Safe Return to School, Anti-Asian Racism, and COVID-19 Updates

Today, Ontario is reporting 127 new cases of COVID-19, including 34 in Toronto. The province has entered Step Three of the reopening plan and 60.8% of all eligible Ontarians 12 years and older have been fully vaccinated and 78.9% have had at least one dose. While this is exciting news, the vaccination trend is slowly decreasing. I know that’s because many of you have already been vaccinated, and I am still encouraging everyone who can to get their doses to do so. Everyone is now eligible for expedited second doses, and this continues to be our best strategy to keep everyone safe from further outbreaks. This includes children under 12 who are currently not eligible.

Since a new school year is only a couple of weeks away, the Ontario Science Table has advised on some guidance for back-to-school. The importance of in-person learning remains critical for social development and education. The advisory body has recommended that there be a regional approach to a return to in-person learning as each public health region experiences a different burden of COVID-19. 

Unfortunately, like last year, this approach leaves each school board scrambling to implement guidelines without further support from the province. Without a strong framework, and levels of transmission for high-risk or low-risk scenarios, our teachers are left behind once more. Many young students are unable to get vaccinated, but what does that mean for elementary schools? Wearing a mask and remaining physically distant requires round-the-clock supervision from teachers. 

After almost two years of educating our children inside of a global pandemic, Premier Ford owes a debt of gratitude to our teachers. They’ve navigated impossible circumstances in an effort to keep our young people safe and learning. The Premier and his Ministers can support their ongoing work by providing further funding to support PPE delivery, and to help transition between virtual and in-person learning. He cannot continue to leave them fending for themselves. 

This pandemic has laid bare the social inequities buried in our society, and as we learn from the lessons of the last year, we are also able to draw connections to help raise awareness and provide tangible actions to address these inequities. 

We have seen an alarming rise in anti-Asian racism over the past year, and a recent study out of Western University helps us foster a broader understanding of anti-Asian racism and gender-based violence in Canada. It examines the unique experiences of violence and harassment faced by Asian women, the historical background of anti-Asian racism in Canada, contemporary manifestations of anti-Asian racism and gender-based violence, and harmful impacts of criminal and immigration law which disproportionately affect Asian women in the service and sex industries. This research also offers considerations for standing in solidarity with Asian women; supporting them in their resistance against violence, harassment, racism, and sexism; and joining continued efforts to end anti-Asian racism and gender-based violence.

Incidents of anti-Asian racism and violence towards Asian individuals and communities in Canada have increased significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. More than 1000 cases of anti-Asian racism have been reported by community organizations in Canada, in which Asian women made up close to 60% of reported victims. Canada is now reported to have more anti-Asian racism reports per capita than the United States. In Vancouver alone, crimes against Asian individuals rose by 717% in the span of one year (from 12 incidents in 2019 to 98 in 2020). This increase in racist attacks has largely occurred due to pre-existing anti-Asian racism and is further exacerbated by the xenophobic and racist political rhetoric surrounding the COVID-19 virus.  

Though the pandemic has brought attention to the rise in such violence, anti-Asian racism is not new and often gets dismissed in broader discussions of racism and discrimination against marginalized groups in Canada. This indifference also extends to experiences of gender-based violence faced by Asian women, where sexism and anti-Asian racism work in tandem to further harm Asian women and expose them to various forms of gender-based violence. Structural violence (i.e. systemic racism and discrimination) and gender-based violence may be intensified against some groups of Asian women including 2SLGBTQI+ individuals, women living with disabilities, women with precarious immigration status, and women engaged in sex work.

If you’re interested in continued learning, I would encourage you to read the full report to better understand how these systems of oppression intersect and harm Asian women. 

Consent Comes First and Ryerson University have provided this list of resources for any survivors and allies: 

Please remember that you are not alone, and help is available for you. If needed, please reach out to the resources above.

Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.

Kristyn


What’s In Today’s EBlast?


City Council Round-Up

Last week, there were three full days of City Council, and my office alone produced 12 motions to advocate for our communities and create policies that are transparent and accountable to the residents of Toronto. 

I was happy to see my colleagues and I vote to implement a Vacant Homes Tax of 1%, while this is not the 3% we have seen in other Canadian cities like Vancouver, it is a step toward ensuring that there is more rental stock available in the midst of an ongoing housing crisis. City staff will report on any further recommendations by 2023, including a potential rate increase. City Council also voted to defer a new regulatory framework for multi-tenant houses to the next meeting. Staff need to refine some of the recommendations, and while these changes are urgently needed, we want to make sure that we get it right.  

