Mandatory Mask Bylaw, June City Council Updates
This has been a challenging time. To the residents of our city: I know this hasn’t been easy. You stayed home when we asked you to. You practiced physical distancing with your friends and loved ones. You stopped playing in playgrounds, eating in restaurants, getting your haircut. You’ve already done a lot.
Now, we’re asking you again to do your part. When you’re indoors in public settings, like a coffee shop, grocery store, or post office, wear a mask. As we’ve said all along, the sooner we all do our part, the sooner we’ll all be able to get through this.
COVID-19 has tested our city, and you have risen to the test, time and time again. I know we will get through this stronger and more resilient than before.
In this Edition
- Mandatory Mask Bylaw - Approved by City Council
- Anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous Racism and the Toronto Police Services Budget - City Council Updates
- Calling for Expanded Access to Child Care as Part of COVID-19 Recovery
- CafeTO Plan Approved
- Virtual Canada Day Programs
- COVID-19 Information and Resources
Mandatory Mask Bylaw - Approved by City Council
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have relied on the best advice from our public health experts, including Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, to keep us safe. This advice has guided every step of our response, from shutting our city down in March to sharing real-time data on the impact of COVID-19, and has helped flatten the curve and prevent thousands of cases.
We must keep listening to our public health experts as we transition our response into the recovery stage, and as our new information about this virus continues to emerge. That's why today I was happy to support Dr. de Villa, and glad that City Council adopted her recommendation to introduce a new city bylaw requiring masks or face coverings in enclosed public spaces in order to further protect the public and limit the spread of COVID-19.
The science on mask usage and transmission continues to evolve, but there is increasing evidence that wearing masks indoors should reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Cloth masks are a low-cost, reusable, and non-invasive prevention tool. Evidence shows that indoor areas are more conducive to virus spread, and that people who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic can unknowingly spread the virus to others. For masks or face coverings to be effective, though, we need a critical mass – some studies estimate as high as 80% compliance – to truly reduce transmission.
Around the world, over 100 countries have adopted some form of universal mask requirement in response to COVID-19. As our City Solicitor report noted, the most efficient way to require masks or face coverings would be through a provincial order. But we cannot afford to wait. That's why I urged Council to support the introduction of a temporary bylaw requiring masks or face coverings in enclosed public spaces, with an exemption for people who are unable to wear a face covering for medical reasons and children under the age of 2.
We have been living with the reality of COVID-19 since January. All evidence indicates that this virus will not go away next week, next month, or possibly even next year. We must continue to adapt. Now, as many businesses and services in our city start to open back up, we need to take additional precautions to try to prevent new infections from rising. That means wearing a mask whenever we are out in indoor public settings, whether in a grocery store, coffee shop, post office, or any other enclosed public space.
COVID-19 has tested our City. By listening to the guidance of our public health leaders, we have risen to the test, and saved countless lives. Let's continue to work together and keep one another safe.
Anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous Racism and the Toronto Police Services Budget – City Council Updates
We are at a pivotal moment for examining anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, and the ways it continues to manifest in our cities and communities. It is important that we seize this opportunity to examine how we can best deliver services, including responses for people in crisis or distress, in ways that protect everyone in our communities.
Anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism is real and pervasive in Toronto. I believe that we need to take a real, hard look at how our institutions operate, including our police forces and our justice systems. Evidence has shown that Black Torontonians are 20 times more likely to be in fatal encounters with the police than white residents, while Black and Indigenous Torontonians are over-represented in our correctional facilities and in the child welfare system. This has to stop.
Earlier this month I shared my statement and support for Councillor Matlow and Councillor Wong-Tam’s motion at City Council which proposed changes to the Toronto Police Services budget. Unfortunately that motion did not receive support from enough members of Council to pass. This is disappointing, but it doesn’t mean that the work is over.
City Council did approve my motion requesting the Toronto Police Services Board to direct the Chief of Police to immediately provide the line-by-line breakdown of the Toronto Police Service's 2020 Budget and to make the breakdown publicly available by July 2020. I will continue to provide updates as they become available.
The discussion on what policing should look like in Toronto is far from over. I want to thank all the residents of Ward 10 who reached out to my office over the past few weeks and shared concerns, ideas, and suggestions for new ways that we can deliver services, including emergency response and public safety, in our communities. I was inspired by the advocacy and dedication of so many who are committed to ending systemic racism and discrimination, and investing in positive solutions, including affordable housing, public transit, income assistance, and community supports. I look forward to continuing this work together, and learning more from the important work that is happening all around us at this moment.
Calling for Expanded Access to Child Care as part of COVID-19 Recovery
Today, City Council unanimously approved a motion from Councillor Layton and I highlighting the importance of child care in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and calling on the Province and Federal Government to develop a National Child Care Strategy to ensure all families have care they can afford.
The motion addresses both the current need for child care spaces as our city begins to open back up, as well as the challenge of accessing affordable care that low and moderate-income families experienced even before the pandemic. Due to new provincial health and safety rules implemented this month, child care centres can resume operations at approximately 30-40% capacity. This means that there will be 60-70% less spaces for children than were available before the pandemic – exacerbating an already-existing crisis.
The motion also cites the disproportionate impact on women when families cannot find affordable care. Women are already at increased risk of job and income loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in what some economists are calling a "she-cession."
If we want to kick-start our economy, re-open our cities, get our workforce back on track, tackle gender inequity, and finally end the gender pay gap, we need universal, affordable child care that's a real option for every family. Today's motion puts us one step closer to reaching this goal.
CaféTO Plan is Approved to Safely Increase and Quickly Expand Outdoor Dining Space for Local Restaurants and Bars
The CaféTO report, which directs the City to take quick action and make way for additional safe outdoor dining spaces for local restaurants and bars, was unanimously approved with amendments by Toronto City Council. It’s expected the first CaféTO locations will be in place on July 1.
CaféTO will ensure that accessibility and safety are not compromised while making it easier for many restaurant and bar owners to open patios, expand them and access additional space for physical distancing, in accordance with public health guidelines.
While restaurants and bars remain closed for dine-in service due to provincial orders and public health recommendations, existing outdoor patios began opening last Wednesday, in accordance with public health guidelines as part of the Province of Ontario’s Stage 2 restart plan.
Virtual Canada Day Programs
Toronto unites online this year for Canada Day. Participate in virtual Canada Day programs from home and download a Celebration Kit with interactive and creative activities for the whole family. Programming includes music, dance, comedy, CN Tower Canada Day Light Show and much more. Plus, nominate a frontline worker for recognition. Click here for the full program schedule.
COVID-19 Information and Resources
It is important to stay informed through credible sources, and to follow the advice of our public health professionals. Together we can limit the spread of COVID-19.
Please visit the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for the up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19
Government COVID-19 websites
Call if you develop symptoms.
Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services.