Happy Long Weekend!
Normally, many of us would be visiting family and friends, buying fireworks or heading north to feed the blackflies, but instead we’re staying home and saving lives. And the actions we are taking are working! The curve is flattening with a 1.2% day over day increase (258) in new cases over the most recently available data.
The flattening curve is allowing the government to continue the gradual reopening of businesses with golf courses, marinas, private parks and campgrounds opening with restrictions this weekend. Next Tuesday, we will see the opening of more retail stores, pet care services and veterinarians, household cooks, cleaners and maintenance workers, in-person counselling and some surgeries.
Today, May 15th, is the day when many commercial landlords can lock out commercial tenants who did not pay their May 1st rent in full. We are starting to see notices of lease termination on storefronts in our neighbourhood. This is terrible for the business owners, for communities and for the recovery of our economy. I am working with BIAs, but it is apparent that the Canada-Ontario Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program is inadequate.
Other government supports are continuing or being introduced. Some frontline workers in congregated settings are eligible for pandemic pay. The ODSP Emergency Benefit of $100 per individual, $200 per family has been extended. And, as of today, post-secondary students can apply for the Emergency Student Benefit.
Last night, our education town hall was “zoom bombed”. Disturbing images were presented and the police are investigating. It’s a lesson in the emerging dangers of working remotely and the need for new security measures.
The pandemic is magnifying the plight of vulnerable people in our communities who have been neglected for too long. The new epicentre of the pandemic is among the homeless. There are over 300 cases of COVID-19 in nine shelters in Toronto, with two deaths so far. The City of Toronto is asking all levels of government to support a strategy to provide permanent housing for all people experiencing homelessness in the city.
While the fight to flatten the curve is going well, as of this Victoria Day weekend, it is apparent that we need to continue to work to support the homeless, seniors and small businesses.
Opposition Motion on Long-Term Care Homes:
- More than 4,400 residents and staff at Ontario long-term care homes have contracted COVID-19, with over 1,235 deaths to date and more infections and deaths expected. There is mounting evidence that the current government of Ontario was ill-prepared and slow to respond in protecting staff and residents in long-term care. Decades of underfunding, chronic staffing shortages, inadequate regulation and oversight as well as rampant privatization under successive governments contributed to the unacceptable status of Ontario’s long-term care system before the COVID-19 pandemic even started.
- The families of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and chronic neglect of Ontario’s long-term care system deserve to know the truth of what went wrong. The Official Opposition will be proposing a motion on Tuesday calling on the Government of Ontario to immediately launch a full, independent public inquiry to examine what led to the problems in long-term care in Ontario as well as the government’s preparedness and response to the pandemic in long-term care facilities.
Canada Emergency Student Benefit:
- The application portal for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) is now open. You can find out more information on eligibility and how to apply here. The CESB provides financial support to those currently enrolled in a post-secondary degree/diploma/certificate program, those who graduated post-secondary Dec 2019 or later, and high-school graduates who are unable to find work due to COVID-19.
- This benefit is for students who do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or Employment Insurance (EI). From May to August 2020, the CESB provides a payment to eligible students of $1,250 for each 4-week period or $2,000 for each 4-week period if you have dependents or a disability. This is a good start, but I have heard from many students that the program is not going far enough, especially as international students are not eligible.
Ontario’s Economy - Stage 1 of Reopening:
- The Ontario government announced the retailers, seasonal businesses and health and community service providers that will be permitted to open or expand their services on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Saturday will see the opening of retailers like private campgrounds, golf courses and dog groomers, while Tuesday will see the launch of “Stage 1” of the province’s economic recovery. A detailed list of Stage 1 re-openings has been published with the release.
- Earlier this week, Ontario's chief medical officer of health cautioned that Ontario hasn't yet met the threshold to start on an economic recovery plan. The Official Opposition has been urging the government to ramp up its COVID-19 testing and tracing before easing restrictions, and to better protect workers and customers by replacing suggested workplace safety guidelines with enforceable rules.
- Some grocery chains, including those with locations in Ontario, are requiring customers to wear a face mask while inside their stores. The government has launched a website to provide businesses with information on personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers. The Workplace PPE Supplier Directory has an up-to-date list of Ontario companies and business associations that are ready to supply personal protective equipment.
- The Ontario Government has done next to nothing to support the small and medium-sized businesses at the heart of our communities. We need a ban on evictions, lockouts and disconnections and a full range of supports so commercial tenants can survive this pandemic. Sign our petition for a SaveMainStreet plan that includes commercial rent subsidies and a ban on evictions, lockouts and disconnections.
