As the Vice-Chair of the Board of Health, yesterday I met with my colleagues to review the City of Toronto’s response to COVID-19. We also heard from the City’s Accessibility Task Force on COVID-19 vaccines. We have seen the continued disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on people living with disabilities. While everyone is facing challenges navigating the provincial booking systems and accessing vaccines, there continues to be a number of additional barriers that impact people living with disabilities.
For many people living with disabilities, they have been in a continuous state of emergency, including reduced critical care services, as well as deteriorating mental health issues and health inequities according to this study by the University of Toronto published in Disability and Health Journal. Additionally, Ontario’s COVID-19 triage protocol discriminates because of disability, according to many advocates.
Under the guidelines as set out in a draft protocol circulating among hospitals, patients would be ranked on their likelihood to survive one year after the onset of critical illness. Life expectancy can vary dramatically depending on any person’s circumstances.
I was proud to adopt this motion requesting a simplified and centralized vaccine booking process that includes disability-related priority groups, and navigation supports. Among other supports, we have requested prioritized access to in-home vaccination through existing mobile vaccination outreach methods.
Transportation to and from the vaccine clinics is not the only barrier. Many individuals require unique supports which are not being offered. Some individuals require personal support attendants, so we need to ensure that staff are properly resourced and trained to accommodate all needs.
It has also been incredibly challenging to stay informed through the vaccine rollout. The City needs clear communication and navigation resources in accessible formats such as Braille, plain language, and American Sign Language that are specific to people with disabilities and include information about their eligibility and how to access vaccines. Each of these recommendations is critical to ensure reduced barriers and equitable access for individuals living with disabilities.
Access to vaccines continues to be the most pressing issue in my office. As of this morning, the Province of Ontario has expanded booking eligibility to individuals with at-risk health conditions such as dementia, diabetes, and sickle cell disease, as well as Group Two of people who cannot work from home which finally includes grocery store, restaurant, and transportation workers.
On Thursday, May 13, 2021, at 8:00 a.m., individuals turning 40 and over in 2021 in non-hot spot communities will be eligible to book an appointment at a mass immunization clinic. Eligible individuals can schedule an appointment through the provincial booking system.
I have heard your many questions about the second vaccine dose. I know we are all excited to see the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Toronto Public Health, along with its partners, is working to administer vaccines as soon as possible. Currently, we are still scheduled four months in between vaccine doses. My office is hosting a Toronto Centre Vaccine Town Hall to have all your questions answered by health professionals, Nicole Welch, Chief Nursing Officer from Toronto Public Health, and Jennifer Bowen from Unity Health of the Ward 13 clinics at the Wellesley Community Centre and 40 Oak Street in Regent Park. Learn more and register to attend here.
Last Friday, we heard questions about a very quiet announcement from the province about expanded vaccine eligibility across the city. Alison Smith from Politics Today has a brief explainer thread. Currently, there are two pharmacies in Ward 13 with expanded eligibility, and my office continues to work to confirm scheduling with those pharmacies. I know it’s hard, but please continue to be patient as we learn more.
To stay up to date on vaccine pop-up or mobile clinics in Ward 13, sign up to receive local text notifications by texting your postal code to (647) 424-5358 or visiting this link on your mobile phone and filling out your information: https://my.community.com/kristynwong-tam. I’m thrilled to learn that some residents have been successful in booking appointments with our help.
Last week, the City of Toronto took a large step in making our city more accessible by adopting the staff recommendation to not participate in an e-scooter pilot project. E-scooters, micro-transportation with short kickstands, are being used across the country.
While it is important to be supporting eco-friendly, micro-transit for our communities, we must be careful not to inadvertently create additional barriers along our sidewalks for vulnerable users. There are substantial concerns around insurance and accessibility. At this time, the City does not have the infrastructure in place to support a smooth delivery of service without unduly impacting individuals living with disabilities.
At City Council, I was proud to have my motion to protect Canada’s First Parliament adopted. The Province continues to swipe at local planning processes and exclude community stakeholders in development. My motion outlines the preservation of this national historic site, including a request to explore designating the site along with the direction that the City continues its Master Planning process. It is critical that we prioritize transit development, but we need to ensure community needs and our City-building ambitions are being met. Stay up to date on continued action around the First Parliament site at FirstParliament.To.
