COVID-19 cases in Ontario and Toronto continue to rise at an alarming rate. I know that everyone is tired of these updates and there are cloudy days when I’m tired of them too. But I can not stress enough how serious the situation we are facing is right now, and how important it is that we all take action to slow the spread of COVID-19.
While last week the Province announced further restrictions across Ontario to help stop the spread of COVID-19, many experts, including Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health do not think they are sufficient enough to meet the situation in Toronto. In a statement on Friday, Dr. de Villa urged the Province of Ontario to immediately restrict indoor dining, and discontinue indoor group fitness and recreational activities. In the absence of Provincial action, Dr. de Villa is again urging residents to stay home, and only go out if you must make essential trips.
I want to reiterate how serious we must take our response to COVID-19. With a current backlog of 68,000 tests as of today, testing centres across Ontario will be by appointment only. This is an effort to prevent hours waiting in line ups at the testing centres during the colder months, and allow labs to process the tests currently awaiting results. This might mean that if you present with symptoms of COVID-19, you will need to wait to get tested. Already CP24 is reporting the Women’s College Hospital appointments opened for pre-registration at 6 a.m. and by 9 a.m were booked up. If you are sick or suspect exposure, please take immediate precautions and isolate until you can receive testing and your results. Even today, there are reports that many testing centres are closed while the Province testing facilities process tests.
Additionally, because of the delays in Provincial testing and results, Toronto Public Health has announced that they will be limiting contact tracing to specific congregate settings. Right now, because the Provincial test results can take up five days since the initial transmission, the virus is spreading too quickly, and the caseload is now too high to effectively manage.
“To be frank, I expect we could have another 700 people added to the ranks and still be unable to contact trace with the same reach and results as when infection rates were lower. It's an indicator of how serious the spread of infection is.” Dr. de Villa said in her statement on Monday.
This means that they will be prioritizing vulnerable residents in long-term care homes, shelters, schools, and child care facilities. While the Province is adding 600 additional staffing supports to public health across Toronto and Ottawa to be trained and deployed over the next five weeks, it is clear this will be insufficient to meet the rising numbers.
Residents who test positive for the virus will be given instructions on how to manage their own contact tracing. Toronto Public Health will also assess and confirm the person's ability to safely self-isolate, and make a referral to the Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre if they cannot isolate safely at home.
Contact tracing is a key component in identifying community spread. That burden is now entirely on the individual. Many residents feel shame if they’ve tested positive for COVID-19, and now will lose their anonymity. This will result in inconsistent reporting, and we won’t have clear data on outbreaks across the city.
Imagine this: after Thanksgiving Dinner with your extended family, you start to feel ill and test positive for COVID-19. It is your responsibility to look back, and call your friend who you saw the day before, or anyone else who you might have come into contact with, and then call your grandparent to alert them that you’ve tested positive. This is why it is important to follow the advice from Toronto Public Health and limit yourself to only essential trips. I don’t imagine that anyone wants to make that phone call to an elderly relative and explain that you’ve put their life at risk.
While your backyard visit may feel innocuous, in many pockets of Toronto we are seeing over a 10% rate of positivity as reported by the Toronto Star. This is well above the desired 1% where the caseload is manageable, or even 3% which indicates a health crisis. One of these neighbourhoods falls in Toronto Centre, with North St. James Town having numbers hovering over 7%. This is very concerning. Our communities are at risk, and we must take it upon ourselves to look after one another.
I know these past few weeks have been confusing. It’s hard to make sense of allowing indoor dining, and not being able to enjoy a meal at home with your friends or extended family. I strongly urge you to take the recommendations of our Medical Officer of Health seriously. The people infected by COVID-19 are our neighbours, friends and loved ones. This is hard, and continues to be hard. I feel your frustration as well.
This isn’t March anymore. We are eight months into a global pandemic, and we are tired. We have more information about the virus at our fingertips. With this knowledge, I urge you to continue to exercise caution. Keep practicing physical distancing to minimize community spread. Wear a mask when you cannot keep your distance. I know it’s hard, but consider staying home unless it’s an essential trip. Please be kind to yourself and others. Take space to feel upset, exhausted and sad. You are entitled to all these feelings and more. What’s being asked of us to keep ourselves and each other healthy is simple, but it’s not easy.
If needed, there are mental health resources on my website under Links & Resources. We will get through this together and remember, you are not alone.
Lastly, I wanted to share my motion supporting Bill C-8, an act to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to prohibit conversion therapy, was adopted by City Council. That same afternoon, the Federal government announced that it will be re-introducing that bill as Parliament had been discontinued due to the pandemic. I look forward to what will be a step forward in protecting the lives and dignity of all LGBTQ2S+ residents in Toronto and across Canada.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Corner in Ward 13
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Building Roots has been working tirelessly and continuing to provide food for the most vulnerable in our communities. The Moss Park Market remained open with social distancing and safety measures. Building Roots has exceptionally adapted with the changing and challenging times, such as offering new-at-home resources for children, families, and seniors in need. They have successfully delivered food baskets with fresh, nutritious food to seniors, community members living with emotional or mobility barriers, and those in self-isolation that have trouble accessing food.
