After a long downward trend in new COVID-19 cases in Ontario, for the first time since early June, Ontario is reporting over 300 cases of COVID-19, with 313 confirmed on Friday.
Many people have asked for more information on where transmissions are occurring and what they can do to stay safe and healthy, especially with schools re-opening. Through the Toronto Public Health contact tracing team, we continue to learn about cases spreading at a big family gathering where there were very little mask-wearing and too much close contact, another resulted from a family trip where part of the time was spent with a person confirmed to have COVID-19. We also have examples of people getting infected after eating at a busy restaurant, or as we have seen in the news recently, after frequenting a strip club.
It is important to remember that every place is a question of low, medium, and high risk, determined in part by what goes on there and in a very big part by what steps for self-protection you take while you’re there.
Keeping each other safe doesn’t mean you can't spend time with family and friends; it doesn't mean you should stop going about your daily life; and it doesn’t mean that one place is safe or that some other is not.
It does mean that we all need to stay vigilant and be thoughtful about our decisions and take all precautions. Whatever you do that brings you into contact with others, ask yourself first: Do I have to do this? If I do, am I taking the proper steps for self-protection, such as watching my distance, wearing my mask, and washing my hands?
These small acts will help us keep the case counts down. I know that Mayor Tory, the Medical Officer of Health and the Fire Chief and General Manager of Emergency Management are watching the case count closely, and will continue to make recommendations about how we can safely navigate through our City based on the best health and safety advice we have.
In addition to taking steps to keep ourselves safe, our attention must turn to the long-term economic stability and safety of friends and neighbours. It is more important than ever that we ensure people are able to stay home from work when they are sick, that they are able to keep a roof over their heads if they lose their incomes. With the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program coming to an end at the end of the month, I am very encouraged to hear that the Federal Government is exploring the delivery of a Guaranteed or Universal Basic Income (UBI).
For those who are unfamiliar, a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a model for providing all citizens a given sum of money, regardless of their income, resources, or employment status.
Delivered effectively, a UBI should make it easier for people to meet their basic needs, without having to navigate different social programs and bureaucracies. It acknowledges that everyone, regardless of their employment status, deserves to house and feed themselves.
I very much support the idea of a basic income guarantee for everyone in Canada, and I look forward to seeing the details of this program. For the program to have the desired effect - to lift people out of poverty and deliver the kind of dignity and security we all deserve, I urge the Federal government to think holistically about our social services and safety net.
A UBI must be accompanied by substantial investment in affordable housing and childcare, universal pharmacare, and mental health support to name a few. No guaranteed basic income can replace any of those services, rather it should be added to strengthen those services including others that build robust training programs, good green jobs, and a strong public pension system. For example, without investing in new childcare spots, a UBI risks substantially increasing the cost of existing spots, significantly reducing the impact of any new income.
There are also concerns about how to finance a UBI. We must ensure that any programs that are cut to administer a UBI don’t inadvertently leave the people we are trying to help worse off. This report from the Parliamentary budget office on costing a UBI includes an appendix of all the programs that would be eliminated to partly finance a basic income. Some programs that would be cut include:
- The Disability tax credit: a program designed to allow for “some relief for disability costs, since these are unavoidable additional expenses that other taxpayers don’t have to face.”
- Caregiver tax credit: A program designed to help offset the costs of caring for a family member who has an impairment in physical or mental functions.
- “Social Assistance”, which in Ontario includes the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW).
A UBI must be robust enough to offset these losses.
Finally, we must ensure that a UBI is delivered in a way that will actually reach those who need it most. Currently, many key income support benefits are either delivered through the tax system, like the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), or are dependent on information provided by the tax system, like the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). While at first glance it might seem to make sense to deliver a UBI through the tax system, recent studies indicate that 97% of the homeless population in Canada do not file their taxes, 33% of social assistance recipients do not file their taxes, and 40% of eligible First Nations families do not receive the Canada Child Benefit because they don’t file taxes.
These challenges are not insurmountable. Through our COVID-19 recovery, we have some very big decisions to make about our priorities and the society that we want to see emerge from this crisis. We must be committed to ensuring that we are reducing income inequality and re-building our social safety net in a way that reaches the most people. Designed well, a UBI might be that mechanism, but I will be looking at the details of any proposal that comes forward carefully, and I encourage you to do the same.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Image description: seven young men, posing for a picture in an outdoor park, holding basketballs, and pointing to their shirts which say "focus kills fears"
Shout-out to Kickback Connect’s 5-week basketball summer camp that just wrapped up! This 5-week summer camp was absolutely free of charge and 6 lucky youth from Downtown East were selected to pair up with professional basketball player and our very own Torontonian, Myck Kabongo! Myck has played at high levels for years, he is an inspiration and a role-model to those who are aspiring to be basketball players. Myck helped the participants with refining and improving their basketball skills, and helped with their personal development in building their confidence.
