COVID-19 Updates - June 19th
Yesterday we reached a tragic milestone in our city: 1,000 Torontonians have lost their lives to COVID-19. These people were our family members, friends, and neighbours. Each death is an unimaginable loss for their loved ones and community.
COVID-19 is the largest public health crisis of our time. Since the first reported case of the virus appeared in Toronto back in January, we have faced an unprecedented period of uncertainty, fear, and grief. While our response has mitigated some of the pressure on our health care system and made it possible for our frontline health care workers to deliver essential services, the impact on those who have become seriously ill or lost a loved one to COVID-19 is immeasurable.
I want to extend my condolences to every Torontonian who has been impacted by the devastation of COVID-19.
This milestone underscores just how important it is that each and every one of us continue doing all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Until there is a readily available vaccine, the threat continues to be very real, even as our city starts to open back up. We must continue to stay vigilant and continue practicing physical distancing, washing our hands thoroughly, and covering our faces when we come into contact with others in businesses and on transit. The health of our city depends on it.
We have reached this many deaths. We must do everything we can to prevent more.
In this Edition
- My Statement on anti-Black and anti-Indigenous Racism and the Toronto Police Services Budget
- Bike Lanes Installed on University Avenue
- Toronto Public Health Meets and Exceeds Case and Contact Tracing Target
- CaféTO Registration Now Open
- City of Toronto Update on Emergency Food Access
- COVID-19 Recovery and Rebuild Survey
- Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
- Supporting Toronto’s Arts and Cultural Sector
- Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
- Staying Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Supporting Local Businesses
- Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 When Spending Time Outdoors
- Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York
- COVID-19 Information and Resources
My Statement on anti-Black and anti-Indigenous Racism and the Toronto Police Services Budget
We are at a pivotal moment for examining anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, and the ways it continues to manifest in our cities and communities. It is important that we seize this opportunity to examine how we can best deliver services, including responses for people in crisis or distress, in ways that protect everyone in our communities.
Anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism is real and pervasive in Toronto. I believe that we need to take a real, hard look at how our institutions operate, including our police forces and our justice systems. Evidence has shown that Black Torontonians are 20 times more likely to be in fatal encounters with the police than white residents, while Black and Indigenous Torontonians are over-represented in our correctional facilities and in the child welfare system. This has to stop.
As a city and a society, we continue to spend too much money on emergency responses, and not enough on prevention and programs to address the root causes of issues, including poverty and inequality. This is clear in our pattern of funding shelters but not investing in pathways out of homelessness, or spending money on emergency room services but not adequately funding public health programs. Increasing police budgets while failing to invest in programs that address poverty, housing, community development, employment opportunities, and mental health programs, is yet another example of this imbalance.
I support the draft motion that Councillor Josh Matlow has developed, and Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has seconded, on proposed changes to the Toronto Police Services budget. If approved, this motion would request that the Province amend the Ontario Police Services Act to give the City direct control over the Toronto Police Services Budget, and that the Toronto Police Services Board submit a budget that is reduced by 10%, so that the City may relocate funding to social and community programs. While this motion would still require cooperation from the Province and Toronto Police Services Board, it is a welcome starting point for examining how we can re-prioritize city funding and investment in a forward-thinking way. I also plan to support additional amendments at Council that consider a broader review of police services, including the use of force.
In 2016 I successfully introduced a motion to re-allocate funding from the Toronto Police Services’ budget and redirect it to community crime prevention programs, and have supported motions that call for limits on police spending and transfers of funding to student nutrition programs, affordable child care, and investments in public transit. I do not believe that any budgetary demands of the Toronto Police Service should stand in the way of funding for vital social and community services.
Anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism also manifests in our city in poverty, housing discrimination, cuts to social and community programs, and health outcomes, including COVID-19. Earlier this month, the Toronto Board of Health approved my motion to recognize anti-Black racism as a public health crisis in our city, and to prioritize investment in programs that directly target the social determinants of health. I have also advocated for both the City and the Province to collect disaggregated race-based data on COVID-19, in order to better understand the impact of this virus on racialized communities, and the protections and supports that are required to keep people healthy and safe.
