The government has released the regulations for the COVID-19 vaccine certificates that will be necessary for accessing many services starting on Wednesday, September 22. Please see details in the section below.
We are getting close to the goal of having 90% of Ontarians fully vaccinated, but our progress is slowing. Of Ontarians 12 years and older, 85% have had one dose of the vaccine, and 78% are fully vaccinated. Since August 31, the number of fully vaccinated people has risen just two points from 76% to 78%.
We know that getting vaccinated is the best protection against the more devastating impacts of a fourth wave. In Ontario, unvaccinated cases account for 92.2% of hospitalizations and 91.7% of deaths. I was speaking with an oncologist last week who reported that because so many of our hospital and ICU beds have been taken up with COVID patients over the past 18 months, many cancer screening tests and treatments have been delayed. The same is true for patients with other illnesses. We are now in the fourth wave and the best way to reduce its impact is, for everyone who can, to get vaccinated.
It is important that we reach the 90% vaccinated threshold. If you would like to get vaccinated, or know of someone who would, information about vaccine clinics, including the City of Toronto’s mobile clinics, is below.
On Monday, there was a protest in front of Toronto General Hospital. Protest is an essential component of our democracy, but healthcare workers, who have been putting their lives on the line through the entire pandemic, don’t need the added stress of being the targets of protest. There are many appropriate places for protests. Hospitals during a pandemic are not one of them.
In 2004, the Ontario government passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and set the goal of making Ontario fully accessible by 2025. The actions to date are falling woefully short of that goal. For the past 10 years, I have hosted a Disability Advocacy group and together we’ve submitted this letter to a government committee that is supposed to be making recommendations on making Ontario’s healthcare system more accessible.
In this update, you will find information on the Vaccine Certificate Program, on Ontario’s new digital ID, Alexandra Park’s recent award, health consultations, ways to get involved in the climate fight and, as always, Fun Things to Do.
“Tzom kal” to our friends celebrating Yom Kippur.
Stay well everyone!
Toronto Public Health Vaccine Clinics: Click here for a complete listing
- TPH has compiled a public calendar list with an interactive map of local vaccination clinics.
Toronto Mobile #DaysofVaxtion Weekend Clinics: Complete list of clinics here
- Starting Thursday, September 15 and running through this weekend, Toronto is aiming to help residents get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as quickly as possible with these weekend clinics.
TTC Mobile Immunization Clinic at Union Station (65 Front St. W.) September 13-17, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
- Toronto Public Health is running vaccine clinics on TTC buses
- First and second doses for anyone born 2009 or earlier
CAMH (100 Stokes St.), Tuesdays to Fridays, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm
- 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
Evangel Hall Mission (552 Adelaide St. W.), Mondays 9:30 am - 12:00 pm
- Walk-ins for first and second doses of Pfizer
Kensington Market – TTC bus at 25 Bellevue Ave., September 19, 11 am to 6 pm
- Part of Toronto Mobile #DaysofVaxtion
- Complete list of clinics here
Parkdale Queen West (168 Bathurst St.), Tuesdays 2:00 to 4:00 pm
- Walk-ins accepted
- To book, call Sally at 416-537-2455 ext. 1265
Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front St. W., North Building, Hall A) Tuesdays to Saturdays, 1:00 to 7:00 pm
- Anyone born in 2009 or earlier to receive a first or second dose mRNA vaccine.
- OHIP card not required for walk-ins; other form of identification needed.
Trinity Bellwoods Park (790 Queen St W.) Friday, September 17 and Saturday, September 18, 1 to 6 pm
- Part of Toronto Mobile #DaysofVaxtion
- Complete list of clinics here
Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre (627 Queens Quay W.) Saturdays 12-4 pm and Mondays 6-9 pm
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Vaccine Clinic
- Community Place Hub – West Toronto OHT
- Humber River Hospital Vaccine Clinic
- Michael Garron Hospital – East Toronto Health Partners
- North York General Hospital – North York Toronto Health Partners
- Regent Park Community Health Centre – Downtown East Toronto OHT
- Scarborough Health Network – Scarborough OHT
- Sherbourne Health – Downtown East Toronto OHT
- Sunnybrook Vaccination Clinic
- University Health Network
- Find the pharmacy closest to you that offers COVID-19 vaccines.
- Most pharmacies book appointments ahead of time and some allow walk-ins. Please call or visit the pharmacy’s website to review eligibility criteria. Bring an OHIP card or other valid government-issued identification.
Clinics for Residents without OHIP Cards
Access Alliance: 416-760-8677
- Monday, Tuesday, Friday: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
- Wednesday: 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm
- Thursday: 12:30 pm to 7:30 pm
- Phone interpretation services available
Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture: 416-306-4319
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday: 1 to 5 pm
- Phone interpretation services available
FCJ Refugee Centre: 416-469-9754 ext. 230 and 232; WhatsApp 4372173786
- Monday to Friday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Email: [email protected]
- Phone interpretation services available
Provincial Booking System
- Residents born 2009 or earlier can book an appointment by calling 1-833-943-3900 (TTY 1-866-797-0007). Book online at: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/
Vaccination Text Line
- Residents can use the vaccination text line to access vaccination info from City web pages in English,French, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Farsi(Persian), Portuguese, Spanish, Urdu, Vietnamese,Bengali, Italian, Tamil and Tagalog.
- Text VACCINE to 1-833-750-0888 and input your postal code to receive a list of city-run clinics and pharmacies offering vaccinations near you
Ontario Releases More Details on Vaccine Certificate Program
The Ontario government has released the regulations and guidance for businesses and organizations in implementing its proof of vaccination program. Starting September 22, 2021 the government will require proof of immunization in select settings with the goal of limiting COVID-19 transmission and outbreaks, encouraging more Ontarians to get vaccinated, and supporting businesses to remain open.
