#StopCommercialEvictions, Yonge Street Murals & COVID-19 Updates

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly announced details on last month’s nearly $1 billion in emergency aid to be doled out to small businesses through its six regional economic development agencies. The Ford government is also set to announce phase one of the economic recovery on Thursday. This would seem to acknowledge that local businesses are critical for Canada’s economic recovery, but for many business owners this aid will be too late. 

Without a moratorium on commercial evictions, many businesses owners will not survive until the final phase of re-openings in Ontario. 

A recent survey conducted by Toronto Business Improvement Areas revealed that 63% of commercial tenants had trouble paying their May rent. A full 60% believe their landlord will not apply for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (CECRA), and 44% fear being locked out or evicted. Theses numbers were further substantiated by a May 11, 2020 survey posted by Health and Wellness Relief, a new coalition representing coaches, personal trainers, group instructors, yoga instructors, pilates instructors, chiropractors, physiotherapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists and sports and recreation centres staff.  Its survey revealed that 69% of its coalition members were unable to pay their May rent, and 88% are facing either a lockout or eviction. 

Businesses who are set to open as part of the Province of Ontario’s Framework for Reopening our Province, are doing so without any certainty that sales will return to pre-COVID-19 levels anytime soon. For businesses like restaurants or those in the health and wellness industry, they are still facing months of uncertainty about when they can even begin to resume services. Losing these small businesses will devastate local communities and make the post-COVID-19 recovery that much more difficult.  

In a press conference last week, in response to the growing threat to small businesses, I called on the Federal Government to amend their programs to better support small business owners. I also asked the Provincial Government do their part to protect small business by implementing a moratorium on commercial evictions as they have done for residential tenants. I have heard from many small businesses owners who are grateful for the outpouring of support they received this week. 

However, our fight is not over. 

Applications for the CECRA open on May 15, one day before landlords can begin the eviction process for non payment. This is the moment to push for small businesses. Premier Doug Ford has given no indication that he is planning to implement a moratorium on commercial evictions. We need to make sure he does in order to give small business time while the Federal government makes the necessary changes. 

On Thursday, May 14, I will be joining small business leaders, my colleague Councillor Paula Fletcher and our local Members of Provincial Parliament to call upon Premier Doug Ford and the provincial government to immediately enact a moratorium on commercial evictions. 

Under normal circumstances, I would ask you to join us and help us bring this fight to Premier Ford’s front steps. But to keep everyone safe, we are asking you to join us in flooding phone lines, email inboxes and social media channels with one request: #StopCommercialEvictions

We want Premier Ford to see how many people in Toronto support small businesses, but I need your help getting the word out. It’s really easy! Just use these templates to reach: Premier Doug Ford; Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade; and, Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria MPP, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, by social media, phones and email and tell them why we need to stop commercial evictions.

I hope you will join us on Thursday morning, and I would be so thankful if you shared this action with your friends.

Lastly, on a more sombre note, I was heartbroken to hear that a pedestrian has died following a collision that involved a City vehicle. Additionally, a City employee was injured in the incident and has been taken to hospital. I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim that has passed away.  This accident should deepen our resolve to invest in Vision Zero, and ensure that inevitable human errors while driving don’t lead to unnecessary human death. 

 


Community Care in Ward 13

Today’s Community Care shoutout goes to the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (BIA), who have partnered with the marketing agency Kadence World to commission a number of murals to beautify boarded up storefronts. Kadence World has designed images with messages of gratitude, wildlife and theatre goers standing in a physically-distanced line outside Elgin Winter Garden. 

DYBIA_Mural.jpg

The Downtown Yonge BIA is hopeful to work with other landlords along Yonge Street to help keep the street active. Learn more about the project in this article from CP24. 

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 Practising Physical Distance!

As the City of Toronto evokes these new measures for public health, please remember to keep practising social distancing. I know it’s challenging, and I thank you for your continued hard work. Please remember to stay off of closed parks amenities and facilities, or you may be subjected to a fine. If you must leave your home, please stay at least 6 feet (2 metres) away from others on the streets. These measures are crucial to protect the greater public health.

Physical Distance

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. 

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 www.toronto.ca/covid-19.


City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates 

The City of Toronto will begin construction on a number of key projects to renew and improve aging infrastructure. With traffic volumes on Toronto’s roads down between 45 and 65%, the City recently announced that work will be accelerated on as many important projects as possible this year.

 

Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation – Jarvis Street to Cherry Street

On Monday, May 18 at 12:01 a.m., the Gardiner Expressway eastbound on-ramp at Jarvis Street will be fully closed for replacement and will reopen once the project is completed in 2021. This construction is the second to last phase of work to rehabilitate the expressway between Jarvis and Cherry Streets. During this construction, drivers should consider using alternate routes. Learn more here. 

                                                                                                              

Watermain and TTC Track Replacement – Church Street at Richmond Street East

Crews began preparatory work at Church Street and Richmond Street East to replace a 143-year-old watermain before beginning work to replace the TTC streetcar tracks. The entire project is anticipated to be completed by the end of June.

This first phase of work will replace the watermain in the intersection of Church Street and Richmond Street East. The intersection will be reduced to two lanes of traffic and the bike lane will be closed. Cyclists are advised to merge with traffic on Richmond Street East to proceed through the intersection.

