Every day we continue to see a rise in new cases of COVID-19, with 807 new cases on Monday. I know these numbers are frightening, as they are well above what we saw this spring. As a result, the Province of Ontario took the urgent and necessary actions to close gyms, movie theatres, casinos, and prohibit indoor dining. These restrictions are in place across Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel and will continue for 28 days.
Schools, child care centres, and places of worship will remain open in these communities and must continue to follow the public health measures in place. Before-school and after-school programs will also be exempt from these new restrictions.
Earlier this year, we were successful in flattening the curve and keeping our communities safe by wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, and washing our hands. Please continue to only make essential trips, and leave your home only when necessary. I know it’s disheartening to see these restrictions again. We have seen the second wave of the pandemic spread across the country, and unfortunately, Toronto is not an exception.
By returning to the mandatory COVID closures of many indoor facilities, I know our small businesses will suffer. Through the spring, we saw the heartbreaking permanent closure of long-standing neighbourhood businesses. In order for our business community to stay afloat during this tumultuous second wave, we need more financial support from the Federal and Provincial governments. On Friday the Provincial government announced $300 million in financial assistance available to significantly affected businesses with fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro, and natural gas bills. I know many small business owners are concerned for the future. I am too. This is why I’ve been meeting regularly with the City’s finance and economic development staff to advocate for additional business programs to help keep our Downtown businesses afloat through this time of need.
Last week, the Provincial government announced the intention to introduce new, additional targeted support for businesses in order to help keep employees on the job as well as provide support to help pay rent.
The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) will provide easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. This subsidy would be provided directly to tenants, and support businesses, charities, and nonprofits that have suffered a revenue drop. This program would subsidize 65% of eligible expenses, on a sliding scale, until December 19, 2020. Organizations would be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ends October 24, 2020.
There will also be a top-up of 25% for any organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority. This is in addition to the 65% subsidy.
They have also announced the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) until June 2021. The current subsidy rate, up to a maximum of 65% of eligible wages, will remain the same until December 19, 2020.
Lastly, the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be expanded to include access to an interest-free loan of up to $20,000, on top of the original CEBA loan of $40,000. Half of this additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. The application deadline for CEBA has been extended to December 31, 2020. More details to be announced.
I know this is challenging for us all, but if you can I encourage you to shop small, and shop local. These small businesses bring life to our streets, and they’re an integral part of the fabric of the city.
It is not just businesses that build our communities, but also a diversity of people and a celebration of culture. At all times, racism is systemic and pervasive. It has worsened in a global pandemic when leaders like Donald Drumpf and others insist on calling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus." They're furthering a climate of hate and racial violence against East Asians which must be challenged.
I know East Asian students have experienced a rise in racist bullying and parents are worried about their mental health and physical safety. Asian transit riders and Chinese seniors have been harassed while shopkeepers have been assaulted.
We must rise together against racial injustice. We must speak up when we see and hear racism in all its many forms: microaggressions, verbal harassment, physical and state-sanctioned violence. Racism is another virus that we can collectively combat together.
Today, I was proud to join the City of Toronto and the Chinese Canadian National Council to raise awareness about the rise of anti-East Asian racism. Although we stand apart to defeat the coronavirus, we must also work together to stop all forms of hate and racism, including anti-East Asian racism. It's up to us. Learn more about how you can get involved, and stop racism.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
Last year, our friends at Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services’ Housing Department launched a new initiative called The Rooming House Project (RHP) to support individuals who are precariously housed. By offering this support, their aim is to prevent more residents from becoming homeless. This local program enhancement supported the 200 plus existing tenants in Toronto Community Housing owned rooming houses.
Following this success, the RHP will be expanding to renovate and revitalize several Cabbagetown rooming houses to continue providing affordable housing options to those in need. In partnership between the City of Toronto, Toronto Community Housing and Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, this initiative will invest millions of new funding in properly restoring cherished heritage buildings in Cabbagetown.
Image description: a picture of the outside of the Cabbagetown Rooming Houses
Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services will be hosting a virtual community information session to offer an overview of project plans, and anticipated timeline, and a chance for questions from the community.
Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Time: 3:00 PM-5:000 PM
Where: Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82601373723
Construction began in September 2020 on 502, 504, 506, and 508 Parliament Street and expected to be completed by Spring 2021.
Community Care in Ward 13
I am excited to share the good work that the Children’s Book Bank is doing to support our young residents and their families. Throughout the pandemic, they’ve been delivering sanitized books to their partners throughout the ward, including Sojourn House, Building Roots, All Saints Church, the Muslim Welfare Centre, and many more who remain open to supporting our community. These connections have been integral to help connect the Children’s Book Bank to the children who are most in need.
Image description: a picture of two small children sitting on the floor, reading books
The Children’s Book Bank has also been finding ways to stay active at its storefront. They’ve arranged curbside giveaways and, until the new Provincial regulations, had slowly begun opening up to visitors. Since April, they have given away close to 20,000 books to Ward 13 residents. Learn more about their work and opening hours 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.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
Today, the City of Toronto launched a social media campaign to bring attention to the need to combat racism in our city, including anti-East Asian racism. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in incidents of racism against all East Asian communities in Toronto. Racial harassment/discrimination against East Asians can occur through stereotyping and overt prejudice, or in more subconscious, subtle and subversive ways.
Mayor John Tory has proclaimed October 10 as World Mental Health Day in Toronto. This year’s World Mental Health Day comes at a time when lives have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. People dealing with mental health conditions may be experiencing even greater struggles with isolation, stress and anxiety, exacerbated by COVID-19 measures. In early-April, the City launched a mental health support strategy for residents to access mental health resources during COVID-19.
The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. On October 9th, Mayor John Tory, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, and Fire Chief and General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management Matthew Pegg provided an update on the City’s measures to combat the resurgence of the virus in Toronto and expressed support for new Province of Ontario restrictions.
In response to recommendations from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, the City of Toronto is adjusting recreation programs in its recreation facilities to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Province of Ontario Updates
In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Public Health Measures Table, and local medical officers of health and other health experts, the Ontario government is introducing additional targeted public health measures in the Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto public health unit regions. These modified Stage 2 restrictions will be for a minimum of 28 days and reviewed on an ongoing basis.
Attorney General Doug Downey announced the appointment of five new justices to the Ontario Court of Justice, effective October 22, 2020.
The Ontario Government is setting out increased precautions for congregate care settings in areas where there is a high rate of community spread of COVID-19 to ensure the province's most vulnerable and those who care for them are safe. Those settings include homes serving adults with developmental disabilities, shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking, children's residential settings, youth justice facilities and Indigenous Healing and Wellness Strategy residential programs that support Indigenous individuals and families both on- and off-reserve.
Government of Canada Updates
On October 12th, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, opened the application process for the CRB. Applications for the CRSB and the CRCB opened on October 5, 2020. The CRB provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, to workers who have stopped working or had their employment/self-employment income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19 and who are not eligible for EI.
In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement on October 12th.
The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, issued the following statement on the occasion of International Day of the Girl Child.
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.