Friday is Eid-al-Adha, a time of great feasting throughout the Muslim world honoring Abraham’s sacrifice of the ram. Twenty years ago I was teaching in Turkey and took a trip with my wife and children during the Eid holiday (called Kurban Bayram in Turkey). We got off the train in Konya, a remote town that was deserted because of the holiday. Eventually I flagged down a taxi that pulled into the train station to pick us up. When the taxi driver saw the luggage, he opened the trunk where there were two live sheep. He took them out and tied them up to a post and put our luggage in. Presumably he went back to pick up his sheep after he had driven us to our destination. It was an interesting glimpse into the Eid celebration that I remember every year at this time.
As our COVID numbers continue to trend downward, we are able to return more and more to normal life. Toronto enters Stage 3 on Friday. This means that restaurants and bars will now be able to serve customers inside and theatres can reopen.
There is still a long way to go to get through this pandemic, however, and we must continue to maintain physical distancing, wash our hands and wear masks to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19. For those of us who live in condos and apartments, Toronto City Council has passed a bylaw to mandate wearing masks in common spaces.
The Ontario government has released some more details about school opening in September with elementary students returning full-time and high school students attending on alternating days. But parents, teachers and students have been asking for the government to provide additional funding to create more spaces and to make class sizes smaller to increase student safety. Yesterday I joined parents and students at my constituency office to protest the Government for not providing enough funding to reopen schools safely.
The schools are wrestling with a $700 million funding shortfall that led to drastic cuts for the current school year. This follows on 20 years of funding shortfalls for our schools. Last week in the legislature, I argued that the goal of the continual funding shortfalls for education is to privatize the system. The speech is available here.
Our schools need money invested so that our children can return to school safely. Our children are worth every penny of the needed investment.
Toronto ACORN Tenants Information Session
- Toronto ACORN is holding a tenants rights information session this Friday, August 14th, 2020 at 6:30 pm and another session on Thursday, August 20th, 2020 at 6:30 pm.
- They will be covering details around rights/protections related to rent, evictions and maintenance/repairs, and rights in regards to air conditioners. They will have time for questions and will have a discussion after each section.
- Those who are interested can RSVP by emailing GTAinfo@ACORNcanada.org or by calling 416-461-9233
- For more information, here is an event posting on Facebook for the 14th: https://www.facebook.com/events/293808275054230/
- For more information, here is an event posting on Facebook for the 20th: https://www.facebook.com/events/636005227038511/
The Ontario Government announced the City of Toronto and Peel Region will move into Stage 3 on Friday, July 31st at 12:01 am.
- For more information on Stage 3 specifications, click here.
The Opposition echoed the call from GTA Mayors to implement six safety measures to ensure a safe transition to Stage 3:
- Requiring customers of indoor food and drink establishments to be seated at all times unless walking in or out, going to the washroom or paying the bill. The present requirement applies only while people are actually eating or drinking.
- Requiring restaurant and bar operators to keep a customer log with a name and contact information along with the date, check in and check out times, and table number for 30 days. Right now, this is only a Toronto Public Health recommendation not a provincial requirement.
- Implementing additional capacity restrictions for food and drink establishments that limit occupancy to ensure that physical distancing can be easily maintained by all patrons. Right now, there is no cap provided distancing can be maintained.
- Implementing early closure times for food and drink establishments for at least an initial period of time, similar to what has been done in Quebec.
- Requiring establishments to implement COVID-19 screening protocols for staff, such as completion of a screening questionnaire, prior to the commencement of their shifts.
- Outlining clear mandatory face covering requirements for staff and patrons of bars and restaurants in the amended Stage 3 order.
- The Opposition has stated the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program has failed in assisting small businesses and has asked the Ontario Government to provide direct rent relief to businesses.
- According to a July 29, 2020 report by the Daily Bread Food Bank, there were 6,100 new clients utilizing their services in June. The Opposition highlighted this issue stating these figures shine a light on the gaps in the system.
