As we close September, we continue to see a rise in cases of COVID-19 with a reported 538 new cases today across Ontario, 229 of those cases in Toronto. According to the Toronto Star, the Province of Ontario can expect to see 1,000 cases daily in the coming weeks. As Premier Ford noted, we are in the second wave of this global pandemic. I know, for many, this is a scary thought. We must continue to strengthen our resolve and adhere to Toronto Public Health guidelines.
At yesterday’s City Council meeting, we considered this report from our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. de Villa about preparing for a resurgence of COVID-19. She firmly stated that social bubbles are no longer advisable, and we must all limit our social gatherings to only what is essential and to avoid seeing anyone who is not in our household. I know the lockdown this spring was hard on many. As you consider how to balance your mental health, and emotional well being, please think about how you can make safer choices.
The report also calls on our Federal and Provincial governments to expedite the rapid implementation of new testing technologies like at-home and saliva-based tests and to improve turnaround time and timely reporting on new cases. Other changes include limiting the maximum of people able to sit at a restaurant together, from ten to six people, and to only allow a maximum of 75 patrons permitted inside. Council also extended the mandatory mask by-law until the City Council’s first meeting of 2021. These are not decisions to take lightly, but ones that help create safer situations for our community.
When we think about the need for mask coverings, some are better than others in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. I have seen many different styles of masks or face shields. Toronto Public Health has endorsed masks that cover your nose, mouth, and chin without gaping, like in the image below:
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.
The recommendations we continue to hear from Dr. de Villa are the ones that have been keeping us safe through the summer months. Please continue to wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. If you need to leave your home, please practice physical distancing and consider how you can make your trip safer. I know how hard this is and continues to be. We are still learning the long-term effects on those who have recovered and we must keep our most vulnerable residents in mind. Do not be disheartened as these guidelines are proven safety tools in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Council continued pushing forward to address housing and homelessness as part of the City's HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan. This included an urgent call for support in the delivery of 3,000 affordable rental and supportive homes over the next 24 months: 1,000 permanent modular homes; 1,000 new homes through acquisitions, renovations, and ‘shovel ready’ projects; and 1,000 additional new portable and flexible Canada-Ontario Housing Benefits (COHB) which will help residents secure more permanent housing available to rent in Toronto and across the region.
My amendment to explore the opportunities for expanding the Toronto Rent Bank Program passed at the recent Planning and Housing Committee meeting and is anticipated to be adopted by City Council this week. This would introduce non-repayable grants to residents who cannot afford a temporary loan and expand the eligibility criteria. Programs like this and the COHB will help residents secure more permanent housing available to rent in Toronto and across the region.
Once again, City Council supported my call to urgently allocate funding for additional mental health care, and a continuum of substance use treatment and overdose prevention supports delivered by health and community partners. These services are critical in supporting those experiencing homelessness transition to more permanent housing. We cannot address housing and homelessness as a singular issue, but instead, consider the social determinants of health and its explicit interconnectedness to community safety. You can learn more about my ongoing work to end homelessness on my website.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Jamii is once again bringing the arts to St. Lawrence neighbourhood residents with their latest partnership with cargo bike company Kisanii Hub and the Canadian Stage: Hisia!
This 45-minute, acoustic performance will slowly travel along the Esplanade promenade. To adhere to current Toronto Public Health guidelines, and create a safer experience, seating will not be available. Residents are welcome to watch from their balconies, at a safe distance or watch online.
Image description: A promotional poster for Kisanii Hub mobile performance on Saturday, October 3rd. Information about the event is listed below
There will be two performances this Saturday, October 3:
- 7 p.m. from Berkeley St and The Esplanade, travelling west
- 9 p.m. from Lower Jarvis St and The Esplanade, travelling east
I’m also pleased to announce that Jamii won the Community Arts Award with the Toronto Arts Foundation. This recognition is well-deserved for the tireless work the staff and volunteers at Jamii have done to bring joy to St. Lawrence residents. Thank you for your contributions to the community!
Making Cents: Talking City Budgets with Kristyn Wong-Tam
Image content: promotional poster for Making Cents Budget Series panel event with Councillor Wong-Tam
Community centres and youth services are critical for building safe and healthy neighbourhoods. We know that investing in sports and arts programming prevent youth from engaging in violence and help them prepare for a promising future with youth education and employment opportunities. With the City of Toronto facing a huge financial deficit, many youth programs, and centres designed to keep kids off the streets, and resilient to gang recruitment may be facing budget cuts and service reduction. Now more than ever it is critical to ensure that the City of Toronto budget reflects the needs and values of our communities.
