December 3 marks International Day of Persons with Disability. The commitment to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in a common future. COVID-19 has deepened the systemic and pre-existing inequalities exposing the extent of exclusion and disproportionately affecting the community. This year’s theme is Building Back Better, harmonious with the City’s COVID-19 recovery response. As the Chair of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, It is my commitment to ensure that the voices of people living with disability are heard, and actively consulted as we work towards doing just that, building back better.
Today, the Province of Ontario is reporting over 1,800 new cases of COVID-19 and the test positivity rate for the Province of Ontario was 5.1%, well above the critical threshold indicating an Emergency. Unfortunately, we aren’t yet seeing the steady decrease in case numbers we were hoping for, therefore every single one of us needs to continue practicing the public health guidelines.
On Tuesday, Dr. de Villa advised that many of the new cases were from small inter-household gatherings and appear to be a big part of the city’s second wave. In some cases, these gatherings were friends or coworkers. I want to emphasize the words of our Chief Medical Officer and advise that you do not see anyone outside of your household. Dr. de Villa also notes that we won’t yet see the benefits of the lockdown which began in late November until early next week, so please stay hopeful that we are on course. We know what works, and we need to strengthen our efforts as they are proven to control the spread of COVID-19.
I know we want to be with our friends and families especially with the approaching holidays. It is critical for the safety of those we love that we find alternative ways of connecting. While this is challenging, consider the alternative. There are many people who have lost loved ones. There are essential health care workers who continue to put their lives at risk to keep our communities safe and healthy. I urge you to respect their sacrifices by adhering to public health advice. Stay home. Wash your hands frequently. If you can, wear a mask when you leave your home for essential trips.
Image description: an infographic outlining three ways to support small businesses: 1) purchase a gift card 2) get takeout or delivery from a small restaurant and 3) shop at local businesses
For many, the gift-giving season is upon us, and as I’ve said before our small businesses are suffering through this second lockdown. If you can, I would encourage you to shop small this season and think locally. I’ve heard of some residents buying gift cards for their favourite restaurants, and even participating in delivery or takeaway themselves if they can afford it.
On Tuesday, Now Magazine featured Ali Haberstroh, creator of Not-Amazon.ca, a website dedicated to showcasing local businesses this holiday season. Many small businesses have been left in the cold throughout the pandemic. In yesterday’s briefing with Premier Ford, he addressed an open letter from 50 retailers across the province. While Ford thinks it’s “not fair” that small businesses are forced to close while big-box retailers like Walmart and Costco remain open, the Provincial government can, and should, legislate additional direct supports for these retailers. Small businesses make up the character of our neighbourhoods and need government protection to survive this temporary closure.
If you can, I would encourage you to browse Not-Amazon.ca as it provides easily searchable categories and Toronto retailers across the city. There have also been lists circulating from our Toronto Centre Business Improvement Areas (BIA) of businesses open in Toronto Centre. Our very own Church Wellesley has developed a map listing all the open businesses in The Village. They continue to add more businesses every day, so check back regularly. Cabbagetown BIA and Downtown Yonge BIA have also provided similar lists. Please consider how you can shop small and locally this holiday season.
I’ve heard local concerns about the St Lawrence Indoor Farmers’ Market being closed during this second lockdown. City staff have been working directly with the Mayor and myself and I’m thrilled to say that it will be opening once more starting this Saturday! As well, the St Lawrence Market BIA has launched a contest where residents are asked to shop local. Once you’ve spent $25 or more, you can upload your receipt to be entered in a draw to win a prize! One receipt is one entry. You can learn more about the contest here.
December 6th marks the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. On this day, we remember the lives of 14 women who were killed at Polytechnique Montreal in 1989 and the countless women and girls whose lives are taken due to gender-based violence.
We remember Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.
Femicide claims the lives of women and girls on a regular basis in Canada. Gender-based violence is preventable. During the course of this pandemic, we have seen a drastic increase in violence against women by men. Now more than ever, funding supports for cis women, trans women and non-binary folks is critical to ensure those who need support, receive it. In order to fully address gender-based violence, our Federal and Provincial counterparts must also commit and sustainably fund gender-based violence prevention efforts. I am encouraged by the funding commitments the Honourable Minister Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development has made to address and prevent gender-based violence in Canada, and I look forward to seeing that same commitment renewed at all levels of government.
If you need support, please see this list of resources and supports available in our community.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
Exciting news! Friends of Ruby, the registered charity dedicated to LGBTQI2S youth well-being, has announced the opening of a ground-breaking transitional house, custom-built for LGBTQI2S young people. The Friends of Ruby Home, located on Dundas St. East, opens its doors this month and will provide living space for LGBTQI2S-identified youth (aged 16-29) along with embedded mental health services and life skills development programming, tailored to their experiences.
Image description: a picture taken during the day of Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and a group of people in front of Friends of Ruby cutting tape to signify the opening of the house.
The innovative design grew from a comprehensive consultation process with LGBTQI2S youth and community partners. Youth noted the facility should feel warm and welcoming with plenty of natural light, windows that opened, and the power to adjust individual room temperatures themselves – details that would make the space feel like their own. The result is an energy-efficient and pet-friendly space that feels like a Home, rather than an institution.
