Making Cents: Budget Speaker Series, TDSB Update, & COVID-19 Updates

Every year, the City of Toronto embarks on a lengthy consultation process to review our budget. This is where we decide which programs to fund, including the Toronto Police Services, the TTC, housing and shelters, and youth and recreation programming, and how we intend to pay for them. A budget expresses our values and it should reflect our commitment to community health, safety and well-being.  

When COVID-19 hit, the pre-existing cracks in our social safety net were laid wide open. Much more needs to be done to create healthy, safe and inclusive neighbourhoods that work for everyone. The city budget can be a gateway for equitable access to programming, such as child care and recreation services. Because of the unexpected costs and diminished revenues caused by the pandemic, the City of Toronto is now facing a substantial financial deficit and our desperately needed social programs are at risk of being cut altogether. These are youth and recreation programs that keep our kids safe, and reduce violence. These are shelter beds, and support programs to house the most vulnerable residents or reduction in TTC services. We can not afford to lose them. 

While Toronto looks to rebuild and recover, these conversations are critical in ensuring that no one is left behind. Now more than ever we have to be specific about how we direct our finances. How do we determine the health of our communities? How can we make sustainable investments in our future? How can we help take care of ourselves and each other? Community revitalization is not just about bricks and mortar. Successful community revitalization is one where both the physical infrastructure and social development receive equal commitment and focus. As we look towards the future, this is how we can make our priorities known.

In anticipation of the upcoming Toronto City Council budget season, I will be hosting a series of virtual panel discussions about the critical issues facing Torontonians through the budget process. Through a series of five virtual events featuring subject matter experts and community organizers, we will help unpack the budget process to better understand how investing in community supports sustains healthy neighbourhoods. 

More information, including panelists for each event, will be announced shortly. We look forward to generating conversation about critical issues facing our community, and learning about ways we can use our Toronto municipal budget to create change. Now is the time to stand together for a recovery for all. 

To RSVP and get updates on all these events, sign up here and share #MakingCentsTO with your family, friends and social networks.

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

Kristyn


Community Corner

Image description: Promotional poster. On the left side of the poster it says "Get Ready! Registration for fall recreation programs and December camps begins at 7am." Below are 4 rectangles with different colours that provide registration dates. The right side of the poster has two pictures, one of a baby in a pool and of a middle-aged individual wearing a face mask.

Schools are opening, classes are resuming and fall registration is opening! This weekend, registration will begin for fall recreation programs, including general interest, swim and skate programs, as well as December camps. 

In order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, staff worked in consultation with Toronto Public Health to develop health guidelines for these programs. The new guidelines include lower ratios and capacity, physical distancing, mandatory health screening and enhanced facility cleaning. Recreation programs will run with reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing and to ensure that people can safely participate in indoor settings. Additionally, some programs won’t be able to resume if they require the sharing of equipment or close physical contact. Information on restrictions is currently available online and tip sheets will be posted in the City’s community and recreation centres.

Registration begins at 7 a.m. on the following dates:

  • Etobicoke/York (September 12)
  • Scarborough (September 13)
  • North York (September 15)
  • Toronto/East York and West Toronto/York (September 16)

Extended customer service hours are available to help residents get ready for registration on September 9, 10, 11 and 14. Staff will be answering phone lines at 416-396-7378 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

In-person registration support sites will have wifi available and staff on hand to assist. Residents are encouraged to bring their own devices however staff will register those without. The sites will be open from 6:30 a.m. to noon as follows: 

  • September 12: Driftwood Community Recreation Centre (Etobicoke York)
  • September 13: Centennial Community Recreation Centre (Scarborough)
  • September 15: Dennis R. Timbrell Recreation Centre (North York)
  • September 16: Masaryk-Cowan Community Recreation Centre (West Toronto/York)
  • September 16: Wellesley Community Centre (Toronto/East York) 

More information is available at toronto.ca/rec.


Community Care 

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and as we continue to navigate a global pandemic, I am reminded that 1 in 5 Canadians will experience mental illness in any given year, yet mental health remains on an unequal footing with physical health. Living with COVID-19 only adds to the stress we each feel, and the negative impacts to our own mental health. In Canada, more than 6.7 million people are living with a mental health problem or illness today, compared to 1.4 million with heart disease and 2.2 million living with diabetes. This was before COVID-19 struck. 

