Yesterday, the Premier announced that on February 22, Toronto will return to the colour-coded Provincial COVID-19 framework and begin re-opening. There are more cases today than there were in March 2020, and now there are several cases of COVID-19 variants in the city. As the Province gradually opens up once more, I urge every Torontonian to keep up to date through the Toronto Public Health dashboard and follow the advice of Dr. de Villa. I know how eager we all are to return to our regular lives, but we’ve seen this cycle before. The Province starts to open up again and the case counts rise. Please consider how you can make your trips outside of your home safer as there is still a great risk in Toronto. Please continue to practice physical distancing, stay home and if you can, wear a mask. Without caution, we will be trapped in a perpetual cycle of closing and re-opening.
My colleagues and I at Toronto’s Board of Health continue to call on the Province to mandate paid sick leave, targeted support for temporary workers, and enhanced proactive workplace inspections to help curb the transmission of COVID-19. It is ridiculous and frustrating to continue to make this simple request of the Province. We know these supports are critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces, and to deny that fact is negligent in the midst of a global pandemic. We have seen the complications of COVID-19 can last well beyond 14 days, particularly in people who have underlying health issues. Without these supports, people are forced to choose between their health and putting food on their table or a roof over their heads.
Last week, my motion with Councillor Gord Perks was supported by City Council repeating our request that the Premier immediately halt evictions to prevent further homelessness. We called on him to instate an emergency rent subsidy to prevent tenants from being forced into homelessness. We remain inside a global pandemic and despite Provincial eviction suspension, virtual hearings at the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) are still being held. Through November, December, and January, the LTB held over 13, 000 eviction hearings. These mass evictions exacerbate an already existing housing crisis in Toronto, and this callous inaction by the Premier has a punishing effect on those most vulnerable during a global health crisis.
After rigorous debate, my colleagues and I voted in support of the Community Crisis Support Service Pilot during last week’s council meeting. Additionally, my motion to ensure that funding followed the new services was adopted. It asks the Toronto Police Service Board to consider financially supporting the pilot, by redirecting money to community organizations as a way to support the retasking of the community crisis support work. My motion further requests the Province to financially support the pilot by adequately investing to close the service gaps in mental health services and addiction recovery programs, including detox beds and broad options for affordable and supportive housing. This pilot will not be effective unless we can address the gaps in Provincial support services, otherwise, there is no place to refer the distressed individuals to get the help they need. This can only happen through robust investment by our Provincial government. It is important that when referrals are made, the people who need it most have immediate access to necessary recovery supports.
I am thrilled that City Council in a supermajority vote of 21-5 approved yongeTOmorrow, the Yonge Street environmental assessment that has been a decade in the making. This successfully moves us solidly into the future of redesigning iconic Yonge Street to meet the needs of an ambitious 21st-century city. While there is still much work to be done in advancing this project, including Provincial approval, it is exciting to see the City Council come together and believe in the future of a dynamic legacy for all of Toronto.
Next week on February 18th, City Council will approve the 2021 City Budget. There continue to be ongoing discussions and I would encourage you to reach out and make your priorities known. This year, my office has partnered with a Canadian organization, Ethelo, to use a citizen budget tool where you can experiment with tax dollars to fund City services. I would encourage you to explore our Toronto Centre’s Citizen Budget. My office is reviewing group results to help inform budget priorities. Make your ideal budget today!
Next Tuesday, many parents are sending their children back to school. To help you prepare, Toronto Public Health has provided some helpful information for going back to in-class learning available here.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
Promotional poster for the Shop2Win campaign
Help support local businesses in the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood and enter for a chance to win prizes! 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 here for a chance to win $500. If you win, the Old Town business you supported will also win $500 thanks to your support!
That’s not all! If you submit receipts four out of the eight weeks leading up to April 5, you are automatically entered to win the grand prize of $1,000 for you and $1,000 for your favourite Old Town business.
You can enter as many times as you have unique receipts of $25 or more. The first draw date is February 15, with a total of eight weekly draws until April 5, so get shopping at the many fantastic stores and restaurants in the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood.
Community Care in Ward 13
Stop in the Name of Love
This Sunday, Friends of the Foundry are inviting you to a ‘love-in’ in support of the Dominion Foundry Complex. Meet at the corner of Rolling Mills and Palace Street on Sunday, February 14th at 11:15 am for a demonstration filled with love. Wear something red, bring your valentine and support for local planning.
Promotional poster for the Stop in the Name of Love protest
In order to comply with public health guidelines, this demonstration will be physically distanced and masked. For more information please connect with [email protected].
Toronto Centre Budget Town Hall Tonight!
Promotional poster for Councillor Wong-Tam's Budget Town Hall
Tonight, join Councillor Wong-Tam and guest speaker, Anthony Ng, from City Financial Planning as they present the upcoming 2021 City of Toronto Budget. They will discuss key learnings from our Making Cents speaker series, as well as explore how you would spend your tax dollars with our new online Toronto Centre - Ward 13 participatory budget tool created in partnership with the B.C. non-profit research institute, Ethelo. There will also be an opportunity for you to ask any questions.
When: February 9, 2021 (tonight)
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
If you’re unable to join tonight, you can watch it on my Youtube channel. The last day for public deputations is Thursday, February 11, 2021, at the Executive Committee. The agenda is available here. I encourage you to explore my Budget 101 guide and learn more about how you can get involved.
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
First COVID-19 Cases Linked to Brazilian and South African Variants of Concern Identified in Toronto
Toronto Public Health (TPH) is reporting that a Toronto resident has tested positive for the P.1 COVID-19 mutation, known as the Brazilian variant of concern. The individual, who is hospitalized, recently travelled from Brazil. This is the first case of P.1 COVID-19 variant of concern reported in Toronto.
