Protests, City Talks and COVID-19 Updates

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this EBlast said the family claimed Regis was pushed. The Lawyer represented the family has since said those accusations would not be part of the family's official statement, but that they would instead wait for the evidence before coming to any further conclusions. 

 

Today we raised the rainbow & trans flags over City Hall to mark the start of Pride Month. Due to circumstances, Pride is going to feel different in 2020. But our resilience hasn't changed. By supporting each other and continuing to love unapologetically, we'll only get stronger. 

What’s not different this Pride month is that we must remember and celebrate the contributions of Black queer, trans and gender non-conforming folks. From the Brunswick Four to Operation Soap, Toronto’s Pride celebrations started as a protest, and in response to unfair and discriminatory policing.  

This weekend, thousands of Torontonians gathered for a different reason: to protest and mourn the death of a young Black woman who died horrifically after an interaction with Toronto Police who were called to help her. The circumstances surrounding her death are very troubling and require a full, public independent investigation into her death. 

First and foremost, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. 

The protests and demonstrations that occurred in Toronto, and others across the United States, have been a jolting reminder  for many non-Black people of the disproportionate impact of policing on Black communities. More specifically, when issues of mental health are involved, interactions with police have escalated with deadly consequences, too often. After years of growing distrust, community members have the right to feel wary as questions about accountability and transparency remain unanswered.  That is why it is so critical that there be a fully independent and transparent mechanism for police accountability.

I understand that Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) was on scene and are investigating the incident. While the SUI’s mandate is to be an independent oversight body, there are ongoing concerns about the impartiality of the SIU and a lack of transparency and accountability stemming from their investigations. I echo the calls from community members and elected representatives for an independent investigation into the death of Regis, one that is outside of the parameters of the SIU. 

A growing movement in Toronto has been calling for a review of the provision of police services and the work of the SIU. Advocates from the Black community, community outreach workers and mental health agencies, to name a few, have been advocating for reform and review of how policies and programs in our city do not adequately address the systemic impacts of racism.

The Province has the authority to ensure that police services are provided equitably and that the mandate of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and its procedures take into account systemic racism and treatment of cases that involve individuals who are living with mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis. Conducting such a review is a necessary and responsible response to the claims that are being made and what appears to be a growing lack of trust. 

In 2016, in response to growing pressure from community members and advocates, the Provincial government established the Anti-Racism Directorate. The Directorate is tasked with applying an anti-racism lens to government policies, programs, and services. Shortly after the formation of the Directorate, City Council supported a motion by Councillor Mike Layton and I, calling on the province to conduct to a full review of the mandate, procedures and outcomes of the Special Investigations Unit with respect to the treatment of cases that involve racialized individuals, as well as recommendations from the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee which I chair, asking further that people living with mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis, including those who live with communication differences, and all other forms of disabilities under the Human Rights Code be considered.

Since then, Premier Ford has demoted the position of Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, to associate Minister, cut the budget of the Anti-Racism Directorate and eliminated the 4 sub-committee working groups.  

If we are committed to eradicating anti-Black racism, this commitment needs to be demonstrated across the board, funding for anti-racism work must be restored, and the province must commit to a full review of the mandate, procedures and outcomes of the Special Investigations Unit.

Finally, I hear community concerns about the City budget and the disproportionate funding that goes to the Toronto Police Service.

We have a responsibility to review how the police are funded in Toronto and to make sure that we are actually working towards the outcome. We know what we need to do to build safer communities. For years, communities have told us time and time again how they envision community safety programs in their neighbourhoods. It means more investment in youth programming, more funding for recreation, more employment opportunities and better access to transit. Front line and neighbourhood officers have told me repeatedly that they support our call for more funding for mental health, addiction and housing services. We need to work together to make sure this is reflected in the City budget priorities.

You have my commitment and support that community concerns will not be ignored. I look forward to following this matter very closely.  

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

Kristyn


City Talks: What are City Councillors seeing at the local level?

City Talks

I am joining CUI host Mary W. Rowe on Tuesday to discuss what City Councillors from across Canada are seeing at the local level with Sharmarke Dubow, City Councillor, Victoria, BC; Druh Farrell, Councillor, Ward 7, Calgary, AB; Émilie Thuillier, Mairesse, Ahunstic-Cartierville, Montréal, QC.  I hope you will join us! 

When: Tuesday, June 2, 2020, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Online 

Register here.

Learn more about City Talks here.


