I have heard from many residents who are anxiously awaiting their vaccines. Toronto Public Health (TPH), and the City of Toronto are working closely with the Province to help deliver vaccines across the City during Phase 1 and beyond. TPH and the City are subject to the schedule set before us at the province. This phased approach prioritizes our most vulnerable groups such as those living in congregate settings, as well as Indigenous populations.
I know that there are many reasons to criticize the vaccine rollout, but I am proud to say that the City of Toronto successfully delivered vaccinations to all of its long-term care facilities before other jurisdictions across the province. As many of you recognize, long-term care residents and their staff are particularly vulnerable in these high-risk congregate settings.
I am also relieved knowing that the City will be administering vaccines in our shelter systems starting this week. Many residents experiencing homelessness are concerned about taking indoor accommodations due to the high-risk of transmission in these congregate settings. Studies have shown that if you’re experiencing homelessness and interact with COVID-19, you're twenty times more likely to be hospitalized, and five times more likely to die. By protecting our most vulnerable residents, we can slow the spread of COVID-19, and keep our communities safer.
For those asking why York Region is already vaccinating seniors over 80 years old but Toronto is not, health officials say this is because Toronto has so many health care workers (over 50% of all health care workers in Ontario are in Toronto) who fall into Phase 1. Since regions get vaccine supply on a per-capita basis, and we have more frontline healthcare workers than any other jurisdiction, it will take the City longer to ensure this first phase is complete. The Province has indicated that it will be rolling out a centralized booking system as of March 15, 2021. Frustrated by the slow roll-out by the province, some regions have decided to create their own booking system. This decision comes with risks. If each health region is tracking differently, it will be challenging to track and we may not have an accurate understanding of the number of distributed vaccines.
Yesterday, Dr. de Villa announced the City’s detailed COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, founded on public health and clinical expertise. The successful implementation of the City’s Vaccination Program is dependent on many areas of cooperation with the Province, Ontario Health, primary care providers, and other health sector partners. Participants for each phase of vaccination have been and will be identified in accordance with the Province’s Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine prioritization. Learn more about the province’s vaccine plan here.
The City and Toronto Public Health are responsible for implementing the City’s COVID-19 Immunization Program and working with other health sector agencies, such as Ontario Health Teams, and community groups that will immunize people in Toronto. Through the City’s program, in accordance with the Province’s phased approach and direction, we are responsible for:
- Identifying and supporting access to vaccines and vaccination information for people in Toronto
- Operating the nine City-operated immunization clinics to vaccinate people in Toronto
- Concurrently and intermittently operating mobile immunization clinics and deploying specialized, targeted immunization teams
- Working to address the specialized needs of vulnerable populations
- Providing vaccine information to other immunizing agencies such as pharmacies and primary care providers who will immunize their clients when vaccine supply permits community-based vaccination
- Collaboratively planning with health sector, community, and grassroots partners for coordinated immunization
The nine City-operated immunization clinics are on schedule to be ready to open on or before April 1. Once fully operational – seven days per week, nine hours per day – it is estimated that more than 120,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses will be administered each week through the network of City-operated clinics. More information on City-operated clinics is available online.
Once the supply of vaccines is established, there will be varied opportunities for vaccination for all residents. Other immunization clinics will be operated by hospitals, Ontario Health Team and community partners, mobile clinic operations, targeted community response, and the widespread availability of vaccines through family doctors and pharmacies. At this time, based on current vaccine supply, health sector partners coordinated by the City’s Ontario Health Teams and Local Health Integration Networks have identified a number of community clinics that will include:
- 49 planned vaccination clinics to be operated by hospitals and Ontario Health Teams (on-site and elsewhere, i.e. parking lots)
- 46 planned vaccination clinics to be operated by community health centres
- 249 pharmacies that will begin to operate with provincial direction
The City is working with partners to continually update the existing online map that will show neighbourhood COVID-19 vaccination options. The vaccination clinics identified are a work in progress and will change as additional information becomes available.
