COVID-19 Updates and Information - March 27th

Dear friends,

We’ve all had to endure a great deal of change over these last couple of weeks – from practicing physical distancing, to working from home, to caring for children home from school, to keeping a distance from our elderly family members and friends – it’s 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. Please continue reading below for advice from Toronto Public Health on managing stress as we go through these changes to our daily lives. 

There’s no doubt that this is a challenging time for all of us, but we will get through it. Together. 

Sincerely, 

 

Joe

 


Advice from Toronto Public Health – Staying Emotionally Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic 

It’s normal to experience stress and anxiety in the face of circumstances we cannot control. When uncomfortable feelings come up, pay attention to them and know what you are feeling in the moment is reasonable, given these unprecedented times. By acknowledging this, these feelings may lessen and become more manageable.

It may be helpful to notice what your emotions and body are telling you:

  • Are you noticing any anxiety, sadness, anger or detachment?
  • Are you noticing any change in your appetite or patterns of sleep?

When you notice troubling symptoms, it’s important to consider how you might find ways to alleviate these symptoms through self-care activities. It can also be extremely helpful to share what you are going through with someone you trust who is supportive. You may find that once you share what you are experiencing with someone you feel close to, things become much more bearable.

Strive to let go of things that are beyond your control.

Although this may be easier said than done, when we focus on things that are within our control, it can help us feel more positive and hopeful. Some things that you might consider doing to improve how you feel include:

  • Helping Others: By assisting others (for example, offering to deliver groceries or provide social support to more isolated individuals such as seniors), you may also benefit from focusing on their needs. Through these acts of kindness, you can expect to experience a sense of purpose and satisfaction.
  • Self-Care: Some ways to take care of yourself include eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep and exercising. Going outside and getting fresh air can improve your mental health – but remember to keep a 6ft distance from others.
  • Staying connected: Finding ways to stay emotionally connected when we can't be physically close can reduce your sense of isolation. By regularly reaching out to close family members and friends through text, phone or video calls, you are showing them that you care about how they are managing. Likewise, share your own strategies for coping with them and ask for any help you may need. There are many online forums that you can also join to stay connected with others in your neighbourhood and communities.
  • Keeping a routine: Setting a routine for yourself to provide some structure to your day can be helpful as it maintains positive habits.

If you are working at home, consider adopting some of the following habits:

  • Keep the same routines as when you were going into work (for example, get dressed each morning)
  • Take your lunch break, stepping away from your computer and other work tasks to improve your concentration and focus when you are working
  • Try to take a walk outside during a lunch break and at the end of the work day to create a boundary between your work and home life
  • Turn off your work phones and computers if you are not required to be on call once your workday is over.

Other good routines we can all benefit from include:

  • Eating well and staying active
  • Getting up at the same time each morning and going to bed at the same time each evening
  • Regularly reaching out to friends and family
  • Engaging in positive activities that feel nurturing, including relaxation exercises such as deep breathing and yoga, listening to uplifting music, reading, gardening, cooking, spending time in nature, playing board games and doing puzzles
  • Limiting the amount of time you spend each day on social media and news related to the pandemic and only consuming information from reputable sources
  • Structuring daily activities for your children
  • Maintaining a sense of humour.

When should I seek professional help for COVID-19 related stress or anxiety?

Some of the warning signs may include:

  • Persistent anxiety, worry, insomnia or irritability
  • Avoiding social contacts to the extent that you have become isolated in an unhealthy way
  • Taking your temperature over and over when you are well or constantly seeking reassurance about your health from doctors, friends, family or the Internet
  • Taking excessive or unnecessary hygiene precautions, such as wearing a facemask at home when you have no symptoms of the virus
  • Overusing alcohol or drugs or overeating as a way of coping with stress
  • Getting feedback from family and/or friends that they are concerned about you because you seem unusually worried or stressed out.

