Today marks the beginning of Pride Weekend, one of my most cherished weekends of the year. I know this year was not the Pride celebration we were hoping for, but I am incredibly impressed and grateful to Pride Toronto who has put together a full month of virtual events to celebrate our local queer and trans trailblazers. This year has again proved that Pride is much more than simply a series of events. Pride was born out of protest and continues as a political and cultural movement to this day.
As the City of Toronto eases restrictions on gatherings, many are keen to come together, find a patio, support our wonderful Church Street Village and celebrate in person. I want to urge anyone to take extra precaution, keep a safe distance, be kind and wear a mask. If you are worried about whether or not a restaurant is following best practices, please review this guidance document from the City of Toronto.
I also want to remind everyone that starting today at 1:00 p.m you can tune in for your festival weekend favourites, including today’s Trans Rally and March. This event is one of the largest, most exciting Pride events in the world—not only for all the trans, non-binary, friends of and allies who rally and march together in solidarity—but for anyone who is lucky enough to witness the landmark event.
This year, in light of COVID-19, Pride Toronto is bringing the rally into a virtual space for an hour of speakers and performers followed by an hour of community engagement. This year’s theme of "Kinder and Stronger Together" expresses the importance of community and celebrates the resiliency of Toronto's trans community. This is an excellent way to show your pride, while also staying safe this weekend.
For more information about this weekend’s full Virtual Pride Programming, including the Dyke Rally, the Drag Ball and the BQC – Black Queer Collective Online Pride Parade, please visit the Virtual Pride Festival Weekend website.
Monday, June 29 City Council Meeting and How You Can Help
Since the beginning of COVID-19, two topics have dominated my office’s inbox. Calls to defund the police and calls to support those living in encampments with housing.
On Monday City Council is meeting again, and—for the first time since the pandemic started—City Councillors were able to add new business to the agenda. This is the very first opportunity I have had to officially raise these issues with my council colleagues since the Mayor declared Toronto in a state of emergency on March 23, 2020.
Motion to Defund the Police by a Minimum of 10%
Many of you have already written in or called in support of our defund the police motion. Yesterday, Mayor Tory tabled his own policing report, which I believe is an attempt to sideline our original motion. He doesn’t cite any specific percentage, dollar amount or any detailed call for any budget reduction which is at the core of the movement to re-imagine public safety and policing. In his report, Mayor Tory asks the Toronto Police Services Board, which he has sat on consecutively for six years, to reform policing. Without a strong commitment to reduce the Police budget and reallocate that funding to community programs and policing alternatives, this report is just another in a long line of reform attempts that do not adequately address any of the violence or racism inherent to our police system.
There is still time to call the Mayor and City Council and let them know that there must be a clear commitment to defund the police by a MINIMUM of 10% and refund that money into community-led, non-violent policing alternatives.
We Need the Federal and Provincial Government to Immediately Step Up and Act to End Homelessness
I have also submitted a motion seconded by Councillor Layton, “Ending Homelessness During a Pandemic: Calling for Immediate Action From the Provincial and Federal Governments,” calling upon the Provincial and Federal Governments to take immediate action to end homelessness in Toronto.
Prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Toronto was facing a homelessness crisis of massive proportions, with more than 7,000 people staying in our shelter system (shelters, 24-hour respite sites and hotels/motels). During COVID-19, the crisis has become more visible, and incredibly more acute as more and more people living with homelessness have moved into parks and public right of ways.
Issues contributing to homelessness, mental health and addictions are all within the legislative jurisdiction of the Provincial and Federal Governments. Without immediate help from the other orders of government, Toronto will be unable to meet the action necessary to address the lack of affordable and supportive housing, an overdose epidemic, mental health and public safety issues. Specifically, until Premier Ford starts to support the City of Toronto’s efforts to end homelessness, the most vulnerable people will remain out on the streets and in encampments without sufficient housing and supportive services, and the conditions for all our neighbours will continue to deteriorate. No single municipality can do this work alone.
This morning I joined shelter and affordable housing operators from Fred Victor, Dixon Hall, Covenant House and the Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness and my colleagues Councillor Gord Perks and MPP Jessica Bell. Together, we called upon the Provincial and Federal Governments to take immediate action to end homelessness in Toronto. You can watch a recording of the press conference on Youtube.
I urge you to email ([email protected]) or call (416-397-2489) Mayor Tory and voice your support for this important motion and the need for the City of Toronto under his leadership to be louder on calling upon the Province and Federal Governments to help address this complex emergency situation and humanitarian crisis.
