Government of Ontario

Chris Glover

MPP, Spadina–Fort York

Stay in the loop

COVID-19 Latest Update

Published on June 21, 2021

Dear Neighbours,

It’s been a helluva week. Last weekend we entered step 1 of reopening and at long last our patios were open! 

But while people were enjoying the patios, the Premier called for an all night sitting over the weekend to rush through a bill that suspends the Charter rights of Ontarians to limit the ability of groups to criticize his Government ahead of the next election. You can read about it in the op-ed I wrote for NOW Magazine here.

I’ve been working with the owners of small and medium sized businesses throughout the pandemic. Unfortunately many businesses have shut down permanently due to delayed and inadequate support from the Province, and others have made it through, trying to stay alive and protect the jobs of their employees. Although Ontario's reopening has begun, many businesses remain closed or only partially open in a way that is not sustainable. I have sent a letter to the Ministers of Economic Development and Small Business sharing recommendations directly from businesses detailing what supports are needed if we are to have a successful reopening. I want to thank the 25+ business owners and groups that worked on the recommendations and have signed on to the letter. If you are a business owner in the community and wish to join our small business work group, please email my office.

Everyone, please Shop Local to support our small and medium sized businesses!

 

I'd also like to take a moment to congratulate Shelley Gautier, who recently won two gold medals for Canada in paracycling at the World Championships that were held in Portugal! Thank you Shelley. We’re all very proud to have you representing Canada!

There are lots of fun things to do this weekend, including stopping by the outdoor art exhibit in Garrison Common. See more details below.

Finally, I want to wish all of the fathers and all of those who play the role of fathers a Happy Father's Day!

Have a good weekend everyone. Stay safe!

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Vaccine Update

Second Doses for Residents in Delta Hotspots

  • Starting on Monday, June 14 at 8:00 a.m., residents in seven hotspot regions, including Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, who received their first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose on or before May 9 can book their second dose. Second shots of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can be booked through the provincial booking system or local health units starting this week.

Second Doses for Residents Not Living in Delta Hotspots

  • Starting Monday, June 21, adults not living in Delta hot spots who received an mRNA shot on May 9 or before will be eligible to book a second dose.

Adults Who Received First Dose on May 10 or Later

  • Starting on Monday, June 28, adults who received their first dose on May 10 or later can book their second dose.

You can access the online booking system at  Ontario.ca/bookvaccine or call the COVID-19 Vaccine Call Centre at 1-833-943-3900.

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.

People 70+ and Anyone Who Received A First Dose Before April 18 Can Rebook Second Doses Starting June 7

  • Starting Monday, June 7 at 8:00 am, those 70 and up, as well as anyone who had a first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before April 18 will be allowed to book an earlier second dose appointment.
  • Starting Friday, June 4, anyone in those groups is also eligible to book a second shot at a pharmacy or a primary care setting taking part in the vaccine rollout.

You can access the online booking system at Ontario.ca/bookvaccine or call the COVID-19 Vaccine Call Centre at 1-833-943-3900

Booking Appointments

Appointments have been booking up very quickly but additional blocks of appointments are often released throughout the week, so please check back on the following days. Eligible people may be able to book an accelerated second dose at a participating pharmacy. More information is available here.

NACI Allows Mixing COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has changed its guidelines to allow for mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines. Federal health officials announced that a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine can be followed up with a second AstraZeneca shot, or with a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The new guidance from NACI also advises that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be mixed for first and second doses.

While NACI is advising that the vaccines can be safely used in combination, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Canadians should try to get the same dose in a series if possible, specifically when receiving Pfizer or Moderna. If you are not able to find the same vaccine for some reason, Tam said, “you can then consider them interchangeable.”

Health Canada’s approval for two doses of the same shot was after extensive clinical trials. Tam said NACI's updated guidance on mixing vaccines is based on a "range of factors" including emerging research, the safety and efficacy of the approach, the risk of severe blood clots associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, and Canada’s vaccine supply. 

Studies have found that mixing the two vaccines was effective at preventing COVID-19. However, the studies noted that mixing vaccines resulted in more frequent side-effects within 48 hours of receiving the second dose, including fever, headaches and fatigue, when compared to "non-mixed" schedules.

Tam stressed that mixing and matching vaccines “is not a new concept.” She explained that this has happened before with other vaccines in Canada, including the seasonal flu shot and hepatitis A vaccine, when vaccine programs and suppliers change.

