Chris Glover MPP, Spadina–Fort York

Government of Ontario

COVID-19 Update June 4

Published on June 4, 2020

Dear Neighbours,

This morning, the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Association organized a press conference to demand that the provincial government restore funding that has been cut from the housing budget. They cited a report from the Federal Budget Officer (see page 8 here) that noted that Ontario spent $161 million less on housing in 2019/20 in spite of receiving an additional $100 million in federal funding to build housing under the National Housing Strategy. See the section on homelessness below.

Canada’s top doctor says the country has been successful at slowing the spread of COVID-19 but is warning that relaxing public health restrictions too quickly or too soon could lead to a rampant resurgence of the disease. Ontario is extending the provincial Declaration of Emergency to June 30. This extends the enforcement of emergency orders to prevent unfair pricing of necessary goods, gives hospitals and long-term care homes the ability to redeploy and hire staff, and limits long-term care workers to shifts at one home. The province is also making plans for the second stage of the province’s economic reopening plan, including opening restaurants patios. Some of these measures may be relaxed as early as next week, beginning with regions that have had fewer cases of COVID-19. 

After the Premier said Canada doesn’t have the same “systemic, deep roots” of racism as the United States, the Ontario government announced $1.5 million in funding to organizations that support Black families and youth to help Black communities recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Divided among the 627,000 Black individuals in Ontario, this is an investment of only $2.40 each. Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath called on the Premier to issue an emergency order to begin the collection of race-based data when it comes to the province’s health-care delivery. 

June is traditionally a time to acknowledge Seniors, National Indigenous History and Pride. With the horror in our long-term care homes, it is vital that we focus not just on getting those in long-term care through the pandemic but that we create a system that provides seniors with dignity, respect and the care that they deserve. Seniors looking for legal advice may also benefit from the Ontario Bar Association’s free online information sessions.

Knowledge is a key to reconciliation. It’s important that we all understand the history and ongoing discrimination against Indigenous people of this land. The CBC has 35 suggested books that rewrite the history of the last 150 years with audio recordings by the authors. 

We'll have a new unique way of celebrating love, acceptance and diversity this year with virtual pride events this year. Take a look at my colleague MPP Suze Morrison’s suggestions on how to support 2SLGBTQ+ businesses & organizations during this month. 

In spite of the many challenges we face, we are getting through this pandemic together. Thank you for all of your efforts to keep yourself and our neighbours safe.


Homelessness

For those living in the encampments for the past two months, there has been no place to go. The shelters, respites, hotels and apartments secured by the city are all full. With restaurants, public washrooms and other spaces closed, people in the encampments for several weeks had no place to go to wash or to get warm. I spoke with one woman in an encampment who described rats running over her sleeping bag during the night.

In the encampments, I have witnessed acts of great kindness. In March, one man had seen a woman walking on Yonge Street without shoes. He gave her his shoes and walked the 5 km back to the encampment barefoot. There are also some acts of abuse. When giving out care packages, we asked a woman if we could get her phone number to stay in touch. She said that she would have to get “permission”. She wouldn’t say who would give permission and she refused our offers of assistance. We believe she was being trafficked.

There are many people who are homeless. Some are victims of circumstances beyond their control whether it’s an injury at work, the loss of their job, or a divorce. There are also people with mental health issues, addictions and intellectual disabilities. For many, there is no way out. I've spoken with shelter workers who said that when someone with a drug addiction comes to them and says they want to go into detox, there is often no space in the detox centres. That we as a society are allowing people to live like this is absolutely appalling. The spillover effects in our communities -- thefts, break ins, harassment and needles -- are making our communities less safe.

Before the pandemic we had a homelessness crisis and an opioid addiction epidemic. The pandemic has made it worse. The Province and City were sued for violating the constitutional rights of people in shelters because some people were in bunks and some were in cots that were less than 2m apart, making physical distancing during the pandemic impossible. The city has spent $200 million for 6 months of shelter spaces (including shelters, hotels, respite centres and temporary apartments) and there are still people in encampments with no place to go.

