COVID-19 Updates - June 26th
Earlier this week Toronto joined many communities around the province in stage 2 of reopening. While this is good news, our public health officials continue to remind us that our success so far and our ability to get back to enjoying our city relies on our continued commitment in the days and weeks ahead.
Although we have made great progress, we must continue to be careful so we can keep moving forward. As our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. de Villa shared earlier this week, the reality is that COVID-19 remains in our community and we need to learn to live safely with it while a vaccine and treatments are developed.
Like others around the world, we are finding the balance between keeping COVID-19 in check and living our lives. This means continuing to follow public health guidelines so that we can keep the positive momentum going.
We have seen how much progress we can make by working together and looking out for one another. Thank you to everyone for working so hard to get us to this point. I know we will get through this together.
In this Edition
- My Update on Parental Leave and Plans for this Summer
- Toronto Moves into Stage 2 of Reopening
- Calling on Queens Park and Ottawa to Ensure Families Have Access to Child Care
- Providing Torontonians with Self-Isolation Options to Protect Family and Household Members
- New Hospital Partnership to Pilot Efficiencies in Case and Contact Tracing
- Ferry Service to Toronto Islands to Resume on Saturday
- Provincial Regulation Overriding Toronto’s Construction Noise By-Law
- Weekend Update on City Services, Amenities and ActiveTO
- Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
- Staying Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 When Spending Time Outdoors
- Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York
- COVID-19 Information and Resources
My Update on Parental Leave and Plans for this Summer
For every single resident of our city, COVID-19 has forced us to change the way we live. It has also forced many of us to change our work and family plans. That includes me.
Last weekend I shared an update on my parental leave and plans for the summer. You can read it on my website here.
Toronto Moves into Stage 2 of Reopening
Earlier this week, Toronto joined much of Ontario in transitioning to Stage 2 in the Province’s Reopening Framework. In Stage 2, a number of businesses and services can resume operations, including restaurant patios and personal care services.
While much of Ontario moved to Stage 2 earlier this month, it was clear at the time that Toronto wasn’t ready yet, which is why we advocated for a regional approach that accounted for differences across the province. Over the past two weeks, the daily case counts in our city have shown that the measures we have taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are working. Still, we are not out of the woods yet.
Calling on Queens Park and Ottawa to Ensure Families Have Access to Child Care
There's no COVID-19 recovery without accessible, affordable child care. If we want to kick-start our economy, re-open our cities, get our workforce back on track, tackle gender inequity, and finally end the gender pay gap -- we need universal, affordable child care.
At next week’s Toronto City Council meeting, Councillor Layton and I will put forward a motion asking the Provincial and Federal governments to come up with a plan to address the need for affordable, accessible child care spaces as part of the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to new provincial health and safety rules, child care centres are now able to resume operations at approximately 30-40% capacity. This means that there will be 60-70% less spaces for children than were available before the pandemic. The Ontario Government has not provided a plan for how the 60-70% of working families who cannot find a spot will be able to meet their child care needs, or how centres can afford to operate long-term with significantly reduced clients and revenue.
Our motion asks that the Province ensure funding for child care centres operating at reduced capacity so that they can remain viable, while committing to locating additional child care spaces for families who aren’t able to return to their usual centres due to capacity restrictions. It also calls on the Provincial and Federal governments to develop a National Child Care Strategy, which would provide a framework for the delivery of affordable, accessible child care across the country. A nation-wide approach is necessary to ensure that provinces comply, and that Canada’s workforce and economy is able to get back on track.
Child care is a sound investment: for every $1 that the Quebec government spends on child care, it gets back $5 in economic stimulus. At the same time, it is essential for addressing gender inequity and tackling the pay gap, which continues today. That’s why all levels of government must work together to create a national framework for child care that is truly affordable and accessible to all. We cannot move forward into full recovery without a National Child Care Strategy.
Providing Torontonians with Self-Isolation Options to Protect Family and Household Members
Toronto's Board of Health is meeting next week on Thursday, June 2, to consider voluntary accommodation options for people who need to self-isolate outside of their home.
For many Torontonians, the luxury of a home with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms is not a reality. That’s why I am in full support of Dr. de Villa’s recommendations to pursue accommodation options for people who need a place to self-isolate without putting their family at risk.