Ontario Accelerates Second Doses

  • Ontario has hit its target of administering first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 65% of all adults. In addition, over 15% of residents 12 to 17 years old have received at least one dose. The Premier announced that the dose interval has been amended from four months to as short as 28 days, but will largely depend on supply, which has been steadily increasing the past few weeks. If there is sufficient vaccine supply, it is anticipated that the majority of Ontario residents who choose to receive the vaccine will be able to be fully vaccinated by the end of summer.

The second doses will be given based on a “first-in and first-out” method. If they choose, residents are able to accelerate their second dose appointment based on the date they received their first dose. Residents will be responsible for booking an earlier second dose and are encouraged to go to the same place. Residents can also choose to keep their original second dose appointment.

While I am pleased to hear that second doses are being sped up, the booking and re-booking of second-dose appointments should not be the same chaotic scavenger hunt of the first round — especially for seniors. It is important that this government set up a coordinated system to notify people when it’s their turn and what their options are.

Increase in Vaccine Supply

We will see an increase in vaccine supply to Ontario with more than 3 million doses of Moderna expected this month as well as 900,000 doses of Pfizer every week this month.

Youth 12+ Now Eligible to Book a Vaccine

  • The Government of Ontario announced that as of 8:00 am on Sunday, May 23, youth aged 12 and over are eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for the Pfizer vaccine at City of Toronto mass immunization clinics through Ontario’s online and telephone booking system. To book an appointment online, these individuals must already be 12 years old as of the date of their booking.
  • Children between the ages of 12 and 17 are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine and are expected to receive their second dose starting sometime between August 9 and 22.

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

City of Toronto launches VaxTO

  • The City of Toronto has launched VaxTO, a campaign to help residents access COVID-19 vaccination appointments and information. With more than 65% of adults in Toronto vaccinated, the City will be reaching out to residents to further encourage them to get their first and second doses of vaccine. The City is committed to reopening but recognizes that the Province’s Roadmap to Reopen relies on increasing vaccination rates beyond 70% of eligible adults.

Starting today, Toronto residents can text “VACCINE” to 1-833-750-0888 to access resources including appointment bookings, information on vaccines and upcoming telephone town halls. VaxTO will use texts, emails, voice broadcasts, telephone town halls and targeted multilingual social media advertising to provide information about when and how residents can be vaccinated.

The City of Toronto's COVID19 texting service is multilingual. Toronto residents can receive vaccine booking information in 14 languages: Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Tagalog, Tamil, Urdu, Spanish, Portuguese, Farsi, Korean, Italian, French, Bengali, Vietnamese and Gujarati. Text “VACCINE” to 1-833-750-0888. After receiving the City of Toronto's welcome message, reply LANG for language options.

The campaign will include three phases. Phase 1, now underway, will encourage all Torontonians to book their first dose. Phase 2, beginning in mid-June, will target neighbourhoods and communities with low first-dose vaccine rates. Phase 3, beginning in July, will continue to target Torontonians yet to receive a first dose and support the second dose city-wide efforts.

Here’s the City of Toronto Information page on how to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

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.

Province Accelerates Second-Dose Eligibility, Adds More Regions to Delta Hot Spot List

Ontario has added more public health units to the list of Delta variant hot spots. Adults living in Delta hot spot regions, which now includes Hamilton, Simcoe-Muskoka, and Durham Region, who received their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine on May 30 or earlier will be eligible to book their second shot starting on Wednesday.

Below is the list of Delta hot spot postal codes in Toronto:

  • M9W
  • M9V
  • M6M
  • M9L
  • M9M
  • M3J
  • M3K
  • M3M
  • M3N
  • M6N
  • M3L
  • M9N
  • M1G
  • M1B
  • M1S
  • M1J
  • M4H
  • M4A

Vaccination Appointments Available at City-Run Clinics 

  • Appointments are still available across our nine City-run immunization clinics. These appointments are open to anyone age 12+ who needs their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. 

    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: 
  1. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W.
  2. Scarborough Town Centre, 300 Borough Dr.
  3. Toronto Congress Centre, 650 Dixon Rd.
  4. Malvern Community Recreation Centre, 30 Sewells Rd.
  5. Mitchell Field Community Centre, 89 Church Ave.
  6. The Hangar, 75 Carl Hall Rd. 
  7. Cloverdale Mall, 250 The East Mall
  8. North Toronto Memorial Community Centre, 200 Eglinton Ave. W.
  9. 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.