The City is recruiting 280 neighbourhood ambassadors to promote vaccines in their community. Research has shown that when addressing vaccine hesitancy, people are more likely to listen to those they trust – a family doctor, local faith leaders, a member of the extended family. Neighbourhood ambassadors will be trusted local leaders that provide information and help direct community members to where they can be vaccinated. The City is also partnering with 140 community agencies that will be safely going door-to-door to promote vaccines, confront vaccine hesitancy and help identify locations for mobile and pop-up clinics.
The City’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program Playbook is available online for those who would like more information on the City’s plan and work with government and community partners.
I know we are all frustrated with the pandemic and vaccine delivery will take us closer to putting this year behind us. The City of Toronto is prepared to distribute vaccines across the city when they are available, through the phased approach established by the province. While we are waiting, please remember that the vulnerable priority groups identified through Phase 1 will be instrumental in protecting everyone against the spread of COVID-19. By helping our most vulnerable, we better protect everyone.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
A promotional graphic for the Pink Basket projet
Is your business providing products or services for the Greater Toronto Area during COVID-19 downtime, that you want the LGBTQ2S+ community to know about? Businesses operating essential services, online shopping, remote services, delivery, curbside pick up, and such, can post their business on The Pink Basket FREE OF CHARGE. The Pink Basket Project offers LGBTQ2S+ friendly businesses in the Greater Toronto Area an opportunity to connect with the community by listing their available products and services for free during the COVID-19 restrictions. If you’re a business owner, you can enter your business name and category here to add your listing.
I know how much our small businesses are suffering, and the Pink Basket is a wonderful way to ensure that you’re supporting local, LGBTQ2S+ businesses in our communities. You can learn more by visiting www.thepinkbasket.ca.
The Pink Basket project is supported by TD Bank, INspired Media, The Pink Pages Directory, PinkPlayMags, theBUZZ magazine, and ON the COUCH talk show as well as Canadian LGTB+ Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Women Chamber of Commerce.
Community Care in Ward 13
I know the complex challenges our frontline staff face regularly and the grief they continue to experience. In order to better support our essential workers, the Ontario Psychologists Association (OPA), in partnership with 211 Toronto and the City of Toronto, is launching a pilot program to deliver virtual clinical supports to frontline staff at community agencies working in the Downtown East.
This project is available to frontline staff at community agencies working in the Downtown East who support individuals experiencing homelessness, poverty, drug addiction or other forms of marginalization. Eligible staff can receive free virtual counseling sessions with a licensed psychologist who has experience in complex trauma support. This is a hard time for so many, and I’m grateful for the dedication of our frontline workers.
This pilot project runs until March 31, 2021 and frontline staff in the Downtown East can call 211 to access support.
Sumach- Shuter Parkette Survey
A picture taken during the day of Sumach-Shuter Parkette
Sumach-Shuter Parkette is getting a refresh! The City of Toronto is redesigning Sumach–Shuter Parkette to better serve the local community. The goal is to make park improvements to enhance local recreation and leisure opportunities while maintaining the green character of the park and protecting existing trees to the greatest extent possible. The City is seeking additional public feedback on including a dog off-leash area in the park. The following survey focuses on park design and off-leash area opportunities in the park.
The survey opened Friday February 12, 2021 and will close on Friday March 5, 2021. Take the survey now!
You Might be Interested In…
Promotional poster for Not Your Exotic event
Not Your Exotic: East and Southeast Asian Women Addressing Gender-Based Violence Panel
On March 4, 2021, I am proud to be hosting activists, advocates and writers Olivia Chow, Masia One, Catherine Hernandez, Hijin Park, and Kai Cheng Thom to explore East and Southeast Asian perspectives on addressing gender-based violence.
Violence against East and Southeast Asian communities is on the rise however this did not start under the COVID pandemic. There is a long history of our communities being targeted, exoticized, and diminutized by non-Asians including being used by white supremacy as a “model minority”, or being used as cheap labour, to our own cultural practices of patriarchy. Join us as we discuss policies, practices that contribute to gender-based violence and how they can be addressed. Closed captioning provided.
When: March 4, 2021
Time: 7 - 8:30 p.m.
Where: Zoom, Register to join
Thank you to Consent Comes First, the Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education, Faculty of Arts, Ryerson’s Advisory Committee to Combat Anti-Asian Racism for inviting me, and I hope many of you will be able to attend. Learn more about the event and register here.