"Friends of Ruby is deeply appreciative of the partners, donors, supporters and community organizations who made the transitional house possible, especially the City of Toronto and Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who provided the much-needed support to turn this dream into a reality. More information about the Friends of Ruby Home and a full list of supporters is available at friendsofruby.ca. You can also follow us for updates on our services and programs on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook."
Community Care in Ward 13
The City of Toronto continues to engage with our residents on Changes to Policing. Over 5,200 responses were received to the first survey with extensive and thoughtful input on a community-based response model, who responds, how personal information is used and a complaints process. The summary of findings can be found here.
There is also a public online dashboard on the progress of the 36 recommendations which were adopted by City Council in June, developed in collaboration with the Toronto Police Services Board which is now available.
A second community survey is now live and available until December 14. This survey asks residents for their insights and experiences accessing crisis and supportive services, staying safe in a crisis, community safety and future investments that would provide care or support to prevent people from falling into crisis. Please take a couple minutes to complete this survey, and ensure that your voice is heard.
Image description: a promotional poster encouraging residents to complete the second community survey
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.
Face Masks and Coverings Offer Best Protection
Image description: Informational graphic from Toronto Public Health titled, "Face Masks & Coverings Offer Best Protection." Through visual examples, the graphic shows recommended and not recommended ways of wearing a mask. The recommended way for wearing a mask says, "should cover your nose, mouth, and chin without gaping." The following are not recommended: face shields, masks with exhalation valves, or clear plastic masks.
How to Safely Wear a Mask
Image description: Toronto Public Health infographic about how to safely wear a mask. Information on the infographic is listed below.
- Do wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off
- Do make sure it fits to cover your mouth and nose
- Do wash your cloth mask in the laundry
- Do clean surfaces that a dirty mask touches
- Don’t touch your face or mask while using it
- Don’t use masks on children under 2 or those who can’t breathe with them on
- Don’t share your mask with others
- Don’t wear medical masks, keep them for health care workers
- The best protection is to stay home, keep a 6-foot distance, and wash hands often.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
Today, Mayor John Tory announced a City of Toronto staff report will be going to Executive Committee next week recommending a tax levy on vacant Toronto homes starting in 2022. A vacant home tax increases the housing supply by encouraging homeowners to sell or rent their unoccupied home, and if they choose to continue to keep the home vacant, a tax is levied. This revenue can then be used to fund affordable housing projects.
City of Toronto continues to take extraordinary steps to help and protect people experiencing homelessness during COVID-19
Since the start of the pandemic, the City of Toronto has moved at unprecedented speed to adjust its services for those experiencing homelessness by creating 2,300 spaces in new temporary shelter and hotel programs for physical distancing.
Today, the City of Toronto announced the St. Lawrence Market Saturday Farmers Market will resume full operations so it can provide essential food retail to residents.
City Of Toronto Reopens Green Bond To Help Fund Projects That Mitigate The Effects Of Climate Change
The City of Toronto is reopening its Green Bond, originally issued in 2019, for an additional offering of $130 million to help finance capital projects that mitigate the effects of climate change. This is the City’s fifth public debenture issuance this year and the lowest 20-year term rate the City has ever issued with an all-in cost of 2.184 per cent.
On Giving Tuesday, the City of Toronto extends its sincere thanks to all the gracious residents and businesses who have donated gifts, goods and services to help support Toronto’s most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today also marks the first day of the City’s “12 Days of Giving” social media campaign, where the City will use its Twitter account to highlight a different way people can give on each of the next 12 days.
Province of Ontario Updates
The Ontario government is investing more than $115 million to support 850 patients across the province with high, complex care needs access services in the comfort of their own homes, while also expanding virtual care options for patients across the province.
The Ontario government is investing nearly $4.4 million to support the long-term sustainability of the province's vital tourism industry. This funding will help deliver innovative, safe experiences, like virtual festivals and events, and support tourism operators as they deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
Today, Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, issued the following statement.
The Ontario government announced today that the Club canadien de Toronto has been selected to develop the Francophone Business Network. This new province-wide innovative online platform will help entrepreneurs share their expertise and best practices and form new strategic partnerships. The province is investing $250,000 to support the development of the Network.
Government of Canada Updates
Government Introduces Legislation To Provide Critical Support To Canadians And Businesses During The Pandemic
The Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, introduced Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures. Bill C-14 is an essential step to implement measures from the Fall Economic Statement that would provide assistance to families with young children, support students, and invest in resources to protect the health and safety of Canadians.
Minister Fortier Highlights New Supports in Fall Economic Statement During Virtual Townhall With The Federation of Canadian Municipalities
The Honourable Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance, spoke with mayors and members of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities about proposed investments in Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19: Fall Economic Statement 2020. During the meeting, Minister Fortier discussed how the government will continue to protect Canadians’ health, jobs, and the economy.
Health Canada is aware that the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has issued a temporary authorization for temporary limited supply of its first COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech. Health Canada's independent review of this vaccine is ongoing, and is expected to be completed soon.
Government of Canada Announces $1.5 Billion In New Investments For Clean Drinking Water in First Nations Communities
The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, announced more than $1.5 billion in additional investments to help meet the government’s commitment to ensure clean drinking water in First Nations communities.
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
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 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.