Vaccine Webinar from Ethno Racialized Disability Coalition

ERDCO, the Ethno Racialized Disability Coalition Ontario, is holding a free COVID-19 vaccine webinar Barriers for People with Disabilities - Social Determinants of Health on Tuesday, June 22, 12:00 noon to 1:30 pm. Panelists: Sureya Ibrahim, Monica Bustamante, Kylie Brooks, and Dr. Akwatu Kenti. ASL (American Sign Language) and Deaf interpretation provided. For questions, email [email protected] or text 416-245-2283. Register here.


Latest Developments

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

Support residential school survivors and their families:

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.

Ontario Digital Privacy Consultation

The Ontario Government recently released a white paper outlining proposals to strengthen privacy protections across the province. The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services is seeking to address gaps in Ontario's legislative privacy framework and to establish comprehensive, updated rules to protect privacy rights and support innovation. There has been some concern around the move from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce - read more here. I urge you to review the white paper, and send in your comments to the Government, as well as a copy to my office at [email protected] so we can advocate for your recommendations. More information is available here.

MPAC Resumes Exterior Property Inspections

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) has resumed conducting exterior property inspections and will be collecting information that supports its work to keep Ontario’s property inventory updated, including assessment of new construction, additions and renovations. Effective Friday, June 18, residential property owners may receive one of two letters from MPAC:

A letter asking to call the Customer Contact Centre to verify property details by phone. This letter will be sent to residential property owners with an active building permit for a minor renovation that may not require an on-site inspection.

A letter indicating that MPAC will be in your community within the next eight weeks to conduct an exterior inspection of their property.

More information is available on a new property inspections page at mpac.ca.

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.

CaféTO Program Opens June 11

  • CaféTO is a very popular City of Toronto program that has been in high demand for restaurant and bar owners who need access to more safe outdoor dining space for customers as well as for their staff. With Toronto entering Step One of the provincial reopening today, outdoor dining will be permitted for groups of up to four people from different households, providing public health measures including wearing a mask or face covering and distancing or barriers between tables, are in place. When subject to no other regulations, most patios facing main streets may serve alcohol until 2:00 a.m. and must close by 2:45 a.m. Patios facing local side streets must close by 11:00 p.m., with last call for alcohol at 10:15 p.m.

Toronto Outdoor Pools Begin to Open Saturday, June 12

On Saturday, June 12, 10 city-operated outdoor pools will open as the city moves into Step One. Toronto residents can reserve 45-minute swim sessions online in advance.

The 10 outdoor pools in the downtown area that will open are:

  • Alex Duff – 779 Crawford St.
  • Monarch Park Pool – 115 Felstead Ave.
  • Riverdale Park – 550 Broadview Ave.
  • Sunnyside-Gus Ryder – 1755 Lake Shore Blvd. W.

The remaining outdoor pools will open for the season on June 19, go to full hours when school is out on June 30, and remain open until Sunday, September 5. Capacity at outdoor pools will be reduced to 25% to ensure adequate space for physical distancing.

Ontario Moves to Step One on Friday, June 11

The Ontario government has announced that the province will move into Step One of its Roadmap to Reopen on Friday, June 11, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen includes but is not limited to:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 10 people;
  • Outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
  • Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 15 per cent capacity of the particular room;
  • Non-essential retail permitted at 15 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
  • Essential and other select retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
  • Outdoor dining with up to four people per table, with exceptions for larger households;
  • Outdoor fitness classes, outdoor groups in personal training and outdoor individual/team sport training to be permitted with up to 10 people, among other restrictions;
  • Day camps for children permitted to operate in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines for COVID-19 produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;
  • Overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites, including Ontario Parks, and short-term rentals;
  • Concert venues, theaters and cinemas may open outdoors for the purpose of rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with no more than 10 performers, among other restrictions;
  • Outdoor horse racing tracks and motor speedways permitted to operate without spectators; and
  • Outdoor attractions such as zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens with capacity limits and other restrictions.
  • Outdoor tours with restrictions are now permitted.

Please view the regulation for full details. 

City Introduces ParkFitTO Outdoor Fitness Program

The City of Toronto announced the launch of ParkFitTO, a new program starting June 14 until September. ParkFitTO offers residents outdoor fitness programming during the summer at outdoor locations. Programs include both free and affordable paid options such as drop-in fitness classes, outdoor group fitness and walking programs. Learn more here.

While this program will provide residents with more opportunities to get outside and get active during the pandemic, we recognize that not everyone is pleased about this program. Owners of local gyms and fitness facilities are concerned that this will further impact their businesses as it means they now have to compete with free programming. 