Right now, we are at an important moment for determining how we tackle systemic issues going forward. I believe that we need to step up our investments in affordable housing, community services, jobs and employment training, public health, and mental health supports, rather than continuing to focus on emergency responses and enforcement. I want to thank all the Ward 10 residents who have reached out over the past few weeks to share ideas and concerns, and encourage you to continue to connect and share your suggestions with your representatives.
Bike Lanes Installed on University Avenue
It's a big day for cycling infrastructure in Toronto. Today, bike lanes are being installed on University Avenue and through Queen's Park Crescent, from Bloor Street to Adelaide. These new, separated lanes are part of the accelerated grid that City Council approved just a few weeks ago, including 25 kilometres of new bikeways — for a total of approximately 40 kilometres of on-street cycling lanes being installed this year.
I'm very proud to have worked with Councillor Mike Layton, local hospitals, cycling advocates, adjacent residents associations, and the Mayor and Council to make this happen.
We have long advocated for safe, protected bike lanes on University Avenue, alongside major hospitals in the area, including SickKids and University Health Network, who released letters in support of the University bike lanes. Members of the group Doctors for Safe Cycling, some of whom work in the area’s hospitals, have also highlighted the importance of the lanes in enabling health care workers, staff, and clients to safely get to work and access the area’s health care facilities.
How we get around has become more important than ever before. Living with the COVID-19 pandemic means recognizing that people need to be able to get where they need to go while maintaining a safe physical distance. This means that many of us will need to consider alternate methods of transportation. The new bike lanes on University Avenue will provide an alternative to the Line 1 subway for commuters, opening up more space for those who need to take public transit.
Toronto Public Health Meets and Exceeds Case and Contact Tracing Target
Over the past week, our Toronto Public Health team has consistently exceeded the Province’s case and contact management target of reaching 90% of cases within 24 hours of receiving test results. This work by over 700 dedicated staff is helping to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our city.
Case and contact tracing is the important work of contacting residents who test positive for COVID-19 to confirm that they are self-isolating, and then identifying their close contacts to ensure they get tested and also isolate for a 14-day period.
At the onset of the outbreak, TPH's case and contact management team included 50 staff. Since then, the case and contact management team has been expanded to approximately 700 staff to manage community cases and outbreaks, making it the largest public health team in the country.
Since January, Toronto Public Health staff have continually adjusted and refined the pandemic response to ensure we have more information, better data, and faster ways to monitor results and outcomes. Meeting and exceeding this provincial target is yet another example of the dedication and hard work they put in to keeping our city safe.
Safely Increasing Outdoor Space for Restaurants and Bars – CaféTO Registration Now Open
Online registration is now open for CaféTO, a program that will allow restaurant and bar owners to open patios, expand them, and access additional space for physical distancing. These measures will make it easier for restaurant and bar owners to generate business revenue during the summer months ahead.
The CaféTO program will increase outdoor dining areas by identifying space in the public right-of-way and temporarily expediting the current application and permitting process for new sidewalk cafés and parklets.
A City staff report on CaféTO, scheduled for consideration at the next Executive Committee meeting on June 22, proposes the City take quick action to make way for additional safe outdoor dining spaces for local restaurants and bars. A simple online registration form and guidebook for the proposed program is now available at toronto.ca/cafeTO
Restaurants and bars, along with their patios, remain closed for dine-in service due to provincial orders and public health recommendations. Restaurants with existing patios can open them once provincial orders are lifted, and as long as they follow public health guidelines.
If approved by Executive Committee, and by Toronto City Council later this month, the CaféTO recommendations would make it easier for many restaurant and bar owners to open new patios, expand existing ones, and access additional space for physical distancing, in accordance with public health guidelines.
City of Toronto Update on Emergency Food Access During COVID-19
Since March, the City of Toronto has been working with a variety of community partners to ensure that Toronto’s food programs stay open during the pandemic and continue to support Toronto’s vulnerable populations. Members of the Food Security Table – which consists of City staff and representatives from Daily Bread Food Bank, FoodShare, North York Harvest Food Bank, Second Harvest, Red Cross, Toronto Public Library, Salvation Army and the United Way Greater Toronto (UWGT) – continue to meet regularly to discuss food access gaps in the community and how they can be filled.