It is also important that you continue to put pressure on the Province and its agencies to ensure there is robust public community consultation. Make it known by signing this petition and showing them that affordable housing and community investment isn’t a trade-off and that preserving heritage is more than simply a bronze plaque. Read on for information on the upcoming community consultation as part of the City’s Master Planning process.
As this week is Nursing Week, I want to take a moment to offer my gratitude to our nurses who continue to work tirelessly to keep our communities safe and who support our hospitals. The pandemic brought to light the courage and commitment that nurses work under every day. We will be forever grateful for your commitment and resilience in this time of great need. Thank you.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
What’s In Today’s EBlast?
- Toronto Centre Vaccine Town Hall on Thursday, March 13
- Pop-Up Clinic at Rose Avenue Public School
- Sound Off on the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts
- Don’t Hoard Your Enthusiasm at 25 Ontario Street!
- Corktown is Getting Indigenous Public Art
- Next Up: First Parliament Master Plan Consultation
- Corktown Residents & Business Association’s Public Meeting
Toronto Centre Vaccine Town Hall
Vaccine Town Hall Promotional Image
In order to provide more information about vaccines and booking vaccine appointments, I will be hosting a town hall on Thursday, May 13, 2021, from 6:30 p.m to 8:00 pm.
Join me along with public health experts and experienced medical professionals as we answer your questions, provide an update on the current status and barriers faced by our communities surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination process.
Special guests include Jennifer Bowman (Unity Health) and Nicole Welch (Toronto Public Health). Learn more about our speakers here.
When: Thursday, May 13, 2021
Time: 6:30 p.m to 8 p.m.
Where: Zoom, Registrants will receive a link to join.
RSVP to attend here. Closed captioning will be available.
Pop-Up Clinic at Rose Avenue Public School
This Friday starting at 8 a.m, there will be a vaccine pop-up clinic at Rose Avenue Public School, 657 Ontario Street. Individuals 18 years or older from postal code M4X may pre-book their appointment by visiting The Corner, 200 Wellesley Street, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on May 12 and May 13, 2021. This clinic is exclusively for individuals 18 years or older from postal code M4X seeking their first dose. Please bring proof of residence and your OHIP card.
Pop-Up Clinic at Rose Avenue Public School
What: Vaccine Pop-Up Clinic
Where: Rose Avenue Public School, 675 Ontario Street
When: 8 a.m. until supplies last
The clinic will accept pre-booking as well as walk-in appointments. To pre-book go to The Corner at 200 Wellesley Street, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., either tomorrow or Thursday.
Sound Off on the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts
TO Live and CreateTO have launched a virtual public consultation process for the reimagining of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. The project, dubbed STLC NEXT, is a City of Toronto initiative to engage the community in a vision for the future of the 50-year-old performing arts centre. As our City emerges from the pandemic, a new vision for the St. Lawrence Centre has the potential to become a galvanizing force for the community and cultural sector by delivering an inclusive and accessible community hub.
Residents and stakeholders are asked to provide their aspirations for how the Centre could be reimagined to provide an accessible, flexible civic hub that will serve traditionally underrepresented voices, the cultural sector, the neighbourhood, and the broader civic community.
In January 2020, Toronto City Council unanimously endorsed “the replacement of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts with a new re-imagined centre as a state-of-the-art cultural and civic hub for the City’s creative communities and the community at large.”
The virtual consultation process will include an extensive series of online town hall meetings and specific engagement sessions with local arts and community groups. The consultation has been specifically designed to prioritize an equity lens to place-making opportunities, access to equity-seeking groups, and the use of state-of-the-art technology to support the next generation of creative talent in Toronto.
Members of the public can learn more about the project and contribute feedback through an online survey at www.stlcnext.org.
The public consultation is expected to be complete by September 2021, after which, TO Live and CreateTO will develop and submit a business model, project, and funding plan to City Council for consideration in early 2022.
Don’t Hoard Your Enthusiasm at 25 Ontario Street!
Call for St. Lawrence Neighbourhood participation promotional image
First Gulf is working with STEPS Public Art and artist Esmond Lee 李春錦 to create a temporary public art exhibit that will reflect the St. Lawrence Community. The artwork will be featured on the Hoarding Exhibit at the First Gulf construction site on 25 Ontario Street.