Valerie Mah, Vice President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce East Toronto, can attest to just how many small business owners are worried about making rent, as can Philip Kocev, Board Treasurer, Broadview Danforth BIA. Kocev led a recent survey coordinated by the Broadview Danforth BIA and Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, which made some alarming findings:
- 63% of businesses could not make all of May’s rent (50% did not pay all of April’s rent, per a previous survey)
- 34.7% of businesses who did not pay all of May’s rent indicate their landlord did not make accommodations
- 74.4% of businesses feel they will not make all of June’s rent
- 60% of businesses think their landlord will not apply for the CECRA program
- 43.9% of businesses are concerned about being locked-out
OW and ODSP Benefits:
- The COVID-19 Emergency Benefit, which was introduced as a one-time benefit in April 2020, has been extended. The benefit is now available each month up to and including July 2020.
- This benefit is available for people receiving assistance from Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) who may have had additional costs related to COVID-19.
- This benefit will help cover the additional costs of emergency needs such as hygiene and personal protective supplies, cleaning supplies, non-medical transportation, or additional costs for staple foods. The amount is $100 for a single person and $200 for a family. To apply please call the Emergency Benefit Application Line at 1-888-444-2412.
- The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $2.25 million to help farmers better protect employees and ensure the continued supply of healthy food products for consumers. The Official Opposition Agriculture Critic says the Ford government must do more to help the province's farmers, many of whom are in crisis due to COVID-19.
John Tory announced the ActiveTO program developed by Toronto Public Health and Transportation Services will start to be rolled out across the city. The program will provide more space for people to be physically active and improve physical distancing as part of the City's restart and recovery in the wake of COVID-19. The list of current and planned Quiet Streets is available at toronto.ca/activeTO and will be updated when locations are added. Many of these positive street changes should become permanent.
It seems that we have narrowly escaped flooding on Lake Ontario this year. Island resident Lynn Robinson who has been monitoring water level writes that while current levels are just under minor flood levels, we should still be mindful of storms and high waves over the summer.
Construction at CityPlace:
Metrolinx has advised that construction will begin along the Lakeshore West corridor. The GO Expansion involves improving, updating and modernizing infrastructure, including tracks, bridges and stations, as well as extensive maintenance efforts. The work will begin on May 16th until May 23rd from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am. If you have any questions call 647-299-8836 or email TorontoWest@metrolinx.com.
Construction on Bathurst:
Bathurst Street from Front Street West to Fort York Boulevard will be closed completely from May 25 to December 2020 for TTC and bridge revitalization. Pedestrian traffic will still be allowed. Crews will also be replacing a 144-year-old watermain on Bathurst between Front and Queen Street West. Drivers can find a detailed map of all the construction projects across the city on the City of Toronto website.
Fun Things to Do This Weekend
Virtual Fireworks at Canada's Wonderland: Set up on your TV, computer or phone and this virtual fireworks display will almost be like the real thing!
Virtual Campout at the Toronto Zoo: Kick off the May long weekend with a FREE virtual ‘campout’ at the Toronto Zoo!
Harbourfront Centre’s International Children’s Festival: Looking for something to do with your kids? Virtually JUNIOR opens this weekend, bringing you and your family films, dance, food workshops, and more! All free and to be enjoyed from your own home.
Flower & Blossom Festivals in Ontario: Information on six flower festivals in Ontario.
Provincial Parks & Conservation Areas: Provincial parks and conservation reserves opened this week. Recreational activities will be limited to walking, hiking, biking and bird-watching, while camping is not permitted and all facilities, playgrounds and beaches will remain closed. Visitors are urged to practice physical distancing and stay two metres apart. These include sections of the Bruce Trail along the Niagara Escarpment at Rattlesnake Point, Mono Cliffs, the Belfountain Conservation Area.
City of Toronto Virtual Activities: You can tour a museum exhibit, watch a live concert, play interactive games or try an exercise class or a new recipe. The options are listed by age group and there are activities for everyone!
- Asian Unification Project: Targets Asian people who are disabled, immunocompromised, or 50+. Individuals can request grocery delivery or errand running
- The Bright Spot: An online community where older adults can shine, offering everything from exercise classes and small online group discussions to trivia nights and mindfulness tutorials – all free of charge. Offered by the YMCA of Greater Toronto.
- Canadian Muslim Response Network: Anyone in need across Toronto can request emergency kits including non-perishable food items, and essential hygiene and cleaning products.
- CareMongering-TO: Community Response to COVID19. Can request or offer aid (including grocery delivery and other resources) by posting in the Facebook group, filling in a Google form (to offer aid), or filling in a spreadsheet (to request aid).
