Grieving 215 Indigenous Children, Pride Month, and COVID-19 Updates

This week I am grieving over the discovery of 215 children from a mass grave site at a residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. This is a terrible loss for the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation and other Indigenous communities who continue to live this trauma. Indigenous people have said for years that these mass graves exist, and we must continue the painful work to search all residential schools, and return these children to their communities. 

The City of Toronto has lowered its flag and held a 2:15 minute moment of silence today at 2:15 pm. While this is a small gesture, there is so much work to be done. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has made recommendations that our governments can adopt on a path towards reconciliation. You can read the Truth and Reconciliation Executive Summary here.

To all our grieving communities, A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. Emotional and crisis referral services can be accessed by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-721-0066. If you are able, I would encourage you to donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

As the vaccine roll out continues, last week the Province announced that they will be accelerating second doses as more vaccines become available. If there is sufficient vaccine supply, it is anticipated that the majority of Ontario residents who choose to receive the vaccine will be able to be fully vaccinated by the end of summer. If vaccine availability remains steady, the province anticipates the following schedule: 

  • Week of May 31: Age 80 years and older eligible to book their second dose
  • Week of June 14: Age 70 years and older eligible to book their second dose
  • Week of June 28: Anyone who received their first dose between March 8 and April 18 is eligible to book their second dose
  • Week of July 19: Anyone who received their first dose between April 19 and May 9 is eligible to book their second dose
  • Week of August 2: Anyone who received their first dose between May 10 and May 30 is eligible to book their second dose
  • Week of August 9-16: Anyone 12-25 years old who received their first dose the week of May 31. 

For those in public health units who use their own booking system, or who received their doses from the primary care provider or through a pop-up clinic, more information will follow on how and when second dose booking and rebooking will be available. Second dose appointments can also be booked (without a first appointment). Please see my website for more information about booking your second dose. 

If you received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine between March 10 and March 19, 2021, you are eligible to book your second dose beginning the week of May 24, at an earlier interval of 10 weeks with informed consent. Receiving the second dose of AstraZeneca at the earlier 10-week interval is safe and provides strong protection against COVID-19. Contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where you received your first dose to book your second dose. 

The province continues to work with primary care providers and pharmacies to ensure second dose appointments are scheduled in advance of the 12-week interval and will provide further information on how to book a second dose appointment in the near future.

I have also revived questions from residents wondering about whether or not it is safe to mix- and match vaccines. Today, the Federal government announced new guidance that a first dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine can safely be combined with a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna shows in some situations.  At this time, it is not being suggested that anyone who received an mRNA vaccine be offered AstraZeneca for their second dose.

I know we are all excited to see the end of the Province’s Stay-At-Home order which will lift on Wednesday. While this is exciting, the Province’s reopening plan is not set to begin until June 14. I have heard from many of you with questions as to what that means. The short answer is most of the current restrictions remain in place until June 14.

Indoor social gatherings are still not permitted, but gatherings of up to five people can continue outdoors. Larger outdoor gatherings will be permitted if all are members of the same household. Indoor essential shopping (like grocery stores, or pharmacies) remains at 25% capacity. Restaurants and bars continue to offer take-out, drive-through, or delivery services until at least June 14. A maximum of 10 people, indoors or outdoors, can continue to attend weddings, funerals, and other religious services.

Additionally, the province has announced the extension of some orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act including a ban on recreational interprovincial border crossings, and the enforcement of COVID-19 measures until at least June 16.

I know we are all frustrated at this continued state of lockdown. I’m asking that we all continue to be patient in the gradual reopening. Second doses of vaccines are underway and we are nearing the end. Until then, please continue to only make essential trips, keep your distance and if you’re able, wear a mask. 

Today marks the beginning of Pride month! While every year of Pride is amazing, this year represents the 30th anniversary of the first proclamation of Pride in the City of Toronto, and the 30th anniversary of the election of the first out gay City Councillor, Kyle Rae. 2021 also marks the 40th anniversary of Pride Toronto and gay bathhouse raids where 286 men were arrested by the Toronto Police making it the largest mass arrest in our city’s history to that date. Pride represents joy and celebration in how far we have come while affirming our need to continue fighting for dignity and full acceptance of all 2SLGBTQ people. 

A picture of the City of Toronto Rainbow and Transgender Flag-Raising Ceremony 2021A picture of City of Toronto Rainbow and Transgender Flag-Raising Ceremony 2021

In preparation for the launch of Pride, my colleagues and I came together in celebration of another year of Pride! You can watch the video here!