In February, my colleague, MPP Rima Berns-McGowan brought forward a private members bill that would have declared homelessness an emergency in Ontario. This bill would have forced the provincial government to allocate funds to end homelessness in Ontario. The Ontario government voted it down. They've also cut $161 million in annual funding for housing and eliminated the province's commitment to end homelessness by 2025.

All three levels of government need to step up and address this crisis. People living in encampments during a pandemic is unacceptable. The impact on community safety is unacceptable. It's a small step, but I have attached a petition. We need to build the momentum to force the government's hand and address the homelessness crisis.


Latest Developments

Economic Reopening Plan:

Long-Term Care Homes: 

  • In Question Period yesterday, Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath called on the Province to put a moratorium on issuing new licences to for-profit long-term care operators, at least until all investigations and inquiries into the sector are completed. She also read parts of an anguished letter from Dorothy Rodriques, the widow of Leonard Rodriques, a Black Personal Support Worker who died of COVID-19 after not getting proper PPE at work, and after being sent home from the hospital despite his debilitating COVID-19 symptoms. Dorothy has called for the immediate collection of race-based data by the Ford government.
  • The Patient Ombudsman launched an investigation into long-term care on Tuesday. The Office of Patient Ombudsman says it has received more than 150 complaints from residents, family and staff. This follows the announcement Monday by the Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé of a separate investigation into long-term care during the pandemic.
  • Following a CBC investigation revealing that 700 confirmed COVID-19 cases were not flagged to public health officials because of a mixup between two hospitals, a spokesperson for Ontario Health said today that at least 485 positive COVID-19 tests done by a provincial lab weren’t flagged to the corresponding local health agency, and that a huge backlog of cases now need to be sorted through.
  • Bill 175, the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act, which went to Committee, will further enable privatization of home care and remove the existing provisions of public control and accountability. Stakeholders interested in appearing before the Committee can email comm-legisassembly@ola.org or call 416-325-3509. The deadline to request to appear is Tuesday, June 9, 6:00 pm. Deadline for written submissions is Wednesday, June 17, 6:00 pm. Hearings will be held:
    • Monday, June 15 – 10:00 am - 12:00 pm AND 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
    • Tuesday, June 16 – 9:00 am - 10:15 am AND 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
    • Wednesday, June 17 – 9:00 am - 10:15 am AND 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Seniors COVID-19 Payment:

  • Seniors eligible for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement will receive a one-time, tax-free payment during the week of July 6. The payment will be $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security pension, and an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, for a total of $500 to seniors who receive both, to help them cover increased costs caused by COVID-19.

Tenants & Homeowners:

  • The Premier issued a warning to commercial landlords who are not signing up for the federal government’s rent relief program. However, he did not commit to banning commercial evictions which is what the Official Opposition has called for. 
  • The Ontario government announced that it will continue to provide consumers with the fixed Hydro COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents per kilowatt hour until October 31, 2020.
  • Bill 159, the Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act allows the appointment of new members of the board to Tarion, the corporation created by the province in 1976 to perform crucial regulatory functions in the home-building industry. Tarion has been the subject of two government investigations in the past three years that raised concerns that the authority favoured the construction industry over consumers. Stakeholders interested in appearing before the Committee should email comm-generalgov@ola.org or call 416.325.3509. The deadline to request to appear before the Committee is Thursday, June 18 at 10:00 am and the deadline to submit a written submission is Wednesday, June 24 at 6 pm. Hearings will be held on: 
    • Tuesday, June 23 – 9:00-10:15 am AND 1:00-6:00 pm
    • Wednesday, June 24 – 9:00-10:15 am AND 1:00-6:00 pm
  • Bill 184, Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, which has been sent to the Committee for Social Policy, prevents tenants from bringing up issues like their landlord failing to make repairs to their unit during hearings for non-payment of rent, and skips straight from repayment agreement for back rent to an eviction order without any hearing for the tenant if they miss a payment. In the legislature, we are asking for a ban on disconnections and lockouts, and a freeze on rent increases. During the pandemic we have received many emails from tenants in our riding who continue to receive notices of eviction and rent increases. Stakeholders interested in appearing before the Committee can email comm-socialpolicy@ola.org or call 416-325-3506. The deadline to request to appear is Thursday, June 18, 10:00 am and the deadline for written submissions is Friday, June 26, 6:00 pm. Hearings will be held:
  • Wednesday, June 24 – 9:00-10:15 am AND 1:00-6:00 pm
  • Thursday, June 25 – 10:00 am-12:00 pm AND 1:00-6:00 pm
  • Friday, June 26 – 10:00 am-12:00 pm AND 1:00-6:00 pm