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region will remain in Stage 2. The Opposition stated Windsor/Essex’s status remaining in Stage 2 is a result of the Government’s actions.
- Ontario municipalities will share up to $4 billion from the $19-billion fund the federal government and provinces pledged last week to help municipalities, which are short millions due to the pandemic. The Opposition says municipalities need support from the Provincial Government over the long-term to avoid service cuts, and that many are still reeling from deep cuts made to municipalities two years ago, including to public health, ambulance services and child care.
- Toronto City Council passed a bylaw making masks mandatory in common areas in apartment and condo buildings.
- Ontario implemented a mandate that students from grades 4 through 12 must wear non-medical face masks or cloth face coverings upon return to school in the fall.
- As a reminder, facial coverings have been mandatory in all indoor public spaces in the City of Toronto, and onboard all TTC and Metrolinx vehicles. Please respect and follow public health guidelines when entering businesses and other public areas where physical distancing is difficult.
- Two weeks ago, twelve Official Opposition MPPs in Toronto including myself and the Municipal Affairs Critic signed off on a letter demanding that the Province rescind the provincial regulation overriding Toronto’s Construction Noise By-Law and allowing extended hours of construction noise. Click on this link to see the letter. This follows the City Council motion and letter from 14 neighbourhood associations in Toronto which made the same request. Despite concerted efforts by 42 Resident’s Associations, Toronto’s City Council and Ontario’s Official Opposition, calls for this regulation to be rescinded have gone unheeded. Already anxious about COVID-19, stressed about employment/income insecurities, and spending endless hours sheltering in place, this ongoing noise adds an additional stressor without any perceptible benefit for residents. Click on this link to sign our petition.
- The provincial government announced on July 30th elementary school students will be attending class full time in the fall. Secondary school students in 24 “designated boards” will attend school on alternating days, in cohorts of 15. The Education Critic stated sending kids back to overcrowded classrooms places them at risk. The Opposition proposed hiring more teachers, education staff and custodians ensuring students return to smaller, safer classes. Read our full response here. I have been advocating for the Government to provide enough funding to ensure proper cleaning and PPE is available, not to mention the fact that they’ve ignored a $700 million repair backlog at the Toronto District School Board.
- A group of experts from across Ontario have come together to develop updated considerations for a safe school reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The living document, Updated COVID-19: Guidance for School Reopening, published July 29, 2020, builds on the initial set of recommendations put forward by The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Unity Health Toronto, with input from experts from a wide range of disciplines across the province. You can watch the virtual press conference here.
Daycares and Child Welfare:
- The maximum number of kids allowed in child care cohorts in the province has been raised from 10 to 15. The Provincial Government stated child care has already been back to 91% capacity, but journalists, experts, parents and the Opposition pointed to figures showing less than half of Ontario daycares have reopened.
- The Ontario government released its plan today stating they are modernizing the child welfare system. The Opposition pointed out the government fails to provide funding or plan to transform child welfare in Ontario.
Financial Accountability Office Report
- The Financial Accountability Office (FAO) released its annual report on July 28th, 2020. According to the report, the Ontario Government was $466 million under budget in the health sector which includes $49 million under budget for public health programs, $65 million under budget for hospitals, long-term care homes and community programs, and $314 million under budget for hospital infrastructure projects. The Official Opposition has been pushing the Ontario Government to provide more funding to improve the health and long-term care sector, where problems have only become more exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Long-Term Care Update:
- The Ontario government launched its independent commission into COVID-19 and long-term care. The three commissioners are Associate Chief Justice Frank N. Marrocco (Chair); Angela Coke, former senior executive of the Ontario Public Service; and Dr. Jack Kitts, former President and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital. The commissioners are expected to deliver their final report by April 2021. The Opposition stated the Premier’s commission doesn’t offer immediate action or long-term change for long-term care. The Opposition also called for a public inquiry. A statement from July 29, 2020 from the commissioners, says they have a “clear mandate to investigate how and why COVID-19 spread in long-term care homes,” and to consider further areas for the government to “take action”.
