COVID-19 Updates, Virtual City Council Meeting - May 1st

Dear friends,

Today is officially First Responders and Doctors Day in the City of Toronto. Today, and every day, we ask you to join us in thanking all of our first responders, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals for all they do to keep us healthy and safe. It’s up to all of us to show our appreciation by staying home and reducing the spread of COVID-19. 

As difficult as it may be heading into the weekend, we need to follow all of the public health measures in place. It is the time to stay vigilant, stay committed, and stay home, so that together we can continue to reduce transmission and save lives. 


Sincerely, 

Joe


In this Edition

  1. April 30th Virtual City Council Meeting
  2. Ensuring Access to Sanitation and Washroom Services for Vulnerable Populations
  3. Lake Ontario Water Levels and Flood Mitigation Update
  4. Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Head of the Office of Emergency Management 
  5. The Kiwanis Club of Toronto Foundation 2020 Grant 
  6. Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
  7. City Hall Live Online
  8. DonateTO: COVID-19 Portal to Support Pandemic Relief Efforts
  9. Advice from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Regarding the Use of Masks
  10. Staying Emotionally Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  11. Community and Social Supports for Torontonians 
  12. Supporting Local Businesses
  13. Physical Distancing – We All Need to do Our Part
  14. What is Self-Isolation?
  15. Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York
  16. COVID-19 Information and Resources

April 30th Virtual City Council Meeting

Yesterday, Toronto held its first ever virtual meeting of City Council. We discussed our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and advanced critical items, including the Toronto Modular Housing Initiative to help people transition out of homelessness. 


Click to watch video. At the meeting, I spoke about how our response to this pandemic will be measured by how we care for our most vulnerable. I’m deeply proud of the work that our entire City team has done so far, but we know there is more to do. Let’s get it done together.

Vote to Extend Emergency Declaration

City Council unanimously voted to extend Toronto’s State of Emergency declaration until the COVID-19 municipal emergency has ended, in accordance with advice from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Office of Emergency Management. 

This includes extending the new physical distancing emergency bylaws in parks and public squares for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. 

The declaration of a municipal emergency is part of the City's ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, and this extension will ensure that we can continue to respond quickly, administer necessary City business, plan for recovery, and protect the health of all residents. 

It has been just over one month since Toronto declared a State of Emergency in Toronto. At the time, there were 304 cases of COVID-19 in the city, and most cases were traceable to travel or close contact with the virus. 

Over the past month, the City has acted and responded quickly to the pandemic, working together with other levels of government, agencies, corporations, businesses, and community organizations to ensure we are best positioned to stop the spread of COVID-19, while providing support to those who need it most. 

In extending this declaration, the City strongly encourages residents to continue staying home as much as possible, keeping their distance from one another, protecting the vulnerable, and reducing the impact on our health care system. 

Implementing the Toronto Modular Housing Initiative as an Urgent Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

We need a range of tools and housing options in order to truly tackle the homelessness crisis in our city. Earlier this week, I provided an update on plans to create new modular housing units that can be built rapidly to provide supportive housing to those in need, and yesterday, City Council voted to proceed with this critical initiative

New Bike Lanes on Douro Street and Wellington Street West

If we are committed to creating safer streets, it is critical that we invest in new cycling infrastructure. Expanding the cycling grid across all of our neighbourhoods is one crucial step we must take to ensure our streets are safe for all.

Yesterday, City Council voted to support the 2020 Cycling Network Plan, which includes the installation of new bike lanes on Douro Street between King Street West and Strachan Avenue, and Wellington Street West between Strachan Avenue and Niagara Street. 

These new bike lanes will provide dedicated spaces for cyclists to improve safety for all road users, and will connect to other cycling infrastructure in the area, including the King-Liberty Pedestrian/Cycle Bridge, the Garrison Crossing Pedestrian/Cycle Bridge, and eventually with the West Toronto Railpath Extension from Sudbury Street.


Ensuring Access to Sanitation and Washroom Services for Vulnerable Populations

The ability to practice proper hygiene, including handwashing, is vital to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Due to the closure of community and drop-in spaces, some of our most vulnerable, including those experiencing homelessness, now have limited access to washrooms and handwashing facilities. In response to this need, we have opened Sanitation and Washroom Service locations across the city to provide access to showers, washrooms, and drinking water during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As we work together to fight this virus, it is critical that we ensure our most vulnerable have access to the support that they need, and we will continue to review and adapt our response to these rapidly changing circumstances. 

Click here to read more about the Sanitation and Washroom Services for Vulnerable Populations.


Lake Ontario Water Levels and Flood Mitigation Update

The City continues to receive updates from the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board on water levels in Lake Ontario.

