Three months after the Province of Ontario declared a State of Emergency, we are all still struggling to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 on our lives. While many businesses across Ontario and the City of Toronto have been able to re-open, many people are still out of work. They are caring for children, recovering from COVID-19 or at home because their workplace has not been able to re-open yet.
That is why I am relieved to hear that the Government of Canada is extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) by eight weeks, to ensure Canadians have the help they need as they transition back to work. This extension will make the benefit available to eligible workers for up to a total of 24 weeks. If you need this income support, you can apply for the CERB and get more information online or by calling 1-833-966-2099.
COVID-19 also continues to impact people’s ability to access food. The City of Toronto has been working with a variety of community partners to ensure that Toronto’s food programs stay open during the pandemic and continue to support Toronto’s vulnerable populations. Members of the City’s Food Security Table–which consists of City staff and representatives from Daily Bread Food Bank, FoodShare, North York Harvest Food Bank, Second Harvest, Red Cross, Toronto Public Library, Salvation Army and the United Way Greater Toronto–continue to meet regularly to discuss food access gaps in communities and how they can be filled.
If you need to access any of these food programs, please visit 211ontario.ca or call 211.
Update on my Motion to Defund the Police
Today the Toronto Police Services Board released a report entitled Recommendations For the Board Related to Current Events. This report will be debated and the recommendations will be voted on by the Police Services Board on Friday, and will likely come to City Council for approval on June 29.
Mayor John Tory has said that this report responds to calls to accelerate police reforms, and takes advantage of an unprecedented consensus on the need for more accountability. We must not have read the same report.
While the report does support the recommendation Councillor Matlow and I made to require a line-by-line review of the Police budget, it does not address the fact that City Council has no real authority to approve or deny any specific expenditures. It does not address that the Police Service Board can circumvent the will of City Council and appeal any change to the budget it doesn’t like. Importantly, it doesn’t support a reduction of the police budget at all. It does not respond to current events or any of the community demands I know the Mayor has received from thousands of Torontonians.
The Toronto Police are already required to do anti-racism training, and the Board has had years to implement the reforms outlined in this report. This is a moment where City Council is being challenged as a government, and asked by the residents of Toronto to be bold. This report can’t be an excuse for the Mayor and City Councillors to ignore the calls to divest from overfunded police services and to reallocate the funds to underfunded social programs. We need the Mayor to recognize that the outdated system of conventional policing has not brought us the kind of public safety we deserve. It’s not fair to the frontline officers nor the communities they have pledged to serve and protect. I will continue to champion investment in the kinds of services that will actually reduce the need for armed police intervention at all.
How you can help:
Public pressure will help us reach that outcome. Please share the following information with your friends, colleagues and community.
Make a deputation at the Toronto Police Service Board on Friday. Residents can request to speak to an item at the Board meeting. This is an opportunity to speak to the report and identify where it falls short. To sign up to depute, please visit the Toronto Police Services Board website and indicate that you want to speak to item 3.
Continue to email and call the Mayor and City Councillors that have been identified as sympathetic, or opposed and demand that they support my and Councillor Matlow’s recommendations. A resident in support of the motion has a webpage with information about Councillors who need to be contacted, including draft language for contacting them, which can be found here.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shoutout goes to The New Common.The New Common is programmed community space for the residents of St James Town, promoting community inclusion, collaboration and creativity. The effects of COVID-19 have left many people in the city, including those in St James Town, in difficult circumstances. This is why The New Common is focusing on relief efforts alongside local organizations such as Community Corner, Our Lady of Lourdes and Daily Bread for meal delivery and their food bank. Learn more about their work via this video!
When: Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Call: 416-964-6657 to register for an appointment.
When: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
This service is offered to vulnerable persons who are at high risk for COVID-19.
Learn more by emailing [email protected] or by calling 437-889-9783.
Please continue to email my office at [email protected] to share examples of community care in your neighbourhood and ways you are supporting your community at this time. I’ll be happy to promote it, space permitting, in our communication to the residents and business owners in Ward 13. Every bit goes a long way!
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 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 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.
