Today, Ontario is reporting 296 new cases of COVID-19 and as of yesterday, there were only 40 active cases in Toronto. This feels like a turning point for the pandemic. This past weekend I was so excited to see our patios and restaurants open. I was relieved to be able to enjoy a meal outdoors with my family and remember a sense of normalcy. It has been a long almost year and a half and it finally feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
While we are all excited to be enjoying our restaurants and small businesses, please remember to be kind to each other including our servers and retail attendants. We have all been cooped up, and many are awaiting their second vaccine dose. It is critical that we bring our patience and compassion as we patron our local businesses.
Starting yesterday, more Ontarians are eligible to book their second vaccine dose. The province continues to prioritize regions where the Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading. This expanded eligibility includes people who’ve received their first dose on or before May 9th can also now make an appointment for their second dose.
If you’re like me and received AstraZeneca as your first shot, you may now receive a second shot of AstraZeneca, or switch to an mRNA vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, after eight weeks. Individuals who wish to receive an mRNA vaccine for their second dose can book an appointment through the provincial booking system or a participating pharmacy. For individuals who wish to receive a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, individuals can contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where they received their first dose.
It’s important to remember that many are still not eligible for the second dose yet and only 20% of Torontonians are fully vaccinated. While the Center for Disease Control in the United States has offered some guidance, Toronto Public Health among other health regions are looking to our provincial and federal governments to provide clear guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. Please remember that as we are getting our second doses, that we must wait two weeks after our second dose to develop antibodies against the disease.
While we are making great strides in the vaccine rollout, please remember that we must still remain vigilant. When making trips, please consider how you can make them safer. Please continue to practice physical distancing and if you are able, wear a mask.
At yesterday’s Board of Health meeting, my colleagues and I had a final report from the Black Scientist’s Task Force. Since the task force was formed in December 2020, they have hosted 20 online meetings over five months creating a respectful dialogue in culturally and racially safe spaces. Thanks to the task force, we saw a 20% reduced rate in vaccine hesitancy among attendees.
In addition to marking the successes of the task force, there were seven recommendations which came out of the report including the collection of strong disaggregated data, including race-based data, and the allocation of vaccine doses based on race, as well as location, to reflect the fact that Black Canadians are more likely to be hospitalized and die from the virus. These recommendations will be before City Council in July.
My colleagues and I also heard an update on Toronto’s Overdose Action Plan. During our meeting, Dr. de Villa stated “It is entirely inappropriate to criminalize what is in fact a health issue.” In 2020, deaths involving all substances including opioids reached 521 in Toronto. This is a record high.
At the Board of Health meeting, my colleagues and I called upon the federal government to decriminalize simple drug possession for personal use in the city. To this end, we voted to convene a working group as a step toward applying for an exemption. It is not up to the City of Toronto to determine a path forward towards exemption, but a necessary process that needs to be established by the federal government. The rise of opioid-related deaths is frightening, especially through the COVID-19 pandemic, and each municipality cannot find its own first path toward recovery. We need a robust plan from our federal and provincial governments in order to save lives.
Yesterday, the Premier invoked the notwithstanding clause to change election rules, limiting third-party advertising. This clause allows legislatures to override portions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for a five-year term and is the second time Doug Ford threatened to use this rarely used legislative power and the first time any Government of Ontario actually exercised this heavy-handed “nuclear option.” A judge had previously found this new legislation unconstitutional to double the restricted pre-election spending period for third-party advertisements to 12 months before an election call.
The Premier is using this clause yet again to meddle in elections, and this instance is a power grab to help secure the upcoming election. His first use of this clause is still before the Supreme Court after he meddled in the 2018 municipal election and slashed City Council in half. This Premier will do anything to keep control by limiting free speech and silencing his critics, including our essential frontline workers. This is unacceptable. We all must show Ford that we won’t tolerate this attack on our democracy at the ballot box during the provincial election next June.
The past few weeks have been very heavy for our communities, but I need to take a moment to acknowledge the rise in homophobic hate crimes against the 2SLGBTQ+ communities including an assault of a young person coming back from Hanlan’s Point. Hate is unacceptable at any time and when we are confronted by it, we each need to stand up against it.
