COVID-19 Updates, Safer Streets - May 6th
Living with the reality of COVID-19 means continuing our fight against the pandemic, starting to prepare our city for recovery, and staying vigilant about the threat of future outbreaks.
As our Medical Officer of Health Dr. de Villa shared in her update yesterday, while our situation in Toronto is improving, we know that other places in the country are at a different stage than we are. British Columbia, for example, experienced the peak period in their curve approximately one month earlier than us, and they are now seeing fewer COVID-19 cases than we are seeing locally.
Dr. de Villa reminded us that in Toronto, we need to look at our own unique circumstances to inform how we can reopen safely. We are Canada’s largest city, with a greater density and a highly mobile population. While our local indicators suggest that COVID-19 activity is slowing down, we need to continue physical distancing measures until we see a steady decrease in the number of new cases and hospitalizations.
We need to ensure that we do not undo the progress we have made by keeping up with physical distancing measures. I know this is becoming more difficult as time goes on and the weather improves, but for now we still need to ensure that we are physically distancing, even when we are outdoors.
We’ve made it this far, and I know we'll make it the rest of the way together.
In this Edition
- Second Recovery Site for People Experiencing Homelessness Set to Open
- COVID-19 Impact on Different Communities
- New Measures to Make our Streets Safer for Physical Distancing
- Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Head of the Office of Emergency Management
- Construction of New Community Centre in CityPlace Nearing Completion
- Revised Due Dates for City of Toronto Property Tax and Utility Bills
- Upcoming City Construction on Bathurst Street
- Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
- City Hall Live Online
- DonateTO: COVID-19 Portal to Support Pandemic Relief Efforts
- Staying Emotionally Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Community and Social Supports for Torontonians
- Supporting Local Businesses
- Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 When Spending Time Outdoors
- Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York
- COVID-19 Information and Resources
Second Recovery Site for People Experiencing Homelessness Set to Open
The most important part of our COVID-19 response is taking care of our most vulnerable. To help keep everyone accessing the City’s shelter system safe, we are opening an additional, second location for our dedicated COVID-19 recovery program for people experiencing homelessness.
The first of its kind in Ontario, the City’s recovery program is a unique model of care that we’ve developed in partnership with healthcare partners and community organizations. It’s a way for people without housing to recover from COVID-19 with dignity, privacy, and support.
Our first recovery site, which opened earlier this month, provides safe hotel accomodation for up to 200 individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 but do not require hospital care. This accommodation is paired with food and other necessities, along with access to 24/7 medical care, harm reduction services, and peer-support workers. Through the program, clients are able to self-isolate and safely recover from their symptoms.
Based on the success of the first recovery program site, and on direct feedback from people with lived experience of homelessness and community organizations, the City has secured another hotel for the program’s second location. The second recovery program site is scheduled to open this Friday, and has capacity for 250 clients.
The site is pet-friendly and can accommodate families. Once a client has recovered from the virus, the team will provide referrals to housing options and additional supports.
This innovative recovery program is made possible through the City’s partnership with the University Health Network, Inner City Health Associates, and community organizations including Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, South Riverdale Community Health Centre, the Neighbourhood Group, and Sound Times. Doctors Without Borders is also providing expertise on project coordination and logistics.
Everyone should have access to shelter, care and supports — not just during a pandemic, but all the time. Our health as a city and community depends on how we treat our most vulnerable. Going forward, we need to implement housing solutions that put people’s health first.
Toronto Public Health Analysis Shows COVID-19 Impact on Different Communities
As we've seen across other cities and countries, COVID-19 does not affect everyone equally.
People who are already marginalized — people experiencing homelessness, the frail and elderly, racial minorities, the working poor — are at higher risk of infection and hospitalization.
Yesterday, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa discussed Toronto Public Health’s early analysis of COVID-19 infections and locations across our city. Dr. de Villa confirmed that COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are currently higher in areas of the city that are low-income, have high unemployment rates, and have higher levels of recent immigration. She also noted that Black people, South Asian and Southeast Asian people, and Latin-American Canadians are at higher risk of infection.
Dr. de Villa stressed that this is a preliminary analysis, and may not account for all factors. However, it is crucial that we continue to measure the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having on different groups and communities, in order to better tailor our response and support. Toronto Public Health is now adding socio-demographic questions to case and contract tracing, including data on race, income, household size, and Indigenous identity.
New Measures to Make our Streets Safer for Physical Distancing
While the reality of COVID-19 means learning to live with the threat of outbreaks until there is a vaccine, we are also looking ahead to our restart and recovery. Part of that work includes making our streets and sidewalks safe for everyone to practice physical distancing while also living life – commuting, exercising, and enjoying being outdoors.
This means that our public health experts are transitioning from advising everyone to stay home, to recommending that if you are outside for exercise or recreation, to maintain a physical distance of two metres (or six feet) from others.