Step 1: Start with your current circle: anyone you live with or who regularly comes into your household. Be sure to include anyone that would come into regular close contact with you and the people you live with. This may include:
- Family members, including children;
- Another parent to your child(ren) that lives outside the home; and
- Babysitters or caregivers.
If you add people outside of your household to your social circle, be sure to include anyone in their households as well. You may not see them often, but they would still be considered part of your current circle. Remember that everyone in a household must be part of the same social circle.
Step 2: If under 10 people, you can add members to your social circle: including another household, family members or friends. As you add additional members, ask yourself:
- Do they live with, or come into regular close contact with, anyone else? You may never see them, but they would still be considered part of your social circle; and
- What makes the most sense for you or your household? This could include another household with similarly-aged children or family members that you want to spend more time with.
If you live alone, you may want to start with family members or other close friends. People may, or may not, choose to participate in a social circle depending on their unique circumstance. Some people may be at risk of developing complications from COVID-19. For example:
- People over 70;
- People with compromised immune systems; and
- People with underlying medical conditions.
Remember that your social circle can include fewer than 10 people. It’s always best to start slow and safely add more members later.
Step 3: Get agreement from everyone that they will join the social circle: That means they agree to join only one circle, and physically distance with anyone outside the circle.
Essential workers can be part of a social circle, so long as the other members are aware of the risks and agree to them.
Step 4: Keep your social circle safe: take reasonable precautions to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 for you and your social circle.
To keep the people in your social circle safe:
- Continue to follow public health advice, including frequent hand washing and sneezing and coughing into your sleeve; and
- Continue to physically distance with anyone outside your circle by keeping two-metres or six-feet apart from them.
If someone in your circle feels sick:
- They should immediately inform other members of the circle, self-isolate at home and not come into close contact with anyone, including other members of the social circl;.
- They should get tested. Find an assessment centre to get tested for COVID-19; and,
- Everyone else in the circle should closely monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 you should also be tested.
Step 5: Be true to your social circle: No one should be part of more than one circle.
The City of Toronto today issued an inaugural social bond offering of $100 million. Toronto is the first government in Canada to establish a Social Debenture Program, furthering its leadership in sustainable finance, and promoting positive and equitable socioeconomic outcomes.
This $100 million bond issue with a 10-year maturity, will mature on December 2, 2030. Investors paid a price of $99.98 to yield 1.602 per cent, which is the lowest borrowing cost the City of Toronto has ever secured.
The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This extension will be in effect until June 30, 2020 to ensure the government continues to have the necessary tools to safely and gradually reopen the province, while continuing to support frontline health care workers and protect vulnerable populations from COVID-19.
The Ontario government is providing employers with a new general workplace guide, which will help them develop a safety plan to better protect workers, customers and clients. The new downloadable toolkit offers tips on how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as more people get back on the job during Stage 2 of the reopening of the province. The new guide will help each employer create a safety plan that is right for their own unique workplace. It includes information on the use of face coverings, as well as applying controls in the workplace, from most important to least important. It also includes information on what personal protective equipment may be needed for workers
The Ontario government, in partnership with Science North and the Ontario Science Centre, is creating additional educational content for students and teachers during the school closures resulting from COVID-19. The province is providing up to $1.5 million to create made-in-Ontario videos and resources to support Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning. The resources will align with the four science strands in the curriculum and will help students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
Government of Canada Updates
Beginning on June 1, 2020, Parks Canada began to gradually resume day use of some trails and outdoor spaces at national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas across the country. Starting on June 22, 2020, the Agency will begin to gradually offer camping at some national parks and national historic sites, including Thousand Islands National Park, Bruce Peninsula National Park & Flowerpot Island (Fathom Five National Marine Park), Point Pelee National Park, Pukaskwa National Park
Government of Canada Implements Surplus Food Rescue Program to Help Alleviate Food Concerns of Vulnerable Canadians
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, today launched the $50 million Surplus Food Rescue Program. The program aims to move surplus food commodities such as potatoes and other possible horticulture, fish and seafood, and meat through the food system as efficiently as possible to help vulnerable Canadians.
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
Email: [email protected]
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.