Among other restrictions, non-essential businesses such as salons and gyms will be closed while restaurants are open for takeout, drive-through or delivery only, and malls will only allow curb-side pickup. Schools, child-care centres and before/after-school programs will remain open and post-secondary schools will continue with virtual learning.
The Government also said there will be a $600 million fund for businesses affected by the lockdown to cover fixed-costs such as property taxes etc. Businesses can apply for support on Monday through the following website, and money will begin to be distributed next week. While this is welcome news, the lack of government supports has meant that many main street businesses have already closed and those remaining need significant supports to survive.
Another lockdown is not the news that any of us want. But Adalsteinn Brown co-chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says that without drastic action, our current trajectory means Ontario will have 6500 cases a day by mid-December, our hospitals will have to cancel non-COVID related surgeries and tests and there will be more deaths in long-term care homes.
In Spadina-Fort York, lockdowns are particularly difficult. Most of us live in condos, and 52% of us live alone. The outdoor patios and parks are our backyards. We can go outside for exercise, so long as we physically distance.
As with the lockdown last spring, we need to support each other to get through this. I urge you to buy from local stores for curbside pick-up rather than online corporate retailers in order to support our local business community.
We also need to move our social activities online. In my building, I started a social committee that during the last lockdown had a Friday night trivia match, a 5 minute #togetherwecandoit pots and pans campaign on Friday evenings at 7, a book club and a parents’ club.
Some of Canada’s most incredible arts and culture attractions are in Spadina-Fort York. Don't miss the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which will be hosting the Messiah online, the European Union Film Festival, and the drive-through Van Gogh exhibit. We will provide more physically-distanced activity suggestions in our next update.
We will get through this by supporting each other. If you need assistance, please reach out to my office. We are here to help.
As always, it is an honour to serve you,
Community Town Hall
Thank you to everyone who joined the virtual discussion on Monday, November 2 with Olivia Chow. Most of the conversation focused on the issue of homelessness. Listen to the recording here.
COVID-19 Response Framework:
In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, the Ontario government has developed the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. The new framework is based on five categories that all correspond to a colour:
Prevent (Green): Broadest allowance of activities in Stage 3
Protect (Yellow): Enhanced targeted enforcement, fines, and enhanced education to limit further transmission
Restrict (Orange): Enhanced measures, restrictions, and enforcement avoiding any closures
Control (Red): Restrictions are the most severe available before wide-scale business or organizational closure (return to Modified Stage 2)
Lockdown (Grey): Return to modified Stage 1 or pre-Stage 1
The information and data will be posted online for the public to consult at any time. Decisions about specific public health units would be made on a 28-day basis.
- As of November 7, 2020, the province will transition public health unit regions to the new framework. The following proposed classifications for public health unit regions are based on data for the week of October 26, 2020. Updated data will be used for final review by the Chief Medical Officer of Health and approval by Cabinet on Friday, November 6, 2020.
Lockdown: No public health unit regions
Red-Control: No public health unit regions
Orange-Restrict: Eastern Ontario Health Unit; Ottawa Public Health; Peel Public Health; Toronto Public Health (may be delayed in entering Orange-Restrict level until November 14, 2020); and York Region Public Health.
Yellow-Protect: Brant County Health Unit; City of Hamilton Public Health Services; Durham Region Health Department; and Halton Region Public Health.
All other public health units in Ontario are classified Green-Prevent.
- A grade of “orange” means a return to rules similar to those in place from mid-July until mid-October: indoor dining can resume at restaurants, but certain restrictions, such as limited seating capacity and a 10:00 p.m. closing time, will remain in place. Gyms, movie theatres and performing arts venues will also be allowed to reopen under certain restrictions. Toronto is expected to enter this stage on Saturday, November 14.
- Enhancements are also being made to Ontario.ca/coronavirus. Information about the spread of the virus, and public health and health system capacity will now be available on the website. This includes local cases by public health unit regions, the total number of cases, resolved cases, deaths, and tests completed and how many are positive.
- Finance Minister Rod Phillips released the 2020 Ontario Budget — Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. Ontario's Action Plan sets out a total of $45 billion in support over three years to make available the necessary health resources to protect people, deliver critical programs and tax measures to support individuals, families and job creators impacted by the virus.
- Here’s a link to my tweet with a quick recap of what’s missing in the budget.
