The news about the pandemic continues to change rapidly and, in my office, we are trying to keep you as up to date as possible on latest developments.
Premier Doug Ford announced that the provincewide stay-at-home order will be extended until June 2 in order to "protect this summer for all Ontarians." The Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said Ontario would need to see daily COVID-19 case counts well below 1,000 before the stay-at-home order could be lifted.
Despite calls to reopen outdoor activities, the current government intends to keep those closed until at least next month. The province said it will consider reopening outdoor amenities like tennis and basketball courts on June 2. Ford expressed concern about the "mobility" that is associated with certain sports, including golf.
I understand that people are very frustrated and feeling isolated. I will continue to push this government to do what the experts say we need to do to plan for a safe reopening by:
- Making our workplaces safe through paid sick days
- Focusing on hot spots
- Opening outdoor activities safely
Other notable developments:
- 50% of Toronto and Ontario adults have had their first COVID-19 vaccination
- Children 12-17 will be eligible to book the Pfizer vaccine starting May 31
- Virtual learning will continue
- Frontline workers in grocery stores, restaurants and transportation as well as people with a variety of health conditions are now eligible to book their vaccine appointments
- Starting Thursday, May 13, people 40+ can book at city-run vaccination clinics
- Ontario will end the hot spot strategy
- Ontario has paused the use of AstraZeneca vaccine
- There is a new online portal for rapid testing for essential businesses
- High-risk healthcare workers can soon book their second dose
- Pop-up clinics are happening around the city
Details on all of these points below.
The vaccine rollout and the safety measures people are taking have reduced our daily case counts to 2320 in Ontario and 787 in Toronto as of May 11th. If you need help registering for a vaccine, the volunteers with the Spadina-Fort York Community Care program can help you. Please email [email protected].
We have been getting a lot of emails and calls from residents asking that outdoor facilities like tennis courts, golf courses and beach volleyball be reopened. This is a topic of debate at the province. Dr. Peter Juni of the provincial science table has stated that these activities are low-risk and can be opened safely. The Solicitor-General is concerned, however, that the travel involved in getting to these sites could increase community spread. We will keep you updated on any announcements. In the meantime, ActiveTO is moving onto Lakeshore Blvd. West this weekend, expanding our opportunities to get outside for exercise.
Also this week:
What would you like to see in planning the future of Ontario Place? Join the community forum Thursday, May 13 at 7 pm. For more information and to register, click here.
Other news below includes the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Association air quality study, the Rail Deck Park, which has been dealt a blow by LPAT, and there is a public consultation on the Corktown Station.
Finally, this is Nurses Week and today is International Nurses Day. Post a message of support online and reach out to any nurses in your life to thank them for all they are doing to get us through this pandemic.
Stay safe and stay well,
Half of Adults in Toronto and Ontario Vaccinated
- Half of all adults in Toronto and the province of Ontario have received the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccine. Over one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario since the start of May, and the province remains on track to have administered first doses to 65% of Ontarians aged 18 and over by the end of May. More here.
Children 12-17 Eligible for Pfizer Vaccine May 31
- Beginning May 31, parents will be able to book a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine for their children aged 12 to 17. The province said special dedicated youth and family clinics will also be set up to vaccinate those 12 and up and their unvaccinated family members during the weeks of June 14 and 21.
Ontario Ends Hot Spot Strategy
- Next week, Ontario will stop allocating 50% of its COVID-19 vaccine supply to hot spot neighbourhoods. In April, the provincial government began targeting communities with high rates of COVID-19 infections — the majority in Toronto — by supplying them with 25% of doses. Ontario has administered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to over 54% of Ontarians aged 18 and over and will return to allocating doses by population in the last two weeks of May, as it opens eligibility to people aged 30 and up May 17 and all adults over 18 on May 24.
