COVID Variants, Budget Town Hall Review, Province Rejects Paid Sick Days, and COVID-19 Updates

While Toronto will move to the Grey-Lockdown zone in the Province’s colour-coded framework beginning February 22, the rest of the public health regions move into the framework today. I must reiterate how important it is to continue practicing the public health guidelines set in place by Toronto Public Health. While Premier Ford presses for reopening, he ignores the health outcomes which await us without careful consideration.

The Province’s current new modeling shows more contagious variants of the virus could cause 5,000 to 6,000 infections a day by the end of March. It is clear the Premier’s policies are not “for the people” when he ignores the health data before him. Dr. David Williams defended lifting the stay-at-home order stating that the directive remains the same and that residents are asked to continue to stay home. This backward logic is confusing. Communities being asked to stay home cannot support businesses, moreover, businesses reopening implies that it is encouraged for residents to make non-essential trips. 

I know businesses are suffering and have not been adequately financially supported during this pandemic. Like most of us, business operators are frustrated. I am too. The Premier is sitting on $6.4 billion dollars in unallocated COVID relief funding. While unallocated dollars are not uncommon across the country, Ontario is carrying the most. The Premier is waiting for the damage to be done, and only then will he use these relief dollars. It is clear there is no proactive approach to recovery, only wishful thinking. 

Today, our provincial Conservative government voted against paid sick days. Health advocates have identified this as critical legislation to navigate the ongoing health crisis. We know that many are choosing between going to work sick or putting food on their table and a roof over their head. This callous act ignores evidence that paid sick days and paid sick leave helps our collective recovery. Only 42% of all workers in Canada have access to paid sick days. For the lowest-paid, it’s only 10%. By legislating paid sick days, we can ensure workers don’t spread this virus or any variant on the job. Clearly, Premier Ford isn’t interested in what can protect Ontario, but instead continuing to weigh the cost of lives against the economy. 

Ontario faces an enormous public health crisis, and without continued strict measures we are at risk of a third wave of this pandemic. As I have said before, please continue to follow the advice of Toronto Public Health and Dr. de Villa who predicts an increase in case counts, and does not recommend Toronto begin re-opening. I urge you to only make essential trips, continue practicing physical distancing and if you care, wear a mask. While it may be tempting, please do not travel to regions that are more open. I know we are eager to get back to our regular routine, but not at the expense of the health and safety of our communities. 

Last Tuesday, I hosted Toronto Centre’s Budget Town Hall. During the town hall, we received a presentation from Anthony Ng who works in City Finance, and explored how you might allocate your tax dollars across our City services with Toronto Centre’s Citizen Budget. Thank you to everyone who attended, asked questions and offered thoughtful feedback on the 2021 City Budget. This year has been historic for the City and I want to commend the City Finance staff for their ongoing effort in balancing the budget despite enormous challenges. 

In our town hall, I heard your calls for more divestment from policing, for increased investment in the environment and public realm, and housing for our most vulnerable. I’ve read the comments and seen the group results from participation in Toronto Centre’s Citizen Budget tool. If you haven’t yet, there is still time to make your ideal budget and add your voice.

On Thursday, City Council will vote to approve the 2021 City Budget. The Mayor has announced key matters addressing funding for community programs and connectivity in neighbourhoods hardest hit by COVID-19. The City expects the province to commit to funding the City’s affordable housing plan as well as make up the remaining deficit. As I advocate for the needs of our communities, I look to you to continue sharing your thoughts with my colleagues on Council and the Mayor. Only through collective action will we be able to move the dial towards a more equitable, robust recovery and beyond.

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

Kristyn


Community Corner in Ward 13

A map outlining the different parks that are receiving improvements.

The City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation division invites you to learn more about the improvements coming to three parks in the Yonge Street Linear Parks network including George Hislop Park, Norman Jewison Park, and the Alexander Street Parkette. A preferred concept plan has been developed, which is informed by stakeholder and community feedback on the early concept plan options presented in November 2020.

Staff are hosting a second virtual community consultation meeting to provide a project update and want to hear from you about the preferred concept plan and share your priorities.

When: Wednesday February 17, 2021
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Register to join here

This virtual meeting will be accessible online or via telephone. To join by phone please call 647-558-0588 using the webinar ID 837 8666 7058. If you have any questions, please connect with Nancy Chater, Senior Project Coordinator at 416-338-5237 or by email [email protected]. Learn more about the Yonge Street Linear Parks Project.


