Vaccine Town Hall, Asian Heritage Month, and COVID-19 Updates

Yesterday morning, vaccine eligibility opened to individuals 18 years of age or older in hot spot communities across the province. In Ward 13, the Provincially designated hot spot postal codes remain M4X, M5A, and M5B. Bookings for those hot spots and M4Y remain available through Unity Health at the pop-up clinics at Wellesley Community Centre, 40 Oak Street, and Ryerson University. By early afternoon, many vaccine appointments had already been booked up, but I would encourage you to check back regularly. The expansion of these eligibility criteria is a part of the Province’s plan to allocate 50% of vaccine supply to areas most impacted by COVID-19.

In addition, beginning Thursday, May 6, 2021, at 8:00 a.m., the following groups throughout the province will be eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment:

  • Individuals turning 50 and over in 2021;
  • Individuals with high-risk health conditions;
  • People who cannot work from home who fall under Group One (including remaining elementary and secondary school workers); and
  • First Nations, Inuit, and Métis individuals in addition to the other channels previously available to book their appointment.

You can book your appointment through the provincial online booking system, the call centre at 1-833-943-3900, or directly through public health units that use their own booking system. To stay up to date on vaccine pop-up or mobile clinics in Ward 13, sign up to receive 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 have heard from many of you about the confusing eligibility criteria. Vaccine Hunters has provided this FAQ sheet to help clarify. 

If the address on your green health card does not match your current hotspot address, or if you have a red and white health card, you need to call the centre at 1-833-943-3900. If your green health card is expired, you can still book online through the booking centre. Once you’re eligible, you can book at any time, so if the website crashes, or you experience technical difficulties, check back again. 

As more and more residents get their first vaccine, I have seen some people sharing any side effects they are experiencing. The biggest question I’ve seen has been, “are there more general side-effects with AstraZeneca than with Pfizer or Moderna?” and experts agree that the answer is no.

If you’re interested, you may wish to see a clear breakdown of side-by-side reported side effects between Pfizer and AstraZeneca. "You seem to get more fever after the second dose with the messenger RNA [vaccines], but more fever after the first dose with the viral vector," said Craig Laferriere, a vaccine consultant with Novateur Ventures, a global health industry consulting firm based in Vancouver, and co-author of a paper comparing the different vaccines. 

A picture of Councillor Wong-Tam after receiving the first dose of AstraZenecaA picture of Councillor Wong-Tam after receiving the first dose of AstraZeneca

I was able to get my first dose of AstraZeneca on Sunday, and I am grateful for all the staff who made me feel at ease through my appointment. While I haven’t experienced any side effects, I know that’s not always the case. I urge anyone who is eligible to book their vaccine appointment in any way that is available to you. We all need to continue to work together to protect ourselves and our communities by signing up to receive the first vaccine that is available to you. 

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. 

Vaccine town hall promotional graphicVaccine town hall promotional graphic

When: Thursday, May 13, 2021
Time: 6:30 p.m to 8 p.m.
Where: Registrants will receive a link to join. 

Learn more and register to attend here.

Late last week, Premier Ford announced the province’s paid sick day program. Premier Ford and his government have failed once again to even do simple math, and support Ontario residents. Their Provincial paid sick leave program is simply not good enough. You can read my full statement here on my website.

Since the beginning of this pandemic, many residents living with disabilities have been left out of decision-making and forced to face incredible challenges in order to access essential services, including getting a vaccine. The vaccine rollout has been confusing for everybody, and even greater for individuals living with disability

Last month, the City of Toronto established the Accessibility Task Force for COVID-19 to help reduce barriers. Their goals are:

  • To make recommendations to effectively close equity gaps in current vaccine planning and increase vaccination rates among people with disabilities and their caregivers
  • To share knowledge about COVID-19 infection risks and measures that reduce risks, and enhance testing and safety practices across disability communities
  • To identify, review, and address concerns with COVID-19 vaccines and barriers to accessing the vaccine

We need continued targeted resources similar to those established as a result of the collection of disaggregated data. My colleagues and I on the Board of Health have formally requested that the province collect data on disability as part of their collection of information when someone is vaccinated but, like many of our calls, the province has yet to respond. I continue to work with my colleagues on the Board of Health, the City of Toronto, and its partners to help remove barriers for people living with disabilities.

May marks Asian Heritage Month, and I want to take a moment to reflect on the continued rise of anti-Asian racism across our city, and country. This month, and every other month, when you hear and see racism, rise up and speak up. Think about who you are speaking for and what your silence says when you don't. Together, we have the collective power to make real change. Let's start now.

If you are able, I would encourage you to support any Asian businesses in your neighbourhood. All small businesses have been suffering, but already Asian-owned businesses are slower to recover. Consider how you can make impactful choices with your dollars. 

This week is Mental Health Week. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen the impacts of isolation on our mental health. There will be an end to COVID-19, and it will be soon. Until then, please remember that you are not alone. CAMH has provided a list of resources to help cope with the pandemic. Learn more here.