The NDP and I are concerned that the Premier is once again ignoring expert advice and risking the virus spreading. Ontario’s Science Advisory Table has recommended allocating 50% of doses to hot spots for the entire month of May. Toronto’s Board of Health passed a motion on May 10 calling for the province to follow this advice. Instead, the province sent 50% of doses to 114 postal code areas for just two weeks before abandoning the hot spots strategy.
Ontario Pauses AstraZeneca Vaccine
- Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams announced that Ontario will be pausing the rollout and administration of first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at this time. The decision was made out of an abundance of caution due to an observed increase in the rare blood clotting condition, known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Williams said that, with supply of the Pfizer vaccine ramping up considerably, the province found itself in a position in which it could suspend the use of AstraZeneca for now. The province is now expecting to receive 250,000 more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine next week, a shipment that will be reserved for second shots.
People 40+, At-risk Health Conditions, Group Two Workers Now Eligible
- Starting Tuesday, May 11 at 8:00 am, individuals with at-risk health conditions such as dementia, diabetes, sickle cell disease, as well as all respiratory illnesses such as asthma or bronchitis, and all types of cancers will be eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine. Also eligible are people in Group Two who cannot work from home including grocery store, restaurant and transportation workers.
Starting Thursday, May 13 at 8:00 am, people 40 and older will also be eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at City of Toronto mass immunization clinics.
You can access the online booking system here: Ontario.ca/bookvaccine
Pfizer and Moderna in More Pharmacies Next Week
- Ontario will be moving more Pfizer and Moderna vaccines into almost 2500 pharmacies and more primary-care settings by the end of May. This is said to open up more options for those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. Check pharmacy locations here.
Rapid Testing Portal for Essential Businesses
- Ontario is launching a rapid testing portal for all 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.
High-risk Healthcare Workers Can Soon Book Second Dose
- The Ontario government is adding high-risk health care workers to the list of those eligible to receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine earlier than the extended four-month interval. Eligibility for booking will begin by the end of this week and booking details will be provided in the coming days.
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.
Ontario Place Turns 50
- Ontario Place will be 50 years old on May 22, 2021. Ontario Place for All, together with the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and the Future of Ontario Place Project, is celebrating its local, provincial, national, and international importance at a virtual rally on Thursday, May 13 at 7:00 pm.
- MPP Chris Glover on how Ontario Place has shaped the province's identity.
- Councillor Joe Cressy on the importance of Ontario Place to local public health.
- Ken Greenberg of Ontario Place for All on the amazing ways people have relied on Ontario Place during the pandemic.
- Aziza Chaouni from the Daniels Faculty of Architecture at U of T on how the Future of Ontario Place Project’s design challenge raised national appreciation for Ontario Place.
- Javier Ors Austin of World Monuments Fund on how Ontario Place received international recognition with its inclusion on the Fund’s prestigious Watch List.
For more information and to register, click here.
BQNA Air Quality Exposure Study
- The Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Association (BQNA) is holding a virtual public presentation on Thursday, May 13 at 7:00 pm. Meet the University of Toronto research team and community partners to hear about the progress to date. Register through Eventbrite here. More information on the study and its objectives is available here.
Rail Deck Park Tribunal
- The Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) has ruled in favour of a developer over the City of Toronto in its bid to build Rail Deck Park. LPAT said that the City of Toronto was wrong to reject a proposal by Craft Acquisitions Corporation and PITS Developments Inc., to build a 6.5 hectare “mixed use community” of towers dubbed ORCA above the open rail space south of Front Street and between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way. The City of Toronto rejected an amendment to its official plan by the developers in 2018 which then allowed the city to designate the areas of the rail corridor as parks and open space areas. The City said the developers’ proposal did not comply with its planning standards and argued it was “wrong” from a policy perspective to allow a private development in the area, given the immense need for a new park in the city’s downtown. The Tribunal said the City has done little to advance that plan over the last five years and that owned air rights are exempt from the requirement that some of them be devoted to parkland, and that weighing the need for a park in downtown Toronto was not its concern.
