On Friday, the Province of Ontario announced another updated COVID-19 framework with revised epidemiology standards. The COVID-19 framework was adjusted as their initial plan was heavily criticized due to it being too lenient. Additionally, we saw other regions in Ontario move to “Control” restrictions. All of these changes come on the heels of the immense criticism and scrutiny of the high positivity rate thresholds which help guide re-opening. Doctors warned that these incredibly high epidemiological indicators were well above what would be labeled emergency levels.
Premier Ford stated that at this current rate of infection, we will overwhelm our hospitals in six weeks, which will have devastating impacts on our communities. As reported by the CBC, we could see 6,500 new daily cases as of mid-December. Without stronger restrictions and necessary financial and social supports, I worry we will not be able to flatten the curve. The Premier echoed the words of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health: stay home except for essential trips, do not see those that are outside of your household or allow visitors to your home, and avoid social gatherings. In order to support this effort, we need concrete and robust legislative actions like paid sick leave and a ban on residential evictions to support households in precarious financial positions.
In yesterday’s Board of Health meeting, the directors and I heard from Dr. de Villa about the advisory table which provides medical advice to the Ministry of Health and the Province of Ontario. She confirmed that the discussions and recommendations made from this table are confidential, and advisors are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement as a condition of participation. Without transparency, the provincial government is creating distrust and frustration about restrictions and health measures, or the lack thereof. With this in mind, our Board of Health adopted a motion requesting a fully transparent process to receive public health advice. This motion also requests that Federal and Provincial governments make all financial supports directly available to folks who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 accessible and transparent, including women, racialized, low-income communities, and those living with disabilities. These programs need to be expanded and their delivery accelerated. We know these populations have been drastically affected by the pandemic, and they need urgent targeted supports in order to support and sustain recovery.
In this same meeting, our local Board heard two opposition Members of Provincial Parliament make deputations. These representatives should have a direct line to the Premier and his government. It is clear that the Premier is not consulting with anyone outside of his close political circle and that is deeply unsettling. One role of Toronto’s Board of Health is to amplify local public health positions to other governments and if MPPs at the province aren’t being directly heard there, that speaks to a much larger problem as Ontarians expect their elected officials to be working together especially during this unprecedented pandemic.
It is necessary to hold the Provincial government accountable for the inaction and mixed messaging over the course of this pandemic, as well as address the mounting inequities in our neighbourhoods. It is critical that we have transparent access to decision making at the province. We need to better understand the medical advice being offered and the funding available to our communities. By demanding that the Premier lift his veil of secrecy, we can work together with open communication and support an equitable recovery.
The Board of Health also received an updated report on the opioid crisis, which is another health crisis devastating our city. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Toronto has seen surges of opioid cases and deaths and advocates worry we will see 2,200 opioid related deaths in 2020. While the monthly number of suspected opioid-related calls to paramedics fluctuates, it is clear that the number of fatal calls is noticeably higher. This number is almost doubled when you look at the coroner's reports. This is why the directors followed the advice of the Medical Officer of Health and the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs to adopt a motion calling on the Federal government to permit the simple possession of all drugs for personal use, and to support the immediate scale-up of prevention, harm reduction, and treatment services. In order to save lives, we need immediate actions. I’m also proud that the directors supported my motion for Dr. de Villa to work alongside the City Manager to find emergency funds for immediate grief and trauma supports for our frontline staff and loved ones of those lost. While much of this work jurisdictionally falls to our Federal and Provincial partners, I believe this is an urgent, necessary action the City can take legally on its own to help frontline workers.
Lastly, the Board of Health heard from Shelter Support and Housing Administration staff on how they are working towards integrating harm reduction services into shelter sites. They have already begun working with Toronto Public Health, The Works, Health Canada, and advocates to assess the needs at each site, and how to bring these essential services to where they’re needed most. Each of these small steps forward is necessary, and I thank the staff for their continued dedication to this work. While the City of Toronto strives to address these long-standing systemic issues, we need both the province and federal governments to provide immediate substantial funding to help address challenges such as housing, mental health and addictions, and food insecurity. The City of Toronto cannot do this work alone.
