It continues to be challenging to turn our minds to the future when cases in Ontario rise daily, and we hit a record high for the third day in a row. Our current test positivity rate is 5.9%, and the spread of COVID-19 has never been greater. Toronto Public Health is reporting 514 new cases in Toronto.
Today, the Medical Officer of Health has invoked her authority under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act and Toronto has been ordered to adhere to strict public health guidelines. This decision comes days before the City of Toronto was scheduled to begin reopening and resuming indoor dining, indoor recreation classes among other activities. As cases continue to rise, I know how difficult this decision has been for Dr. de Villa but also understand that the health and well-being of our friends, neighbours, loved ones, and communities are at the core of her choice. Like many, I am concerned about the rising rates of transmission and the impact this will have on our small businesses. There is much more work still to be done. But the more swiftly we take the necessary action to contain COVID-19, the sooner we will be able to begin cautiously relaxing these measures and returning to normal life again.
The City of Toronto will remain under the Provincial Framework - Control regulations with additional public safety measures. All gatherings are restricted to those only in your household, and/or one or two personal support workers, and eliminate visiting private homes unless it is an emergency. Limit all trips outside of your home to only essential trips. All indoor dining will be closed along with the business hours outlined by the provincial framework. I know it’s frustrating to be back in this position. I must impress upon you that this decision was not taken lightly. While we want to return to our restaurants, shops, and other activities, it doesn’t serve anyone to try and do so before we are ready. I would encourage you to read the City of Toronto’s full news release here and Dr. de Villa’s statement.
The Province announced their 2021 budget and it includes $45 billion in COVID-19 related spending over the next three years. This sounds promising, but I would caution that according to this CBC report, two-thirds of that has already been spent. On top of that, there’s no concrete action in this budget that urgently addresses this ongoing health crisis.
For a provincial government that is pushing to re-open businesses quickly, there must be new direct funding for small businesses. Whether businesses are affected by full or partial lockdown, the Province must do more to help them now and not a year or two from now. Toronto’s main streets may be facing a 30 to 40 percent vacancy rate in the new year. We will see this outcome in communities on Yonge, Queen, or Church Street if our small businesses do not get enough direct government support soon. Any future hydro or tax cut won’t help businesses after they’re evicted for being unable to pay their rent. The Premier needs to reinstate a ban on commercial evictions, which expired in October. Without that guaranteed security, there aren’t many options left for businesses. In another article by the CBC, NDP leader Andrea Horvath says, "Those measures are great if you're a company that's doing really well ... but let's face it, main streets across Ontario are crumbling."
In this Ontario budget announcement, there is $4 billion of financial support for municipalities. Just with the City of Toronto alone, we are facing a financial hardship of upwards of $1.8 billion in 2021. I can say confidently that $4 billion will not be enough to help all the struggling cities across the province. Without greater support for municipalities, or a creative alternate solution, I am concerned we will see devastating cuts to desperately needed city services.
What is sorely lacking from this budget is a focus on people. I’ve seen residents being evicted from their homes over the course of the pandemic, adding to an exacerbated housing crisis. The Premier is the only one who has legislative authority to ban residential evictions and keep people in their homes as they face terrifying financial insecurities. Our families and neighbours are worried about keeping food on their table, and a roof over their heads. The City of Toronto has made a commitment to offer everyone who is living outside indoor accommodations this winter. There is no comparable commitment from our Premier.
Very clearly, Premier Ford’s budget is not “for the people.” Along with zero support for residents facing evictions, there is no additional sick leave. Without this critical safety net, residents are forced to choose between keeping a roof over their heads, or staying home sick during a global pandemic. That is an impossible choice, and I would not wish that on anyone.
We also know that the pandemic has hit some communities harder than others. We know some communities are still in the midst of this health crisis as we turn our minds to recovery. Persons living with disabilities remain underrepresented in our policies and budgets. Anyone living on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) still struggles to find personal protective equipment (PPE) and have equitable access to services. Many are still awaiting promised Federal dollars. Without sufficient support for our most vulnerable communities, we risk a K recovery. This type of “recovery” sees our underserved communities drift farther from stability and the socioeconomic gap increase drastically, while those who our current systems serve, thrive. Our governments have the ability to designate funding to these vulnerable groups, and they choose not to. If we truly want an equal and just recovery, this is unacceptable.
I would encourage you to have a thorough look through this budget and share your feedback directly with the Premier and MPP. If you don’t know your MPP, you can find them here. A budget can be a living, breathing document that reflects the world you want to see.
Lastly, I wanted to provide an update on the fire at 96 Gerrard Street East. Please have a look on my website for the latest information. Most of the residents at the Neill-Wycik Co-operative College are students and in some cases are in precarious financial situations. They’re scrambling for grocery money and to ensure they can stay in a place with wi-fi access needed for attending classes, or working remotely. I have made a donation and hope you can too, please visit their emergency fundraising page.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
Image description: a picture of the exterior of the St. Lawrence Market during the day
The City of Toronto is currently looking for engaged and enthusiastic residents to join the St. Lawrence Market Precinct Advisory Committee.
The St. Lawrence Market is a renowned international food market featuring over 120 merchants, vendors and farmers, offering the freshest produce, meats and specialty items. The Market is a community and cultural hub in the heart of Toronto and a major historic site for the City. Serving residents of Toronto and international visitors since 1803, the Market is regularly recognized as one of Toronto's most popular destinations and was ranked the number one food market in the world by National Geographic. The St. Lawrence Market Complex is comprised of St. Lawrence Hall, the South Market and North Market – now in its temporary home at 125 The Esplanade.
Members of the St. Lawrence Market Precinct Advisory Committee support and advocate for the St. Lawrence Market, providing advice and recommendations to the City to enhance the Market and Precinct for the benefit of the community and all Toronto residents.