The government is now setting a target of getting 90% of Ontarians with both doses of a vaccine. As of Tuesday morning, 84.49% of eligible Ontarians had received one dose of a vaccine, and 78.2% had received two doses. To further increase vaccine uptake, the province is continuing its last mile strategy to reach eligible individuals who have yet to receive a first or second dose.
Proof of vaccination rules apply only to customers, not staff. Businesses are able to implement their own proof of vaccination policy if they are not covered by the government’s regulations, but would be required to seek their own legal advice. Public health and workplace safety measures continue to apply, including masking, screening and contact tracing.
An individual is considered fully vaccinated if they have received:
- The full series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson)
- One or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada
- Three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada
- The final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine received at least 14 days before proof of vaccination is provided
Providing proof of vaccination:
- Customers must provide proof of vaccination and ID at the point of entry
- Paper or PDF receipts (on a mobile device) can be shown
- Receipt must show that the holder is fully vaccinated
- Businesses must review and confirm proof of vaccination and ID
- Person’s name and date of birth on ID must match the vaccination receipt
- Customers are not allowed to enter a business if the name and DOB on both documents do not match
Photo ID is accepted but not required. Accepted forms of ID:
- Birth certificate
- Citizenship card
- Driver’s licence
- Government (Ontario or other) issued identification card, including health card
- Indian Status Card / Indigenous Membership Card
- Permanent Resident card
Businesses where proof of vaccination will be required:
- Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, delivery and takeout)
- Nightclubs, including outdoor areas
- Meeting and event spaces like banquet halls and convention centres
- Sports and fitness facilities and gyms, with the exception of youth recreational sports
- Sporting events
- Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
- Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas
- Strip clubs, bath houses and sex clubs
- Racing venues
- Indoor areas of waterparks
- Areas of commercial TV, where studio audiences will be treated as patrons who have to be fully vaccinated
- Workers, contractors, repair workers, delivery workers, students, volunteers, inspectors or others who are entering the business or organization for work purposes and not as patrons
- When a patron enters an indoor area solely to use a washroom, pay for an order or access an outdoor area that can only be accessed through an indoor route
- When a patron enters an indoor area to place or pick up an order (including placing a bet or picking up winnings at a horse racing track), to purchase admission, to make a retail purchase, and for the “necessary purposes of health and safety”
- Children under 12 years old
- Patrons under 18 years old who are entering the indoor premises of a recreational facility solely for the purpose of actively participating in an organized sport
- Weddings, funerals, rites or ceremonies, when the patron is not attending the associated social gathering (e.g. the reception after a wedding ceremony)
- Patrons with a written document from a physician or a nurse practitioner stating they are exempt for medical reasons
- All provincial offence officers: by-law, police, public health inspectors, regulatory officers from ministries and agencies can enforce proof of vaccination
- Non-compliance by individuals and business can result in charges and fines
- Provincial offence officers may take a measured approach to enforcing orders that balance public safety, health and other risks businesses owners are managing
- Starting this week, officers are visiting businesses and organizations to raise awareness of new proof of vaccination requirements
- The government will also provide information on tools and resources to help businesses and organizations implement the necessary COVID-19 safety plan measures – e.g. workplace violence and harassment measures
- In the event of harassment or threats of violence, contact law enforcement
The province says guidance for businesses will be updated before October 22 when the QR codes will be implemented and will contain the same information as on current vaccine receipts. The Ministry of Health will be looking into issuing an exemption for anyone that does not want to use the QR code system and can continue to use the print version after October 22 if they choose. Businesses will be able to download a free app to scan and verify QR codes after that date.
Businesses and organizations can submit questions to the Ministry of Health here.
The official opposition NDP believe that the government’s certificate program is coming too late, and the list of exemptions is long and confusing, once again putting the onus on our small businesses who are already struggling. With this long list of exemptions and loopholes, this government is not putting public health first.
The government should be reaching out to people having challenges getting a vaccine. We need a solid vaccine certificate program and Safety Zones to stop aggressive protestors from interfering at businesses, hospitals and clinics.
Public Health Measures in Schools
- In keeping with provincial guidance, several public health measures are in place in schools to protect students and staff including masking, and cohorting students. Toronto Public Health (TPH) also continues to recommend frequent hand washing, cleaning protocols, and for staff and students to complete TPH’s screening questionnaire or the provincial school screening tool each day, and for schools to confirm the completion of the screen. The Ontario Ministry of Education has also announced a vaccination policy for school staff.
TPH completes an investigation for all laboratory-confirmed cases related to schools. Principals are recommended to follow TPH's COVID-19 Decision Guide for Principals to Dismiss Cohorts to Self-Isolate, which explains when to dismiss affected cohorts while allowing those who are fully vaccinated to continue to attend school as long as they have no symptoms.
TPH declares an outbreak if there are two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff in a school with an epidemiological link within 14 days. This means that there is at least one case that could have reasonably acquired their infection in school, which includes transportation and before and after school care.
Active school outbreaks are posted on TPH’s Active Outbreaks dashboard, under the “Schools” tab. The dashboard is updated five times per week, from Monday to Friday, except on statutory holidays. TPH will also share school cohort dismissal and outbreaks via Twitter at 5 p.m., from Monday to Friday.
Last week, TPH announced a pause on all extracurricular activities during the month of September. This pause will allow school boards to gradually re-open after months of online learning, and support better contact tracing amidst the more contagious Delta variant. Schools are reintroducing protocols around infection prevention and control as part of health guidelines. This gradual introduction allows students and educators to adapt to these safety measures and ensure a smooth beginning to the school year.
