Yesterday, Premier Ford shared details for the first stage of reopening the province, including businesses, services and public spaces.
Starting May 19, retail stores outside of shopping malls with street entrances can begin reopening in-store sales with physical distancing measures. Domestic workers, such as housekeepers and cooks, can also resume work. Golf courses, marinas and private parks will be allowed to open earlier, starting Saturday.
I have been getting questions from residents about what these changes mean, especially as public health officials continue to urge strict physical distancing from our friends and families and to limit contact to those inside their own households.
If you remember, Premier Doug Ford outlined four tests that needed to be met for re-opening. They are:
- A consistent two–to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID‑19 cases;
- Sufficient acute and critical care hospital capacity to respond to potential surges;
- Approximately 90% of new COVID‑19 case contacts being reached by local public health officials within one day; and,
- Ongoing testing of suspected cases to detect new outbreaks quickly.
While there is still some dispute as to whether those criteria have been met, it is clear that the threat of COVID-19 is not gone. Easing our public health measures will continue to be a gradual process until we have a vaccine or effective treatments for this virus. Until that time, physical distancing will be part of our everyday lives, in all settings.
If you are unsure about what it means for your own actions, I urge you to err on the side of caution. Choose the course of action that will best protect you, your family, friends and the community at large.
When evaluating this information, I encourage you to lean heavily on the advice of our local health authorities, like Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health for Toronto.
Her advice remains the same:
You must still avoid close contact with others outside your home and do not make plans to meet up with friends; it is not time for that yet. While you may feel healthy, you may unknowingly transmit the virus to others. When you do go outside for essentials or exercise, please practise physical distancing.
If and when you cannot reliably maintain physical distancing, please wear a cloth mask or face covering to help stop the spread of your germs to those around you.
You are encouraged to enjoy the outdoors and spend some time getting active this weekend. It is important for our physical and mental health. If you go outside, do so only with members of your household. To facilitate being outside, a reminder that the City is installing 57 kilometres of Quiet Streets across Toronto. The list of current and planned Quiet Streets is available at toronto.ca/activeTO and will be updated when locations are added.
Additionally, the City will be closing Bayview Avenue, from Mill Street to Rosedale Valley Road (full closure) as well as the portion of River Street, from north of Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue to provide more space for walking and cycling. This will enable proper physical distancing for people accessing the lower Don Trail. These will be recurring short-term closures during upcoming weekends and holidays.
While we have much to be optimistic about, we cannot take our progress for granted. We need to continue to monitor our data and we need to be ready for the potential of a second wave of the virus to appear.
I know everyone is eager to be together again, and to be outside or on patios. The sacrifices you are making are not easy, but they are so critically important, and they are having a real impact.
In the meantime, I ask you to continue to rely on and support each other. So please text, call or connect virtually with your friends, families and loved ones to check in on them. If you are struggling, I have compiled a list of resources on my website to direct you to services. Please share with your network and use them if you need them.
There will be a lot more questions in the coming days and weeks as we try to understand how to de-isolate safely. For now, if you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business or employment, call the provincial Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
Victoria Day is fast approaching on holiday Monday; I wish you and your family a safe and peaceful long weekend.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shoutout goes to the Bleecker/Wellesley Activity Network, a small non profit in St. James Town that services the seniors, people living with disabilities and vulnerable populations. This completely volunteer run organization has been working hard delivering meals and fresh produce to their clients including protein, fresh steamed vegetables, a carbohydrate, dessert, salad and fruit juice!
Eligible clients must:
- Be 55 years or older;
- Live in rent-geared-to-income housing; and,
- Be a client of a program such as Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program; please contact the Network for eligibility.
Thank you for all of your hard work in delivering hot meals to those in need! Learn more about the Bleecker/Wellesley Activity Network and how you can support them here.
Please continue to email my office at [email protected] 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 Distancing!
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.
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 travelled, unless you work in an essential industry, stay at home except for essential trips.
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
City of Toronto Extends Cancellation of Permits for Major Festivals
To slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Toronto is extending the cancellation of City-led and City-permitted major festivals and events with attendance of more than 250 people through July 31, and those with attendance of 25,000 or more through August 31. The resumption or cancellation of professional sporting events is not included in this decision.
The cancellation includes festivals, conferences and cultural programs held in facilities managed by City divisions or public locations, such as roads, parks and civic squares. Issued permits are now cancelled and permits that have been applied for will not be issued.
Major summer festivals and events require long lead times for planning. They rely on City sites, supports or permissions and present higher public health risks given limits to physical distancing and exposure to attendees from outside the area.
This decision follows the cancellation of all such events up to June 30, announced by the City on March 30, and the cancellation of Canada Day events. It enables event organizers to make sound decisions in support of public health efforts and their business needs, access insurance, support impacted employees, manage sponsors and develop alternative approaches, such as virtual events.
The decision to extend the cancellation of City-led events and third-party permits has been made in consultation with Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, the Emergency Operations Centre, Toronto Police Service, and major event organizers. It supports the directive that physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19. The need to sustain essential services also limits the City's ability to provide support to third-party event organizers to ensure public safety.
Toronto Public Health needs to ensure that the risk for the spread of the virus is reduced before we can consider resuming major mass participation events. This includes:
- Significant and sustained reduction in virus spread in Toronto;
- Health care system capacity able to implement an effective response to any resurgence of cases;
- Public health capacity to manage resurgence in cases; and
- Adequate surveillance and incidence tracking capacity.
Timing of when services may reopen requires an assessment of risk.
