Another historic day in the City of Toronto, as the Board of Health became the first committee to virtually take public deputations while still under the state of emergency called in March.
I want to extend my deep thanks to the City Clerk and staff for making that possible. Thank you also to the members of the public who deputed. Your contributions to our ongoing recovery and mitigation efforts are so important. Thank you also to the City of Toronto’s public service - those in leadership positions and on the front lines. I know you have all been working incredibly hard. I know this work does not come without personal sacrifice. Without our incredible City staff, we would not have the high-quality emergency response we have had thus far.
The theme of the meeting, and the jointly-crafted motion we passed was about driving equity, making sure people are included in the changes happening in our city and that we take advantage of opportunities to build a more resilient society moving forward. We have had a housing and shelter crisis for years, largely unaddressed, and the pandemic made things worse. It starkly exposed the existing inequalities. Let’s make sure we use this opportunity to fix it once and for all.
We heard from senior staff today that there are polite conversations being had with our Provincial and Federal counterparts, and that from those polite conversations, support MAY be coming. Toronto Public Health and Shelter Support, Housing and Administration have worked incredibly hard to respond to this pandemic, but the City of Toronto can not do this alone. While we have received some financial support, $21 million from the Federal Government and $39 million from the Province, the response that we have put in place - if we maintain it until the end of the year - will cost more than $200 million. What they have offered is simply not going to be enough.
We know we need more housing for people in shelters and living on the streets. We learned that in addition to the shelter crisis, there were 25 overdose deaths in March. These are crises that we desperately need to address. To do that, we need the other levels of government at the table today. We need them saying yes to funding today, not maybe one day in the future. We need much more than polite conversation. We need them actually doing more, today and not asking the City of Toronto to bear the majority of the responsibility for keeping residents safe without any promise of help.
COVID-19 and Sexual Health
One area of public health that we did not discuss at the meeting, but is important and deserves more attention, is the topic of sexual health and COVID-19. Consensual sex can be a way of dealing with anxiety or fulfilling and expressing our needs for intimacy. It can also be pleasurable and help pass the time when isolated indoors. Dating apps and websites have reported surges in usage. But is it safe to have sex during COVID-19?
COVID-19 is highly contagious and there is still so much we don't know. The safest person to have sex with is yourself. Because of how COVID-19 is transmitted, sexual contact with people who are not in your household is not recommended. Kissing can easily spread COVID-19 through saliva, and while COVID-19 has not been found in semen or vaginal fluid, it has been detected in fecal matter.
Tips for practising safer sex during COVID-19 include:
- Wash your hands before and after having sex, whether alone or with a partner.
- Use condoms or a glove or condom cut open to reduce contact during oral or anal sex.
- Use condoms to protect from sexually transmitted infections.
- Clean sex toys and consider covering them with a condom.
- Do not share sex toys with others.
- Avoid kissing and having sex with a partner, if feeling unwell, or if you have COVID-19.
- Avoid having sex if one partner has a health condition that can lead to more severe illness from COVID-19.
As always, only have sex with consenting partners. Learn more about how to have safe sex during COVID-19 from the Toronto Public Health Guidelines for Safer Sex during COVID-19.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shoutout goes to the team at Broccolini who have been working to support Downtown East communities grappling with the impacts of the coronavirus including addressing food security challenges among local residents, supporting organizations and local restaurants directly, and to support frontline workers within the long-term care facility community.
Pictured above: Dee, a lovely Moss Park senior who is always upbeat and happy to be receiving the hampers every week.
To address these challenges, Broccolini is...
- Providing at-risk and immunocompromised Moss Park community members, including seniors and those with chronic illnesses, with healthy fresh grocery and produce baskets from Building Roots for 8 weeks.
Partnering with local restaurant Mengrai Thai to deliver meals over a month-long period to Dixon Hall clients, who are mostly low-income seniors and people living with disabilities on theirs own.
