Living Wage, Ontario Housing Crisis, and COVID-19 Updates

Over the past week, we have seen new cases of COVID-19 rising once more. As more restrictions have been lifted, and the cooler weather forces more people indoors, these numbers were to be expected. The Ontario Science Advisory Table has said there are small behavioral shifts that can steady this increase. If you can, please avoid crowds, wear your mask, and work from home. These are simple shifts we have practiced which can help curb new cases.

In addition to ongoing COVID-19 mitigation, we are now seeing the beginning of Premier Ford’s election strategies. Last week, he announced finally raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. This comes five years too late from Premier Wynne’s previous plan. A living wage in Toronto is currently listed at around $22/hour. 

A living wage includes shelter, food, clothing, childcare, and transportation. It doesn’t factor in debt repayment, retirement, or any savings. This wage increase, while welcomed, is sorely overdue. Living on minimum wage in Toronto is an almost impossible task, and forces residents to choose between rent, food on their table and impacts access to medical appointments. Once this pandemic is behind us, Toronto residents will still be forced to triage their needs for survival. 

The greatest cost to Toronto residents is housing. On Sunday, the Province of Ontario released their fall economic statement. In the face of an escalating housing affordability crisis, Premier Ford is proposing to create a housing affordability task force, a meager attempt to address the housing crisis in Ontario. This is not a serious solution to ballooning housing costs and the rapidly expanding homelessness crisis.

Premier Ford continues to identify a lack of housing supply as the cause for the housing shortage - which is why we see his government continually creating sweetheart deals with developers. However, Toronto has the highest rate of new construction in North America. There are 124 cranes in the sky on any given day in Toronto, yet we are seeing no impact on affordability. Toronto residents cannot depend on increasing housing supply alone to solve the housing affordability crisis. There are a number of known policy solutions that the Provincial government could implement. The Ontario Real Estate Association has urged the government to introduce measures like ending exclusionary single-family zoning, doubling the land transfer tax rebate, and making surplus government land available for development.

Like finally raising the minimum wage five years too late, this promise of an affordability task force to study housing is yet another election ploy by Premier Ford. It is a ridiculous proposition to create a task force to study a long-existing crisis with clear and known solutions. This is a delay tactic by the Premier and will amount to nothing come the election.

My colleagues and I continue to work to increase affordable housing at City Hall. Today at City Council, we voted on an Inclusionary Zoning amendment to the Official Plan in an effort to make affordable housing mandatory and integrated into any new development. This report is only the first step in addressing affordability and by 2030 there will be a possibility of 8% to 22% affordable units built in new buildings in qualifying areas. 

Unfortunately, my colleague, Councillor Layton’s motion for a bolder plan did not pass. There is too much fear of a developer-friendly appeal by the Minister of Municipal Affairs on behalf of the development industry. Hopefully, my motion to create a public education campaign will dispel misconceptions, and misinformation about Inclusionary Zoning perpetuated by the development industry. While much more is needed, if we are to really address affordability then this is still a necessary first step. 

We will also be voting on my motion in support of MPP Marit Stiles’ Bill 29, An Act to Amend the Cannabis Licence Act. I have heard from residents and business owners alike concerned about the clustering of cannabis retailers in Toronto. Since legalization, over 1,000 cannabis stores have opened across Ontario with the majority of them centralized in Toronto. Bill 29 will offer municipalities a larger role in licensing businesses and will align regulations with alcohol use. Additionally, it will promote equitable access to cannabis across the province. I will join MPP Marit Stiles along with my colleague Councillor Paula Fletcher in a press conference tomorrow morning to speak to the issue.

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

Kristyn


What’s In Today’s EBlast?


Distillery Winter Village

Starting on November 18th, 2021, until December 31st, 2021 the Distillery District’s Winter Village is back! Formerly named the Christmas Market, the Distillery Winter Village is an intimate, picture-perfect holiday experience, where friends and family gather to explore the rich history of The Distillery District, take in the timeless romance of the holidays, and enjoy a curated selection of Toronto’s finest craftspeople, local shops, restaurants, and cafes. Read all about attractions during the Winter Village here.

Tickets are required for the tree lighting event on November 18th after 4:00 pm, and on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays after 4:00 pm, and between December 20th - December 23rd after 4:00 pm. Tickets are $8 each (age 6 years and up). This is to help manage capacity during peak hours. At all other times, access is free of charge and tickets are not required. 