The late notice about the change followed new modelling from the province’s science table and talk of the need for fewer interactions to help keep COVID-19 in check, something echoed by Dr. Theresa Tam, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.
Ontario’s Digital Identification Program
- Ontario will be launching a digital identification program later this year. Ontarians will have an electronic version of their government ID (i.e. driver’s licence, health card) which will be stored in a digital wallet app. The app will be available for download onto smartphones and other devices.
The digital ID will allow people and businesses to prove who they are both online and in person, and it offers more privacy to users. For example, if you need to prove you’re 18, the verifier will only know you are over 18 and not your date of birth or actual age.
The digital ID is not stored in a central database, it is only saved on your own personal device and can be turned off if your device is stolen. The government will not be able to track you or know where you used your digital ID. The digital ID is not usable without your permission, you must consent before sharing any information.
Ontario’s digital ID will also be able to be used in relation to the vaccine certificate program which is set to launch on September 22, 2021. The program requires government-issued ID to be used alongside the vaccine certificate.
The digital ID will be available to use at the settings below (this list is set to increase over the years as the program develops):
- Making an age-sensitive purchase (like a lottery ticket)
- Picking up a package at the post office
- Applying for government assistance (such as disability support) or benefits (such as CERB or EI)
- To access and use vaccination records
- Opening a bank account
- Making a medical appointment
- Visiting a doctor
- To access medical records online
- Get, renew or replace a driver’s licence
- Apply for, renew or replace a health card
- Renew or replace a licence plate sticker
For more information on Ontario’s digital ID program, please visit the website.
Ontario Announces Proof-of-Vaccination Program
Starting September 22, all Ontario residents will be required to show proof of receiving both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days earlier in order to be in certain settings including:
- Eating inside restaurants and bars
- Working out inside gyms and fitness centres
- Nightclubs, cinemas, theatres, strip clubs, casinos and bingo halls
- Concerts, music events, sporting events, and large, organized gatherings in indoor settings
- Meeting and event spaces (banquet halls, convention centres)
- Proof of vaccination requirements will apply only to customers, not staff
Proof of vaccination will not be required for:
- Places where masks are mandated at all times
- Retail shopping
- Outdoor dining and patios
- Personal services
- Attending workplaces and religious services
- Attending essential businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks
- Accessing government services
Exemptions will be given to those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and for children under the age of 12, who are not currently eligible to be immunized in Ontario.
From September 22 to October 12, unvaccinated individuals will be given a temporary exemption to attend funeral or wedding receptions at meeting and events spaces provided they show a negative COVID-19 test result 48 hours prior.
Ontarians will be expected to use the paper or PDF vaccine receipt they were previously given, along with photo identification to prove that they have been fully immunized. The province is also currently working on an app where people will be provided a QR code that contains information regarding their vaccination status and businesses will be able to read the code. Users will also be required to show photo identification along with the QR code. Acceptable forms of identification will be announced before September 22.
The province says it will migrate to the QR code system by October 22 and it will be compatible with the systems used by other provinces and the federal government. Processes are still being established for those with no email, health card or photo ID but more information is expected in the coming weeks. Medical exemptions will not immediately be integrated into the QR code system but officials said they plan to include that feature at a later date. The province said detailed guidance will be provided to businesses on how to implement the vaccine certificate program in advance of September 22.
The program is said to be temporary and aims to reduce overall transmission in the community and encourage vaccine uptake as a high level of vaccination will be required to reach herd immunity with the more transmissible Delta variant. Unvaccinated individuals are seven times more likely to get a symptomatic infection, 27 times more likely to end up in hospital, and 42 times more likely to end up in intensive care.
Those who do not comply with the program will be fined under the Reopening Ontario Act, with fines varying depending on the offence – $750 for individuals and $1000 for businesses.
How to obtain your vaccine receipt:
- If you have a green photo OHIP card, go to this link to download or print your vaccination receipt. You will be asked to provide your date of birth and postal code.
- If you have a red-and-white health card, you will need to call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 to access your documents.
- If you received your first or second dose outside of Ontario, contact that local public health unit and request your vaccination information.
- All other vaccine certificate questions can be directed to the Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488.
Health Canada Approves Moderna for Children 12 and Older
- Health Canada announced that it has authorized the Moderna vaccine for children as young as 12 to help in the fight against COVID-19. The decision comes just weeks before children across the province go in-class learning.
A total of 3,732 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 were enrolled in the study and randomly received either two doses of the vaccine or placebo 28 days apart. All participants will be followed for the assessment of safety, efficacy and immunogenicity for up to one year after receiving a second dose.
Health Canada says that the most common adverse reactions for the group that received the vaccine was pain or swelling at the injection site, fatigue and headaches that lasted one to three days. The agency concluded that vaccine efficacy in adolescents 12 to 17 years of age is consistent with that in the adult population.
Ontario Announces New Vaccine Policy for Health Care and Education Workers, Pauses Further Reopening
- Ontario has announced a new vaccine policy for health care and education workers. The new policy is to be implemented in high-risk settings no later than September 7.
Employees, staff, contractors, students, and volunteers at hospitals and home and community care settings will, at a minimum, have to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, have a medical reason for not being vaccinated, or complete a vaccination educational session. People in these settings who do not provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 will be required to undertake regular testing.
The Ministry of Education will also introduce a vaccination disclosure policy for all publicly-funded school board employees, as well as staff in private schools and licenced child care settings. Rapid COVID-19 testing will be required for staff who are not fully immunized against COVID-19.