With food security as a pressing issue throughout Toronto and the increased risks for the elderly and immunocompromised, Broccolini donated $5,000 to Building Roots to support delivery of fresh produce baskets to at-risk community members and additionally partnered with Councillor Wong-Tam to deliver meals to frontline health care and long-term care workers at two Rekai Centres.
Please continue to email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 ft (2 m) 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 toronto.ca/covid19.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
Yesterday the City of Toronto announced ActiveTO, a new plan to give pedestrians and cyclists more room on streets. This will help residents continue to practice physical distancing through the Downtown core, where many sidewalks are too small. Routes will be in areas where there is a lack of park space or close to large parks to alleviate congestion in the parks themselves. These would be complete closures to car traffic. Learn more about ActiveTO here.
Virtual Canada Day Celebration
The City of Toronto will join other municipalities across Canada in celebrating a national virtual Canada Day on July 1, 2020. The City is cancelling all in-person Canada Day events.
The City delivers and partners with a number of community-based Canada Day events. These City-led and City-permitted events are now cancelled and include:
- Fireworks at Ashbridge’s Bay, Centennial Park, Milliken Park, Stan Wadlow Park and Weston Lions Park
- Canada Day celebrations on Mel Lastman Square
- Scarborough’s annual Canada Day event
- Centennial Park Canada Day Celebration
East York Canada Day parade and festival.
The City looks forward to working with the many community and cultural organizations that it traditionally partners with to celebrate our nation's birthday, including key partners Harbourfront Centre, TOLive and the CN Tower, to plan for virtual Canada Day celebrations that will showcase Toronto, including tributes to frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19 and Toronto's incredible artists and neighbourhoods. Learn more about the virtual Canada Day celebrations here.
Province of Ontario Updates
Government Releases Plan to Resume Scheduled Surgeries and Procedures
The Ontario government has developed a framework, A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic, to help hospitals assess their readiness and begin planning for the gradual resumption of scheduled surgeries and procedures, while maintaining capacity to respond to COVID-19. Timelines will vary from hospital to hospital and be conditional on approval by regional oversight tables involved with planning and coordinating Ontario's response to COVID-19.
The framework, A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic, contains clear criteria that must be met before hospitals can resume scheduled surgeries, including ensuring that the hospital and its region have the following:
- A stable number of COVID-19 cases;
- A stable supply of personal protective equipment;
- A stable supply of medications;
- An adequate capacity of inpatient and intensive care unit beds;
- An adequate capacity of health human resources; and
- The availability of post-acute care outside the hospital that would be required to support patients after discharge.
As a first step, hospitals will need to assess if there is adequate staffing, equipment and other resources to resume scheduled care. This assessment will be revisited on a weekly basis to reflect changing needs and requirements, including responding to any COVID-19 surges that may occur locally.
The framework also sets out the criteria for prioritizing surgeries such as:
- A patient's condition;
- The type of procedure a patient requires and whether options for non-operative treatments exist;
- The associated risks of delaying a patient's surgery; and
- The resources required in terms of personal protective equipment, medications, intensive care unit beds, and other care requirements needed after an operation.
Hospitals are also encouraged to look for opportunities to improve care delivery for scheduled surgical and procedural care. This could include using services that reduce patient time spent in acute care settings, the use of virtual care, care in the community, post-op remote monitoring programs, outpatient care, and the use of e-consults services, virtual medical assessments and triaging.
Government of Canada Updates
The Federal government will send provinces and territories $4 billion to help essential worker wages, targeting those making a minimum wage. The details will be worked out with provinces individually, and it is expected that the provinces will determine which workers will receive the wage increase, and that they will also contribute to the program as well.
With the weather warming, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada cautioned Canadians about heading to places, such as the cottage, where local hospital capacity may be insufficient to treat an outbreak of COVID-19. Please be considerate of these other municipalities, and #StayHome if you can.
It was also announced that Canada has conducted its millionth test for COVID-19. About six per cent were determined to have the illness, with nearly half of those recovering.
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.
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)