The pace of change surrounding our response to COVID-19 continues unabated. The challenges we face are many, and I want to thank all the people from frontline healthcare workers, the grocery store attendants, to the cleaning staff and government social policy makers who are all working hard to keep us all safe.
Governments at all levels are working hard to respond to the rapidly changing circumstances surrounding COVID19. This has resulted in an unprecedented number of announcements of new programs and policies designed to keep people healthy, slow the rate of infection and help people who suddenly find themselves without income, or means to support themselves.
I want to highlight some of the recent announcements to help people access emergency funding for people whose livelihoods have been impacted by COVID-19.
The City of Toronto has a also compiled a list of resources which can be used to help minimize the impacts of lost income and help get Toronto residents back on their feet. Please check back often as new resources will be added as they become available.
Today, the Federal government has announced that the two previously announced emergency benefits will be replaced by one: The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will give workers who've lost their income because of COVID-19 $2000 a month for 4 months. The CERB will be available for anyone who has lost their jobs -- full time, contract or self employed workers.
It is clear that the EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. To help relieve the burden on the EI system, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, are eligible to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.
The portal for accessing the CERB will be available in early April and you can learn more about the proposed CERB here.
EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI here, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits. If you have questions about how to access EI, please see this resource from the City of Toronto.
The province of Ontario has made $200 million in social services relief funding available for emergency assistance for those who are not able to access federal assistance to cover needs such as food costs, rent, medicine and other essential services during this time. Individuals can apply for this assistance online at Ontario.ca/community or through local Ontario Works offices.
If you already receive Ontario Works benefits, additional funding could be available to you. You can apply through online applications such as MyBenefits, contacting their Ontario Works caseworker or online at Ontario.ca/community. ODSP recipients are also eligible to receive these benefits and can contact their ODSP caseworker for additional information.
Late this afternoon, the Province of Ontario announced a $17 Billion action plan with new financial resources for the health care system and to provide direct support for people and protect jobs. “Ontario’s Action Plan 2020: Responding to COVID-19” includes resources for health professionals on the front line, and new measures to support businesses, seniors, parents, students, workers, Indigenous communities and vulnerable populations. My team will go over this plan and provide more information for you in the coming days. The province’s news release can be found here.
The challenge of navigating all these different supports is one of the key reasons I support a Universal Basic Income. If you haven’t yet, 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 and to make it permanent afterwards. 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.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shout-out is to the St Lawrence Market BIA who are keeping the neighbourhood up to date with which restaurants are offering takeout services in the area. These businesses have modified their services and are taking extra precautions to help keep their staff and community safe. Please practice social distancing if you are picking up food to take home. Thank you to the St Lawrence Market BIA for this list.
Please continue to email my office at email@example.com 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!
Practice Social Distancing
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.
- If you have symptoms of illness, do not leave your home under any circumstance until you have spoken with a medical professional and been given the all clear.
- If you have just returned from international travel, you are subject to a mandatory 14-day isolation under the Quarantine Act. Do not leave your home under any circumstance for 14 days.
- And even if you are not sick and have not traveled, unless you work in an essential industry, stay at home.
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 toronto.ca/covid19 .
City of Toronto Updates
The City of Toronto has announced that all City-owned playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor exercise equipment and other parks amenities, as well as parking lots attached to its parks system, will be closed effective immediately, in the City’s continuing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
We know the importance of fresh air and exercise for our physical and mental health, and we want to continue to encourage people who are not in isolation due to illness or returning from travel to take moments outside. But unfortunately, we also know that people are still using parks and their amenities to congregate in ways that do not support the public health of our communities.
So, beginning tomorrow, signs will be erected across Toronto’s parks amenities to advise of closures, and gates or fences will be locked. Park green spaces will remain accessible, but all amenities within City parks will be closed. Dr. de Villa is urging any other parks space, including any parks space or amenities not owned by the city, be closed immediately. If you have any concerns, please contact 311.
Please remember that if you are not performing essential or critical services to please stay home as much as possible. Every interaction avoided is saved lives. Every Torontonian has a part to play in helping bring an end to this pandemic. The action today is one more important step in that effort.
Province of Ontario Updates
As of today, all non-essential businesses in Ontario are closed. The provincial government has ordered the mandatory closures to be in effect for at least the next 14 days.
Earlier this week, the province introduced changes to Ontario’s Emergency Assistance Program in response to COVID-19. The two primary changes are:
1. Suspending the rule that limits emergency assistance provision to only once in a six-month period for individuals and families affected by COVID-19
2. Allowing people to receive emergency assistance for longer (48 days) without submitted a Ontario Works application
For individuals who are already on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), additional resources and benefits are available through the Ontario Works (OW) program online application, MyBenefits or through contacting their OW caseworker. ODSP recipients can contact their ODSP caseworker for additional information.
This morning, the provincial government announced the launch of a toll-free telephone line, Stop the Spread Business Information, designed for business owners who have questions about the province’s recent declaration of an emergency order to close at-risk workplaces. Businesses who have questions about closures of workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment can call the Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
Government of Canada Updates
Today, the Federal government has announced that the 2 previously announced emergency benefits will be replaced by one: the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB will be available for anyone who has lost their jobs -- full time, contract or self employed workers. To learn more about the above mentioned Canada Emergency Response Benefit, please read the full statement from the Federal government.
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu has also announced that as of midnight tonight, all returning travellers must go into self-isolation. It will be enforced through measures in the Quarantine Act, which could include criminal sanctions or fines. We will continue to update you as we learn more but for now please see this CBC article for more information.
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.