We have moved to Step 3 of the reopening plan. This means that restaurants, bars, clubs and gyms can open with limited capacity. It’s good news for our local businesses, but many continue to struggle. Please continue to #shoplocal and shop at a #SmallBusinessEveryDay.
As restaurants open for indoor dining, my colleague, MPP Jessica Bell and I are hosting a “Welcome Back to Chinatown” lunch with the Chinatown BIA to support small businesses in Chinatown by shopping locally. If you would like a “Shop Local” sign for your window in either English or Chinese, please email my office at [email protected].
Have you ever been in a hospital and been annoyed by the cacophony of alerts for doctors and nurses? McMaster Music Professor Michael Schutz thinks he has a solution. Check out this week’s Tech Talk to learn more.
I attended the France Bastille Day flag raising at Queen’s Park and presented the Consul General of France, Tudor Alexis, with a certificate to commemorate the event. Bonne Fête Nationale!
If you or someone you know is not double vaxxed, check out the listing of vaccine clinics below including several in our area – at CAMH, Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre and Scadding Court Community Centre.
With summer well underway, there are lots of things to do – dine on the Bentway, Dream in High Park, or, if you think your family is up for it, audition for Family Feud Canada! Details below.
Stay well everyone!
CAMH (100 Stokes St.), Tuesdays to Fridays, 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
- Small, calm environment with staff trained to support people with mental illness, substance abuse disorders, dementia and other neurodiversity.
- First and second doses for anyone 12+
- Walk-ins accepted or book your appointment, visit www.camh.ca/covidvaccine
Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre (627 Queens Quay W.), July 24, 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
- Pfizer first and second doses for anyone 12 years and older
- Priority line for local postal code M5V
- Walk-ins welcome! First come, first serve
- For more information, call 416-392-1509 or email [email protected]
Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas St. W.), July 29, 12:00 - 8:00 pm
- Moderna and Pfizer for anyone 12 years and older
- No health card or proof of address needed
Downsview Arena (1633 Wilson Ave.), 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
- Pfizer and Moderna available
- First doses available to those 12 years and older in any 'M' postal code
- Second doses available to those 12 years and older who live, work or attend school in any 'M' postal codes
- No appointment needed; ID required; OHIP optional
All City-run Vaccination Clinics Now Open for Walk-ins
- Starting July 22, all nine City of Toronto vaccination clinics will open to youth and adult walk-ins between noon and 7:00 pm. Eligible residents who need a second dose and those who have yet to receive a first dose can be vaccinated immediately. Anyone taking advantage of the walk-in option to accelerate their second dose should cancel any existing second dose appointment, whether at a City-run or partner clinic. Walk-ins should always prepare for a short wait that may include time lining up outdoors.
All people age 12 and older can also book first dose or accelerated second dose vaccination appointment through the blue “Book a Vaccine” button at toronto.ca/covid-19 or by calling the provincial vaccine booking line at 1-833-943-3900.
Science Advisory Table Suggests Vaccine Certificates
- Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table published a report on Wednesday suggesting that “vaccine certificates” could help speed up the reopening as well as encourage more people to get vaccinated. The summary said that the certificates “may be useful as verifiable, secure, standardized, and accessible electronic or paper records of immunization” and could be used to allow people to enter places like indoor dining, bars, and gyms. The certificates could allow the reopening of these “high-risk settings sooner and/or at increased capacity.”
The documents may also be useful if the province faces further waves of COVID-19 due to variants and health measures have to be reintroduced. The table has raised concerns that organizations and sectors will create their own systems if there is no government regulation. Governments would also need to determine where the certificates would be prohibited, such as for essential services and healthcare.
The Premier has been against the implementation of a vaccine passport system in Ontario. The science table said that certificates are different from passports, as they would be used for domestic purposes, not for international travel.
Province Urged to Provide Vaccine Passports
- Mayor John Tory and the Toronto Region Board of Trade are calling on the province to develop some kind of vaccine verification system, perhaps as a digital app, saying it was necessary to restart activities that involve large indoor gatherings such as business conferences and events. Dr. Isaac Bogoch stated that a vaccine passport system could allow businesses to keep operating in the event of a fourth wave.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore has said that a vaccine passport is “not necessary at this time,” and “has not been contemplated” by the Ford government. Provincial officials have suggested that a vaccine passport would be a federal responsibility and that the vaccine receipts being issued are sufficient. Premier Ford said today that the province will not be creating a digital vaccine passport but also acknowledged that the white receipts currently issued can be easily forged or falsified.