Week in, week out, Myck invested his time into helping the group thrive, so that they would head back to school with a stronger intuition for the game and personal life skills including the importance of hard work and paying it forward. These six lucky young people have learned the significance of paving the way for the next set of players in their community. Kickback Connect, through the basketball summer camp project, helps empower these young residents with love, support and tools to venture along their future paths, whatever it may be. What an incredible program and a truly meaningful project!
Image description: Many people arranged in five rows, each flexing their arm, smiling or cheering, and wearing a purple shirt which says "Let's Get Coaching"
Today I want to share a City of Toronto program that has impacted many young people across the city. The Toronto Sport Leadership Program (TSLP) is a program dedicated to providing youth with the resources they need to make positive life choices, gain the confidence and skills needed to obtain employment, and become leaders in their communities. The program is open to youth 16 to 18 years of age, and courses are offered at no charge to successful applicants. The program offers a variety of sports and aquatics courses. This program, and others like it, have impacted so many young people in our communities by helping put kids on a path to success which might otherwise not be available to them. Learn more about TSLP.
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.
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.
City of Toronto Calls for Federal-Provincial-City Partnership to Create 3,000 Permanent, Affordable Homes Over the Next 24 Months
The City of Toronto has issued the COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Recovery Response Plan — an urgent appeal to the federal and provincial governments to create 3,000 permanent, affordable homes, within the next 24 months, for homeless, vulnerable and marginalized residents. These investments will support the Council-approved HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan aimed at helping more than 340,000 households in Toronto over the next 10 years.
City of Toronto Maximizes Patio Season by Allowing Portable Heaters for CaféTO, Streamlining Overall Restaurant Patio Heater Process
With cooler fall weather approaching, the City of Toronto has announced plans to allow portable heaters to be placed in all outdoor patios, including CaféTO curb lane closures, to help keep outdoor dining spaces open longer and provide additional support for local restaurants.
In partnership with Open Streets, the City will add part of Yonge Street to the popular weekend road closures initiative on Sunday, September 20 and Sunday, September 27. Roads will begin to close starting as early as 8 a.m. and be reopened by 3 p.m. each day. When all closures are in place, including Yonge Street, there will be more than 14 total kilometres of major roadway available for walking, running and biking on Sundays. The other weekend road closure locations typically include parts of Lake Shore Boulevard West and East and Bayview Avenue.
The centre provides a safe, comfortable place to self-isolate, primarily for people with COVID-19 infection. A stay at the centre will be offered by Toronto Public Health case managers and the decision to accept a stay at the centre is entirely voluntary. People can also qualify to stay if they are at significant risk of COVID-19 infection from someone living in their home. Toronto Public Health staff will identify those who qualify for a stay through the case and contact management process based on the individual’s needs.
Toronto Public Health (TPH) is notifying patrons and staff who visited Club Paradise, located at 1313 Bloor St. W., about a potential exposure to COVID-19.
The City of Toronto is thanking all front-line health care workers for their unwavering dedication to saving lives, keeping people safe and for their heroic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor John Tory Launches ShowLoveTO to Help Toronto Businesses, Neighbourhoods and Residents Safely Recover and Rebuild
Mayor John Tory and Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee, launched ShowLoveTO in association with Founding Sponsor American Express and in partnership with Destination Toronto, to encourage local tourism and foster community engagement and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Neighbourhood Group (TNG) and COTA Health (Cota) are the successful proponents of the Request for Proposal (RFP) to operate the first phase of the City’s modular housing initiative. Together, these two not-for-profit organizations will be operating and providing support services at both at 11 Macey Avenue and 150 Harrison Street for a 35-year term starting this fall.
The City of Toronto with input from a wide variety of stakeholders associated with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) have released today a Midtown School Safety Plan as children head back to school next week. This Plan outlines actions that are being implemented to achieve a successful integration of the local Roehampton shelter into the neighbourhood and to keep children safer while attending school in the area.
The Ontario government returned to the legislature yesterday, ready to continue implementing its plan for growth, renewal, and long-term recovery. The government's fall legislative agenda will build on the work undertaken over the summer, focusing on job creation, skills training, attracting investment, strengthening communities, and fortifying the front lines of the province's health care system.
The Ontario government is investing $175 million this year to address critical upgrades, repairs, and maintenance in 129 hospitals across the province, including $50 million for COVID-19 related and other urgent projects. Through the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund, this funding will help hospitals maintain their infrastructure and ensure a safe and comfortable environment for patients to receive care.
The Ontario government is investing more than $2.2 million to help over 600 job seekers in Ottawa develop the skills they need to establish careers in the technology and Information Technology (IT) sector.
The Ontario government is launching an online survey that will help inform long-term transportation planning for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and guide highway and transit investment from today to the year 2051. Gathering input directly from communities is part of the government's commitment to develop regional transportation plans that reflect local needs and priorities.
The Honourable Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and the Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Ontario Digital Service, issued the following statement on making COVID-19 school-specific data publicly available online.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that he will hold a Cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Ontario, on September 14 and 15.
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. 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.