Sunday, May 10 is Mother’s Day, and my first as a new mom. In a pre COVID-19 world, I would be planning to celebrate--probably at brunch--surrounded by my loved ones, including with my own mom. Three generations all together!
This February 2020 family photo with Farrah and our son, Kiyan, was taken in at a pop-up art installation inside Hudson’s Bay on Queen Street West.
Mother's Day will look very different this year, but if you are looking for ways to celebrate and honour the caregivers in your life, many of the small businesses in our community are open for delivery or curbside pick up. I encourage you to connect with your local BIA to see what is open.
How we acknowledge Mother’s Day can take many forms. Some families, like mine, have two mothers. Some have none. Some mothers have lost children, some children have lost mothers. There are those mothers who have strained relationships with their children, and children with strained or non-existent relationships with their moms. There are people who choose not to be mothers or parents, and others who are yearning to be. No matter what this day means for you, you are all deserving of love and care.
Image by illustrator Marie Andrew
This week, May 4 to 10, is Canadian Mental Health Association Mental Health Week. This year the theme is 'social connection’ and its importance for mental health. The campaign this year calls for us to #GetReal about how we really feel.
People in Canada commonly ask one another how we are, but truthful answers can be evasive. Many of us say we’re fine, even when we don’t mean it. ‘Fine’ keeps us at arm’s length from real social connections with others. Every time we just go through the motions, we miss a chance to connect with others in a meaningful way.
Even before there was COVID-19, loneliness and social isolation were already of major concern in our society. Each year, one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness or mental health issue, but five in five Canadians have mental health: we all need social connection.
People with weak or few social connections are at increased risk for anxiety, depression, anti-social behaviours and suicidal behaviours. Research shows that loneliness is more keenly felt by people who belong to a visible minority, who are Indigenous, who have mobility challenges and who are LGBTQ2S+ identifying.
Everyone needs emotional support, but it’s even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic can bring us together in unexpected ways. Canada has been at the forefront of a campaign for caremongering, which has seen members of the community helping one another during these difficult times. I continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of our community and the number of people who have shared stories about the incredible community care happening in neighbourhoods across Ward 13.
Please keep looking out for each other. Phone calls, video calls and other digital technologies offer excellent opportunities for connecting face-to-face, even when we can’t be in the same room.
It is ok not to be ok. If you need support, please reach out. You can find a number of different resources on my website.
Update! Sexual Health
To prove just how quickly information around COVID-19 is changing, yesterday’s graphic on COVID-19 and Sexual health is already out of date! Researchers have recently found COVID-19 in semen so we have updated our graphic to reflect the new information.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shoutout goes to the Margaret Laurence Co-op at 81 Dalhousie Street, who have established an emergency food program. They quickly came together at the beginning of the pandemic and organized a working group to plan for a variety of emergency situations. This resulted in the purchase of freezers and the conversion of a storage room into a meal prep area. They even ordered prepared meals from a food service provider! I want to congratulate the co-op’s property manager, Elana Hart, who was instrumental in steering the process along with co-op residents Mark Smith and James Forbes. As the weather warms, they will be reallocating their planting space to focus on creating a vegetable garden. Any unused produce will be donated. Thank you for looking after our communities, big and small!
Please continue to email my office at email@example.com 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
Toronto Public Health is actively reviewing socio-demographic and ethno-racial data to understand how COVID-19 is affecting certain groups in the community more so than others. The preliminary findings suggest that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been more commonly reported in areas of the city which have a higher proportion of low-income earners and recent immigrants.
At yesterday’s first virtual Board of Health meeting, the Board unanimously requested that the province and federal governments support the City's COVID-19 response and recovery, while continuing to address complex challenges including housing affordability, access to social services and use of public space.
All City of Toronto emergency child care workers, including the approximately 300 staff assigned to seven emergency child care centres, are being proactively tested for COVID-19. Staff at both the Jesse Ketchum and Falstaff Toronto Early and Child Care centres have already been sent for expedited testing.