Vaccination policies will also be implemented in other high-risk settings, including:
- Post-secondary institutions
- Licenced retirement homes
- Women’s shelters
- Congregate group homes and day programs for adults with developmental disabilities
- Children’s treatment centres and other services for children with special needs
- Licensed children’s residential settings
The government also announced that it will be indefinitely pausing any further reopening due to the risk of the Delta variant. The Chief Medical Officer of Health said they will continue to monitor the data to determine when it is safe to move beyond Step 3 of the Reopening Plan and lift the majority of safety measures currently in place.
My colleagues and I in the Official Opposition don’t believe this announcement goes far enough. With COVID-19 cases on the rise and the first day of school only three weeks away, we need to put the safety of children and vulnerable people first. No unvaccinated person should be in a classroom or health care setting. A test just once per week is not the same as a mandatory vaccine. This government is not requiring anyone – from long-term care to child care – to get a vaccine. This government is still refusing to implement a vaccine certificate program, which is absolutely critical to protect people’s health, protect our progress, and keep non-essential businesses safely running.
Ontario to Offer Third Doses for Vulnerable Groups, Shots for 11-year-olds
- Ontario will be administering third doses of COVID-19 vaccines to immuno-compromised people and the elderly. Third doses are being offered to counter the impact of the Delta variant. Recent studies have shown that antibodies created through vaccination can begin to wane several months after doses one and two, in the elderly and other vulnerable populations.
The following groups will be eligible for third doses:
- Organ transplant recipients (8 weeks after second dose)
- Those diagnosed with hematological cancers undergoing targeted therapy
- Rituximab, ocrelizumab or ofatumumab drug recipients
- Long-term care, retirement home and First Nation elder care lodge residents (5 months after second dose)
Starting Wednesday, August 18, anyone born in 2009 turning 12 by the end of the year will be eligible to book a Pfizer vaccine appointment through the provincial booking system, public health unit, pharmacies or walk-in vaccination clinics.
Officials have said that Ontario has closely monitored data from Alberta and British Columbia in making this decision, and these provinces have offered the Pfizer vaccine to youth born in 2009 for several months with no risks identified.
Ontario Schools to Run COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics
- The province announced that local public health units and boards will be required to host COVID-19 immunization clinics. The school clinics are expected to run before the school year begins and in the first few weeks of classes. Clinics can run before, during or after school hours, either on school property or off-site in partnership with the school board.
This strategy is to make it easy for unvaccinated students, families and staff to get their shots before they return to classrooms next month. Youth aged 12 to 17 have the lowest vaccination rate of eligible age cohorts in Ontario, with 69% having received one dose and 55% fully vaccinated. There are currently no COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada for children under 12.
For months, my colleagues and I have been calling on this government to reach out to families and work with them to ensure every eligible student is fully vaccinated before September. This plan for school clinics simply doesn’t go far enough and more must be done to overcome barriers to vaccination.
GO-VAXX Buses Serve as Mobile Vaccine Clinics
- The Ontario government has partnered with Metrolinx and have converted two GO buses that will serve as mobile vaccine clinics at malls, festivals, community hubs and events throughout the summer and fall. Each bus is fully accessible and operates as a fully functioning vaccine clinic with the necessary supplies and trained staff to provide assistance to people and ensure vaccines are administered safely. All COVID-19 safety precautions will be followed on board, including the required pre-vaccination screening and post-vaccination monitoring. GO-VAXX buses are administering the Pfizer vaccine. No appointments are needed. See the GO-VAXX bus schedule here.
If you are interested in having a GO-VAXX bus visit your community, please contact [email protected].
Support for Mandatory Vaccines for Health Care and Education Workers
- My NDP colleagues and I support mandatory vaccination in health care and education, based on science and public health priorities. We have to protect the most vulnerable among us — including children who can’t yet be vaccinated, the elderly, people who are sick and people with disabilities.
The president of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario said that “vaccines should absolutely be mandatory for health care workers, as well as teachers, and workers in other industries, barring special medical circumstances.” Currently, health care workers are not required to tell patients whether or not they are vaccinated.
The Premier responded that while he supports hospitals requiring negative COVID-19 tests for unvaccinated workers, he will not force health care workers or any one else to get vaccinated.
University Health Network announced that it will be implementing a new policy on August 9 that will require staff that choose not to disclose their vaccination status to take a rapid at-home COVID-19 test and report the result at least 48 hours prior to coming to work. Those employees will also have to participate in an education session about vaccination. Exemptions will be made for any employees who have a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated.
All City-run Vaccination Clinics Now Open for Walk-ins
- The 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.
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 at City-run immunization clinics. Open to anyone born in 2009 (turning 12 by end of the year) or earlier.
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
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.
Renewing Expired Provincial Documents
- The province has announced that it is ending the extension for expired Ontario documents including OHIP cards, driver’s licences, licence plate stickers, accessible parking permits and Ontario photo ID cards. The renewal date will depend on what type of licence you have. While renewal requirements were paused during the pandemic, anyone with expired documents must renew by February 28, 2022. Service Ontario has published a renewal schedule to help minimize service delays. Click here for more information.
FAO Releases Report for First Quarter Spending
The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) released its Expenditure Monitor 2021-22: Q1 report. This report provides information on changes to the province’s 2021-22 spending plan and reviews actual spending by the government over the first quarter of the fiscal year (April 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021).
Key programs with below plan spending in the first quarter of 2021-22 include:
- In the health sector, the province did not spend any of the $2.7 billion COVID-19 Response transfer payment.