As we dismantle hate in our society, there is some good news for the 2SLGBTQ+ community. A federal judge has rejected that Health Canada has no role in barring gay men from donating blood. This is a huge step for the community, and opens the door for the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to hear the discrimination complaint. While this human rights complaint will still take years, the federal government can take action sooner to end this discriminatory ban. It is time to take action for equality.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
What’s In Today’s EBlast?
- Remembering Those We’ve Lost: Mothers of Peace Vigil
- The Met Farmer’s Market is Now Open!
- We Want to Hear From You: Market Lane Park Improvements
- St Lawrence Centre of the Arts Has a Beautiful Mural!
- Riverdale Farm has Reopened!
- You’re Invited: Corktown Resident and Business Association Community Meeting!
Remembering Those We’ve Lost: Mothers of Peace Vigil
Last week, I joined Mothers of Peace in Regent Park for a vigil in remembrance of the 215 Indigenous children found in a mass grave in Kamloops, British Columbia as well as the violent attack against a Muslim family in London, Ontario. These tragedies have left lasting marks on us, and I stand in solidarity with our Indigenous and Muslim communities as we grieve these losses.
When I think about the murder of an innocent family in London because of anti-Muslim hate and Islamaphobia, I am angered and broken. Islamophobia has no place in our society, and we each must do the work of speaking out against racism. When we stand with our communities, we can begin to heal.
A picture from the Mothers of Peace Vigil
While we cannot undo the history of residential schools in Canada, we can adopt the recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation report. Part of honouring the truth of the history of colonial Canada is acknowledging the generational trauma of residential schools. We must continue the search for missing children, and never repeat the mistakes of our past. As we continue to search each residential school, it is important that we honour each and every child. It is difficult but necessary work to look at the truth of our collective actions. Only then will we truly be able to start reconciliation.
Thank you to Mothers of Peace for hosting this beautiful vigil and honouring those we’ve lost.
The Met Farmer’s Market is now Open!
Met Farmer's Market is now open promotional graphic
The Met Farmers' Market will be taking place every Sunday in the vibrant parklands surrounding the Metropolitan United Church at Queen St. E. and Church St. in downtown Toronto.
An initiative by Metropolitan United Church and supported by Greenbelt Markets, Met is looking beyond a conventional farmers' market and pursuing a "food-hub"-style market that focuses on contributing to an accessible community food space, working with local service providers and engaging other neighbourhood food support programs. Learn more about the Farmer’s Market here.
Beginning June 13, the Farmer’s Market is running every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen Street East (corner of Church Street and Queen Street). The site is accessible by streetcar and minutes away from Queen subway station. You may also choose to follow them on Facebook or Instagram!
Market Lane Park Improvements
Map of Market Lane park parameters
The City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation division invites you to learn more about the improvements coming to Market Lane Park in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood. City staff are hosting two virtual workshops that will include a brief presentation, followed by an interactive discussion on the park vision. Your feedback will help staff understand how the park is currently used, community priorities as well as possible features and park amenities.
- When: Tuesday, June 29, 2021
- Time: 1 - 2:30 p.m. or 6:30 to 8 p.m.
- Register and join online at: toronto.ca/MarketLanePark
To join by phone, call: 647-374-4685
Workshop #1 ID: 811 17576 3381; Passcode: 296983
Workshop #2 ID: 841 9528 0113; Passcode: 615560
I would also encourage you to complete the survey which opens June 29, 2021, and closes Friday, July 16, 2021.
You can find more information on this project, and all other updates, posted on the project webpage.
For more information, or if you require accessibility accommodations, please contact Senior Project Coordinator Nancy Chater at 416-338-5237 or by emailing [email protected].
St Lawrence Centre of the Arts Has a Beautiful Mural!
A picture of the St Lawrence Centre of the Arts mural
A beautiful new 40' x 50' vinyl canvas mural by Indigenous artist Quentin “Que Rock” Commanda has been completed at the St. Lawrence Centre of the Arts off Scott Street. “The Original 6 Nations Peace Treaty: A Visual Healing Art Experience.” From the artist:
“This mural is meant to be a visual healing experience. The seven rings around Grandfather Sun represent the seven Grandfather teachings of the Anishnaabe people: Wisdom, Love, Humility, Respect, Honesty, Courage, and Truth. There are many layers of sacred geometry patterns on the mural.
The skyline includes the medicine wheel teachings, Grandmother Moon and the thirteen grandmother clan systems. The turtle shell represents North America’s creation story, the thirteen full moons per year, and the seven grandfather teachings.
