Here are some highlights on the vaccine rollout. Links and more information is below:
- Pregnant people are now eligible for vaccines
- Childcare workers are now eligible for vaccines
- Everyone 40+ can now register for a vaccine at their local pharmacy
- Everyone 45+ who lives in M5A, M5V and M6K can also register at the city’s vaccine clinics
- Everyone 60+ can register at the city’s vaccine clinics regardless of postal code
- Seniors who need assistance registering for their vaccines, please see information below
The week started with the provincial government reversing course on the closure of playgrounds. Although they reversed course on last Friday’s order to allow police to stop people at random, a new order was issued on Saturday that increases police powers to investigate gatherings.
There is a need for the government to take direction from the science table to get us through this pandemic as quickly as possible. With our ICUs now overflowing, their guidance is more important than ever. Missteps such as those last week, and the refusal to lockdown earlier, have made the third wave more severe and will make it last longer.
Last week, I took part in a press conference with the Ontario Medical Students Association to echo their call for Paid Sick Days. On the call, Dr. Stephen reported that 65% of cases in Peel region can be traced to workplace outbreaks, and one in four workers reported going to work while symptomatic because they would not be able to pay their rent or feed their families if they missed work.
Medical students like Gurinder Sandhu and Sinthu Senthillmohan and healthcare workers like Dr. Gaibrie Stephen are putting their lives on the line to save patients during this pandemic, and are advocating for paid sick days.
Paid sick days are one of the steps that are necessary to make our workplaces safe, and it seems the government may finally be bending to pressure and developing a plan. I also pointed out in the legislature that refusing paid sick days is another example of systemic racism as it impacts lower income essential frontline workers, many of whom are people of colour.
In the legislature, the government rejected motions that would:
- Immediately legislate paid sick days
- Provide paid time off for vaccinations
- Repeal the increased police enforcement orders
- Provide financial support to shut down non-essential workplaces
- Provide a new package of supports for small businesses and their workers
The same way we persisted through advocacy for paid sick days, persisted through teacher’s strikes and greenbelt development, we will continue advocating for solutions through this pandemic.
In spite of many missteps, we now have 26 vaccine doses distributed for every 100 residents in Toronto. (This is not 26% of the population, some people have received two shots.)
It’s important to note that the stay-at-home orders do include going outside for exercise or walking pets — in fact, this is important for our physical and mental health. The city is painting circles in Trinity-Bellwoods Park to encourage social distancing while safely enjoying the outdoors. Also, the Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market will open on May 4th!
On Wednesday, the Spadina-Fort York Community Care Program offered assistance registering people for vaccines in the St. Lawrence Temporary Market tent. Thank you to the volunteers who helped out — there are now 100 more people registered for their vaccines. Every vaccination gets us one step closer to getting this pandemic under control.
Please stay safe. If there’s any way I can help, please reach out to my office.
People 45+ in Hot Spots and Childcare Workers Now Eligible for Vaccine
All residents 45 and older who are living in one of Ontario’s 114 hot spot postal codes are now eligible to book an appointment on the provincial booking system. In Spadina-Fort York, the hot spot postal codes are M5A, M5V and M6K.
Employees at licensed childcare centres will also be eligible to book a vaccine. This change comes late, but welcome, and is a victory for childcare workers and families.
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 Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488.
Pregnant People Now Eligible for Vaccine
- The provincial government has announced that pregnant people in Ontario are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The decision comes days after the Ministry of Health said it was reviewing vaccine eligibility criteria for pregnant people following a surge in severe COVID-19 symptoms among expectant individuals. Pregnant individuals can book an appointment through the provincial call centre at 1-888-999-6488. A doctor’s letter is not required. The extended dose interval of 16 weeks is being recommended for this population.
Vaccines in Hot Spots
- We continue to receive inquiries regarding the vaccine rollout in hot spot postal codes, three of which are located in our riding: M5A, M5V and M6K. Due to limited supply, there is unfortunately not enough vaccine to immediately hold pop-up and mobile immunization clinics for those 18+ in all 53 of the hot spot postal codes identified by the province. As a result, mobile and pop-up clinics are currently being prioritized to serve the highest-risk communities.