If you are in need of a food delivery and living in Moss Park, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image description: a picture taken of a child drawing a picture with crayons at a desk.
Building Roots has been providing educational resources and activity kits for families with children who are at home. Books and other resources can be received along with groceries from the Moss Park Market at 260 Queen St East every Saturday from 11:00am - 4:00pm.
In addition to providing families with children with helpful educational resources, Building Roots is offering a number of $25 grocery gift cards for families with children who are learning at home. If you are a family that may benefit from this, please email email@example.com for more information and to register.
Thank you for all your amazing hard work!
The City of Toronto’s Gender Equity Unit is Hiring!
The City of Toronto has established a Gender Equity Unit in its People and Equity Division that will lead the development and implementation of a Gender Equity Strategy for advancing an intersectional gender-based lens into City programs, services, and internal workforce initiatives.
They are looking for two people to join the team:
- Management Consultant (Gender Equity)
Offering guidance to City divisions by applying a gender equity lens, you will act as the subject matter expert on diverse women, girls, trans and non-binary issues by developing an outcome-based framework to measure progress and assess programs, policies and services. The role will include integrating an intersectional gender equity analysis within the City’s annual equity responsive budget process and providing policy analysis and advice on diverse gender equity issues. Learn more
- Consultant, Equity & Diversity (Gender Equity)
Duties will include conducting stakeholder engagement and consultation activities to support the development of the City’s Gender Equity Strategy, and providing recommendations to internal stakeholders on applying an intersectional gender equity lens to programs, policies and services. The role will also monitor and evaluate through various outcome measures the City’s progress in achieving gender equality in the delivery of its Strategy, while ensuring project expenditures are maintained within approved budget limitations. Learn more
These postings will be available until October 21, 2020.
Please click here for additional job postings at the City of Toronto.
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
Toronto’s 2020-2021 Winter Plan for People Experiencing Homelessness Includes More Spaces and Enhanced Street Outreach
Homelessness is an extremely complex issue and the City of Toronto continues to experience significant demand for emergency shelter. To ensure safe and welcoming places for people who need them during the coming winter weather, the City is providing details about the 2020-21 winter services plan.
The City of Toronto is at a critical juncture in the spread of COVID-19, with the virus spreading in a serious way. At today’s COVID-19 update, Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, asked Torontonians to carefully plan their Thanksgiving and advised everyone to limit contact to the people they live with. The Medical Officer of Health urged people to not hold a big Thanksgiving dinner and please limit Thanksgiving dinner to people living in the same household. For those that live alone, the safest option is to join with others virtually. Mayor John Tory asked all people comply with public health advice, stressing responsible behaviour right now presents the best chance of more normal holiday celebrations later in the year.
Read Dr. Eileen de Villa’s letter to Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health.
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Recommends the Province Take Immediate Action to Stop the Further Spread of COVID-19
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, today wrote to the Province of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, with strong recommendations to significantly reduce the further spread of COVID-19 in Toronto.
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 is taking new precautions to protect residents and staff in the province's long-term care homes.
In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and public health experts, the Ontario government is tightening public health measures. At the same time, in response to the second wave of COVID-19 and in preparation for the cold winter months, the government is taking action to reduce testing turnaround times while prioritizing those who are at the greatest risk.
The Ontario government announced the allocation of $35 million to provide additional immediate school board supports in the communities of Peel, Ottawa, Toronto and York Region to enhance public health measures and protection strategies as they confront higher rates of transmission in their communities.
Ontario has releasing two child care reports: Strengthening Early Years and Child Care in Ontario and the Early Years and Child Care Annual Report 2020
Government of Canada Updates
The Government of Canada is protecting the health and safety of all Canadians, while moving quickly to have access to a safe and sustainable economic recovery. This includes taking steps so Canadians can quickly and easily access COVID-19 testing.
COVID-19 Update (October 6, 2020) – Ministers and Government of Canada Officials to Hold a News Conference on Coronavirus Disease
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) update to be given by Ministers and Government of Canada officials at October 6, 2020 news conference.
The Government of Canada Launches Applications for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
Many people are still being impacted by COVID-19 and require temporary income support.
Government of Canada Accelerates Investments in Shelters, Transition Housing and Other Organizations Providing Gender-Based Violence Supports and Services
The COVID‑19 pandemic has highlighted gaps in the very systems designed to keep people safe. It has created unprecedented challenges for those experiencing gender-based violence and the organizations that provide supports and services to them.
In the last few weeks, Indigenous communities have been facing an alarming rise in the number of new and active COVID-19 cases.
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.