Food for Kids – more than 2 million meals provided through grocery cards
The City is working with student nutrition program partners to support the Food for Kids program, which sends grocery gift cards to families of children in need who attend school in Toronto and were previously enrolled in the program. To date, Food for Kids has mailed out 69,335 grocery cards to families with children in need, which represents 2,080,050 meals.
Food Hampers – more than 12,000 hampers for seniors
Since activated on April 7, the food hamper program administered by the Red Cross, has delivered a total of 7,997 hampers to 2,373 residents unable to leave their homes. It is projected that some 12,000 hampers will be delivered by the end of June.
Prepared Meals – around 148,000 meals prepared so far
Through the City’s partnership with Second Harvest and UWGT, and their partnership with MLSE, nearly 130,000 meals were prepared and distributed to a total of 67 agencies between April 20 and June 5. With funding from UWGT, Hawthorne Training Kitchen prepared and distributed 18,000 meals to 10 agencies between April 27 and June 5.
Donation Matching - $1.9 million in food-related donations matched to community partners
City staff continue to match food-related donations and offers to community partners and agencies. The City has leveraged more than $1.9 million in donations to support 192 community organizations. Another $505,000 was distributed to 18 community partners.
Temporary Food Banks
Nine of the 11 temporary food banks located at Toronto Public Library (TPL) branches have been successfully relocated so TPL can begin their curbside drop-off and pick-up service. Temporary food banks will continue to operate at two TPL branches with adjusted hours. The majority of the temporary food banks have been relocated to other sites in the neighbourhoods that were formally served by the TPL branches. Two new sites were also opened at YMCA locations in these areas, and temporary food banks at three City arenas continue to operate.
COVID-19 Recovery and Rebuild Survey
While the City continues to work on reducing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring the delivery of essential and critical City services, it is also working to prepare for Toronto’s recovery in the weeks and months to come.
The City has established the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild (TORR) to:
- Coordinate engagement and research
- Develop the City’s recovery strategies
Recommend actions to rebuild and reimagine the way the City delivers programs and services.
Residents, businesses, and communities will play a significant role in successfully restoring communities and social and economic infrastructure. The City will continue to engage with institutions, the community, and partners to get input that will help shape the City’s actions around recovery and rebuild.
Have your say on how Toronto can recover, rebuild, and emerge from this pandemic even stronger. Take the survey before June 30.
Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
Our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, and other City division leaders have been providing daily updates on the current situation and response to COVID-19 in Toronto. You can view the daily press conferences live at 3:45pm, and access past updates here.
Today Dr. de Villa shared that we have continued to see a steady decrease in our local COVID-19 cases.
Dr. de Villa provided an update on our COVID-19 monitoring dashboard, which shows that our 7-day moving average of new cases has hit the goal of 14 days of consecutive decline. With this achievement, the virus spread and containment section of our dashboard has now been updated from a yellow to a green status. While the lab testing indicators show improvement, further progress is still needed in this area and as such our overall status remains yellow.
However, given that we are at our goal for three out of four indicator categories, we should soon be able to join other communities across the province in stage 2 of reopening our city. But our continued progress rests on you and your actions to keep us going forward. There are many things we can all do to continue building on our progress towards safely moving forward to stage 2. The simplest actions you can take are to continue washing your hands frequently, continue practising physical distancing, and to stay within your social circle when going outside to enjoy the nice weather. This means essentially continuing to follow all of the advice we have been providing to you over the past several weeks.
Another action you can take is to wear a cloth mask. Dr. de Villa strongly encourages the use of a cloth mask whenever you are in an indoor public space to protect those around you. So please, when you are at the grocery store, at the pharmacy, or taking public transit, please make sure you wear your cloth mask.
