COVID-19 Update, March 31

Today, on the advice of the Medical Officer of Health, Mayor Tory made the very difficult decision to close all City of Toronto events until the end of June. This includes the very hard decision that Pride will have to be cancelled or postponed this year.

I want to thank Pride Toronto, all the organizers, the volunteers, and community groups that have been working so hard to plan this year’s festival. I also want to recognize the fabulous performers who won't get to entertain us this year, and the Church and Wellesley businesses, that have been dealt another hit. I know that once this is over, we will remount the most celebratory Pride Festival. As Pride Toronto notes in their official statement, Pride is essential for our communities, and it is much more than simply a series of events. Pride was born out of protest and continues as a political and cultural movement to this day. Our community is resilient and strong - and we will pull through this together!

To all the festival organizers and attendees who call Ward 13 home, thank you for all your work and support. We look forward to hosting you again soon. 

I would like to acknowledge that today, March 31, is the International Trans Day of Visibility. This day is dedicated to celebrating the many achievements and contributions that trans and non-binary folks have made, while also raising awareness of the continued discrimination that trans and non-binary folks continue to experience worldwide. As ever, I remain committed to inclusion and trans visibility and doing the hard work to advance LGBTQ2S+ equity and human rights. 

It feels even more important to recognize and honour those in the Trans community today, knowing now that we won't get the opportunity to come together physically in June. 

Please know that you are not alone. Trans Lifeline’s Hotline is a peer support service run by trans people, for trans and non-binary callers. Operators are located all over the U.S. and Canada, and are all trans-identified. If you are in crisis or just need someone to talk to, you can contact the Trans Lifeline’s Hotline at 877-330-6366. If you, or someone you know, are interested in accessing resources specific for trans and non-binary folks, including support groups, transition support, the Trans Youth Mentorship Program, and more, please visit the 519’s Resources Page


With rent due tomorrow, I wanted to take this opportunity to speak directly to residents who are concerned about their ability to pay. Unfortunately, the City has no power to direct private landlords to reduce, defer or freeze rents, but the Mayor has strongly urged all private property owners to find ways to help tenants who need it to stay in their homes during these unprecedented times. 

Premier Doug Ford has said in recent days that “if you can’t pay rent, and if you’re in a crisis, you don’t have to pay rent”. It’s unclear how that is linked to any long term legislation, but for now, the province has put a hold on any new eviction hearings. That means, whatever your private rental arrangement, you can not be forced out of your home.

Landlords can still issue eviction notices they just can't be enforced. If you get an eviction notice, do not leave your apartment. Please send a copy of the eviction notice to our office and we can follow up with the landlord directly, making sure they understand their obligations. 

If you are fortunate to still be working, I encourage you to make your regular rental payment if you are able. You don't want to find yourself in a hard situation down the road and it’s still unclear what the provincial long term plans are for private market renters.

Where the City does have the ability to compel a landlord is through our ownership of Toronto Community Housing. In this situation, we’re offering payment flexibility to market rent and rent-geared-to-income (RGI) tenants whose employment income has been impacted by COVID-19. Please see below for more information on accessing these social housing rental supports.


Update for Toronto Community Housing Residents

Toronto Community Housing (TCH) understands this is a confusing and uncertain time for individuals and families and they are working to connect with tenants who may need help with daily living needs, such as food and medicine. Staff have begun to complete wellness checks via phone for all tenants who have been previously identified as having vulnerabilities. We are also encouraging tenants to let TCH staff know if they are self-isolating or ill. Tenants can connect directly with their Tenant Service Coordinator. This is voluntary but having this information will help staff connect you to the necessary supports and services you may require. 

Toronto Community Housing will offer flexibility to market rent and rent-geared-to-income (RGI) tenants whose employment income has been impacted by COVID-19. They will work with RGI households to recalculate their rent if their employment income is reduced. Market rent tenants are provided the option to defer a portion of their rent. 

Both RGI and market rent tenants must provide documentation to support their income loss. TCHC will work with tenants who do not have that documentation to provide an interim arrangement. Despite this flexibility, it is important to note that tenants will need to submit it at a later date in order to confirm that they have lost employment income due to COVID-19.

To request a rent adjustment (RGI) or a deferral (market), tenants need to fill out a RGI Rent Adjustment request or a Market & Affordable Rent Deferral Form, and a  Household Income & Assets Review Form and return it to TCHC. 