Anyone who has received a COVID-19 vaccine receives a printed receipt and email for each dose they receive. Recipients can also download a digital copy of their receipt at covid19.ontariohealth.ca. However, these receipts contain private information, such as OHIP numbers, whereas a passport system would not.
This is becoming more of an issue as we enter step 3 of the reopening. Many businesses are saying that they will require proof of vaccination. Some post-secondary institutions, including Seneca College, have already said they will require vaccination for all staff and students who return to campus in the fall.
Quebec has said that it will implement vaccine passports to limit access to moderate or high-risk activities like bars, gyms and contact sports once all residents have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated. Countries including France and the U.K. are also developing a vaccine passport system.
We will continue to monitor this situation and provide more details as more information becomes available.
Anyone 12+ Now Eligible to Book a Vaccine
- On Monday, July 5, everyone age 12 and older became eligible to book an accelerated second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Children between the ages of 12 and 17 are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. Second dose appointments can be booked by anyone who received a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 28 days ago or a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at least eight weeks ago. More information on second dose eligibility can be found here: COVID-19 vaccines: getting your second dose.
You can access the online booking system here: Ontario.ca/bookvaccine
When booking an appointment, you will be asked for information from your green Ontario health card, birth date, postal code and email address and/or phone number. People who still have a red and white health card, or who require assistance with booking, can call and book through the COVID-19 Vaccine Call Centre at 1-833-943-3900
Using a smartphone, residents can text VACCINE to 1-833-750-0888 and choose to receive COVID-19 booking information in Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Tagalog, Tamil, Urdu, Spanish, Portuguese, Farsi, Korean, Italian, French, Bengali, Vietnamese and Gujarati. Users can also enter their postal code to receive a list of City of Toronto-run clinics and pharmacies offering vaccinations nearest to them. Here’s the City of Toronto Information page on how to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccine Receipts Available Online
- If you are missing or have misplaced your vaccine receipt, the provincial government has made them available online. Although vaccinated individuals should have received both printed and emailed confirmation following their vaccination, a digital copy can now be accessed at covid19.ontariohealth.ca. Individuals can log in using their OHIP number, date of birth and postal code, and click on “vaccine receipts” to view and print their receipt. This could be useful for anyone requiring proof of their immunized status.
AstraZeneca Second Doses Available; Province Approves Mixing and Matching Vaccines
Ontario residents who received AstraZeneca are eligible to book their second dose at an eight-to-twelve-week interval. They can book a second dose by contacting the pharmacy or primary care provider where they received their first dose.
People who received a first dose of AstraZeneca will also have the choice to book a second dose of an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna. Those opting for an mRNA vaccine can schedule their second dose through a participating pharmacy offering Pfizer or Moderna.
The list of pharmacies can be found here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations
Second shots of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can be booked through the provincial booking system or local health units starting next week.
Toronto Offering In-Home Second Doses for Homebound Residents
- People 12 years and older who live in Toronto and cannot physically leave their home to receive the vaccine for medical, physical, cognitive or psychosocial reasons are eligible for in-home vaccination. Essential caregivers are also eligible to receive the vaccine. More details about in-home vaccinations can be obtained by calling the Toronto Seniors Helpline at 416-217-2077 or online at torontoseniorshelpline.ca/web-chat.
Vaccination Appointments and Walk-ins Available at City-Run Clinics
- Appointments and walk-ins are available across our nine City-run immunization clinics. Open to anyone age 12+.
To book your appointment, visit: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/
If you need assistance, or to book by phone, please call: 1-833-943-3900
The nine City-run immunization clinics are located at:
- Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W.
- Scarborough Town Centre, 300 Borough Dr.
- Toronto Congress Centre, 650 Dixon Rd.
- Malvern Community Recreation Centre, 30 Sewells Rd.
- Mitchell Field Community Centre, 89 Church Ave.
- The Hangar, 75 Carl Hall Rd.
- Cloverdale Mall, 250 The East Mall
- North Toronto Memorial Community Centre, 200 Eglinton Ave. W.
- Carmine Stefano Community Centre, 3100 Weston Rd
Residents will need to provide their provincial health card number, birthdate, postal code and email and/or mobile phone number. At the time of booking, residents will schedule their first vaccination appointment and an appointment to receive their second dose.
Rapid Screening Kits for Small Businesses
The City of Toronto has partnered with the Toronto Region Board of Trade to provide free COVID-19 rapid screening kits to small- and medium-sized businesses across Toronto. Businesses in Toronto with 150 or fewer employees are welcome to participate in this voluntary initiative. Click here to learn more.