Are you or is someone you know in crisis or feeling suicidal? If the risk is immediate, call 9-1-1 
Or call 1-833-456-4566 toll free, text 45645 or visit www.crisisservicescanada.ca 24/7

Other resources for those experiencing stress or crisis and requiring emotional support related to COVID-19:

Distress Centre of Greater Toronto
Call 416-408-4357, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Text 45645 between 4 p.m. and midnight
Translation is available in many languages for crisis calls only

Kids Help Phone
Call 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Service is available in English and French

Gerstein Crisis Centre
416- 929-5200, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Translation is available in many languages

Also available in: Simplified Chinese | Farsi | French 


March 27 - Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Head of the Office of Emergency Management 

Our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, the head of the City’s Office of Emergency Management, Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, 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

Update from Dr. Eileen de Villa

Today, Dr. Eileen de Villa reiterated the importance of physical distancing, and how it takes time to see the results of these measures we are all taking. She provided a reminder that for most people it takes about 5-6 days before they show symptoms of illness, but for some people it can take up to 14 days.

There can be a number of days from the time you show symptoms, to when you get tested and then receive the result. This means that the positive tests we are getting now are the results of infections that happened several days ago. 

We know from other countries that social/physical distancing works, but it takes time. Similar to any treatment that you're given, you need the right medicine at the right dose for the right amount of time. 

This is why we all need to practice physical distancing and to take it seriously - to protect not only ourselves, but our loved ones and those most vulnerable. 

Read all of Dr. de Villa’s statements here

Update from Fire Chief Matthew Pegg

The City, overall, continues to deliver the range of essential and critical services the public requires, including solid waste collection, safe drinking water and wastewater treatment, maintaining infrastructure and delivering critical services to our most vulnerable. 

On Wednesday, the City announced the closure of parks amenities to further strengthen the message – and action required – of the need to limit physical distancing. We need everyone’s cooperation if we are to beat COVID-19 and keep our city healthy. 

Enforcement of this, and the other provincial orders around the closure of non-essential businesses, continues, and is prioritized by the Emergency Operations Centre.

If the public has a concern that non-compliance is occurring with respect to closures, they are asked to call 311. Do NOT call 911, unless there is an emergency that requires a response by police, fire or paramedics.

The City of Toronto is actively finalizing comprehensive plans to ensure safe pick-up of cheques for the recipients Ontario Works payments, being distributed this coming Monday. Details will be provided shortly, as soon as they are finalized.

Read all of Chief Pegg’s statements here.

View the March 27th press conference here


City of Toronto Urging Landlords, Condo Boards to Adopt New Health and Safety Measures to Protect Residents from COVID-19

We are at a critical moment and everyone has a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The City of Toronto is urging Landlords and Condo Boards to adopt new health and safety measures to protect residents from COVID-19. Large residential buildings with a high number of units require new practices and a rigorous cleaning routine to prevent viral spread.

Building operators and staff should follow these guidelines to protect residents in vertical communities:

  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer or a hand washing station with soap and water should be placed at all building entrances.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be available in all common areas that remain open, such as laundry rooms.
  • Close non-essential common areas such as bathrooms, gyms, playrooms, playgrounds and other high traffic areas.
  • Routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces in common areas, including doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, toilet handles, counters, hand rails, touch screen surfaces and keypads, with common household cleaners and disinfectants.
  • Organize the building to accept deliveries of essential goods, like medications, for residents to avoid non-essential trips outside.
  • Post signage limiting the number of residents allowed in common areas, including laundry rooms and elevators, to ensure that individuals are able to maintain a two-metre distance. Consider allowing a maximum of three residents at a time in elevators.
  • When showing units or suites for sale or lease, practice physical distancing - keep a safe distance of two metres from the resident and wash hands with soap and water, and or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, before and after the visit.

Additional information regarding General Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Guidance for Commercial or Residential Buildings can be found here.

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports, and economic recovery measures. Check www.toronto.ca/covid-19 for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.


Supporting Small Businesses – Survey for the City’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force

 We know that the economic impact of this pandemic will take a toll on the livelihoods of Toronto residents and businesses. We want to assure you that the City is doing everything possible, in full cooperation with provincial and federal governments, to minimize that impact and see an economic recovery take place as soon as possible.

The focus of the City’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force will be on quickly determining what supports and stimulus work needs to be done to support businesses, workers and residents. This Task Force will enable the City to better respond to the evolving challenges of COVID-19 with its partners in government, business and non-profits.

An online source is now available at www.toronto.ca/covid and it includes information and resources to support both businesses as well as your employees.

