Thank you to everyone who continues the hard work of physical and social distancing! Each and every one of us taking these measures seriously ensures that we do not put our family, friends and others at risk. I ask you to also please urge others to do the same. Together, we can fight COVID-19, flatten the curve and save lives.
I know you will have seen the news that the virus is spreading in our City and this is why I, and the Medical Officer of Health keep urging everyone to stay home. When you don't stay home you are putting our most vulnerable residents at risk:
- Our parents and our grandparents
- People with compromised immune systems and/or chronic health conditions
- People who deliver our essential services
- People who don't have homes
I know some people are confused about why after two weeks of social distancing, the number of confirmed cases continues to grow. I want to assure you that the increasing numbers of cases we are seeing across Toronto are expected, and that we are likely going to continue to see high numbers of new cases. This is partly due to increasing testing capacity, but also that the results we are getting now are the results of infections that happened several days, or weeks ago.
The effects of social distancing take time to be felt, but this should not be seen as an indication that all your efforts are futile. Every time you decide to stay home, you are making a difference.
I have spoken to many concerned residents about what specifically the City is doing to support those experiencing homelessness and staying in the shelter system. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the existing housing and homelessness crisis even more acute. So many of the interventions being implemented now have been necessary for years.
As of this morning, there are two positive cases of COVID-19 in the shelter system. Both individuals are recovering in isolation. Shelter, Support & Housing Administration (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.
SSHA staff are working non-stop with committed community partners on new initiatives to support proper physical distancing and these efforts include:
- Opening 10 new facilities and making available hotel spaces for physical distancing
- Establishing Canada's first dedicated isolation shelter for people experiencing homelessness
- A new Rapid Housing Access Initiative to prioritize access to housing for existing shelter clients in Toronto Community Housing
- Enhanced screening and cleaning measures
Of course, even more needs to be done and faster. No matter what it takes, the City and our committed frontline workers with the support of the leadership are working full tilt, sparing no expense to keep everyone safe, especially those who are already vulnerable.
We also recognize the need for additional services for people who frequent Supervised Injection Sites (SIS) or rely on meal support programs, as drop-ins and other service providers have had to reduce service levels as a result of COVID-19. The Federal Government has given the green light for a safe supply of drugs to Vancouver's Downtown Eastside residents. I strongly believe that Toronto must be next. Delaying any federal and provincial permissions needed to provide safer access to managed opioid programs will not only cost lives but it will force people to go outside and expose themselves un-necessarily to the virus.
I am working closely with City staff on operationalizing elements of the Downtown East Action Plan to expedite access to mobile washrooms and handwashing stations across the downtown east.
We also need to get more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the hands of our front line service workers immediately. Despite assurances from the Provincial Minister of Health that there is adequate supply, we are hearing from nurses and front line staff across the ward about the need for masks. If you have PPE that you want to donate, please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help coordinate that donation.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today I want to celebrate Fieldstone Co-op in Toronto participating in the #HumansofCoopHousing initiative! Fieldstone Co-op on Bleeker Street has found a great way to maintain a sense of community and keep spirits high while practicing social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. They held a community singalong, with members taking part from a safe distance apart on their balconies and in the garden. Songs included, Let It Go from Disney’s Frozen and Bare Necessities from Disney’s The Jungle Book. Members are already looking forward to the next singalong and sending in their song requests. Thank you for bringing joy to our communities!
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!
Keep Practicing Social Distancing!
I know it has been challenging, but the single best way for Torontonians to support each other right now is to stay home and practise physical distancing to prevent COVID-19 spread. I recognize that physical distancing and self-isolation measures can take a toll but they are critically important right now.
- 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.
Please be aware that the Federal Government’s mandatory post-travel quarantine is also now in effect. Those returning from international travel must now self-isolate for a period of 14-days, or risk fines and/or prison time.
Shout out to Pusateri Fruit Market in the Church Wellesley Village
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
Thank you for continuing to practice social distancing. I know it is a challenge, and I thank you for doing your part to manage the spread of COVID-19.
The City of Toronto is now urging Landlords and Condo Boards to adopt new health and safety measures for large residential buildings and a rigorous cleaning routine to prevent viral spread. Building operators and staff should follow these guidelines to protect residents in vertical communities:
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer or a hand washing station with soap and water should be placed at all building entrances.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be available in all common areas that remain open, such as laundry rooms.
- Close non-essential common areas such as bathrooms, gyms, playrooms, playgrounds and other high traffic areas.
- Routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces in common areas, including doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, toilet handles, counters, hand rails, touch screen surfaces and keypads, with common household cleaners and disinfectants.
- Organize the building to accept deliveries of essential goods, like medications, for residents to avoid non-essential trips outside.
- Post signage limiting the number of residents allowed in common areas, including laundry rooms and elevators, to ensure that individuals are able to maintain a two-metre distance. There should be no more than 3 people in an elevator.
The City of Toronto is prioritizing the health and safety of residents, but we also appreciate the needs of our businesses during this time. As part of the Mayor’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force has issued a survey to hear from local businesses about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and what support they need during this crisis. The City is doing everything possible, in full cooperation with provincial and federal governments, to minimize the economic impact, support businesses, employees and residents now, and see an economic recovery take place as soon as possible. Fill out the survey here.
Please do continue to check COVID-19: Affected City Services & Facilities for regular updates.
Province of Ontario Updates
Starting today, every day at 2:00 p.m., Ontarians will begin to receive emergency alerts to their cell phones and televisions warning recent travellers to abide by the federal government’s order to self-isolate for 14 days. The alert outlines the high risks of the spread of COVID-19 by recent travelers. They are required to not visit stores, family, or friends.
The provincial government continues to explore different means of communication to ensure Ontarians across the province are aware of the rules around social distancing and self-isolation.
Financial Relief for Ontario Businesses
Yesterday afternoon, the Ontario Government introduced $1.9 billion in relief for employers to reduce financial strain on business as result of COVID-19. The measure will be implemented through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the provisions of the relief package and can defer premium reporting and payments until August 31 2020. They will not be required to opt in to receive this benefit.
Government of Canada Updates
Earlier today, the federal government made several announcements to assist small and medium business. Aside from assisting businesses with their cash flow and with loans, businesses are being encouraged to keep or rehire employees who had been laid off. These measures include:
- An additional $12.5 billion is being made available through Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank to help small and medium-sized businesses with their operational cash flow requirements;
- The wage subsidy for small- and medium-sized businesses will grow from 10% to 75%, back-dated to Sunday, March 15;
- Loans worth up to $40,000 will be available for some small businesses. The loans will be supplied by the banks and backstopped by the Federal government. Up to $10,000 of the loan will be forgiven; and,
- GST/HST payments will be deferred and duties and taxes owed on imports, will be deferred until June.
The Federal Government also confirmed that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), like EI, will be taxable. The tax will not come off at source, rather will be payable when filing 2020 income taxes.
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.