Next week at the Executive Committee, City Staff will be presenting a report outlining that the City of Toronto is facing a $1.9 billion deficit by the end of 2020 prior to any offsets through mitigation strategies. The City has worked hard to find $513.7 million in savings but that still leaves the City with a total year-end shortfall of $1.35 billion.
As previously discussed, unlike the Federal and Provincial governments, the City of Toronto is not permitted to run operating deficits: we must balance our operating budgets and cannot borrow to fund current operating expenses. That means that if we do not get immediate funding from the Federal and Provincial governments, the City will be forced to either raise property taxes by 60% or make devastating service cuts.
Mayor Tory has indicated that without immediate support from the Federal and Provincial governments, to balance the budget he would be looking to eliminate over 40,000 child-care subsidies, close half of the shelter spaces added for physical distancing, close half of our community centres and libraries, cut over 1,000 beds from long-term care homes and reduce TTC service by 50%. It is unconscionable to me that weeks after proclaiming that a 10% cut to the Toronto Police Service budget was irresponsible and arbitrary (and then voted to increase their budget), Mayor Tory would propose such devastating cuts to essential services.
COVID-19 has exposed the absolute necessity of a safe, affordable home, and as we have seen with the persistent encampments, how quickly our existing services can become overwhelmed. Instead of cuts or maintaining current service levels, we should be discussing how targeted investments could provide permanent housing to eliminate homelessness and support our economic recovery by creating jobs.
Today, after months of raising the alarm, the Provincial and Federal governments have announced a tentative $19 Billion agreement to safely restart the national economy. This money is intended to support testing and contact tracing, PPE purchasing, sick leave, child care, and funding for municipalities for transit. In May, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities predicted that cities across Canada would need at least $15 Billion to recover. In recent months, funding announcements have been made by the other orders of governments and the money hasn’t arrived yet. If that trend continues, one has to wonder how much of this new funding announcement will actually make its way to Toronto. In the meantime, the City of Toronto is left spending hundreds of millions of dollars on interim and temporary measures to help families get through this global pandemic.
I want to thank City Staff who continue to do incredible work in the face of terrible circumstances. In addition to housing people from encampments at George Hislop, Trinity Square, and Barbara Hall parks over the past few weeks, since Sunday over 140 individuals staying at Moss Park have accepted accommodations indoors, where they will receive regular meals, clean accommodations, and essential health checks. We must keep working to ensure that we are able to find them long-term and permanent housing. Finally, City Staff will diligently continue to encourage the remaining individuals who refused indoor accommodations to accept service.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the City of Toronto has moved over 550 people from 43 encampments across the City to indoor spaces including interim housing, hotels, and shelters. The City has also successfully moved more than 1,300 people who were homeless into permanent housing. This is through a combination of housing allowances and rent-geared-to-income units.
Even still, we know more is needed to support individuals living in shelters and on the street. But there is only one possible outcome if the City is forced to make up a $1.35 Billion deficit alone and the Mayor's proposed cuts happen. The encampments will continue to grow. More people will die from overdoses. Poverty will be exacerbated. Crime will increase and safety will decrease, and the services supporting our communities that are already overcapacity will be completely overwhelmed.
Now is the time to get loud. I urge you to keep up the pressure, call the Mayor, your Member of Parliament and Member of Provincial Parliament and demand that the higher orders of government step up to support Toronto financially.
The only solution to moving encampments is for adequate, sustained investment in social services and public housing. I will keep fighting for that and I hope you will join me.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
Last year, City Council requested that a public space be named after Dr. Gordon Chong, who died in July 2018, in honour of his exceptional and life-long service to Toronto. In addition to a career in municipal politics that spanned decades, Dr. Chong held a number of directorships including, among others, the Toronto Transit Commission (Vice-Chair), GoTransit (Chair), the Social Housing Services Corporation (Founding Chair and Chief Executive Officer) and the YMCA of Greater Toronto (Chair). Dr. Chong was also passionate about Chinese Canadian and other race relationships. He was a Founding Director of the Federation of Chinese Canadian Professionals and a Charter Member of the Toronto Cathay Lions Club, the first Chinese Lions Club in Toronto. He was also a founding member of the North York Mayor's Committee on Community and Race Relations, and was proud to serve as a Citizenship Judge.
After reviewing options for commemorating Dr. Chong's legacy as a committed community builder and public servant, staff are recommending that a new park being planned at 60 Howard Street (Bloor and Parliament) be named in his honour upon its expected completion at the end of 2021. If you have any concerns or comments about this recommendation, please contact Peter Remedios via email at Peter.Remedios@toronto.ca by Friday, August 15th.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shoutout goes to Adulam Foundation, a community development organization. They are made up of an interdisciplinary team that provides multiple branches of programs which include, assessment and counselling through their Registered Social Workers as well as life skills coaching and workshops facilitated by their trained staff and volunteers.
These workshops focus on promoting wellness and building life skills with children, youth, adults and seniors. Their new project called their Mobile Resiliency Crew delivers support services for children, youth and seniors to address the impacts of the pandemic on mental health. This is a mobile service that provinces brief interventions through 4 to 5 individual sessions in the community. This innovative service that engages their clients in activities while enhancing their capacity to cope with adversity and mental health concerns arising due to pandemic-related stressors. Learn more about the Mobile Resiliency Crew.