Eligible businesses can visit https://bot.com/rapidscreening to order their initial four-week supply of testing kits from the Toronto Region Board of Trade and book a time slot for pickup. The kits will be available for scheduled pickup at the following locations beginning Friday, June 18:
- Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall
- North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge St.
- Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Dr.
- Fort York Visitor Centre, 250 Fort York Blvd.
Rapid Testing Portal for Essential Businesses
- Ontario is launching a rapid testing portal for essential businesses to access free rapid testing kits. Any essential businesses with more than 150 employees are encouraged to participate in the Provincial Antigen Screening Program by registering through the new portal. Free rapid antigen screening kits will be provided to these businesses to help screen for asymptomatic cases of COVID-19.
Vaccine Registration Assistance for Seniors
- The Spadina-Fort York Community Care program will be helping seniors 50 and older who are having trouble registering for a vaccine. Please email [email protected] or call 647-904-6637.
If you manage a co-operative housing building or an organization with seniors or other vulnerable residents, please complete this form to request assistance.
If you would like to volunteer with this program or other Spadina-Fort York Community Care activities, please complete this form.
- For over a year, I have been pushing the Ford government to put more funding towards affordable housing, and housing with wraparound supports for people suffering with mental health and addictions issues. I proposed an Ontario Homelessness Prevention Strategy, drafting legislation following recommendations from the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, the Co-operative Housing Federation of Ontario and the Canadian Mental Health Association to build at least 99,000 units of affordable, purpose-built housing over the next decade. We’ve also repeatedly called on the province to meet the City of Toronto’s funding requests to build 3,000 permanent affordable homes over the next 24 months.
Unfortunately, the Conservatives voted down my legislation this spring, and have taken no action to support the City of Toronto’s housing action plan, or resolve the growing homelessness issue in urban areas across Ontario. Instead, the Premier has cut homelessness prevention programs, reduced funding for affordable housing by $160 million, and cut $335 million from Ontario’s mental health budget. After Conservative Premier Mike Harris downloaded the responsibility of affordable housing to municipalities, neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have taken adequate action to meet housing needs in Ontario, setting us up for the crisis we see today. Meanwhile, the cost of housing and rents have continued to rise over the last few decades, while wages have not risen at the same level.
This is the context in which the City of Toronto moved ahead with clearing multiple encampments over the last couple of months, most recently by clearing encampments at Alexandra Park and Lamport Stadium. The fact is, people require permanent housing. They should not be living in parks. The encampments have had a negative effect on many residents and businesses located around them. This does not mean we vilify the people living in them; it means we must pressure the government for immediate solutions which also respect the human rights of the vulnerable people living in the parks. The City is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on elaborate police action, and this is not the solution we need. People will get further displaced, whereas what they really need is more stability in housing and support. We need a human rights-based approach to resolve homelessness.
Premier Ford’s silence on the homelessness issue is a major problem. Governments are failing to meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents on all fronts, exacerbating the crisis. Encampments in parks are not a housing solution, but neither is police force and violence. We know the solutions. People need housing. Poverty is not a crime, and people experiencing homelessness are not criminals. They need support from the governments who have let them down. I will continue to advocate at the provincial level for the government to step in and take responsibility for this crisis we see on our streets. We need to build permanent, affordable and supportive housing.
In the meantime, I will continue to work with the Spadina-Fort York Community Care program to ensure our most vulnerable population has their basic needs met. If you are interested in assisting with our food program, or our vaccine program, please contact [email protected] . You can also share and sign our petitions that state that Everyone Deserves a Home, and the Ontario government has a responsibility to Stop Homelessness.
Ontario Place Update
- The Globe and Mail heard from sources that the Ontario government plans to give Quebec’s Écorécréo a contract for part of Ontario Place’s redevelopment, along with Austrian company Therme. Live Nation, which runs the performance venue at Ontario Place, will also have an expanded role.
The closed-door bidding process for Ontario Place’s redevelopment is of great concern to me and the local community, as well as organizations such as Future of Ontario Place and Ontario Place for All. Ontario Place is public property owned by Ontario’s taxpayers, yet the process to decide the future of Ontario Place has been anything but public.
Premier Ford has a track record of making backroom deals favouring developers and donors. This has been in full display through his Ministerial Zoning Orders and he simply has lost the trust of Ontarians. The future of Ontario Place should be determined through public input, not by Ministers appointed by Ford.
I will continue to work with Ontario Place for All and Future of Ontario Place to call for open and robust community consultation before any plans are determined. Among other things, communities have suggested that Ontario Place could be the site of an Indigenous Heritage Museum. or a water research facility. Ontario’s taxpayers should have a say in what happens to the land and property they own.