Earlier this year, my motion was adopted by City Council to request the Federal government to provide $300 million annually to address Toronto’s mental health and addictions crises, and scale up evidence-based, community-oriented mental health services. Today, the Provincial government announced $14.75 in funding towards mental health across the Province of Ontario. While this is a step forward, this sum can not fully address the wrap around services necessary to support our communities, nor the current strain on our health care professionals. 

I ask that you consider supporting mental health organizations, such as CAMH, who have been leaders in mental health and tirelessly working to change the way society perceives mental health. I know that as the winter months approach, we all need to prioritize our own mental health. Please know that you are not alone, and help is available to you. For further resources, please visit my website


TDSB Update from Trustee Chris Moise 

Over the last few weeks, many of you have reached out to express your concerns and frustration with the back-to-school plans. I share your concerns and frustration.

As Trustees we have been meeting weekly since June to plan for what back to school will look like. In partnership with Staff and Toronto Public Health, we have consistently pushed back on the Provincial Government's plans and advocated for the health and safety of all of our students and staff.

Unfortunately, our original plan to welcome every student and staff back in-person with reduced class sizes to accommodate physical distancing as recommended by Toronto Public Health was not approved by the Provincial Government.

Premier Doug Ford and Minister Stephen Leece have not been equal partners in this unprecedented time, they have provided no additional funding and have blocked all of our attempts to reduce class sizes in all of our schools. We are doing the best we can with the financial constraints we are under.

We have had to use 2% ($60 million), of our reserve funds to reduce class sizes across the system as much as we can. We have had to prioritize schools using data from Toronto Public Health while also taking into consideration a combination of additional factors such as the TDSB's Learning Opportunities Index, schools in higher risk areas, physical characteristics of classrooms, and larger enrolments. Two Ward 10 schools have been added to the list of schools identified as needing additional resources to lower class sizes: Lord Dufferin Jr & Sr Public School and Rose Avenue Jr Public School. These schools will have JK/SK classes capped at 15 students and grades 1 through 8 classes will be capped at 20 students.

A big thanks go out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland for stepping up and providing approximately $2 billion in back to school funding across the country with more than $22 million of that to be used toward our back to school planning at the TDSB. Our staff are currently assessing the new funding to determine how we can further enhance our plans for such items as smaller class sizes, more caretakers, additional cleaning for schools and school buses and additional technology to support student learning.

Last Thursday I hosted a Virtual Ward Forum where Staff presented what a school day would look like and answered questions. If you were unable to attend or would like to review the meeting again, you can view the recording online. (password: bSDdSs45). Download the Powerpoint Presentation.

I will continue to advocate for our families across our ward and demand more resources for our community. I need you to also reach out to Doug Ford and Stephen Leece and demand the same from them. Parent voices matter.

Yours in Service,

Chris Moise

 


COVID-19: Ongoing Tips to Reduce Virus Spread

As we begin to ease 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.

wear_a_mask_(1).jpeg

How to Create a Safe Social Circles

As we continue our shared fight against COVID-19, you can now establish a family or social circle of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. Social circles are a way to safely expand the number of people with whom you can come in close contact. Think of your social circle as the people you can hug and touch, or those who can become part of your daily and weekly routines.

social_circles_small.pngThank 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.


City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates 

Installation of New Toronto Sign Starts Today

Mayor John Tory announced that the installation of the City of Toronto’s new, more durable Toronto Sign on Nathan Phillips Square has begun. An iconic Toronto attraction, the Toronto Sign has been a popular spot for selfies and group photos among residents and visitors alike.

City of Toronto Court Services Counters to Reopen by Appointment Only

City of Toronto Court Services is beginning a phased approach to reopening starting on September 14 and will schedule additional remote non-trial hearings starting September 28. Effective today, residents can submit requests for appointments for when Toronto Court Services counters reopen at 1530 Markham Rd., 2700 Eglinton Ave. W. and 60 Queen St. W.

Individuals wishing to book an appointment should email POACourt@toronto.ca and include the word “Appointment” in the subject line. Appointments may also be booked by phone at 416-338-7320. 

