Late yesterday evening, the Province of Ontario announced that students will be returning to in-classroom learning starting Monday, January 17, 2022. Education Minister Stephen Lecce has announced new regulations allowing retired school teachers to teach more days to offset teacher absenteeism. Additionally, the Toronto District School Board has shipped over 600,000 N95 masks, and has shipped over 300 more HEPA filters as well as three play masks to all schools for student use. This is a good start but much more needs to be done to ensure student and staff safety.
While I know that we are all eager for students to resume a normal school year, unfortunately, the Province’s new eligibility criteria for testing have exacerbated the issue of transparency and continue to create uncertainty about the safety of the return to school plan. The updated guidelines state that students will only be tested if they develop symptoms while at school. The new guidelines also mean that schools are not required to notify families of outbreaks or to dismiss students even when there has been a positive case or exposure. Additionally, testing kits will no longer be offered to children exposed to asymptomatic classmates, even if those classmates are confirmed to have COVID-19.
Unvaccinated students 12 years or older who present with symptoms of COVID-19 must be isolated for ten days upon showing symptoms, or a positive test, whichever is sooner. Fully vaccinated students 12 years or older must isolate upon presentation of any COVID-19 symptoms for five days from symptom onset or positive test, whichever occurred sooner. They can exit isolation 24 hours after their symptoms show signs of improvement.
Students younger than 11 years old have no differentiation based on vaccination status and can stop isolating after five days, provided their symptoms are improving. Siblings, parents and other household members must also self-isolate while the student is isolating. As of Monday, 47% of children aged five to 11 years old had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 3.5% are fully vaccinated.
Premier Ford and his government have still not adequately prepared our schools, our health care system, parents or teachers for a return to in-class learning despite taking an extra two weeks after the Winter break to prepare. While in-person learning is critical for social development, we have had over a year and a half to prepare our schools. It may be frustrating and scary to send your children back to school without adequate supports.
Since his election in 2018, Premier Ford cut billions of dollars from the public service, including childcare, which was already unaffordable for many families. Through this pandemic, we have seen the toll these cuts have taken upon our educators and children. Without access to adequate HEPA filters, N95 masks, or rapid tests and no reporting mechanism for outbreaks, our youngest residents are left without necessary protection. This inaction is shameful, especially as students return to the classroom. It’s my hope that the Provincial Government proportionately expand their efforts and to approve all the necessary funding to ensure that while in-class learning resumes, they are simultaneously working to make all schools and learning environments safer.
As businesses across the City are forced to close their doors temporarily (or in some cases, permanently) amid the surge of Omicron cases, I must reiterate how our small businesses must receive adequate financial aid to survive this newest wave of COVID-19. The Province of Ontario has implemented these financial supports for businesses including a small business grant of $10,000. We know this is not enough for our downtown businesses whose commercial leases are upwards of $30,000 per month. Additionally, these payments and rebates won’t be paid out until February at which point, it will be too late for already struggling businesses.
The City of Toronto has created web tools listing financial relief while promoting resources designed to support businesses affected by COVID-19. This is on top of the one-stop business support centre that the City has partnered with the Toronto Region Board of Health to create. Here you will find information on every possible question you may have about business support and the pandemic.
The City of Toronto lacks the full range of financial resources to support struggling businesses since we do not have lucrative revenue tools such as income and sales taxes. It feels impossible to be here again, and even more unacceptable that Premier Ford has no substantial plan to support the business industry. The Premier continues to prioritize big box retailers, developers, and his donor friends. We have had almost two years of living with COVID-19, and advocates have been fighting tirelessly for essential supports for our healthcare heroes and essential workforce.
It is also critical to reinstate an eviction and rental freeze for Toronto’s rental market. With the Federal government providing a nominal Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit for $300 per week ($270 after taxes are withheld), it is impossible for Torontonians to pay rent. Unfortunately $1200 per month doesn’t cover rent, let alone a grocery bill. Much more is needed from both our provincial and federal partners to support our City and its residents.
This summer we will have a provincial election, and I urge you to consider the actions and inactions of this government when navigating the pandemic. Remember the billions of dollars cut from essential public services. Remember how we have scrambled for access to tests, vaccinations, and information. Remember how impossible it is to choose between food on the table or a roof over your head.
