The Cressy Courier Sept 5 - New Provincial cuts to Toronto Public Health, TIFF Festival Street, and more
I hope you were able to enjoy the final days of summer with family and friends. Here at City Hall we're gearing up for a busy fall season as we continue our work to strengthen our neighbourhoods, build safer streets, improve public transit, construct new affordable housing, and expand our parks and green spaces.
While we continue that work I remain committed to standing up for our city against harmful and dangerous cuts proposed by the Provincial Government.
Please read on for updates on the latest proposed cuts to Public Health by the Province, as well as other important local updates.
As always, feel free to reach out to my office at any time with questions or concerns.
New Provincial Cuts to Public Health Mean Millions in Budget Shortfalls
Premier Ford has announced a new round of cuts to life-saving public health services across Ontario. These cuts are short-sighted, harmful, and fiscally irresponsible. Make no mistake, these cuts will hurt people.
We now know that the new cuts to public health represent $14 million fewer provincial dollars every year for vital public health programs Torontonians rely on. Programs like school vaccinations, disease prevention, student breakfast programs, water quality testing, food safety inspections, and more. They result in a $4 million budget shortfall in 2020 alone, despite reliance on one-time mitigation measures from the province. And, they mean a shortfall of at least $14 million every year in 2021 and beyond.
The new round of cuts reduce provincial funding for all public health programs to 70%. Until this announcement, the Province of Ontario funded 100% of the costs of some public health programs and 75% of the costs of others. The new cuts mean programs like diabetes prevention, enhanced food safety and swim-safe initiatives, infection prevention, infectious disease control and more, previously funded 100% by the Province, will now receive 30% less provincial money. This, in addition to a reduction across the board for all the public health services that keep our communities safe and healthy.
The evidence is clear – cutting public health is both harmful, and fiscally irresponsible. Research has shown that every $1 invested in public health saves the healthcare system $16 in the future. And, addressing a provincial deficit by downloading costs onto municipalities is hardly sound financial management. One need only look to social housing and transit, which the city has struggled to fund alone since costs were downloaded by the province in the 1990s, to see this clearly.
On Monday, I was joined by emergency room physician Dr. Raghu Venugopal to speak to the media about the impact of the cuts on Toronto, and to release an open letter signed by more than 100 emergency room doctors urging the Ford government to reverse these harmful cuts to public health. Click here to read the full letter.
Our Board of Health Budget Committee considered the cuts at our meeting this past Monday where the 2020 Budget process formally began for Toronto Public Health. As part of the 2020 Budget process we will, as always, be reviewing opportunities for cost savings. But, as the Chair of the Board of Health, under no circumstances am I prepared to accept cuts that negatively affect the health of Torontonians.
2019 Toronto International Film Festival - Festival Street and TTC Service Plan
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of our city's most important arts and cultural festivals, starts later today. This year, TIFF will be hosting its sixth annual Festival Street, a pedestrian promenade on King Street West, with events from Thursday, September 5, through Sunday, September 8. A portion of King Street will be closed for Festival Street to support the free pedestrian programming and ensure the safety of the large crowds who attend the opening days of TIFF.
I have worked closely with the TTC, Transportation Services, Economic Development and Culture, and TIFF to discuss the details of the closure over the past several months. We have worked hard to ensure that an extensive communication and mitigation plan is put in place to inform residents of the closure and the re-routing of streetcar service, as well as to minimize the impact on residents, road, and transit users.
For full details on Festival Street and the TTC Service Plan, visit my website here.
New Canoe Landing Community Facilities – August 2019 Update
It is clear to see, when walking by Canoe Landing Park, that the new multi-purpose community facility next door is well under construction. When open, it will have two elementary schools, a child care centre operated by St. Stephen's Community House, and a new City of Toronto Community Recreation Centre. In addition, a brand new community facility was added to the plan, after we added full funding through Section 37 dollars.
As mentioned in our July 2019 update, Labour stoppages have complicated the construction timeline, and the City has been working closely with the general contractor and partners to carry on with as much work as possible. All trades recently returned to work on the site, and restarted all work to complete the facility as soon as possible. However, labour shortages have caused additional delays. We have recently received an updated construction timeline, and have included updates on each of the components on my website.
The three partners continue to monitor the situation and are working together to ensure that the schools, child care centre and community centre are completed as soon as possible.
Please visit my website here for a full timeline update, as well as information on programming consultations for the community recreation centre.
Overdose Awareness Day
This past Saturday was Overdose Awareness Day in the City of Toronto. On Overdose Awareness day, we remember those we have lost, but also commit to continuing our work together to reduce the stigma of Overdose.