The second phase of work will replace the TTC track and will require the full closure of the Church Street and Richmond Street East intersection from early June until the project is completed at the end of June. During the closure, westbound traffic on Richmond Street East is advised to divert at Sherbourne Street and use Queen Street East or King Street East to travel westbound through Church Street.

The City is working with contractors on potential ways to accelerate work and complete these projects within a fast-tracked schedule. Accelerating this work could include crews working extended hours, alleviated restrictions on roads and intersections during peak and off-peak hours, and other potential measures. The public are advised to plan their travel in advance, consider alternate routes, obey signage around work zones and be patient while traveling in and around work zones throughout the city.

 

COVID-19 Emergency Benefit for People Receiving Social Assistance

The COVID-19 Emergency Benefit which was introduced as a one-time benefit in April 2020, has been extended and is now available in each month up to and including July 2020. This benefit is available for people receiving assistance from Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program who may have had additional costs related to COVID-19. This benefit is intended to help cover the additional costs of emergency needs such as hygiene and personal protective supplies, cleaning supplies, non-medical transportation and additional costs for staple foods. The amount is $100 for a single person and $200 for a family. Learn more about this benefit and Toronto Employment and Social Services here. 

 

Partnering with Ritual to Support Toronto Restaurants And Food Services

TO_ShopHERE.jpgToday, Mayor Tory announced the City of Toronto is partnering with Toronto start- up Ritual to provide local businesses with an easy way to accept digital orders online and on-site.

Ritual ONE provides restaurants and food services, such as grocers, butchers and bakeries with an easy way to accept digital orders from their own website and social media accounts. Onsite contactless digital ordering is also available. Customers will be able to choose between pickup and delivery. Businesses that sign up for Ritual ONE by June 1 will receive the service free for life and will not pay any commission or monthly subscription fees on Ritual ONE orders. Businesses will be provided with a dedicated expert to help support them during the onboarding process. This offer is also available to existing restaurants in the Ritual marketplace. Standard credit card processing rates would still need to be paid. Toronto businesses can sign up for Ritual ONE here. 

Learn more about the ShopHERE program.

 

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.


Province of Ontario Updates

Provincial Supports to Fill Staffing Shortages

The Ontario government is working together with the province's education sector to voluntarily place available employees in staffing roles needed at congregate care settings during the COVID-19 outbreak. This initiative is part of ongoing efforts to redeploy broader public sector workers to areas where they are needed most, such as hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, women's shelters and homes serving those with developmental disabilities.

Starting later this week, eligible education sector staff who volunteer will be able to register through an online portal and to be matched with congregate settings that are facing staffing shortages. Positions available may include custodial, maintenance, food preparation, children and youth service workers, social workers and educational assistants. Training and appropriate safety equipment will be provided to redeployed staff. Volunteers who are redeployed will be eligible for Ontario's temporary pandemic premium and emergency child care.

The government’s full announcement can be found here.

 

Increased Protection for Long-Term Care Residents and Staff During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Yesterday, the Ontario government extended the state of emergency to June 2. In addition, the Ontario government has adopted an emergency order allowing the province to issue a mandatory management order for a long-term care home struggling to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak. This order would support the use of rapid, immediate and effective management alternatives to protect residents and staff within a home. 

A long-term care home may require management assistance if they face challenges like a high number of cases among residents or staff, a high number of deaths, an outbreak that has not yet been resolved, significant staffing issues or outstanding requirements from infection prevention and control assessments. Decisions regarding when and where to assign additional management support will be made on a case-by-case basis.

To learn more about this announcement, please see here.

 

More updates from the Province of Ontario.


Government of Canada Updates

Canada Emergency Student Benefit

On Friday, May 15, students and recent graduates who are unable to work, or unable to find work, due to reasons related to COVID-19 will be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). It is also available for those who are working but not making more than $1,000 (before taxes) over the four-week period for which they are applying.

Eligible students can receive $1,250 per month for up to four months, plus an additional $750 per month if they have dependents or a disability, for a maximum of $2,000 per month. 

Students are being asked to proactively create an account with the Canada Revenue Agency ahead of the CESB being available this Friday. Please learn more about the CESB by visiting the Government of Canada website.

 

Regional Relief Recovery Fund Announced

A new federal program, the Regional Relief Recovery Fund (RRRF), was announced, seeking to provide $252.4 million to southern Ontario businesses. This fund is intended to help sectors such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and to local economies. This fund is intended for businesses that may be unable to access other existing measures.

The RRRF will be supported through FedDev Ontario. This $252.4 million is part of the $962 million announced to assist businesses nation-wide. You can learn more about the RRRF by visiting their website.

 

Healthcare and Mask Advice

Canadians are also being reminded to not delay seeking health care if they require it. Delaying appointments that would help manage chronic illnesses or to receive vaccinations can potentially lead to worse health outcomes, so please speak to your doctor.  

The Chief Public Health Officer is also asking Canadians to consider wearing a non-medical mask or face covering if you are in an area with known community transmission of COVID-19, or in areas where it is difficult to stay away from others, such as in stores or on public transit. Masks however are not being considered mandatory at this time as they could disadvantage vulnerable people who cannot access them.

 

More updates from the 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: 1-866-797-000

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, or to report people
Telephone: 311 (The City is only accepting 311 requests through phone)

 

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