Additional Supports for Essential Service Workers and Vulnerable Residents in Response to COVID-19

In Toronto we look after each other, and we will rise to the test of this critical moment together. 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.

Today we announced additional measures that the City of Toronto is taking to assist essential service workers and vulnerable residents such as seniors; people affected by untreated trauma, mental health and addictions; people in need of housing supports and emergency food access; and people with disabilities. 

After months of preparation, the City's response to this rapidly evolving situation is ongoing. As we go through this challenging time, one important measurement of how well we did, will be how we took care of our most vulnerable community members, and our frontline workers. This is a top priority, and we are working around the clock to ensure no one is left behind.

Child care for essential service workers

In the midst of this pandemic, there are many workers across our city who do not have the option to self-isolate. They are on the frontlines, working 24/7 ensuring that we are prepared for any scenario. I want to give my deepest thanks to all those on the frontlines working to ensure that our community is safe and healthy. As a City we are doing everything we can to support you.

We are working closely with the Province in order to make child care accessible specifically for children of essential and core service workers such as emergency service, public health, and shelter and support staff. Details will be released in the coming days. 

Support for vulnerable residents

As we enter this critical moment together, we are working to ensure that all members of our community are supported. No one will be left behind. 

To ensure that the needs of vulnerable residents are met during the COVID-19 emergency, the City is working in partnership with social service agencies to address issues that arise in the community service sector.

Just as our economic resilience requires partnership between our business community and the City, equally, our response to the needs of the most vulnerable Torontonians, requires joint partnership between the City and community and social service organizations.

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, for example, food security and community resource needs.

The City has also partnered with the United Way to establish a community connection model that will involve dedicated coordinators going into neighbourhoods. The coordinators will help agencies and groups communicate with each other so they can continue to do their important work of serving Torontonians as well as communicate with Councillors and other service providers. Toronto Aboriginal Social Services Council (TASSC) is also leading the coordinated Indigenous response and will collaborate with the City and United Way.

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, friendly visiting, transportation to appointments, personal support, 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

Food Security Table to ensure access to food

Access to food is a significant challenge for many vulnerable residents across our city. Community Food Programs, which include food banks are a vital aspect of our communities, especially in times of crisis. To ensure that Toronto’s food programs can stay open during the outbreak, the City has convened a Food Security Table (including Second Harvest, Daily Bread Food Bank, North York Harvest Food Bank and Red Cross) to receive updates and find solutions for food access issues.

The City is calling on all restaurants that are still providing take-out and delivery services and businesses that sell food to consider donating any type of unsold, good food through foodrescue.ca. Residents who are able, are also encouraged to donate essentials to their local food bank.

Volunteers to help deliver essential services

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:

  1.   Update or add information about current operations to 211’s database
  2.   Register volunteer needs through Spark Ontario at https://www.sparkontario.ca/ and/or with Volunteer Toronto at https://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.

Although many places across Toronto have been closed due to social 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.

Please continue to check https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/ for details and updates as they are made.