Thank you for your continued support as we work together to end homelessness. I hope you all have a safe weekend.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shoutout goes to Rene DeSantis, President of Montana Steele Strategic Marketing, who has co-produced an exciting new tribute to the City of Toronto called ‘Feel the Love’ Toronto. The song called ‘Feel the Love’ Toronto was co-written and co-produced by DeSantis and well-respected artists, Canadian composer Asher Ettinger and singer, songwriter and producer, Freeman Dre. Both the song and the video, can be downloaded from torontoflag.com, the home of all of the Toronto Flag history, news and activities. Thank you for continuing to share your music with us all, especially during this hard time. Download the song and video here.
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.
As part of the City’s ongoing efforts to reduce COVID-19 spread, Toronto Public Health (TPH) is pleased to announce a new pilot partnership with Michael Garron Hospital and the University Health Network’s Toronto Western Hospital. This pilot will enable enhanced collaboration and information sharing between these health system partners to identify and contact COVID-19 cases faster, thereby reducing virus spread in Toronto.
Through this unique collaboration, these health system partners are testing a process to share positive COVID-19 lab results directly from the Assessment Centres to Toronto Public Health. Accessing results directly from assessment centres will help TPH identify and isolate people who test positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts, sooner. This case and contact management work is critical to reduce virus spread as Toronto moves forward with reopening the city.
Beginning June 29, 11 of the 47 City of Toronto-operated Toronto Early Learning & Child Care Centres will reopen to support parents returning to work and to help with the restart of the economy. The Province of Ontario announced that licensed child care services could begin to operate as of June 12 as part of the Province’s reopening plan.
Child care centres are required to follow strict operational requirements to help ensure the health and safety of children, their families and staff. The City is taking a careful and gradual approach to reopening centres with the majority of the remaining centres planned to reopen in July and August.
City of Toronto Launches Recovery Advisory Group to Obtain Expert Advice for Toronto’s Rebuild and Recovery from COVID-19
The City of Toronto has launched its Economic and Culture Recovery Advisory Group, co-chaired by Blake Goldring, Executive Chairman, AGF Management Limited. The work of the advisory group will complement and build on the significant input already received from stakeholders through Mayor John Tory’s roundtables as well as the work being undertaken by the Mayor’s Economic Support and Recovery Taskforce, consultation initiatives by other members of Council, the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild, the Toronto Region Board of Trade and others.
Mayor John Tory announced today that the City’s Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) program will begin issuing tickets to speeding drivers on Monday, July 6.
ASE aims to increase road safety, reduce speeding and raise public awareness about the need to slow down and obey posted speed limits. There are 50 cameras installed city-wide on local, collector and arterial roads in Community Safety Zones near schools. Each ward has two ASE cameras that will capture and record images of vehicles travelling in excess of the posted speed limit. Signage is installed in advance of all ASE locations so that motorists are aware of their presence.
The Ontario government is investing more than $13 million to support community-driven and youth-led projects to improve the well-being of children, youth and families facing economic and social barriers. The funding will flow through the 2020 Youth Opportunities Fund, a province-wide initiative that creates opportunities for young people and empowers and supports parents, guardians and caregivers.
The Ontario government is allowing Windsor-Essex to move into Stage 2 of reopening on Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., with the exception of the Municipality of Leamington and the Town of Kingsville.These areas are being held back due to the higher transmission rates in the local agriculture and agri-food sector. This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the local Medical Officer of Health of Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
As the country and the world face the historic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, production is now under way at the National Film Board of Canada on The Curve, a collection of approximately 30 projects by more than 40 Canadian creators that will give voice to those touched by the pandemic, in communities from west to east and far into the North.
Launching this summer, The Curve will explore and share the everyday ups and downs of ordinary Canadians navigating their way through the pandemic, expressed in animation, documentary and digital storytelling formats.
The projects will cover a diverse range of topics: how this crisis has made many Canadians more introspective and meditative, while creating or amplifying social challenges, in both rural realities and urban settings.
The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Health, has announced the results of a second rapid research funding competition: an investment of more than $109M over one year in COVID-19 research. This investment will support 139 research teams from across the country that will focus on accelerating the development, testing and implementation of measures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 and its negative consequences on people, communities and health systems.
Researchers will focus on domestic and international clinical trials and scale-up promising existing projects that will increase our understanding of the efficacy and effectiveness of vaccines, therapeutics, and clinical approaches to COVID-19. The research teams will also evaluate public health management, including containment strategies such as physical distancing and travel restrictions and study at-risk populations. Their findings will inform decision-making and planning at national and international levels.
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.