This week marks one year of COVID-19 dramatically altering our day-to-day existence. It has been a year since my staff and I began teleworking, and I know we aren’t the only ones. Many of us are working from home with roommates, our families with young children, or completely alone, and each situation brings its own unique challenges. It’s been an adjustment for my spouse and I with a growing toddler trying to balance childcare, work, and time for each other.
What public health officials have asked of us is simple, but that doesn’t negate the incredible challenges or the toll this year has taken on our mental and physical health. As we cross this anniversary, it is normal to feel extra grief or anxiety, but please know you are not alone. There is a list of mental health resources available on my website. With rapid vaccination efforts underway, we can begin to look to the future with hope.
To date, the City of Toronto has vaccinated 282,037 residents and tomorrow Toronto Public Health opens three mass Immunization Clinics at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, and the Toronto Congress Centre. These clinics will begin initial vaccinations for Toronto residents 80 years of age and older, and will operate 7 days per week, from 11 a.m. through 8 p.m. daily. The City of Toronto is planning to expand hours at the immunization clinics once we can confirm more vaccine availability. Once Toronto Public Health and partners are administering approximately 500,000 doses of vaccine per month, we can anticipate this change coming into effect.
In addition to the nine planned city-operated clinics, there are plans in place for approximately 350 additional clinics in hospitals, pharmacies, and community health centers. This extensive network of COVID-19 immunization clinics (which will also include primary care physicians) will ensure that vaccines are widely available across the City of Toronto, as soon as vaccine availability permits.
Yesterday, the City moved to the new province-wide system, with online bookings continuing to be made through www.toronto.ca/covid-19 and the added option of booking by phone through the provincial call centre at 1-833-943-3900. Eligible seniors who prefer to book by phone can do so via the call centre number.
To make appointments for City-operated vaccination clinics through www.toronto.ca/covid-19 you will need:
- Information found on your Government of Ontario photo health card
- Postal code
- 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 try and book an appointment. The City’s 311 call centre and Toronto Public Health staff do not have access to the booking system.
On Friday, nearly 10 pharmacies across the Province began administering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to residents between the ages of 60-64. The Province of Ontario has provided a list of all of the participating pharmacies and eligibility criteria. In order to book an appointment at one of the participating pharmacies, you'll need to find your nearest eligible pharmacy and call it directly.
While vaccine rollout is underway, I continue to urge everyone to practice the guidelines set out by Toronto Public Health. There is still a threat of a third wave, especially as health regions across Ontario open up, and in a few days, case variants will be at 50% at the province level. According to cell phone data, as the Province opens back up many residents have been traveling between health regions. Health experts say that this is likely an indication that case counts are trending in the wrong direction. Kevin Brown, a Public Health Ontario scientist said, “if you see large upswings in mobility, or large drops in mobility, usually you can expect a somewhat correspondingly-large increase or drop in case growth.” Dr. Brown recently co-authored a pre-print study focusing on mobility as a predictor of COVID-19 growth. There is still some time before our communities are vaccinated and we can safely travel once more. While vaccinations are exciting and relieving, please continue to follow the advice of Toronto Public Health.
Yesterday, Dr. de Villa shared her concerns over a third wave of the pandemic. This week, she will make a recommendation as to where Toronto will fit into the Provincial colour-coded framework. I know it’s frustrating to feel trapped inside of the pandemic. I feel it too, but what we are doing is important work to protect our communities, and we must remain vigilant in order to keep all residents safe.
I know many of you continue to reach out with concerns about our neighbours living outdoors in encampments. Today, Streets to Homes staff are launching a prioritized program to provide safe indoor accommodation and support for people experiencing homelessness and staying in encampments at Moss Park, Lamport Stadium, Alexandra Park, and Trinity-Bellwoods. The City's Pathway Inside program was developed through hard work and consultations with encampment residents and supportive community agencies. This new and enhanced service will provide private, well-maintained, and secure rooms to singles and couples, along with necessary health and living supports. To read more about the City’s Pathway Inside program, and my statement visit www.kristynwongtam.ca/PathwayInside.
Lastly, the Supreme Court of Canada today is considering the constitutionally of the Province of Ontario when it slashed City Council in half in the middle of the 2018 municipal election. I am hopeful the court’s ultimate decision will undo the Premier’s controversial actions of gerrymandering and manipulating the electoral process to serve his political agenda.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
COVID-19 Vaccine Engagement Teams Grant
The City of Toronto’s COVID-19 Community Mobilization and Engagement Plan recognizes that community-based not-for-profit organizations play a critical role in increasing residents' confidence in vaccines and addressing barriers to acceptance and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. The City of Toronto is seeking to fund not-for-profit organizations to act as Vaccine Engagement Teams from April 2021 to March 2022.
