COVID-19 Updates and Information - March 30th

Dear friends, 

I hope you are doing well and staying healthy during these unprecedented times. 

I can’t express enough how important it is right now to stay home, practice physical distancing, work from home where possible and only go out for essentials. These actions, which many of you are already doing, will help to protect you but also your family, friends, those who work in essential services, and the most vulnerable members of our community. 

Thank you for everything that you’re doing to help stop the spread of this virus, and please continue to urge others to do the same.

Remember, we’re all in this together. Stay home, stay safe, and look out for each other. 

Sincerely, 

 

Joe

 


We All Have a Role to Play in Slowing the Spread of COVID-19

Everyone has a role to play. We only get one chance to stop this virus, and now is the time to act.

The City of Toronto continues to work around-the-clock to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. As of today, the City’s Emergency Operations Centre has been mobilized for 20 days, working with Toronto Public Health to slow the spread of the virus and keep our community safe and healthy. We are asking everyone to remember they have a role to play in slowing the spread of COVID-19.  Staying home, maintaining a physical distance of two metres (6 ft.) from others when out, and practising good hygiene, including hand-washing, remain the most important things that everyone can do right now. 

We're all in this together, let’s all do our part. Please, Toronto: stay home. 


New Recommendations from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health

Today, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued new recommendations to protect the public and contain the spread of COVID-19. The lives of many Ontarians, especially our community's most vulnerable citizens, will depend on all of our actions over the coming days and weeks.

Dr. Williams is recommending that everyone stay home except for essential reasons, such as to:

  • Access health care services;
  • Shop for groceries;
  • Pick-up medication at the pharmacy;
  • Walk pets when required; and
  • Support vulnerable community members with meeting the above needs.

To the fullest extent possible, you should also limit the number of these essential trips. When you are out in public, you must adhere to physical distancing by reducing your exposure to other people outside of your household by keeping two metres away from other people. 

Given the greater risk of severe outcomes to Ontarians who are elderly, Dr. WIlliams is also strongly recommending that individuals over 70 years of age self-isolate. This means only leaving home or seeing other people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands. This also applies to individuals who have compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions.

View Dr. Williams’ full statement here


March 30 - 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. de Villa stated her strong support for new recommendations announced by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, that everyone should stay home except for essential reasons, and that those over 70 years of age should self-isolate. 

Dr. de Villa also shared the difficult news that eight members of our Toronto Public Health team have tested positive for COVID-19. All appropriate precautions have been taken to protect their health, the health of our broader team, and the continuity of our COVID-19 response.

This is why it is critical that everyone do their part to stay home and stop the spread of this virus, so that our frontline and essential service workers can continue to do their work to protect the health of our city. 

Read all of Dr. de Villa’s statements here

Update from Fire Chief Matthew Pegg

In his update today, Chief Pegg reiterated the importance of following Dr. de Villa’s advice to stay home except for critical or essential reasons. He was clear that those who choose to ignore or defy the law and open businesses that are not essential, or use public spaces that are closed, will be fined.

Over the weekend, the City saw an increase in complaints regarding a lack of physical distancing in parks and public spaces. This is of great concern, and Toronto Police are continuing to conduct enforcement and issue fines. 

To report non-compliance with respect to closures, please call 311. Please do NOT call 911, unless there is an emergency that requires a response by police, fire or paramedics.

Read all of Chief Pegg’s statements here.


Taking Action to Protect Individuals Experiencing Homelessness from COVID-19

In Toronto we look after each other. This means ensuring that all members of our community are supported, and doing everything we can to keep all Torontonians healthy and safe.

The City of Toronto has, over the past weeks, rapidly mobilized and implemented a plan in response to the risk COVID-19 presents to clients of the city’s network of shelters, respites, and drop-ins. Shelter, Support & Housing Administration (SSHA) is working with community partners to further strengthen this city-wide response and assure vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness that their health and safety is a priority.

Last week I provided an update on the City’s response, which includes nine new facilities and new hotel spaces for physical distancing; Canada's first dedicated isolation shelter for people experiencing homelessness, the Rapid Housing Access Initiative; enhanced screening and cleaning measures; and support for housing partners. 

Opportunities to acquire additional hotels and vacant residential buildings are also actively underway. Currently, the City has acquired 5 hotels (650 rooms), and is in the process of securing 5 more hotels, and 2 vacant rental buildings. There have also been 19 households permanently housed, and 50 permanent housing units are being identified. 

Yesterday I shared that the City of Toronto has also provided funding to 5 community partners that run overnight programs to stay open all-day (2 are now open, 3 others shortly). This is to provide daytime spaces for homeless individuals in the face of many closures across the city.

All of this work remains a priority and will continue to be scaled up in the coming days. 

If you or someone you know needs street outreach, call 311 or Central Intake at 416-338-4766.

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.

As a City we will continue working non-stop to ensure the most vulnerable members of our community are supported. No one will be left behind.