Community Care in Ward 13

Take Care logo

Today’s Community care shoutout goes to Vivian Ngai who has started a project called Take Care19, a collection of free and low-cost inclusive mental health resources to help with the added stress through COVID-19 and beyond. This includes a variety of resources on mindfulness, exercise, work, therapy, community and more. It is available to and for a variety of folx with different needs, especially those in marginalized communities, who tend to be affected hardest by the pandemic and yet have a harder time accessing mental health resources. Thank you Vivian for coordinating this list of resources, and to everyone who has contributed to it.  Learn more about Take Care19 here.

Please continue to email my office at councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca 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

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed. If you are sick, even with mild symptoms, stay home and self-isolate.  

As we slowly return to some sense of normalcy, we need to continue physical distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Everyone has a role to play. The actions you take will help protect you and everyone in our community.

Physical Distance

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 for 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 mask.wear_a_mask_.jpeg

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 

Mayor Tory Raises Rainbow and Transgender Flags and Proclaims Pride Month in Toronto

Today, Mayor John Tory, joined by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 13 Toronto Centre), and a representative of Pride Toronto, officially proclaimed June as Pride Month in Toronto and raised the rainbow and transgender flags at City Hall. The ceremony was recorded and streamed live, kicking off Pride Toronto’s 2020 Virtual Pride Festival.

This year’s festival, planned for June 1 to 28, runs virtually to celebrate Pride in a new, creative, and unique way to showcase the history, courage and diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer, questioning and Two-Spirit communities (LGBTQ2S+), while ensuring the safety of residents and proper physical distancing. The month-long festival will culminate with the Virtual Pride Festival Weekend from June 26 to 28. Information about Pride Toronto and the Virtual Pride Festival is available at pridetoronto.com.

Toronto Public Library Reopening More Drop Boxes Ahead of the Start of Curbside Pick-Up Service Next Week

Toronto Public Library (TPL) reopened 53 additional library branch drop boxes to accept the return of library materials, the next step in its rollout of curbside drop-off and pick-up service. Toronto residents will be able to start scheduling the pick-up of their reserved materials as of Monday, June 8. Drop boxes are currently only accepting the return of library books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks. Fragile and large materials such as musical instruments or Arduino kits are not being accepted at this time as they may be damaged by dropping into drop boxes. Donations are also not being accepted at this time. While residents are encouraged to return their borrowed items, it is not mandatory.

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.


Province of Ontario Updates

Ontario Supports Those Struggling with Electricity Bills during COVID-19

The Ontario government announced that it will continue to support provincial electricity consumers by providing stability and greater customer choice while helping those struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, the government recently announced that it will continue the suspension of time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates and, starting on June 1, 2020, customers will be billed based on a new fixed COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Ontario Extending Infectious Disease Emergency Leave for Workers during COVID-19

Today, the government announced that it has enacted a new regulatory amendment that will put non-unionized employees on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to COVID-19. This will ensure businesses aren't forced to terminate employees after their ESA temporary layoff periods have expired.

Ontario Takes Additional Steps to Protect Seniors in Retirement Homes during COVID-19

Today, the Ontario government made amendments to the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 regulation, enabling the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) to better support seniors living in retirement homes during the COVID-19 outbreak. The regulation change increases the emergency payment the RHRA can pay to eligible retirement home residents from $2,000 to $3,500. In the event of an emergency, such as an outbreak, this funding can be used to support residents to cover costs for transportation, alternative accommodation or temporary care. The regulation change also requires retirement homes to report infectious disease outbreaks to the RHRA during COVID-19 and beyond. 

More updates from the Province of Ontario.


Government of Canada Updates

Prime Minister Announces Support to Help Communities Create Jobs and Restart the Economy

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that funding delivered through the federal Gas Tax Fund will be accelerated this year to help communities as quickly as possible while respecting public health guidelines. This means that $2.2 billion in annual federal infrastructure funding for communities will be delivered in one payment in June. Early delivery of the full funding for 2020-21 will help communities quickly move forward with infrastructure projects that will improve our quality of life and help restart local economies

Government of Canada Announces Funding for the Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

As part of Canada’s fourth National AccessAbility Week, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, announced financial support of up to $6.4 million over three years for up to 16 organizations across Canada through the disability component of the Social Development Partnerships Program (SDPP-D). This funding will support partnerships between disability stakeholders and the federally regulated private sector and help to develop best practice tools and resources in the areas of accessible workplaces, accessible service design and delivery, and communication.

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: 1-866-797-000

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

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