The opioid poisoning crisis continues in our city, as the number of deaths due to overdose . Preliminary data shows that in 2018 there were 1,363 opioid overdose deaths in Ontario, 294 of them in Toronto. These numbers are expected to increase as coroners complete investigations. The seriousness of this issue is underscored by a recent Statistics Canada report, which found that life expectancy in Canada has stopped increasing for the first time in four decades as young men and women die at higher rates, mostly attributed to opioid-related overdoses.
Since July 2018, Toronto Public Health has distributed more than 20,000 doses of naloxone to clients and approximately 35,000 doses across 74 agencies providing local harm reductions services. Toronto Public Health has trained more than 800 people in overdose recognition and response, and increased street outreach services in the downtown east in response to the overwhelming demand. Since opening in August 2017, there have been more than 55,000 visits to The Works supervised injection service, and staff responded to 951 overdoses.
Overdose Awareness Day acknowledges the grief and loss felt by families, friends and colleagues of loved ones who have died or suffered permanent injury due to the opioid poisoning crisis. More information is available at https://www.overdoseday.com/.
At our June 2019 Board of Health meeting, we received an update on the Toronto Overdose Action Plan, and approved new recommendations from the Medical Officer of Health developed through recent community consultations. Participants stressed the ongoing nature of the opioid poisoning crisis and the need for urgent action. The Board of Health and City Council adopted several recommendations which are directed at all levels of government in the areas of prevention, harm reduction and treatment. We hope our government partners will work with us to mitigate this crisis.
The crisis demands urgent action. As the Chair of the Board of Health, I remain committed, along with Toronto Public Health, to continuing to do everything we can to address the crisis, and ensure a comprehensive public health approach including harm reduction remains the focus.
King-Liberty Pedestrian & Cycling Bridge: Hoisting September 13-16
Construction of the King-Liberty Bridge is well underway. It will provide a much-needed accessible connection for pedestrians and cyclists over the rail corridor between Western Battery Road and King Street West/Douro Street.
The steel bridge structure has been fabricated and painted at the contractor’s facility near Kitchener and is planned to be hoisted into place above the rail corridor and installed over the weekend of September 13-16, 2019. Once the steel structure has been hoisted into place, the bridge’s concrete deck, glass, security systems, elevators, and electrical connections will be installed.
Although the full opening of the bridge is anticipated for spring of 2020, the City is working with its contractors to identify opportunities for an earlier partial opening for the community.
Overnight Work Required
Hoisting and installing the bridge structure requires stopping GO Train service on the Kitchener, Barrie, and UP Express lines, and as a consequence Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency responsible for GO Transit, is restricting this work to overnight hours only.
I consistently advocate for construction activity to take place during daytime hours because it often affects thousands of people who live nearby. In order to ensure that our downtown communities remain liveable, we have to be careful to manage noise and ensure that people are able to sleep through the night.
Unfortunately, given the limitations on access to the Metrolinx rail corridor for work to take place, there is no way to install this important piece of infrastructure without overnight work.
Although the City of Toronto always makes efforts to limit the loudest kinds of work to early evening hours, rather than overnight and early morning, neighbours in the vicinity of the King-Liberty Bridge should plan for significant overnight noise between Friday evening, September 13 and Monday morning, September 16.
There will also be traffic and parking restrictions on local streets in the weeks leading up to the bridge hoist, until September 16.
Neighbourhood Farmers' Markets
There are lots of local farmers' markets still happening all summer across Ward 10! Have one to add to the list? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtyard Farmer’s Market
Every Tuesday until October, 8am - 2pm
190 Simcoe Street courtyard (near University & Queen)
Indulge at David Pecaut Square
Every Thursday until October 17, 8am-2:30pm
David Pecaut Square, 215 King Street West
Liberty Village Farmers' Market
Every Sunday until November, 9am-2pm
34 Hanna Ave.
Visit their website here.
Nathan Phillips Square Farmers’ Market
Every Wednesday until October, 8am - 2pm
Nathan Phillips Square (100 Queen St W)
Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market
Every Tuesday, rain or shine, 3pm to 7pm.
Trinity Bellwoods Park
Please visit their website for more info! www.tbfm.ca
Underpass Park Farmers’ Market
Every Thursday, 3pm to 7pm. Until October.
Underpass Park (29 Lower River St)
Waterfront Good Food Market
Fresh, affordable fruits and veggies.
Tuesdays 4:30-7pm, year-round
25 Bishop Tutu Blvd, 1st fl community room (accessible from courtyard)
To view an interactive map of current and upcoming construction projects throughout the city, please click here.
Get in Touch with Trustee Donaldson