Recreation Centres Opening for People Living with Disabilities

We have seen how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted some communities more than others, especially those living with disability, who’ve yet to feel any reprieve from this crisis. Beginning today, 10 of the City’s recreation centres will open to allow persons living with disabilities access to physical therapy while Toronto remains under lockdown.

The provincial government recently filed a revision to Regulation 82/20 which provides an exemption for a person with a disability to access recreation, sports, and fitness facilities during the lockdown. This includes access to weight rooms, studios, stretch areas, and indoor walking tracks which will be made available to residents who meet the provincial criteria to use fitness centres. These amenities will not be available to people who do not meet the criteria outlined in the revised regulation.

Below are the locations of the recreation centres:

  • L’Amoreaux Community Recreation Centre, 2000 McNicoll Ave.
  • Port Union Community Centre, 5450 Lawrence Ave. E
  • York Recreation Centre, 115 Black Creek Dr.
  • Wallace Emerson Community Centre, 1260 Dufferin St.
  • Parkway Forest Community Centre, 55 Forest Manor Rd.
  • Edithvale Community Centre, 131 Finch Ave. W.
  • Albion Health Club, 1501 Albion Rd.
  • Etobicoke Olympium, 590 Rathburn Rd.
  • East York Community Centre, 1081 Pape Ave.
  • Lawrence Community Centre, 230 The Esplanade (Ward 13)

Visits will be limited to 90 minutes and participants will need to make an appointment in advance as well as present their medical certificate each time they attend. People using the facility under the provisions of the revised regulations will also be subject to membership and/or pay-as-you-go fees for services. Learn more about registration here.


Community Care in Ward 13

A promotional image for the Celebrations and Revelation 2021 free online concert in celebration of Black History Month.

As part of Black History Month, Celebrations and Revelations 2021 will be offered for the entire month of February. Sponsored by TD Bank Group, this concert seeks to start a conversation among all Canadians. The show introduces the music of Black classical composers from the 17th to 21st century who were well known in their day but have been forgotten or dismissed. The music is performed by four extraordinarily talented young Black musicians who excel in their areas, and who provide essential role models for young people everywhere.

Learn more about this FREE show, and how you can stream it anytime before February 28! I can’t wait to enjoy this educational and entertaining concert as part of Black History Month. 

Watch the trailer here.


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.

Thank 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

First COVID-19 Variant Connected to a City Long-Term Care Home

A City of Toronto employee working at Castleview Wychwood Towers (CWT), a City-operated long-term care home, has screened positive for a COVID-19 variant. The frontline worker, who does not have direct contact with residents, last worked on February 2.

First COVID-19 Variant Connected to a Shelter for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

Toronto Public Health has been advised of a COVID-19 case that has screened positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern at the Maxwell Meighen Centre, a shelter funded by the City of Toronto and operated by The Salvation Army.

Select City of Toronto Recreation Facilities to Open for Individuals with Disabilities to Access Physical Therapy

Beginning Tuesday, February 16, ten of the City’s recreation facilities will open to allow individuals with disabilities to access physical therapy while Toronto remains in lockdown. Under provincial regulations, participants will be required to provide a medical certificate issued by a regulated medical practitioner attesting to a disability as defined by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

City of Toronto Applauds Health Care Partners for Completing Second Vaccination Doses for Toronto Long-Term Care Residents and Staff

As of Tuesday, February 16, seven health care partners and the City of Toronto will have offered COVID-19 immunization clinics to administer the second dose of vaccine at all 87 long-term care homes in Toronto. This vaccination milestone, protecting some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, represents a significant achievement in the City’s ongoing response to the pandemic.

City of Toronto Readying Nine COVID-19 Immunization Clinics for When Vaccine Supply Re-Established

Mayor John Tory announced the locations of City-operated COVID-19 immunization clinics. The City of Toronto’s Immunization Task Force is working to ensure all nine City-operated clinics will be ready to open once the Province of Ontario provides direction, and vaccine supply is secured by the Government of Canada.

City of Toronto Reminds Residents to Take Action to Prevent Frozen Water Pipes During Extreme Cold Temperatures

With the continued forecasted nighttime temperatures dropping below minus 10 degrees Celsius for the next week, the City of Toronto urges residents to take the necessary precautions to prevent the water pipes inside their home from freezing. Frozen water pipes can lead to significant and costly property damage should they burst, resulting in no water for several days, depending on the severity of the repairs.