- In the ‘other programs’ sector, the province recorded a $554 million negative adjustment for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, to account for differences in the timing of the accrual expense and cash payments for the program, and reflects total cash spending for the grant, as of June 30, 2021, of $2.9 billion.
- In the children’s and social services sector, the programs with the lowest relative spending include the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan, Autism, Supportive Services, and Children’s Treatment and Rehabilitation Services.
- In the government’s 2021-22 First Quarter Finances, the Province announced that an additional $2.2 billion in unallocated funds would be made available through a new program called the Time-Limited COVID-19 Fund. This new program was not included in the government’s financial accounts by the end of the first quarter and the FAO expects the funds will be made available in the second quarter.
Ontario NDP Finance critic Catherine Fife said the report shows that this government underdelivered by a total of $2.6 billion in the first quarter of 2021, withholding $1 billion in funding for health care, $531 million in children and social services funding, and $33 million from post-secondary education. On top of that, the $2.7 billion in COVID-fighting money from the federal government hasn’t been touched.
It is irresponsible for this government to withhold COVID-fighting money, promised health care dollars, social services funding and funding to colleges and universities in the midst of a pandemic.
Standards Development Committee Recommendations for Accessibility in Ontario
- For the past 10 years, I have been hosting a group of disability and inclusion activists called the Special Education and Disability Advocates (SEDA). We recently met and submitted feedback to the Standards Development Committee (SDC) on new accessibility standards.
Ontario is very far from achieving its goal of being fully accessible by 2025. We are disappointed that the mandate of the committee was narrowed to hospitals only.
SEDA’s recommendations include:
- Expand SDC’s mandate to include the entire healthcare system including preventative care, diagnostic services and rehabilitation outside the hospital
- Commit to a culture of accessibility and inclusion
- Train and hire inspectors with lived experience of disability
- Provide financial supports for healthcare organizations to achieve accessibility and inclusion goals and financial penalties for non-compliance
- Mandate the availability of Augmentative and Alternative Communication tools so that people with disabilities can communicate on their own behalf
- Create a province-wide standard of anti-ableist policies, practices, and frameworks and mandate that they be adopted by all healthcare organizations operating in Ontario
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation September 30
- The NDP is calling on the province to make September 30th the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a statutory holiday in Ontario.
Over the past year, the graves of more than 1,300 Indigenous children have been discovered at former residential school sites. We can’t simply move on from this truth. This is why my colleagues and I are calling for September 30 to be a day for reflection, for education and for concrete commitments and action towards equity and justice for Indigenous people. Declaring September 30 a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is one of the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The Ontario NDP Caucus has already confirmed for all its staff that the day will be a paid day away from work, and committed to make the day a province-wide statutory day off if elected. Unfortunately, the Premier and Minister of Indigenous Affairs are refusing to take that step.
Alexandra Park Revitalization Receives ULI Award
- Alexandra Park Revitalization has been recognized as one of the extraordinary developments from around the world by Urban Land Institute. Congratulations and thank you to the residents and to the Revitalization Working Group for creating this visionary revitalization project that includes a new community centre, more green space and affordable housing!
Ontario Place Public Feedback
- Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture, announced that the province is seeking public feedback on the redevelopment of Ontario Place and is launching an online survey and will be holding virtual public information sessions.
From a research perspective, the survey is very problematic. The first question announces that the decisions have been made – which means the government’s consultations are being done after the fact. Another question asks to rank the importance of the heritage buildings on the property – the Cinesphere, pods, etc. Bill Greaves of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario likens this to a question asking which fingers you would like removed.
The community organization Future of Ontario Place is hosting an event to generate public input into the future of this iconic site on Monday, September 6, 11 am - 4 pm. Link
Optometrists Withdraw OHIP-covered Services after Failed Negotiations with Province
- Ontario optometrists are set to withdraw provincially insured eye services starting today after a breakdown in talks with the provincial government over reimbursement of costs. That means people whose eye exams are currently covered by Ontario’s health plan – those aged 19 and under, 65 and older, and people with specific health conditions – will have their appointments cancelled and placed on waiting lists.
Provincially insured eye exams currently range from $42.50 to $47, with additional fees for other assessments. Optometrists have argued that they are absorbing about 45% of eye exam costs. This revenue would be going toward upgrading equipment or staff salaries. The government has offered an 8.48% increase for reimbursements and said it will be paying $39 million retroactively to account for increased costs of services.
Official Opposition Health Critic MPP France Gélinas, the entire NDP caucus and I have been working to bring the requests of Ontario’s optometrists to the attention of Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott. MPP Gélinas has had a number of conversations with the Minister of Health asking for fair negotiations and joined her NDP colleagues in reading petitions in the house. While the legislature was in session, a written question was submitted to the Minister, but unfortunately, it was met with a non-answer.
Toronto Schools to Receive Take-home COVID-19 Tests
- A new program will provide every school and school-based daycare in Toronto with take-home testing kits by the end of September. The tests will provide results within 24 to 48 hours which will save families time from booking appointments, waiting at testing sites, and subjecting children to stressful swab tests. With the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant, this program will improve testing uptake and enable faster contact tracing when kids test positive.
The Hospital for Sick Children, Michael Garron Hospital and Women’s College Hospital have divided Toronto’s more than 1,200 schools between them, each taking on those in their catchment areas, with Sick Kids partnering with schools in Scarborough and the city’s northwest corner. The program will cover elementary and high schools in all four Toronto boards, along with private and independent schools, youth shelters and school-based daycares.
Ontario Extends Three Paid Sick Days to End of 2021
- The Ontario government says that it will extend its paid sick leave program, which was set to run until September 25, to December 31, due to the current rise in cases caused by the Delta variant.