The City will repurpose grant funding that was previously approved by City Council in order to support festivals that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The City's Cultural Festivals Recovery Program will provide financial and in-kind support to:
- Defray financial losses for festivals that were cancelled due to COVID-19;
- Assist festival organizers to meet payments due to their suppliers, including artists and small businesses;
- Help festival organizers maintain critical operations to survive this year and prepare for their next festival;
- Support planning and purchases that help improve the public health and safety practices of festival organizers; and,
- Aid collaborative efforts in areas such as event planning, insurance, volunteer training and marketing to strengthen Toronto's network of festivals.
The City will not issue new permits until further direction on mass gatherings is provided by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health. Potential future dates can only be determined once the public health crisis is contained and economic recovery efforts are underway.
Event organizers are encouraged to contact the relevant City permitting bodies, Toronto Police Service officers/liaisons or [email protected].
City of Toronto Summer Camps Cancelled, Launching CampTO
The City of Toronto is cancelling all planned 2020 summer camps and preparing an alternative program to get children safely back to camp through a new CampTO program. Details of the program are being developed and are dependent on the lifting of current provincial orders and recommendations from Toronto Public Health.
CampTO would provide children with a high-quality camp experience, inclusive of traditional camp activities. It would incorporate public health measures designed to reduce the risk of virus spread, including physical distancing, smaller group sizes, daily health assessments and more extensive cleaning and hygiene measures. If permitted to operate, CampTO will provide 5,300 camp spaces per week for children ages 6 to 12 representing approximately 50% of the typical City of Toronto camp capacity.
Registration details for the CampTO program will be announced once the Province is able to safely remove restrictions on day camps, and an estimated four weeks to prepare for their opening. Preparation activities include readying facilities, client registration, staff hiring and training and site-specific program modifications.
The City is issuing refunds automatically to all current camp registrants. As there is a significant volume of cancellations and refunds to be processed, registrants should expect a wait time for reimbursement of up to four weeks. While registrants do not need to request a refund, they can contact [email protected] with questions or concerns. Learn more about CampTO here.
ActiveTO Launches with 57 km of Quiet Streets
Yesterday, Mayor Tory announced the ActiveTO program will start to be rolled out across the city to provide more space for people to be physically active and improve physical distancing as part of the City's restart and recovery.
These 57 kilometres of Quiet Streets are neighbourhood streets where traffic calming measures can be implemented. Signage and temporary barricades will be put in place at intersections to encourage slow, local vehicle access only so that the roadway can be a shared space that also welcomes people who walk, run and bike. Parking and drop off areas will not be impacted, and City services, such as waste collection and emergency access, will continue as normal.
The first Quiet Streets locations include:
- Kensington Market (area that borders Nassau Avenue, Spadina Avenue, Augusta Avenue and Dundas Street West);
- Shaughnessy Boulevard between Van Horne Avenue and Havenbrook Boulevard; and,
- Havenbrook Boulevard between Shaughnessy Boulevard and Manorpark Court/
Major Road Closures Victoria Day Long Weekend
Sections along major roads in Toronto will be fully closed this Victoria Day long weekend from Saturday, May 16 at 6 a.m. until Monday, May 18 at 11 p.m., including:
- All eastbound lanes on Lake Shore Boulevard West between Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road;
- Bayview Avenue from Mill Street to Rosedale Valley Road; and,
- River Street from Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue.
Future weekend closures, that are not on a long weekend, will begin at 6 a.m. on Saturdays until 11 p.m. on Sundays. Locations will be announced as they are finalized.
CurbTO Rolling Out
Toronto’s CurbTO program continues to be rolled out to immediately address places where there is sidewalk crowding and temporary parking concerns around essential businesses. More businesses are permitted to offer pick-up, take-out and delivery services and have created store access line-ups to maintain physical distancing requirements, as recommended by Toronto Public Health. Businesses can apply and learn more here.
Province of Ontario Updates
As highlighted yesterday, certain businesses will begin to open on Saturday, May 16, 2020 . These businesses include:
- Golf courses, with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for take-out;
- Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use; and,
- Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract.
Ontario’s first stage of reopening will begin on Tuesday, May 19,2020 and will include:
- Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances, with measures in place such as limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and booking appointments beforehand or on the spot;
- Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played while maintaining physical distancing and without spectators, such as tennis, track and field and horse racing; and,
- Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments.
Government of Canada Updates
CEWS extended until August 29, 2020
The Federal Government announced today that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) has been extended by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020.
The CEWS provides Canadian employers a subsidy of 75% of employee wages, retroactive from March 15, 2020. The intent is to allow workers to prevent job losses, including allowing workers who have been laid off to be re-hired. Please visit the CEWS website for more information.
GST/HST credit and Canada Child Benefit Extended
Eligible recipients of the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit and/or the Canada child benefit (CCB) will continue to receive these payments until the end of September 2020, regardless of whether they file their 2019 taxes.
The June 1 tax filing deadline is coming up shortly. If you file your 2019 tax return late and it is determined you are ineligible to receive either the GST/HST credit or the CCB, you will have to repay the estimated amounts issued as of July 2020.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is partnering with local organizations to provide free virtual tax clinics. Please learn more by visiting the CRA website.
Canada Summer Jobs 2020
Starting today, thousands of opportunities are being posted to the Canada Job Bank website for jobs available across the country. Thousands more will be posted over the coming weeks and months, with a target of approximately 70,000 placements.
Responding to COVID-19, many of the jobs are working within the not-for-profit, small business and public sectors as well as jobs supporting the delivery of critical service in communities. Please visit their website for more information, or check out the free Job Bank app.
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
Email: [email protected]