I know community safety continues to be a focus for many residents in Toronto Centre, and last week, City Council adopted SafeTO: Toronto’s Ten-Year Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. I have asked that City staff, in consultation with the Toronto Police - 51 Division, to report on the impacts of the concentration of social services and their associated services in our communities which will inform future planning is equitability distributed across the city. Additionally, the SafeTO Community Safety and Well-Being Plan and Implementation Plan is a complement to trauma-informed care, interventions, and services so that it expands deficit-based treatment to include skill-building positive based treatment. This work will also be informed through an equity lens as well as disaggregated data reporting. These tools will help ensure a transparent, accountable, and equitable approach to community safety. 

I know food insecurity remains a concern in many of our downtown neighbourhoods, which is why I was proud to see my motion directing staff to work with the St James Town Food Table and Toronto Community Housing to find space and determine operational costs for a collaborative framework supporting the work of OASIS Food Hub. It is critical that the City work with communities on collaborative approaches in addressing food insecurity in Toronto. 

I know many residents without air conditioning in Toronto have been melting in the unprecedented heat of these past few days. As a result, my motion directing staff to review the feasibility of supplying air conditioning in every new building and retrofitting older units with passive and active cooling systems was adopted by City Council. This will hopefully begin to help tenants who are suffering from extreme heat in some older units across the city. 

One of the most common complaints my office receives is about noise, particularly excessive noise from construction sites now that the Province has overridden the City’s Noise Bylaw to permit construction noise seven days a week from Monday to Sunday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and including statutory holidays. This is incredibly frustrating for so many residents, especially since we were told by the same Provincial Government to stay home. 

For me, I am particularly perturbed because it was my work in 2013 that set the City of Toronto in motion to develop a stronger Noise Bylaw. That year, City Council adopted my motion which initiated an extensive review and community consultations on the Noise Bylaw. The amended bylaw finally came into effect on October 1, 2019. Under the City’s noise by-law, construction equipment can only operate Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. No construction noise is permitted on Sundays and statutory holidays. These by-law hours were established after extensive consultation with residents, noise experts, developers, and the construction industry. They provide a balance to allow residents living near construction sites the reasonable ability to enjoy their homes while allowing construction to occur at a reasonable pace.

Stop the excessive construction noise petition graphicStop the excessive construction noise petition graphic

I have heard from too many residents whose mental health and work have suffered from this greedy giveaway to developers. Extending construction hours should have never happened in the first place, but it’s certainly well past time that this decision was reversed. It is for this reason that I moved this motion at City Council asking the Premier to return the right to mitigate construction noise to the City of Toronto. Please add your name to this petition demanding Ford repeal this excessive construction allowance. Learn more at kristynwongtam.ca/constructionnoise

I know that when reporting ongoing issues through 311, the City’s portal, the process is often arduous and unclear with little follow-up from by-law investigations. To assess and help improve this service, I moved this motion directing staff to report back on recommendations to improve an automated service as well as tracking service requests. Improving accountability and transparency to better support residents remains a top priority. 

The ongoing work my office produces to support Toronto Centre residents is unrelenting. My team and I champion your needs and that’s evident through the motions moved at the July 2021 City Council. I would encourage you to explore some of the motions I moved last week in support of Toronto Centre residents and business owners. 

Shortlist of Council Wong-Tam’s Member Motions at City Council in July 2021: 


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.

The website has been updated with several projects my office is working on including:

Featured this week are two proposals:

Toronto Centre Projects proposal promotional graphicToronto Centre Projects proposal promotional graphic

One proposal by community member, Jeff, advocates for installing a traffic signal at Yonge Street and Grenville Street/Wood Street. Read the proposal and vote now on the Toronto Centre Projects website.

Toronto Centre Projects proposal promotional graphicToronto Centre Projects proposal promotional graphic

One proposal by community member, Ian, advocates for reimagining Wood Street from Church Street to Mutual Street to turn the space into space for people. Read the proposal and vote now on the Toronto Centre Projects website.

Have ideas to make our communities more liveable, vibrant, and safe? Submit them at www.TorontoCentreProjects.ca.


Friends of Ruby is Accepting New Applicants!

Friends of Ruby application informational graphicFriends of Ruby application informational graphic

The Friends of Ruby Home is a custom-built transitional house for 2SLGBTQI+ youth in Toronto and are currently accepting new applicants!⁣ In addition to transitional housing, they offer ongoing housing support at their Youth Centre located at 489 Queen St. East.⁣ 

To apply you must meet basic eligibility requirements and show proof; complete a comprehensive application form, and participate in an on-site interview. 

Eligibility Requirements: 

  • Self-identifying as 2SLGBTQI+
  • Between 16 and 29 years of age
  • Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada (or having applied for permanent resident status or being a refugee claimant or a convention refugee)
  • Having an income level less than or equal to $1,799.00/month

Fill out the form now! If you have any questions you can call 416-359-0237 or email [email protected]. Learn more at www.friendsofruby.ca.