The province introduced the program in April following a flood of calls from health experts to provide help to workers so that they would not have to choose between staying home if they are sick and being able to pay their bills. The program requires employers to provide employees with up to $200 of pay for up to three days if they have to miss work because of COVID-19. The government then reimburses employers through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
We continue to criticize this program as it simply does not go far enough since an infected person would be required to stay home at least 10 days.
City of Toronto and Province of Ontario Reach Agreement on Foundry Heritage Site
- The City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario have reached an agreement in principle regarding the provincially-owned Dominion Foundry Complex, a former industrial complex of four heritage buildings known as the Foundry Buildings located at 153-185 Eastern Ave.
The province has made a Cultural Heritage Evaluation Report and Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) public with its vision of redevelopment of the property. The province also shared details of the agreement with leaders of community groups and has committed to conserving the cultural heritage value of the property, while also providing for affordable housing, which supports the City’s Open Door Affordable Housing Program and the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan. The plan includes the retention of many features of the site and the demolition of others.
The St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association commenced a court application to stop the demolition of the heritage buildings earlier this year. The City was a party to the application and participated in the proceedings. Through those proceedings, a court order was obtained that prohibited further demolition of the site.
Ontario NDP Bring Forward Legislation for “Public Health Safety Zones”
- There have been an increasing number of complaints from Toronto business owners about pandemic-related protests from constituents. The Ontario NDP will introduce a bill that will create “public health safety zones” in an effort to deal with rising instances of harassment and organized protests toward businesses over COVID-19 vaccinations and protocols.
The size and distance of a safety zone would be a matter of regulation by the government should the bill pass, and there would be different requirements for different businesses. The legislation will continue to respect people’s right to protest, but will also allow a safe space for owners to operate their businesses.
Our small businesses have suffered enough throughout this pandemic and should be able to welcome customers back without having to deal with violent and disruptive protests.
Ontario and Toronto Sign SmartTrack Stations Agreement
- The Ontario government and the City of Toronto have signed a revised “Ontario-Toronto Agreement in Principle,” endorsing the SmartTrack Stations Program. The program will see five new stations along existing GO rail corridors.
Metrolinx is moving forward with the procurement to build four stations located at St. Clair-Old Weston, Finch-Kennedy, King-Liberty and Bloor-Lansdowne, with the final station – East Harbour – being delivered through Ontario’s Transit-Oriented Communities Program. All five stations are anticipated to be open and operational by 2026.
The King-Liberty station, located on the Kitchener GO line between Union and Bloor GO stations, will feature an enclosed pedestrian bridge connecting King Street and the High Line to the new platforms and a second pedestrian bridge connecting the new platforms to both Sudbury St. and Joe Shuster Way. I will continue to provide updates on this program.
Trinity Bellwoods Community Association Call for Directors
- The Trinity Bellwoods Community Association is accepting applications for their board of directors. Anyone 18 and over living within the boundaries (between College & King and Crawford & Bathurst), love their community, and are interested in new developments, public consultations and political engagement are welcome to apply. Applicants should have some expertise or background in law, auditing/accounting, property management, urban planning, public consultations/engagements, website development, graphic design, and social media management. Apply here.
U.S. Extends Non-essential Border Closure to Canada until Sep 21
- The United States has extended its restrictions on non-essential travel at land and ferry border crossings to most travellers until at least September 21. However, the U.S. does allow Canadians to fly across the border for non-essential purposes.
The Canadian government lifted the ban on non-essential travel across the border on August 9. Canada currently allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents into the country, provided they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Eligible visitors to Canada must live in the U.S. and have allowed 14 days to pass since receiving a full course of a Health Canada-approved vaccine. They are also required to show proof of a negative molecular test for COVID-19 that’s no more than 72 hours old and use the ArriveCAN app or online web portal to upload their vaccination details.
The difference in policies is creating much confusion for travellers on both sides of the border.
Metrolinx Announces Queen Street Closure to Accommodate Ontario Line Construction
- Metrolinx has announced that a large section of Queen Street may be closed for nearly five years to accommodate the construction of the new Ontario Line subway stop. The new station will be located underneath Queen Station at Yonge and Queen and will provide connections to the existing Line 1 subway and TTC above-ground routes. The closure is expected to start early 2023 into 2027. Metrolinx decided to go with a full closure instead of a partial one to speed up construction.
Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said the Queen Street closure will be the most difficult to accommodate throughout the construction of the Ontario Line, and is “definitely going to have an impact on cars, as well as transit.”
Map showing Queen Street traffic diversion plans to support Ontario Line construction.
Detours will be made for both streetcar lines and car traffic around two parts of Queen on either side of Yonge, while maintaining pedestrian connections.
- All vehicles and streetcars will be diverted off Queen from east of Bay Street to Yonge Street and from Yonge to Victoria.
- Yonge, Bay and Victoria will remain open to cross north and south across Queen throughout construction and pedestrian access will remain open to all businesses in the area.
- Streetcars will run on detour routes on Richmond and Adelaide during construction.
- New tracks will be constructed that will link Queen to Adelaide via York Street for eastbound route diversions.
- Streetcar tracks that connect Queen to Richmond already exist for westbound diversions.
Map showing TTC 501 streetcar detour routes to support Ontario Line construction. TTC stop locations and number of stops are subject to change based on future TTC service planning.
Metrolinx has said that it will be using “proven noise and vibration solutions” to address potential disruptions to businesses in the area. A 24-hour hotline will also be created to address people’s concerns, along with offices along the route to answer questions and provide updates.
The closure and detour plan will go to Toronto city council for approval in November.