Join us on Tuesday, October 13 from 3 - 4 p.m. to discuss how investments in our municipal budget create and sustain community and youth services. Our community and youth services offer vital supports that have been proven to reduce gun violence and gangs in young people. Some of these services provide employment opportunities, recreation, peer to peer mentoring, and food security in downtown neighbourhoods. These programs have historically been underfunded despite their role in crime prevention and poverty reduction. Through a panel of experts and advocates, we will ask how the municipal budget can prioritize supporting our most vulnerable young people, the impact of policing on black and racialized youth, and the role community and youth services play in keeping our communities and young people safe.
When: October 13 from 3 - 4 p.m. EST
Where: Registrants will be provided with a link
Our special guests include:
Tiffany Ford, Former TDSB Trustee
Dr. Wesley Crichlow, Author, and Criminology Professor at Ontario Tech University
Ismail Afrah, Community Co-ordinator at Access for Recreation
Paul Bailey, President at Black Health Alliance
Sarah Rogers, Project Manager at SEEN Collaborative
COVID-19: Ongoing Tips to Reduce Virus Spread
As we begin to again strengthen our public health measures, we will all be living a new normal. 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 indoor, enclosed public spaces or where physical distancing is difficult to maintain; and
- Staying home whenever we are sick for any reason.
When you are unable to keep a six feet/two-metre distance from others, wear a mask or face covering. This includes when you are:
- In any indoor, enclosed public space;
- In elevators, common areas, waiting rooms or shopping;
- Using transit, taxi or rideshare services; and
- Sick and going to a medical appointment.
Be respectful of others who choose not to wear a mask. Some health conditions make it hard to breathe when wearing a face covering.
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.
Changes to the Visitor Policy and Continued Efforts to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 at City of Toronto’s Long-Term Care Homes
Effective October 5, the City of Toronto’s Long-Term Care Homes (LTC) will be restricting entrance to staff members, essential visitors and essential caregivers. This is the result of recent measures announced by the Provincial government to ensure that all long-term care homes in areas of highest community spread are able to continue to keep residents safe and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Toronto City Council Votes Unanimously to Strengthen Bylaws to Prevent Continued COVID-19 Resurgence
Toronto City Council today voted unanimously in favour of stronger measures to protect residents from COVID-19 and slow the ongoing resurgence of the virus in the community. The measures adopted were recommended by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and are supported by data collected by Toronto Public Health.
City of Toronto Launches Vision Zero Be Safe Campaign to Caution Road Users to Stay Alert and Obey the Rules of the Road
The City of Toronto launched a city-wide public education campaign today to remind all road users – pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers – to exercise caution, stay alert and obey the rules of the road as traffic volumes continue to rise and as many students have now returned to school.
Province of Ontario Updates
The Ontario government today released updated COVID-19 modeling, which shows the province is experiencing a second surge in cases similar to what other jurisdictions have experienced. The province is providing the public with full transparency about the consequences if Ontarians are not vigilant in adhering to public health measures. The Chief Medical Officer of Health says Ontarians must be vigilant in adhering to public health measures to reduce the number of new cases and the spread of the virus.
The Ontario government has developed a $2.8 billion COVID-19 fall preparedness plan to ensure the province's health care, long-term care and education systems are prepared for the immediate challenges of the fall, including a second wave of COVID-19 and the upcoming flu season. Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19 will enable the province to quickly identify, prevent and respond to surges and waves of the virus to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians.
Today, the Ontario government marked the beginning of Cyber Security Awareness Month by hosting in partnership with Ryerson University the province's first-ever cybersecurity conference for the broader public sector and announcing the launch of a new academic partnership with Ryerson University's Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst. The Ontario Public Service and broader public sector increasingly rely on digital technology to deliver services to the public, including transactions such as renewing a driver's license or issuing a health card.
On October 1, 2020, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement on COVID-19.
Federal Government Reintroduces Legislation to Criminalize Conversion Therapy-Related Conduct in Canada
Diversity and inclusion are among Canada’s greatest strengths. Canadians must feel safe in their identities, and free to be their true selves.
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
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.