Today the Province of Ontario sits at 1676 cases, with 219 patients in the ICU and 132 on ventilators. As the trend continues to rise, it’s concerning to watch Premier Ford deny the state of this health crisis in the Province. He explains the severity of this public health crisis by comparing Ontario to Alberta, where they are treating two or more patients in one ICU bedroom. Oddly, the Premier is satisfied with his own response to this pandemic because he’s not doing the worst job in the country. Hospitals still have capacity, though it is unclear for how long. I worry that he has dodged the reality of this pandemic for too long, and that when he does respond it will be too late and without any of the financial and program support needed for those hit the hardest. Comparing ourselves to how other provinces are navigating this crisis shouldn’t be a passing grade for Ontarians.
We saw last week at Thorncliffe Park Public School that during voluntary testing for COVID-19, 4% of people being tested were found positive. The 4% were students and faculty who were asymptomatic. Since then, two schools in the Thorncliffe neighbourhood have closed. Earlier this fall, the Province implemented appointment-based testing, which meant that they would no longer test people who might be asymptomatic. We do not have a full picture of the case count across the Province. What Thorncliffe Park demonstrates is that without complete community testing, we cannot be certain that the pandemic isn’t much worse.
We need much stronger action immediately to support Torontonians and small businesses, including more direct wage, income, and rent support, paid sick leave, and a ban on evictions. The Premier dottled preparing for this second wave, and we have seen and felt the results. We need to acknowledge our current circumstances and mitigate before our hospitals are overwhelmed, not when it’s too late. It seems our Premier is doing the absolute minimum to navigate this pandemic. Premier Ford has reconciled the cost of his inaction, and as long as his scorecard isn’t the worst, he believes he is doing his job.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the first delivery of a vaccine is anticipated by the end of the month. As recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and in alignment with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the province has identified key populations to receive the vaccine first, including long-term care and retirement home residents and the staff who provide care to these groups. We know that our most vulnerable populations should take priority in receiving the vaccine.
Groups receiving early vaccine doses in the first few months of the Ontario immunization program will include:
- Residents, staff, essential caregivers, and other employees of congregate living settings (e.g., long-term care homes and retirement homes) that provide care for seniors as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19;
- Health care workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other health care personnel;
- Adults in Indigenous communities, including remote communities where the risk of transmission is high; and
- Adult recipients of chronic home health care.
The City of Toronto has requested that vaccine distribution prioritize our most vulnerable populations, including those disproportionately affected by COVID-19. As part of the City’s support for those experiencing homelessness, I’m hopeful residents in our shelter systems along with their frontline staff will be prioritized as well. It is critical that we protect these additional congregate living settings.
Additionally, identified regions in red or grey zones will also be prioritized. These vaccines are still in the clinical trial phase and are awaiting approvals from Health Canada. As further information is made available about the various types of vaccines and availability of doses, additional details related to the implementation of the COVID-19 immunization program will be provided based on the latest medical advice and scientific evidence. Only vaccines that Health Canada determines to be safe and effective will be approved for use in the country. Before any vaccines are available in Ontario or Canada, they will undergo rigorous clinical trials to determine if they are safe and effective, and be evaluated and authorized for use by Health Canada using rigorous standards.
Until a vaccine can be widely distributed, I urge everyone to continue to adhere to the advice of Toronto Public Health. Please do not leave your home unless you are making an essential trip. Please do not see anyone outside of your own household. Wash your hands frequently and if you are able, wear a mask. While a vaccine is very promising, we are not yet out of the woods.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this upcoming holiday season and how we can celebrate together despite the physical distancing rules. Please share some of your holiday spirit by sending us your Christmas and other holiday-themed photos, such as your holiday decorations, or a favourite holiday storefront display that you enjoy. Please email your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org to join in the celebration and include a brief description along with your neighbourhood in Toronto Centre. With your permission, I will share your photo of holiday joy with the readers of our upcoming newsletters.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
Image description: a promotional graphic for the Cabbagetown fundraiser
Resident associations across Cabbagetown, along with the Cabbagetown Preservation Association, have teamed up to launch a fundraiser to address the alarming and growing issue of food insecurity that impacts many residents in the neighbourhood. COVID-19 has exacerbated the reliance on food service programs especially in the Downtown East and we know there are neighbourhoods in Toronto Centre who have been disproportionately impacted.
The Cabbagetown fundraiser will directly support Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, an organization that operates many community programs and operates many food accessibility and affordable housing programs in the heart of Cabbagetown. In a regular year, Dixon Hall serves upwards of 10,000 people annually, and of course, the impacts of COVID-19 have increased the amount of people in need. If you can afford it, please consider contributing to this campaign in any amount.
Community Care in Ward 13
Graphic description: a promotional poster for the Shop Old Town Toronto 2 Win event
Help support local businesses in the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood and potentially win a prize for doing so! Old Town Toronto and the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Business Improvement Area are partnering with BMO to help incentivize local spending during this difficult period brought on by COVID-19.
When you spend $25 or more in the neighbourhood, you can upload your receipt for a chance to win $500. In addition, the business that you spent the money at also wins $500 thanks to your support!
You can enter as many times as you have unique receipts of $25 or more. There are future upcoming draw dates on December 13 and 20, so get shopping at the many fantastic stores and restaurants in the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood. You can learn more about how to enter and upload your receipt images by visiting: www.shopoldtownto2win.com.
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
Toronto Public Health (TPH) updated their COVID-19 school screening tool to further prevent opportunities for virus spread. The updated screening tool includes a new requirement that if a student has even one COVID-19 symptom, they must stay home, self-isolate and get tested; and if they live with siblings in the same household, they must all self-isolate. The changes made to the tool were based on our findings from COVID-19 case and outbreak investigations in schools in Toronto.
The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. Mayor John Tory, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, and Toronto Fire Chief and General Manager of the City’s Office of Emergency Management, Matthew Pegg, provided an update on the City’s measures to combat the resurgence of the virus in Toronto.
Province of Ontario Updates
The Ontario government is ready to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are received, beginning with vaccinating vulnerable populations and those who care for them. As recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and in alignment with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the province has identified key populations to receive the vaccine first, including long-term care and retirement home residents and the staff who provide care to these groups. The government's approach is informed by science and prioritizes population groups that are at greatest risks of COVID-19.
The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health, and other health experts, is moving three public health regions to new levels with stronger public health measures as set out in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. These steps are being taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 in order to keep schools open, safeguard health system capacity, and protect the province's most vulnerable populations.
The Ontario government is enhancing passenger safety and customer experience with the official opening of the new Union Station GO Bus Terminal. Beginning tomorrow transit riders will have full access to the new two-level, indoor terminal located on the north-east corner of Bay Street and Lake Shore Boulevard. It will provide riders travelling in and out of the Greater Toronto Area with more direct connections to GO trains, the TTC, VIA Rail and UP Express.
Government of Canada Updates
Statement by Minister Monsef on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Tabling in Parliament of the Report by the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada
The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, issued the following statement.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is working to identify and mitigate risks in the food supply chain so that Canadians are protected from food misrepresentation, which is a common form of food fraud.
Canadians will face a challenging winter as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect communities across the country. Better days are coming, but the federal government will help to ensure families have the support they need until Canada emerges from this crisis. The Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Ahmed Hussen, announced additional supports for children and families through the Canada Child Benefit and investments in child care.
The Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to ensure that Canadians have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced that following successful negotiations, Canada will receive up to 249,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, contingent on Health Canada authorization of the vaccine.
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.