Registration for City of Toronto’s Fall Recreation Programs Begins this Weekend

Registration for City of Toronto fall recreation programs as well as December holiday camps starts Saturday, September 12 and continues next week. Torontonians can expect to see many of their favourite registered recreation programs, including swimming and skating lessons, on offer this fall.  The City is Toronto’s largest provider of safe, fun and high-quality recreation programs for people of all ages, skill levels and interests.

Ensuring a Safe Return to School for Toronto Children

The City of Toronto is encouraging families to follow safe practices to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 now that children are returning to school. Whether or not children are attending school in person this year, residents are reminded that in order for schools to operate safely, everyone needs to do their part in helping to reduce the spread of the virus.

Registration of Short-Term Rentals Begins in Toronto

Today, the City of Toronto has launched a new online registration system for short-term rental operators who rent their homes on a short-term basis for a period of less than 28 consecutive days.

Short-term rental operators must register with the City in order to operate in Toronto. Operators are only allowed to rent their principal residence on a short-term basis. A principal residence is the residence where they live and the address used for bills, identification, taxes and insurance. Registration for short-term rentals must be completed online.

City of Toronto Doing Prudent Planning for Resurgence of COVID-19

The City’s Emergency Operations Centre has been at a Level 3 since March and has continued its work without interruption.

Before Toronto even saw its first case of COVID-19 last January, the City of Toronto was planning for a possible pandemic, bringing together leaders from across the organization to ensure preparations were in place to allow the City to respond, while continuing to serve the residents and businesses of Toronto. Early in the crisis, Toronto Fire Chief Matt Pegg was appointed to lead the City’s response to COVID-19 in his role as the General Manager of Emergency Management.

More information on affected City services & facilities.

More updates from the City of Toronto.


Province of Ontario Updates

Ontario Expanding Innovative Mental Health and Addictions Services

The Ontario government is providing an additional $14.75 million to increase access to mental health and addictions services across the province. This funding will help support people from all walks of life during this unprecedented time, including families, young people, children, frontline workers, and Indigenous communities.

Ontario Supporting Athletes in their Quest for Gold

The Ontario government is investing more than $21 million to help athletes and their coaches train in Ontario and continue their quest for gold. Funding will be provided to the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario, Coaches Association of Ontario, and Quest for Gold Program.

Governments Help Ontario Farmers Bring High-Quality Products to Market

The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing more than $7.9 million through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to help farmers improve their business operations and bring more safe, high-quality foods to markets. This funding will support more than 670 projects across Ontario for eligible farmers and agri-food businesses.

Ontario Strengthening Supports for Children and Youth Impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

The Ontario government is providing an additional $3 million annually to better support people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). The funding will be used to raise awareness, better coordinate services and expand and enhance supports for children and families impacted by FASD.

Canada and Ontario Invest in Affordable Housing in London

Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. That's why the governments of Canada and Ontario are providing over $8.4 million to help create new affordable housing in London. This investment will ensure more individuals, families and veterans who are at risk of homelessness will have access to stable housing in their community.

Ontario-Québec Summit Strengthens Ties between the Two Provinces

Premier Doug Ford and Québec Premier François Legault concluded a successful Ontario-Québec Summit, where their governments agreed to collaborate on accelerating economic recovery and job creation, working towards increasing health care funding sustainability and preparedness, and advancing other areas of mutual benefit for the people of Ontario and Québec.

More updates from the Province of Ontario.


Government of Canada Updates

Prime Minister Announces Support for Black Entrepreneurs and Business Owners

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced investments of up to nearly $221 million in partnership with Canadian financial institutions – including up to nearly $93 million from the Government of Canada over the next four years – to launch Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program. This program will help thousands of Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country recover from this crisis and grow their businesses.

More updates from the Government of Canada.


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: PublicHealth@toronto.ca

311 Toronto
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services, or to report people
Telephone: 311
Email: 311@toronto.ca

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-complaintsYou can also call their non-emergency line at 416-808-2222. In the past, by diligently reporting criminal activity, residents were able to see our community policing and other service levels increase. You can do your part: see it, report it.

Phone: 416-392-7903
Constituency Office: 100 Queen St W A5, Toronto, ON, M5H 2N2