Fundraiser for Seeds of Hope: Stay Home for Homelessness
Our friends from Seeds of Hope are hosting a virtual fundraiser on Saturday, July 18, 2020 at 8 p.m. Tune in on Facebook Live as you “Stay Home for Homelessness”: a Concert Event featuring Kenny Munshaw (live from his living room in Savannah, Georgia), in support of Seeds of Hope, and their continuing efforts of feeding and clothing those experiencing poverty and homelessness, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. There is no cost to join in for this wonderful evening of music and giving. Kenny and his production crew are donating this performance so every cent raised, including sponsorship, will go directly to Seeds of Hope. Be sure to be there! Learn more about the event here!
COVID-19: Ongoing Tips to Reduce Virus Spread
As we begin to ease our public health measures, we will all be living a new normal. 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 indoor, enclosed public spaces or where physical distancing is difficult to maintain; and
- Staying home whenever we are sick for any reason.
When you are unable to keep a six feet/two-metre distance from others, wear a mask or face covering. This includes when you are:
- In any indoor, enclosed public space;
- In elevators, common areas, waiting rooms or shopping;
- Using transit, taxi or rideshare services; and
- Sick and going to a medical appointment.
Be respectful of others who choose not to wear a mask. Some health conditions make it hard to breathe when wearing a face covering.
How to Create a Safe Social Circles
As we continue our shared fight against COVID-19, you can now establish a family or social circle of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. Social circles are a way to safely expand the number of people with whom you can come in close contact. Think of your social circle as the people you can hug and touch, or those who can become part of your daily and weekly routines.
City of Toronto Invites Applications for Women4ClimateTO Mentorship Programme to Support Next Generation of Women Climate Leaders
This program matches mentors from local government, the business sector, international organizations and social agencies with emerging women leaders. Mentors share their knowledge and experiences, supporting the mentees in becoming powerful advocates in addressing climate change. Three Canadian cities are participating in the program: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The application deadline has been extended to July 31. Obtain more information about Women4ClimateTO.
As Toronto remains in Stage 2 of the Province’s reopening plan, a total of 119 community and recreation centres, including 29 locations with indoor pools will reopen to the public for limited use on July 20. Indoor pools will reopen for drop-in lane and leisure swimming.
Community centres that offer CampTO will have limitations and restrictions on access and use during camp hours, including drop-off and pick-up periods, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Signage and wayfinding are being installed to reinforce physical distancing and admission rules and regular cleaning of common facilities such as washrooms and water fountains will take place.
The City is utilizing vacant units in four Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) buildings slated for demolition as part of the Regent Park revitalization to provide temporary accommodation for refugee/asylum seekers. The program supports the City’s efforts to provide increased physical distancing in the shelter system.
Clients will move-in on a phased in-basis starting in mid-July. There are up to 70 units spread over four buildings that can accommodate up to 160 clients until the end of the year. The site will operate temporarily until such time as the clients have all found permanent housing or by December 15, 2020 in alignment with the revitalization schedule for the site.
The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended most emergency orders currently in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) until July 29, 2020. Keeping the emergency orders in place provides the government with the necessary flexibility to ensure the protection of vulnerable populations, such as seniors, while continuing to implement its Framework for Reopening the Province with many regions entering Stage 3 on Friday.
The Ontario government announced a redesigned funding model that will lead to the building of additional, modern long-term care homes providing seniors with the quality care they deserve. This new approach will help break down historic barriers and accelerate the construction of urgently needed long-term care projects, and new and redeveloped beds. Over the next five years, the government is investing $1.75 billion in long-term care homes. It is also updating design standards to include air conditioning for any new and renovated homes, beginning immediately.
The Ontario government is providing Cambridge-based Eclipse Innovations Inc. with $1,408,475 from the Ontario Together Fund to scale up its operations to manufacture made-in-Ontario N95 masks. These masks are an essential piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) used to protect workers in healthcare and industrial settings. This investment is part of the government's plan to increase the capacity of Ontario-made PPE, while supporting local businesses during the safe and gradual reopening of the province.
The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) announced today that inmate visits have begun to gradually resume across the country with the first sites having re-opened on July 9, 2020. A number of infection prevention measures will be in place for inmate visits. Prior to being allowed to enter an institution, visitors must undergo an active screening, including a temperature check. Visitors are also required to wash their hands before entry, wear a mask and practicing physical distancing at all times. Visitor spaces will be cleaned and disinfected before and after each visit
Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, today announced $470,923 in funding toward projects in remote Ontario First Nations communities that focus on supporting and enhancing Indigenous youth participation in Canada’s clean energy transition.
To date, the Government of Canada has provided $13.7 million to EHRC through Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) Student Work Placement Program (SWPP). Through work-integrated learning opportunities, interested students benefit from a wide range of transferable skills and key research skills in the renewable energy industry. In total, these projects will help create more than 1,700 paid placements for students between 2018 and 2022.
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.
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services, or to report people
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. In the past, by diligently reporting criminal activity, residents were able to see our community policing and other service levels increase. You can do your part: see it, report it.