Anniversary of Danforth Shooting
- July 22nd marks three years since the fatal Danforth shooting. This tragedy forever changed many lives, and we are taking time today to remember all those impacted and who are continuing to heal. We stand in solidarity with the victims and their families in condemning this senseless act of violence that changed our city forever. We thank all our first responders for their bravery that day and we stand together as a community, committed to keeping Toronto safe for all. It is a stark reminder of the need to prevent incidents of gun violence through regulation that makes sense and protects people, and universal access to mental health programs to give people support when they need it.
Ontario Tells Colleges, Universities to Plan for “Normal Return”
- The province sent a memo to colleges and universities to expect a normal return in September, with in-person classes and activities to resume without capacity limits or physical distancing requirements. However, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities has also told the institutions to have a plan prepared for how learning will continue in the event of COVID-19 outbreaks.
Universities and colleges will still have to follow all public health and workplace safety rules, including requiring masks indoors. The schools will still have the flexibility to offer both virtual and hybrid models to best suit their needs. Specific guidance from the ministry on measures such as masks, screening and cleaning is said to be issued in August.
NDP Critic for Colleges and Universities Laura Mae Lindo said, “While the reopening of Ontario’s colleges and universities is exciting news, resuming classes at this stage of the pandemic is more complicated than just opening the doors. Ford must provide all publicly-funded colleges and universities with badly needed funding for onsite rapid testing, upgraded ventilation systems that meet airborne transmission standards and to allow physical distancing in classrooms. This is especially critical given the lack of investment over the course of 15 years of successive neglect leaving the sector struggling to upgrade older buildings.”
ServiceOntario Offering Digital Reminders
- The province has announced that Ontarians will now be able to sign up for digital reminders to renew their driver’s licence, licence plate stickers and health cards. Individuals can opt to receive reminders 30 and 60 days ahead of their renewal dates via email, text or voicemail. The system is said to have been put in place to ensure people are able to renew on time. Renewals can then be done online or you can book an in-person appointment through ServiceOntario’s online booking system.
FAO Report Shows Province Withheld $10.3 Billion
- A new report from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) shows the Ford government withheld $10.3 billion from Ontarians during the pandemic, including sitting on over $1 billion earmarked for long-term care and public health.
NDP Finance critic Catherine Fife said, “While our loved ones suffered in long-term care, businesses struggled through painfully long lockdowns, and the province could not keep up with things like contract tracing, the Ford government was held back billions of dollars that they refused to invest to help Ontarians.”
The FAO report shows that the government spent $10.3 billion less than promised last year. The FAO reported Ford withheld over $1 billion in health care funds during the pandemic, plus $368 million in funding for public health and $95 million for long-term care. Read the full report here.
Canada Easing Border Measures for Fully Vaccinated Travellers
- Starting August 9 at 12:01 am, Canada will allow entry to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entering Canada for non-essential travel and will not be required to quarantine. Children under 12 who are accompanied by fully vaccinated adults can also enter Canada without quarantining, but will be required to wear a mask in public and avoid group settings, such as school and summer camp.
Canada Border Services Agency will no longer require fully vaccinated travellers to receive a COVID-19 test on their first day in Canada, but will maintain surveillance measures by randomly selecting travellers for testing.
International flights, currently restricted to Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, will be allowed to land at five additional Canadian airports: Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton. The three-night mandatory hotel stay for air travellers is also being eliminated.
Starting September 7, fully vaccinated travellers from elsewhere around the world will also be exempted. Click here for more information.