The St. Lawrence Market Precinct Advisory Committee is currently looking to fill two vacancies within the public member positions, and are looking for prospective members with expertise within the Food and Beverage industry and/or the Real Estate Development/Building Management industries.
If you are interested, you can apply online by November 15, 2020 by visiting the City’s website.
Community Care in Ward 13
Image description: A promotional graphic for the Rainbow Faith and Freedom upcoming multi-faith LGBTQ2S+ programming
Rainbow Faith and Freedom (RFF) is a human rights organization dedicated to confronting and decreasing religious-based LGBTI discrimination. We know that religious-based discrimination against the LGBTQ2S+ community has led to unjust laws in Canada, and in 72 countries around the World. This has led to higher rates of suicide, addiction, and mental health issues in these communities as well as higher rates of unemployment, hate crimes, and marginalization.
With support from Employment and Social Development Canada and the Canadian Red Cross, they have created a multi-faith resource portal to help to address religious-based LGBTQ2S+ discrimination across the country. A virtual launch week, Faith In Crisis, will introduce these resources to the Canadian public aiming to promote community awareness by providing access to information, inclusive learning and working for progressive social change. Faith In Crisis will feature presentations, panels, performances, film screenings, and more, to create connections and provide support in these disconnected and challenging times.
These free events will be held virtually from Tuesday, November 24th to Sunday, November 29th connecting over 100 Canadian LGBTQ2S+ organizations with their resource portal.
When: November 24 to November 29
Where: RSVP here
For more registration and program information, please contact Stephanie Jonsson, Community Outreach Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Face Masks and Coverings Offer Best Protection
Image description: Informational graphic from Toronto Public Health titled, "Face Masks & Coverings Offer Best Protection." Through visual examples, the graphic shows recommended and not recommended ways of wearing a mask. The recommended way for wearing a mask says, "should cover your nose, mouth, and chin without gaping." The following are not recommended: face shields, masks with exhalation valves, or clear plastic masks.
How to Safely Wear a Mask
Image description: Toronto Public Health infographic about how to safely wear a mask. Information on the infographic is listed below.
- Do wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off
- Do make sure it fits to cover your mouth and nose
- Do wash your cloth mask in the laundry
- Do clean surfaces that a dirty mask touches
- Don’t touch your face or mask while using it
- Don’t use masks on children under 2 or those who can’t breathe with them on
- Don’t share your mask with others
- Don’t wear medical masks, keep them for health care workers
- The best protection is to stay home, keep a 6-foot distance, and wash hands often.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
The 2021 staff-recommended rate-supported operating and capital budgets were launched at Budget Committee on November 6th. The City of Toronto has three rate-supported programs funded through user fees: Toronto Water, Solid Waste Management Services and the Toronto Parking Authority.
Mayor John Tory announced that the City of Toronto and Toronto Hydro have officially launched the new on-street electric vehicle (EV) charging station pilot across the city. The new 12-month pilot, delivered in partnership with Toronto Hydro, sees 17 on-street EV charging stations – made possible by Toronto Hydro through an agreement with charge station manufacturer FLO – installed and activated for public use at locations around the city.
Governments Of Canada And Ontario, And The City Of Toronto Announce New Partnership Model With Toronto’s Higher Education Institutions, Move Forward Research Projects That Support Covid-19 Recovery
The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (Innovation and Industry), the Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, and Toronto Mayor John Tory today announced a partnership model with Toronto’s Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that rapidly connects the expertise in HEIs to the City’s research needs. This new model allows the City to put forward research priorities to Toronto’s HEIs, who source multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional teams of faculty and student experts to help address important and urgent research needs.
The City of Toronto is actively seeking to identify partners, sites and properties that may be suitable to support the goal of creating up to 40,000 affordable rental homes, including 18,000 supportive homes over the next 10 years.
City Of Toronto Launches Covid-19 Immunization Task Force To Prepare For Arrival Of Covid-19 Vaccine
COVID-19 continues to circulate in our community. There are 31,908 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 504 new cases today. There are 161 people hospitalized. In total, 26,814 people have recovered from COVID-19. To date, there have been 1,411 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform.
The City of Toronto has selected 12 mentees to participate in the first cohort of the Women4Climate Toronto (W4CTO) Mentorship Programme. The program, created in partnership with C40 Cities, will contribute to the development of the next generation of female climate leaders in Toronto.
Province of Ontario Updates
The Ontario government officially opened the enhanced Cooksville GO Station today, a key transit hub and a base to travel across Peel, Halton and Toronto that will provide customers with easier access to GO Transit, Mississauga's MiWay Transit and the future Hurontario LRT.
The Ontario government is providing $200,000 and supporting the transfer of one acre of land to help create up to 25 tiny homes for military veterans experiencing homelessness. The province is working in partnership with the Homes For Heroes Foundation and the City of Kingston to convert a portion of the Kingston Provincial Campus into a veterans' village.
Ontario is investing $2 million over two years through its new Inclusive Community Grants program to strengthen communities and provide local opportunities for older adults and people with disabilities. Municipalities and local organizations can use the funding towards projects.
Government of Canada Updates
The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced that the Government of Canada has signed an agreement with BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) to purchase7.6 million rapid, point-of-care, SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests for use on the BD Veritor™ Plus System and up to 2,172 analyzers.
Today, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, announced $20 million in new funding to create a temporary Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund. This will provide financial support to Veterans organizations who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and who are in need of immediate support.
Covid-19 Update, The Prime Minister, Ministers And Government Of Canada Officials To Hold A News Conference On Coronavirus Disease
The Prime Minister, Ministers and Government of Canada officials will hold a news conference to provide an update on coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
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)
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.
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.