COVID protocols to ensure safety for all guests will be in place throughout the event, including sanitizing stations, reduced guest capacity, and social distancing. All guests 12+ will be asked to show proof of double vaccination and government issued ID at entry points (to save time, it is recommended that you show your government QR code). 

For those attending the Winter Village, please note that parking is very limited. The best way to get to The Distillery Winter Village is to take public transit, walk, rideshare, or use Bike Share Toronto. For more information about how to get to the Winter Village, read here.

Learn more about the Winter Village and purchase tickets on their website


Expanded Third Dose Vaccine Eligibility

Last Wednesday, the provincial government announced expanded eligibility for third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, in alignment with the NACI recommendations released October 29, 2021. The following groups are now eligible for third doses if at least six months have passed since their second dose:

  • Individuals 70 years of age and older (born in 1951 or earlier)
  • Individuals who received two doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine
  • First Nations, Inuit, and Métis adults and non-Indigenous members of their households
  • Health-care workers and designated essential caregivers in congregate settings (including long-term care and retirement home staff and designated caregivers)

Eligible residents can book a third dose appointment through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900, starting on Saturday, November 6 at 8 a.m. Check select pharmacies and primary care settings for availability.

The Sherbourne Health – Wellesley Community Centre and Regent Park-40 Oaks (Fred Victor) clinics:

The following groups can book at WCC or 40 Oaks for third doses if at least six months have passed since their second dose and who live in M5A, M5B, M4Y and M4X:

  • Individuals 70 years of age and older (born in 1951 or earlier)
  • Individuals who received two doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine
  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis adults and non-Indigenous members of their households
  • Individuals with certain immune compromising conditions remain eligible for a third dose at a minimum of eight weeks after the second dose.

The third dose guidelines listed above were established by the Ministry of Health, following an ethical approach and taking into consideration ongoing risk exposure, risk of severe disease and population-level protection. While a third dose is encouraged, it’s not mandated or required for the vaccine passport. The priority for Ontario remains to offer first and second doses to those who still need them. 


Cabbagetown BIA Remembrance Day 

Cabbagetown BIA Remembrance Day PosterCabbagetown BIA Remembrance Day Poster

The Cabbagetown BIA is hosting its first-ever Remembrance Day event. On Thursday, November 11, 2021, join residents and the BIA in remembering our veterans, and soldiers who fought to protect our democracy and continue their peace-keeping work. Beginning at 10:30 a.m. on the northeast corner of Carlton Street and Parliament Street (outside the TD Bank). 

When: Thursday, November 11, 2021
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Where: Northeast corner of Carlton Street and Parliament Street


Women4ClimateTO Mentorship Programme Application Now Live

a picture of leaves with the words "live green Toronto"A picture of leaves with the words "live green Toronto"

Yesterday, the City of Toronto opened applications for the Women4ClimateTO Mentorship Programme, which aims to empower and inspire female climate leaders in Toronto. The program offers a combination of mentoring, networking and collaborative learning opportunities to help women take their climate-related initiative or start-up business to the next level. Participants will work on advancing self-initiated projects or ventures that support the goals of the City’s TransformTO Climate Action Strategy and/or Resilience Strategy.

Candidates must identify as women; be 18 years of age or older; live, study or work in Toronto; and have an established climate action project or start-up business that they wish to advance with the support of the program.

Applications will be accepted until Sunday, November 28, 2021. More information about Women4ClimateTO is available at https://www.toronto.ca/livegreen.


Toronto Youth Cabinet Equity and Employment Sustainability Survey

The Toronto Youth Cabinet was established in 1998 by Toronto City Council and is the official youth advisory body to the city. They are a youth-led organization that promotes youth participation in municipal affairs and policy development.

The Equity & Employment working group is proud to launch their Equity & Employment Sustainability Survey. The survey was created by youth, for youth to highlight the many barriers and inequalities Toronto youth face in the areas of employment and equity. Lend your experiences to help paint a picture of the challenges young people are facing today by filling out this survey

The survey closes on November 30, 2021. Information determined from the survey will be shared with City Council in an effort to adapt current strategies. 


Have Your Say: Market Lane Park Improvements!