Corktown Station Report and Public Consultation
- Metrolinx is looking for community feedback on a new environmental assessment for the early works required at Ontario Line’s Corktown Station. The draft Corktown Station Early Works Report is available now for public review and feedback. The 30-day consultation period ends on June 11, 2021. All feedback will be shared with the project team and will be summarized and addressed in the final report that will be published no later than July 16, 2021. More information available here.
Virtual School Learning to Continue
- The Premier announced that virtual learning will continue for all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools. However, it was not confirmed if students would be returning to the classroom before the end of the school year. He said that public health doctors, teachers, and labour partners must all agree on the best path forward regarding the reopening schools and that this time will be used to vaccinate as many teachers and students as possible.
TDSB Using Quadmester Model Next Year
- The Toronto District School Board announced it will be bringing back the quadmester model for secondary students during the 2021-2022 academic year. This model was introduced for the first time this year and had students taking two courses at a time across four separate academic semesters. News about the plan for the fall comes in the wake of the Ministry announcing that all school boards will have to provide a remote-learning option for the next school year, regardless of whether the pandemic has subsided enough to allow for the widespread resumption of in-person classes. More information here.
Federal Public Transit Funding Announcement
The federal government announced it will spend more than $12 billion on transit projects in Toronto and Hamilton. Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna said that $10.4 billion in funding will go toward four transit projects in Toronto, covering about 40% of each project:
- Scarborough Subway Extension - $5.5 billion
- Eglinton Crosstown West - $4.7 billion
- Ontario Line - $10.9 billion
- Yonge North Subway Extension - $5.6 billion (subject to Treasury Board approval)
The federal government will also help fund a light rail transit line in downtown Hamilton and buy zero-emission streetcars for the TTC. More here.
Income Tax Assistance from CRA
- Tax filing may be more challenging for some people this year because of COVID-19. Filing a tax return is very important as it will let the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) determine if someone is eligible for certain benefit and credit payments, such as the Canada Child Benefit and the GST/HST credit. To help, the CRA will offer extra support to eligible individuals who have previously received support through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). Individuals who need help completing their income tax return can call 1-833-995-2341.
CRA has already identified a number of eligible Canadians for this program. Those individuals will receive a personalized letter from the CRA with special information to help confirm that the calls they get are legitimate. This letter may come in the mail or be available through the CRA’s My Account portal. If you have received this letter, more information can be found by going to Canada.ca/tax-filing-assistance.
Starting this month through to October 2021, the CRA will call these individuals and help them by directing them to free virtual tax clinics or to online certified tax software products (including a number of free options) and, in certain situations, the CRA agent may be able to help individuals do their taxes over the phone.
To be eligible, and individual must have:
- a modest income;
- a simple tax situation; and
- used free tax clinics in the past or be eligible to use those clinics.
2021 Census of Population
- The next Census of Population will take place in May 2021. Census information is important to all communities and is vital for planning schools, daycare, family services, public transportation, and skills training for employment. The Census Program has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the 2021 Census of Population is conducted throughout the country in the best possible way, using a safe and secure approach. Completing the census questionnaire online is safe, fast and easy. Visit the Census Website here.
Looking for a job? There are 32,000 census job opportunities across Canada. Statistics Canada employs people in their local area. More information here.
ActiveTO Returns on Lakeshore West
The following closures will be in place beginning Saturday, May 15 at 6:00 am until Sunday, May 16 at 9:00 pm:
- Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes only), between Windermere Avenue and Stadium Road
- Lake Shore Boulevard East (eastbound lanes only), between Leslie Street and Woodbine Avenue
- Bayview Avenue, between Front Street East and Rosedale Valley Road, as well as River Street between Bayview Avenue and Spruce Street
Residents planning to use ActiveTO routes should do so only with members of their own household and access them by bike or as a pedestrian because nearby parking is limited and there is no onsite parking available. Click here to learn more.
