Lifting Restrictions, Financial Support for Businesses, and COVID-19 Updates

Beginning yesterday, capacity limits, including physical distancing measures were lifted on restaurants and bars and many other indoor spaces where proof of vaccination is required. On Friday, the Premier, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, released A Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term, which outlines the province’s gradual approach to lifting remaining public health and workplace safety measures by March 2022.

The Province will be relying on ICU beds counts and working closely with regional health units to determine if/when public health restrictions need to be restored. They have also indicated that businesses that wish to ‘opt into’ the immunization certification or proof of vaccination program may do so. Businesses, such as personal care, or salons, can choose to participate in this program, indicated by signage and enforced by local by-law officers. 

While most Ontarians have accepted these public health measures with understanding, we saw how many reacted to restaurants enforcing proof of vaccination and it resulted in harassment and violent displays outside of local businesses and our hospitals. Premier Ford yet again is downloading public health responsibility on our small business community, their employees, and local by-law officers. 

“Pandemic Plan 2.0” indicates that the proof of vaccination program will end February 5, 2022 and all of the public health measures currently in place will be lifted as of March 28, 2022. Simultaneously to announcing an end date for the vaccine program, Premier Ford was encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. This directive is counterintuitive to vaccine hesitation, and immediately removes the incentive to get vaccinated. Premier Ford seems to be placating his donors and preparing for a re-election campaign in 2022. 

With the winter months and flu season approaching, we will test our current public health measures as we all huddle inside once more. I am concerned for the young students who can not yet be vaccinated, who are in the classroom without masks, proper ventilation, or any social distancing in place. We have yet to have Health Canada approve vaccination for children 5 to 12 years old, leaving them vulnerable while older students can be protected against COVID-19.

On Thursday, the Federal government announced a series of replacement programs for many of the COVID-19 relief initiatives. This includes changes to the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), scheduled to end Saturday, October 23, called the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit. It is expected that there may be regional lockdowns over the course of the coming months and this benefit is meant to protect workers whose employment is directly impacted by government imposed lockdowns. The Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit will be paying out $300 per week to eligible applicants and will be available retroactively beginning October 24 until May 7, 2022. 

In addition to the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, Minister Freeland announced two new programs to support businesses The Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program also available until May 7, 2022.

The Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program would apply to operations such as hotels, restaurants, bars, festivals and travel agencies, and requires applicants to show an average monthly revenue loss of at least 40% for the first 13 qualifying periods of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and a revenue loss of the same amount in the current month. Until mid-March, 2022, the subsidy rate would reflect the revenue decline, up to 75%, and then decline by half until the program’s expiration.

The Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program applies to those that don’t fit under the tourism and hospitality umbrella but are still facing significant financial hurdles caused by the pandemic. Eligible businesses would have to show an average monthly revenue loss of at least 50% over the first 13 qualifying periods of the CEWS and a revenue loss of the same amount in the current month. The maximum subsidy rate would be set at up to 50% until mid-March and then reduced by half thereafter.

The federal government will also extend the Canada Recovery Hiring Program, for businesses that can show a more than 10% revenue loss, until May 7, 2022, at a subsidy rate of 50% paid to eligible employees.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit will remain in place until the same time and are being extended by two weeks – moving the sickness benefit from four to six weeks and the caregiving benefit from 42 to 44 weeks. The federal government is able to extend these benefits to November 20, 2021 through regulatory powers, but will require legislation to have them prolonged to their new expiration date.

While these programs are still much needed, it places a burden on the already struggling businesses and still might result in doors closing permanently. Additionally, residents of Toronto cannot survive on $300 a week, or $1200 per month. That sum doesn’t cover most rent with the average one-bedroom apartment costing $1865. With possible rolling lockdowns, I urge the Federal government to consider a universal basic income to support our industries and residents through recovery and beyond.

Lastly, I would like to extend my sincerest congratulations to MP Marci Ien, our new Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth. This is an exciting day for Toronto Centre, and I know we are all wishing you the best in this new role. I’d also like to congratulate MP Ahmed Hussen, our new Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion as well as MP Carolyn Bennett, our new Associate Minister of Health and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. I am hopeful that these new Ministers will work hard to advance housing initiatives across the country and a more holistic approach to addressing the social determinants of health. I look forward to working with our MPs and championing the needs of residents in Toronto Centre.