Ontario Moves to Step 3 on July 16
On Friday, July 16 at 12:01 am, Ontario will be moving to Step 3 of the reopening plan, earlier than the scheduled July 21 date, allowing facilities like restaurants and gyms to resume indoor operations. The following will be allowed:
Gatherings and Services
- Indoor social gatherings and events of up to 25 people indoors
- Outdoor social gatherings and events of up to 100 people, with some exceptions
- Larger religious services and other ceremonies like weddings and funerals can happen indoors with physical distancing measures in place
Restaurants, Bars and Clubs
- Indoor dining with no set limit on people per table or in the restaurant, as long as physical distancing can be maintained
- Nightclubs and similar businesses can reopen to 25% capacity or a maximum of 250 people, whichever is less
Sports and Recreation
- Sports and fitness facilities including gyms can reopen to 50% capacity indoors
- Indoor spectator limits are capped at 50% capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less
- Outdoor spectator limits are capped at 75% capacity or 15,000 people, whichever is less
Retail and Other Indoor Businesses
- Retail can open to whatever capacity limit still allows people to maintain two metres of distance between people
- Personal care services like salons can open to whatever capacity limit that allows people to maintain physical distancing of two metres
- Personal care services that require people to remove their masks are permitted
- Indoor meeting and event spaces can operate with physical distancing rules and a capacity limit of 50% or 1,000 people, whichever is less
- Real estate open houses are permitted with capacity limits based on people maintaining physical distancing of two metres
Theatres, Entertainment Venues and Attractions
- Indoor concert venues, cinemas and theatres can open up to 50% capacity or a maximum of 1,000 people, whichever is less
- Outdoor concert venues, cinemas and theatres can open up to 75% capacity or 15,000 people outdoors for events with fixed seating, whichever is less
- Museums, galleries, historic sites, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casino and bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs and rural exhibitions are capped at 50% indoor capacity, 75% outdoor capacity or a maximum of 5,000 people (whichever is less) for unseated events, up to 75% of capacity or 15,000 people (whichever is less) for events with mixed seating
Masks and face coverings will remain in place in indoor public settings throughout Step 3 as will physical distancing requirements. Masks will be required in some outdoor settings along with other public health measures. Ontario will remain in Step 3 for at least 21 days and until 80% of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 75% have received their second, with no public health unit having less than 70% of their eligible population aged 12 and over fully vaccinated.
Toronto City Council Votes to Rename Dundas Street
- Toronto City Council has voted 17-7 in favour of renaming any streets or other city properties (including parks, TTC stations, etc.) using the name Dundas. Mayor John Tory said he supports the renaming and that removing Dundas “is the right thing to do and is inconsistent with the values that we’re trying to build up and celebrate today.”
Dundas Street was named after a Scottish politician, Henry Dundas, who played a role in delaying the abolition of the slave trade. City staff recommended renaming of the street last year following an extensive study on the role that Dundas played in abolition, found to be in conflict with Toronto’s current values of equity and inclusion, as well as a petition that was signed by nearly 14,000 people to change the name.
A Community Advisory Committee made up of Black and Indigenous leaders and representatives from those living and working along Dundas Street, including business improvement areas and resident associations, will be leading the renaming process. They will also work on a plan to support residents and the 4,000 businesses along Dundas Street that will be affected by the renaming. The City will be putting forward a selection of new names next year.
Ontario Pledges $32 Million for Addiction Services
Health Minister Christine Elliott announced that Ontario plans to spend an additional $32.7 million each year on addiction services. She said this is part of the province’s pledge to spend $3.8 billion on mental health and addiction supports over the next 10 years. The new spending includes:
- $18.8 million in bed-based investments
- $6.9 million for the provincial opioid response
- $2.25 million for a Toronto-based opioid response proposed by the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network
The Ontario branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association said that while this funding is certainly welcomed, it doesn't go far enough, and that the government should consider increasing the cap on the number of consumption and treatment services sites across Ontario, which is currently set at 21.
We know that mental health is a huge challenge for many Ontarians who have undergone one of the longest lockdowns in the world. Yet, we continue to face long wait times to access counsellors and an egregiously low number of rehab beds. The NDP and I will continue to fight for equitable funding for mental health and addiction supports, including resolving the root causes which we know are often related to the lack of housing, jobs and rising inequality. Sign our petition if you agree we need to prioritize the mental health crisis.
#safeseptember for Schools
- A new report by the Hospital for Sick Children shows half of kids ages 8 to 12 and 70% of adolescents reported clinically significant depressive symptoms as a result of the pandemic and school closures. We know that it’s critical for kids to be in school, participate in extracurricular activities, interact with peers, and be supported by caring adults like teachers and education workers.
Currently, the government has not released plans to make schools safe and ready for a full reopening in September. We cannot ignore this mental health crisis and must get mental health supports in place immediately — from in-school councillors to crisis intervention and long-term supports. It’s absolutely essential that the government also invest in better ventilation and smaller classes, so that, come what may, our students have a full year of in-person learning.
To pressure the government to make the necessary investments, please sign the petition here.
Restrictions Eased at Long-Term Care Homes
- Beginning on July 7, the province will begin to loosen restrictions in long-term care homes. Newly appointed Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips said 99% of residents and 84% of staff are fully vaccinated. Residents will now be allowed indoor visits with two visitors and two caregivers and can visit with up to 10 people outdoors. There will no longer be a limit on the number of people who can be designated caregivers. Personal care services will also resume in the homes.
Nearly 3,800 residents and 13 staff died from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit last year. The Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission found that due to years of neglect, the province had no real plan in place to protect residents from the disease. The commission also found that the devastation brought on by the pandemic was due to chronic underfunding, severe staffing shortages, outdated infrastructure and poor oversight.
