Yesterday marked the anniversary of the first COVID-19 case in Ontario. It is overwhelming to think that we have been living with this pandemic for a year, and we are still waiting to return back to normal. Last week, Dr. de Villa reported that for the first time in many months, Toronto’s reproduction rate was below 1%. While there is not enough data to confirm a trend, it is the beginning of an advantage over this virus. In order to make this a trend, we must continue to strengthen our resolve and follow public health guidelines. Please continue to practice physical distancing, only taking essential trips and when you do leave your home, if you’re able, wear a mask.
Following health guidelines are especially critical now that we have seen numerous cases of the B117 variant (UK) of COVID-19 in Ontario. Currently, there is only a small percentage of COVID-19 tests that are sequenced to look for the variant. Without thorough testing, we have no idea how prevalent this new variant is within our communities.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Williams, confirmed there are 43 cases of the B117 variant, 10 of which are in Toronto, acknowledging that not only does it spread more easily, but may also be a more severe illness. The same techniques that protect us from COVID-19 will also protect us from this variant, however, we must remain vigilant and constant. Health officials caution that we should behave as though it is already here and being transmitted through community spread. Toronto Public Health is actively preparing for the new variant including pulling together all the actions the City can do on its own and what we need from other governments.
As the Government of Ontario strives to deliver vaccines across the Province, all long-term care homes in Toronto have received their first doses including residents and staff. I want to thank the Immunization Task Force and Toronto Public Health staff that have accomplished this in advance of their original deadline. While there are delays in further vaccine deliveries, we know that Toronto Public Health can deliver and administer vaccinations quickly when the time comes.
Due to reported delays in the delivery of the Pfizer vaccine, it is unclear when vaccinations will continue across the province. Despite these delays, we are still hopeful that anyone who wants a vaccine will have one before the summer. Given the inaction by Premier Ford through this pandemic, this is an ambitious goal. In other parts of the country, we’ve seen delayed second doses due to supply shortages. This week, with Members of Parliament returning to the House of Commons, it is expected that vaccine delivery will be a large part of their agenda.
Against the backdrop of this global pandemic, my colleagues and I have been in deep discussions about the City’s 2021 budget. With committee meetings almost daily, I am committed to reflecting the needs of Toronto Centre and the Downtown East in the City’s budget. On February 9, 2020, from 6:30 p.m to 8 p.m., I am hosting our Toronto Centre Budget Town Hall. We will review key learning from my Making Cents speaker series from this past fall, and hear from City staff about this year’s budget. There will be the opportunity to ask questions, and even build your own City budget with your priorities in mind. Learn more and RSVP here.
As we look to the future beyond COVID-19, I’m excited by yongeTOmorrow and its recommendations on a full redesign of Yonge Street. Lined with brand destination retailers, restaurants, music venues, theatres, the Eaton Centre, and Yonge Dundas Square, YongeTOmorrow is our chance to bring one of Toronto’s most historic and culturally important streets back onto the world stage. This is the moment to mobilize huge public support and think boldly about the future of this iconic city street. In the wake of the successful ActiveTO and CafeTO initiatives, this is the time for yongeTOmorrow.
Next week, City Council will vote on staff recommendations and we need your support. Make your priorities known, and look to the future, by supporting yongeTOmorrow. Share your voice with your local Councillor and the Mayor at www.yongetomorrow.ca/support and use our social media toolkit to spread the word.
Lastly, the City and its residents continue to work to stop the illegal demolition of the Dominion Foundry Complex at 153-185 Eastern Avenue in the West Don Lands. Please read my latest statement for an update on the legal proceedings.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
The City of Toronto is preparing a Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Plan for the Cabbagetown South West area after an endorsement of the HCD Study in 2019 by the Toronto Preservation Board. Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs) guide change in neighbourhoods that represent Toronto’s social, cultural, and architectural history.
Image description: a map outlining the Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Plan for the Cabbagetown South West area
This virtual consultation will provide an opportunity for residents and the public to meet the project team, learn about the HCD process, and provide comments and ask questions. At 7:00 pm participants will be divided into three smaller break-out sessions to provide feedback on the types of change that the HCD Plan will regulate and inform, including architectural design, conservation, massing, public spaces, and to connect with their neighbours.
Date: Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Time: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Registration: RSVP here
Community Care in Ward 13
This year as part of our Toronto Centre Budget Town Hall, my office has partnered with Ethelo, a Canadian organization that created a survey and participatory budget tool where you can experiment with your own tax dollars and design your own municipal budget. You will be provided with the average property tax amount and will be able to vote to increase or decrease funding to a number of City services.
As you allocate funding across the different services, you will see your own priorities reflected through your unique budget. With a helpful auto-balance tool, you will be able to weigh the importance of your chosen City services and balance your budget. Every municipality is required by Provincial law to balance its budget. This might mean that you have to make sacrifices and compromises or increase City revenues.
Launching today, and running until February 19, 2021, you will have time to explore the platform as well as submit your ideal budget. My office will be checking results and using some of this information to help drive direction for the City of Toronto’s 2021 budget. To learn more about the City’s budget process, my office has prepared a simple Budget 101 guide where you can learn more about the process and how to 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
City of Toronto Report on Policing Recommends Pilots for Community Safety and Crisis Response Program
A City of Toronto report to be considered by Executive Committee at its meeting of Wednesday, January 27 recommends the approval of four community safety and crisis support service pilots. These pilot programs would allow for non-police led response for non-emergency, non-violent calls including those involving persons in crisis and for wellness checks.
