As you have no doubt seen in the media, recent modelling projections show that we could have daily COVID-19 case counts of 30,000 by the end of May. The rapid growth is largely due to the U.K. variant although other variants of concern are also starting to make their way into the Ontario population.
As a result, the Premier announced that Ontario’s stay-at-home order will be extended for another two weeks, remaining in effect until at least May 20. Additional restrictions include limiting big box store capacity to 25%, limiting outdoor gatherings to your household only, and closing off recreational amenities; a full list is below. Most controversially, the government is increasing police authority to stop people outside their home and ask if their trip falls within the stay-at-home order. In spite of these drastic actions, the new measures do not include paid sick days, investments to keep schools safe and other actions which health professionals and we, the NDP, have been continually calling for.
There are many things that could have been done to prevent us from getting to this point, but we are here now and we need to navigate our way through this. During this pandemic, it has been said that we are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat. The pandemic has been particularly hard on children, seniors, small business owners and the workers they employ. And we have all learned who the essential frontline workers are in addition to healthcare professionals. Educators, childcare workers, store clerks, concierge staff, cleaners, personal support workers, warehouse workers, emergency first responders and many others have been putting their lives on the line to keep our society going through the pandemic.
This pandemic has become a race between the variants and the vaccine rollout. The variants have an edge right now, but if we stick together and support each other, we can help each other in all boats to weather this storm.
Please take the opportunity to reach out to others. Call a senior or other individual who lives alone, offer to read a book to a friend’s child, #shop local, send messages of gratitude to our frontline workers, and sign this petition to show your support for paid sick days for all workers.
My office is hearing from many of you who are rightfully frustrated with the recent promise made by the Premier to vaccinate everyone 18 and older in designated hot spots. Unfortunately, the Premier made this promise without providing any additional vaccine supply, or consulting the local health units to ensure a plan was in place. As a result, at-risk individuals on the previous list, childcare workers and others were left out and the University Health Network had to stop registrations all together.
I share your frustration with this turn of events. We are pushing the government to address this mistake and fill these gaps. One potentially positive development is that the government is stating that COVID-19 hotspots such as downtown Toronto will receive a 25% increase in vaccine supply during the next round of distribution.
In the meantime, I’ve organized a group of volunteers with the Spadina-Fort York Community Care Program (@spafycc) and St Lawrence Market to help vulnerable residents 50 and older to register. See details below.
There is some good news in all of this. As of Monday, 1 in 5 Torontonians have had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. I continue to hear from individuals who want to volunteer remotely or give back to their community somehow. I thank you all for your kindness and understanding during this difficult time and want to remind you that, together, we will get through this.
Stay safe and stay well,
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 visit the St. Lawrence Temporary Market located at 125 The Esplanade (the big white tent) on Wednesday, April 21, 3-7 pm or 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 event or other Spadina-Fort York Community Care activities, please complete this form.
AstraZeneca Vaccine for People 40+
- The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be offered to individuals 40 years old and over in pharmacies and primary care settings starting on Tuesday, April 20. Despite the two cases in Canada of reported blood clots in younger people, Health Canada maintains that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks of getting COVID-19. The agency has approved the use of the vaccine for those 18 years old and over. No word yet as to when AstraZeneca will be made available to those 18+ in Ontario.
COVID-19 Restrictions Update
The Premier announced that the stay-at-home order will be extended for another two weeks and will now remain in effect until at least May 20. People should limit their trips outside of the home to permitted purposes only, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, medical appointments, outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.
New restrictions are effective Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 12:01 am. Government orders include:
- Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events are prohibited, except with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone, or a caregiver for any member of the household.
- All non-essential construction will be closed, including construction at shopping malls, hotels, and office towers.
- Reduced capacity limits to 25% in all retail settings where in-store shopping is permitted. This includes supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers' markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies.
- All outdoor recreational amenities, such as golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields, and playgrounds with limited exceptions will be closed.
- Police officers and other provincial offences officers will have the authority to require any individual to provide their home address and purpose for not being at their residence and the reason for leaving their home; police will have the ability to stop vehicles to inquire about and reason for people leaving their homes; possible fines of minimum $750.
