There are a lot of demands being made for our time and energy over the past few weeks, and it's been challenging to navigate evolving provincial public health recommendations. Unfortunately, we have yet to see the downward trend in new cases of COVID-19, and more restrictions are needed to protect ourselves and our communities. As Mayor Tory told the Toronto Star, new restrictions could be announced any day.
Yesterday, Dr. de Villa pressed once again that we need to limit seeing those who do not live in our households. It’s natural in times of stress to want to spend time and be close with the people we care about, but gathering in small and large social settings will prolong this health crisis. I am urging you to continue following Dr. de Villa’s recommendations to help keep everyone safe.
It’s not all grim: Ontario is set to receive 2.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines early in 2021. These doses will still have to be approved by Health Canada, and a plan for their distribution is underway. Until they are widely accessible, we must strengthen our resolve and keep following public health guidelines as I know many of you do. Thank you for your continued sacrifice for your friends, families, neighbours, and communities.
When we think about returning to the restrictions we saw in the spring, I encourage you to consider how to make a second lockdown a little easier on your hearts and minds. The winter months can often exacerbate other mental health issues, such as seasonal depression. It’s important to consider how you can protect your mental health in big and small ways.
If possible, I would encourage you to take regular walks and get outside during the daylight hours. Vitamin D and sunlight can positively impact mood, and there are well-known benefits to getting outside and moving your body. I know that getting outside might not be possible for everyone who might be working long hours from home with infants and toddlers, or have an underlying health condition. In those cases, think about how you can make your space welcoming. That can look like tidying up, and displaying some of your treasured items. It could even be setting up a small workspace by the window. When spaces feel welcoming, they invite you to spend time there. Since we must stay home, we can create a sanctuary space.
If you have children, you can develop a theme night where you can sit down as a family and watch a movie from your childhood, or plan a meal together. There might be a book you can share together as a family. The Toronto Public Library has some great options! It can offer something fun to look forward to each week, and even create long-lasting memories.
I know for those who live in small apartments with roommates, this can present additional challenges as well. I would encourage you to practice strong communication, and ask for the things you might need, like an hour of quiet time, or the opportunity to watch your favourite show. You can also consider planning virtual games nights, or a regular phone call with a loved one.
Sometimes practicing self-care can feel daunting, but I don’t believe it has to be. Making space for yourself can sometimes be riddled with guilt around productivity, but it doesn’t have to be a two hour bubble bath. Sometimes it’s the little moments we make for ourselves that help the most. Take some time to sip your favourite tea, or listen to your favourite song.
I know this has been a long nine months, and it’s not done yet. These are just some small ways to find joy in the day to day. If you need them, more resources are available on my website under Links & Resources.
Tomorrow, November 20, marks the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) that honours the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. Let us remember those who we have lost and commit ourselves to fighting in the present day for a world free of transphobia, hate, and violence.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
It's that time of year again, our friends in Regent Park are about to launch the 18th Annual Regent Park Film Festival (Online Edition)! Starting November 26 until 29, RPFF will fill your screens with an incredible selection of FREE programming, spotlighting Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) artists and filmmakers along with industry panels and talkbacks with directors. Staff and volunteers have been hard at work adapting this highly anticipated event for all to enjoy despite COVID-19 restrictions. All events will be virtually streamed.
Image content: a promotional poster for the Regent Park Film Festival
This year’s festival is a video on demand experience (think Netflix) using the streaming platform Cinesend. Instead of tickets to individual screenings, you subscribe for FREE access to the entire catalogue of films and panels all at once! Explore the RPFF 2020 Digital Program Guide, and watch the 2020 Festival Trailer! You can also check out the full lineup and subscribe here.
When: November 26th through November 29th
I look forward to joining this year’s festival and I hope you are too!
Community Care in Ward 13
Image description: A picture during the day of Councillor Wong-Tam outside Toronto City Hall standing behind a City of Toronto podium and in front of a Pride and Trans flag, speaking to a crowd of people.
In October 2019, I brought forward a motion asking staff to consult with LGBTQ2S+ stakeholders about policies governing the use of libraries and other City-owned facilities in an effort to make these spaces safe and inclusive.