Commissioners Street Bridge Arrives at the Port Lands
- The Commissioners Street bridge has entered Toronto from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. In total, four new bridges will connect downtown Toronto to the future Villiers Island, the new island that will be created by extending the Don River through the Port Lands. The first of these bridges arrived in Toronto in November 2020. Click here to learn more.
Workshops, Consultations and Public Events
Transit Town Hall Series for OW & ODSP Recipients
- Transit Townhall for People receiving OW or ODSP Wednesday, May 12, 2021 6:00 - 8:00 pm Register here
Webinars for Small Business
Ask the Expert: Marketing & Sales Friday, May 14, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm Register
T2 Corporation Income Tax Return Seminar Monday, May 17. 9:30 – 11:30 am Register
Click here for more upcoming webinars
Public Consultation for Multi-tenant Rooming Houses
- The City is proposing the creation of a comprehensive city-wide zoning approach and enhancements to licensing and enforcement to encourage and regulate safe, liveable, well-maintained and affordable multi-tenant houses across the city. Public consultation is ongoing, and an online questionnaire is open until May 18. You can also attend a virtual public meeting on May 4 or 11. Learn more here.
Grants and Programs
Bentway Community Incubation Program
- The Bentway is now accepting applications for the 2021 Community Incubation Program. The program provides financial and logistical support to emerging artists, designers, community members, and others based in the CityPlace neighbourhood to create a new program at The Bentway Studio – The Bentway’s new office and programming space located adjacent to the Canoe Landing Recreation Centre – this fall. The Community Incubation Program will help develop the capacity of local community members and provide some fantastic programming for CityPlace!
Public information session (Zoom): May 20, 2021 at 6pm – 7pm. Register here.
Deadline for submissions: June 4, 2021
Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant
- The Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant portal is now open for applications. The grant provides one-time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses in the tourism and travel sector. Businesses that received the Ontario Small Business Support Grant (OSBSG) are not eligible for the new grant. The OSBSG was designed to help businesses that were required to close or significantly restrict services under the provincewide shutdown effective December 26, 2020.
Application deadline: Friday, June 25, 2021 at 11:59 pm EDT.
Eligibility and application process here.
Ontario Restaurant & Bar Support Fund
- The Fund is a private sector, registered not-for-profit organization established to help support as many Ontario food and beverage establishments as possible to reopen and recover from the financial setbacks of the pandemic. The Fund’s website has details for businesses wanting to become a corporate sponsor in support of the hospitality industry in Ontario. Visit www.RestaurantandBarSupportFund.ca. There is a GoFundMe page for patrons who wish to donate the cost of a night out (i.e. $25) in support of restaurants, bars and entertainment establishments: www.gofundme.com/ontario-restaurant-and-bar-support-fund.
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, June 1, 2021 at 5:00 pm ET.
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 Indigenous youth to participate in the program. For more information, visit the Pathways to Success website and signup page.
Private Refugee Support Network Ontario
- The Private Refugee Sponsor Network Ontario (The Network) is a volunteer-driven organization with 260 sponsors working together in response to community need, offering information, education, problem solving, and networking opportunities to enable private sponsors to better support refugee families. The Network is playing a significant role in resolving post-arrival issues, addressing potential sponsorship breakdown and creating relationships with settlement agencies that will lead to more effective service delivery in the sector. To learn more about the Private Refugee Sponsor Network Ontario, email [email protected], or visit the website at www.refugeesponsornet.ca.
Teens Learn to Drive
- Teens Learn to Drive (TL2D) is recruiting Ontario high school students for the 2021-22 school year to become Vision Zero Youth Network (VZYN) Ambassadors. If you have teens, nieces, nephews or friends that might be interested, please share this information. The VZYN program is free and has lots of benefits for selected students and their schools. Ambassadors will work with the TL2D Team, police and other partners to close the knowledge gap for young drivers, riders and pedestrians and make Ontario roads safer. The time commitment required is 5 hours per month.