As of April 30, authorities are forecasting lower peak lake levels than we experienced in 2017 and 2019. While lake levels have been high since the beginning of 2020, weather conditions this spring have been dry and cool in both the Lake Ontario and Ottawa River basins. The rapid, heavy spring snowmelt and precipitation experienced during previous flood years have not occurred, and current forecasts indicate these trends will continue. These projections suggest a decreasing likelihood of flood conditions on Toronto Islands this year.

The City will continue to work on flood mitigation projects on Toronto Islands and the waterfront to ensure long-term protection is in place for this season and future years. Lake Ontario water level triggers have been established, and further plans are in place if lake levels rise above 75.5 metres. If this occurs, emergency teams will immediately work to assess impacts and implement flood mitigation plans. This work will continue alongside the Emergency Operation Centre's ongoing work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 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. Emergency response plans are being updated to work under current directives to mitigate COVID-19, and to address needs along the city-side waterfront as well as Toronto Islands.
  • All Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) flood mitigation projects for Toronto's Waterfront and Toronto Islands continue to be categorized as "essential" business under the Province of Ontario's recently updated direction. These works are continuing with appropriate public health-recommended separation protocols for workers.
  • On Toronto Islands, the TRCA has completed installation of new flood mitigation beach curbs east and west of Ward’s dock.
  • Urgent raising of roads to maintain emergency access in two priority locations is underway: a 300m stretch of Lake Shore Boulevard near Gibraltar Point, and a 200m stretch on Cibola Avenue near the Fire Hall. The road bed raising work has been completed and asphalting is expected to begin the week of May 18. The roads are fully accessible for vehicles until that work is completed.
  • At the Toronto Island Water Treatment Plant, implementation of two berms, a sump pit, and metre bags is underway to protect this vital public infrastructure.
  • Engineering assessment work on the sea wall at Algonquin Island has been completed. TRCA has recommended implementation of a 1m berm on the sea wall, along the edge of Seneca Avenue. Design work will be completed by mid-May, and construction is scheduled to be completed in June. In the meantime, previously installed metre-bags and new sandbagging will provide protection from wave action.
  • Twelve aquadams and more industrial pumps have been ordered for installation before extreme lake levels are reached to mitigate flooding in low-lying areas of Toronto Islands Park.
  • Technical mapping of flood impacts for different lake level elevations for the whole of Toronto’s waterfront has been produced by TRCA to inform Emergency Management planning. This information will be posted on a public portal on TRCA’s website in the coming days.​

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 shared an update on the Jesse Ketchum Early Learning and Child Care Centre, which is one of the City's seven licensed child care centres that provide care for the children of essential and critical service workers. To date, six centre staff and one child have tested positive for COVID-19. Two children have tested negative for COVID-19. Toronto Public Health continues to work with Children's Services and Public Health Ontario to manage this outbreak. This includes reviewing the infection prevention and control protocols in place to see if changes can be made to prevent infections from spreading in these important centres.

Toronto Public Health  is completing a thorough investigation of all cases and their contacts to determine where the infection originated. This includes testing all staff and children who were at the centre between April 21 and April 28. Staff and children who attended the centre during this period are required to be in self-isolation for 14 days, from their last day at the centre. 

Dr. de Villa also spoke about how we are anticipating nice weather this weekend, but what continues to be best for our community is to stay home as much as possible and to continue practising physical distancing. This doesn't mean you can't go outside at all. What we are asking is for you to limit your outings and to make sure you are being careful about practising physical distancing when you do go outside. This is the best way to protect yourself and everyone around you. 

Read all of Dr. de Villa’s past statements here

Update from Fire Chief Matthew Pegg

Today Chief Pegg reported that early this morning, Toronto Fire Services responded to a fire in an encampment near Mount Pleasant Road and Bloor Street East. Tragically, one occupant died in the fire. A comprehensive investigation into the origin, cause, and circumstances associated with this fire is underway in collaboration between Toronto Fire Services, the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal, and the Toronto Police Service.

The City extends its deepest condolences to the friends and family of the deceased. This is the seventh fire fatality in an encampment in Toronto since 2010, and the first since 2018.

On Wednesday, the City announced a new program that is providing housing to people living in outdoor encampments. The program includes 125 units in two apartment buildings in midtown Toronto. As of yesterday, 36 people have moved into units with 24/7 staff support, security and case management focused on long-term housing and other immediate needs, including harm reduction supports. This interim housing will be a bridge to more permanent housing options. 

Read all of Chief Pegg’s statements here.