The entire mural also represents the original Peace Treaty of the Six Nations on Turtle Island (North America). The story of the Six Nations Treaty starts with the original five Nations of Turtle Island: the Plant Nation, the Insect Nation, the Bird Nation, the Fish Nation, and the Animal Nation all had to agree to let the Human Nation live here on Mother Earth. All five Nations agreed to be humanities teachers and the Human Nation was invited to share the land.
The Human Nation was given instructions of how to live on Mother Earth, walk gentle on Mother Earth, learn one new thing every day, and share with one another. These are some of the original instructions given to the Anishnaabe people.
The bear represents a Medicine Clan. The Mukwa (bear) is a healer, it is the only animal who communicates with all Six Nations.
The Artist is from Nbiising or Nipissing First Nation, his traditional name is Manitou Nemeen (Spirit Dancing) and he is from the Miangun Dodem (Wolf Clan). The orange background on the mural represents the missing/murdered Indigenous women and children of Turtle Island.“
You can see additional photos of the mural, including photos of the work in progress, along with many other pieces of Que Rock’s art on their Instagram.
Riverdale Farm has Reopened!
Beginning Friday, June 11, Riverdale Farm has reopened to visitors!
All of the animals are out in the paddocks throughout the day awaiting the return of visitors of all ages. There are clear entrances and exits marked to promote safe health protocols as well as washrooms on-site that are sanitized and cleaned through the day. Please be advised that access to the interior of the Francey Barn and Pig and Poultry Barn remains closed at this time. There is no entrance fee, admission is free!
You’re Invited: Corktown Resident and Business Association Community Meeting!
On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the Corktown Resident and Business Association is hosting their community meeting. I will be joining MPP Suze Morrison and special guest speaker Jennifer Keesmaat to provide community updates. This virtual meeting is open to all community members who wish to stay up to date on key issues in the neighbourhood.
When: Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Time: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Click here to join! Passcode: 076005
I’m always happy to connect with local residents and I look forward to a time when we can meet again in person.
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.
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.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
City of Toronto Recommits to Truth and Reconciliation and Supports Further Actions to Advance Truth, Reconciliation and Justice
Toronto City Council recommitted to advancing the Calls for Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) and the Calls for Justice from the MMIWG2S Final Report, Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Team Toronto Sprint Strategy 2.0 to Administer First and Second Doses in Delta Hotspot Neighbourhoods
The Team Toronto determination to get vaccines to those that need them most is moving into a new phase of the mobile vaccination sprint strategy. Beginning today, the Toronto sprint strategy mobile and pop-up clinics are refocusing efforts to provide access to first and second vaccine doses in neighbourhoods with high incidence of COVID-19, low vaccine coverage and where the Delta variant has been identified.
City of Toronto CaféTO Program Ready to Support More than 1,000 Local Restaurants as Toronto Enters Step One Reopening
The City of Toronto CaféTO program is ready to support local restaurants with expanded outdoor dining space as soon as Toronto enters Step One of the Province of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen on Friday, June 11.
City of Toronto Launches New Toolkit to Respond to an Increase in Overdoses in the Homeless Population
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Toronto has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people affected by the opioid poisoning epidemic.
City of Toronto and Toronto Region Board of Trade to Distribute COVID-19 Screening Kits to Help Businesses Safely Reopen
Mayor John Tory announced that the City of Toronto has partnered with the Toronto Region Board of Trade to provide free COVID-19 rapid screening kits to small- and medium-sized businesses across Toronto.
Province of Ontario Updates
As Ontario moved to Step One of its Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 11, 2021, the province is further expanding eligibility for accelerated second doses in Delta hot spots to ensure a strong level of protection against COVID-19 and variants.
The Ontario government is investing $141 million to extend the temporary wage increase for personal support workers and direct support workers in publicly funded home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals, and social services sectors. This temporary wage increase will continue until August 23, 2021, and will help stabilize, attract and retain the workforce needed to provide a high level of care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, including the Ontario Science Advisory Table, is further accelerating the second dose interval for individuals who received their first dose of an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to eight weeks, with informed consent, from 12 weeks.
Government of Canada Updates
Canada and Ontario Invest More than $115.1 Million in Municipal Infrastructure to Respond to the Impacts of COVID-19 in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing more than $115.1 million to protect the health, and well-being of residents in 30 municipalities across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).
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
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.