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
Mayor John Tory proclaimed March 1 to 5 as Black Mental Health Week in Toronto. Throughout the week, various events planned by community groups and agencies will focus on the impact that anti-Black racism has on mental health. The week is also a call to action for more support and access to culturally-responsive mental health services and programs for Black residents.
The City of Toronto released a new dashboard with data on how people enter and exit the shelter system, known as Shelter System Flow, that will be used to inform ongoing efforts to develop permanent solutions to address homelessness.
City of Toronto’s Home Energy Loan Program Gets Funding Boost from the Government of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
The Government of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) announced funding of up to $14.6 million to support the City of Toronto’s Home Energy Loan Program (HELP).
City of Toronto Provides Updated Details of City COVID-19 Vaccination Program and Collaboration with Health Sector Partners
Mayor John Tory, Chair of the Board of Health Councillor Joe Cressy, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Fire Chief and General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management Matthew Pegg shared details of the City’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program and provided an update on collaboration with health sector immunization partners.
Toronto Public Health Recommends Temporary Dismissal Of Donwood Park Public School Due To Variant Of Concern
Toronto Public Health (TPH) has recommended the temporary dismissal of staff and students at Donwood Park Public School as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak of six people with COVID-19 in the school, including four who have screened positive for a variant of concern (VOC). In four of the cases community exposure is likely.
971 New Affordable Homes to be Created Through the City of Toronto’s 2020 Call for Open Door Affordable Housing Program Applications
The City of Toronto has released the results of its Open Door 2020 call for applications, which will create 971 new affordable homes.
To slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Toronto is extending the cancellation of in-person City-led and City-permitted major outdoor events to July 1, including Canada Day parades, festivals and fireworks.
Toronto Public Health Working with Schools to Respond to Variants of Concern Linked to School Settings
Toronto Public Health (TPH) is currently working with schools in Toronto in which at least one individual linked to the school has screened positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern (VOC). To date eight local schools have at least one case linked to a screened positive or probable VOC.
The Toronto Urban Design Awards, held by the City of Toronto every second year, recognize achievements in urban design, architecture and landscape architecture. The call for 2021 submissions is now open. Designers, developers, project owners, community groups, design students and others are invited to enter eligible projects. The deadline for submissions is noon on Monday, April 26. (updated time)
Mayor Tory Encourages People Across Toronto to Apply Now for City of Toronto Parks and Recreation Jobs
Mayor John Tory kicked off the annual hiring campaign for summer parks and recreation jobs at the City of Toronto. While it’s too early to know what safe and fun activities will be offered this spring and summer, the City is preparing for a safe resumption of parks and recreation services by hiring spring and summer parks and recreation workers.
Province of Ontario Updates
The Ontario government is providing $150 million in additional funding to help municipal transit systems address the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is in addition to the $2 billion previously committed by Ontario and the federal government through the Safe Restart Agreement to help municipalities continue to deliver critical transit services. During the peak of the pandemic, ridership dropped up to 90% of normal levels for some of Ontario's transit systems, which resulted in significant financial impacts for municipalities.
The Ontario government is providing almost $10 million to help large municipalities find better and more efficient ways to operate and save taxpayers' dollars. This investment is being delivered through the province's Audit and Accountability Fund and will support initiatives that focus on increasing digital services, modernization, streamlining and service integration.
The Ontario government is investing $14.3 million in 2020-21 to support nearly 300 Seniors Active Living Centres. These programs will deliver new virtual initiatives to help keep seniors safe and socially connected as they continue to self-isolate due to COVID-19.
The Ontario government is investing $6 million over the next three years to help Black children and youth achieve their educational and career goals by creating the new Student and Family Advocates initiative in Ottawa, Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area. The advocates will provide community-based and culturally relevant supports to Black students ages 6-25 and act as advocates for Black families within the education system.
The Ontario government is supporting the arts sector with a one-time investment of $25 million to help artists and arts organizations survive the COVID-19 pandemic, remain solvent, and prepare for a time when they can fully re-open their facilities, resume full programming and welcome back their visitors and audiences.