The NDP and I continue to pressure this government to take the urgent steps that are needed in long-term care, including: creating 50,000 new spaces; passing legislation on the four-hour minimum standard of care; and permanently improving the wages and benefits for long-term care workers, and making their jobs full-time. Sign our petition here.
Restrictions Lifted for Fully Vaccinated Travellers
- As of July 5, travellers entering Canada who have received the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine or a combination of accepted vaccines are no longer required to quarantine for 14 days. Eligible air travellers are also no longer required to spend their first three days in the country at a government-approved hotel.
The Canada Border Services Agency has said that while the quarantine rules for some travellers have changed, eligibility requirements for crossing the border have not. Travel restrictions between Canada and the U.S. which prohibit all discretionary travel between the two countries are set to expire July 21.
Travellers must use the ArriveCAN app or web portal prior to departure to log their vaccination details, as well as the results of a negative COVID-19 test that is less than 72 hours old. More information is available here.
Porter Airlines to Resume Flights in September
- Porter Airlines announced Monday that it will resume flights to Canadian destinations beginning September 8 and U.S. flights beginning on September 17. The flight schedule is returning in phases, with the initial group of Canadian destinations being Halifax, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, St. John’s, Thunder Bay and Toronto. The airline said they are making all fares purchased by July 20, for travel through December 15, 2021, fully refundable, with no fees. More information here.
“We’re Ready Toronto” to Help Downtown Businesses
- The City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade launched a new “We’re Ready Toronto” campaign that will focus on businesses located in the downtown core. The pandemic has left our downtown office towers mostly empty and businesses located in those buildings confront unique challenges. The campaign will help businesses access reopening playbooks with strategies on issues such as managing elevator capacity, reducing crowding, staggered work hours and riding safely on public transit. Small and medium-sized businesses will also be given access to free COVID-19 screening kits. The campaign will also include partnerships and promotions that are geared towards creating excitement and momentum for coming back downtown. More information here.
Free Outdoor Programs for Children, Youth
- Beginning Monday, July 5, the City of Toronto is bringing back ParksPlayTO, a free drop-in program offering camp-like activities at 74 park locations around the city. Families can participate in activities such as active games, arts and crafts, family fitness, nature and gardening, story-telling, music circles, special events and more. Summer in the 6IX is a free program for youth aged 13 to 24 to drop-in, meet up with friends and do themed activities for leadership, employment, arts, media, dance, fitness, eco/environmental and sport.
Ford Government Announces Cabinet Shuffle
- On June 18, Premier Ford announced a significant cabinet shuffle. This shuffle includes a number of changes including the replacement of Minister of Long-Term Care, Merrilee Fullerton, with Rod Phillips, the former finance minister who was forced to resign last December for travelling to St. Barts while the rest of the province was told to stay at home. Merrilee Fullerton has been named the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
While there was no change made to the positions of key cabinet members Health Minister Christine Elliott, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and Education Minister Stephen Lecce, other ministers have been removed altogether. Bill Walker, Jeff Yurek, Ernie Hardeman, Laurie Scott and John Yakabuski have lost their portfolios.
While there are a number of people changing positions, the budget for the year has already been determined and we are less than 12 months away from the next election, meaning much of this shuffle is about image rather than substance. Much of the policy has already been drafted, so this is largely being seen as a political move to raise the profile of BIPOC PC MPPs of a cabinet that was seen as “too white and too male”, and reduce the profile of rural MPPs who irked the Premier by urging him to reopen too early.
Here is the full list of changes:
- Jill Dunlop, MPP Simcoe North, Minister of Colleges and Universities
- Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, MPP Kanata-Carleton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
- Parm Gill, MPP Milton, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism
- Rod Phillips, MPP Ajax, Minister of Long-Term Care
- Dave Piccini, MPP Northumberland-Peterborough South, Minister of Environment
- Greg Rickford, MPP Kenora-Rainy River, merged role as Minister of Northern Development, Mining, Natural Resources and Forestry, as well as Indigenous Affairs (This new ministry will focus on development potential and sustainability in the North while energy will transfer to a new separate ministry.)
- Todd Smith, MPP Bay of Quinte, Minister of Energy
- Ross Romano, MPP Sault Ste. Marie, Minister of Government and Consumer Services
- Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria, MPP Brampton South, President of the Treasury Board
- Kinga Surma, MPP Etobicoke Centre, Minister of Infrastructure
- Lisa Thompson, MPP Huron Bruce, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
- Stan Cho, MPP Willowdale, Associate Minister of Transportation, reporting to Minister Mulroney
- Jane McKenna, MPP Burlington, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, reporting to Minister Fullerton.