Toronto Public Health is announcing that five COVID-19 cases with coronavirus mutations have been identified in two health care facilities in Toronto. This includes one COVID-19 case that has been confirmed positive for the U.K. variant of concern. TPH is awaiting the lab testing results for the remaining four cases.
Toronto City Council approved ConnectTO – a City-driven collaborative program that aims to leverage the use of municipal resources and assets to increase digital equity and expand access to affordable, high-speed internet to underserved Toronto residents.
The Province of Ontario today announced that pet groomers are now permitted to operate in some limited circumstances and under strict conditions. The City of Toronto has informed COVID-19 enforcement officers of the amended direction and conditions for groomers to operate in compliance with provincial regulations.
Toronto City Council unanimously approved a bigger and better CaféTO program to help Toronto’s main street restaurants and bars during the City’s ongoing pandemic response.
The City of Toronto has issued 2021 interim property tax bills – the first of two tax bills mailed annually.
Mayor John Tory unveiled the City of Toronto’s Black Community COVID-19 Response Plan developed in December 2020 to provide enhanced support for Black Torontonians. The plan was developed as part of the TO Supports: Targeted Equity Action Plan and in response to data released in late 2020 that revealed the highest rates of COVID-19 cases in Toronto (26 per cent) and vaccine hesitancy experienced by Canadians (about 30 per cent) were among Black people of African and Caribbean descent.
Toronto City Council approved the extension of the City of Toronto’s temporary mask bylaws until the end of City Council’s June 8 and 9, 2021 meeting. The Mandatory Mask By-law 541-2020, as amended by By-law 664-2020, were both extended, as these bylaws were set to expire at the end of the February 2 and 3, 2021 City Council meetings.
City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health Working to Support the Province’s Safe Reopening of Schools
The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. Mayor John Tory and Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa provided an update on the City’s measures to combat the virus and the Province of Ontario’s announcement that Toronto students will return to in-person learning on February 16.
City of Toronto Partners with YWCA Toronto to Open New Affordable and Permanent Housing at 389 Church St.
Mayor John Tory officially opened an affordable and permanent supportive rental housing building that includes 120 apartments for women at 389 Church St. These self-contained apartments will create a safe, inclusive and supportive community for Indigenous and non-Indigenous women, gender diverse people, and youth and seniors who have experienced or who are at risk of experiencing homelessness; and will be operated by the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Toronto.
Toronto residents can now enjoy products from the St. Lawrence Market delivered directly to their homes.
Province of Ontario Updates
In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the government is moving to a regional approach and maintaining the shutdown in the majority of the public health regions in Ontario, including the Stay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures. When it is safe to do so, the province will gradually transition each region from the shutdown measures to a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open (the "Framework").
Once local trends of key public health indicators have improved, the province's 34 public health regions will be gradually transitioned back to a strengthened and revised COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open (the "Framework"), with some new and modified measures in place. These measures include updates to allow in-store shopping at non-essential retail stores with additional public health and safety measures in place.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the dates for the return of in-person learning in all remaining Ontario public health units (PHUs). The government's decision was based on the advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, the unanimous recommendation of the Council of Medical Officers of Health, and with the support of local Medical Officers of Health.
The Ontario government is providing CEM Specialties Inc. (CEMSI) $2 million through the Ontario Together Fund to help commercialize and accelerate production of its airborne COVID-19 detector Kontrol BioCloud (BioCloud). This innovative technology will add another layer of protection by monitoring in real time the air in places where people gather, such as schools, offices, long-term care homes, hospitals, public transit, and manufacturing facilities. The company anticipates accelerating the production of the BioCloud will create up to 250 direct jobs and up to 750 indirect jobs.
Government of Canada Updates
Canada Launches Global Campaign To Address Education Crisis For Refugees And Internally Displaced Children And Youth
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the education of 9 out of 10 learners worldwide, millions of them children living in countries facing a humanitarian crisis. The impacts are particularly severe for refugees and other forcibly displaced children and youth, especially girls, who are most at risk of being left behind.
The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade will deliver opening remarks at Cleantech Global Workshop focusing on promoting Canadian women clean technology firms and government export partners.
Canadians expect their government to take all necessary steps to keep them safe, while safeguarding their values, their rights and freedoms and the open, inclusive character of our country. The Criminal Code listing regime is an important tool for countering terrorism in Canada and globally, and is part of that commitment.
Minister Fortier and Parliamentary Secretary Fergus Meet with Black Business Community Leaders to Discuss Priorities as Part of Budget 2021 Consultations
The Honourable Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance, met virtually with leaders from the country’s Black business community to discuss the opportunities to create growth and ensure an inclusive, equitable and resilient recovery from COVID-19 that leaves no one behind.
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested Canadians in many ways. However, as Canadians work together in the fight against COVID-19, they must continue to plan for the future. For some, this includes saving for their child’s education after high school. Supporting families and at-risk communities, and making it easier for them to prepare for life’s important milestones, is a core part of the Government’s plan to build a stronger and more resilient country.
Government of Canada Takes Further Action to Advance Gender Equity for Black Women and Girls in Canada
Black women and girls in Canada are at greater risk of gender-based violence (GBV) and the Government of Canada is working closely with partner organizations, experts, and those with lived experience to address this and ensure access to appropriate, intersectional, and timely support services. The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, announced up to $2.5 million in federal funding for a new project that will advance gender equity and prevent gender-based violence (GBV) against Black women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
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.