The grant is open to consortium community organizations, grassroots groups, resident-led groups, and faith-based organizations/groups. Each team may have anywhere from 4 to 10 members (“Vaccine Engagement Partners”) with one organization (“Vaccine Engagement Lead”) that acts as the administrative partner. The Vaccine Engagement Lead will disburse funding to Vaccine Engagement Partners to carry out aspects of the work.
The funding provided through this Expression of Interest will build on the infrastructure created through the Community Coordination Plan (CCP)1. There will be at least one Vaccine Engagement Team funded in each of the geographic CCP clusters. While all Vaccine Engagement Teams will be expected to engage with Black and/or Newcomer communities, the City will also accept Expressions of Interest for Vaccine Engagement Teams to build on the work of the Black Resilience and Newcomer Clusters.
Vaccine Engagement Teams will be co-developing aspects of the COVID-19 Community Mobilization and Engagement Plan with the City. Collaboration with the City is key from the proposal development stage through to the implementation of the project. The collaborative planning process will start in mid-April.
There is an information session on March 17 for interested organizations and groups.
- When: Tomorrow, March 17, 2021
- Time: 3 - 4 p.m.
- Where: Join WebEx meeting here https://toronto.webex.com/toronto/j.php?MTID=mb1001bd0636af0d630afda1a0a41657d
The deadline for Expressions of Interest is March 29, 2021, at 12 p.m. (noon). For any questions about Expression of Interest, please email [email protected]. Learn more about the Vaccine Engagement Teams Grant here.
Toronto Centre vaccine distribution update
Online bookings can be made through the link on www.toronto.ca/covid-19 and the added option of booking by phone through the provincial call centre 1-833-943-3900. Eligible seniors who prefer to book by phone can do so via the call centre number.
To make appointments for City-operated vaccination clinics through www.toronto.ca/covid-19 you will need:
- Information found on your Government of Ontario photo health card
- Postal code
- 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.
Face Masks and Coverings Offer Best Protection
Image description: Informational graphic from Toronto Public Health titled, "Face Masks & Coverings Offer Best Protection." Through visual examples, the graphic shows recommended and not recommended ways of wearing a mask. The recommended way for wearing a mask says, "should cover your nose, mouth, and chin without gaping." The following are not recommended: face shields, masks with exhalation valves, or clear plastic masks.
How to Safely Wear a Mask
Image description: Toronto Public Health infographic about how to safely wear a mask. Information on the infographic is listed below.
- Do wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off
- Do make sure it fits to cover your mouth and nose
- Do wash your cloth mask in the laundry
- Do clean surfaces that a dirty mask touches
- Don’t touch your face or mask while using it
- Don’t use masks on children under 2 or those who can’t breathe with them on
- Don’t share your mask with others
- Don’t wear medical masks, keep them for health care workers
- The best protection is to stay home, keep a 6-foot distance, and wash hands often.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
COVID-19 Vaccine Online Registration and Call Centre for City of Toronto Clinics for Eligible Seniors Now Live
The online registration system for Toronto residents born in 1941 and earlier to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments at a City of Toronto operated clinic is live on toronto.ca/covid-19 following the successful launch of the Province of Ontario’s province-wide booking system and call centre.
The City of Toronto continually provides safe, inside space to people living outside, with programs that support mental and physical health and offer meals, as well as assistance in securing employment and permanent housing. Living outside has a significant, negative impact on overall health and well-being.
The City of Toronto is providing additional details on efforts to combat vaccine hesitancy in Toronto, led by the City’s COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Working Group.
City of Toronto Report on ActiveTO Recommends Return of Major Weekend Road Closures and New Complete Street Pilot Project Along Midtown Yonge Street
A City of Toronto staff report on ActiveTO recommends the return of Major Weekend Road Closures as well as a complete street pilot project along a section of Yonge Street to support the local economy and CaféTO with an expansion of the temporary ActiveTO cycling network.
Mayor John Tory announced that registration will be opening for spring break CampTO programs on Tuesday, March 23.
City of Toronto Highlights Key Accomplishments Over the Last Year in the Ongoing Fight Against COVID-19
Over the last 12 months, the City of Toronto has made significant strides to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus and support the recovery and rebuild of the city. Key accomplishments the City has delivered this year that have helped our restart and recovery.
Since March 2020, the City of Toronto’s Emergency Operations Centre has been activated in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next few weeks, the City will mark a number of COVID-19 milestone dates that are significant to Torontonians and remind us of the importance of our continued efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Council Unanimously Approves Creating 971 New Affordable Rental Homes Through the City’s Open Door Program
Toronto City Council unanimously approved the creation of 971 new affordable rental homes in 15 developments through the Open Door Program.
