Yesterday, Ontario recorded 1,706 positive cases of COVID-19, including 351 new cases. We have also confirmed over 20 deaths. Today I am especially thinking about all the families who lost loved ones at the Pinecrest nursing home in Bobcaygeon. My heart goes out to them.
I know how scary it is to watch the number of cases and death increase every day. I want to continue to reiterate that this is not an indication that our efforts to physically distance aren’t working, but in fact, it should steel our resolve, and our commitment to effective social distancing.
Part of this increase in cases can be explained by the people who are being selected for testing. In Ontario, tests are being prioritized for those who are very sick and admitted to hospital, and for health care, nursing home and other workers whose frontline jobs bring them into contact with large groups of people. This means that they are more likely to have positive cases, but also that there are a high number of probable cases that have not yet to be tested.
Torontonians should take very seriously the increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations, especially those requiring intensive care and/or ventilation. This report by the CBC indicates that while 92 patients in critical care wards have been confirmed positive for COVID-19, another 342 ICU patients are considered "suspected" cases. Please think of these people, and the front-line health providers that are caring for them, when you decide whether or not to leave your home.
Without the full information that comes from wide-spread testing, we should all assume that we are potential carriers, and behave accordingly. It is also important to remember that there are physical distancing rules set out below from three orders of government, and that breaking them could result in fines or jail time.
- The City of Toronto closed park amenities like play structures, dog parks, & tennis courts. Fines for violating the closures could cost you up to $5,000.
- The Federal Government’s mandatory post-travel quarantine. Those returning from international travel must now self-isolate for a period of 14-days, or risk fines and/or prison time.
- The Province of Ontario has prohibited gatherings of more than 5 people.
The last thing I want to see is for governments to take increasingly authoritarian measures to ensure social distancing compliance. That means we all need to keep doing the hard work of staying home and staying 6 feet apart from each other when in public.
Physical Distancing - Community Tips
Yesterday, I asked if you had any tips to help maintain physical distance and I am grateful for all your creative suggestions. Here are some of my favourites!
- Taking a bike ride at 2am is a life-saver! -Suzanne
- Be mindful when walking, and definitely avoid looking down at your phone while walking. -Ruslana
- Carry a CCM hockey stick. If you can touch someone; they are too close. -Aaron
- Unpack groceries outside of your home. -Misses
- Meditation really helps change my mood. I'm feeling so much more positive just after 20 minutes. -Michael
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
New Resources on the Website
With so much changing so fast, and with the need for support so high, I know that keeping track of the government announcements can be incredibly difficult. I want to make sure that everyone who needs help knows how to get it, so I have added new resources to my website to help make this easier for everyone to find the help they need.
This document will be updated regularly as support programs are added, or changed. A huge thank you to Prof. Jennifer Robson, Associate Professor of Political Management, Carleton University whose work we borrowed so heavily from.
Please visit our website and view the User Friendly List of Government Resources section in the Links and Resources tab.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today our Community Care shoutout goes to Neighbourhood Information Post (NIP)’s Rent Bank Program. This program is available to anyone who needs help with rental payments. To those of you who need assistance with rent, please call NIP at 416-924-2543 and leave a message. As the office is closed, staff will return calls as soon as they can, and conduct intake on the phone for anyone who qualifies. If you need help with April rent, please give them a call and staff will try their best to assist. In partnership with City of Toronto staff, NIP is simplifying the application process and removing the in-person interviews.
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!
Thank you for continuing to practice physical and social distancing. I know it is a challenge, and your efforts are greatly appreciated. Many of you have reached out about enforcement of the City of Toronto parks closures. Please report any infractions to 311. I know Parks staff are working hard to replace tape that was removed, and enforce current restrictions on parks. Please understand that this is for the safety of our communities.
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.
- 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 travel, 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 COVID-19 Updates
Thank you to everyone who continues to practice physical distancing and stays home whenever possible. Your efforts do not go unnoticed, and I thank you. The City of Toronto continues to adapt to this evolving landscape. Authorized and funded by the Province of Ontario, there will be emergency child care provided to children of essential and critical service workers. These services will serve children from birth to age 12 and will be provided at no cost to families. Centres will operate 24/7 in existing licensed child care facilities across Toronto and staffed by City of Toronto child care workers. Understanding that it is difficult to maintain physical distance in these scenarios, extra health and safety measures are in place to prioritize the safety of children and workers.
Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) cheques are available March 30 through April 1 for pick up at tents located at 214 Wellington St. W, 3660 Kingston Rd. and 605 Rogers Rd. The tents are not COVID-19 testing sites. I know many of you on OW/ODSP have questions about accessing additional financial support. I am working as fast as I can to provide answers to these important questions.
Province of Ontario Updates
Earlier today, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Williams, issued a statement outlining further recommendations to support reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Dr. Williams also suggested that given the greater risk of severe outcomes to Ontarians who are elderly, he is strongly recommending that individuals over 70 years of age to self-isolate.
Response to Price Gouging
Over the last few weeks, we have been seeing and hearing about price gouging, the increase in price of goods and services, for necessary items. Over the weekend, the provincial government issued an emergency order that states retail businesses and individuals in Ontario cannot charge unfair prices for necessary goods. If found in non-compliance, individuals and companies will face significant penalties.
Consumers can report an individual who is price gouging by filing a complaint at 1-800-899-9768 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, or by filing a report online.
Construction Sites & the Impact of COVID-19
In response to growing concerns of the health and safety on construction sites, Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer announced an update to the initial guidance document that was circulated to employers on March 20, 2020. Examples of updates include:
- Providing better on-site sanitation, including a focus on high-touch areas like site trailers, door handles and hoists
- Communicating roles, responsibilities, and health & safety policies, by, for example, posting site sanitization schedules and work schedules
- Enabling greater distances between workers by staggering shifts, restricting site numbers and limiting elevator usage.
Ministry inspectors are inspecting job sites to ensure compliance. You can read the full update to the construction site health and safety guideline here.
Government of Canada Updates
The Federal Government announced more details about a salary benefit being offered through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
Businesses whose revenues have decreased by at least 30 per cent will be eligible, providing up to 75 per cent of the salary for the first part of $58,700, providing workers with up to $847 a week, back-dated to March 15. This money is intended to try and provide employees their full salary, and to rehire staff that may have been laid off.
The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada also re-emphasized that residents returning to Canada must go straight home and self-isolate for a period of 14-days.
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.