- My colleague, MPP for Windsor West, Lisa Gretzky, tabled a motion in the Legislature last week urging the Ford government to implement a COVID-19 Essential Caregiver Strategy, which, if passed, would give residents in long-term care, group homes and all congregate care settings the right to fully access their essential caregivers and support persons while giving congregate settings the resources they need to safely implement access. I agree completely and support Lisa’s motion.
City of Toronto News:
- Residents of the Jane and Finch Community, the City Councillor, and Opposition MPP for Humber River—Black Creek, Tom Rakocevic asked the Ontario Government and Metrolinx to honour the terms between the Jane and Finch Community and Metrolinx to transfer a 32-metre parcel of Finch West Light Rail Transit land to the community. The land was slated to become a community hub but Metrolinx reneged and is planning to sell the land at market price.
- City of Toronto staff presented a report to City Council to address the experienced and anticipated financial impacts of the pandemic and proposed options for mitigation. City Council voted to adopt the report’s recommendations, including $513.7 million in mitigation strategies through anticipated cost savings from workforce restraints, spending constraints and cost avoidance.
- Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued a statement on COVID-19.
- European airline and airport executives urged the Canadian government this week to allow a safe "restoration of travel" between Canada and Europe. In a letter dated July 27, top executives of nearly a dozen European airlines and airports, warned that “since many EU (European Union) countries and Switzerland require reciprocity to re-establish access, Canada’s continued entry restriction and quarantine requirements are becoming problematic.” The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also asked the federal government to replace quarantine restrictions with multi-pronged measures, including testing, to reduce transmission from travel. “We urge the Canadian government to remove the blanket travel restrictions to travelers from countries whose successful control of COVID-19 has significantly reduced risk to Canada,” said IATA Chief Executive Alexandre de Juniac on Wednesday.
Construction & Road Closures:
GO expansion will continue as Metrolinx begins construction along the Union Station Rail Corridor - West. This work will begin on Saturday, August 15, 2020 and will continue through to Saturday, August 22, 2020 from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am. Here is what to expect:
- Construction will commence on a retaining wall from Spadina Ave to York St.
- There will be backfilling and panel construction from Spadina Ave to John St.
- Bungalow foundation construction will happen from Spadina Ave to York St.
- An insulated joint will be installed from Spadina Ave to York St.
Cable containment will take place from Bathurst St to York St.
- For more information, email Metrolinx at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-202-6911.
Work for the Ontario Line will continue. This project will create 16 km of subway service to Toronto. Metrolinx will be doing investigative night drilling to evaluate the underground conditions of the area where the subway is proposed. Work will take place on Queen Street West near Spadina Avenue beginning August 10, 2020 and will continue for up to three weeks. The construction will happen from between 9:00 pm to 5:00 am, Sunday to Friday. Weather conditions may impact this schedule. Here is what to expect:
- Some lane closures and traffic delays may occur during construction hours.
- Work equipment may remain on the site until construction is completed.
- Businesses and residents near the site will hear noise caused by a drill rig, trucks and other construction equipment.
- Watch for signs directing traffic, as detours may be required and take care when walking near work sites.
- The City of Toronto will rehabilitate a section of a 112-year-old Cross Harbour Tunnel located below Lake Ontario from Muggs Island to the John Street Pumping Station (JSPS). The tunnel is a large pipe that carries cold water from the Island Water Treatment Plant to the JSPS and supplies water to Enwave for deep lake water cooling. Work above ground will take place from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, with work after hours and on weekends as required. There will be road and sidewalk restrictions on Lake Shore Blvd. north of the Rees Street parking lot. Sidewalks will remain open on the north side of Lake Shore Blvd. between Lower Spadina and Rees Street. This project will take about 10 months to complete and will abide by noise by-laws. For more information, call 416-392-8210 or email email@example.com.