On Toronto Public Health’s recommendations, City staff will be moving quickly to increase traffic calming measures to open up space for pedestrians and cyclists, close some streets on weekends and holidays, and speed up installation of bike lanes. These changes are to better facilitate physical distancing and make it possible for everyone to safely access our roads and outdoor spaces.
More details and locations are to be confirmed shortly.
The reality is that in Toronto, our streets were designed to move cars. We need to redesign them to move people, and move people safely. These changes are steps in the right direction.
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 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 spoke about how now that the nice weather is finally upon us, time outside is important for our physical and mental health. She spoke about some of the City’s plans to make more space available for walkers, joggers and cyclists, because we know that mobility is key to recovery. This is why, as our recovery process begins, we need to keep Toronto moving. She shared that Toronto Public Health is working closely with the City's Transportation Services division on a plan to provide more space for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders so we can move around safely in our city.
Dr. de Villa shared that we also need to be careful not to undo all of the progress we’ve made. It is the job of public health to balance measures meant to control the spread of COVID-19 with the health, social and economic consequences of those measures, with the overall goal of protecting the health of our city. In closing, she asked that we all continue to stay safe, continue to practise physical distancing when outdoors, and continue to take care of each other.
Read all of Dr. de Villa’s past statements here.
Update from Fire Chief Matthew Pegg
Today Chief Pegg shared that all aspects of the Emergency Operations Centre are continuing, and staff at the Centre are doing an extraordinary job of ensuring that critical and essential city services are being provided without interruption.
He also shared that a team has been established through the Emergency Operations Centre that is working closely with the City’s Transportation division, Toronto Police, Fire, and Paramedics to ensure the safe implementation of the CurbTO program, and changes that were announced by the provincial government today to allow retail curbside pickup beginning next week.
Read all of Chief Pegg’s statements here.
Construction of New Community Centre in CityPlace Nearing Completion
Earlier this year, we opened two new schools in CityPlace. Now, I’m thrilled to report that construction on our new community centre and childcare centre is nearing completion.
In 2015, the Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board, the local community, and the City of Toronto set out to design a 21st century school and community centre. The outcome: an integrated facility with everything from an indoor playground designed by the Ontario Science Centre, to a rooftop basketball court.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, work on this important project is continuing, as it has been categorized as an essential service. Construction is expected to be completed within the next few weeks. Read more about the project here.
Revised Due Dates for City of Toronto Property Tax and Utility Bills
Early in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Toronto announced tax relief measures, including a 60-day grace period for property tax and utility bills. From March 16 to May 15, payment due dates were extended, and late payment penalties were suspended for all property tax and utility billings.
With May 15 approaching, residents should take note of changes to installment amounts and due dates for all payment schedules. Final tax bills will be mailed in mid-May as usual. Read more about the changes here.
City Construction on Bathurst Street Begins this Month
Earlier this week I shared that while much of our focus during this time has been on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, city maintenance projects are still underway. Several necessary maintenance projects are being coordinated on Bathurst Street. The image above provides a visual on each stage of this work, and corresponding timelines. Click here for full details on upcoming Bathurst Street construction.
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.
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.
Since 2016, local artists have performed in Nathan Phillips Square as part of City Hall Live’s music series to provide paid performance opportunities for Toronto musicians across all genres. To date, City Hall Live has showcased more than 150 local artists, working with numerous Toronto music organizations, festivals, and events.
Under the necessary restrictions in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, artists are taking their shows online. The series will run Monday through Friday, from 12 noon to 1 p.m., with two shows per day until the end of June. More than 100 local artists will be directly compensated for 30-minute performances from their homes, livestreamed via Facebook Live at facebook.com/City-Hall-Live-106149534367134.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant economic impact on Toronto residents and businesses, including the music community, in particular small venues and individual musicians. During each performance, viewers can choose to make a donation, 100 percent of which will support Unison's work to help musicians and music industry workers.
DonateTO: COVID-19 Portal to Support Pandemic Relief Efforts
Over the past month, Ward 10 residents have reached out to my office to ask how they can help with our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the City launched the DonateTO online portal, making it easy for businesses and residents to make direct donations of products, services, and funds in support of the City’s relief efforts.
Our ongoing response to the pandemic includes new efforts to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our community, including isolated seniors and people experiencing homelesness. The City is currently working with a range of community partners to enhance much-needed services and supports.
Residents and businesses can help by contributing donations of personal protective equipment, non-perishable food, other goods and services, and financial gifts. Residents can also use the DonateTO portal to find out about volunteer opportunities in their community. Any questions about donations can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
In Toronto, we take care of each other. I want to recognize and thank all the Ward 10 residents who have been helping out their neighbours and our community during this difficult time, and all the frontline staff who are working tirelessly to support our City’s relief efforts.
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 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.
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.
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 is arriving, 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
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
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.