This government’s meagre supports have been too little, too late, and have left out and short-changed countless businesses and even entire industries.

The Official Opposition is calling for:

  • A vastly improved third round of Ontario Small Business Support Grant payments
  • A $1,000 tourism and local restaurant tax credit
  • Targeted re-opening support for personal care businesses and service-industry businesses
  • Access to forgivable loans

Toronto Summer Camp Registration Opens Tuesday, June 8

  • The City of Toronto will open registration for summer camps for children ages of 4 to 12. Virtual programing is also still available.

CampTO is scheduled to start on Tuesday, June 8 at 8:00 a.m. The camps will run for eight weeks from July 5 to August 27 and will offer a variety of traditional day camp experiencing, including dance, drama, music, arts and crafts, and active games.

All programs will adhere to provincial health guidelines, including physical distancing, daily health screening, mask wearing while indoors and co-horting. The city says that each camp group will stay together for the entire week and will not interact with others.

Register for all summer camp programs using the city’s website or by calling 416-396-7378.

Stay-at-Home Order Lifts

While Ontario's stay-at-home order lifts today (June 2, 2021), most public health measures will remain in place. The order, which was enacted in April, asked residents to only leave home for essential reasons such as grocery shopping, medical appointments and getting exercise. As of today, that rule is no longer in effect. Other measures remain, including: 

  • Limiting outdoor gatherings to up to five people 
  • Limiting essential retail capacity to 25%
  • Restricting non-essential retail to curbside pick-up and delivery only
  • Limiting short-term rentals to those who need housing only
  • Limiting Ontario Parks and public campgrounds to day-use only 
  • Indoor gatherings remain prohibited 

The Province has also said that Ontarians will be able to leave home to travel within the province to a secondary residence for any reason, however, they are not permitted to host members of another household indoors except for a person from another household who lives alone or a caregiver.

You can find a complete summary of the restrictions in place before Step One of Ontario's reopening here.

The province is looking at reopening the economy later this month with looser rules on businesses and outdoor activities. Read about the three-step plan here.

Ford Government Extends Emergency Orders

  • A state of emergency in Ontario was first brought into effect in March 2020 and is separate from the emergency orders under it. The state and its orders have to continually be extended every two weeks and every 30 days, respectively, to remain in effect. 

Currently, a number of orders remain in effect under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) and the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA), including the stay-at-home order, regulations for various businesses in operation and for those who will soon be permitted to reopen, the overall power of the government to enforce COVID-19 orders on businesses and individuals, and more.

Last summer, the Ford Government passed Bill 195, giving themselves greater powers to create COVID-19 measures without legislative oversight. The Government voted to extend those emergency powers earlier this week, which in effect allows them to implement measures without a public debate in the legislature. The Ontario NDP and I opposed the creation of those emergency powers, and we oppose extending them again this time around.

There has been clear evidence why giving the Government full power to create our COVID-19 response has led to failed policy. I have been repeatedly saying in the legislature the Ford Government has been incorrectly using lockdowns instead of offering paid sick days, speeding up the vaccine rollout, and providing proper supports to ensure our schools are safe. If necessary, where there are lockdowns, there should be direct financial support provided for tenants, small businesses, etc. We’ve fought to open safe outdoor recreation and opposed the last stay-at-home order and increase in police powers so, without a doubt, I oppose the extension of emergency powers for the Ford Government to make decisions under cover of a pandemic.

In fact, last year I wrote in NOW Magazine about how this is just a power grab for the Ford Government to do whatever they choose without legislative oversight during an emergency. Read the full article here.

Throughout the pandemic, the NDP urged the government to implement some form of virtual proceedings, which would have enabled all MPPs to participate electronically in votes. Unfortunately, the Ford Government denied this request, and instead, agreed to create COVID-19 capacity limits on how many members per party can attend sessions and vote on bills. Here is a link with more information on this.

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.”

Province's 3-Step Reopening Plan 

  • The Ontario government has announced a three-step reopening plan tied to vaccination rates. The province will remain in each step for at least 21 days to monitor the impacts on case numbers as restrictions are relaxed. Public health and workplace safety measures would continue to apply across all steps, including maintaining physical distance, capacity limits and wearing face coverings in indoor spaces and whenever physical distancing is a challenge. The stay-at-home order will expire on June 2, but all non-essential businesses will still be forced to stay closed until the province enters step one.