Tenants can obtain the form by:

For more information, including options for paying rent, please see the full TCH update on COVID-19.


Tuesday Tips for Working from home - from the Ward 13 Team 

Like many people, the Ward 13 team is adjusting to working from home and staying inside. We wanted to share some of the ways we are making the most of staying home. 

Zoom Team MeetingPictured above is our team during our daily staff call. We meet online every day to coordinate our office's work, support each other and ensure that residents, businesses and communities in Ward 13 are being supported."

Carina: I didn't know what animal crossing was a week ago. Now I have a house, 5 island residents, and a huge tulip garden.

Eddie: I am currently running a weekly Dungeon and Dragons game online with six of my friends! I nearly killed the entire party last week with a surprise Mind Flayer (that will teach them to snoop around the lair of a Beholder).

Robyn B: I’ve found it helpful to keep a positive attitude by planning events with my roommates- a themed dinner (last weekend was semi formal), movie marathon or board game night. It helps having something to look forward to. 

More to come from the Ward 13 team! 

As always, thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.

Kristyn


Community Care in Ward 13 

Today’s Community Care shoutout goes to our friends at Progress Place who are offering a peer support chat line open 7 days a week from 12 noon to 8 p.m. for folks feeling anxious, lonely or in need of a friendly ear. They can be reached by calling The Warm Line at 416-960-9270 or by online chat at www.warmline.ca. Everyday Progress Place operates as a recovery centre for people living with mental illness. They are committed to helping people stay out of hospitals, achieve their personal goals and contribute to the communities they live in. Thank you for your work during this time, and every day!

Warm Line
Please continue to email my office at councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca 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 to everyone who is staying at home. I know it’s been a very challenging time, especially as the weather gets nicer.

Social Distancing

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. 

And even if you are not sick and have not traveled, unless you work in an essential industry, stay at home.


City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates

Today Mayor Tory announced the cancellation of all city events until June. This is hard news as many of us were looking forward to the Pride Festival, one of the many events cancelled this Summer. 

Please remember that all City of Toronto park amenities and facilities are closed until further notice. If you see this sign, please stay out. 

Parks signs

While education is, and should always be, the first response, people found in violation of these regulations will be subject to a fine ranging from $750-$5,000. The City of Toronto is adding 60 enforcement officers, and your Parks Ambassadors have begun a downtown education hot spot education blitz. If you see any groups in parks, please report to 311.  

Ontario Works monthly payments will be issued as usual by direct bank deposit, reloadable payment card, or mail by April 1. If you normally pick up your monthly Ontario Works payment at an office or need a new replacement card, remember to practice #PhysicalDistancing and stay 6 feet or 2 metres away from others. Office hours and locations have been updated. More information on OW/ODSP.

Updates to Affected City Services & Facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.


Province of Ontario Updates

Ontario Public School Updates

Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak, the Ontario government announced that schools will remain closed for students until May, 4, 2020. Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed until April 13th, 2020. As we approach this date, this decision may be re-evaluated based on public health recommendations. The province’s full update and details of the Learn at Home program can be found here. 

Postsecondary Updates

This morning, the province provided updates to their initial student debt repayment announcement. Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) will be temporarily deferring loan repayments for six months, interest free, until September 30th, 2020. During this time, interest will not accrue on their OSAP loans.

In addition, the province will be providing $25 million in additional funding to publicly-assisted colleges, universities, and Indigenous Institutes to help address their immediate needs in relation to COVID-19. This includes: deep cleaning, purchasing medical supplies, or offering mental health support.

A full update on the province’s announcement can be found here.

More updates from the Province of Ontario


Government of Canada Updates 

The Federal Government has announced it will be spending approximately $2 billion to assist front-line workers with new equipment. The government has been in touch with 2,900 businesses to procure more diagnostic testing kits, hand sanitizer, medical clothing and personal protective equipment. In addition, hundreds of ventilators are in production. Many of these supplies are expected to start coming in the next few days.

More updates from Government of Canada


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 

Telehealth Ontario
Call if you develop symptoms!
Telephone: 1-866-797-0000

Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Telephone: 416-338-7600
TTY: 416-392-0658
Email: PublicHealth@toronto.ca

311 Toronto
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services.
Telephone: 311
Email: 311@toronto.ca 

Phone: 416-392-7903
Constituency Office: 100 Queen St W A5, Toronto, ON, M5H 2N2