Round 1 of applications close June 1, 2021. Please share this video with high school students: https://youtu.be/ktjC9onfTss
Fun Things To Do
- C-O-N-T-A-C-T: Immerse yourself in this world as you plug into this poetic and cathartic experience. An app created especially for this exciting new show will sweep you away with state-of- the-art 3D sound design as you use your smartphone and headphones to navigate the performance. Yonge-Dundas Square & College Park. April 8 - May 16.
- College-Montrose Children’s Place provides free programs and resources for children 0-6 years old, their parents and caregivers. Virtual programs include play-based learning activities, social time for children and adults, as well as topic specific workshops (nutrition, infant related etc.) One on one support is offered along with information about other community resources. Visit cmcp.ca for more information.
- Family Feud Canada – Auditions: Think your family has what it takes to be in Season 3 of this popular game show? Apply by submitting your virtual audition. April 12 - August 31.
- Garrison Creek Lotuses: This new art installation by Amsterdam-based artists the Verhoeven Twins is nearly complete under the Gardiner Expressway near Bathurst St.
- High Park Cherry Blossoms: Watch the beautiful cherry blossoms bloom in the comfort of your home via the BloomCam livestream. The 24-hour camera will be up and running once peak bloom period begins, which could happen as early as the last week of April this year.
- Merce Cunningham Double Feature: A program on one of the most influential choreographers of the 20th century. Catch on-demand performances from Fall for Dance North’s 2019 event at the Art Gallery of Ontario.Until May 21.
- Mini Art Crawl on Toronto Island: Explore local artists’ works displayed in elevated miniature display cases as you stroll along the island’s cozy streets. Plan your ferry ride and view the map here.
- Music of My Life at The Royal Conservatory: A new free web-based series where stars of the stage and screen discuss music that inspires them. Season One kicks off with Grammy and Emmy winner Eugene Levy, most recently of Schitt’s Creek. RoyalConservatory.Live
- Myseum Intersections: The 6th annual festival is now underway with plenty of exciting virtual events starting with Images of Resistance: An Archive of Action, an exhibit that reflects on the historic 2008-2009 Tamil demonstrations in Toronto, culminating in a blockade of the Gardiner.
- Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival: This 25th anniversary edition launches in May and features a redesigned website with an array of online conversations, audio features, videos and photo essays. More information here.
- Soulpepper’s Around the World in 80 Plays: Audiences are invited on a guided tour of the rich theatrical practices of the world with eight audio dramas celebrating the global ‘canon’, with works from Russia, India, Argentina, Jamaica, Iran, Nigeria, Italy, and Canada. Audiences also receive free companion documentaries from CBC Ideas, and Extend Your Stay recommendations from TIFF, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto International Festival of Authors, and Small World Music. Available now until June 30. Soulpepepr.ca/80Plays
- St. Lawrence Farmers Market: The Saturday Farmers Market returns to Market Street (between The Esplanade and Wilton Street) on Saturday, May 1. The indoor Farmers Market area operates from 5am-3pm and the South (main) Market building is open on Saturdays from 5am-4pm.
- Queen Street Virtual Tours: Riverside BIA (Queen St East) and Queen Street West BIA have teamed up to create three virtual walks highlighting local restaurants, public art, and historical elements of these two beloved Toronto neighbourhoods.
- The H.O.O.D. Virtual Open Mike: Alexandra Park Community Centre presents this series via Zoom entitled W.R.I.T.E.S (Willfully Recording Impactful Thoughts Empowering Spirits) inviting residents interested in rapping, poetry, spoken word or singing. Every Saturday 1-3 pm. For more information email [email protected].
- Toronto Railway Museum at Home: Celebrate International Museum Day on May 18th with this virtual program packed full of activities for train lovers and enthusiasts to enjoy at home, including crossword and jigsaw puzzles, virtual tour guides, scavenger hunts and more.
- Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market: The market will operate May 4 to October 26, 2021, every Tuesday (rain or shine) from 3-7pm. Dundas & Shaw at the northwest end of Trinity Bellwoods Park.