The province also announced that recreational amenities will resume starting 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 22, including golf courses, baseball diamonds, soccer and other sports fields, driving ranges, tennis and basketball courts, and skate parks. No outdoor sports or recreational classes are permitted. Outdoor limits for social gatherings and organized public events will be expanded on Saturday, which will allow these amenities to be used by up to five people. 

Step 1 of the plan will begin two weeks after 60% of adults have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (expected the week of June 14). At this stage, the following will be allowed to reopen:

  • Outdoor gatherings up to 10 people
  • Outdoor dining up to 4 people per table
  • Outdoor fitness classes, personal training and sports training up to 10 people
  • Essential retail at 25% capacity and can sell all goods
  • Non-essential retail at 15% capacity
  • Retail stores in malls closed unless the stores have a street facing entrance
  • Outdoor religious services, rites and ceremonies limited to permit 2m physical distancing
  • Horse racing and motor speedways without spectators
  • Outdoor horse riding
  • Outdoor pools, splash pads and wading pools
  • Outdoor zoos, landmarks, historic sites, and botanical gardens with capacity limits
  • Campsites, provincial parks, campgrounds and short-term rentals

Step 2 will begin at least 21 days later once 70% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 20% have been fully vaccinated. At this stage, the following will be allowed to reopen with capacity limits:

  • Outdoor gatherings up to 25 people
  • Indoor gatherings up to 5 people and other restrictions
  • Outdoor dining up to 6 people per table
  • Outdoor sports and leagues
  • Outdoor meeting and event spaces
  • Non-essential retail at 25% capacity; essential retail at 50% capacity
  • Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times
  • Outdoor cinemas and performing arts
  • Horse racing and motor speedways for spectators
  • Outdoor tour and guide services
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15% capacity
  • Public libraries
  • Outdoor waterparks and amusement parks
  • Fairs and rural exhibitions

Step 3 will begin once 70-80% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 25% have been fully vaccinated. This represents a more full return to normal life with indoor dining set to resume and indoor recreational and fitness facilities allowed to reopen.

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.

Listen to my statement in the legislature.

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

Update on COVID-19 Projections

  • New modelling released today suggests that Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case numbers will fall to 1,000 per day in early June and stay there for a month if reopening begins on June 2. The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says that with daily vaccinations running at 130,000 per day, as they have been over the past two weeks, the province could see daily cases fall to under 500 per day by July if reopening begins on June 16. See the slides here.

Epidemiologists also evaluated two scenarios where public schools resumed in-person instruction on June 2. In-person school operations would increase daily case counts by 6 to 11%. They say the reopening of schools could be “manageable” given the current trajectory of cases and hospital occupancy.

Both Dr. Adalsteinn Brown and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said they want schools to reopen for in-person learning before the end of the year, as early as June. The Table is asking the province to emphasize allowing outdoor activities as much as possible in any reopening plan, and to avoid allowing indoor dining, gym or locker room activity and other public activity in indoor settings for the time being.

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]

Income Tax Assistance from CRA

  • Tax filing may be more challenging for some people this year because of COVID-19. Filing a tax return is very important as it will let the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) determine if someone is eligible for certain benefit and credit payments, such as the Canada Child Benefit and the GST/HST credit. To help, the CRA will offer extra support to eligible individuals who have previously received support through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). Individuals who need help completing their income tax return can call 1-833-995-2341.

CRA has already identified a number of eligible Canadians for this program. Those individuals will receive a personalized letter from the CRA with special information to help confirm that the calls they get are legitimate. This letter may come in the mail or be available through the CRA’s My Account portal. If you have received this letter, more information can be found by going to Canada.ca/tax-filing-assistance.

Starting this month through to October 2021, the CRA will call these individuals and help them by directing them to free virtual tax clinics or to online certified tax software products (including a number of free options) and, in certain situations, the CRA agent may be able to help individuals do their taxes over the phone.

To be eligible, and individual must have:

  • a modest income;
  • a simple tax situation; and
  • used free tax clinics in the past or be eligible to use those clinics.

Ontario Place Virtual Rally Event Recording

  • The Future of Ontario Place Project, along with Ontario Place for All and Architectural Conservancy Ontario hosted a virtual rally on Thursday, May 13, 2021 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ontario Place. We are expecting an announcement from the Minister about the future of Ontario Place shortly, so I spoke at this rally to reiterate that Ontario Place must remain a public space, and the Ontario government should consult with the owners of this valuable waterfront land (public taxpayers) before making any development decisions.

    Watch the recording of the virtual rally here, and hear the statement I made in the legislature here.
     