Metrolinx Public Consultation:
- Metrolinx is holding a second round of public consultation in order to fulfill the environment assessments on new infrastructure requirements for GO expansion.
- They will present information and seek feedback on any newly identified infrastructure (or changes) and the findings of technical and environmental studies undertaken to date.
- On the advice of Public Health Ontario regarding COVID-19, the consultation will take place as a virtual open house from August 18 to September 1, 2020. To access the virtual open house materials, visit:
Fun Things To Do
- Art Gallery of Ontario: The AGO will reopen to the public and you can now start booking single tickets for visits starting July 23. New hours are Thursdays to Sundays from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm. Everyone over the age of four entering the museum will be required to wear a face mask and only a limited number of tickets will be available for each 30-minute timeslot. Physical distancing measures will also be in effect.
- CityView Drive-In: CityView is an entirely contactless experience in the parking lot at 20 Polson Street. From the safety of your own vehicle, capture world class talent on a massive 238-foot stage with the Toronto skyline in the background.
- Curbside Collective BBQ Series: Curbside Collective will be hosting a mini farmers market from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm and street food pop-up from 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm. Saturdays at 852 King St. W.
- Greenbelt Foundation: As most of Ontario heads into Phase 3 of re-opening, the Greenbelt is a safe destination for tourism and recreation, when enjoyed responsibly. In need of an outdoor activity this summer with the kids? Download the Earth Rangers app and join one of the Greenbelt-supported missions from home. Create places for small animals to sleep, feed, and nest in your own backyard in Habitat Hero or team up with a friend to plant a tree and learn about ecosystems in Just 1 Tree. Discover so much more about Ontario’s biodiversity along the way!
- Hot Yoga & Fitness in a Bubble: Lmnts Outdoor Studio presents this pop-up at Hotel X Toronto, 111 Princes’ Blvd. Open 7 days a week, the experience will take place in 50 outdoor private, clear, frameless domes, allowing for a personal and relaxing experience – all while maintaining a safe social distance.
- Ontario Place Summer Line-up: Enjoy great comedy, live music and feature films on a 60-foot screen in a safe and family-friendly setting at the water’s edge of Ontario Place. 955 Lake Shore Blvd. W.
- Toronto Shines will present the best in live entertainment, comedy and current and classic films. It is running now through October.
- DriveInTO, a new initiative launched by the City of Toronto, will offer free drive-in film screenings in August with programming by Hot Docs, imagineNATIVE and TIFF.
- Toronto Undergraduate Jazz Festival, a not-for-profit organization that creates opportunities for young jazz artists to showcase their talent, will present a virtual jazz festival in the Trillium Park on September 5-6.
- Toronto International Film Festival will run from September 10-19, with 50 new feature films, five programmes of short films, as well as interactive talks, film cast reunions, and Q&As with cast and filmmakers tailored to fit the moment with physical screenings, digital screenings, and at drive-ins, including Ontario Place.
- Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market: The market is now open Tuesdays, 3:00 to 7:00 pm until October 27th, rain or shine. Controlled entrance on Crawford with exit at Dundas & Shaw. One-way flow.
This week, I’d like to thank the Spirit of York for donating 12 gallons of hand sanitizer to residences for seniors and vulnerable adults! Thank you for helping keep our most vulnerable community members safe!
Facts and Figures
As of 2:00 pm the previous day:
Tuesday August 11
33 – 0.1% increase
2,786 (no change)
Tests completed in the previous 24 hours
Backlog – waiting to be processed
Total tests completed
LTC homes in outbreak
18 (no change)
- Hospitalized: 60 (+11*)
- ICU: 21 (-4*)
- Ventilated: 12 (-2*)
*since Aug 10
- Asian Unification Project: Targets Asian people who are disabled, immunocompromised, or 50+. Individuals can request grocery delivery or errand running.