These days are challenging, but I urge you to hold fast. Get vaccinated and, if you're able, wear a mask, and most importantly, it’s time to make the things that matter important election issues for your candidates.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
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My office periodically sends targeted updates and notices. If you are interested in receiving any of the following emails:
- City Council Updates
- Community Council Updates
- Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee Updates
- 2SLGBTQ+ Advisory Committee Updates
- Dog Off-Leash Area Updates
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What’s In Today’s EBlast?
- Corktown Dog Off-Leash Area Public Information Session
- Ontario Government Consultation: Housing Affordability
- Cabbagetown Streetscape Master Plan
- Update on Public Health Measures and the Status of COVID-19 at the St. Lawrence Market
- Speaking at Trinity-St Paul's United Church and Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts
- Carols in the Square with St. Michael’s School Choir
- Cultural Festivals Funding Program: Applications Now Open!
- COVID Vaccine Clinics for Kids in Ward 13!
- Friends of Ruby Peer Support
Corktown Dog Off-Leash Area Public Information Session
Corktown Dog Off-Leash Area Public Information Session promotional poster
Corktown has been without a proper dog off-leash area (OLA) since 2018, when the previous OLA in Corktown Common was removed by Enbridge when major utility work was undertaken in the area. Since then, my office has worked with City staff and local community stakeholders to identify a new sustainable location. Through this process, members of the community have expressed concern with the proposed OLA locations, prompting the City to go back to the drawing board.
We know the demand on our furry friends is great, and we continue to work toward a resolution. On January 27, 2022 from 5:00 p.m to 6:30 p.m., join Councillor Wong-Tam, City of Toronto staff, and other residents to learn more about how we got here, proposed solutions, what you can do, and to have your questions about the OLA answered.
What: Corktown Dog OLA Information Session
When: January 27, 2022
Time: 5:00 p.m to 6:30 p.m.
Ontario Government Consultation: Housing Affordability
The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has released a survey asking residents in Ontario to share their thoughts about how we can increase Ontario’s housing supply. Ontario is in the midst of a housing crisis, and your feedback may help the Ontario government determine solutions or considerations for how to improve this crisis. The survey asks for your ideas on how to build on the progress to date and make it easier for you to find a home that meets your needs and budget. You are invited to share your feedback by answering the questions in the survey. You are not required to answer all the questions to participate. The survey closing date is January 13, 2022 at 4:00 p.m.
Cabbagetown Streetscape Master Plan
Cabbagetown Streetscape Master Plan information poster
The Cabbagetown BIA is preparing a comprehensive Streetscape Master Plan to guide future streetscape improvements. Join them at the first of virtual community consultations. Your opinion will help shape the future of Cabbagetown
When: Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Update on Public Health Measures and the Status of COVID-19 at the St. Lawrence Market
Last Monday, the Province announced that Ontario will be moving to Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen. On Wednesday, January 5 at 12:01 a.m, additional public health measures were implemented to help curb the transmission of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant of concern.
Some of the restrictions will impact St. Lawrence Market and require operational adjustments. Grocery stores, indoor farmer’s markets, event spaces, restaurants, and other retail stores for in-person shopping, are subject to new restrictions. As a result of these additional public health measures, the Market will be closing all public indoor dining areas. The Market will revert to communications to the public that remind them that they should only come to the Market to complete their purchases and not participate in leisure activities inside the Market. 50% capacity will continue to be enforced in all Market buildings,
In addition, the Market will be posting notices of positive cases on their website and social media channels. This information, along with other COVID updates at the Market can be found here: COVID19 (stlawrencemarket.com).
Speaking at Trinity-St Paul's United Church and Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts
Trinity-St Paul's United Church and Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts information poster
On Sunday, January 23, 2022, Councillor Wong-Tam will be virtually joining the worship service at Trinity-St Paul's United Church and Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts to speak on how churches can make a difference in municipal advocacy efforts.
The headline for the event is what creates a sense of urgency at City Council? How can churches make a difference? In particular, the conversation will focus on Toronto Police Services, non-police emergency response and the homelessness. Learn more about Trinity-St Paul's United Church and Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts and how to attend on their website.
Carols in the Square with St. Michael’s School Choir
Picture of Carols in the Square
On December 5, 2021, St. Michael’s School Choir performed Carols in the Square in Dundas Square! With the cancellation of their performance at Massey Hall, the students and school quickly pivoted to celebrate the holiday season. Congratulations on a successful event!
Cultural Festivals Funding Program: Applications Now Open!
