Budget Deficit, Addressing Homelessness, and COVID-19 Updates

Today, the City of Toronto recorded only 6 new infections in our city. This follows yesterday where we reported only 5 new cases. These are our lowest numbers of new infections that we have reported in quite some time. 

This is excellent news. It means that the sacrifices we have made, and the radical changes in our behaviour have been working. But while we should be encouraged that our local COVID-19 cases continue to decrease, we are still seeing new infections every day. We also know that approximately 25% of these cases are a result of community transmission. 

We need to keep physically distancing from others who are not in our COVID-19 social circle to prevent this virus from spreading. I think it bears repeating: 

  • Having friends over for dinner or coffee who are outside of your social bubble, or social circle of 10, is not physical distancing.
  • Arranging playdates for your kids with others who are outside your social bubble is also not physical distancing.
  • Having a gathering or hosting a house party with people outside your COVID-19 bubble is not physical distancing. 

While overall cases are decreasing right now, there continue to be challenges experienced at the Provincial labs with delays in test processing times. A quick turnaround of positive tests is critical for our ability to track and trace cases, and contain outbreaks.  

As we have seen in other Canadian cities and locations globally, case numbers can increase very quickly as restrictions ease and economies reopen. We cannot take this lightly. We must not let our guard down. 

In addition to tracking COVID-19 cases in the City, we are anxiously tracking funding commitments from the Provincial and Federal governments for Canadian municipalities.

In early July, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that he was sending $19 billion to premiers across Canada to support their province's municipalities, and yesterday the Province of Ontario announced how much of that money was coming to Ontario municipalities. Of the $7 Billion that Ontario received from the Federal Government, Premier Ford has announced that they would be providing up to $4 billion in one-time assistance to Ontario's 444 municipalities. 

As we’ve discussed, since the pandemic began in mid-March, the City of Toronto has experienced significant financial impacts in the form of both added costs and revenue losses as a direct result of COVID-19. Even after finding $513.7 million in anticipated cost savings from hiring freezes, emergency layoffs, and decreased TTC operating costs, the City projects a total year-end deficit of $1.35 billion. In addition, staff are also estimating a preliminary 2021 Operating Budget pressure of nearly $1.5 billion.

The details of how the $4 billion will be distributed across Ontario’s municipalities are still coming, but I am very concerned that it will be significantly less than what the City of Toronto needs, and that we are still facing serious service cuts. 

We have worked hard together to make our streets and neighbourhoods safer from COVID-19, and from the impacts of poverty and addiction. If the City of Toronto is forced to make significant service cuts, we will see a decline of health and safety in our most vulnerable neighbourhoods.

At the June 29 Council meeting, I put forward a motion that was adopted by Council that called for immediate action from the Provincial and Federal governments to end homelessness during COVID-19. For those who have been following the housing crisis, my motion will come as no surprise, as I have been urgently calling for an intergovernmental emergency response to end homelessness for the past three years. 

This urgent need has clearly not been addressed in this initial $19 Billion funding package from the Federal and Provincial government. Issues contributing to homelessness, mental health and addictions are all within the legislative jurisdiction of the Provincial and Federal governments. Without the active participation from the other orders of government, Toronto will be unable to meet the demand for affordable and supportive housing, an overdose epidemic, mental health and public safety issues.

Email and call Mayor Tory (mayor_tory@toronto.ca, 416-397-CITY (2489)), Premier Doug Ford (doug.fordco@pc.ola.org, 416-325-1941), and MPP Stephen Clarke, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (steve.clark@pc.ola.org, 416-585-7000) and tell them to take immediate action.

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

Kristyn


Community Corner in Ward 13 

I am pleased to announce that substantial work to introduce the new pavilion into St. James Park has been completed. Along with the other work as part of Phase 2, this new pavilion will be the centerpiece of the revitalized park, joining the existing playground as exciting new additions.

The pavilion is truly a work of Canada, made up of yellow cedar from British Columbia, laminated into large curved timbers and custom fabricated in Manitoba, and built-in Toronto with special installers from Montreal (with this paragraph being written by someone from Nova Scotia).

Electrical work will now be completed for beautiful lighting of the pavilion, and bird-wire will be installed up top to deter pigeons. The pavilion stage and steps have been poured in concrete, and the lights are all working. The community will begin to see the central plaza being paved, site furnishings being installed, special feature lighting being added, planting and the return of the bust of Robert Gourlay and the entry plaza at the northwest corner, in the coming weeks until completion, which is expected to happen in September. 

For frequent updates on the work, please check out the Friends of St. James Park Twitter account here. The account has been posting many lovely photos of the ongoing work as well as highlighting activities occurring in the park.


Community Care

The Underpass Farmer’s Market has resumed operations! Come every Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to the Underpass Park Farmers' Market where you can enjoy a wide array of vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, prepared foods, honey, fresh juice, iced coffee, ciders, wine, wellness and beauty products, and dog treats. You can taste a range of local products while supporting small businesses, local farmers, and unique artisans. Please be sure to bring your own mask and practice physical distancing measures while enjoying the market. Follow Underpass Farmer’s Market on Facebook!


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.

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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.

social_circles_small.pngThank 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 Residents Get a Peek at Toronto’s Unique Past Through HistoricTO

HistoricTO walking tours, a time-ticketed, guided neighbourhood walking tour experience, will offer visitors an opportunity to engage in discussions and explore Toronto through diverse perspectives. Tours will be held from July 30 to September 4, will be 60 minutes in length and vary in content. Themes include: colonization and the evolution of land use over time, the impact of urban development and industrialization, settlement patterns and immigration, Indigenous, Black, LGBTQ2S+ and women’s history. Tickets must be purchased in advance starting July 29 at toronto.ca/museums. Tickets will be pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation of $10. Hours of operation will be Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.


Province of Ontario Updates

Historic Agreement Delivers up to $4 Billion to Support Municipalities and Transit 

The Ontario government, in partnership with the Federal government, is providing up to $4 billion in urgently needed one-time assistance to Ontario's 444 municipalities. This funding will help local governments maintain the critical services people rely on every day, including public transit, over the next six to eight months. Details on specific allocations will be provided in the coming weeks. This funding is part of the province's made-in-Ontario plan for renewal, growth and economic recovery.

More updates from the Province of Ontario.


Government of Canada Updates

Government Legislation to Support Canadian Workers, Businesses, Persons with Disabilities, and Legal Rights Receives Royal Assent

Bill C-20, An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures received Royal Assent yesterday, ensuring that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will continue to protect jobs by helping businesses keep employees on the payroll and encouraging employers to re-hire workers previously laid off. The broader and better targeted CEWS will make sure that Canadian workers and businesses are in a better position as our economy safely re-opens.

The Canada Revenue Agency Announces an Extension to the Payment Deadline and Offers Interest Relief on Outstanding Tax Debts During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The CRA is extending the payment due date for current year individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns, including installment payments, from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by the extended deadline of September 30, 2020. This includes the late-filing penalty as long as the return is filed by September 30, 2020.

More updates from the Government of Canada.


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: PublicHealth@toronto.ca

311 Toronto
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services, or to report people
Telephone: 311
Email: 311@toronto.ca

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-complaintsYou 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.

Phone: 416-392-7903
Constituency Office: 100 Queen St W A5, Toronto, ON, M5H 2N2