Today there are 2,336 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, and while the vaccine rollout is underway, this is not the trend we want. We are still in the midst of the third wave of a global pandemic with contagious variant counts rising. It is hard to express the urgency that is needed right now because it has been a year of crisis. I don't want to sound alarmist, but it is important that we recognize the impacts that COVID-19 continues to have. Patients arriving at ICUs in the GTA are having to be transferred across the province to maintain capacity. We are at a critical moment to ensure that we do not lose equitable access to life-saving critical care.
Within the mix of news releases, late last week the Province of Ontario announced that hair salons and personal grooming can open and resume operations on April 12. Dr. de Villa and Mayor Tory have indicated that should case numbers continue to rise, this may not be the case. In her briefing yesterday, Dr. de Villa said that the data is painting a worsening picture with 1 in 3 cases being people between the ages of 20-39. These residents are often already precariously employed as they make up a large portion of ‘gig’ economy workers in our hospitality and foodservice industry.
In addition to staying home, washing your hands, and wearing masks, getting your vaccine is a critical way you can help the recovery effort. Yesterday, the Province of Ontario began administering vaccines to those over 70 years old. Learn more about eligibility and where to get vaccinated here. Don’t forget that if you are between 60-64 years old, you can get your vaccine at a neighbourhood pharmacy. You can see your nearest pharmacy listed here. If you are eligible, I urge you to get vaccinated. Getting your vaccine will help keep you and the community safer. Learn more about the benefits of vaccines here.
Of course, our individual actions are not enough. With the surge in case counts in a very short period of time, we need swift policy solutions from the Premier. The Board of Health and I have continued to call upon the Province for paid sick leave which the Premier continues to deny; even most recently in the 2021 budget. This policy change would drastically curb transmission by supporting residents in precarious financial situations from having to choose between a roof over their heads or going to work sick.
As Easter and Ramadan approach, I urge you to continue to celebrate virtually and safely distanced. Unfortunately, now is not the time to gather as we normally would. I know this is disappointing, and we are all craving connections with our loved ones. I am too, but we are not there yet. It’s been a deeply challenging year, but we are nearing the end, and it will end. Until then, please continue to practice physical distancing, stay home whenever possible, and if you are able, wear a mask. Please remember that we need to be vigilant in our adherence to public health guidelines. I know it’s frustrating. I am too. Until we are all able to get our vaccine doses, we must continue to do our best to keep our communities safe. When we protect ourselves, we also protect our most vulnerable.
Last week, the Province of Ontario announced its 2021 COVID-19 recovery budget. Despite its $186 billion dollar size, there were notably missing items. We have already discussed the irresponsible lack of paid sick leave, which experts agree helps to curb the transmission of COVID-19.
Housing is another missing line item. Toronto has been facing a housing crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to be ignored by the Premier. Despite calls upon calls to the Province, there is no monetary commitment for operating funding for the City’s 1,100 supportive housing units. The Province is solely responsible for providing the funding needed to operate these affordable units and wrap-around services. It is not enough to acknowledge the importance of housing. We need a commitment of $26.45 million for this year and ongoing future commitments to housing.
While there is an increase in health funding, it is woefully inadequate. Remember this is a Premier who slashed funding to public health in 2019 and let our long-term care homes rot at the expense of our most vulnerable residents. These cuts are exactly why we were underprepared for a health crisis of this magnitude.
Ford’s continued neglect of the systemic issues which contribute to the ongoing housing crisis, and mental health and addictions demonstrate that he is not ‘for the people’. It is clear he is also not for businesses. This budget only allocated another one-time payment of up to $20,000 for small businesses, hardly enough to cover rent in Toronto. Without direct and robust financial supports for workers and businesses, we will remain in a perpetual cycle of lockdown and re-opening. Without the legislative support necessary, the Premier is not supporting recovery efforts.
On Sunday, I joined Torontonians as we safely came together, masked and physically distanced, to denounce and fight against anti-Asian racism in Toronto and around the world. Canada is not immune to this racism. When we see racism and white supremacy, we must rise up against hate and come together united in love.
Since the onset of COVID-19, inflammatory and hateful rhetoric has increased anti-Asian hate crimes, including two incidents in Ward 13, that inflicted harm in our communities. The good people of Ward 13 and in particular Cabbagetown, responded to the hate-motivated incidents with community care and kindness. Good neighbours rose up to support a local merchant at Gerrard and Ontario, whose building was vandalized with anti-Asian racist graffiti. They banded together and delivered a perfect response. In Toronto and beyond, love will always conquer hate.