New Hospital Partnership to Pilot Efficiencies in Case and Contact Tracing
Case and contact tracing is the investigative work that’s central to stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our city. The faster local public health units can access test results, the quicker they will be able to trace contacts and isolate cases, and limit transmission of the virus.
Toronto Public Health announced today a new pilot partnership with Michael Garron Hospital and University Health Network’s Toronto Western Hospital. This pilot will be testing ways for COVID-19 testing centres to share results directly with Toronto Public Health, in order to help identify and isolate people who test positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts sooner. By accessing results directly from the centres, Toronto Public Health will be able to streamline communication and reduce overlaps in reporting -- making it possible to get in touch with people faster.
This case management work is critical to reduce virus spread as we continue moving forward reopening our city. You can read the City’s release here.
Ferry Service to Toronto Islands to Resume on Saturday
Earlier this week, I joined Mayor Tory at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to celebrate the return of ferry service to the Toronto Islands on June 27. The Toronto Islands are a special place, and I know many of us are looking forward to spending time there this summer. During these uncertain times, though, health and safety must come first -- not just for ourselves, but also for the residents and businesses that call the Islands home.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19, safety protocols have been put in place. Ferries to the Islands will run at 50 percent capacity to make space for physical distancing. Tickets should be bought online in advance, and will be limited to a set amount of 5,000 tickets per day. All passengers and staff must wear masks or face coverings.
Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting will be undertaken on the ferries after every trip. Washrooms on the ferries will be closed, however hand sanitizer dispensers will be available. Washrooms at the terminal and at Toronto Island Park will be open.
Services and amenities that will be open at Toronto Island Park once ferry service resumes will include washrooms, splash pads, a first aid station, Franklin The Turtle Gardens, William Meany Maze, some food and beverage outlets and disc golf.
Other Toronto Island Park public and commercial amenities on the Island including Centreville and park playgrounds, and boat rentals will remain closed as required by current Province of Ontario emergency orders in this area.
As with all public areas and services, visitors should self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms and should not board the ferry if they have symptoms. A self-assessment tool is available at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/
As visitors to the Islands, it’s on us to be respectful and considerate of the people who live and work there. We can make this work if we all commit to doing our part and looking out for one another.
Provincial Regulation Overriding Toronto’s Construction Noise By-Law
On April 7th, the Ontario Government brought in Ontario regulation 130/20, which allows for construction between the hours of 6AM - 10PM, 7 days per week. The new provincial rule also contains a stipulation stating: "The City does not have power to prohibit and regulate with respect to noise made in connection with any other construction activity in the City between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m." This provision is not set to expire until October, 2021.
These changes have had a negative impact on many of our downtown communities, especially now that many of us are spending more time at home than ever. In response, Councillor Wong-Tam and I will be introducing a motion at the June 29th City Council meeting, formally requesting the Province to rescind recently passed regulations that grant extensions for residential construction. You can view the motion here: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2020.MM22.39
The provincial government has never provided a clear public health rationale for overriding the noise by-law. It has been suggested by the spokesperson for the ministry of Municipal Affairs that the regulation was so construction sites could “allow for smaller work crews, more distance between workers, staggered break times, etc.”.
However, the lived experience of downtown residents has been some construction sites beginning at 6 a.m and ending early in the afternoon, with others opting to start later in the day and continue till 10 p.m. In our downtown neighbourhoods with multiple construction sites on a single block, this can mean non-stop construction from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week, with no reprieve. Residents have informed my office that there is no observable change with regard to physical distancing on many construction sites.
It is extremely important that provincial officials hear directly about your experiences and concerns. Please write to Premier Doug Ford (email@example.com), the Minister of Labour (Minister.MLTSD@ontario.ca), and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let them know how these changes have negatively affected our downtown communities, and that you support the request to rescind the Provincial regulation overriding Toronto’s construction noise by-law.
Weekend Update on City Services, Amenities and ActiveTO
The City of Toronto continues to safely and gradually open services and amenities. As residents head outside this weekend and enjoy some of the businesses and services permitted under Toronto’s Stage 2 reopening, they’re reminded of the importance of adhering to Toronto Public Health’s advice to wash their hands often, stay within their social circle of no more than 10 people, avoid crowds, practise physical distancing, and wear a face covering or non-medical mask to protect others when in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
The City has created additional signage about both alcohol consumption and littering in parks and is deploying bylaw enforcement resources in busy parks and beaches over the weekend. Those found littering face fines of up to $500.
