QR App, Supporting Small Businesses, and COVID-19 Updates

I want to begin by responding to the derogatory comments made by Premier Ford at a news conference yesterday. He made reference to new immigrants coming to Ontario, and immediately signing up for Ontario Works, which he referred to as “the dole”. These disappointing comments from the Premier are xenophobic and divisive. Also, they are misinformed. The majority of permanent newcomers to Canada are economic class -  skilled workers, and skilled trades. These skills and the financial assets required to enter Canada, and sponsor a family, would place any newcomers well above the asset limits required for Ontario Works. Dr. Jennifer Robson, an Associate Professor at Carleton University, explains the system well, and consequently fact-checks the Premier’s dismissive and repugnant comments. Once again, Premier Ford demonstrates why he is not fit to lead the most diverse province in Canada.

This weekend, the Province of Ontario released the QR app for proof of vaccination. This was in advance of the original October 22, 2021 release date. People can save the electronic version of their vaccine certificate with a QR code to their phone or print a paper copy. While the current vaccine receipt without a QR code remains valid and will continue to be accepted, the province is encouraging individuals to download their enhanced vaccine certificate with a QR code as an easier, more secure, and convenient way to have their proof of vaccination verified. Ontarians will need to continue to show a piece of identification with their name and date of birth along with their proof of vaccination when visiting select businesses and organizations.

Businesses and organizations can now download the free Verify Ontario app from the Apple App and Google Play stores. The app has been made available in advance of October 22 to ensure businesses and organizations download the app and have sufficient time to become familiar with it. The Verify Ontario app can be used without an internet connection, but like any app, it will need to connect to the internet periodically to keep it up to date. The app never stores personal information and only shows the minimum amount of information necessary to confirm vaccination.

Those who are unable to download the certificate themselves can contact the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre to have it mailed or emailed to them. The centre can be reached at 1-833-943-3900 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. People who do not have an Ontario health card can contact their public health unit to have their identity verified and get a COVID ID, which is a unique number assigned by a public health unit for the purpose of obtaining a copy of a vaccine certificate. The province has provided this FAQ sheet for any further questions. 

As predicted, advocates say this enhanced vaccination system is not accessible for marginalized communities. The Ontario government failed to consider the needs of people with disabilities, including those who are cognitively impaired, have mobility issues, or are legally blind, as well as seniors on a fixed income, low-income people, and unhoused people. 

Not only does the app not accommodate a need for medical exemptions, but the requirements to read your health card number, including the smaller print on the back, is very challenging for anyone who has low or no vision. Additionally, anyone with mobility issues may already have their hands full with a walker, or another device, and pulling out forms becomes a huge encumbrance. Lastly, the Premier again places an undue burden on our small businesses, some of which do not have access to smartphone technology.  Premier Ford and his government could have taken into account accessibility and the needs of Ontarians, however, they have instead created yet another disparity. There are various people who are living with disabilities who wish to remain independent, and they deserve the same access as those without. 

Since Premier Ford lifted public health restrictions in large venues including theatres, concert venues, and sports stadiums, there has been mounting pressure to address capacity restrictions in small businesses and retail. On Friday, the province stated that a comprehensive plan will be announced later this week including any metrics to return to public health restrictions. Senior officials revealed the plan will include guidance about travel and more specifics about when the province will transition the proof-of-vaccination program from mandatory to voluntary.

While overall Ontario is doing quite well, it is still prudent to remain cautious. It’s important to take these next steps slowly. Over 82.8% of Ontarians have both vaccine doses but children under 12 years old still have yet to be vaccinated. There have been suggested recommendations to help ease restrictions including supporting small businesses by increasing contact tracing, improving air quality standards, and supplying HEPA filters. It is critical that our small business community is supported as soon as possible. After two years of rolling lockdowns, the Premier needs to prioritize building back these businesses. 