The City of Toronto has opened applications for a new Cultural Festivals Funding Program (CFFP), which aims to increase the accessibility, accountability, and transparency of City funding to cultural festivals. CFFP is one way the City is supporting economic recovery for the arts and culture sector along with communities, businesses, and marginalized community event organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19.
Applications for CFFP will be assessed according to criteria including cultural vitality; public impact and citizen engagement; organizational capacity, resiliency, and public health; and financial sustainability. Applications for all three streams will close on February 11, 2022. Verbal notification of funding to recipients by March 31, 2022, funds released in April 2022. This timing ensures that the City will be able to confirm funding for successful applications ahead of summer festivals, which rely on funding for planning and festival expenses.
Online information sessions about the application process will be held on January 11 and January 18. More information about CFFP, eligibility criteria, program guidelines, and application are available at www.toronto.ca/culturegrants.
COVID Vaccine Clinics for Kids in Ward 13!
Sherbourne and Regent Park vaccine clinic information poster
Alongside the existing five city-run immunization clinics, Ward 13 has two of its own locations where children aged 5-11 (and all others who are eligible) can book a vaccine appointment. First, second, or third dose vaccine appointments are available to book for eligible people at the Sherbourne Health – Wellesley Community Centre and Regent Park-40 Oaks (Fred Victor) clinics. Check each page to learn more about their hours, who can book an appointment, and additional FAQs.
Friends of Ruby Peer Support
Friends of Ruby peer support service promotional poster
Are you feeling overwhelmed, tired or just need someone to talk to? The Friends of Ruby Drop-In team is here for you! Our friends at Friends of Ruby will be running one-on-one peer support sessions for LGBTQI2S youth ages 16-29 years old. The Friends of Ruby Drop-In team are not Clinical Counsellors, they are your peers, experts in making space and time to talk things through. These sessions will be guided by your needs and informed by you.
This week, the sessions will be held in-person at the Friends of Ruby Drop-In. If you have questions or need more information, please email Brooke at [email protected].
Toronto Centre Projects
Toronto Centre Projects is designed to engage community members and crowdsource neighbourhood projects supported by the Councillor's office and your neighbours. Over the next year, my office will be launching consultations for several parks and dog off-leash area revitalizations, public realm improvements, and more.
Have ideas to make our communities more liveable, vibrant, and safe? Submit them at www.TorontoCentreProjects.ca.
Automated Outdoor Public Toilets, Submitted by Johanna
TCP promotional poster
One proposal by community member, Johanna, advocates for The City of Toronto to install Automated Outdoor Public Toilets, like the City of Vancouver has done. Read the proposal and vote now on the Toronto Centre Projects website.
Crosswalk at Frederick St and Front St East, Submitted by Young People's Theatre
TCP promotional poster
One proposal by community organization, Young People’s Theatre, advocates for The City of Toronto to install a Pedestrian Activated Cross Walk at Frederick Street and Front Street East. Read the proposal and vote now on the Toronto Centre Projects website.
Who else wants to be a changemaker? Submit your ideas to make our communities more liveable, vibrant, and safe at www.TorontoCentreProjects.ca.
COVID-19: Vaccine Information
For updates about Toronto’s vaccination rollout and booking system, please visit my website.
Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic by phone through the provincial call centre, 1-888-999-6488.
Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic online at www.toronto.ca/covid-19. For online bookings, you will need:
- Information found on your Government of Ontario photo health card;
- Postal code; and
- Email address or phone number.
The provincial system will verify your eligibility to book an appointment for vaccination based on this information and will then guide you to the scheduling system.
Please do not call 311 or Toronto Public Health to book an appointment. The City 311 contact centre and Toronto Public Health staff do not have access to the booking system.
Vaccinated Against COVID-19? What Does It Mean For Me?
By getting vaccinated, you benefit from the protection you get against COVID-19 and the easing of restrictive measures in your community. You still need to follow local public health advice in public settings (e.g. workplaces, public transit). Their advice considers community risk levels.
A majority of people in Canada have now had their first shot and many will soon be fully vaccinated. Below is a handy chart created by Public Health Canada to inform your actions depending on your vaccination status. This advice is based on the current state and will be updated as vaccination rates continue to increase and cases decrease.
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.
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]
311 provides residents, businesses and visitors with easy access to non-emergency City services, programs and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 311 can offer assistance in more than 180 languages.
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
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.