Metrolinx plans to host a virtual open house about the closure in the coming weeks. Our office will continue to do our best to keep you informed. More details can be found on the Metrolinx website.
Financial Accountability Office Releases Report Assessing Ontario’s Municipal Infrastructure
- The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) released a report that reviews the infrastructure assets owned by Ontario’s municipalities, estimates their current replacement value (CRV) and condition, and the costs to bring these assets into a state of good repair in 2020.
Ontario’s 444 municipalities own and manage the majority of public infrastructure in the province, more than both the federal and provincial governments combined. Municipal infrastructure assets include roads and bridges, water systems, transit, and buildings and facilities. The FAO estimates that the CRV of municipal infrastructure assessed in this report was $484 billion in 2020.
The FAO estimates that 55% of municipal assets are in a state of good repair. The remaining 45% of assets are estimated to be not in a state of good repair. The current cost to bring municipal assets into a state of good repair (in other words, to eliminate the municipal infrastructure backlog) is about $52 billion. Municipal roads represent the largest share of the infrastructure backlog at $21.1 billion, followed by ‘other’ buildings and facilities ($9.5 billion), wastewater ($7.3 billion), potable water ($5.3 billion), and bridges and culverts ($4.3 billion).
Maintaining public infrastructure in a state of good repair is generally the most cost-effective strategy over an asset’s life cycle. Postponing repairs raises the risk of service disruption and increases the costs associated with municipal infrastructure over time. To learn more, read the full report here.
NDP Municipal Affairs critic Jeff Burch said, “Ontarians in every city and town rely on roads, bridges, water treatment and other infrastructure for everyday life, for safety, and to keep their economy moving. Despite how essential these are to our province, the FAO report shows Doug Ford — like the Liberals before him — is refusing to invest in our cities and towns, and is instead allowing nearly half of the basic infrastructure we all rely on to decay. Now is the time — a time when we need jobs, a time when Ontario needs economic activity — to end decades of uncertain funding and underfunding. It’s time to build up Ontario.”
Nominations Open for FoSTRA Board of Directors
- The Federation of South Toronto Residents Associations is holding its first Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, October 13 and will be electing a Board of Directors. Applications can be submitted through the online form here. For more information, contact the Nominations Committee at [email protected].
Province Announces School Reopening Plan
The Ontario government unveiled its back-to-school plan for September. Below are some of the key points:
- Elementary and secondary students will attend school in-person five days per week.
- Remote learning will remain an option for parents and students who don’t feel comfortable returning to the classroom.
- Masks will be mandatory for all students between Grade 1 and Grade 12.
- Masks are not required outdoors.
- School boards must be prepared for potential closures and have plans in place so all students can pivot to remote learning if the COVID-19 situation worsens.
- Masks will be optional (but recommended) for children in kindergarten.
- Students in kindergarten to Grade 8 will remain in one cohort for the full day with one teacher.
- Members of different cohorts will be allowed to interact outside, with distancing encouraged, or inside with distancing and masks.
- Students will be allowed to use common spaces like libraries and cafeterias.
- Specialized education staff, like French teachers, are permitted to go into different classrooms and multiple schools where necessary.
- Instructional spaces without mechanical ventilation will be given HEPA filter units, including in kindergarten classes where masks are not mandatory.
- Students will have no more than two courses at a time for the fall semester. This will allow students to revert more easily to restrictive measures if that becomes necessary.
- Exceptions to the two-course rule may be made for small schools where contacts can be limited by cohorting grades.
- There will be five instructional hours per day for secondary students.
Masking and Protective Strategies
- Masks will be optional (but recommended) for children in kindergarten.
- Non-medical masks will be required for students Grade 1 to 12 and must be worn in hallways, classrooms, and school vehicles.
- Masks may only be temporarily removed when taking part in low-contact physical activity or when consuming food and drink.
- Students from other cohorts may eat lunch together without distancing outdoors, but must remain two metres from other cohorts while indoors.
- Students are not required to wear masks outdoors.
- All staff and students will be required to self-screen each day for symptoms before arriving at school. Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must not attend school and must get tested.
- School boards may need to perform on-site daily confirmation of self-screening, especially during a period of potentially higher transmission.
- School boards will continue to provide personal protective equipment to school staff and bus drivers.
- Medical-grade masks are required to be worn by school staff and visitors.
- School staff is advised to wear eye protection.
- Schools are to properly train students on how to wash their hands and practice proper respiratory etiquette.
- Distancing should be promoted as much as possible during the school day.
- Schools are to develop an arrival and departure plan so that congregating in busy areas is avoided where possible.
- School boards will be responsible for developing a cleaning plan, which includes frequent disinfecting of high-touch surfaces.
- During recess, students don't need to stay within their cohort, but distancing will be encouraged as much as possible.
- Shared materials will be allowed, along with the use of shared spaces like libraries and computer labs.
- School assemblies will also be permitted.
- School boards are responsible for optimizing air quality in the classroom.
- Schools with full mechanical ventilation are expected to have the system checked before the start of the school year and calibrate the HVAC systems for maximum air flow and increased fresh air intake.
- Schools without full mechanical ventilation are expected to place standalone HEPA filter units in all classrooms.
- Instructional spaces without mechanical ventilation will be given HEPA filter units.
- Outdoor learning is encouraged wherever possible.
School Sports and Clubs
- School sports and clubs are allowed to resume in September.
- Cohorts can interact with each other, with physical distancing encouraged, during these times.
- For inter-school sports, both high- and low-contact activities are allowed indoors and masking is not required.
- Masking is encouraged but not required indoors if a minimum distance of two metres can be maintained between individuals who are not part of the same classroom cohort.
