Face Mask Bylaw, Accessibility During COVID, and COVID-19 Updates

Thanks to your ongoing sacrifice and adherence to public health measures, Toronto continues to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the city. 

Yesterday, there were 18 new confirmed and 1 new probable case of COVID-19 in Toronto. Our local numbers continue to be in the low double-digit range, which is great news!

But as we have seen in other jurisdictions that have reopened, regions that had very low or no cases have begun to see increases in cases again. This has reinforced that the pandemic is not over, and as Torontonians, we must continue to be vigilant and find new ways of co-existing, and living our lives while protecting each other's safety. 

Beginning yesterday, new measures have come into effect that requires masks or face coverings to be worn in common areas in apartments, condominiums, and additional requirements for food and drink establishments. These temporary bylaws were approved by Council on July 29 to protect the health and safety of all residents by reducing the opportunity for COVID-19 spread. 

Under the new bylaw for apartments and condos, building owners or operators are required to have a policy to ensure masks or face coverings are worn by individuals in enclosed common spaces, such as lobbies, elevators, and laundry rooms, and post corresponding signage.

Like the City’s mask or face covering bylaw for indoor public spaces, this bylaw includes exemptions for individuals who are unable to wear a mask or face covering for medical reasons, children under two years old, and other reasonable accommodations. We should not demand proof of disability from anyone but rather we should be patient and understanding as to why some individuals for legitimate medical reasons can not wear a mask or face covering.

Every day we communicate with one another with our voices, facial expressions, and body language. Please be mindful that opaque face coverings inhibit communication for those who are deaf or hearing impaired. There are clear masks available in the marketplace now, that allow you to meet the public health guidelines and still be seen speaking visibly for those relying on lip-reading or may have difficulties hearing in noisy settings. 

Please remember that those living with existing respiratory or communication difficulties will not be able to safely and effectively wear a face covering or mask. For many people living with disabilities, COVID-19 has already had a disproportionate and adverse effect on their existence. Reasonable accommodations must be extended to people living with disabilities so that we respect their dignity as a person which includes self-respect, self-worth, and inherent worth as a human being, as protections stipulated under the Ontario Human Rights Code.  

If you notice that your building has not posted signage requiring masks in common areas, Toronto Public Health has created guidance and signage to help raise awareness of these new measures and I encourage you to share them with your landlord or property manager. If the building still does not comply, please report it to 311 and a by-law officer will attend. 

Finally, I want to offer a few words of condolence and support to everyone who has been impacted by the tragic fatal explosion in Lebanon on Tuesday. I was traveling in Beirut in 2009 and during that time of "peace," I met incredible people who were generous and welcoming. They walked their kids to schools under surveillance, operated businesses in rolling brownouts, and lived in bullet-riddled buildings. They invited me into their homes for tea and shared their dreams and challenges with a curious and visiting stranger. The Lebanese are some of the most resilient and compassionate people I’ve ever met and I'm thinking about them and our extended Lebanese-Canadian family this week.

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


Community Corner in Ward 13 

The Corktown community has identified a long-existing problem wherein private vehicles have been jumping the boulevard and driving through Underpass Park. Since 2015, as identified in this article from Spacing Magazine, residents have only seen an increase in vehicles entering and driving through the park. This has been a great source of pain and danger for the community. While greater long term solutions are still being developed, Parks staff have installed curb stone surrounding the park to deter vehicles from driving through. I know these curbstones are not the most beautiful option, but they are temporary. Over the coming months, I will be working closely with the local community, and stakeholders, including the Farmer’s Market, to find solutions that might be able to work for everyone. 

While the curbstones have deterred vehicles from entering the park, they have exacerbated the illegal boulevard parking along Trolley Crescent. Residents have been reporting, and I have been assured that parking enforcement will be making patrols regularly to help address the issue. 

At the moment, the City of Toronto has yet to assume the surrounding road, Trolley Crescent. This means that Trolley Crescent remains private property, belonging to Waterfront Toronto. Since 2015, they have installed bike rings, however other street furniture is needed to prevent the street from becoming a parking lot. Continuing to have an open dialogue between Waterfront Toronto, and many city divisions are critical in establishing design solutions to protect pedestrians and create a safe public realm for all. I know many residents have already reached out with their suggestions, feedback and potential solutions. There are many interests to consider as we move forward, and I can’t wait to share designs when they are ready.