Lastly, this Saturday is World Environment Day! Through the COVID-19 pandemic, I have seen many take advantage of the beautiful green spaces in the city, and spend more time outdoors. Let us continue to protect our planet each and every day so that future generations can enjoy these spaces.

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

Kristyn


What’s In Today’s EBlast?


Join the Federation of South Toronto Residents Associations! 

On May 3, 2021, the Federation of South Toronto Residents Associations’ (FoSTRAs’) held their first General Member’s Meeting with 46 participants and a dozen voting-member organizations to date. 

They are still hoping to reach their goal of 25 members and at least one residents association in each Ward before their first Annual General Meeting. FoSTRA is a non-partisan federation of residents associations that collaborate to:

  • Help shape the creation of good public policies at all levels of government
  • Preserve and enhance the quality of life for Torontonians
  • Promote neighborhood identity and vitality, and
  • Ensure responsible and respectful development within its boundaries

FoSTRA’s boundaries are the same as the five downtown Wards – Wards 4, 9, 10, 13 – and the Ridings and Electoral Districts of Parkdale-High Park, Davenport, Spadina-Fort York, Toronto Centre plus Ward 11, University-Rosedale south of Bloor Street. 

Achieving responsible and respectful development has long been an issue in Toronto. The major policy changes ushered in by the current Ontario government have prompted South Toronto residents associations to band together to create an organization that would speak with a louder voice and advocate for their policy interests regarding developments, infrastructure, heritage, and consultation. 

FoSTRA has established itself as a federal non-profit and is accepting membership requests. They hope that associations of residents, communities, neighbourhoods, and tenants, as well as housing co-ops, will consider joining FoSTRA to create a strong, united voice for Torontonians in our catchment area.

If you’re interested in learning more or receiving an application form, please email [email protected].


Women’s Cycling Network: #BikeMatchWCN

Collage of Women's Cycling Network with bikesCollage of Women's Cycling Network with bikes

The Women’s Cycling Network is repeating their successful #BikeMatchWCN program, connecting people with bikes they no longer need with women with the need of a bike to ride. Last year thanks to so many generous people, they were able to give 75 women a bike to ride. These women, many of whom are newcomers to Canada, cycle for a variety of reasons, including their physical and mental health, for freedom and empowerment, and to get to work and run errands. 

Originally established in the Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park communities, the Women’s Cycling Network is an inclusive group of more than 100 women and is expanding across the city. This year #BikeMAtchWCN is being offered in more neighbourhoods throughout Toronto and we are adding more supports, such as learn-to-ride programs and basic bike mechanics. Already 30 women are waiting for a bike and more are registering every day. If you have a bike to give or need a bike to ride, visit here.


Climate Ambassador Training in St James Town

Community Climate Action promotional bannerCommunity Climate Action promotional banner

Rethink Sustainability's Community Climate Action will compensate you to become a Climate Ambassador and mentor you to help your career. The Climate Ambassador Training seeks 24 participants to be trained, collaborate, and be mentored around three areas of concern to residents: Food Security; Shelter and Towers, and Jobs and Employment. This opportunity would interest those leaders or job seekers in St James Town who wish to learn more about how climate affects resident concerns. Additionally, mentorship for those interested in any area of the ‘Green Economy’ is included!  

An aerial photo of St. James TownAn aerial photo of St James Town

Apply now before noon on June 4, 2021!  They are looking for community leaders and those with technical interest in building retrofits to join up to 15 others. For more information, call or text 647-988-3244. 

Learn more here!


Share Your Thoughts: Review of Parking Requirements for New Developments

The City of Toronto wants to hear from you! On January 19, 2021 the Planning and Housing Committee asked staff to review automobile and bike parking requirements in new developments to better align them with the City’s Official Plan

The review is guided by the principle that parking standards should allow only the maximum amount of automobile parking reasonably required for a given use and minimums should be avoided except where necessary to ensure equitable access, such as for accessible parking or in areas that would be difficult to serve with transit.

This review is ongoing until the end of 2021 and includes two rounds of public consultation. The first round begins tonight and continues until June 3, 2021. Register to attend here. Through these consultations, staff will seek the public’s feedback on proposed amendments to parking requirements in the zoning by-law and other related work.

If you would like to be added to the Interested Parties list to receive formal statutory notices related to the project, please send your physical mailing address to [email protected] asking to be added to the Interested Parties list for the Review of Parking Requirements for New Development. Get involved and learn more here. 