As COVID-19 continues to circulate the community residents visiting a beach or park must practise physical distancing and avoid crowding.
ActiveTO major road closures, Cycling Network and Quiet Street
The following ActiveTO major road closures will be in place this weekend, from Saturday, June 27 at 6 a.m. to Sunday, June 28 at 11 p.m.:
- Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes only) from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road. As a result, the eastbound Gardiner Expressway off ramp to Lake Shore Boulevard West (exit #146) will also be closed
- Lake Shore Boulevard East (eastbound lanes only) from Leslie Street to just south of Woodbine Avenue (Kew Beach Avenue)
- Bayview Avenue from Front Street East to Rosedale Valley Road, and River Street from Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue
New this week, two major downtown ActiveTO cycling network connections have been installed along University Avenue/Queen’s Park Crescent, between Adelaide Street West and Bloor Street West, and Bloor Street between Avenue Road and Sherbourne Street. Earlier this month, separated bike lanes were also installed on Dundas Street East, between Sackville Street and Broadview Avenue.
More information on ActiveTO, including an online map of all locations, is available at toronto.ca/activeTO.
City splash pads and pools
Tomorrow, Saturday, June 27, all 140 splash pad locations and 56 outdoor swimming pools will be open. Summerville, Alexandra Park and Kiwanis outdoor pools will open following the completion of planned state of good repair projects. The pools will stay open until the Labour Day weekend, while the splash pads will close on September 13.
In order to allow for physical distancing, the capacity at outdoor pools will be significantly reduced to 25 per cent. Leisure swims will be prioritized throughout the day to ensure as many swimmers as possible have the opportunity to cool off, and swimmers will be limited to 45-minute sessions to allow for cleaning. Full details are available at toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/recreation/swimming-splash-pads.
Toronto beaches remain open. Beaches are not closed under Province of Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lifeguards are on duty at six of Toronto’s swimming beaches:
- Bluffer’s Park Beach (Blue Flag)
- Cherry/Clarke Beach (Blue Flag)
- Kew-Balmy Beach (Blue Flag)
- Marie Curtis Park East Beach
- Sunnyside Beach
- Woodbine Beach (Blue Flag)
Lifeguards will supervise swim areas from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. The four Toronto Island Park beaches will open for swimming on July 1. Rouge Valley Beach is inaccessible, and a supervised swim program will not operate there this summer.
City park amenities
City park amenities open this weekend include:
- outdoor pools
- splash pads
- picnic shelter
- fixed BBQs
- soccer and multi-use outdoor fields, including running tracks in parks
- baseball diamonds and basketball courts
- some public tennis courts and pickleball courts
- lawn bowling and outdoor bocce
- off-leash dog parks
- BMX locations and skateboard parks
- City-run golf courses and disc golf locations
- ravine green spaces, beaches, trails and boardwalks for walking, running or biking
- fishing with a licence, boating, kayaking and canoeing
If a resident arrives at a park that is crowded, they are advised to visit a different park or return at a later time when there are fewer people.
Park amenities that remain closed include playgrounds and outdoor exercise equipment. Greenhouses, nurseries and conservatories, High Park Zoo, Riverdale Farm also remain closed. The City is working with market organizers to safely reopen farmers’ markets usually located on 22 City sites.
Individuals are not permitted to play team sports, such as soccer, basketball or baseball, even on fields or courts intended for this purpose unless they are members of the same household.
Public washroom facilities
Park washrooms will be open to the public this weekend. Staff have worked with Toronto Public Health on guidelines for the safe opening of washrooms and other amenities. In addition, the City has opened a number of facilities with showers, washrooms, and drinking water for all individuals in need of these services. Health guidelines for washrooms are available on the City Services webpage.
Residents using public washrooms should maintain a distance of two metres or six feet from others at all times while waiting in line and wash hands or use hand sanitizer. It is also recommended that cloth face coverings are worn, especially when physical distancing is difficult.
The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check https://www.toronto.ca/covid-19/ for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.
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.
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.