Now, as part of this consultation process, the City of Toronto wants to hear from you about how booking and using City facilities can be more LGBTQ2S+ inclusive. This may not be your first time filling out a questionnaire like this, and I understand the emotional labour it requires and the burden you may feel. With this at the forefront of our minds, the City is committed to sharing your voices and needs in order to support positive change. This survey is completely anonymous and will take about 15 minutes to complete. All information will be kept in a secure database.
The summary of these findings will inform a report which will be taken to City Council in December 2020. The data will be held securely and will be destroyed upon completion of the report to Council. If you have any questions, please email Annemarie Shrouder at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can fill out the survey here and it closes on November 28
Making Cents: Talking City Budgets with Councillor Wong-Tam
Image description: promotional poster for Making Cents Budget Series panel event with Councillor Wong-Tam
Since the pandemic began in mid-March, the City of Toronto has experienced significant financial impacts in the form of both added costs and revenue losses as a direct result of COVID-19. This pandemic has exposed and brought attention to a number of gaps in the system, and has applied significant strain on our social programs and community supports. We cannot look to recreate the same systems that failed us before the pandemic. We must emerge and create a new path forward, with an economic and social recovery that leaves no one behind.
In the fall, Toronto begins its budget planning process for 2021. We know that the City of Toronto is under immense financial pressure because of COVID-19. Join us on Monday, November 23rd from 3:00pm- 4:00pm EST for our final panel as we look to the future and discuss a vision for our city that works for everyone. Building on each previous panel, we can take what we’ve learned and consider what recovery looks like for the City of Toronto. What have we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, and how can we move forward creating a City that works for everyone? How can our municipal budget evolve to support the creation of this new vision for our City? This panel will explore these questions and more, as we look towards recovery for all.
When: Monday, November 23rd 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm EST
Where: Registrants will receive a link to watch
Brittany Andrew-Amofah, Senior Policy and Research Analyst, Broadbent Institute
Brian F. Kelcey, Consultant, Urban Public Policy
Dr. Notisha Massaquoi, Provost Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
Ajeev Bhatia, Policy/Community Connections Manager, Centre for Connected Communities
Dr. Kaitlin Schwan, Director of Research, The Shift
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 City of Toronto is officially launching the new Traffic Agents program, which will help keep people moving through busy intersections while also improving safety for pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and drivers.
The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. Today, Mayor John Tory and Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, provided an update on the City’s measures to combat the resurgence of the virus in Toronto.
Province of Ontario Updates
The Ontario government is providing $2.4 million to support an additional 13 Ontario Health Teams across the province to provide better, connected care to patients. These teams are a new way of delivering care that brings together health care providers and organizations to work as one coordinated team to improve patient outcomes. This new collaborative model is helping the province respond more quickly and effectively to COVID-19 and end hallway health care.
Ontario is increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities by working with industry leaders, government, and stakeholders to make it easier for businesses to be accessible and inclusive.
The Ontario government is providing over $37 million to significantly expand mental health services across the justice system. The funding will be used to expand mobile crisis teams across the province, hire additional staff, and support the creation of tailored programs for First Nations communities. This is part of the government's $176 million investment this year in the Roadmap to Wellness, Ontario's plan to build a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system. It is also a key component of Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover.
Government of Canada Updates
The Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary (CN-CGA) commenced on-water operations this fall in the territorial waters of Ahousaht and Heiltsuk First Nations, becoming the first Indigenous-led Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary in Canada. CN-CGA response units in Nisga’a, Gitxaala, and Kitasoo/Xai’xais territorial waters will be operational shortly.
The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, will participate in a virtual fireside chat with Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO, at an event to mark Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.
Government of Canada Supports Restorative Justice Initiatives Across the Country, Including Those Supporting Indigenous Communities and Youth
Canadians expect to live in a society where the criminal justice system is fair and impartial, responds to the harms caused by crime and helps to keep them safe. In recognition of Restorative Justice Week (November 15-22), the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, is highlighting the Government of Canada’s continued support to restorative justice initiatives across the country. Through the funding announced today, Indigenous people and youth from across Canada will be able to benefit.
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.