    Sign our petition calling on this government to respect local planning.


Webinars, Public Consultations & Town Halls

Young Workers Rights Hub Webinars

Waterfront East LRT Extension Community Consultation

  • The City of Toronto, in partnership with the Toronto Transit Commission and Waterfront Toronto, has completed the Waterfront Transit “Reset” study, including a comprehensive assessment of needs and options for transit improvements for the waterfront area. A virtual community consultation will be held on Monday, June 21 at 7:00 p.m. to provide more information about ongoing work for the Waterfront East Light Rail Transit (LRT) Extension. Register here in advance. More information is available here.

Community Consultation for 215 Lake Shore Blvd E

  • The City of Toronto is hosting a virtual community consultation on Tuesday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m. for the development application for 215 Lake Shore Boulevard East – Phase 2. A link will be provided on the City Planning Consultations Webpage at http://www.toronto.ca/cpconsultations before the session to be used for joining the meeting online. View the meeting notice to learn more about the application.

Virtual Renoviction Forum June 23

  • Join Toronto and Hamilton ACORN for this city-wide forum on Wednesday, June 23 at 6:30 pm to discuss the work being done in both cities to fight back against renovictions. For more information, email [email protected]. Register here.

Waterfront For All Speaker Series

Waterfront For All is hosting waterfront advocate and sailor Ron Jenkins to discuss the Toronto Island Airport and its alternative histories. In its years on the Island, the airport could have become many things. Click here to RSVP for July 20th at 7 pm.


Construction & Road Closures

Investigative Hydrovac Work on Queen and James Streets

  • To advance design concepts and other structural plans for the Ontario Line, Metrolinx will be using a vacuum truck to gather information and evaluate underground conditions. Work is scheduled to begin on June 7, Monday to Friday, 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and will last for one week. For more information, email [email protected] or call 416-202-5100.

Grants and Programs

Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant

  • The Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant portal is now open for applications. The grant provides one-time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses in the tourism and travel sector. Businesses that received the Ontario Small Business Support Grant (OSBSG) are not eligible for the new grant. The OSBSG was designed to help businesses that were required to close or significantly restrict services under the provincewide shutdown effective December 26, 2020. 

Application deadline: Friday, June 25, 2021 at 11:59 pm EDT.

Eligibility and application process here.

Feedback on Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant

  • The Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant was announced as part of the provincial government’s budget on March 24th. The grant offers tourism businesses the opportunity to apply for up to $20,000 in government grant support. It was recently opened for applications, but there haven’t been as many applications to the fund as expected. Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) wants to hear from you about whether you have applied for the grant, found yourself ineligible or learn of any other reasons why you’ve not been able to apply for the grant. This will help advise the government and work to ensure this much-needed funding gets to the businesses it was intended to support. Fill out the survey here.

Ontario Restaurant & Bar Support Fund

  • The Fund is a private sector, registered not-for-profit organization established to help support as many Ontario food and beverage establishments as possible to reopen and recover from the financial setbacks of the pandemic. The Fund’s website has details for businesses wanting to become a corporate sponsor in support of the hospitality industry in Ontario. Visit www.RestaurantandBarSupportFund.ca. There is a GoFundMe page for patrons who wish to donate the cost of a night out (i.e. $25) in support of restaurants, bars and entertainment establishments: www.gofundme.com/ontario-restaurant-and-bar-support-fund.

Applying for an Ontario Arts Council Grant

  • Applying for an arts grant can be confusing or overwhelming. This spring, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) is offering a series of webinars for Ontario-based artists and arts groups to learn the basics of applying for OAC funding. These webinars are for people who: 
    • have never applied for an arts grant before
    • have an idea for an arts project in mind and are wondering how to apply for funding
    • have applied for a grant before, but did not receive one
    • want to learn more about what makes a successful application

If you already have a project in mind, and you have a specific question about your project, please email [email protected].

Click here for a list of upcoming webinars.

Pathways to Success Program for Indigenous Youth

  • The Indigenous Professional Association of Canada’s Pathways to Success Program creates new opportunities for internships and summer work experiences for Indigenous youth (17-29) in Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton. They are currently looking for employers and Indigenous youth to participate in the program. For more information, visit the Pathways to Success website and signup page.