Effective Monday, April 19 at 12:01 am:
- Checkpoints at interprovincial borders and incoming travellers not meeting a list of prescribed exceptions will be turned back; travellers coming into Ontario for work, medical care, transportation of goods and exercising indigenous treaty rights will be exempted.
- Capacity of weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 10 people indoors or outdoors.
- Social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions are prohibited, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone.
- Drive-in services will be permitted.
All other public health and workplace safety measures for non-essential retail under the provincewide emergency brake (i.e., curbside pick-up and delivery only), will continue to apply.
- The Ontario government announced it will be dedicating 25% of future vaccine allocations to the 13 public health regions in “hot spot” areas with historic and ongoing high rates of death, hospitalization and COVID-19 transmission. Several postal code hotspots are in the Spadina-Fort York riding. There has also been concern about how COVID-19 postal code hotspots were selected as some postal codes with below average COVID-19 cases had higher rates of vaccine delivery.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government is “standing by” to deploy the Canadian Red Cross to help with Ontario’s vaccination efforts and the mobile vaccination teams. Canada will also receive an additional four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in May, followed by a batch of two million in June and two million in July. At the same time, Canada is expected to get only 650,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine instead of the more than 1.2 million doses that was promised after multiple delays. No mention was made as to how the new doses will be allocated.
Child Care for Frontline Workers and Child Benefit
- The Ontario government announced it will provide eligible health care and other frontline workers with free emergency child care for school-aged children, starting Monday, April 19, 2021. The announcement was made following the province’s decision to move elementary and secondary students across the province to remote learning following the April spring break. Eligible parents and guardians with a school-aged child or children looking to access an emergency child care program should contact their local service system manager for information on availability, program locations and registration. Childcare workers have also been concerned that they were not prioritized while the Government moved educators up the list. While schools moved to remote learning, daycare operations have not changed, with many childcare workers commuting and interacting with kids every day. The NDP and I believe childcare workers should be prioritized during the vaccine rollout and we will continue to advocate for at-risk groups.
- The Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit provides financial support to families with young learners to help with additional costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting on April 26, the following payments will be issued:
- $400 for each child or youth up to Grade 12
- $500 for each child or youth up to age 21 with special needs
If you received a payment through the Support for Learners program, you do not need to apply for this additional payment.
If you missed applying for the Support for Learners program, you will have the opportunity to apply. Applications will open from May 3, 2021 to May 17, 2021.
This is in addition to payments provided by Support for Families and the Support for Learners programs.
Supportive Housing at 222 Spadina Avenue
The City of Toronto has purchased three floors in the building at 222 Spadina Avenue (formerly the Super 8 Hotel) to provide new homes for approximately 84 people and support their health and well‑being. The new apartments will be:
- Dedicated to women, Indigenous residents, seniors, people with disabilities and people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness
- Studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments with a bathroom and a kitchen
More information on these new homes is available here.
To provide feedback or questions, contact the Community Liaison at 437-684-5857 or email [email protected].
- The Toronto Transit Commission announced that customers who use the Rocket Man or Transit mobile apps will be able to see real-time passenger counts on TTC buses. Despite measures to reduce the number of passengers on TTC vehicles, many transit riders have expressed concerns about overcrowding on TTC vehicles amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The new partnership will allow customers to better plan their trips around the city. “You’ll be able to see the volume of passengers on vehicles approaching your stop to help you choose which vehicle you’re most comfortable boarding,” the TTC said in a news release. The TTC says the vast majority of buses, about 1,966 of the service's 2,000 vehicles, are equipped with Automatic Passenger Counting (APC) devices that use infrared light at doors to determine how many people board and exit a bus.
New GO Bus Station Open
- A new GO bus station has opened inside the first phase of the CIBC Square on Bay Street. across from Union Station. This ambitious development will have two office towers with a distinctive glass diamond pattern, rising 49 and 50 storeys. Connecting the two will be an elevated park across the railroad tracks. This station replaces the one just south of Front Street. Buses now enter from the Gardiner Expressway via Lakeshore Boulevard and passengers use the entrance on the north side of Lakeshore between Bay Street and Yonge Street.