We are asking you, our industry partners, to take a few minutes to complete this survey to tell us how the COVID-19 pandemic may be impacting your business, and what information or supports you would find most helpful at this time. Your feedback will help us to continue to provide timely information and supports for you, your employees and your clients.

Thank you for your participation. Together, we will get through this and our city will come back stronger than ever.

COVID-19 Business Survey


City of Toronto Support for Musicians and Artists 

As the Chair of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee, I have been working with our City of Toronto Music Office to ensure that we are supporting artists dealing with the profound economic impacts of COVID-19. 

Yesterday we shared that the Toronto Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Foundation have established a new TOArtist COVID Response Fund for grants up to $1,000. The Fund will allocate up to $1000 to self-employed, individual artists resident in Toronto whose creative work and income have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize the adverse impacts that the cancellation of performances and productions, the closure of venues, and the loss of teaching opportunities have on the freelance workers that make up the majority of professional artists in Toronto. To read more about eligibility criteria, and to apply, please visit https://torontoartscouncil.org/grant-programs/toartist-covid-response-fund

To learn more and contact the City of Toronto Music Office, click here.

Other resources:

Government of Canada Benefits 

  • Emergency Support Benefit to provide support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment. Accessible through Canada Revenue Agency's website.
  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit will provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

Live Streaming Grants and Events 

  • #CanadaPerforms: Opportunity for performing artists from any discipline to apply for $1000 grants for live streamed performances, through the NAC and Facebook Canada.
  • The Social Distancing Festival: A place to celebrate the work of artists who have had events cancelled due to social distancing measures

City of Toronto Continuing to Prepare for High Lake Levels

Climate change and the resulting extreme weather have been acutely felt on the Toronto Islands and along our waterfront. We have seen record-breaking flooding events over the last three years, with more record high water levels anticipated again this year. An annual sandbagging effort cannot be a long-term solution.

This is why we have been working year-round, in partnership with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), to ensure that proactive flood mitigation measures are in place, and that significant investments are made to ensure our waterfront and our Toronto Islands are protected. 

The work to protect our waterfront cannot and will not stop due to COVID-19. I am committed, along with the City of Toronto and TRCA, to continuing preparations and mitigation efforts for high lake levels this year as a top priority.                                                                                                         

  • The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has assigned a response team to focus on the 2020 flood season and coordinate the City's response with our partners.
  • All TRCA flood mitigation projects for Toronto's Waterfront and Toronto Islands are categorized as "essential" business in the Province of Ontario's recent direction. These works are continuing with appropriate public health recommended separation protocols for workers.
  • On Toronto Islands, the Wards Island beach curb east of Wards dock is complete. The beach curb west of the dock will be completed over the next 2 weeks.
  • Urgent raising of roads to maintain emergency access in two priority locations is underway: a 300m stretch of Lake Shore Blvd near Gibraltar Point, and a 200m stretch on Cibola Avenue near the Fire Hall. Two weeks of preparatory work began on Monday, and construction will follow.
  • Engineering assessment work on the sea wall at Algonquin Island continues and will determine a berm or raised wall solution.
  • Flood Mapping of different lake level elevations have been produced to inform Emergency Management planning.

The proactive mitigation efforts implemented in 2018, including erosion control projects, shoreline infrastructure, trail and pathway work, and asset infrastructure, effectively reduced the impact of the 2019 flooding. The City also used a dozen industrial water pumps, 100-foot aquadams and more than 1,000 metre bags and 45,000 sandbags to prevent further damage.

Our Toronto Islands are a jewel of our city and are treasured by residents both on and off the Islands. Toronto Island Park is a well-loved destination, with more than a million visits every year. On busy days in the summer up to 20,000 people ride the ferry in a single day. Our flood mitigation work is not just critical for residents and business on the Islands, it is significant for our entire city.

As I have said many times before, annual sandbagging cannot be the solution. We are committed to doing everything possible to protect our beloved Toronto Islands, and will continue to work closely with senior City staff and the TRCA to implement long-term flood mitigation plans.

The City is working closely with TRCA to monitor the conditions that contribute to high lake water levels as we move through the spring. I will continue to provide updates as they become available.


Quayside Project Update

Yesterday, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Waterfront Toronto Board of Directors passed a motion to extend the date for a decision on moving forward with the Quayside project to June 25, 2020. The Board package, minutes, and a recording of today's meeting held online are available on the Waterfront Toronto website here.