- COVIDTO GlideApp: An all-in-one community resource that is updated by volunteers
- DonateTO: The City launched this online portal, making it easy for businesses and residents to make direct donations of products, services, and funds in support of the City’s relief efforts.
- Friendly Neighbour Hotline (UHN Open Lab): Toronto seniors who live in low-income housing can request grocery and supply aid. Torontonians can volunteer after a vetting process and online training. 1-855-581-9580 (Hotline Phone Number)
- GDNA Help/Give Forum: Community residents can ask for help and other residents can offer assistance.
- Good Neighbour Project: GTA-wide, Facebook-based network of community members willing to assist with supply and grocery delivery to those with disabilities, compromised immune systems, accessibility barriers, and the elderly. Requests for aid can be made by calling the helpline (647-873-2230) or sending an email
- The 519 (Community Centre serving the LGBTQ2S community): Free takeaway meals, 7 days a week 1pm and 4pm, Monday to Friday 12:30pm, 12:30pm Saturday and Sunday. Location: In front of the Fabarnak Cafe, 519 Church St.
- Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre: Bagged meals available for pick-up only at the side door. Weekdays: Breakfast: 9:00 AM - 9:30 AM; Lunch: 12:00 PM - 12:30 PM; Dinner: 3:15 PM - 3:45 PM. Weekends: Breakfast: 9:00 AM - 9:30 AM; Lunch: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM (Sunday 12-12:30). Location: 439 Dundas St. E. at Parliament
- West Neighbourhood House: Help with grocery and pharmacy pickup, friendly calls, social support, information and referral, and other needs emerging in the community. Sign up to volunteer or request for help at westnh.org/help. Email email@example.com or call 416-532-4828.
- ShopHERE: Connects volunteers in Toronto’s technology sector with business owners who need e-commerce training and support in digital marketing and shipping. Tech companies and professionals who’d like to offer guidance can sign up online. To qualify for the program, a business must have fewer than 10 employees, or fewer than 25 employees if a restaurant or bar; pay commercial property taxes; and not be a chain or franchise. Eligible businesses and artists must be located in the City of Toronto.
- The Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) is creating engaging and informative webinars for the non-profit sector to adapt to the changing world in light of COVID-19. All registered participants will receive a recording of the webinar and slide deck. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
- Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies has developed a list of COVID-19 specific resources for children, youth, families and the public. For a full list of Children’s Aid Societies and Child and Indigenous Child and Family Well Being Agencies in your community, please visit this link here.
- ShopHere: ShopHERE connects volunteers in Toronto’s technology sector with business owners who need e-commerce training and support in digital marketing and shipping. Tech companies and professionals who’d like to offer guidance can sign up online. To qualify for the program, a business must have fewer than 10 employees, or fewer than 25 employees if a restaurant or bar; pay commercial property taxes; and not be a chain or franchise. Eligible businesses and artists must be located in the City of Toronto.
- City of Toronto Virtual Activities: You can tour a museum exhibit, watch a live concert, play interactive games or try an exercise class or a new recipe. The options are listed by age group and there are activities for everyone!
Working with Spadina-Fort York’s Elected Representatives
COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation that requires all levels of government to work closely together. I am working closely with my Municipal and Federal counterparts to discuss how we can support Spadina-Fort York residents, businesses and other organizations. For more detail on the Municipal and Federal responses, please click the links below:
Facts and Figures
As of 4:00 pm May 13:
- Cases: 21,494
- NEW: 258 – 1.2% increase
- Deaths: 1,798 (+33)
- Recovered: 16,204 (75.4%)
- Hospitalized: 1,026
- ICU: 184
- Ventilated: 141
Chief Medical Officer of Health press conference and new info:
- 57.2% of cases are female
- 43.0% are aged 60+
- 62.4% are in the GTA
- 3,607 healthcare workers total have tested positive
- 492,487 tests in total – 17,429 tests completed in the past 24 hours
- 17,578 tests waiting to be processed
According to Long-Term Care Ministry data:
- 185 active outbreaks in LTCs
- 2,501 cases among residents, 1,668 cases among staff
- 1,308 resident deaths, 5 staff deaths
Health Workforce Portal
The Ontario government has launched a new Health Workforce Matching Portal that will enable retired or non-active health care professionals, internationally educated health care professionals, students, and volunteers with health care experience to join the province's response to COVID-19. The portal will efficiently match the availability and skillsets of frontline health care workers to the employers in need of assistance to perform a variety of public health functions, such as case and contact management.