Toronto Public Health Releases COVID-19 Workplace Outbreak Data

Following the Board of Health decision on January 18, 2021, Toronto Public Health (TPH) will increase reporting of active COVID-19 outbreaks at local workplaces. This information will be published on the COVID-19 Monitoring Dashboard, which is updated weekly on Thursdays.

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.


Province of Ontario Updates

Ontario Deploys Rapid Tests to More Essential Workplaces and Settings

Based on the successful use of rapid tests in select settings across the province the Ontario government is deploying test kits to more essential workplaces and sectors in order to quickly identify and help stop the spread of COVID-19. Rapid tests are now being used in long-term care homes, retirement homes, congregate care settings, First Nations communities, and many essential workplaces.

Ontario Returning 27 Public Health Regions to Strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is transitioning twenty-seven public health regions out of the shutdown and into a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open (the "Framework"). The four remaining public health regions, Toronto Public Health, Peel Public Health, York Region Public Health and North Bay Parry Sound District, will remain in the shutdown, and theStay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures will continue to apply to these four public health regions.     

Ontario Expands Eligibility for Main Street Relief Grant

The Ontario government is expanding the number of small businesses that can apply for the Main Street Relief Grant to help offset the costs of purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) to cautiously and gradually reopen in parts of the province. Small businesses with 2 to 19 employees in all eligible sectors - expanded from 2-9 employees - including those in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, can now apply for up to $1,000 in financial support. The expansion is being made as more parts of the province enter the strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework, which allows for the gradual and safe reopening of in-store shopping at non-essential retail stores.

Ontario Supporting COVID-19 Response in High Priority Communities

The Ontario government continues to implement its High Priority Communities Strategy to provide targeted supports to 15 communities hardest hit by COVID-19. As part of the strategy, the province is providing $12.5 million to local lead agencies to work in partnership with Ontario Health, public health units, municipalities, and other community partners to help high-risk neighbourhoods contain the spread of the virus and access services to better protect individuals and families.  

Ontario Extends Off-Peak Electricity Rates to Provide Relief for Families, Small Businesses, and Farms

The Ontario government is once again extending electricity rate relief for families, small businesses, and farms to support those spending more time at home while the province maintains the Stay-at-Home Order in the majority of public health regions. The government will continue to hold electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour until February 22, 2021. This lower rate is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week for Time-Of-Use and tiered customers.

Ontario Working with Municipal Partners to Improve Social Assistance

The Ontario Government is working with its municipal partners to better connect people to the supports they need as the next step in the province’s plan to modernize the delivery of social assistance. As part of its plan, frontline workers will have more time to focus on connecting clients with supports such as job-readiness programs, housing, childcare, skills training and mental health services. At the same time, the province will gradually take on more program administration to make it easier for people to navigate the system.

Ontario Delays March Break in an Effort to Reduce Community Transmission of COVID-19

Stephen Lecce, Ontario's Minister of Education, issued the following statement regarding March break.

More updates from the Province of Ontario.


Government of Canada Updates

Government of Canada to Invest $100 Million to Support Women Impacted by the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified systemic and longstanding inequalities, with women and girls disproportionately affected by the crisis. The Government of Canada is taking strong action to prevent the pandemic from rolling back progress or reversing the hard-won gains of women in Canada.

CPHO Sunday Edition: Equipping Ourselves Against Mis- and Disinformation During COVID-19

On February 14, 2021, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement on COVID-19.

Proposed Regulations Under the Accessible Canada Act, a Major Step Towards a Barrier-Free Canada

The Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to create a barrier-free Canada with the implementation of the Accessible Canada Act, which will help remove barriers, and increase access and opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Ministers Chagger and Monsef Announced Funding Recipients of the LGBTQ2 Community Capacity Fund

The Government of Canada supports LGBTQ2 community-led organizations across Canada and on February 11th held a press conference.

Government of Canada Invests in Canadian Clean Technology Innovations

The Government of Canada is making investments that will lay the groundwork for a stronger, greener, and more resilient economy, which will create opportunities for all Canadians

Canada Supports the Nation Rebuilding Efforts of Indigenous Groups in Atlantic Canada to Advance Self-Determination and Reconciliation

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced that Canada has provided almost $1.8 million this fiscal year to five Indigenous groups from Atlantic Canada through the Nation Rebuilding Program.

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 (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.

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-complaints. You can also call their non-emergency line at 416-808-2222. 

Phone: 416-392-7903
Constituency Office: 100 Queen St W A5, Toronto, ON, M5H 2N2