Further to this decision, Waterfront Toronto will also be extending the deadline for the Quayside online public consultation survey to April 9, 2020. The publication of the preliminary Human Rights Impact Assessment (pHRIA) of Sidewalk Labs' MIDP will also be delayed by one month resulting from the impact of COVID-19. 

Learn more about Quayside here


Community and Social Supports for Torontonians 

Although many places across Toronto have been closed due to physical distancing measures, there are still social services supports available for residents in need. Through 211, operators can connect residents to income supports, distress lines, and mental health supports to name a few. Call 211, text 21166, or live chat with 211 agents Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., or visit 211toronto.ca to search for services.

A City-Community Response Table meets daily and includes representatives from more than 30 agencies across Toronto and 11 City divisions. This group is working together to identify new and emerging issues affecting vulnerable Torontonians during the COVID-19 emergency and to plan city-wide responses to address and resolve these issues. 

Residents who need to access, or are seeking information on, social and community supports and services, should call 211 for non-emergency requests and information. 211 is a 24/7 help line and web service that connects residents to social and community services.

211 is working closely with community agencies to ensure they are continually updating their database with the most up-to-date programming and resource information.


Resources for Seniors

For seniors not living in long-term care facilities, the City continues to provide essential support services to seniors requiring assistance with personal care, medication reminders, and safety checks through our Supportive Housing program. Many community agencies offer supports to seniors including Meals on Wheels, transportation to appointments, personal support, and adult day programs. Seniors and caregivers should check with the individual agencies to confirm continuity of service delivery. Call 211 (available 24/7 in 150+ languages) to obtain up-to-date information.

Other resources for seniors include:

  • Toronto Seniors Helpline:416-217-2077 or 1-877-621-2077, for support and referral to services

  • Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) Home Care: 310-2222 (no area code required) to find out about services in their area

  • Distress Centres of Toronto: 416-408-4357, 416-408-HELP

  • Seniors Safety Line (Elder Abuse Ontario): 1-866-299-1011


What is Physical Distancing? We All Need to do Our Part

Every Torontonian must do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Staying informed, being rigorous about strong individual hygiene practices, and enacting physical distancing are measures we must all take. But what is physical distancing?

Physical distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people you come into close contact with. This will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Physical distancing includes, but is not limited to:

  • talking to your supervisor, manager, or employer about the possibility of working from home where possible
  • avoiding visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes, supportive housing, hospices and other congregate care settings unless the visit is absolutely essential
  • avoiding non-essential trips in the community
  • keeping the windows down if you have to go into the community for an essential trip via taxi or rideshare
  • avoiding group gatherings
  • holding virtual meetings
  • spending time outside and in settings where people can maintain a 6 feet distance from each other

Please note: that these guidelines are not meant to say “you must stay in your home!”

You can still go outside to take a walk, go to the park, or walk your dog. If you need groceries, go to the store. We simply recommend that while outside you make sure to avoid crowds and maintain a distance of 6 feet from those around you. 

Remember: While you may not feel sick, and while we know these measures are an inconvenience, please be mindful of the members of our community who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. We are all in this together.


What is Self-Isolation?

Self-isolation is when you have been instructed to separate yourself from others, with the purpose of preventing the spread of the virus, including those within your home. If you are ill, you should be separated from others in your household to the greatest extent possible.

Even if you do not have symptoms, you must self-isolate for 14 days if: 

  • You have travelled anywhere outside of Canada (including the United States of America).
  • You live with, provided care for, or spent extensive time with someone who has:
    • Tested positive for COVID-19, OR is suspected to have COVID-19, OR who has respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) that started within 14 days of travel outside of Canada. 

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:

MPP Chris Glover
MP Adam Vaughan


COVID-19 Information and Resources

Now is not the time for panic or misinformation. 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. 

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

City of Toronto
Province of Ontario
Government of Canada

Telehealth Ontario
Call if you develop symptoms.
Telephone: 1-866-797-0000

Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Telephone: 416-338-7600
TTY: 416-392-0658
Email: PublicHealth@toronto.ca

311 Toronto
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services.
Telephone: 311
TTY: 416-338-0889