Community Care 

Photo: Toronto Star

Last week residents of Ontario got access to COVID Alert, Canada's free exposure notification app. This is a joint initiative of the Governments of Ontario and Canada and is now available for download at no cost from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

The new COVID Alert app offers users the opportunity to quickly be informed if they may have been exposed to COVID-19 so that they can get tested right away to help protect themselves and those around them. This new app complements but does not replace our comprehensive contact tracing efforts by helping to quickly identify new contacts that may not have been easily found otherwise. 

I know many people have expressed concerns about their personal privacy when using this tool. Both the Provincial and Federal privacy commissioners have concluded their review of the app and say they support its use following initial privacy and security concerns. It is built with a privacy-first approach and is a safe and easy to use tool that we can use to protect ourselves, our friends, families and our loved ones. 

To learn more about how the app protects your privacy and how it works, please visit the Government of Canada'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 

CaféTO Program Now Supporting More Than 600 Restaurants City-Wide, Registration to Close on Tuesday

The City of Toronto’s CaféTO program, which now supports more than 600 restaurants city-wide with increased dining capacity, will close registration to new applicants on Tuesday, August 11 at noon. The program is scheduled to end for the season on November 15.

City of Toronto Staff Member Injured at Interim Housing Apartments

A City of Toronto staff member was stabbed by a client while on shift at one of the City’s interim housing programs, located at 55/65 Broadway Avenue. The staff person is in hospital. The City wishes them a full and speedy recovery.

The City will be conducting a full review of the circumstances of this incident in consultation with Toronto Police Services and the City’s corporate security division to determine next steps, including security enhancements if required.

Enforcement of City of Toronto Residential On-Street Permit Parking Program to Resume August 14 at Midnight

Starting Friday, August 14 at midnight, permit parking enforcement on residential streets in Toronto will resume. Enforcement, as well as the renewal and issuance of residential street parking permits, had been paused due to COVID-19.

The period to renew existing, or purchase new, six and twelve-month on-street parking permits began on July 2 when the parking permit office resumed operation. It was extended to Friday, August 7 to maximize the window for residents. All requests for six and twelve-month residential parking permits should be submitted as soon as possible to ensure permits arrive before August 14.

Statement Regarding Jim Karygiannis

On June 24, 2020, the Ontario Court of Appeal issued a decision that Jim Karygiannis was subject to the penalties imposed by the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, which included the forfeiture of his seat as City Councillor for Ward 22.  Mr. Karygiannis has sought leave to appeal this decision from the Supreme Court of Canada.

Today, a judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal heard and granted a request made by Mr. Karygiannis to stay the Court of Appeal’s June 24 decision until the Supreme Court of Canada decides whether his leave to appeal application will be granted. By virtue of today’s decision, Mr. Karygiannis can immediately resume his place on City Council as Councillor for Ward 22.

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.

Province of Ontario Updates

Ontario Reaches Next Milestone On Priority Subway Projects

Ontario has shortlisted three teams each to advance tunneling work on the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension projects, part of the largest subway expansion in the province's history.

Ontario Provides More Supports for Families of Children on the Autism Spectrum

Ontario is providing families in the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) with services to support their child's ongoing learning and development. Foundational family services such as family and peer mentoring, caregiver workshops, and coaching will be tailored to the unique regional and cultural needs in different communities. These services will build on existing virtual and remote options introduced during the COVID-19 outbreak. The first phase of foundational family services is part of the ongoing implementation of the new needs-based, sustainable, and family-centered OAP.

More updates from the Province of Ontario.

Government of Canada Updates

Canada Providing Humanitarian Assistance in Response to Beirut Explosion

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, announced that Canada is providing up to $5 million in humanitarian assistance in response to the tragic explosion that occurred in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 4, 2020.

Infrastructure Program Expands to Support COVID-19 Community Resilience

Under a new COVID-19 Resilience funding stream worth up to $3.3 billion, projects will be eligible for a significantly larger federal cost share – up to 80 per cent for provinces, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations in provinces, and raising it to 100 per cent for territorial and Indigenous projects designated under the new stream. A simplified funding application process will ensure that projects can get underway as soon as possible, and accelerated approvals will ensure that provinces and territories can address pressing needs in a timely manner.

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: toronto.ca/covid-19 

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 kristynwongtam.ca.

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 torontopolice.on.ca/core or to  torontopolice.on.ca/community-complaintsYou 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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