The Kiwanis Club of Toronto 2020 Programs and Grants

Grants from the Kiwanis Club of Toronto Foundation will support programs and projects that encourage and inspire children and youth to play and have fun while growing strong bodies and minds. These grants will enable organizations to consider accessibility; sensory experiences; and developmentally appropriate activities for kids of all levels. They will be awarded to those programs and projects that have “fun” as a primary goal for fostering healthy children and healthy communities. Please click here to apply. Applications close on May 15th.

The Kiwanis Club of Toronto recently launched their Community Champions Program as a means to respond to the overwhelming need for COVID-19 relief across the city. Through this initiative they are investing in community partner organizations that are addressing needs in response to the pandemic, including the Daily Bread Foodbank, Global Medic, and Greenest City. Learn more here.


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 donate@toronto.ca

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. 


Protecting Yourself and Others from COVID-19 — Advice from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Regarding the Use of Masks 

There have been many questions about the use of masks when out in public over the last few days. 

Our Medical Officer of Health, Dr, Eileen de Villa, has been clear — the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid close contact with others. This means staying at home as much as possible, and when you go out, practicing physical distancing.  

Additionally, you should wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean and free of virus. You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a statement on the use of non-medical masks. They have advised that while wearing a non-medical mask (such as a homemade cloth mask) in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it from other people's germs, it may stop you from spreading your germs to other people. This is especially true in situations when it is difficult to keep a distance of 6 feet from others. 

This new advice is based on the emerging science that people may be contagious even if they don't have symptoms.  Dr. de Villa has advised that masks alone are not an effective measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and that this is not a recommendation for everyone to wear a mask at all times.

When you do leave your home to seek medical care, or for essential supplies, practicing physical distancing is the next best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is also the best way to protect yourself from getting COVID-19. In these situations, wearing a cloth mask can prevent your respiratory droplets and your germs from coming into contact with others. What this means is even if you don't have symptoms, by wearing a cloth mask, you may be better able to avoid spreading your germs to other people. 

Dr. de Villa has been clear:

  • Wearing a cloth mask, or scarf has not been proven to protect the person wearing it from the germs of others. 
  • Wearing a cloth mask, or scarf, is also not a replacement for following proven prevention measures such as staying home, physical distancing and handwashing. 
  • Wearing a non-medical mask is just one more thing you can do, if you choose to, to help protect others.  

If you decide to wear a cloth mask, you should use it properly and safely. This means:

  • Making sure the mask fits your face properly. 
  • Not sharing your mask with others.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before putting it on
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after taking it off
  • Avoid touching your face when you put the mask on and off.
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it. 

Medical masks should be kept for healthcare workers and first responders. We have to ensure that these essential workers have the supplies they need to take good care of us. 

Everyone still needs to do the right things: stay home, stay safe, and continue to take care of each other. 


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

Physical Distancing  We All Need to do Our Part

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, we need everyone to stay home, as much as possible. Avoid close contact and keep a distance of 6 feet (2 metres) from others. Everyone has a role to play. The actions you take will protect you, loved ones and those most vulnerable in our community. It’s time to step up, not out. #StayHomeTO

Limit your trips outdoors

  • Minimize trips for groceries, medication and other essentials, ideally to once a week
  • Offer to pick up essentials for neighbours, especially vulnerable community members
  • Ideally, order supplies online
  • Avoid crowded places when exercising or walking the dog outdoors
  • Consider doing aerobics or online exercise classes at home
  • Limit the number of people in elevators to keep distance and use an elbow to press buttons
  • Wash or sanitize your hands when entering and exiting buildings
  • Use tap to pay rather than handling money
  • Greet others from a distance with a wave or a nod

When taking transit or taxi

  • Travel during non-peak hours to avoid prolonged close contact with others
  • Take shorter trips rather than one long trip
  • With taxi and ride share, sit in the back and open windows
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often and avoid touching your face

Avoid physical gatherings

  • Work from home, if possible
  • Facilitate virtual meetings (video or teleconferencing)
  • Cancel all group gatherings, parties or playdates with other children
  • Gatherings with more than 5 people are not allowed (excluding people who live together)
  • Do not go to playgrounds
  • Schedule virtual parties or playdates
  • Connect with loves ones by phone, email video or social media
  • Do not visit loved ones in long-term care homes, retirement homes or other care settings

If sick, stay home and self-isolate

  • People are most contagious when they are sick, or 48 hours before they show symptoms
  • Limit contact with household members
  • Refer to fact sheets on how to self-isolate

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. 

You must stay home and self-isolate if you have:

  • A lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection, do not require hospitalization, and a medical practitioner has indicated that you can recover at home
  • Symptoms of COVID-19, even if you have not been tested
  • Been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms
  • Travelled outside of Canada, including the United States, within the past 14 days

For your protection, you should self-isolate if:

  • You are over 70 years of age
  • You have a weak immune system
  • You have a medical condition

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