And finally, as we move towards stage 2 of reopening our city, and more people are mixing and moving around, the last action Dr. de Villa is asking you to take is to keep track of where you are when you are outside your home. Whether it is by using a mobile app, or keeping a log of where you have been by taking photos with your phone with your location settings on or by recording your activities in a daily log, or calendar, please take note. Should you be diagnosed with COVID-19, this information will help public health to quickly identify your close contacts and help us work together to stop virus spread and keep our residents safe.
Supporting Toronto’s Arts and Cultural Sector
Our vibrant arts and cultural sector is critical to the fabric of our city. There are many ways to continue to support Toronto arts and culture from home:
- City Hall Live Online: To help support Toronto artists and lift the spirits of residents during this outbreak, the City of Toronto, in partnership with Unison Benevolent Fund, has moved its City Hall Live performance program online.
- Arts@Home: Bringing Toronto’s arts sector together for you, delivered straight to your couch. Many of Toronto’s leading arts organizations are reaching beyond traditional practice to come together and freely share digital content that brings the arts into your home.
- Stay, Play & Learn at Home: Tour a museum exhibit, watch a live concert, play interactive games, do DIY science experiments, try a new recipe, and much more.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
The City of Toronto has created a COVID-19 Essential Service Mapping Tool.
This tool has up-to-date service listings across Toronto, including food banks, meal delivery programs, community health services and more. Additional layers and details are being updated daily by 211 Toronto.
Staying Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Advice from Toronto Public Health and Available Supports
We’ve all had to endure a great deal of change over these last couple of months. It’s been an adjustment, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to not feel okay. But through all of this, it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together.
It’s also important for all of us to remember to care for our own mental health during this time. In previous updates I shared tips and resources from Toronto Public Health on staying emotionally healthy and resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please click here to view and share.
If you need access to, or are seeking information on social and community supports and services, you can call 211 for non-emergency requests and information.
Through 211, operators can connect residents to income supports, distress lines, and mental health supports. You can call 211 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, text 21166, live chat with 211 agents Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., or visit 211toronto.ca to search for services.
Supporting Local Businesses
Our small and independent businesses are vital to the fabric of our city, and it’s critical that we support them as much as possible during these difficult and uncertain times. Here are some ways we can all do our part:
- Shop local: although businesses have had to close their doors to the public to allow for physical distancing, many are still offering takeout and delivery options. Many local fitness studios and gyms are offering online classes. Some businesses that provide in-person services are offering pre-booking and gift cards for future use. Contact your favourite local business to see how you can support them during this challenging time.
- Donate through distantly.ca: the City of Toronto is highlighting the launch of an online donation platform that allows community members to make direct donations to small businesses to help lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform allows customers to continue to support local main street businesses impacted by non-essential closures, such as coffee shops, restaurants and hair salons. Visit distantly.ca to learn more and donate.
- Participate in #TakeOutDay: a Canada-wide campaign, #TakeOutDay is now every Wednesday as a show of support for our favourite local restaurants. Restaurants are doing their part by staying open for takeout. Now it's your turn to take an active part in support of an industry that employs millions of people across our country. Let's make Wednesdays #TakeoutDay. Learn more at canadatakeout.com
Advice from Toronto Public Health on Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 When Spending Time Outdoors
Now that the warmer weather has arrived, many people are spending time outdoors for physical and mental health.
When spending time outdoors, refer to this information from Toronto Public Health;
- COVID-19 spreads through contact with respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking
- Droplets can spread up to 6 feet (2 metres) so close, prolonged contact poses the highest risk
- When cycling, running, or walking, step aside or pass others quickly and courteously
- The risk for catching COVID-19 while passing someone is low
If sick, you must stay home and self-isolate
- People are most contagious when they are sick, or 48 hours before they show symptoms
- Limit contact with other household members
- Refer to fact sheets on how to self-isolate
Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York
The rapidly-evolving COVID-19 response requires all levels of government to work closely together.
I am in regular contact with my Provincial and Federal counterparts regarding the evolving COVID-19 response and how to best support Spadina-Fort York residents, businesses, institutions, and organizations.
Please visit their websites for more information on the Provincial and Federal responses:
COVID-19 Information and Resources
It is important 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.
Please visit the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for the up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19
Government COVID-19 websites
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.