You Might be Interested In: Women’s Safety Panel

Women’s Safety Panel promotional graphicWomen’s Safety Panel promotional graphic

Many women-identified persons, including Trans people and gender non-binary individuals, residents, and workers have reported feeling increasingly unsafe and vulnerable while engaging in their daily activities and routines across the city and in particular, parts of the downtown. This can be attributed to many things such as fewer people commuting as individuals are working from home and increasing rates of poverty - making the existing mental health and homelessness crises more visible. These issues have been raised during a number of community liaison meetings for the downtown shelter hotel programs operated by service provider Dixon Hall. In order to provide long-term support for individuals in crisis, we need support from all levels of government to address the social determinants of health. I have and continue to advocate for robust services across the Downtown East as well as additional funding from our Provincial government in order to address mental health and addictions. Learn more about my ongoing work. 

On Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in partnership with Dixon Hall, I will be hosting a Women’s Safety Panel Discussion to name and bring to light these realities, as well as to provide strategies and resources for female-identified community members. We will have presentations from special guests Susan Davis (Executive Director, Gerstein Crisis Centre), Pauline Larson (Director of Economic and Community Development, Downtown Yonge BIA), Uppala Chandrasekera (Director, Public Policy, Canadian Mental Health Association), and more!

When: Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Time: 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST

Where: RSVP to join

Learn more and RSVP here.


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.


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 Continues to Protect and Assist People Experiencing Homelessness During the Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic

The City of Toronto continues to assist and protect people experiencing homelessness through COVID-19 immunization, an increased focus on infection and prevention control (IPAC) measures in the shelter system, a pilot COVID-19 rapid testing program for new admissions and referring people to safer inside space with supports including meals, laundry, harm reduction and access to a housing worker.

City of Toronto Welcomes Five Additional Community Partners to Support the Vaccination of Residents Without OHIP Cards

The City of Toronto announced today that it is increasing the number of community-based program partners to help people without an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card get a COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto. In addition to existing partners Access Alliance and FCJ Refugee Centre, the program is expanding with five new partners: Adam House, Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, Matthew House, Romero House and Sojourn House.

City of Toronto Immunization Clinics Opening New Appointments for People Age 80 and Older to Receive Accelerated Second Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

The City of Toronto opened more than 10,000 new appointments at City-run immunization clinics intended to offer earlier appointments for second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to partially vaccinated individuals age 80 and older.

Toronto to Surpass 70 Per Cent of Adults Receiving a First Dose COVID-19 Vaccine Today

The City of Toronto and Team Toronto vaccination partners today expect to have administered at least a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to more than 70 per cent of adults aged 18 years or older in Toronto.

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.


Province of Ontario Updates

Ontario Accelerates Rollout of Second Shots Targeting a Two-Dose Summer

Ontario has reached a key milestone in its fight against COVID-19, having achieved its target to administer first doses to 65 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over ahead of schedule. Ontario is also preparing to roll out the eligibility for accelerated second dose appointments starting with individuals aged 80 and over, beginning on May 31, 2021. If there is sufficient vaccine supply, it is anticipated that the majority of Ontario residents who choose to receive the vaccine will be able to be fully vaccinated by the end of summer.

Ontario To Appoint New Chief Medical Officer of Health

On Monday, May 31, 2021, the Ontario government will table a motion in the Legislature to appoint Dr. Kieran Moore as the province’s next Chief Medical Officer of Health to succeed Dr. David Williams upon his retirement on June 25, 2021. Should the motion be passed, Dr. Moore would assume office effective June 26, 2021.

Ontario Supporting Positive Changes to Improve Accessibility

Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, issued the following statement recognizing National AccessAbility Week.

Updated: Ontario Pays Respect to the 215 Children from Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia

Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, issued the following statement on the discovery of the remains of Indigenous children at a former Kamloops Indian Residential school in British Columbia.

More updates from the Province of Ontario.


Government of Canada Updates

Statement on the Discovery Around Kamloops Indian Residential School

“The mistreatment of Indigenous children is a tragic and shameful part of Canada’s history. Residential schools were part of a colonial policy that removed Indigenous children from their communities. Thousands of children were sent to these schools and never returned to their families. The families were often provided with little to no information on the circumstances of their loved one’s death nor the location of their burial. Children in residential schools were forbidden to speak their language and practice their own culture. The loss of children who attended residential schools is unthinkable and Canada remains resolved to supporting families, Survivors and communities and to memorializing those lost innocent souls.

Update on COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance

On June 1st, 2021, federal government officials will provide a technical briefing for the media on the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s guidance for the interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines.

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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