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

Kristyn


What’s In Today’s EBlast?


Trick or Treat or Vaccine

Trick or Treat or Vaccine event promotional posterTrick or Treat or Vaccine event promotional poster

On Thursday, October 28, 2021, join our friends in Regent Park for a vaccine clinic! It will be a fun afternoon of information, music, and treats! Health professionals will also be there to answer your COVID vaccine questions and can give you the vaccine. Open to all eligible individuals!

When: Thursday, October 28, 2021
Time: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: 465 Dundas Street East


Update: Mill Street Portion of The Esplanade and Mill Street Connection Project

The Esplanade and Mill Street Connection Project mapThe Esplanade and Mill Street Connection Project map

Work on the Mill Street portion of The Esplanade and Mill Street connection project will be starting this week, weather permitting.

What work is planned for this week?

  • Traffic signals at Cherry St and Parliament St: traffic signal changes have begun and are planned to be completed next week.
  • Conversion to one-way blocks: Mill Street between Parliament St and Cherry St will be converted to one-way westbound after pavement markings and signs are installed.
  • New cycling infrastructure: installation of signs, roadway paint and physical separation (curbs, bollards and planters).
    • Roadway paint will be installed in the evening and night. Only a small amount of pavement marking removal is needed. Removal work can generate noise and dust and will therefore be scheduled as early in the evening as possible.

What are the changes to on-street parking?

  • Please move your car when you see "Emergency No Parking" signs. These will be put up on the south side of Mill St from Parliament St to Bayview Ave approximately 24 hours before the pavement markings are installed. Once these are up, please refrain from parking here, or else your car will be towed.
  • Parking on the south side of Mill St will no longer be possible between Trinity St and Bayview Ave.
  • Parking on the south side of Mill St will be allowed between Parliament St and Trinity St after the pavement markings have been installed, offset from the curb.
  • Permit parking is now available on the north side of Front St E, east of Trinity St.

I know it can be a challenge as we adjust to new methods of travel through the core, and I’m excited to see so much support for the new cycle tracks.


Outdoor Fun with F.R.E.S.H

Outdoor Fun with F.R.E.S.H information posterOutdoor Fun with F.R.E.S.H information poster

Finding Recovery through Exercise, Skills and Hope! Join our friends from Gerstein Centre and the Here to Help team for an afternoon of outdoor exercise and a wide variety of outdoor games. This event will be hosted in Allan Gardens and is free to all who wish to attend! 

When: Every Friday
Time: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Allan Gardens, 160 Gerrard Street East

For more information on the F.R.E.S.H Program Gerstein Crisis Centre, please contact Michael Aucoin at 647-462-9601 or email [email protected].


Senior Assistance Home Maintenance Program

Senior Assistance Home Maintenance Program informationSenior Assistance Home Maintenance Program information

Our friends at Toronto Intergenerational Partnerships in Community (TIGP) are once again offering their Senior Assistance Home Maintenance Program. If you are a senior who needs assistance shoveling snow, or other winter maintenance, please reach out to Kevin at 416-531-8447 or [email protected].


Welcome to the Neighbourhood: Here to Help (H2H) 

Here to Help phone numberHere to Help phone number

The H2H team is a collaborative, community-based, mobile team that responds to immediate concerns in the community to help with situations that may give rise to conflict. The team will offer support, engagement, knowledge, skills, and follow-up services and will enhance community connection, empathy and belonging. The response team’s goal is to de-escalate situations, mitigate crisis and perform activities like, but not limited to wellness checks, crisis counselling, at-risk to self or other assessments, or nonviolent conflict resolution. The H2H team will be focusing on two specific geographical areas in the Downtown East area: Moss Park and the Church and Wellesley area.  The hours of operation are during the hours of 2pm- 10 pm, 5 days a week (Tuesday – Saturday).  