Join the City of Toronto’s Community Preservation Panels

Are you interested in Toronto's built heritage? Do you have a background or interest in history, architecture, planning, or heritage research? The City of Toronto is seeking local residents to join its Community Preservation Panels.

The Panels, along with the Toronto Preservation Board, help City Council make informed decisions about the conservation of the city’s heritage buildings and sites. 

Joining a Community Preservation Panel is an opportunity to meet new people who value Toronto’s history and have input into heritage issues that will affect Toronto now, and for decades to come. There is one Preservation Panel for each Community Council district. Panel members provide advice on a range of issues in their communities and throughout the city. Members of the Community Preservation Panels are appointed for four years. Panels meet up to six times a year or at the call of the Chair. 

The City of Toronto has been sharing the news through social media, using the Public Appointments e-updates list, as well as contacting numerous local heritage organizations. Additionally, they have shared the news with staff and organizations that support equity-seeking groups such as members of the BIPOC community.

Applications for the upcoming round of appointments are due July 21, 2021. Learn more about this opportunity and apply online!


Free Food Pantry Opens at First Lutheran Church

Free Food Pantry informational posterFree Food Pantry informational poster

A Free Food Pantry is open day and night in front of First Lutheran Church, 116 Bond Street, Toronto. People can take what they need or donate non-perishable food items. First Lutheran hopes this project will enhance food security in the Bond Street and Ryerson University neighbourhood.

Items to help stock the food pantry include sealed food stuff items such as: canned fish, fruit and vegetables, dried and canned beans, pasta sauce or stews, fruit and soy beverages in Tetra Paks, pasta, rice, peanut butter and jam, cereal granola bars, vegetable oils and baking supplies. Please do not donate fresh dairy or meat products, fresh fruit or vegetables or previously opened products or expired items. Personal products like toothpaste, soap, shampoo, diapers, female hygiene products can also be dropped off/gladly accepted.

With the motto “Take What You Need – Donate What You Can” this project is supported with a start-up grant from the Eastern Synod of the ELCIC as well as part of a network of Toronto Little Free Pantries.

For more information or to arrange for a drop-off of bulk supplies or to make a financial contribution (which would be very welcome) please contact: Christine M by phone 416-977- 4786 (Messages will be returned) or by email at [email protected]. Follow them on Facebook!


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;
  • Birthdate;
  • 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.

Thank you for doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our communities. For more tips on social distancing, please visit the City’s website or download this info sheet.


City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates

City of Toronto Receives Federal Funding to Support Main Street and Small Business Recovery Initiatives

Mayor John Tory welcomed an important announcement by the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, that will provide much-needed relief and support for small retail-based businesses and their workers in neighbourhoods and business districts across Toronto that have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

City Council Approves Framework for Vacant Home Tax to Increase Housing Supply in Toronto

City Council has approved a plan for the implementation of a new tax on vacant Toronto homes starting in 2022. The goal of the tax is to help with the availability and affordability of housing stock on the market by creating a disincentive for homeowners to keep their properties vacant.

City Council Takes Action to Implement the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan

City Council made significant progress on the City of Toronto’s 10-year housing action plan, HousingTO 2020-2030, with the approval of multiple reports that support the creation of new supportive, affordable rental and ownership homes, investment in neighbourhoods, and help maintain existing affordable housing stock.

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.


Province of Ontario Updates

Ontario Easing Restrictions in Congregate Care Settings

As Ontario moves to Step Three of its Roadmap to Reopen on Friday, July 16, 2021, the province is easing COVID-19-related restrictions in congregate care settings such as residences for adults with developmental disabilities, residences for children in care or with special needs, along with women’s shelters so residents can spend more time with family and friends.

Ontario Updates Testing Requirements at Long-Term Care Homes

Ontario will be removing the requirement that fully-immunized and asymptomatic staff, caregivers and visitors be tested before entering long-term care homes. This update to testing requirements was made in consultation with Dr. Kieran Moore, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and is based on the latest scientific evidence and expert advice. Updated guidance to retirement homes will also recommend exempting fully immunized people from routine testing. This change will coincide with Step Three of the province’s Roadmap to Reopen, coming into effect on July 16, 2021.

More updates from the Province of Ontario.


Government of Canada Updates

Ministers And Government Of Canada Officials To Provide An Update On Border Measures Due To COVID-19

On July 19, 2021, the Government of Canada will announce updates to the border measures implemented to protect the health of Canadians due to COVID-19.

All updates from the Government of Canada can be found at the link here.


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

Telehealth Ontario
Call if you develop symptoms!
Telephone: 1-866-797-0000

Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Telephone: 416-338-7600
TTY: 416-392-0658
Email: [email protected]

311 Toronto
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.

Toronto Police

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. 

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