Toronto Port Authority
- Our office has become aware that the Toronto Port Authority (PortsToronto) is seeking private sector capital and operators to solve its financial difficulties. The Toronto Port Authority has been selling off public assets in recent years in a bid to restructure their finances. The land around their head office has been transacted and rezoned to acquire capital and operating funds, and assets at the airport itself have also been sold as part of this restructuring. We will keep you updated on any information we receive on this and the impact it will have on the airport, the surrounding neighbourhood and waterfront. More information is available here.
Statistics Canada Surveys in the Provinces
- Several household surveys are now being conducted on a range of important topics, such as employment, household spending, mental health, and soon—the 2021 Census. Strong participation rates will allow us to produce high-quality data related to health, the labour market, spending patterns, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
You may be selected and are encouraged to participate in the following surveys:
- COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Survey
- Labour Force Survey
- Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health
- Survey of Household Spending
- 2021 Census of Population
There are several ways to verify that a survey is being conducted by Statistics Canada:
- by looking up the name of the survey in the list of surveys in collection
- by contacting Statistics Canada:
Toll-free: 1-800-263-1136 or TTY: 1-800-363-7629
Email: [email protected]
Workshops and Open Houses
Ontario Line Virtual Open Houses: Downtown and West Segments
- Metrolinx is hosting virtual public open houses for the Downtown and West Segments of the Ontario Line.
Downtown Segment: (Osgoode, Queen, Moss Park and Corktown stations)
Monday, April 26, 6:30 pm Learn more and register here.
West Segment: (Exhibition, King-Bathurst and Queen-Spadina stations)
Thursday, April 29, 6:30 pm Learn more and register here.
Tenant Information Session and Workshop
- Toronto ACORN is presenting these virtual sessions for tenants:
Tenants’ Rights Information Session
Saturday, April 24, 2:00 pm Register here: bit.ly/TenantsRightsInfoSessions
Resist Renovictions Workshop
Monday, April 26, 6:00 pm Register here: bit.ly/ResistRenovictionsWorkshop
For more information email [email protected] or call 416-461-9233.
Mental Health Research Canada Webinars
- Topic: Using a free, online literary curriculum based on Harry Potter to teach coping skills and resilience to middle schoolers
Thursday, April 29, 3:00 pm Register here
Check out www.mhrc.ca/webinar-series for details on future webinars
Webinars for Small Business
- Ask the Expert: Marketing & Sales
Friday, April 16, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm Register here
Marketing your business has never been as important as it is today. This webinar will show you how to successfully market your product or service using easy and affordable sales and marketing tactics.
- B Corp 101 Workshop: Learning to Measure What Matters
Tuesday, April 20, 10 am – 12 pm Register here
Learn how to measure your company’s current impact in the areas of governance, employee relations, community and the environment, and then use these results to guide you forward as a social entrepreneur.
Click here for more upcoming webinars
Grants and Programs
Community Building Fund for Non-Profits and Indigenous Communities
- The Ontario government is providing funding to non-profits and Indigenous communities in the community arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation sectors to help sustain their operations and create new attractions, experiences and events. Grants are 6 or 12 months in length for amounts of $10,000 to $250,000. Application deadline is April 28, 2021.
More information is available here.
Eligible organizations looking for application support can:
- Contact Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Support Centre at [email protected] or 1-800-263-2887
- Attend an information session
- Book a 15-minute coaching call with an OTF Program Manager
Applying for an Ontario Arts Council Grant
Applying for an arts grant can be confusing or overwhelming. This spring, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) is offering a series of webinars for Ontario-based artists and arts groups to learn the basics of applying for OAC funding. These webinars are for people who:
- have never applied for an arts grant before
- have an idea for an arts project in mind and are wondering how to apply for funding
- have applied for a grant before, but did not receive one
- want to learn more about what makes a successful application
If you already have a project in mind, and you have a specific question about your project, please email [email protected].
Click here for a list of upcoming webinars.
Pathways to Success Program for Indigenous Youth
- The Indigenous Professional Association of Canada’s Pathways to Success Program creates new opportunities for internships and summer work experiences for Indigenous youth (17-29) in Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton. They are currently looking for employers and Indigencous youth to participate in the program. For more information, visit the Pathways to Success website and signup page.