Lastly, I share the heartbreaking news that legendary drag performer Michelle Ross has passed away. She was an icon for the queer community spanning four decades. Through her many performances at Pride and most recently performed at this year’s Rise Up! celebrating Black History Month, she radiated love and kindness in the community and will be greatly missed. My heartfelt condolence extends to her family, loved ones, and our LGBTQ2S+ community who mourns. Please hold her memory in your hearts today and every day.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
Launching MyAccesstoHousingTO Portal
The City is modernizing the application process to the Centralized Waiting List for rent-geared-to-income housing (also called subsidized housing). As part of this modernization effort, the City is launching a new online application portal called MyAccesstoHousingTO on April 6, 2021.
The MyAccesstoHousingTO portal will provide a convenient and secure way to apply for rent-geared-to-income housing online. This includes the ability to submit all required documentation, update and view the status of applications, and receive notifications, all from a smartphone, tablet or computer.
While the City prepares for this launch, effective immediately and until April 6, applicants who are on the Centralized Waiting List or looking to qualify for rent-geared-to-income housing will not be able to submit or update an online application. Housing offers to applicants will continue between now and April 6. Applicants can still submit an application by mail or in person at one of the City’s Housing Help Centres. They can also call the Access to Housing Resource Centre for assistance.
Community Care in Ward 13
New Public Park at 45 Dalhousie Street
I am pleased to announce that a new park has opened up in Ward 13 at 45 Dalhousie Street!
A picture of the new Dalhousie Street park
This park has been delivered as part of the larger development occurring at 88 Queen Street East. Sitting at 962 square metres, this new open space is now substantially complete, with a final planting to be done in the spring. The park is yet to be named, but a process will occur following the currently ongoing review of the City’s naming policies.
In addition to this new green space, the development at 88 Queen Street East will also create a future Privately Owned, Publicly Accessible Space of 847 square metres in size, which should be delivered after construction is substantially completed.
I am excited to explore these brand-new green parks and public spaces in our community with you. It’s my hope that you and your family will enjoy them, as much I enjoyed working with City staff and the landowner to bring them to you.
Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centre Virtual Grand Opening!
Promotional image for the Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centre grand opening
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto is proud to announce the opening of the new Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, providing holistic, culture-based programs and services for Aboriginal children and families, including a brand-new EarlyON Centre. These wrap-around supports are delivered through a mix of programming designed to enrich the lives and address the needs of children, youth, caregivers and parents, as well as our elders and seniors living in the Scarborough community.
You are invited to attend a Virtual Grand Opening Event on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021 at 4PM where you will learn more about this multi-service Centre for Aboriginal families that is child-centered, family-focused and community-driven. Join this exciting event to meet the dedicated staff, experience a virtual walk-though of this new site, and engage in ceremony with our staff and community.
- Date: April 6, 2021
- Time: 4:00 p.m.
- Where: Register to attend here
Looking forward to celebrating the launch of this brand new facility!
COVID-19: Vaccine Information
For updates about Toronto’s vaccination rollout and booking system, please visit my website.
Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic by phone through the provincial call centre, 1-833-943-3900.
Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic online at www.toronto.ca/covid-19. For online bookings, you will need:
- Information found on your Government of Ontario photo health card;
- Postal code; and
- Email address or phone number.
The provincial system will verify your eligibility to book an appointment for vaccination based on this information and will then guide you to the scheduling system.
Please do not call 311 or Toronto Public Health to book an appointment. The City 311 contact centre and Toronto Public Health staff do not have access to the booking system.
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
The City of Toronto vaccine clinics will be open throughout the Easter weekend to continue to vaccinate all people age 70 and older against COVID-19.
Mayor John Tory launched Toronto’s 2021 construction season with more than $1 billion in work planned for roads, bridges, expressways, TTC tracks, sewers and watermains. Mayor Tory was joined by Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee, to announce the kick-off of the 2021 construction season.
To provide a family-friendly and safer outdoor recreation activity in parks across Toronto this winter, the City of Toronto’s Welcome T.O. Winter parks plan welcomed skaters to 54 outdoor artificial ice rinks and 46 natural ice rinks this season. The outdoor skating season closed as planned on March 21 due to increasingly warmer weather.
City of Toronto Launches Toronto Clean Energy Partnership to Boost Trade and Reduce Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The City of Toronto launched the Toronto Clean Energy Partnership to support a consortium of more than 30 Toronto clean technology companies in developing and bidding on international green infrastructure projects in Central and Eastern Europe.
City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee Approves Return of ActiveTO Major Weekend Road Closures and New Complete Street Pilot Project Along Midtown Yonge Street
The City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee today approved a staff report on ActiveTO recommending the return of Major Weekend Road Closures as well as a complete street pilot project along a section of Yonge Street to support the local economy and CaféTO with an expansion of the temporary ActiveTO cycling network.
The City of Toronto is working with all our healthcare partners, pharmacies and Toronto Public Health to administer all available COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 403,902 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto.
The City of Toronto announced the Vaccine Equity Transportation Plan, a multi-faceted plan to help ensure vulnerable residents and seniors can access COVID-19 vaccinations by removing barriers to transportation and making it easier to travel to clinics.
