COVID-19 and Ward 10 Updates - November 12th
Since Day One, our Medical Officer of Health Dr. de Villa, Mayor Tory, and I have pledged to do everything in our power to protect our city. We committed to following the science and listening to experts. Right now, the evidence is clear: if we're going to beat this second wave of COVID-19, we must act fast, and act now.
The trend in new cases in our city is moving in the wrong direction. Hospitalizations are up and hundreds of new cases are being reported every day. This can't be our new normal. That's why this week’s announcement on new public health measures is critical.
This wasn't an easy decision to make. We agonized over it. But we've seen from cities around the world that when case counts are surging, you must shut down fast and re-open cautiously and slowly, and only when it can be done safely – and sustainably. We're not there yet.
After nine long months, I know this isn’t easy to hear. I know that businesses are under great pressure, and that Torontonians have already sacrificed so much. But these measures are necessary to protect people and save lives.
I want to be clear: these are very hard times. This pandemic won't be over tomorrow, next week, or even next month. But it will end. And when it does, we will know that we did all we could to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our city.
In this Edition
- New Public Health Measures Take Effect on Saturday
- Preparing for the COVID-19 Vaccine
- Update on the Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 in Toronto
- New Report Urges Action on the Overdose Crisis
- Standing Up for Quality, Affordable Child Care
- Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
- Bag of Toronto - Supporting Local Businesses
- Virtual Public Information Meeting: Florence Booth House
- New Port Lands Bridge Has Arrived in Toronto
- Marine Use Strategy Consultation Continues to November 18
- Toronto’s Voluntary Isolation Centre
- City of Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
- COVID-19 Information and Resources
New Public Health Measures Take Effect on Saturday
On Saturday, November 14, Toronto will transition from the Ontario Government’s “Modified Stage 2” to the “Red – Control” category in the Province’s new COVID-19 Response Framework, with additional measures from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health. In order to protect residents and reduce transmission, in Toronto:
- Indoor dining in bars, restaurants, and other spaces will remain closed
- Indoor fitness classes are not permitted (though gyms and fitness facilities may reopen with physical distancing and capacity limits)
- Meeting and event spaces will remain closed
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments will remain closed
- In malls, patrons should not consume food or drink while walking indoors
- Limit in-person activities outside the home to essential activities only – going to work or school, health care, shopping for your household and health needs, and getting exercise and physical activity
- Restrict close contacts only to those you live with and your essential supports
- Social gatherings should only be with those you live with and/or 1 or 2 essential supports
- Businesses and workplaces should implement work from home policies wherever possible
- Businesses should review their HVAC systems to ensure they are in good working order
- Workplaces should appoint a compliance officer to ensure implementation of occupational health and safety and infection prevention and control measures
The City of Toronto’s COVID-19 website is being updated to reflect these changes. Please visit https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/ for new information and resources as they become available.
Preparing for the COVID-19 Vaccine
While our team at Toronto Public Health and the City is focused on protecting the health of our residents today, we are also actively preparing for the roll-out of a COVID vaccine in the future.
The past nine months have been hard on all of us, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Once a vaccine is ready, we'll have a plan to make sure everyone has access, beginning with our most vulnerable.
Update on the Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 in Toronto
Toronto Public Health recently released new sociodemographic data on COVID-19 cases in our city for the months of June to September. The data shows that people who identify with a racialized group and people who live in low-income households continue to be disproportionately impacted by this virus.
While just over half of Toronto residents identify with a racialized group, they accounted for 79% of COVID cases. Based on TPH's calculations, a racialized person in Toronto is 3.4 times as likely to contract COVID-19 as someone who is white.
When it comes to income, almost half of the COVID cases are from people who live in low-income households (48%). A Torontonian who lives in a low-income household is 2.2 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than someone who doesn't live in a low-income household.
The new data shows that COVID-19 continues to prey on poverty, discrimination, and inequality in our city. How much you make, where you live, and the colour of your skin plays a big part in who is put at risk, who gets sick, and who bears the devastating impacts of this virus.
We must protect the residents and communities in our city that face systemic barriers and unequal access to the social determinants of health. Toronto's COVID Equity Action Plan is an important step, but we also need the Province to expand testing and increase worker protections.
The data also shows that we have much work ahead of us when it comes to income inequality, lack of affordable housing, access to physical and mental health services, and community supports. We can't have a healthy city, province, or country without addressing these realities.
