Late last week, the Province of Ontario announced extending the stay-at-home order for Toronto and Peel regions. This came as a response to Dr. de Villa’s request to maintain the current restrictions in Toronto. I know this is disappointing and yet not unexpected. There continues to be a rise in variant case counts in the city and to further open up businesses could undo our public health efforts. Current Federal data modelling shows that new variants could fuel a surge of 20,000 cases around the country by March. There is still a very real threat of a third wave. I urge each and every one of us to take every precaution possible to stop the spread of COVID-19. Please limit trips outside of your home unless absolutely necessary, and continue practicing physical distancing. If you are able, please wear a mask when travelling outside of your home. I know this is challenging, but these are the tools that we have are our disposal and they have proven effective in controlling community spread.
After much debate, the 2021 City of Toronto budget has been approved by City Council. Since September, my office and I have been working with advocates and the community to ensure that there is an equitable recovery from COVID-19. As we know, the City budget is an opportunity to help hold our elected officials accountable and make our priorities known.
For much of this pandemic, I have heard your calls to divert the overfunding of policing to local organizations and communities. City Council has been asked to address the systemic challenges disproportionately impacting racialized communities, particularly Black and Indigenous communities. While there is much more work to be done, the Mayor and City Council has asked for a staff report on transferring responsibility for crisis response, traffic management, and parking enforcement away from police. There will be a more affordable way to deliver these services, while allowing the police to focus on core police work.
Additionally, I am proud my motion to support community safety initiatives like TO Wards Peace was adopted by City Council. By investing in these programs, we can directly address gaps in the City’s social services and better reflect the needs of each community. This is especially important in neighbourhoods suffering from repeated incidents of gun violence. To support this work, I’ve asked the City Solicitor to report on the feasibility of implementing and enforcing a municipal handgun ban, this was in response to the Federal government's recent announcement to download this responsibility to municipalities. Read my full statement here.
I also know how COVID-19 has impacted our small businesses, and how the taxi industry has been gutted by the introduction of vehicle-for-hire services, like Uber and Lyft. The Toronto taxi industry faces exorbitant licensing fees, unlike any other small business, which is why I’m proud that City Council adopted my motion to direct $2.5 million in contingency funds toward giving a financial reprieve to the taxi industry over licensing fees as well as a comprehensive review of vehicle-for-hire fees compared to other business licenses across the City. Staff will also be reinstating cancelled taxi licenses that were taken away from drivers over the last year. This should have never happened in the first place during a pandemic.
City Council has yet again called on the Provincial government for immediate financial support for additional supportive, and transitional housing, and reiterated the City’s priority to provide shelter to everyone sleeping outdoors this winter. After the tragedy at Orphan’s Green, It is further evidence that tents and temporary structures carry their own risks, and are not suitable replacements for permanent housing. Our goal is to get everyone safely indoors this winter, and the City of Toronto has committed to that action by finding emergency funding in the event that the City cannot meet the demands on its shelter system. Additionally, the City of Toronto is committed to funding ‘survival’ equipment and/or supplies at encampments. I think we can agree that everyone has the right to adequate housing with supports that meet their needs. Please take action to demand more financial aid to scale up rapid and modular supportive housing in the coming months. To learn more about what I’ve done and what more needs to be done and how you can support this work, please visit kristynwongtam.ca/homelessness.
On Thursday, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee will meet for the second time about the use of e-scooters in the city. I have heard from advocates and community members outlining the complexities of enforcement and insurance as well as the hazards abandoned e-scooters will create in the public realm. If you would like to share your opinion at the upcoming meeting, please email [email protected] or call 416-338-5089 to register to make a written or verbal deputation. Please ensure that you reference the item DI14.1 Electric Kick-Scooters (E-scooters). It is critical that as we look for alternatives in active transportation, we aren’t inadvertently creating more barriers. We need a thoughtful and strategic implementation, and the City doesn’t yet have a robust plan, or infrastructure, in place to ensure a successful rollout.
Lastly, as Toronto prepares for immunization, I’ve updated my resources page with vaccine information. You can learn more here.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
The City of Toronto wants to hear from you about the proposed safety upgrades to The Esplanade and Mill Street. You’re invited to the virtual public meeting where staff will be sharing the design for the new cycle lane along with proposed safety improvements. The proposed designs seek to improve safety for everyone; make it more attractive to walk, bike and take transit, and maintain access to local and citywide destinations. Learn more about the project at www.toronto.ca/EsplanadeMill.