This week is Small Business Week, and as we all know, our small business community is the key to ensuring a strong economic recovery. They make up the fabric of the downtown. They are where we exchange ideas, meet with friends, and they light up our streets. As of last week, foot traffic was down 86% compared to pre-pandemic levels through the PATH downtown. With tourism and office workers low, populating the downtown every day becomes impossible. Until the borders are open, and all our businesses can return to 100% capacity, our governments need to extend financial supports in order to prevent further closures. You can learn more about my advocacy and how we can #SaveMainStreetsTO. Watch our press conference here.  

Lastly, yesterday was Persons Day, honouring the bravery and determination of  Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, and Henrietta Muir Edwards- known as the Famous Five, whose landmark case helped pave the way for women to participate equally in – and contribute equally to – all aspects of life in Canada. 

Even today, there is still much work to be done to truly recognize the contribution of women across the world. Canada is not immune to gender discrimination, especially through the pandemic. Over the past year and a half, we have seen hundreds of thousands of women leave the workforce, and they are slower to return. Women have taken on, once more, the primary role of caregiver, and the domestic work of the family structure. At all levels of government, we need to ensure a SheCovery in order to support women back in the workforce; a truly equitable recovery from the pandemic.

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


What’s In Today’s EBlast?

RapidTO: Bus and Streetcar Priority Plan

The TTC and City of Toronto are developing a RapidTO: Bus & Streetcar Priority plan to deliver safe, efficient and equitable bus and streetcar service improvements through transit priority solutions over the next ten years. Transit priority can make bus and streetcar service more reliable, reduce delays and shorten travel times on congested roadways.

Learn more about the roadways identified as part of TTC's 5-Year Service Plan & 10-Year Outlook. The complete list of roadways identified for evaluation and prioritization is available on the project web page.

RapidTO: Bus & Streetcar Priority will be developed and delivered through a three-phased consultation process:

  • Phase 1 (October to December 2021) seeks your feedback on bus and streetcar transit priorities.
  • Phase 2 (early 2022) will report on the Phase 1 results and provide a preliminary schedule for Phase 3.
  • Phase 3 (2022 to 2031) will include roadway-specific studies and rolling implementations that take into account the unique needs of each community.

Be sure to submit your comments before November 28, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. Find all details at toronto.ca/RapidTO

JUNO’s MusiCounts 

Many schools have cut back on music programs in recent years – but MusiCounts' Band Aid program is a great way to re-energize music education at a local level and give young people an opportunity to get involved early. MusiCounts is the JUNOS' affiliated charity, focused on making music education inclusive, sustainable, and accessible for youth across Canada by providing musical instruments, equipment, and resources. One of MusiCounts' annual pillars is the Band Aid program, through which under-resourced schools can apply for grants of up to $15,000 that they can spend on musical instruments and equipment at their discretion (including "non-traditional" instruments and equipment used in contemporary genres). Applications are now open until November 25!

Not Down the Drain

Not Down the Drain City of Toronto campaign promotionNot Down the Drain City of Toronto campaign promotion

Do you know what can and can’t go down your drain? Putting the wrong things down your pipes can cause basement flooding; pollute streams, rivers, and the Lake; and clog City pipes resulting in expensive repairs. Please don't put grease, wipes, and dental floss down the drain. Find out more at toronto.ca/notdownthedrain

PollinateTO Grants Now Open!

The City of Toronto is now accepting applications for its PollinateTO Grants. Grants of up to $5,000 are available to support community-led initiatives that result in the creation or expansion of pollinator habitats on public and private lands in Toronto. 

Projects eligible for funding include those that create new pollinator habitats in green spaces, such as schoolyards and parks, and those that expand existing gardens with pollinator-friendly plants. Projects to create pollinator pathways (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, Indigenous groups, and other resident-led groups are encouraged to apply.

The deadline to apply is Monday, November 1, 2021. More information is available at https://www.toronto.ca/pollinateTO.

Have Your Say on Inclusionary Zoning!

Illustrated row of housesIllustrated row of houses

The City of Toronto is hosting a virtual open house to share information on the proposed Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments for inclusionary zoning, draft inclusionary zoning implementation guidelines, and proposed definitions of affordable housing. The open house will provide an opportunity for residents to learn more about inclusionary zoning and share ideas as well as provide feedback on how this new affordable housing tool should apply in Toronto. Learn more at  toronto.ca/inclusionaryzoning.