New Report Urges Action on the Overdose Crisis
Between April 1 and September 30 of 2020, 132 people in Toronto lost their lives due to a suspected opioid overdose – nearly double the number from the same period in 2018 and 2019. This is a devastating public health crisis that demands immediate action.
To address the worsening crisis Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has recommended a suite of urgent actions that require collaboration and participation from all three levels of government. These include:
- Expanding safer supply programs, so people can access safe opioids from a health professional;
- Increased access to harm-reduction programs and other evidence-based treatment options;
- Funding for grief and trauma supports for frontline workers, people who use drugs, and family members;
- Piloting virtual and/or phone-based supervised consumption services as well as in-person peer supervision in congregate or residential settings to complement the current service options; and,
- A commitment to decriminalization of the simple possession of all drugs for personal use.
Throughout the past nine months, we have relied on the best advice from our public health experts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and keep us safe. We must do the same when tackling the public health emergency that is the overdose crisis in our city.
Standing Up for Quality, Affordable Child Care
The Ontario Government has quietly proposed changes to the child care system, which include changes to staff ratios and group sizes and loosening qualifications for staff.
In light of the Province’s actions, the City of Toronto consulted with parents and child care providers, who have made it clear that they don't support these changes. You can read the report on the feedback that the City heard from the consultations here.
There's no economic recovery from COVID-19 without investing in affordable, accessible child care. That means that we should be doing everything we can to support the child care sector – not introducing changes that make it harder for providers and staff to deliver quality care.
Along with Councillor Mike Layton, I participated in a joint press conference this morning with the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and the Association for Early Childhood Educators Ontario to call for more investment and support for our child care system, not less.
Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
Our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, and other City division leaders have been providing twice-weekly updates on the current situation and response to COVID-19 in Toronto. You can view the press conferences live at 2pm, and access past updates here.
Today, Dr. de Villa provided an update on Toronto Public Health’s work to scale up case and contact tracing. Currently, nearly 900 staff are dedicated to this work – the largest team in Canada – and are reaching more than 90% of new COVID-19 cases w/in 24 hours of receiving their test result.
Toronto Public Health are now introducing an automated voice message system to reach people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 even more quickly. Using customer logs from businesses and venues, automatic voice messages are sent out telling people about the potential exposure and providing instructions to self-isolate and monitor symptoms. Toronto Public Health is also introducing a new online survey tool to gather more data on how COVID is spreading in our city.
Read Dr. de Villa’s full update for more details on Toronto Public Health’s work keep Torontonians safe.
Bag of Toronto - Supporting Local Businesses
It's more important than ever that we celebrate and support local businesses. A new way to do this is through Bag of Toronto – a curated assortment of specialty products, delivered right to your door. A portion of the profits and all tips will support local charities in each neighbourhood.
Virtual Public Information Meeting: Florence Booth House
The Salvation Army invites you to learn more about the proposal to revitalize and redevelop Florence Booth House at 723 Queen Street West. Staff from Florence Booth House, the Project Team, and the City of Toronto will be present for a virtual public information meeting, hosted by The Salvation Army.
November 24, 2020 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
To join online: FlorenceBoothHouse.com
New Port Lands Bridge Has Arrived in Toronto
Waterfront revitalization is not only underway, it’s thriving. This past weekend, the first of four new bridges arrived for the Port Lands flood protection and transformation project. It was a delight to be present to welcome the arrival of the bridge in Toronto, along with representatives from the City, Provincial, and Federal governments – all partners in Waterfront Toronto.
When fully complete this bridge will carry the Waterfront LRT into a brand new 300-acre liveable neighbourhood with housing, employment & parks will be created.
Marine Use Strategy Consultation Continues to November 18
Toronto's Harbour is one of our most cherished resources. It provides a mix of active and diverse uses, including recreational boating, water-based transportation, tour boats, and industrial shipping. This dynamic and busy area requires good planning to maintain a balance of uses as waterfront revitalization progresses.
Waterfront Toronto, in collaboration with the City of Toronto, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and Ports Toronto is updating the Strategy to align with current trends in marine uses, and to determine priorities for implementation.
The second Public Information Centre for the Marine Use Strategy was held on November 8, and the video recording of the presentation is available online. You can find the presentation, draft report, a questionnaire and other supporting materials here.
Toronto’s Voluntary Isolation Centre
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.
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.