When: February 25, 2021
Time: 6:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Register for the event here.
You can also share your feedback by completing this short survey before March 14. If you have any questions, please contact Alyssa Cerbu, Senior Coordinator, by emailing [email protected] or by calling 416-392-1932.
Community Care in Ward 13
A picture taken during the day of Councillor Wong-Tam with the Cabbagetown Cares volunteers
The Cabbagetown Cares initiative, an exciting partnership between the Cabbagetown Business Improvement Area, St. Luke’s United Church, and Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services has created an opportunity for the community to support individuals facing food insecurity. This initiative also supports local small businesses in the community that have been financially impacted by public health guidelines and lockdown measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A picture taken during the day of Councillor Wong-Tam with the Cabbagetown Cares volunteers
Through a combination of public and private donations as well as a grant from the City of Toronto, the Cabbagetown Cares program provides financial support for local food-related businesses to prepare 100 healthy and well-balanced lunches to vulnerable residents while also supporting different local businesses in the community on a weekly basis. Volunteers and staff will be distributing lunches in Allan Garden every Thursday for six weeks, until February 25th, 2021. This program includes participating member businesses such as Chew Chew’s Diner, Daniel et Daniel, Pho U, The Epicure Shop, and Tim Hortons as well as generous donations from DOVA Restaurant and Matt’s No Frills.
A few weeks ago, I stopped by Allan Gardens and met a few residents who stopped by the park to grab delicious sandwiches prepared by the local Epicure Shop. The level of need in our community is overwhelming, but I am inspired to see the community partnering together to help those who need it the most.
TD Park People Grant Applications Open
A drawing of a person planting flowers in a field of grass and plants
TD Park People Grants 2021 program has launched! TD Park People Grants support activities that promote environmental education, sustainability, and stewardship in Canada’s parks and green spaces. Despite a challenging year in 2020, park communities across the country came together to build vital connections between people and parks. Last year the grants supported 163 groups who hosted over 326 events in parks and online across nine Canadian cities.
Applications are now open for the TD Park People Grants programs, which will provide $2,000 grants to support 216 park events (in-person and virtual) that help enhance green spaces across Canada. Applications will be accepted until March 1st, 2021. Learn more about the grant program 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.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. Mayor John Tory, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Fire Chief and General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management Matthew Pegg announced the City is requesting that Toronto remain in the Shutdown Zone under the provincial Lockdown Regulation and subject to the Stay-at-Home Order until March 9 at the earliest in order to protect the healthcare system and save lives.
Toronto Public Health (TPH) has added new data to the COVID-19: Status of Cases in Toronto dashboard to illustrate how cases of variants of concern (VOC) are spreading in Toronto.
City Council approved a 2021 tax-supported operating budget of $12.13 billion and a 10-year tax-supported capital budget and plan of $29.1 billion. The budget preserves existing services within public health guidelines while managing the impacts of COVID-19 and continues to invest in key capital projects to build a more equitable and prosperous Toronto for all residents.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Immunization Clinic Staff Preparing to Launch Clinic Operations as Soon as Vaccine Supply Available
The City of Toronto’s Immunization Task Force continues to prepare for the launch of City-operated COVID-19 immunization clinics while waiting for vaccine supply and direction from the Province of Ontario to restart clinic operations. Staffing of City-operated clinics is now well underway.
The City of Toronto has applied for a court injunction to stop those who are building unsafe wooden structures and illegally depositing them on City property, including in parks and on City rights-of-way. The structures are not legal dwellings and the City’s Parks Bylaw and Streets Use Bylaw prohibit camping and placing tents or structures on City property. The injunction application was filed by the City with the Superior Court of Justice on February 12, 2021.
City of Toronto Supports Provincial Decision to Keep Toronto in Shutdown Zone and Subject to Stay-at-Home Order
The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. In response to evidence presented by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, the Province of Ontario announced Toronto will remain in the Shutdown Zone under the provincial Lockdown Regulation and subject to the Stay-at-Home Order until at least March 9. The City supports the Province’s decision to extend the current orders to protect the healthcare system and save lives.
As part of the 2021 budget approval process, Toronto City Council voted to provide a temporary reduction in the renewal fees and regulatory charges for Taxicab and Limousine Vehicle-for-Hire licensing categories. This initiative will assist up to 8,670 drivers in the city.