Ontario Line Update:

  • The Government announced that they are moving forward with the next step in building the Ontario Line. They are issuing the first two public-private partnership (P3) Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) to identify and qualify those who will design, build and maintain the subway line. Ontario’s Auditor General has reported that P3s cost taxpayers an additional 28% over what it would cost for the government to pay for projects directly. Applied to the $29 billion Toronto transit expansion, this means that taxpayers will ultimately pay $8 billion more than if the government were to pay for the expansion directly.
  • The Government has said that Bill 171, the Building Transit Faster Act will speed up the Ontario Line construction as they assign it to the Social Policy Committee. However, this bill also makes it easier for the Government to enter into P3 partnerships. Stakeholders interested in appearing before the Committee should email comm-socialpolicy@ola.org or call 416-325-3506. The deadline to request to appear is Thursday June 18 at 10:00 am and the deadline for written submissions is Friday, June 26 at 6:00pm. Hearings will be held:
    • Wednesday, June 24 – 9:00-10:15 am AND 1:00-6:00 pm
    • Thursday, June 25 – 10:00 am-12:00 pm AND 1:00-6:00 pm
    • Friday, June 26 – 10:00 am-12:00 pm AND 1:00-6:00 pm

Legal Aid for Low-Income Persons:

  • Bill 161, the Smarter and Stronger Justice Act appears to unilaterally cancel all legal aid clinics’ funding arrangements, radically change Legal Aid Ontario’s mandate by removing the terms “low income and access to justice”, and make it more difficult for Ontarians to move forward with a class action lawsuit, such as the one filed during the Walkerton water crisis. Stakeholders interested in appearing before the Committee for Justice Policy should email comm-justicepolicy@ola.org or call 416.325.3883. The deadline to request to appear before the Committee is Friday, June 5th at 6 pm and the deadline to submit a written submission is Friday, June 12th at 6 pm. Hearings will be held: 
    • Wednesday, June 10 – 10:00 am - 12:00 pm AND 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
    • Thursday, June 11 – 10:00 am - 12:00 pm AND 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
    • Friday, June 12 – 10:00 am - 12:00 pm AND 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Animal Rights:

  • Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, which has been sent to Committee, was introduced by Ontario Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman on December 2, and follows on the heels of Bill 27 in Alberta, the Trespass Statutes Amendment Act. The bill is commonly known as the “Ag gag” law which refers to efforts to conceal animal cruelty. Stakeholders interested in appearing before the Committee can email comm-generalgov@ola.org or call 416-325-3509. The deadline for written submissions is Tuesday, June 9, 6:00 pm. Hearings will be held:
  • Monday, June 8 Jun – 10:00 am - 12:00 pm AND 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
  • Tuesday, June 9 Jun – 10:00 am - 12:00 pm AND 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm

City News & Road Closures:

  • Mayor Tory announced that City of Toronto street food vendors, food trucks and ice cream trucks can resume operations in time for this year’s summer vending season. Tory also announced the CafeTO program which will allow expanded patio space at Toronto restaurants. 
  • The City of Toronto will close sections of three major roads this weekend, in total making more than 10 kilometres of roadway available for walking, running and biking, as part of ActiveTO.
  • The City of Toronto has released guidelines for off-leash dog areas during the COVID-19 pandemic. These guidelines were created in partnership with Toronto Public Health and clearly outline how dog park users can safely use this amenity.
  • GO expansion construction along the Lakeshore West corridor will begin June 6th and will be ongoing until June 13th. This work will take place overnight from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. What to expect:
  • Cable containment from Bathurst to York Streets.
  • Completing an access pad from Bathurst to John Streets.
  • Completing a retaining wall from Spadina to York Streets.
  • Completing caisson work (signal tower construction) from Spadina to John Streets.
  • Maintenance work between Bathurst and York Streets will be completed as well.