- Nina Tangri, MPP Mississauga Streetsville, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape, reporting to Minister Fedeli
- Kaleed Rasheed, MPP Mississauga East-Cooksville, Associate Minister of Digital Government, reporting to Minister Bethlenfalvy
Ontario Road Tests
- A quick reminder that as of June 14, you can now book a G1/G2 or M1/M2 road test in Ontario, by appointment only. Due to the backlog of driver tests, additional staff are being hired and more appointments will be added over the summer. If you have a road test booked, your appointment will be honored. Book your test here: https://drivetest.ca/
Ontario Opens Borders to Quebec and Manitoba
Ontario’s borders with Quebec and Manitoba fully reopened on Wednesday, June 16. The regulation, which applied to both land and water borders, was introduced in April during the third wave in the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision comes as the situation improves in both provinces and other pandemic-related restrictions have been relaxed in recent weeks. Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault still urges caution while travelling between provinces.
Ontario to Spend $10 Million to Investigate Residential Sites
- The Ontario government announced that it will provide $10 million over the next three years to investigate and help identify, protect and commemorate the residential school burial sites of Indigenous children across the province. Since the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, there have been calls across the country for action to be taken at other former residential schools across Canada to locate undisclosed burial sites. Archaeologists, historians and forensic specialists will be among those assisting with the painstaking work required.
Toronto has the largest Indigenous population in Ontario and the fourth largest in Canada, with more than 80,000 residents from Indigenous communities. Toronto’s Indigenous Affairs Office is focused on strengthening the City’s relationship with Indigenous communities and advance reconciliation. As many of us are settlers and immigrants to this land, there is much we can do in our personal lives to learn about this important issue
- Review the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report and 94 calls to action
- Register for the University of Alberta's free online course: Indigenous Canada
Support residential school survivors and their families:
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- First Nations Child & Family Caring Society
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society
The City of Toronto also launched Indigenous Peoples Month at Toronto History Museums in June. Toronto History Museums will make available Indigenous histories, cuisine, arts and stories in collaboration with community partners. Indigenous Peoples Month programming at Toronto History Museums can be enjoyed in four parts: Shop, Explore, Feast and Watch. All performances and panels are free to the public but some events will require advance registration. More information is available at Toronto History Museums.
Premier Invokes Notwithstanding Clause
- The Ontario government reconvened the legislature on Thursday, June 9 to introduce legislation that will enable it to invoke the Notwithstanding clause, overriding Canadians’ Charter rights, to deal with a court ruling on a third party election financing law. The clause gives the provincial legislature the ability to override certain portions of the charter for a five-year term.
On June 8, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice struck down major parts of Doug Ford’s changes to the Election Finances Act – saying his attempt to stop independent groups and people from expressing their views through ads a full year before the election is unconstitutional, violating Canadians’ Charter right to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.
No Ontario Premier has ever invoked the notwithstanding clause, but Ford has now attempted to do it twice — first, in 2018 with the Toronto election, and now with the upcoming 2022 Ontario provincial election. This government is trampling on Canadian’s rights to override the court ruling in an attempt to silence its critics which include families of long-term care residents, parents of children with autism, teachers and school communities, working people, environmental advocates, and frontline health care workers.
NDP Calling for More Funding for Small Businesses
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and the Official Opposition are calling for funding to help local businesses make it to their re-opening day, and stay open — including a new and vastly improved round of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, and a tax credit for visiting Ontario-owned restaurants and Ontario tourism businesses.
The Official Opposition is calling for:
- A vastly improved third round of Ontario Small Business Support Grant payments
This time, the government must not leave any business behind – providing a new payment to bridge to reopening every small or medium-sized local business that’s experienced revenue decline in the third wave, compared to pre-pandemic.
- A $1,000 tourism and local restaurant tax credit
The Travel Ontario Tax Credit bill from NDP MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) gives families a $1,000 tax credit to visit qualifying tourism businesses in Ontario, including qualifying purchases at restaurants, to hotels, outfitters and attractions.
- Targeted re-opening support for personal care and service-based businesses
Especially impacted by necessary public health measures, personal care businesses like salons and service-industry businesses like restaurants need access to a Safe Reopening Grant in order to open, and stay open.
- Access to forgivable loans
Businesses may need access to capital to re-open and drive economic recovery.
According to the CFIB, “Ontario’s small businesses are only at 27% of normal revenues, so they’ll need provincial and federal relief programs for the foreseeable future to help them survive. Many business owners have invested their personal life savings in their business’s survival, but that personal well has now run dry, and government programs are drying up, too.”
