My Statement on the Launch of Toronto’s COVID-19 Voluntary Isolation Site
Everyone should be able to protect their families from COVID-19 – regardless of where they live, how much money they make, or how many bedrooms and bathrooms are in their home.
Today, I was pleased to join Mayor John Tory, our Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, and federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu in marking the launch of Toronto's voluntary isolation site, which will open tomorrow, September 12. This facility, which is operated and staffed by Toronto Public Health, provides a safe space for people who test positive for COVID-19 but cannot isolate at home without putting their family or other members of their household at risk. It is the first facility of its kind in Canada.
This program would not be possible without the generous support of our federal partners, who have provided $13.9 million for the site to operate over the next year. I want to especially recognize the commitment of Minister Hajdu and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland to making this site a reality.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and public health experts have said that if a person tests positive for COVID-19, they should self-isolate at home, in a separate bedroom and bathroom from other household members. Many Toronto households, however, do not have this luxury. When individuals do not have enough space to self-isolate apart from family members, the risk of household transmission of COVID-19 is high.
Preliminary data analysis has revealed that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting lower-income households, people who identify as members of a racialized group, and individuals who live in households with five or more people. For these households, a safe place to go away from home can make all the difference between containing the virus and infecting an entire family, including members who may be high-risk.
The voluntary isolation site is located in a hotel with a capacity of up to 140 individuals who are isolating for a two-week period.