- The Bright Spot: An online community where older adults can shine, offering everything from exercise classes and small online group discussions to trivia nights and mindfulness tutorials – all free of charge. Offered by the YMCA of Greater Toronto.
- Canadian Muslim Response Network: Anyone in need across Toronto can request emergency kits including non-perishable food items, and essential hygiene and cleaning products.
- Canadian Cancer Society Information Helpline: For people with cancer, caregivers, families and friends, and healthcare professionals. 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934) CancerConnection.ca is an online community where people with cancer and their loved ones can share their experiences and build supportive relationships. Webinars on COVID-19 for cancer patients providing expert input on some central issues affecting people living with cancer and their caregivers.
- Caregiving Communities gives people who need help an easy way to find it in your community. This can include finding help with grocery or medication pick-up and delivery, friendly phone calls and mental health support.
- CareMongering-TO: Community Response to COVID19. Can request or offer aid (including grocery delivery and other resources) by posting in the Facebook group, filling in a Google form (to offer aid), or filling in a spreadsheet (to request aid).
- COVID-19 Resource Map: This tool has up-to-date service listings across Toronto, including food banks, meal delivery programs, community health services and more. Additional layers and details are being updated daily by 211 Toronto.
- COVIDhelpTO: Helps frontline workers answer their clients’ most basic questions around financial and housing supports. Content in 14 languages: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Farsi, French, Gujarati, Korean, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, and Vietnamese.
- COVIDTO GlideApp: An all-in-one community resource that is updated by volunteers
- Diabetes Canada offers webinars with information about government supports and how people with diabetes can access care during the pandemic. Materials are offered in the following languages: Punjabi; Cantonese; Italian; Urdu.
- DonateTO: The City launched this online portal, making it easy for businesses and residents to make direct donations of products, services, and funds in support of the City’s relief efforts.
- Friendly Neighbour Hotline (UHN Open Lab): Toronto seniors who live in low-income housing can request grocery and supply aid. Torontonians can volunteer after a vetting process and online training. 1-855-581-9580 (Hotline Phone Number)
- GDNA Help/Give Forum: Community residents can ask for help and other residents can offer assistance.
- Good Neighbour Project: GTA-wide, Facebook-based network of community members willing to assist with supply and grocery delivery to those with disabilities, compromised immune systems, accessibility barriers, and the elderly. Requests for aid can be made by calling the helpline (647-873-2230) or sending an email.
- Queen West Resilience Gardens and Recipe Books: With the many challenges brought on by COVID-19, the Queen West BIA has created Resilience Gardens and Recipe Books for households to grow some food at home. Sign up for your FREE kit.
- ShopHERE: Connects volunteers in Toronto’s technology sector with business owners who need e-commerce training and support in digital marketing and shipping. Tech companies and professionals who’d like to offer guidance can sign up online. To qualify for the program, a business must have fewer than 10 employees, or fewer than 25 employees if a restaurant or bar; pay commercial property taxes; and not be a chain or franchise. Eligible businesses and artists must be located in the City of Toronto.
- Social Planning Toronto designed the COVIDhelpTO website to help front-line workers answer their clients’ most basic questions around financial and housing supports announced over the past few months. The English content has now been translated into 14 languages.
- Spark Ontario is a free, bilingual online platform that connects not-for-profit organizations with potential volunteers.
- Steps to Justice gives answers to more than 80 legal questions, including questions about emergency benefits assistance, Employment Insurance, being evicted for non-payment of rent, and what to do about urgent family law problems with the courts.
- The 519 (Community Centre serving the LGBTQ2S community): Free takeaway meals, 7 days a week 1 pm and 4 pm, Monday to Friday 12:30 pm, 12:30 pm Saturday and Sunday. Location: In front of the Fabarnak Cafe, 519 Church St.
- Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre: Bagged meals available for pick-up only at the side door. Weekdays: Breakfast: 9:00 AM - 9:30 AM; Lunch: 12:00 PM - 12:30 PM; Dinner: 3:15 PM - 3:45 PM. Weekends: Breakfast: 9:00 AM - 9:30 AM; Lunch: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM (Sunday 12-12:30). Location: 439 Dundas St. E. at Parliament
- West Neighbourhood House: Help with grocery and pharmacy pickup, friendly calls, social support, information and referral, and other needs emerging in the community. Sign up to volunteer or request help at westnh.org/help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-532-4828.
Health Workforce Portal
The Ontario government has launched a new Health Workforce Matching Portal that will enable retired or non-active health care professionals, internationally educated health care professionals, students, and volunteers with health care experience to join the province's response to COVID-19. The portal will efficiently match the availability and skillsets of frontline health care workers to the employers in need of assistance to perform a variety of public health functions, such as case and contact management.
Working with Spadina-Fort York’s Elected Representatives
COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation that requires all levels of government to work closely together. I am working closely with my Municipal and Federal counterparts to discuss how we can support Spadina-Fort York residents, businesses and other organizations. For more detail on the Municipal and Federal responses, please click the links below:
Toronto Public Health: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/
COVID-19 Monitoring Dashboard: Summarizes Toronto's status with respect to a core set of indicators that align with the Ontario Government’s Framework for Reopening.
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen
- Innovative Solutions or Products: If you are a business/organization that can offer emergency products or innovative solutions to support the COVID-19 crisis response, submit your ideas/supplies here
- Toronto Arts Council resources for artists during the COVID-19 crisis
- Community Legal Education Ontario has released a guide to legal issues that arise out of the COVID-19 crisis
- The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has created a COVID-19 Toolkit for businesses
- Diabetes Canada:
- Ask the Experts – video answers by medical professionals to common questions
- Demandez aux Experts – answers in French to commonly asked questions
- Diabetes Canada COVID-19 resources
- An infographic describing how those with diabetes can best prepare during the COVID-19 disruption
- #HowsMyFlattening: A centralized data analytics and visualization hub monitoring Ontario's response to COVID-1
- Consumers can report price gouging by filing a complaint at 1-800-889-9768 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, or by filing a report online.
- 211 is a free helpline that connects Ontarians to community and social services in your area 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in over 150 languages.
- The Ontario Federation of Labour has a worker resource page and an info sheet on how to file a complaint against an employer who is using reprisals
- Click here for the updated Employment Standards legislation changed to reflect COVID-19 and other FAQs on staying home from work. Remember, employers cannot require employees to provide medical notes to prove they are eligible for the leave.
- The Ontario Human Rights’ Commission has released a policy statement on COVID-19
- Here are guidelines from the Ministry of Labour on how to refuse unsafe work
- Ontario's Non-Profit Network has provided resources for organizations to adapt due to COVID-19
- The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses has a number of resources for small businesses to provide advice in relation to COVID-19
If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough or difficulty breathing), please start by visiting the Ministry of Health website and taking their self-assessment, and then if necessary, contact Telehealth Ontario.
This may be a helpful link - Do I have COVID-19, the flu, or a cold?
Telehealth Ontario offers free, confidential service at 1-866-797-0000. A Registered Nurse will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Information is available in multiple languages.
Please do not visit a COVID-19 Testing Centre in Toronto unless you have symptoms. Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.
Toronto Public Health Hotline is available Monday to Friday (8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m) and Saturday and Sunday (10 a.m. – 6 p.m) at 416-338-7600, TTY (416-392-0658) or email (PublicHealth@toronto.ca)
If you’ve travelled, please self-isolate and monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough or difficulty breathing) for 14 days after you arrive back in Canada.
As per the latest recommendations from Ontario Public Health, my staff will be working from home until further notice.
We are continuing to serve the community and can be reached by phone or email:
Phone: 416-603-9664 Email: CGlover-CO@ndp.on.ca