I continue to be heartened by the number of people who are reaching out to my office to offer their volunteer time, share resources and speak kindly about their neighbours. Our community is resilient and strong, always rising to the occasion to help each other in times of need. Thank you for your generosity and kindness during these challenging times!
The single best way for Torontonians to support each other right now is to stay home and practice physical distancing to prevent COVID-19 spread.
I know I said it yesterday but a reminder: Everyone who is able to, for the health of our friends, family and neighbours, needs to make the hard sacrifices to voluntarily stay home. We should all behave as if we are carriers of COVID-19. While the directions are simple, that doesn't mean they are easy.
- If you have symptoms of illness, do not leave your home until you have spoken with a medical professional and been given the all clear.
- If you have just returned from travel, do not leave your home for 14 days.
- And even if you are not sick and have not traveled, unless you work in an essential industry, stay at home.
I also hear from a number of you who are concerned about how you will pay rent this month, the month after. Despite announced support for mortgage deferrals or the temporary halt on evictions, that is not much of a comfort as people still need to plan for the future. Today, I am proud to say that the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) confirmed that it will be flexible and work with market rent and rent-geared-to-income (RGI) tenants whose employment income has been impacted by COVID-19. The City also issued broad directions today to over 200 social and affordable housing providers responsible for over 33,000 units, reinforcing that the housing stability of residents is a top priority.
But I know many of you live in private commercial buildings, and you are also impacted by lay-offs and lost income. Despite the fact that the City has no power to direct private landlords, Mayor Tory has been in contact with major private residential landlords, and he has strongly urged all property owners to find ways to help tenants who need it, to stay in their homes during these unprecedented times.
I hope all housing providers, from the City of Toronto, to large building operators, to individual landlords will be flexible, exercise discretion, and to work with households whose employment-related income is affected due to the current emergency.
But I also believe that now is the time to take bold and visionary action. It’s critical that we act fast to expand social and economic support, rather than trying to fix each problem as it arises. I have been, and will continue to support the call for an immediate Universal Basic Income, which would allow everyone to pay their rent, and the necessities that need to live, thus eliminating any fear of eviction in the future. It will be the most direct way of putting essential funds directly into the hands of Canadians, especially now when they need it the most.
I am also proud to support the Provincial NDP’s call for $2,000 Emergency Income cheques to households experiencing unemployment or lost income during the COVID-19 crisis. The direct payments would bridge the weeks-long wait for federal support payments, and would help top-up the Employment Insurance and Emergency Care Benefit payments, which alone only replace about 55% of a person’s income. I have been hearing daily from residents who are concerned that their inability to work will pose an extreme financial burden, impacting their ability to pay rent or the mortgage and provide basic provisions for their families. We must acknowledge that time is of the essence.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Join the Call for Universal Basic Income
In this time of emergency and to ensure governments leave no one behind, we must invest in people first. This global epidemic guarantees that the weeks, months and years ahead will not look like the ones before. Let’s boldly reconstruct the most inclusive and strongest economy in our nation’s history. Another world has alway been possible and it’s always been up to us to choose.
I hope you will join me in supporting UBI Works, by signing this petition to ask the Canadian Government to immediately fund an emergency Basic Income for every adult in Canada until the crisis has passed. It will be the most direct way of putting essential funds directly into the hands of Canadians, especially now when they need it the most. It’s critical that we act fast to expand social and economic support for all.
Community Care in Ward 13
Our community care shout-out today goes to The Moss Park Market and Building Roots who are staying open during this critical time continuing to support vulnerable community members. They are being very diligent in maintaining the health and safety of their volunteers, workers and the folks they serve. In the coming weeks, Building Roots is shifting their focus to at-home resources that may provide relief and support during this challenging time. They are increasing food access and emergency food provisions by delivering food baskets to folks living with emotional or mobility barriers, seniors, and those in self-isolation that have trouble accessing food. Their food deliveries to vulnerable residents began on Saturday March 21, and have been continuing. Thank you for all that you do, and continue to do for our community!
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
As of this morning, there are two positive cases of COVID-19 in the shelter system. The identification of a second case – with no connection to the first case reported last week – is not unexpected. Both individuals are recovering in isolation. Shelter, Support and Housing (SSHA) is working with Toronto Public Health (TPH) to identify people who may have come in close contact with the individuals to actively monitor, test, and isolate those who become symptomatic. There is no evidence of an outbreak in our shelter system.
The City of Toronto has rapidly mobilized and implemented a plan in response to the risk COVID-19 presents to clients of the city’s network of shelters, respites, and drop-ins. The City has opened nine new facilities with more than 350 spaces to create further physical distancing for clients from shelters, 24-respites and 24-hour drop-ins. An additional facility is preparing to open with more space ready to be activated as needed. The City also has Canada’s first dedicated isolation site for people experiencing homelessness who are awaiting COVID-19 test results. The City has also opened space at hotel and motel sites and is exploring other opportunities so that we stay one step ahead of a rapidly evolving situation
Learn more information about how the City is protecting individuals experiencing homelessness from COVID-19 here. If you or someone you know needs street outreach, call 311 or Central Intake at 416-338-4766.
To further contain the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario Government announced that they will order the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces effective as of Tuesday, March 24th at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of extending this order as the situation evolves. The Province released a full list of essential workplaces that are permitted to stay open. The City is assessing the impact this will have on City services and encourages residents to visit the City’s website for the most up to date information on affected services.
City of Toronto Municipal Licensing & Standards is now participating in a joint operation with Toronto Public Health and the Toronto Police Service to ensure non-essential businesses are complying with the order to close. Compliance audits started this morning at 8 a.m. across the city and will continue 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Non-essential businesses found to be open may be provided with a Notice under the Provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
If you have urgent questions about whether a business that is continuing to operate is essential, call 311.
Province of Ontario Updates
Yesterday, The Ontario Government ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces effective as of Tuesday, March 24th at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of extending this order as the situation evolves.
This is in addition to the earlier announcement that saw the immediate closure of all indoor recreational programs, all public libraries, all private schools, all licensed child care centres, all bars and restaurants (except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery), all theatres and cinemas and all concert venues. All organized events with more than 50 people are also prohibited, including parades, events and services within places of worship.
The Government of Ontario announced it is is providing immediate electricity rate relief for families, small businesses and farms paying time-of-use (TOU) rates.
Government of Canada Updates
The House of Commons was expected to be recalled today to debate the government’s $82 billion COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. Successful passage of the Bill will mean that the support outlined in Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan can begin to roll out.
At the time of writing, the bill had not been passed, but please continue to check Canada.ca/covid19.
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.
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.