City of Toronto Report Outlines Plan for Bigger and Better CaféTO Program in 2021 to Help Local Restaurants
Mayor John Tory endorsed a new City of Toronto report that recommends an expanded CaféTO program starting this spring to help Toronto’s main street restaurants and bars during the ongoing pandemic.
ConnectTO Program Aims to Increase Digital Equity and Access to Affordable High-Speed Internet in Toronto
The City of Toronto is introducing ConnectTO – a City-driven collaborative program that aims to leverage the use of municipal resources and assets to help bridge the increasing digital divide by expanding access to affordable, high-speed internet to underserved Toronto residents.
City of Toronto Continues to Provide Support and Services to Targeted Neighbourhoods with High COVID-19 Cases
Mayor John Tory, Chair of the Toronto Board of Health Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York), Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Fire Chief and General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management Matthew Pegg provided an update on the City’s measures to combat the resurgence of the virus in Toronto and supports for neighbourhoods experiencing higher COVID-19 case rates.
The City of Toronto continues to urge residents to stay home as much as possible to comply with the Province of Ontario’s stay-at-home order as well as public health advice.
The City of Toronto advises residents who live near typical coyote habitats including ravines, forests and large parks, to expect to see more coyotes during winter. At this time of year, it is easier to spot coyotes in parks and ravines, as they are not hidden by foliage. Coyote mating season also falls during January and February, leading to coyotes being more active and visible.
Cases of the U.K. B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 that originated in the United Kingdom have been confirmed in Toronto and other parts of the province. In light of this, Toronto Public Health (TPH) is reinforcing the importance of infection prevention and control measures (IPAC) in long-term care homes, retirement homes, correction facilities, shelters, group homes and other congregate living settings, child care centres, and schools that remain open for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning.
Province of Ontario Updates
Honourable Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure, announced a $200-million investment in municipalities through the 2021 Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) to help 424 small, rural and northern communities build and repair roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure.
The Ontario government will be further expanding eligibility for the targeted emergency child care program to additional workers who are performing critical roles in their communities. This expansion is intended to support workers and their families with child care options at no cost in regions where students continue to learn remotely. This benefit will take effect on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 and builds on the existing list of eligible workers.
Stephen Lecce, Ontario's Minister of Education, issued the following statement to provide an update on the return to in-person learning for schools in seven Public Health Units.
Ontario continues to support its municipalities and other eligible public-sector partners in their work to improve the quality of life in their communities by providing affordable, long-term financing for infrastructure development and renewal, including through Infrastructure Ontario's (IO) Loan Program.
The Ontario government has received more than 42,000 applications for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. Businesses that have been approved can expect to receive payment within about 10 business days. During the Provincewide Shutdown all eligible small businesses facing challenges are being encouraged to apply for this financial support and receive at least $10,000 and up to $20,000.
The Ontario government is expanding the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) for eligible programs at Indigenous Institutes starting in the 2020-21 academic year. This financial assistance will help ensure Indigenous learners have access to a culturally responsive and high-quality postsecondary education that will prepare them to meet local labour market needs.
The Ontario government is providing $2.4 million to train up to 300 personal support workers for positions in long-term care homes in the Ottawa area. The pilot scholarship program is being delivered in partnership with Willis College and will be offered at no cost to accepted applicants. This initiative is part of the province's historic long-term care staffing plan released in December 2020.
The Ontario government is announcing today that COVID-19 isolation centres are opening this week in Oshawa and Brampton and two isolation centres serving the City of Toronto are expanding. These new centres and expansions are in addition to existing centres in the City of Ottawa, and the regions of Peel and Waterloo.
Ontario is working with the government of Canada to provide up to $11.1 million to support small air carriers serving remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario. The investment will help ensure access to essential goods and services during COVID-19.
The Ontario government is working with transportation agencies and providers to support the Stay-At-Home Order and help stop the spread of COVID-19. Using tools like provincial network signs and transit communications systems, the province is reminding drivers and transit passengers, such as GO Transit, Ontario Northland, intercommunity buses and ferries, to only leave home when necessary to pick up essential items, attend a medical appointment, exercise or go to work if you can't work remotely.
The Ontario government is providing over $12 million to add new mental health beds in hospitals and to expand programs that support the mental health and well-being of seniors across the province. This funding is part of the government's comprehensive mental health and addictions plan Roadmap to Wellness. This plan is delivering high-quality care and building a modern, connected and comprehensive system to support those dealing with mental health and addictions issues.
Government of Canada Updates
On January 24, 2021, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement on COVID-19.
As the Government of Canada continues to address the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19, it is also working toward a strong economic recovery that will create new jobs and opportunities for workers and businesses alike.
As we work toward our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and begin to build back better, it is more important than ever that the Government of Canada invests in services that are essential to the security and growth of Canadian agriculture and agri-food businesses.
Throughout its response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has been in regular contact with provinces and territories to assess the needs of regions hardest hit by the pandemic’s resurgence and to provide support that will help protect the health and safety of Canadians.
Government of Canada Funds Lending Library Pilot Project to Improve Workplace Accommodations for Short-Term Public Service Employees with Disabilities
The Government of Canada’s vision is to be the most accessible and inclusive public service in the world by creating a barrier-free workplace where everyone can participate fully.
Government of Canada Announces Agreement with Government of Ontario to Support Essential Air Access to Remote Communities
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on remote communities that depend on small air carriers for essential goods, services, and for access in and out of the community.
As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves, important gaps in research must be addressed to support Canada's response to this global crisis. To ensure that Canadians have access to the latest tests, diagnostic tools, vaccines, and therapeutics, the Government of Canada is investing in a nation-wide clinical trials network to better coordinate these efforts.
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.