Mayor John Tory Announces First Registration Window for Expanded CaféTO Program Will Open this Friday
Mayor John Tory announced that the first registration window for the expanded CaféTO program will open this Friday, February 26 at 9 a.m. The first window will remain open for a full month, until Friday, March 26, and the second window will open immediately afterward.
City of Toronto Announces the Next Two Affordable Supportive Housing Sites as Part of Phase Two of its Modular Housing Initiative
Mayor John Tory announced the details of the second phase of the City of Toronto’s Modular Housing Initiative (MHI). The two sites announced today will create approximately 128 modular homes, 64 at each of the City-owned sites, which are located at 175 Cummer Ave., next to Willowdale Manor, and on the corner lot at Trenton Ave. and Cedarvale Ave. The new modular homes will provide stable, affordable housing and support services to individuals experiencing homelessness.
Province of Ontario Updates
The Ontario government is providing Facedrive Inc. with $2.5 million through the Ontario Together Fund to accelerate the deployment of its wearable contact tracing technology, TraceSCAN, which alerts users within a workplace who have been in close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. The company anticipates manufacturing about 150,000 devices under this project and creating 68 new jobs, including software, firmware and hardware engineers and machine learning specialists.
The Ontario government is investing up to $2.6 million over two years through the Safer and Vital Communities (SVC) grant to help communities combat hate-motivated crime. The funding will help 26 community-based, not-for-profit organizations and First Nations Chiefs and Band Councils, in collaboration with their police partners, implement local projects that tackle discrimination, foster greater inclusiveness and address the increase of police-reported hate crime.
The Ontario government is launching new health and safety education campaigns focusing on helping small businesses across the province reopen safely. The on-the-ground assistance includes a comprehensive suite of resources business owners can access at no cost to ensure they are helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Stay-at-Home Order Extended in Toronto and Peel Public Health Regions Along with North Bay-Parry Sound
In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the local medical officers of health, the Ontario government is maintaining the shutdown, the Stay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures for an additional two weeks in the Toronto and Peel Public Health Regions, along with the North Bay-Parry Sound District. The York Public Health Region will transition out of the shutdown and into the revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open.
The Ontario government has administered over 500,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to Phase One priority populations, which now includes adults 80 years of age and older. At the same time, the province is working with public health units to build and expand its capacity to immunize Phase Two populations by increasing delivery networks and preparing a booking solution and customer service supports for mass vaccination clinic registrations. Ontario has administered more vaccines than any other province.
The Ontario government is investing more than $4.1 million to help train 373 new Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and provide them with additional health and safety resources. This funding will ensure Ontario has more PSWs to provide the best care for seniors and residents in long-term care homes, while connecting people with meaningful work.
On National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, the Ontario government introduced the Combatting Human Trafficking Act, new legislation, and amendments to existing legislation to build upon the province's $307 million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy. This proposed legislation reinforces Ontario's commitment to fight human trafficking and demonstrates continued leadership in responding to this pervasive crime.
Government of Canada Updates
Canadians are concerned about rising firearm-related violence. Provinces and territories - as well as some large urban centres and First Nations communities – have identified firearm-related violence as a significant public safety issue in Canada. Some municipalities have raised risks posed by handguns and assault-style firearms.
Government of Canada Announces Measures to Keep Communities Safe, Fight Systemic Racism and Make our Criminal Justice System More Effective For All
The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the criminal justice system keeps all Canadians, their families, and communities safe.
The Government recognizes that there is systemic racism in Canada’s criminal justice system. We have heard Canadians, the courts and criminal justice experts, and seen the evidence of the disproportionate representation of Indigenous peoples, as well as Black Canadians in the criminal justice system. The proposed legislation would ensure courts can continue to impose tough sentences on violent and serious crimes without the disproportionate impact on Indigenous peoples, as well as Black Canadians and members of marginalized communities.
Government of Canada Proposes Increase to Number of Weeks for Recovery Benefits and EI Regular Benefits to Ensure Continued Support for Canadians Who Have Been Hardest Hit
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has been there for Canadians and provided them with the support they need to stay healthy, safe and solvent. Many workers and families across the country continue to face uncertain times as a result of the difficult but necessary public health measures put in place to save lives.
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.
Email: [email protected]
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.