Public meeting details are as follows: 

When: Thursday, October 21, 2021
Time: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Register to attend!

For more information, please contact the City Planning project manager Deanna Chorney [email protected].

Moving Stories: Adult Movement Classes

Princess Productions is happy to announce a new series of Moving Stories™ programming this fall. Starting on October 18th, they will be running an adult movement class for six (6) Mondays through October and November 2021. Classes will take place over Zoom between Monday, October 18 until November 22, 2021. You do not need to be available for all classes in order to attend! 

The NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) committee at 39 Parliament sponsored these classes during COVID for any seniors interested in excellent dance/movement classes. Princess Productions, the professional modern dance company which offers them, is now opening them out to the community at large.

When: Mondays from October 18 to November 22, 2021
Time: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. 
Where: Zoom

The company has been working with Open Lab at University Health Network to refine their approach to dance for older bodies. What a great way to stay safe and active! For more information and to book our Moving Stories programme, please contact our Arts Education Manager, Laura Cournoyea: [email protected].

Learn Basic Food Safety and Get Your Smart Serve with Dixon Hall 

Dixon Hall’s employment services program is offering Food Safety as well as Smart Serve trainings next month. This is a great opportunity to learn new skills, and diversify your skillset. These are critical certifications if you wish to work in hospitality and foodservice. 

Basic food safety promotional graphicBasic food safety promotional graphic

Basic Food Safety
When: November 8 to 12, 2021
Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

There will be practice exams available on November 15 and 16, 2021 and the final exam is November 17 and 18, 2021. Registration closes on October 21, 2021 so inquire today!

SmartServe program flyerSmartServe program flyer

Smart Serve
When: November 2 to 4, 2021
Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: Zoom!

Registration closes on October 27, 2021! 

If you’re interested, please fill out the online pre-screening questionnaire to begin the registration process for the Basic Food Safety and Smart Serve trainings.

Friends of Allan Gardens: Sunday in the Park

Sunday in the Park event promotional posterSunday in the Park event promotional poster

Join the Allan Gardens community for a neighbourhood gathering and an opportunity to learn more about local groups and organizations! Find our friends in Allan Gardens at the Rotunda, North East of the Palmhouse, by the Dog Park. Scheduled activities will include a scavenger hunt, pumpkin decorating, and a succulent giveaway! 

When: Sunday, October 24, 2021
Time: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Allan Gardens Rotunda, 160 Gerrard Street East

This event will be following public health guidelines. Masks are required and social distancing will be practiced. For more information, contact [email protected].  

Toronto Centre Projects

Toronto Centre Projects is designed to engage community members and crowdsource neighbourhood projects supported by the Councillor's office and your neighbours. Over the next year, my office will be launching consultations for several parks and dog off-leash area revitalizations, public realm improvements, and more. Read about new and ongoing proposals and projects below:

Proposals Now Open for Allan Gardens Dog Off-Leash Area

Toronto Centre Projects-Allan Gardens off-leash area proposal promotionToronto Centre Projects-Allan Gardens off-leash area proposal promotion

What features, surfacing, fencing, etc would you like to see in a revitalized OLA for Allan Gardens? Submit your proposals or vote on existing ones for the revitalization of the Allan Gardens OLA at www.torontocentreprojects.ca.

Shuter Street Safety Improvement, Submitted by Zaheed

Toronto Centre Projects Toronto Centre Projects

One proposal by community member, Zaheed, advocates for Lowering Speed Limits to 30 km/h along Shuter Street, the installation of 4-way stop signs at the intersection of Shuter/Sackville and Shuter/Sumach, and the improvement of cross time on the signal lights at Parliament Street. Read the proposal and vote now on the Toronto Centre Projects website.

Have ideas to make our communities more liveable, vibrant, and safe? Submit them at www.TorontoCentreProjects.ca.

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
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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