This work can be disruptive to nearby residents and can expect noise in the area caused by construction equipment. If you have any questions, call: 416-202-6911 or email TorontoWest@metrolinx.com.

  • The City of Toronto will be reconstructing Perry Lane located at the rear of 651 Queen St. W. from Bathurst Street to Richmond St. W. The repairs will take place from June 8-12, 2020 (subject to weather conditions).
  • The Province has created a Council on Equality of Opportunity that will provide advice on how young people can overcome social and economic barriers and achieve success.  The council will have up to 20 members including youth between the ages of 18 to 29, and adults with expertise from not-for-profit community organizations, education, and government services. If you are interested in joining the Council, you can apply here by Thursday June 18.

Things To Do

Local Food Week: 

  • Farm Tours, Cooking Demos and more! Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), Farm & Food Care Ontario (FFCO) & AgScape are celebrating Local Food Week virtually! Monday through Friday is jam-packed with farm tours, cooking demonstrations and a week-long contest! Browse through the full schedule.
  • Dairy Farmers of Ontario present Savour Ontario at Home! A free recipe collection launching just in time for Local Food Week! Be inspired by new meals while supporting Ontario’s culinary community.

Museums & Galleries:

In the wake of COVID-19, museums, galleries, science centres and historical places across Ontario have found new ways to be accessible and to serve their communities, reaching out to broader audiences, sharing collections and exhibitions, offering virtual tours, videos and webinars.

Here are some wonderful examples for you to explore: 

  • Canadian War Museum: Discover the vast collection of online resources – including videos, exhibits, collections, educational resources, lectures and interactive adventures – through the Canadian War Museum’s "Museum at Home" feature.
  • Community Stories: Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC): The VMC is the largest digital source of stories and experiences shared by Canada’s museums and heritage organizations. Explore the stories and treasures, past and present, of hundreds of communities across Canada. Virtual exhibits: While you’re there, discover history, art, science, nature and more through virtual exhibits from Canada’s museums and heritage organizations.
  • Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre: Wander around inside the last operating double-decker theatre in the world! This virtual tour takes you through the centre’s elaborate lobbies and lets you poke around inside these two magnificent theatres.
  • Ontario Science Centre: During these challenging times, let the Ontario Science Centre bring science to you with DIY experiments, science activities, educational resources and Facebook Live events where you can interact with scientists (or catch up on past events).
  • Textile Museum of Canada: While the museum itself can only show a fraction of their holdings, this online collection gives you access 24/7 to more than 15,000 objects from over 200 regions around the world.
  • Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library: Take a close-up look at the digital collections at the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library – including manuscripts, drawings and rare publications.
  • Uncover//Recover: Indigenous Educational Guide (presented by the Royal Ontario Museum): Inspired by the Royal Ontario Museum’s collection of Indigenous artifacts, OCAD University’s Indigenous Visual Culture Program students worked with museum curators to develop this educational, interactive, accessible and informative multimedia exhibition as an online vehicle to celebrate Indigenous peoples’ creative legacy – past, present and future.

Festivals:

  • Luminato Festival Toronto will return June 11-13 with three days of free, virtual programming, bringing more than 70 artists together with audiences from across Canada and around the world. Be sure to join the festival for a weekend of world premiers, theatre, music, film, intense conversations, late night DJs, burlesque and more, streaming on luminatofestival.com.

#covidkindness

Thank you to the team at Conquer COVID-19 (photo on top) for their generous donation of hand sanitizer that we distributed to the residents of Les Centres D'Accueil Heritage last weekend. We appreciate the hard work of the volunteers that have raised over $2.5 million to acquire and distribute essential supplies to our frontline workers and vulnerable community members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today we dropped off 100 pounds of potatoes from Kitchen 24 and 500 masks from the Toronto Community & Culture Centre to Council Fire (photo on bottom) which is providing 300 free meals a day to those in need through the pandemic.