The 13 highest-priority areas identified by postal code for mobile and pop-up clinics in the City of Toronto’s Sprint Strategy are:
- Northwest: M9W, M9V, M9L, M9M, M9N, M6M, M3K, M3J, M3N, M3M
- Central: M4H
- East: M1J, M1G
High-risk areas have been determined by Toronto Public Health and healthcare partners based on ongoing and historic high rates of COVID-19 transmission, hospitalization and death. As Spadina-Fort York neighbourhoods are not at highest risk and vaccine supply remains limited, details on pop-up and mobile clinics are not yet available. We continue to work closely with the office of Councillor Joe Cressy who receives the latest information from Toronto Public Health and our health care partners.
If you live in M5A, M5V or M6K:
People age 45 or older (or who are turning 45 this year) can currently book vaccination appointments at a City-run immunization clinics online at www.toronto.ca/covid-19 or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488 (TTY 1-866-797-0007).
If you live in riding, but not in M5A, M5V or M6K:
Those age 60 or older (or who are turning 60 this year) can currently book a vaccination appointment at a City-run immunization clinic regardless of where they live in Toronto, at www.toronto.ca/covid-19 or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488 (TTY 1-866-797-0007).
All Torontonians age 40 or older can book a vaccine appointment through the Province’s Pharmacy Program by contacting a participating pharmacy, regardless of what neighbourhood you live in. A list of participating pharmacies can be found here.
It is important to note that vaccine supply is still limited. Opportunities for more people to be vaccinated will be announced as vaccine supply increases. My office will provide an update as soon as more information becomes available.
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.
Military and Red Cross deploying to Ontario
- After turning down an offer by the federal government, Ontario made a formal request for assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Red Cross. Approximately three dozen troops are being deployed and will include nurses and technicians to help support critical health care facilities in Ontario, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area (read more on this here).
Canada Secures Millions of Pfizer Vaccines
- The prime minister announced that Canada has secured 35 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine for 2022, and another 30 million in 2023. The deal includes options to add 30 million doses in both 2022 and 2023, and an option for 60 million doses in 2024.
NACI Recommends AstraZeneca for People 30+
- The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) provided an update in a briefing today recommending that people 30 and older can get the AstraZeneca vaccine if they do not want to wait for an alternative. The committee initially recommended a pause on using AstraZeneca shots for people younger than 55 out of an abundance of caution after reports of rare blood clots. Health Canada released a safety assessment that showed the benefits of the shots outweigh the risks, which the committee also evaluated. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office said that the province will continue to administer AstraZeneca to those 40 years of age and older, as there is not currently sufficient supply to expand eligibility.
Emergency Orders for Healthcare Workers
- Ontario has issued two new emergency orders that will help bring more health-care workers into hospitals overburdened by COVID-19. One order allows workers to provide patient care outside their regular scope of practice, consistent with duties assigned by a hospital. The other allows out-of-province health care workers to practice in an Ontario hospital without registering with regulatory colleges in the province. Ontario says it has received tentative offers of health-worker support from Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
Toronto Medical Officer of Health Section 22 Order
- The COVID-19 situation in Toronto remains dire and further action is needed in workplaces where the risk of transmission is high, according to the City of Toronto. The Section 22 Order issued by the Medical Officer of Health is effective Friday, April 23 at 12:01 a.m. Investigators from Toronto Public Health will have additional capacity to act in response to workplace COVID-19 outbreaks, as part of the effort to reduce the spread of the virus in Toronto. Issued under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, the Section 22 order will require owners and operators of a workplace to notify Toronto Public Health as soon as they become aware of five or more individuals associated with their workplace who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period. Upon investigation, these workplaces may be required to fully or partially close, or dismiss shifts or teams. The order may also apply to workplaces with less than five COVID-19 cases, if it is determined that significant action is required to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Some workplaces are exempt.