The Ontario government is providing up to $2 million in additional funding to extend the Build Back Better pilot project through 2023, and help eligible municipalities rebuild infrastructure that was damaged by extreme weather to a higher standard. This investment is part of Ontario's Municipal Recovery Assistance (MDRA) program and will better protect communities from the impacts of natural disasters.
The Ontario government is investing over $115 million to train up to 8,200 new personal support workers (PSWs) for high-demand jobs in Ontario's health and long-term care sectors. In collaboration with Colleges Ontario, all 24 publicly assisted colleges will offer this innovative, fully funded program starting in April 2021. This is part of the government's Long-Term Care Staffing Plan, one of the largest PSW recruitment and training drives in the province's history.
The Ontario government is investing $1.2 million over three years to help young Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned tech start-ups access the resources and tools they need to succeed in the province's changing economy. The funding will be provided through Ryerson University DMZ's Black Innovation Programs, which support Black-led businesses by connecting them with customers, capital, experts and a community of entrepreneurs and influencers.
The Ontario government is taking steps to make it easier and safer for people to vote, become a candidate, and protect provincial elections against outside influence and interference. The Protecting Ontario Elections Act, 2021 would, if passed, help guard against threats such as the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, under-regulated third-party advertising, irregular campaign spending and collusion.
The Ontario government announced regulatory amendments that support working families and improve the child care and early years sector and advance the province's dual priorities of accessibility and affordability for parents.
The Ontario government is investing more than $3.8 million over the next five years to create two new community-based programs to provide more young victims and survivors of human trafficking in York Region with access to the supports they need. Strengthening Ontario's ability to support victims and survivors and better protect children and youth are key parts of the province's new proposed groundbreaking Combatting Human Trafficking Act, which was introduced this week to help combat this growing crime.
Government of Canada Updates
Government of Canada to Make an Announcement in Support of the MySafe Society Safer Supply Project in Canada
Parliamentary Secretary, Darren Fisher, on behalf of Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, will announce federal funding towards the expansion of the MySafe Society safer supply project in Canada.
Ensuring that the family justice system can effectively respond to the needs of families during divorce or separation is critical. That is why the Government of Canada took action by changing Canada’s federal family laws to promote the best interests of the child, address family violence, help reduce child poverty, and make the family justice system more accessible and efficient.
Rollout of Funding Announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement Supporting Arts and Live Events Workers in Response to COVID-19
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, in collaboration with Simon Brault, Director and CEO for the Canada Council for the Arts, is announcing further details today about the implementation of $181.5 million in funding for the live arts and music sectors in 2021–2022.
Canada and Ontario Invest to Improve Safety and Accessibility at the Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre
Arif Virani, Member of Parliament for Parkdale—High Park, on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; Christine Hogarth, Member of Provincial Parliament for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure; and Victor Willis, Executive Director of the Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre, announced joint funding for accessibility and safety improvements to Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC).
As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to recognize the important contributions that Black communities have made and continue to make to building this country. The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, highlighted that the Government of Canada is investing over $4.78 million through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) program to help 218 Black youth get the skills and opportunities they need to transition into the workforce.
To continue to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment, the Government of Canada is investing in projects that focus on important issues like encouraging leadership and democratic participation among women and girls. Investments like these will help give them the tools they need to succeed.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy has protected over 5 million jobs and helped businesses, charities and non-profits re-hire workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Finance released draft legislative proposals that would implement technical amendments to ensure these support programs better support the businesses and workers who are facing challenges as a result of the pandemic.
Government of Canada Introduces Legislation to Increase Number of Weeks for EI Regular Benefits and to Prevent International Travellers from Qualifying for Recovery Benefits During Mandatory Quarantine
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government of Canada has strongly urged Canadians to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19. As Canadians continue to make difficult but important sacrifices for their health and their communities, the Government of Canada has been there to support them every step of the way, including through the creation of three recovery benefits and a more flexible and accessible Employment Insurance (EI) program.
Canada to Receive 2 Million Doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 Vaccine Manufactured by the Serum Institute of India
The Government of Canada is taking steps to ensure more people in Canada are vaccinated more quickly, and continues to work to give Canadians access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. Following Health Canada’s authorization of the AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 COVID-19 vaccine, the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced that Canada has secured 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through an agreement with Verity Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc./Serum Institute of India.
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.