We also have Mother’s Day on Sunday. I am forever grateful to my love, support, wife, and partner in raising our toddler. I look forward to taking time this weekend to celebrate our love and family. I know these days can be a source of difficulty for many who’ve lost their mother or have complicated relationships with family. Please be gentle with yourself and others. Kindness and patience are key ingredients in navigating these days. If you need them, I have mental health resources available on my website.

Lastly, May the Fourth be with you. 

A picture of Councillor Wong-Tam's family dressed in Star Wars costumesMay the fourth be with you, from Princess Leia, Han Solo, and baby Chewie

Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.

Kristyn


What’s In Today’s EBlast?


Gifts of the Heart and Toronto Outdoor Art Fair

Gifts of HeartGifts of Heart

The Toronto Outdoor Art Fair has launched its charitable campaign called Gifts of Heart. Established in 2020, the campaign was launched in order to provide much-needed financial support to the artists of the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair while simultaneously expressing deep appreciation for our local frontline workers. This campaign raises money for gift cards which are distributed to nominated frontline workers who can use each gift card to purchase art during the fair. The Toronto Outdoor Art Fair will run from July 2 -11, 2021. This campaign offers an opportunity to support local artists and our frontline workers who continue to fight tirelessly. 

Learn more about Gifts of Heart and nominate a frontline worker here


Corktown Dog Off-Leash Area

I have heard from my residents and dog-owners about the ongoing need for an off-leash area in Corktown. Originally located in Corktown Common, the previous off-leash area was underutilized due to its inconvenient location and unappealing aesthetic. Additionally, Enbridge required access to the area for work, and telecommunications work is set to begin shortly. 

A maps view of Lawren Harris SquareA map view of Lawren Harris Square

With this in mind, I am working closely with Parks staff to prioritize and deliver a brand new off-leash area. Staff have proposed Lawren Harris Square as a potential new location. This centralized area adjacent to Corktown Common offers a convenient location for residents and is not subject to any environmental restrictions which exist inside Corktown Common. In Lawren Harris Square, there is an opportunity for many of the desired improvements to any off-leash area, such as beautiful fencing, water features, shaded trees, and more. 

If you’d like to share your feedback on an off-leash area at Lawren Harris Square, please fill out this survey before May 16, 2021.


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;
  • Birthdate;
  • 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.

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 the City’s website or download this info sheet.


City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates

Team Toronto Vaccination Sprint Strategy Getting Results in 13 High Priority Postal Codes, Adding Four More Areas

Following a successful first two weeks rolling out the Toronto Sprint Strategy, the City of Toronto and Team Toronto vaccination partners continue to prioritize postal code areas with high rates of COVID-19 for mobile and pop-up clinic vaccinations.

City of Toronto Partners with Vaccine Hunters Canada to Help Residents Quickly Find Available Vaccine Appointments at City-Run Clinics

The City of Toronto announced today that it is partnering with Vaccine Hunters Canada (@VaxHuntersCan) to assist Toronto residents in identifying available next-day appointments at City-run immunization clinics.

Toronto Public Health Improves Dashboard Reporting with Same-Day Updates

Toronto Public Health (TPH) has improved its process for extracting and releasing information regarding daily case counts and other data indicators that represent the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto. The suite of data being reported is unchanged and will be available on the TPH dashboard and through Toronto Public Health’s Twitter account.

The City of Toronto and Its Community Partners Continue to Support the Vaccination of Residents Without OHIP Cards

The City of Toronto announced today that it is partnering with FCJ Refugee Centre and Access Alliance to help people without an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card get the COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto. The City is committed to ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone. The Province of Ontario has clearly stated that if you do not have an Ontario health card at all, you are still eligible for the vaccine.

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.


Province of Ontario Updates

Ontario Expands COVID-19 Vaccination Booking for More People

Due to a stable and reliable increase in vaccine supply, this week, the Ontario government will further expand booking eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination appointments across the province.

Ontario Prepares to Accelerate Rollout as Vaccine Supply Increases

In response to an expected increase in vaccine supply from the federal government, the Ontario government is preparing to ramp up its rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to further support at-risk communities. This includes a targeted commitment to allocate 50 per cent of upcoming vaccine shipments to hot spot communities as identified by postal code, to help decrease COVID-19 transmission and hospitalizations.

Ontario to Introduce Paid COVID-19 Leave

While the Ontario government continues to work with the federal government to further support vulnerable workers by doubling payments made through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) program, the province will introduce legislation that, if passed, will offer up to three paid sick days per employee.

Ontario responds to Auditor General’s Report on Long-Term Care

Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, issued the following statement in response to the release of the Auditor General’s Report on Long-Term Care.

More updates from the Province of Ontario.


Government of Canada Updates

All updates from the Government of Canada can be found at the link here.


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: [email protected]

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)

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.

Toronto Police

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. 

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