Canada Bans Flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days
- The federal government will ban passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days amid rising COVID-19 case counts in India and concerns about mutations of the coronavirus. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said that because an increasing number of travellers from both countries have been arriving in Canada with COVID-19, all commercial and private passenger flights from those countries will be barred as of 11:30 pm Thursday, April 22. Cargo flights will still be permitted in order to maintain shipments of essential supplies, such as vaccines and personal protective equipment. No foreign travel is recommended at this time.
Tarion Update on Builder Repairs, Inspections and Delays
- Under the current provincial emergency stay-at-home order, residential construction and repairs are considered essential and can proceed under strict health and safety protocols. Builder repair periods are extended until after the stay-at-home order is lifted. Tarion is making this change to help minimize transmission of the virus and to allow homeowners and builders to consider whether repairs could be postponed. More information here. Until the order is lifted, Tarion inspections will be conducted virtually. More on virtual inspections here. The COVID-19 outbreak has caused significant disruptions in the manufacturing and distribution of building materials, hardware, appliances and equipment which is impacting builders across Ontario and in other provinces. These shortages may cause delays in one or both of (1) the completion of new homes; or (2) required repairs in connection with after sales service. If a new home is in the midst of construction at this time, it is very possible that the pandemic will cause delays in the delivery of the home. You can find the full advisory on Delayed Closing and PDI here and on Shortages In Building Materials, Hardware, Appliances & Equipment here.
How to Win Affordable Housing for Our City Town Hall
- On Wednesday, April 28 at 6:30 pm, join Progress Toronto, Social Planning Toronto, ACORN, and Parkdale People's Economy for a virtual town hall on winning affordable housing for our city. Register and learn more here
Transit Townhall Series for Wheel-Trans Users and OW & ODSP Recipients
Transit Townhall for Wheel-Trans Users, People with Disabilities and Seniors
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 6:00 - 7:30pm Register here
TTCriders is teaming up with the Centre for Independent Living Toronto to organize this event. Join the discussion to share your experiences and accessibility concerns with fares and payment options. ASL and closed captioning will be provided.
Transit Townhall for People receiving OW or ODSP
A presentation about the Fair Pass and how to apply will be followed by breakout discussion rooms on Zoom. Share your transit issues and what you want to see change.
OPTION 1: Phone-in Tuesday, May 11, 2021 2:00 - 4:00pm
OPTION 2: Zoom or phone-in option Wednesday, May 12, 2021 6:00 - 8:00pm
Bag of Toronto to Support Small Business
- Bag of Toronto is back for a special Mother’s Day edition. Support local small businesses and business improvement associations in neighbourhoods including Ossington BIA, Queen West BIA, and Trinity Bellwoods BIA. A portion of the profits and all tips will support local charities in each neighbourhood.
Winterways McDougall Laneway Project
- The Laneway Project is launching their Winterways project in Queen Street West. Winterways is an adaptation project that will use permanent improvements – lighting, shelter, and colour – to transform McDougall Lane into a welcoming place for outdoor public life in the winter. Project design will take place in Spring and Summer 2021, with installation in September 2021. Share your observations and ideas about the laneway at the kick off and site analysis e-meeting on Tuesday, May 4, from 6-7:30 pm. More information is available here.
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
Resist Renovictions Workshop
Monday, April 26, 6:00 pm Register here
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
Social Media for Your Business
Tuesday, May 4, 10 – 11:30 am Register here
Social media is an invaluable tool for small businesses, whether you’re just starting out or have been established for years. Learn how to leverage the power of social media to grow your online community, drive sales and reduce marketing costs.
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. NEW application deadline is Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 5:00 pm ET.
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].
Pathways to Success Program for Indigenous Youth
- The Indigenous Professional Association of Canada’s Pathways to Success Program creates new opportunities for internships and summer work experiences for Indigenous youth (17-29) in Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton. They are currently looking for employers and Indigenous youth to participate in the program. For more information, visit the Pathways to Success website and signup page.