Staying Informed About COVID-19 - March 25th Updates

Dear Friends,

The choices we make and the actions we take right now -- each and every one of us -- will determine whether we are successful in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our city, our province, and our country. 

As our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, explained today, unlike many other cities and countries we still have the opportunity here and now to slow its spread. But we all have to take our part seriously.

Now is the time to stay home, practice physical distancing of 2 metres from other people when you cannot avoid leaving your home, and wash your hands thoroughly.

This is a challenging moment in time for us all. We will get through it. We can do this. But it requires all of us working together.

Sincerely, 

 

Joe

 


Closing Playgrounds and Park Amenities to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

We are at a pivotal moment to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is critical that we each practice diligent physical distancing at all times. Today, 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 will be closed. Public parks will still 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.


March 25 - 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

In today’s update, Dr. de Villa shared the sad news of three new deaths in Toronto that can be attributed to COVID-19. She urged everyone to stay home as much as possible and practice physical distancing when going out cannot be avoided, in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect our parents, grandparents, people with compromised immune systems, and people with chronic health conditions.

Dr. de Villa explained that physical distancing takes time to work. You can be infected with COVID-19 and not know it yet. For most people it takes 5-6 days for symptoms to appear. For some people it can take up to 14 days. There can be a number of days from when you first show symptoms to when you get tested and then get the test results. This means the positive test results we are seeing today are actually infections that happened several days ago. It is important to stay home and continue staying home now, to prevent new cases that would appear in several days. 

She also explained her recommendation to close all City playgrounds and park amenities, as well as all school playgrounds, which was announced earlier in the day. Unfortunately, despite Dr. de Villa’s strong recommendations to practice physical distancing, there have been many instances of unsafe gatherings in playgrounds and on sports fields. We all have to take our part seriously in the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep our neighbours and families safe.

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

Update from Fire Chief Matthew Pegg

Chief Pegg first provided further details on the closure of playgrounds and park amenities.

He also provided an update on enforcement of the Provincial order that “non-essential” businesses must close. Yesterday, Toronto Public Health attended 59 bars and restaurants. Four warning letters were issued for premises found to be non-compliant with prohibitions on dine-in service. Also yesterday, City of Toronto by-law enforcement staff investigated 38 complaints regarding locations that were open. City staff issued two Notices for failure to comply with the Provincial order. City staff are attending these properties again today in order to confirm compliance. In the event of non-compliance, the City will engage Toronto Police to take appropriate enforcement action.

There have been no changes to the essential and critical services that are provided by the City of TOronto, including emergency services, water, solid waste collection, shelters, respite sites, long-term care homes, roads, electricity, public transit, 3-1-1, and public health.


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 ensure that all Torontonians remain 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.

A number of new initiatives and facilities have been rolled out in recent days, including: nine new facilities and new hotel spaces for physical distancing, Canada’s first dedicated isolation shelter for people experiencing homelessness, a dedicated recovery site for people who test positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing homelessness, and a Rapid Housing Initiative to house people in vacant Toronto Community Housing units. 

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. See my website for full details on all these actions and more.

As in all jurisdictions, the situation in our shelter system is evolving every day. The City, through SSHA and the Emergency Operations Centre, is committed to communicating and working with our more than 200 community partners to provide the best possible care to individuals experiencing homelessness in our city.

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.


Province of Ontario Orders the Mandatory Closure of All Non-Essential Businesses

To further contain the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario Government announced the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces effective as of today. This closure will be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of extending this order as the situation evolves. A full list of businesses that are permitted to stay open can be found here

The province has launched a toll-free line, 1-888-444-3659, to provide support to businesses who have questions about the province's order.


Providing Support for Vulnerable Tenants 

At the City of Toronto we must do everything within our power to provide support to all those who are most impacted by these difficult circumstances. As the shareholder of Toronto Community Housing, which houses nearly 150k Torontonians, today the City of Toronto confirmed that our residents who have lost income and jobs will not lose their housing too. We must not leave anyone behind.

For rent-geared-to-income households, which make up about 90 per cent of TCHC tenants, the housing corporation will recalculate their rent based on employment income changes owing to job loss or layoff incurred because of COVID-19. Rent will be adjusted or deferred in order to respond to the economic impact of COVID-19.

For market rent tenants whose income has been reduced as a result of a job loss or layoff because of the COVID-19 response, TCHC will consider various case-specific options to assist them, which may include arranging for payment deferment plans that suit their situation over the next few months.

The City also issued broad direction today to over 200 social and affordable housing providers responsible for over 33,000 units reinforcing that the housing stability of residents is a top priority. Housing providers have been directed to be flexible, exercise discretion, and to work with households whose employment-related income is affected due to the current emergency.

If you live in Spadina-Fort York, our MPP Chris Glover is working hard on what the Province can do to help support tenants in response to COVID-19. Please be in touch with his office to share your experiences or questions. If you live outside of Spadina-Fort York, you can find your riding to contact your MPP here


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

Economic Support and Recovery - Supporting Local Businesses, Individuals and Families

The economic impact of this pandemic is taking a toll on the livelihoods of Toronto residents and businesses. The City is doing everything possible, in full cooperation with the provincial and federal governments, to minimize that impact and see an economic recovery take place as soon as possible.

The focus of the City’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force will be on quickly determining what supports and stimulus work needs to be done to support businesses, workers and residents. This Task Force will enable the City to better respond to the evolving challenges of COVID-19 with its partners in government, business and non-profits.

Click here for more information on immediate actions that have been taken to support local businesses. 


Essential Community Services - How to Volunteer 

Non-profit agencies in the community-based sector are also facing a shortage of volunteers to help with delivering essential services. The City is urging non-profit organizations and agencies do the following to help facilitate connecting residents willing to volunteer to organizations and agencies who need the help:

  • Update or add information about current operations to 211’s database

  • Register volunteer needs through Spark Ontario at www.sparkontario.ca/ and/or with Volunteer Toronto at www.volunteertoronto.ca/. Volunteer Toronto has waived the fee associated with posting volunteer positions.

Residents interested in volunteering should register with the above-mentioned websites to get alerts for volunteer opportunities (some of which may be remote), call Volunteer Toronto at 416-961-6888 or email info@volunteertoronto.ca to connect with an advisor to discuss volunteer opportunities. Non-profit organizations and agencies’ staff are practicing infection prevention measures within their operations and volunteers would be required to do the same.


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

Please note: that these guidelines are not meant to say “you must stay in your home!”

You can still go outside to take a walk, go to the park, or walk your dog. If you need groceries, go to the store. We simply recommend that while outside you make sure to avoid crowds and maintain a distance of 6 feet from those around you. 

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 to separate yourself from others, with the purpose of preventing the spread of the virus, including those within your home. 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. 

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