The City of Toronto wants to hear from you about improving Market Lane Park! City staff will be providing a project update as well as three park plans. They are seeking your feedback on each plan and will be available to answer questions. Join them on November 18, 2021 in one of three timeslots available: 

When: Thursday, November 18, 2021
Times: 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. 
3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Register to attend

Come learn more about the project design and share your thoughts!


You Might Be Interested In: St. James Town Black Centered Wellness Clinic

St. James Town Black Centered Wellness Clinic promotional posterSt. James Town Black Centered Wellness Clinic promotional poster

Our friends in St. James Town are hosting a drop-in Black Centered Wellness Clinic at the Wellesley Community Centre this Saturday, November 13th from 11am-4pm. At the wellness event, you’ll be able to talk to Black health care providers, connect to mental health supports, learn about diabetes and your health, get your blood pressure and blood sugar level checked, access 2SLGBTQ+ supports, access harm reduction supplies and services, get your COVID vaccine, and more! No OHIP is required and drop-ins are welcome. 

When: Saturday, November 13th, 2021
Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Wellesley Community Centre (495 Sherbourne St, entrance by the parkette)

If you need more information about this event, please call (416) 460-2984.


Welcome to the Neighbourhood: Inspirations Studio! 

Inspirations Studio muralInspirations Studio mural

Located at 389 Church Street, Inspirations Studio is a ceramics program for women who have experienced marginalization. Their program is in its 27th year and after some difficult years, it finally feels like we have a home. Inspirations Studio shares its home with over 120 affordable and supportive housing units, operated by the YWCA, and provides housing and supports for women who have been precariously housed. 

To celebrate, two of Canada's most respected contemporary artists, Shary Boyle and Rajni Perera have created a mural in their space. A beautiful gift to welcome the members back to work and a legacy project for the city. 


Flu Clinics in St. James Town

St. James Town flu clinic promotional posterSt. James Town flu clinic promotional poster

On November 12th and 26th from 4 p.m. to 7:15 pm Sherbourne Health and The Corner bring you Friday night flu clinics in St. James Town at the Wellesley Community Centre! Both walk-ins and appointments are available, however, appointments are strongly encouraged. Please bring ID or OHIP if you have one, however it is not required.

When: Friday, November 12th or Friday, November 26th
Time: 4 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
Where: Wellesley Community Centre, Room A (495 Sherbourne Street)

Please call 416-964-6657 or email [email protected] to book an appointment.


PATH Hours Return!

During the pandemic, the PATH reduced their hours as close to 80% of pedestrian traffic dropped. Starting Monday, November 8, 2021, The Commercial Real Estate Financial District Security Group has advised my office as well as the TTC that the hours of PATH will be returning to pre-pandemic hours. The PATH opens close to 6:30 a.m. on weekdays and 7:00 a.m. on weekends, and closure coincides with the TTC where possible. As we are all starting to return to the office, I encourage you to support our PATH businesses. I welcome this slow and safe return! 


COVID-19: Vaccine Information 

For updates about Toronto’s vaccination rollout and booking system, please visit my website.

Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic by phone through the provincial call centre, 1-888-999-6488.

Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic online at www.toronto.ca/covid-19. For online bookings, you will need: 

  • Information found on your Government of Ontario photo health card;
  • Birthdate;
  • Postal code; and
  • Email address or phone number.

The provincial system will verify your eligibility to book an appointment for vaccination based on this information and will then guide you to the scheduling system. 

Please do not call 311 or Toronto Public Health to book an appointment. The City 311 contact centre and Toronto Public Health staff do not have access to the booking system.


Vaccinated Against COVID-19? What Does It Mean For Me?

By getting vaccinated, you benefit from the protection you get against COVID-19 and the easing of restrictive measures in your community. You still need to follow local public health advice in public settings (e.g. workplaces, public transit). Their advice considers community risk levels. 

A majority of people in Canada have now had their first shot and many will soon be fully vaccinated. Below is a handy chart created by Public Health Canada to inform your actions depending on your vaccination status. This advice is based on the current state and will be updated as vaccination rates continue to increase and cases decrease.


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.

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.


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
311 provides residents, businesses and visitors with easy access to non-emergency City services, programs and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 311 can offer assistance in more than 180 languages.
Telephone: 311
Website 
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489

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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