It has now been a month since the City of Toronto entered Stage 3 of the provincial reopening, allowing for the safe restart of more businesses and services. It has been a huge relief for my family and I to visit local shops, and sit on patios for a meal. In addition to supporting my favourite local businesses, it has been a joy to see so many people out, seeing friends and neighbours (from a safe distance and masked of course!).
Still, I hear regularly from many business owners who continue to struggle to make ends meet through this pandemic. Even though indoor dining, and retail shops have opened, many businesses are not sustainable with the adjusted capacities and added public health safety measures. And while the majority of people continue to adhere to Toronto Public Health’s advice to practise physical distancing, stay within their social circle of no more than 10 people, wash hands often, and wear a mask or face covering where mandatory or when physical distancing cannot be maintained, we are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Despite recovering over 1.5 million jobs over the summer, economists worry that many of those initially displaced by the pandemic are already back at work and the economy is as open as it can be for now. With the ongoing uncertainty around our ability to safely operate schools and daycares, and how cold weather will impact shopping and dining trends, our economic recovery will likely be slower moving forward.
This will put ongoing and additional stress on workers and business owners.
In recognition of the continued struggles that businesses are facing, I am grateful that the Federal Government has extended access to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) from August 31 to October 31, 2020. The Government of Canada also announced that the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) is extended to June 2021. Through BCAP, the government is supporting the flow of additional credit that businesses need to maintain operations and keep employees on the payroll. Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will continue to work with lenders to support access to capital for Canadian businesses of all sizes in all sectors and regions.
The City of Toronto has also provided access to one-on-one virtual support with applications for government resources and general business advice from the City’s BusinessTO Support Centre.
If you are a small business owner, here are some other resources that might help you through this difficult time.
Indoor capacity limits eased for meeting and event facilities
The Ontario Government has eased restrictions for facilities that rent out professional meeting and event spaces. As of August 21, facilities are allowed to have up to 50 guests for each indoor meeting room or event space within the facility. Facilities must adhere to a plan approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. For more details, see guidance for professional meeting and event facilities.
COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business
The Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business is available to help businesses struggling to pay energy bills as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. The program provides a one-time credit to eligible small businesses to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments. Full program details including eligibility criteria, on-bill credit amounts and application processes are available at oeb.ca/CEAP.
Canada United Small Business Relief Fund
The Canada United Small Business Relief Fund will be managed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the national Chamber network in support of other chambers and partners to help small Canadian businesses with their recovery efforts as a result of COVID-19 with a grant program of up to $5,000. Learn more about the program and eligibility criteria here.
For more resources, including Federal, Provincial and local relief programs intended to help local businesses, including not-for-profit and creative/culture organizations, impacted by COVID-19, please visit this website. New resources will be added as they become available.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Round Three Consultation for yongeTOmorrow has officially launched! yongeTOmorrow is our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform Yonge Street into a world-class, 21-century urban destination, that supports critical public health objectives - for a world with COVID-19 and beyond. yongeTOmorrow proposes a full and flexible redesign of the street from College St, south to Queen St, where sidewalks will be expanded, vehicle lanes modified, restaurant patios extended and street furniture and streetscape elements added.
Image above: Artist rendering of Yonge Street as a pedestrian priority street, with many people walking and enjoying the atmosphere.
The Recommended Design Concept includes Pedestrian Priority Zones with One-Way Driving Access (Gerrard Street to Walton Street & Elm Street to Edward Street) and Cycle Tracks (College Street to Gerrard Street).
Image above: Artist rendering of Yonge Street as a pedestrian priority street, with people walking, shopping and sitting on street furniture.
Over 188,000 Ontario tourism and hospitality workers have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and remain unemployed, while thousands of others have fewer hours or have returned to work stressed and anxious. Help is available for workers through Tourism & Hospitality Emergency Response, a new initiative led by OTEC and funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre and the Government of Ontario. Tourism & Hospitality Emergency Response will help workers get information about relief programs and grants, as well as training and employment supports to help them safely transition back to the “new normal” workplace. You can also register for the Tourism & Hospitality Workers’ Registry to receive information about job opportunities, safe return to work, and regional and virtual employment services.
Image above: A baker preparing bread and pasteries for the oven.
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.
Mayor John Tory launched Island Stories – a new digital storytelling project that invites Torontonians from all walks of life to share what Toronto Island Park means to them – with his own reflections on Toronto Island Park. Island Stories is a collective multimedia storytelling project meant to capture the unique ways Torontonians experience Toronto Island. Learn more at https://www.toronto.ca/islandstories.
The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. Mayor Tory today joined Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa to provide an update on the current situation in Toronto and reflect on the city’s accomplishments in fighting spread of the virus. There are 16,127 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 48 today. There are 30 people hospitalized. In total, 14,565 people have recovered from COVID-19. To date, there have been 1,175 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Québec Premier François Legault will convene their first-ever Ontario-Québec Summit to advance shared priorities on economic recovery and health preparedness, issues important to the people of the two provinces. The summit will take place on September 8 and September 9, 2020 in Mississauga.
The Ontario government is expanding driver testing services across the province with strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Beginning Tuesday, September 8, Ontarians will be able to book class G road tests and access all classes of driver testing services at DriveTest centres across Ontario.
The Ontario government is updating the visitor policy for long-term care homes to help operators implement consistent visiting practices across the province. The policy is clarifying guidance about visits from caregivers to help all homes welcome caregivers as of September 9, 2020.
As the province safely and gradually reopens and more people return to work, the Ontario government is partnering with public transit operators across the province to implement measures that will ensure transit workers and passengers can safely and confidently take public transit. The government has distributed comprehensive health and safety guidance documents and is providing significant funding to cover lost revenue, enhanced cleaning and other costs incurred because of COVID-19.
The Ontario government is providing $37 million to help more than 15,000 people train for new jobs and upgrade their skills to enable them to contribute to the province's economic recovery. The funding will support 86 projects and provide training in high-demand skills like information technology, advanced manufacturing, truck driving, construction, and horticulture. The programs include internships and other hands-on learning experiences, and in most cases, the training is provided at no charge.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the appointment of the Honourable J. Michal Fairburn, a Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, as the new Associate Chief Justice of Ontario. Associate Chief Justice Fairburn replaces the Honourable Alexandra H. Hoy, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective June 1, 2020, after more than 18 years of distinguished service as a judge.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Andrew Furey, today announced that people in Newfoundland and Labrador can now receive one-time keys from their health authorities to use with COVID Alert, Canada’s COVID-19 exposure notification app. The app, first fully implemented in Ontario in July, helps notify users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
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.