COVID-19 Updates

Back-To-School, Business Support, Rent Freeze, and COVID-19 Updates

Late yesterday evening, the Province of Ontario announced that students will be returning to in-classroom learning starting Monday, January 17, 2022. Education Minister Stephen Lecce has announced new regulations allowing retired school teachers to teach more days to offset teacher absenteeism. Additionally, the Toronto District School Board has shipped over 600,000 N95 masks, and has shipped over 300 more HEPA filters as well as three play masks to all schools for student use. This is a good start but much more needs to be done to ensure student and staff safety.

Booster Vaccine, Staying Safe Over the Holidays, and COVID-19 Updates

I know many of you are concerned about the rising cases of COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant. Yesterday, Ontario reported 1536 new cases of COVID. As a result, Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health have restricted gatherings to just five people for the next week. This is in an effort to curb COVID’s spread as the region’s hospitals warned of limited capacity. Dr. Gerald Evans, Chair of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University, predicts Kingston is about three days ahead of the rest of Ontario, and that Toronto will see a similar spike.

Omicron Variant, Metrolinx Road Closures, and COVID-19 Updates

Late last week, Toronto Public Health reported its first cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and today Ontario reports 928 new COVID cases including 340 hospitalized and 165 patients in the ICU. Toronto Public Health’s contact management team is currently following up with these cases and providing instructions to identify close contacts on isolation and testing. While initial Omicron data shows high transmissibility, there are still many unknowns. Today, the Ontario Science table released it’s latest modeling. Toronto Public Health experts will analyze this information carefully over the next few days as they prepare to give us advice on staying safe over the holiday period. This report suggests that the province is on track to stay under the government's critical ICU threshold in early 2022, without additional public health measures, if they can get to 50% of 5 to11 year old children vaccinated by the end of December.

Opioid Crisis, Mental Health Supports, #16Days, and COVID-19 Updates

In addition to the global COVID-19 pandemic, our communities continue to see the effects of another deadly public health crisis. Neighbourhoods across Toronto continue to be impacted by addictions and rising fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses. This Sunday, two middle-aged men lost their lives to a drug overdose. Both experiencing homelessness and living in Bellevue Park. Experts say we are at a pace for a yearly 516 residents experiencing a fatal overdose, an 81% increase compared to 2019.

COVID Information, Vaccines for Kids, and COVID-19 Updates

Last week, you may have seen my op-ed published in the Toronto Sun, hoping to promote dialogue and civility in an increasingly polarized debate over public health measures during the pandemic. I shared a deeply personal story about my parents who originally refused their vaccine when their turn came up. In the process, I, unfortunately, made an honest mistake with information I shared from an August 2021 memo from the Chief Medical Officer of Health. That memo is outdated and the context in which I shared it was misleading and left the wrong impression.

November Council Round-Up, Transgender Awareness Week, and COVID-19 Updates

City Council met last week to discuss important issues shaping the civic landscape of Toronto as we continue to navigate the next steps in our pandemic recovery. As COVID cases gradually rise, please consider how you can make your trips outside safer. If you have not yet, I would encourage you to get vaccinated. The colder weather is here, and flu shots are now available as well. Please consider getting your flu shot this year as it will keep you and our communities safer together. Many pharmacies in our neighborhoods are offering walk-in appointments, and it only takes a few minutes. I was happy to get my flu shot this weekend from my local pharmacy.

Living Wage, Ontario Housing Crisis, and COVID-19 Updates

Over the past week, we have seen new cases of COVID-19 rising once more. As more restrictions have been lifted, and the cooler weather forces more people indoors, these numbers were to be expected. The Ontario Science Advisory Table has said there are small behavioral shifts that can steady this increase. If you can, please avoid crowds, wear your mask, and work from home. These are simple shifts we have practiced which can help curb new cases.

Lifting Restrictions, Financial Support for Businesses, and COVID-19 Updates

Beginning yesterday, capacity limits, including physical distancing measures were lifted on restaurants and bars and many other indoor spaces where proof of vaccination is required. On Friday, the Premier, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, released A Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term, which outlines the province’s gradual approach to lifting remaining public health and workplace safety measures by March 2022.

Save Small Businesses

Toronto Centre is the heart of Toronto’s downtown. We are home to some of Canada’s most iconic business districts and small businesses, from Canada’s largest gay village to the Financial District, to the re-invigorated historical districts such as Yonge Street, Corktown, St Lawrence Market and more. We also know that businesses across our community are in trouble.

To save small businesses, the Provincial and Federal governments need to step up and legislate a moratorium on commercial rental evictions and restructure the CERCA to allow tenants to directly access the 50 percent government relief if their landlords indicate they will not apply. The Government should also look at expanding the amount of money made eligible through Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA). In urban centers with high rental and operating costs, for many business owners, the $40,000 is already gone. 

Please add your name and call on the Provincial and Federal governments to make the necessary legislative changes we need to save our small businesses and our main streets.

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