Community members can give the H2H team a call on their centralized line at 416-915-4200 to refer and the mobile team will be dispatched as soon as possible to attend to the call (response times can vary depending on if the team is already engaged in a visit). They have a range of expertise on the team including: Harm Reduction Workers, Peer Workers, Crisis Intervention Workers, Nursing, a Community Support Worker and a Transitional Short Term Case Manager.  All workers are compromised by partner agencies involved in this particular project. The partners involved in this project are Seeds of Hope, The Gerstein Centre, Dixon Hall, Homes First, The Neighbourhood Group and the Inner-City Family Health Team.  


Webinar: De-Escalation Training for Street and Front Retailers

De-Escalation Training for Street and Front Retailers webinar informationDe-Escalation Training for Street and Front Retailers webinar information

With retail and restaurants opening up, my office has received complaints about residents in the Yonge-Dundas area experiencing aggressive and antisocial behaviour from individuals while their customers shop or eat. While criminal activity and life-threatening incidents require immediate intervention from Toronto Police Services, there are instances where de-escalation techniques can help to diffuse the situation. The City of Toronto is hosting free de-escalation training available to all businesses in the City who are streetfront which is focusing on supportive communication skills when interacting with individuals who may be street-involved or displaying agitated behaviours. The De-Escalation training will be facilitated by Rebecca Higgins and, a mental health educator, and Jan Krouzil, who is the leader of the Downtown Yonge BIA's Community Engagement Team.

Register to attend here.


McGill Granby Village Residents' Association Safety Walk

A photo of Councillor Wong-Tam with residents from the McGill Granby Village Residents' Association at the safety walkA photo of Councillor Wong-Tam with residents from the McGill Granby Village Residents' Association at the safety walk

Due to a number of safety concerns in the community, my office organized a safety walk with the McGill Granby Village Residents' Association (MGVRA) last Wednesday attended by community stakeholders such as the Toronto Transit Committee, Toronto Police Services, various City Divisions, Downtown Yonge BIA, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services and the Multidisciplinary Outreach Team (MDOT) and resident board members of the MGVRA. During the safety walk, residents highlighted “hotspots” in the community that have caused significant negative impacts to the safety and well-being of the community. 

A photo of Councillor Wong-Tam with residents from the McGill Granby Village Residents' Association at the safety walkA photo of Councillor Wong-Tam with residents from the McGill Granby Village Residents' Association at the safety walk

The goal of the safety walk was to identify these issues and have the appropriate stakeholder/division address the situation by providing short-term and long-term solutions.  Unfortunately, as many of us know, the current landscape of the downtown east is facing highly complex challenges related to poverty, homelessness, housing, community safety and mental health, and substance use which has been exacerbated by COVD-19.

A photo of Councillor Wong-Tam with residents from the McGill Granby Village Residents' Association at the safety walkA photo of Councillor Wong-Tam with residents from the McGill Granby Village Residents' Association at the safety walk

Tackling these issues specific to the downtown east and the neighbourhoods in my ward and ensuring community safety and well-being is a top priority for my office. I also recognize that the complexity of these challenges often mean that results will not be immediate as issues such as mental- health and homelessness require the support of our Provincial and Federal governments. In the meantime, our office will coordinate with the stakeholders that were present for the MGVRA Safety Walk to ensure that we have plans in place to mitigate some of the challenges impeding safety.


Cabbagetown Halloween Happy Hour

Cabbagetown Halloween Happy Hour promotional posterCabbagetown Halloween Happy Hour promotional poster

Our friends from the Cabbagetown BIA are hosting the first-ever Halloween Happy Hour in Cabbagetown! On Friday, October 29, 2021, starting at 5 p.m., participating Cabbagetown restaurants and other businesses will be offering Happy Hour discounts. There is a full list of participating restaurants available on their Instagram. Follow @cabbagetownbia to stay up to date! 


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.

Featured this week:

Toronto Centre Projects Shuter Street promotional graphicToronto Centre Projects Shuter Street promotional graphic

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.

Toronto Centre Projects promotional graphicToronto Centre Projects promotional graphic

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.

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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