Back-To-School, Business Support, Rent Freeze, and COVID-19 Updates

Late yesterday evening, the Province of Ontario announced that students will be returning to in-classroom learning starting Monday, January 17, 2022. Education Minister Stephen Lecce has announced new regulations allowing retired school teachers to teach more days to offset teacher absenteeism. Additionally, the Toronto District School Board has shipped over 600,000 N95 masks, and has shipped over 300 more HEPA filters as well as three play masks to all schools for student use. This is a good start but much more needs to be done to ensure student and staff safety.

Happy New Year, Stage 2 COVID Restrictions, and COVID-19 Updates

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and I hope that you were able to enjoy celebrations in a way that still felt familiar and safe. I know many of us had cancelled, rescheduled or adapted plans for our holiday gatherings, but I hope there were still moments enjoyed, albeit in much smaller groups.

Happy Holidays from Councillor Wong-Tam

As we approach another holiday season living with the COVID-19 pandemic, I know many are feeling a renewed sense of anxiety, fear and isolation. With many cancelling or scaling down plans in an effort to have a safer celebration, I know it’s taking a toll on our communities. It may not be what we had hoped, but I want to encourage everyone to stay safe as they celebrate.

Booster Vaccine, Staying Safe Over the Holidays, and COVID-19 Updates

I know many of you are concerned about the rising cases of COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant. Yesterday, Ontario reported 1536 new cases of COVID. As a result, Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health have restricted gatherings to just five people for the next week. This is in an effort to curb COVID’s spread as the region’s hospitals warned of limited capacity. Dr. Gerald Evans, Chair of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University, predicts Kingston is about three days ahead of the rest of Ontario, and that Toronto will see a similar spike.

Regulating Micro-Utility Devices in Toronto’s Public Space

On November 15, 2021, the Infrastructure and Environment Committee adopted recommendations from the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee (TAAC) to ban the use of micro-utility devices, also known as automated robots, from operating on sidewalks and other public spaces. TAAC’s recommendation came after reviewing a presentation from City staff and at their request for a position that was due that same day in response to a ten-year pilot program initiated by the Province of Ontario.

Omicron Variant, Metrolinx Road Closures, and COVID-19 Updates

Late last week, Toronto Public Health reported its first cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and today Ontario reports 928 new COVID cases including 340 hospitalized and 165 patients in the ICU. Toronto Public Health’s contact management team is currently following up with these cases and providing instructions to identify close contacts on isolation and testing. While initial Omicron data shows high transmissibility, there are still many unknowns. Today, the Ontario Science table released it’s latest modeling. Toronto Public Health experts will analyze this information carefully over the next few days as they prepare to give us advice on staying safe over the holiday period. This report suggests that the province is on track to stay under the government's critical ICU threshold in early 2022, without additional public health measures, if they can get to 50% of 5 to11 year old children vaccinated by the end of December.

Opioid Crisis, Mental Health Supports, #16Days, and COVID-19 Updates

In addition to the global COVID-19 pandemic, our communities continue to see the effects of another deadly public health crisis. Neighbourhoods across Toronto continue to be impacted by addictions and rising fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses. This Sunday, two middle-aged men lost their lives to a drug overdose. Both experiencing homelessness and living in Bellevue Park. Experts say we are at a pace for a yearly 516 residents experiencing a fatal overdose, an 81% increase compared to 2019.

COVID Information, Vaccines for Kids, and COVID-19 Updates

Last week, you may have seen my op-ed published in the Toronto Sun, hoping to promote dialogue and civility in an increasingly polarized debate over public health measures during the pandemic. I shared a deeply personal story about my parents who originally refused their vaccine when their turn came up. In the process, I, unfortunately, made an honest mistake with information I shared from an August 2021 memo from the Chief Medical Officer of Health. That memo is outdated and the context in which I shared it was misleading and left the wrong impression.

Vaccine Statement

When I wrote an opinion article last week, it was a genuine effort to promote dialogue and civility in an increasingly polarized debate over public health measures during the pandemic. In the process, I unfortunately made an honest mistake with the information I shared from an August 2021 memo from the Chief Medical Officer of Health. That memo is outdated and the context in which I shared it was misleading and left the wrong impression.

 Statement on the Pedestrian Death at Dundas St. East & Sherbourne St.

I am deeply saddened to hear about the tragic collision that occurred earlier today at the intersection of Dundas St. E & Sherbourne St. The loss of a Toronto Centre community member will be mourned as the resident was well known to neighbours, community leaders and service providers in the Downtown East. Another member of the community was taken to hospital to be treated for minor injuries sustained in the collision. This intersection has long been an issue which I have worked to address as it poses considerable safety risks to pedestrians in the area. It is monitored by the recent installation of CCTV cameras and the applicable video footage will be reviewed by the Toronto Police as a part of their ongoing investigation.

November Council Round-Up, Transgender Awareness Week, and COVID-19 Updates

City Council met last week to discuss important issues shaping the civic landscape of Toronto as we continue to navigate the next steps in our pandemic recovery. As COVID cases gradually rise, please consider how you can make your trips outside safer. If you have not yet, I would encourage you to get vaccinated. The colder weather is here, and flu shots are now available as well. Please consider getting your flu shot this year as it will keep you and our communities safer together. Many pharmacies in our neighborhoods are offering walk-in appointments, and it only takes a few minutes. I was happy to get my flu shot this weekend from my local pharmacy.

Living Wage, Ontario Housing Crisis, and COVID-19 Updates

Over the past week, we have seen new cases of COVID-19 rising once more. As more restrictions have been lifted, and the cooler weather forces more people indoors, these numbers were to be expected. The Ontario Science Advisory Table has said there are small behavioral shifts that can steady this increase. If you can, please avoid crowds, wear your mask, and work from home. These are simple shifts we have practiced which can help curb new cases.

VaxTO, First Parliament Master Plan, 311 Updates, and COVID-19 Updates

I hope that everyone had an enjoyable Halloween weekend. I know that my family and I were able to get dressed up and celebrate. We have been very lucky to experience a new curiosity of Halloween through the eyes of our toddler. 

The First Parliament Master Plan Adopted by the Executive Committee

Yesterday, the Executive Committee adopted two important sets of recommendations regarding the First Parliament site including the long-awaited First Parliament Master Plan and the staff report explaining the Expropriation of Land by Metrolinx and the Province of Ontario. The reports formally respond to the many motions that I have moved regarding the First Parliament site and the Provincial expropriation of city-owned land for Infrastructure Ontario's oversized "transit-oriented development" and the construction staging area for the building of the Ontario Line's Corktown station.

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.

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