Statement on Rail Deck Park and Favouring Developers
- It has been well documented that the current government has made decisions that continually favour developers, rather than the people in this province. There have been many examples, from overriding the City of Toronto’s noise by-law leading to constant construction noise disturbing families early in the morning and late at night, to issuing dozens of Ministerial Zoning Orders, some for developers who are party donors and friends of the Premier. When it comes to Ontario Place, the government has listened to private proposals, but hasn’t consulted publically with the community in good faith.
Then there’s the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), an arms-length provincial quasi-judicial body that is difficult for members of the public to participate in, which picked a developer’s project to increase condo density and overruled the City’s planned Rail Deck Park which would have increased desperately needed public green space in our area. This tribunal is unelected and unaccountable and its decisions have historically sided with developers with high-priced lawyers rather than local constituents with concerns about their neighbourhood. It is long past time to reform LPAT and put development decisions back in the hands of residents.
I spoke in the legislature today to remind this government that their responsibility is to listen to the residents of this province, not their developer donors or lobbyists. Sign our petition calling on this government to respect local planning.
Future of CNE Under Threat
- Due to COVID-19, the CNE has been cancelled for summer 2021 and, as a result, is facing permanent closure due to the financial impacts of the pandemic. The CNE is a much-loved Toronto institution that holds special significance for many Ontarians young and old. The CNE attracts over 1.5 million visitors annually and provides 4700 jobs, primarily to youth, with 20% of summer jobs going to youth with special needs. It’s a major economic driver that generates $128 million in economic activity for Ontario each year. After 142 years, the CNE may close its gates forever— it’s non-profit model did not provide it with the financial ability to withstand the shutdowns during the pandemic.
Listen to my question regarding the CNE.
This week in Question Period, I called on this government to step in and provide the financial support needed to re-open the gates of Toronto’s beloved CNE in summer 2022 and beyond. Join me and sign our petition calling on the government to save the CNE!
Bill 282 and E-bikes
- Last Friday, a new bill was passed by the current government that could make most power-assisted bicycles, or e-bikes, illegal in Ontario. Called the Moving Ontarians More Safely Act, or “MOMS” for short, the bill, which classifies e-bikes by wheel size and weight, would restrict e-bikes in Ontario to 50 kg and a wheel size of at least 35 mm wide (approximately one and a half inches) and 350 mm in diameter (approximately 14 inches). MOMS would make the vast majority of e-bikes that are currently on the road in Ontario illegal. It’s not clear if the intent of the bill is to ban e-bikes that don’t meet the specifications set out in the bill or if it’s just a mistake. Questions posed at committee to government MPPs and the Ministry of Transportation have gone unanswered. Many seniors, low-income individuals and others have come to rely on e-bikes as their primary mode of transport and are concerned about the bill.
Read my article in Now Magazine for more on this.
FoSTRA Seeking Members
Throughout Doug Ford's term as Premier, one constant has been that his actions have repeatedly favored developers rather than local communities. This has created a great deal of controversy, whether he was opening the Greenbelt for development, pushing through highway 413, or greatly increasing the number of Ministerial Zoning Orders to overrule local community voices, it was clear that residents needed to work together to oppose concerning action from the Ontario Government. This is why I helped bring together groups in the riding to lay the foundation for FOSTRA, to ensure Torontonians have a strong voice advocating for them in decisions that affect them.
- The Federation of South Toronto Residents Associations (FoSTRA) is a non-partisan federation of residents associations that collaborate to:
- help shape the creation of good public policies at all levels of government
- preserve and enhance the quality of life for Torontonians
- promote neighborhood identity and vitality
- ensure responsible and respectful development within its boundaries
FoSTRA’s boundaries are the same as the five downtown Wards – Wards 4, 9, 10, 13 – and the Ridings and Electoral Districts of Parkdale-High Park, Davenport, Spadina-Fort York, Toronto Centre plus Ward 11, and University-Rosedale south of Bloor Street.
FoSTRA has established itself as a federal non-profit, and is accepting membership requests for resident, community, neighbourhood, and tenants associations as well as housing co-ops to consider.
If you would like more information or an application form, please email: [email protected]
Birthday & Anniversary Greetings:
My office sends out congratulatory scrolls to people across the riding to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones! If you have a birthday coming up in the family and you would like to request a scroll, please email us at [email protected].
Calling Local Artists:
If you are a local artist, we would love to share your work with the community by publishing it in my newsletter and on this website. If you’re interested in sharing your art, please email us at [email protected]. Art submitted must be accompanied by a short description (50 words or less). Thank you for sharing your work with us and our community.