I know this has been confusing, and every day feels like a new challenge. I know we are all working so hard to keep our friends, families, and neighbours safe. I’m very grateful for everyone who continues to take the pandemic seriously.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
The lights in Orphan’s Green off leash area have been out for a number of months. Residents have brought forth this complaint, and our office escalated the matter with our Parks staff to work to address the issue. As a result of nearby construction, these solar-powered lights were blocked from the sun, and unable to charge in order to light the park. To address this concern, Parks staff will be adding light structures to better light the park.
Image description: a picture taken during the day of Orphan’s Green off leash area
Today, Parks staff began drilling new holes for concrete footings, and the concrete is expected to be delivered by Wednesday, November 18. Once poured, the concrete will need to cure for a couple of days, but the installation of the poles is expected early next week.
I know this has taken a long time to resolve, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel! I want to thank residents for their patience and Parks staff for their ongoing work in resolving this issue and creating a safe space for residents and their dogs.
Community Care in Ward 13
Content description: a Trustee update banner for Ward 10 Trustee Chris Moise
Our TDSB Trustee Chris Moise is hosting the next Ward 10 forum! He will be joined by Shameen Sandhu, System Leader, Mental Health and Professional Support Service, who will be discussing staying well during COVID-19. There will also be an election of Ward Representative (and Alternates) for the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee and the French as a Second Language Advisory Committee and as always, there will also be Superintendent and Trustee updates.
How to Join the Ward Forum
- To be able to join, you must register 24 hours before the meeting.
- When registering, you will be able to submit your question(s) in advance.
- Meeting links and dial-in numbers will be sent to your email address on the morning of the ward forum.
When: Thursday, December 3, 2020 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: Registrants will receive a link to join. Register here.
For more information, please connect with Maxeen Paabo at Maxeen.Paabo@tdsb.on.ca or call 416-395-8787.
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
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, has now issued an order under Section 22 of the Province of Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act, as announced on Tuesday, November 10, to strengthen COVID-19 protections in the city.
This week, the City of Toronto launched a new city-wide public education campaign to urge residents to continue to be vigilant to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The “Practice Safe 6ix” campaign is targeted at Torontonians between the ages of 18 and 40 who are experiencing COVID-19 fatigue and who may have lost the sense of pandemic urgency. To slow the resurgence of COVID-19, the City is encouraging Torontonians, including this demographic, to act differently.
The City of Toronto is now accepting applications for its PollinateTO Community Grants. Grants of up to $5,000 are available to support community-led initiatives that result in the creation or expansion of pollinator habitat on public and private lands in Toronto. A priority will be placed on funding projects in Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas.
Province of Ontario Updates
In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Public Health Measures Table, the Ontario government is taking immediate action to respond to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and is updating the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, by lowering the thresholds for each level in the framework. These necessary updates will help limit the spread of COVID-19 while keeping schools open, maintaining health system capacity, protecting the province's most vulnerable, and avoiding broader lockdowns.
The Ontario government is investing $350,000 in Integrated Packaging Films through the Ontario Together Fund to help the company create new jobs and increase the production of PET film by 49 per cent, contributing to the production of almost four million more face shields per month to help keep front line workers safe during the second wave of COVID-19.
Government of Canada Updates
Government of Canada Moves Forward on Pay Equity to Help Address Wage Gaps in Federally Regulated Workplaces
Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed and to receive equal pay for work of equal value. Canadians have experienced a gender wage gap for far too long. The Government of Canada has been working hard to close that gap. This is a key part of the economic recovery plan as Canada builds back better.
The week of November 1-7 continued to see an increase in the number of newly reported cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities related to the "second wave" of the pandemic, with 439 new cases reported as of November 12.
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.