Toronto City Council Approves Memorandum of Understanding with United Property Resource Corporation to Create 500 New Affordable Homes
Toronto City Council endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Toronto and the United Property Resource Corporation (UPRC) to create up to 500 affordable rental homes at seven sites in Toronto over the next five to seven years. This is the first proposal under the City’s Land Bank Initiative.
The City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health are working with the Province of Ontario and health sector and community partners to vaccinate people across Toronto as quickly as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19. As part of the City’s efforts to ensure every resident in every corner of Toronto can access a vaccine, the City has released a call for proposals for $5.5 million in funding to Toronto’s community services sector who will act as local lead agencies for vaccination efforts across 140 neighbourhoods. This campaign is expected to play a significant role in Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the provincial vaccine process as vaccine supply increases.
Province of Ontario Updates
The Ontario government is providing over $1.5 million in annual funding to expand access to specialized mental health and addictions services in Northwestern Ontario. This funding will be used to hire up to six psychiatrists and help to develop a systemwide response to mental health and addictions challenges in the region through local community-based services, including culturally appropriate services for Indigenous children and youth.
The Ontario government is providing the St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC) with an investment of nearly $5.5 million to support the continued operation and maintenance of its historic sites, parks and attractions. This funding will go towards repairs and renovations to keep Eastern Ontario's one-of-a-kind tourist areas running smoothly, while also taking steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The Ontario government is investing $30 million to help the retirement home sector cover COVID-19 related costs such as hiring, training and testing additional staff, and sanitizing residences and purchasing supplies to prevent and contain the spread of infection. This funding is in addition to the $30.9 million that the province provided retirement homes earlier in the pandemic.
The Ontario government is investing $105 million through the new Community Building Fund to support non-profit tourism, culture, sport and recreation organizations. The funding will be used to help these non-profits recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and meet the needs of their communities.
The Ontario government announced the new Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force. It will be chaired by former MPP and Cabinet minister Tim Hudak, and give expert advice and recommendations on how to help the province's $36-billion tourism industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ontario government is providing $255 million to help municipalities and Indigenous program partners respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases in some emergency shelters and help keep vulnerable people safe. The new funding will protect homeless shelter staff and residents, and help prevent more people from becoming homeless.
As vaccine supply increases, the Ontario government is expanding the delivery channels available to administer COVID-19 vaccines to include pharmacies and primary care settings. As of Friday, March 12, over 325 pharmacies will be offering the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine to eligible Ontarians aged 60-64, by appointment only, as part of the vaccine delivery pilot program in specific regions.
Premier Doug Ford issued the following statement to mark the significant milestones achieved since COVID-19 was declared a Global Pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020.
On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario Government is activating an "emergency brake" in the Public Health Sudbury and Districts region, and moving it to the Grey-Lockdown level in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. The decision was made due to the concerning trends in public health indicators and in consultation with the local medical officer of health.
The Ontario government is investing more than $300,000 in mental health services to help young people access supports to help manage stress, depression and anxiety. The funding is being provided through the Ontario Together Fund to help Stella's Place hire more personnel to expand its online app services across the province. Stella's Place is a Toronto-based, registered charity and non-profit organization that provides mental health services and programs for young adults aged 16 to 29.
Canadians everywhere are feeling the impact of COVID-19 on their families, their livelihoods and their way of life. Together, the governments of Canada and Ontario are working to reduce the impact of the pandemic, ensure health and safety, rebuild businesses, and promote job creation, growth and investment.
On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is moving three public health regions to new levels in the revised and strengthened Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, including moving Lambton Public Health into Grey-Lockdown. Decisions were made in consultation with the local medical officers of health and are based on the trends in public health indicators and local context and conditions.
Government of Canada Updates
The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, along with Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, announced that the Government of Canada is providing $8 million in funding to help the four Inuit Land Claim Organizations address food insecurity in Inuit Nunangat.
Government of Canada Supports Cleaner, Healthier Classrooms Across Ontario by Reinvesting Carbon Pollution Pricing Revenues
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, and the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, announced that the federal government will provide approximately $40.8 million through the Climate Action Incentive Fund to upgrade 162 schools in Ontario to be more energy efficient. Energy-efficient schools will support better indoor air quality, leading to better health outcomes for Ontario students and educators, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Energy-efficient buildings also pollute less and help schools save on energy costs while fighting climate change.
On March 10, 2021, Government of Canada officials will hold a technical briefing to provide an overview on the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, participated in the Women in Business conference, which was organized by the consulates general of Canada and France in New York City and the Economic Club of New York.
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.