to leave the country, thanks to a new public policy announced today by the Honourable Marco E.L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
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 people
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 kristynwongtam.ca.
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 torontopolice.on.ca/core or to torontopolice.on.ca/community-complaints. You 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.