Lockdown, Supporting Small Businesses, and COVID-19 Updates

As previously announced by the Province of Ontario, yesterday Toronto began renewed lockdown measures in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. We have seen a steady increase in new cases since September, and while this decision should have come sooner with direct financial supports for those in need, it is essential to protect our healthcare system, communities, and loved ones. These measures will last for a minimum of 28 days.

We knew this was coming, and we are no stranger to these restrictions. While schools and childcare centers remain open, we will have to continue to wear our masks, practice physical distancing, stay 6 feet apart, and only make essential trips. Please continue to be cautious while these large social settings remain open. I have every confidence that we can navigate this second lockdown with continued resilience. 

As the holiday season approaches, I worry about our small business community. These second lockdown measures come without urgent, direct supports for our businesses. Premier Ford saw the case number rising and neglected to act swiftly. Had he taken the required immediate action and announced this lockdown earlier, businesses could have begun re-opening now to recoup their losses. This is a time of year when business would be booming as shoppers rush to find the perfect holiday gift or a great Black Friday sale. With lockdown restrictions, this will look very different as businesses resort to curbside pickups and appointment-based shopping. Without expanded and direct support from the province, many businesses will not survive this hit. 

Swift action has never been the Premier’s strong suit, but barring that, there needs to be urgent and direct assistance to local businesses who are struggling. The uneven treatment of small businesses is ludicrous as the Ontario government forces everyone to shop at big box US retailers while our local independent businesses are forced to close. By closing independent flower shops, or small retailers, and allowing big box stores like Costco and Walmart to be “essential”, the Premier is decidedly culling independent businesses. He cannot continue to rely on wishful thinking but instead needs to legislate necessary financial supports to protect downtown businesses. 

Yesterday, applications for the revamped Federal Canadian Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) program opened. This program was redesigned to help provide financial assistance without the need for landlords to apply on behalf of tenants. Unfortunately, this program currently requires businesses to pay their rent in order to receive the subsidy, however, the Canadian Revenue Agency, which is administering the program, will treat ‘rent owed’ as a qualifying expense at the time of the application as reported by the CBC. As part of this same Federal program, an additional 25%  subsidy called the 'lockdown support' will be available for organizations that are forced temporarily to close or restrict their business because of a public health directive. While this Federal program will offer some support, without more financial assistance from the province, we know many businesses will not recover from this economic downfall. 

This holiday season will look different for small businesses, and there are things we can do to help support them through this challenging time. I’ve seen small businesses encourage shoppers to buy early and from independent, local shops. This could look like buying a gift certificate for your favourite restaurant or shopping small to find gifts for this holiday season. When a relative suggests purchasing from a huge corporation like Amazon, consider searching for the maker, and purchase directly from their company. If you can’t afford to purchase this year, I would encourage you to share your favourite businesses with friends and family via social media or word of mouth. Supporting local businesses doesn't always have to be financial, but instead we can amplify their voices and our favourite products. Our small businesses need us more than Amazon, and we need them to preserve our neighbourhoods. To learn more about support for businesses, please visit my website.

I know this is hard. I know we want to spend time with our friends and families. I promise the pandemic will be over eventually and until then we must strengthen our resolve. There is a path forward, and while we can’t gather, we will unite in our desire for a better future.

Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.


Community Corner in Ward 13

Friends of Corktown Common Park Looking for Volunteers!

Image description: a picture taken during the day of Corktown Common

The West Don Lands Committee (WDLC) is looking for some energetic volunteers to work with other neighbours to restart a Friends of Corktown Common group.

For a short time, the beautiful Corktown Common Park had a Friends committee that planned neighbourhood park programs and hoped to recruit volunteers to help with park maintenance. When the 2015 PanPara/PanAm Games and the Canary District construction closed the Park for most of two summers the Friends committee went inactive. 

No experience is needed, just an interest in making Corktown Common the best possible for everyone. If you are interested, please let one of the WDLC Co-Chairs know. You can contact Cindy Wilkey at [email protected] or John Wilson at [email protected].

Community Care in Ward 13

Image description: a picture of a butterfly on a yellow flower

Native pollinators are under threat from climate change, habitat loss, and other stressors. You can help by creating a pollinator garden! The City of Toronto is now accepting applications for its PollinateTO Community Grants as part of Toronto's Pollinator Protection Strategy. 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. 

Projects eligible for funding include those that create new pollinator habitat in green spaces, such as schoolyards and parks and those that expand existing gardens with pollinator-friendly plants. Projects to create pollinator corridors (multiple gardens on a residential street) are also eligible for funding. Projects must be visible to the public and educate and/or engage the community in some way. 

Community groups, not-for-profit organizations, student groups, parent councils, and other resident-led groups are encouraged to apply. The deadline to apply is January 8, 2021, and the gardens to be planted in 2021.

Learn more PollinateTO here.

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.

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 the City’s website or download this info sheet.

City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates

City of Toronto Services Modified to Adhere to Provincial Lockdown Measures and Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

The City of Toronto updated facility and service information with changes to come into effect Monday, November 23, when the city moves into the Grey – Lockdown category of the Province of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework. The City supports all efforts to reduce and eliminate the transmission of COVID-19 and is acting to protect the healthcare system and save lives.

City of Toronto Announces Enhanced COVID-19 Supports for Targeted Neighbourhoods

Based on data collected by Toronto Public Health over the course of the pandemic, the City has worked to develop an enhanced plan to provide targeted support to neighbourhoods experiencing higher COVID-19 case rates – many of these neighbourhoods are in the northwest and northeast of the city. This afternoon, Mayor John Tory announced an updated and enhanced set of targeted COVID-19 measures to help the city’s most vulnerable residents during the lockdown.

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.

Province of Ontario Updates

Ontario Deploys Rapid Testing to Support COVID-19 Response

The Ontario government has deployed new COVID-19 rapid tests to provide faster results in regions of high transmission and rural and remote areas. As an additional tool to help keep essential workers safe, rapid tests will also be used to screen staff in long-term care homes and select workplaces. These new tests will provide Ontarians with more access to innovative testing options and will help to quickly identify and manage outbreaks to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Ontario Welcomes New Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement

Today, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade issued the following statement in response to the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement.

Ontario Appoints New Ministers' COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force

The Ontario government is announcing the creation of the Ministers' COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, building on the steps the government has been taking to prepare for the delivery of a vaccine. The task force will advise the province's development and implementation of an immunization program, including the ethical, timely, and effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario. 

More updates from the Province of Ontario.

Government of Canada Updates

Government of Canada Empowering Black Canadian Communities 

The Government of Canada recognizes the contributions of Black Canadians and acknowledges the significant and unique challenges that Black communities face. That is why the Government has been investing in Black-led non-profit organizations through the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative so that they can better serve their communities.

The Government of Canada Launches Call for Proposals for the Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives Program 

Minister Bardish Chagger announces the launch of the new call for proposals for the Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives Program

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy

The Government is taking targeted action to support Canadians and Canadian businesses, non-profits, and charities that continue to face uncertainty and economic challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister speaks with Provincial and Territorial Counterparts to Discuss COVID-19 Response

The Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, held her fifth biweekly teleconference with provincial and territorial Finance Ministers.

More updates from the Government of Canada.

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

Telehealth Ontario
Call if you develop symptoms!
Telephone: 1-866-797-0000

Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Telephone: 416-338-7600
TTY: 416-392-0658
Email: [email protected]

311 Toronto
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.

Toronto Police

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. 

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