City of Toronto Increasing Funding for Shelter Safety Measures and Working with Partners on COVID-19 Vaccination for Those Experiencing Homelessness
The City of Toronto is making an additional $3 million available to all shelters, 24-hour respites sites, temporary response programs and daytime drop-ins to support implementation of additional Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) measures. The measures respond to the emergence of COVID-19 variants of concern (VOCs), which create increased risk due to their potentially greater transmissibility.
City of Toronto Working with TTC to Provide COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Information to 26,000 Wheel-Trans Customers
Mayor John Tory announced that the TTC’s Wheel-Trans service will be reaching out to 26,000 customers to provide COVID-19 vaccine registration information.
The City of Toronto launched new video content for the Awakenings program at Toronto History Museums in time for International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade to address inequities that continue to exist. The new video, entitled Real Talk, is part of the Behind the Curtain series of Awakenings that reflects on historic and present-day effects of systemic racism on physical and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 mass immunization clinics in Toronto have almost 30,000 appointments available next week for eligible seniors age 75 and older to receive their first dose of vaccine. Vaccines are safe and effective and everyone who is eligible is encouraged to book an appointment. Residents who receive their first dose of vaccine in the coming week will have their second dose by early summer and be able to enjoy beautiful summer days knowing they have protection against COVID-19.
Province of Ontario Updates
The Ontario government is providing an estimated $100 million for a new one-time Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant and $100 million for a new one-time recovery program.
The Ontario government is providing more than $77 million to help long-term care homes adopt advanced technologies to strengthen medication safety. Modernizing this process will allow for better transmission and handling of prescriptions, more accurate administration of medication and increased security of the drug supply in long-term care homes.
The Ontario government is investing $3.7 million as part of the 2021 Budget to help seniors and people with disabilities get their COVID-19 vaccinations, where transportation is a barrier. The Province is launching this initiative to remove that barrier and ensure that anyone who wants a vaccine is able to get a vaccine.
Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board Peter Bethlenfalvy released Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economy. The 2021 Budget is the next phase of Ontario's response to COVID-19 and is the second Budget the government has delivered during the pandemic.
The Ontario government is providing additional support to eligible small businesses to help with the ongoing costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. Confirmed eligible recipients of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will automatically receive a second payment equal to the amount of their first payment, for minimum total support of $20,000 up to a maximum of $40,000. This support to help small business owners keep the doors open and workers employed is part of the 2021 Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economy.
With the proven efficiency of the provincial online booking system and call centre, and the smooth vaccination rollout in pharmacy and primary care settings, Ontario is expanding appointments through its online booking system to individuals aged 70 and over, starting with Toronto on Saturday, March 27, 2021 and expanding to more public health units in the near future.
Government of Canada Updates
The Government of Canada has put in place emergency border measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and its variants into Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are reminding travellers and returning Canadian residents about what to expect at the border.
Government of Canada Supports Recovery and Growth of Women-Led Businesses Across Inuit Nunangat Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Women entrepreneurs are crucial to Canada's economic success, and supporting their success is key to ensuring a strong, inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 28, 2021, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement on COVID-19.
As part of Health Canada’s continuing commitment to openness and transparency on all information relating to COVID-19 vaccines, the Department is updating Canadians on new actions it has taken.
Government of Canada and Community Foundations of Canada Announce First Project Approved Under the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative
Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament for Halifax, on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, joined Andrea Dicks, President of Community Foundations of Canada, and Mary W. Rowe, President and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute, to announce $95,000 in funding from the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative for the expansion of March of Dimes Canada’s Hi, Tech! program. Also in attendance were Rob Oliphant, Member of Parliament for Don Valley West, and Len Baker, President and CEO of March of Dimes Canada.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has increased social isolation among many older Canadians, programs that serve seniors are more important than ever. The Government of Canada continues to support local organizations that empower seniors in their communities and contribute to seniors’ health and well-being.
Over 1.3 Million Canadians Lifted Out of Poverty Since 2015 According to the 2019 Canadian Income Survey
The Government of Canada knows that vulnerable populations have been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19. That is why the government introduced measures to provide support to Canadians through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, and why it remains committed to ensuring every Canadian has a fair and equal chance to succeed.
Health Canada reassures Canadians that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine continues to be safe and effective at protecting them against COVID-19 and encourages people to get immunized with any of the COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized in Canada.
Public health measures needed to contain COVID-19 have greatly impacted municipalities’ revenues and their ability to fund their operations.
On March 25, 2021, the federal government introduced legislation to provide an additional $5 billion in direct support to provinces and territories for health care and vaccination roll-out.
The Government of Canada continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 virus variants of concern that have been identified in Canada and is working to better understand these variants and their impact on the health of Canadians and our public health measures.
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.