Private Refugee Support Network Ontario

  • The Private Refugee Sponsor Network Ontario (The Network) is a volunteer-driven organization with 260 sponsors working together in response to community need, offering information, education, problem solving, and networking opportunities to enable private sponsors to better support refugee families. The Network is playing a significant role in resolving post-arrival issues, addressing potential sponsorship breakdown and creating relationships with settlement agencies that will lead to more effective service delivery in the sector. To learn more about the Private Refugee Sponsor Network Ontario, email [email protected], or visit the website at www.refugeesponsornet.ca.

Seniors Assistance Home Maintenance Program

  • Do you need help around your home? This program enables older adults and individuals with disabilities to continue to live independently and safely in their own homes with support from brokered home maintenance workers. Services at reasonable prices include: lawn and garden maintenance, snow shovelling, light housekeeping, odd jobs around the house. For more information, visit www.tigp.org, email [email protected] or call 416-531-8447 ext. 501.

Toronto Rent Bank Program

Toronto Rent Bank Program is currently offering grants of up to $4,000 or 3 months of rent to eligible low-income households who are facing eviction. Toronto residents may be eligible for an interest-free rental arrears or rental deposit grant if they:

  • Live in Toronto

  • Pay market rent for a rental unit covered by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA)

  • Fall within the low-income household eligibility requirement

  • Are not currently in receipt of social assistance such as Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program  (ODSP)*

  • Can satisfy other Toronto Rent Bank Program requirements, as required

Please call 416-397-RENT (7368) for more information on how to apply. Operating hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This program is offered by Neighbourhood Information Post and funded by the City of Toronto. Visit www.torontorentbank.ca for more details.

*Residents in receipt of social assistance should contact their Ontario Works or ODSP  office as they may qualify for the Housing Stabilization Fund.

Teens Learn to Drive

  • Teens Learn to Drive (TL2D) is recruiting Ontario high school students for the 2021-22 school year to become Vision Zero Youth Network (VZYN) Ambassadors. If you have teens, nieces, nephews or friends that might be interested, please share this information. The VZYN program is free and has lots of benefits for selected students and their schools.  Ambassadors will work with the TL2D Team, police and other partners to close the knowledge gap for young drivers, riders and pedestrians and make Ontario roads safer.  The time commitment required is 5 hours per month.

Round 1 of applications close June 1, 2021. Please share this video with high school studentshttps://youtu.be/ktjC9onfTss

         

                           


Tech Talks

As Ontario’s Critic for Technology Development and Innovation, I have been hosting a series of “Tech Talks” where I connect with tech professionals, innovators and organizations working on interesting concepts and ideas right here in Ontario! Our province, and especially areas like Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo, are a hub for technology and innovation. In each Tech Talk, I’m asking people in the sector to share what they’re working on, and talk about what the Ontario Government can do to ensure we attract and retain the best tech ideas and experts here at home.

For a full list of my Tech Talks so far, head over to my YouTube channel. If you would like to take part or have a recommendation, please email my office at [email protected]!


Fun Things to Do

  • Bike Month 2021: Bike Month is an opportunity for people to try riding a bike for the first time, learn new skills, or simply have fun and connect with new people. More information here. May 31-June 30
  • Bloom Festival: Bloom Fest is a free, virtual festival featuring works from Toronto artists of all mediums and backgrounds. June 1-30.
  • College-Montrose Children’s Place: Free virtual programs and resources for children 0-6 years old, their parents and caregivers, including play-based learning activities, social time and workshops. Visit cmcp.ca for more information.
  • Duets: Watch entertaining outdoor performances by local arts organization Jamii.
  • Family Feud Canada – Auditions: Think your family has what it takes to be in Season 3 of this popular game show? Apply by submitting your virtual audition. April 12 - August 31
  • Garrison Creek Lotuses: This art installation by Amsterdam-based artists the Verhoeven Twins is nearly complete under the Gardiner Expressway near Bathurst St.
  • Luminato Studio Tuesdays: Virtual interactive experiences held every Tuesday in June led by festival artists, from photography to cooking, spoken word to dance, there’s something for everyone!
  • Market 707 Virtual Marketplace: Housed in retrofitted shipping containers, Market 707 offers a unique street food and retail experience. This vibrant community space brings together local entrepreneurs serving delicious international street food and unique goods and services to create an urban food and shopping experience unlike any other. Check out the new online site here.
  • Mini Art Crawl on Toronto Island: Explore local artists’ works displayed in elevated miniature display cases as you stroll along the island’s cozy streets. View the map here.
  • Music of My Life at The Royal Conservatory: A new free web-based series where stars of the stage and screen discuss music that inspires them. Season One kicks off with Grammy and Emmy winner Eugene Levy, most recently of Schitt’s Creek. RoyalConservatory.Live
  • Myseum Intersections: The 6th annual festival is now underway with plenty of exciting virtual events starting with Images of Resistance: An Archive of Action, an exhibit that reflects on the historic 2008-2009 Tamil demonstrations in Toronto, culminating in a blockade of the Gardiner.
  • Ontario Parks Free Admission: The Ontario government is providing free day-use permits at 115 provincial parks from Monday to Thursday until September 2, 2021. More information here.
  • Walk Liberty: Enjoy this interactive portal inviting you to explore the rich history, public spaces, and dynamic and eclectic businesses of Liberty Village.
  • Backyard at Stackt: Hosted once per month, reconnect in an open outdoor, safe environment with good eats, live music, workshops, night markets. More information here. 28 Bathurst St.
  • Music on the River: Take a scenic paddle along the Humber River and then watch Toronto artists on the dock from your canoe or kayak. Starts June 18.
  • Ontario Place Drive-In: Enjoy your favourite movies at the waterfront drive-In. Spots will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. 955 Lake Shore Blvd.