Applications Open for City of Toronto Free Emergency Child Care for Essential and Core Service Workers

The City of Toronto is opening free emergency 24/7 licenced child care centres for essential workers who are keeping us healthy and safe, and do not have the option to stay home. This is a brand new service in Toronto and we will be the first to open emergency child care in Ontario.

As a City we are doing everything we can to support the workers who are providing essential and critical services and keeping us healthy and safe. We owe our deepest thanks and ongoing support to all those on the frontlines.

This new service will be provided free of cost to parents. The child care facilities will operate around the clock, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, to support parents on shift work. The service will be available for children from infants to age 12. 

Eligibility criteria are established by the Province of Ontario. This list of eligible workers may change as the emergency evolves and will be updated as required. For a detailed description of eligibility, please visit https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-social-support/covid-19-child-care-for-essential-workers/.

Anyone who wishes to access emergency child care services can complete the online application to apply. After an application is approved, registration will be confirmed if space is available. Space is limited, but we are ready to scale up service to respond to demand.

If the level of demand exceeds capacity, initial priority will be given to front-line health care workers (including Toronto Public Health and City of Toronto Long-Term Care staff) and first responders.

Additional measures will be used, in consultation with Toronto Public Health and the City's Occupational Health and Safety program, to maintain a healthy and safe environment, including daily screening of children and staff, increased disinfection, reduced group sizes and limiting the number of people in the centre to 50.

At the City of Toronto we have been working around the clock to get this service up and running, in partnership with the Province of Ontario. Child care will be provided in existing municipal facilities by City child care workers. The Province is covering the cost to parents.

In the midst of this pandemic, a rapid emergency response is necessary. It is also a chance to think about what supports should be in place after the crisis has passed. If we can provide free, 24/7 child care now, we should be inspired and committed to providing it to everyone, always.


City of Toronto Prepared for Safe Distribution of Ontario Works Cheques

Distribution of Ontario Works cheques and payment cards by the City begins today. After much hard work and preparation, we are fully prepared to safely deliver this necessary service to everyone who relies on it.

City staff have followed up with hundreds of clients to confirm current mailing addresses. This has greatly reduced the number who require in-person pick up from around 1,300 to 600. Extensive safety procedures will be in place for clients and staff at 3 sites across Toronto.

Line-up and distribution will occur outdoors and in tents to allow for physical distancing. Signage and tape will mark off 6-foot distances in line. Adequate staff will be on hand to maintain physical distancing and to act as runners for re-issued payment cards.

City staff will screen all clients for COVID-19 before entering the line-up. Potential cases will be redirected to an on-site paramedic and potential referral to a provincial COVID-19 assessment centre. Paramedics will provide transport to an assessment centre if needed.

Portable toilets with handwashing stations will be provided for clients at each pick-up location. City staff will have appropriate personal protective equipment for safety.

Information about where to pick up cheques and payment cards is being communicated to clients through multiple channels. There will be signage at all the closed Employment & Social Services locations.

City staff will be at the busiest closed Employment & Social Services locations on Monday and Tuesday to facilitate TTC shuttle bus service for clients to the open sites. There will be screening before boarding the shuttle bus.

The Province of Ontario will also be delivering ODSP payments on Tuesday following the same protocols for physical distancing and safety. City staff will be present at that location to help any Ontario Works clients, including providing TTC shuttle bus service.

In this pandemic, we must work non-stop to ensure the most vulnerable members of our community are supported. Many are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. All services and supports have to be rapidly reorganized for everyone’s safety.


City of Toronto Playgrounds and Park Amenities Remain Closed to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

We are at a pivotal moment to slow the spread of COVID-19, and it is critical that we each practice diligent physical distancing at all times. Last week, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health announced the closure of playgrounds and park amenities to support physical distancing.

The decisions we make now can flatten the curve and prevent further spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing, staying home as much as possible, and regular hand washing are the best ways to protect the health of your friends and family, essential workers who cannot stay home, and yourself.

While we thank all the residents who are listening to public health advice and practicing physical distancing, we know that there are many who are continuing to put their health and the health of our community at risk by gathering in playgrounds and sports fields.

To support safe physical distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19, City playgrounds, sports fields and courts, off-leash dog areas, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor exercise equipment, and other park amenities are closed. Green spaces in public parks remain open.

Toronto's Medical Officer of Health is also urging condominiums, school boards, and Toronto Community Housing to close their playgrounds and park amenities, and to limit public congregation to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The closure of playgrounds and park amenities builds on the strong recommendations and measures from public health professionals provincially and locally, including the closure of schools, most City programs and facilities, and all non-essential businesses.


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

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. In my last update 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. 


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

If you need to go outside to get groceries, or walk the dog, please make sure to avoid crowds and maintain a distance of 6 feet from others at all times. 

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 not to leave your home and to separate yourself from others, with the purpose of preventing the spread of the virus, including those within your home. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is now recommending that all people over the age of 70 self-isolate given the elevated risk.

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. 

Read more about how to self-isolate here


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