On April 29, the Jesse Ketchum site was closed for a two-week period and remains closed at this time. As of yesterday morning, 13 staff and seven children have tested positive at the Jesse Ketchum site. At the Falstaff site, one staff member has tested positive. There are no children showing any symptoms or signs of infection and as such, none are being tested at this time.The Falstaff location continues to operate. The remainder of the City’s emergency child care staff will complete their scheduled testing over the next week.
Plans to Support Retail Stores Re-opening for Pickup and Delivery Service
Today, the City of Toronto announced its plan to support retail stores as they re-open for curbside pickup and delivery on Monday. The Emergency Operations Centre has worked with Toronto Public Health and city divisions to draft guidelines for businesses to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and encourage physical distancing.
Examples of how business owners can help keep employees and customers safe include:
- Actively managing entry into their stores through employees, signage and visual cues such as cones or tape;
- Encouraging employees and customers to wear face coverings, such as non-medical masks or scarves;
- Managing lines inside the store by placing tape every two metres (six feet);
- Allowing for online or phone orders;
- Scheduling pickup times for customers;
- Defining a process for how employees interact with customers, such as whenloading vehicles and accepting payments; and,
- Where possible, only accepting payments by credit, debit or gift cards.
As businesses in Toronto consider how to facilitate curbside pickup, they should continue to follow advice from public health experts. Businesses should plan to manage physical distancing for customers and employees both inside and outside their stores; support proper hand hygiene; keep surfaces and objects clean; and, find ways to limit contact between people. Business owners should not initiate sales or promotions designed to attract big crowds and should adhere to all public health guidelines. Learn about tips for businesses here.
CurbTO continues to identify sidewalk hot spots and pinch points to help reduce sidewalk crowding in front of essential businesses and to support increased demand for pickup and delivery services. This program will be expanded to support additional retail locations throughout Toronto.
Access to Washroom and Sanitation Services at City Facilities
The City opened a number of facilities with showers, washrooms and drinking water for all individuals in need of these services. Details on these services, including locations, hours of operation and corresponding amenities are available on the City’s website.
75th Anniversary of V-E Day Commemoration
Today, the City of Toronto commemorates the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day), which officially marks the end of the Second World War in Europe on May 8, 1945. It is a day celebrated by many in Canada, Europe and other Allied Nations around the world.
To pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Second World War, Mayor John Tory placed a wreath at the Old City Hall Cenotaph at dawn. To celebrate the victory this day represents, a large Canadian flag has been raised at Nathan Phillips Square. The Toronto flag that flew at Juno Beach has also been placed on the podium roof flag pole at City Hall. The Toronto sign and City Hall tower lights will be lit in red, white and blue – three colours commonly represented in many Allied nations’ flags during the Second World War. Photos and videos of these symbolic activities will be available on the City’s corporate social media accounts. Visit the City of Toronto’s virtual commemoration.
Province of Ontario Updates
Supports for Job Creators as People Start Returning to Work
As people gradually begin returning to work, the Ontario government continues planning to restart the provincial economy through the implementation of its Framework for Reopening our Province. Over the past week, restrictions on some workplaces that can operate safely by following public health and safety guidelines have been eased.
Today, garden centres and nurseries will be able to open for in-store payment and purchases. Hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday. On Monday at 12:01 a.m., non-essential retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery.
The province is also providing $241 million out of a total $900 million to the new Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA). The remaining contribution is coming from the federal government. The OCECRA is intended to deliver relief to small businesses and ensure they are ready to reopen their doors when the emergency measures are lifted.
Province Eases Restrictions on Professional Sports Training Facilities
Beginning today in Ontario, professional sport training facilities will be permitted to reopen, provided their respective sports leagues have established health and safety protocols in response to COVID-19.
Government of Canada Updates
The federal government announced that it would be extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program. CEWS is a benefit to employers that provides 75% of an employee’s pay up to $847 a week. It had originally been set to end on June 6, 2020. Details on the new end-date have yet to be announced.
Businesses are being asked to review what aid is there to support them, and if they have let go of employees, to try and rehire them.
A new Industry Strategy Council was also announced that will be looking at how pandemic is affecting specific sectors and providing advice how to support them.
Finally, there will be a future announcement on how the federal government plans to support the culture sectors, including artists, musicians, young athletes and creators.
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)