  • Pride Toronto: Take a look at upcoming events from Pride Toronto and events hosted by the community during Pride Month. June 1-30
  • Queen Street Virtual Tours: Riverside BIA (Queen St East) and Queen Street West BIA have teamed up to create three virtual walks highlighting local restaurants, public art, and historical elements of these two beloved Toronto neighbourhoods.
  • Royal Conservatory Live: A new free web-based series where stars of the stage and screen discuss music that inspires them. Season One kicks off with Grammy and Emmy winner Eugene Levy, most recently of Schitt’s Creek. RoyalConservatory.Live
  • Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival: This 25th anniversary edition launches in May and features a redesigned website with an array of online conversations, audio features, videos and photo essays. More information here.
  • Soulpepper’s Around the World in 80 Plays: Audiences are invited on a guided tour of the rich theatrical practices of the world with eight audio dramas celebrating the global ‘canon’, with works from Russia, India, Argentina, Jamaica, Iran, Nigeria, Italy, and Canada. Audiences also receive free companion documentaries from CBC Ideas, and Extend Your Stay recommendations from TIFF, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto International Festival of Authors, and Small World Music.  Available now until June 30. Soulpepepr.ca/80Plays
  • Spring Stations: A safe outdoor activity that can be enjoyed individually, or among groups who share the same household, Spring Stations brings art installations to the Distillery District and 33 Parliament. Until June 30.
  • St. Lawrence Farmers Market: The Saturday Farmers Market returns to Market Street (between The Esplanade and Wilton Street) on Saturday, May 1. The indoor Farmers Market area operates from 5am-3pm and the South (main) Market building is open on Saturdays from 5am-4pm.
  • The H.O.O.D. Virtual Open Mike: Alexandra Park Community Centre presents this series via Zoom entitled W.R.I.T.E.S (Willfully Recording Impactful Thoughts Empowering Spirits) inviting residents interested in rapping, poetry, spoken word or singing. Every Saturday 1-3 pm. For more information email [email protected]
  • Toronto Japanese Film Festival: The 10th annual edition will showcase the finest Japanese films that have been recognized for excellence by Japanese audiences and critics, international film festival audiences and the Japanese Film Academy. June 5-27.
  • Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market: The market will operate May 4 to October 26, 2021, every Tuesday (rain or shine) from 3-7pm. Dundas & Shaw at the northwest end of Trinity Bellwoods Park.
  • Toronto Railway Museum at Home: This virtual program is packed full of activities for train lovers and enthusiasts to enjoy at home, including crossword and jigsaw puzzles, virtual tour guides, scavenger hunts and more.

  • Story Time Adventures: Toronto Intergenerational Partnerships in Community (TIGP) presents these free, interactive Zoom sessions beginning the week of July 5 and running weekly for 10 half-hour sessions. To register email [email protected] or call 416-676-5993. Deadline for registration is June 30.
  • TESSEL: A new film from George Brown dance grad Esie Mensah this national initiative of unity features the stories and lived experiences of 14 pioneering Black artists. Streaming free online.

 


Reaching Out

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. 

Mental Health Supports

Need immediate help?

  • If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health or substance use emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of your local hospital.  
  • If you are not sure if it is an emergency, or just need to talk through the situation, consider reaching out to:

General Mental Health and Well-Being Resources

Covid-19 Specific Resources:

Resources for Students

Resources for Caregivers