- Music programs are permitted in areas with adequate ventilation.
Inclement Weather Plan
- School boards must implement an inclement weather plan that may include pivoting to remote learning on days when students can’t access the classroom in-person.
- This plan will also apply to days where it is too hot for students to attend school in-person.
- No capacity limits on school buses or transportation vehicles.
- Masks are required at all times when on the bus and students will be given assigned seating.
- Vehicles for elementary schools should operate at reduced capacity where possible.
Managing Outbreaks and Vaccination Requirements
- The government says the section in the back-to-school plan about managing cases and outbreaks in schools is forthcoming.
- Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said that the government is still finalizing outbreak management protocols but does not anticipate that unvaccinated students will be prohibited from taking part in things like extra-curricular activities throughout the school year.
- School staff will also not be told which students are vaccinated or unvaccinated.
- While it was previously hinted that unvaccinated students could face a longer isolation period if they are exposed to the disease, it is unclear if this is still part of the plan.
NDP Education critic Marit Stiles says this government’s refusal to make investments into student and staff safety in schools this September is rolling the dice with kids’ wellbeing — risking outbreaks and at-home learning days, and risking kids’ academic and emotional recovery.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) released a joint statement saying that, although they want to see children back in the classroom, the reopening place loosens public health measures and ignores “the need for ongoing funding to ensure a safe and sustainable return to school. The government continues to download its responsibility to school boards and local public health agencies without providing adequate direction, time or funding.”
My NDP colleagues and I continue to call for a Safe September plan that includes investing in lower class sizes, ventilation improvements, funding for mental health support, paid sick days for parents and all school staff, and support to increase vaccination rates among students.
Sign the petition here.
Ontario Issues New COVID-19 Guidance to Child Care Centres
Ontario will be issuing updated guidance on COVID-19 protocols to child care centres. The new guidance comes after parents and child care operators called on the government to review some of the rules that were brought in last summer and bring them in line with the recently announced school reopening plan.
The guidance includes:
- Focus on hand washing rather than cleaning shared toys
- Group sensory materials (like water tables) are allowed
- Staff can move between locations and age groups, but not encouraged
- Staff not required to wear masks outside
- Staff not required to wear face shields when working with Grade 1 students who are wearing a mask
- Singing indoors is now permitted
- Visitors are permitted, though some child care centres are requesting more clarity
Previous guidance said parents should not enter, so centres have been doing drop-offs and pickups at the door. Many centres are waiting to hear from local public health units on how each region will be implementing the new guidance.TDSB Opens Registration for Virtual Learning
The Toronto District School Board has sent emails to parents and guardians to be able to choose whether their child will attend in-person or virtual learning for the coming school year. Parents will have until August 12 to make a choice, and if no selection is made, then the child will automatically be placed into in-person learning.
All TDSB students attending in-person, including junior and senior kindergarten classrooms, will be required to wear masks. The TDSB will also be providing HEPA filters in all occupied classrooms. Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) Director of Education Brendon Bowne has said that junior and senior kindergarten students will likely have to wear masks as well. The province has said that kindergarten students would be encouraged but not required to wear masks in September.
In Toronto, 68.9% of those ages 12-17 have received at least one dose and 53.38% are fully vaccinated.
Ontario’s Court of Appeal Ruling Confirms Student Choice Initiative Unlawful
- Ontario’s Court of Appeal has dismissed the Ford government’s bid to overturn an earlier decision that rejected the Student Choice Initiative. The Student Choice Initiative, announced in January 2019, would have allowed post-secondary students to opt out of paying for services deemed “non-essential” including student-led programs such as clubs, campus newspapers, food banks and other support services, as well as the provision of part-time jobs.
In Spring 2019, the Canadian Federation of Students along with the York Federation of Students launched a court challenge, arguing it unfairly targeted student unions and constituted a politically-motivated attack that threatened the autonomy of universities.
The court affirmed its 2019 decision by the divisional court and ordered the government to pay $20,000 in costs to the respondents, the Canadian Federation of Students. The judge concluded that “mandatory fees for student associations have been in place since the 1960s and that given the role played by student associations in university governance, the framework is a profound interference in university autonomy.”
Then Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton said that the initiative was created to make sure that students had more control over how they spend their money. The CFS and NDP have raised concern that this was a veiled attempt to take the power out of student organizing and a version of union-busting, which disproportionately affected marginalized groups and BIPOC individuals that depend on the campus services funded by these student groups. A spokesperson for the current minister, Jill Dunlop, said that they have not ruled out the possibility of pursuing a further appeal.
As Ontario’s college and university students head back to class after a traumatic and challenging pandemic year, the support provided by student-led organizations — like food banks, mental health services, and peer-to-peer support groups — will be more important than ever.
Ontario Opening Temporary G2/G Drive Test Centres
- On Monday, August 9, the Ontario government will begin to open temporary drive test centres to clear the backlog of G2/G licence exams due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first two centres will open in Guelph and Oshawa, with four more following in September across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
The Oshawa location will run seven days a week from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, exclusively for G2 and G road tests. The Guelph location will operate five days a week from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm in August, expanding to seven days a week starting in November. The four additional temporary road test centres opening next month will serve Toronto, Hamilton/Niagara, Mississauga/Brampton, and York/Durham.
People who arrive for their road tests will be required to wear face masks inside the centres and during the exam, sanitize their hands, and vehicle windows need to be open to ensure proper airflow in the vehicle. Customers will also need to complete a screening form and may be required to provide a contact number in case of contact tracing.
Road tests can be booked online at DriveTest.ca.
- 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.
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.
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.