STEPS would love to hear from YOU on how the themes represent your St. Lawrence Community! They have published a survey to receive more feedback from the community and will be collecting responses until Midnight, Sunday, May 16, 2021.
Corktown is Getting Indigenous Public Art!
The Queen/River Triangle is getting some brand new public art! This small parcel of land represents a gateway into beautiful Corktown. Waterfront Toronto in consultation with and through the direction of Ryan Rice (Kanien’kehá:ka), Indigenous Public Art Curator, is developing an opportunity to commission a significant, permanent site-specific public art for Indigenous artists. The public artwork will contribute towards broadening Toronto’s city-wide recognition of local and Indigenous cultural vitality, creative expression, and placemaking as it relates to the Lower West Don Valley’s multi-layered histories
You are invited to take a brief survey to help shape the intentions for an Indigenous commissioned public artwork that will become a memorable landmark in the Corktown neighbourhood in Tkaronto. The survey is open to all through May 31.
Next Up: First Parliament Master Plan Consultation
Last week, City Council adopted my motion directing staff to continue the Master Planning process for Canada’s historic First Parliament site. Staff will be expediting this work to complete it as soon as possible.
On Tuesday, May 18, 2021, join the First Parliament project team at a public meeting where they will be showcasing and celebrating the effort that individual residents, the community, and the project team have put into the Heritage Interpretation Strategy and the Master Plan. The focus of this session is to present the First Parliament Master Plan and explain how the Master Plan will be used.
When: Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Zoom (link emailed 48 hours before the session)
The presentation will be followed by a panel discussion and a live question and answer period.
Corktown Residents & Business Association’s Public Meeting
A screenshot from the Corktown Resident & Business Association meeting!
Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to speak with residents from Corktown at a public meeting hosted by the Corktown Resident and Business Association. It was a fantastic meeting filled with community updates and input from myself, MPP Suze Morrison, and members of Waterfront Toronto’s public art team. It’s always a pleasure to speak directly to residents.
At the meeting, I provided an update about First Parliament, and the ongoing work through my office as well to address questions raised by residents. Despite the meeting being virtual, it was lovely to connect and I look forward to the days when we can gather in person once more.
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, 1-888-999-6488.
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.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
Toronto Public Health Issues Section 22 Order to Education Providers Limiting In-Person Attendances of School-Aged Children
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa is issuing a Section 22 Order, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, as an additional measure to reduce community transmission.
City of Toronto Continues With Enforcement of Provincial COVID-19 Regulations Through the Spring and Into the Summer
The City of Toronto’s joint enforcement team – made up of officers from Municipal Licensing and Standards, Toronto Public Health, and the Toronto Police Service – are continuing efforts to enforce the pandemic regulations including the provincial Stay-at-Home Order and Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act.
City of Toronto Endorses Plan to Rapidly Create Affordable Supportive Housing at 222 Spadina Ave. and 877 Yonge St
Toronto City Council voted to endorse the plan to quickly move forward with the first two Toronto locations under the Government of Canada’s Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI). These sites at 222 Spadina Ave. and 877 Yonge St. will provide approximately 334 homes with support services for people in need – with 127 homes ready for occupancy in June and the balance later this year.
Province of Ontario Updates
A stable and reliable increase in vaccine supply to Ontario is enabling the government to further expand eligibility to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment throughout the week of May 10, 2021.
The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, has launched the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative for small and medium-sized businesses across the province.
The Ontario government is investing over $432,000 in Baycrest to help people struggling with cognitive impairment as a result of COVID-19. The province is making the investment through the Ontario Together Fund.
The Ontario government is further expanding its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan with the launch of mobile vaccine units for small to medium-sized businesses in hot spot communities. These mobile units will begin offering vaccinations in Toronto, York, and Peel at select businesses that have employees who cannot work from home and have a history or risk of outbreaks. Each public health unit will determine the small to medium-sized businesses where mobile units will be deployed.
Ontario is responding to high levels of COVID-19 vaccination in many long-term care homes by making changes that will help homes safely resume communal dining and social activities. These changes will help improve residents’ quality of life while keeping homes safe.
Government of Canada Updates
Mental Health Week, and Child and Youth Mental Health Day are about celebrating, protecting, and promoting mental health. More than ever, the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the crucial importance of taking care of our mental wellness.
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.