Ministerial Zoning Orders:
- Constituents have contacted me with frustration about the province’s Ministerial Zoning Order that pushed through three condos in the West Don Lands overruling the local planning process and local community consultation. Additional cause for concern is the revelation that these developers paid $25,000 to the Government’s Party. MPP Suze Morrison and I have raised this issue in the legislature, and I have created a petition that you can sign to add your voice.
- The Ontario government is making $300 million available to businesses required to close or significantly restrict services in areas subject to modified Stage 2 public health restrictions (Ottawa, Peel, Toronto, and York Region) or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown. Rebates will cover the period of time that businesses are required to temporarily close or significantly restrict services as a result of being located in areas subject to the targeted modified Stage 2 public health restrictions or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown. The property tax rebates will be net of any federal support in respect of property taxes provided through the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), so that the rebate will cover costs beyond those covered by CERS. Beginning November 16, 2020, eligible businesses will be able to apply for temporary property tax and energy cost rebates directly to the province through a single, online application portal. Many businesses should expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of finalizing and submitting their completed application. Eligible businesses include restaurants, bars, gyms and cinemas.
- NDP Leader Andrea Horwath vowed to keep fighting for direct support for struggling small businesses that have almost no hope of accessing the support promised which is only available to small businesses located in areas that are in the new red or black zones, or returned to modified Stage 2.
- Bag of Toronto is a unique way to support local businesses. Each bag contains an assortment of products from businesses located in five areas of the city, two in our riding: Ossington BIA and Queen West BIA. A portion of the profits and all tips will support local charities in each neighbourhood.
Grants for Non-Profits:
Through the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s (OTF) Resilient Communities Fund, eligible non-profit organizations can apply for a grant for capital and non-capital activities to:
- aid their medium to longer-term recovery efforts
- help with their stabilization
- build their capacity and resiliency in the aftermath of COVID-19
Deadline is Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. ET.
For more information, contact OTF’s Support Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-263-2887.
Flu Shot Shortage:
- The Rexall chain of pharmacies has “temporarily paused” flu shot vaccinations amid supply issues. In a statement provided to CP24 on Monday, Rexall said that it has “communicated to customers and patients that flu shots have been temporarily paused due to supply issues.” The pharmacy chain says that while “all efforts” are being made to secure additional dosages “promptly” vaccine supply is ultimately “determined and allocated by the provincial Ministry of Health.” Loblaw’s refused to say whether flu shots were still being offered at participating Shoppers Drug Mart locations but did concede that there has been a “high demand for flu shots” and that the company was “working closely with our public health partners to get in vaccinations as quickly as we can.”
- When asked about the issue, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is dealing with increased demand but that Ontario’s pharmacies knew what they were getting into months prior. “The shots are still coming in, however, the pharmacies knew from the beginning how many shots in total they would be allocated. The appointments were booked in excess of the allocation they were to receive. That’s one fact that we are dealing with. But we’re also dealing with the incredible number of people that want to receive the flu shot. This is unlike anything that we have ever seen in Ontario’s history.”
- As demand for flu shots appears to be up across the country, the Public Health Agency of Canada is working with suppliers to order more doses — a feat that could prove more difficult than it sounds. An official from the federal agency said production of flu vaccine is usually finished by the end of October. Canada can only find additional doses from other countries that ordered more than they can use, or possibly from suppliers who produced more doses per batch than expected. It will not be until later this month, or early in December, that the agency will know if more doses can be found.
Schools & Universities Update:
- The province will allow local trustees to decide what form of schooling is safe for Ontario’s two million elementary and secondary students as we head into a long, uncertain coronavirus winter. Decisions about whether schools will operate full-time, part-time or close in favour of online education at home will be left up to local school boards acting on the advice of their medical officers of health, according to Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s office.
- Education critic Marit Stiles asked the government when it will stop doing the bare minimum and include in its budget, real investments to address the growing COVID-19 outbreaks and staff shortages that school boards like the French-language Conseil scolaire Viamonde are experiencing. Viamonde is facing such intense staffing shortages—a problem that both predates the pandemic and has been exacerbated by it—that it’s written to parents asking them to apply to fill the jobs of custodians, clerks, and educational assistants.
- Canada Christian College is a religious school in Ontario that has applied for the ability to confer arts and science degrees in Ontario. The owner Charles McVety is well known for his support of Doug Ford, his anti-science views, and his homophobic and anti-Islamic statements. I believe any college or university with the ability to grant academic degrees should follow the Ontario Human Rights code and Canadian Charter of Rights. From questionable academic integrity and credentials, to murky finances and a lack of a transparent process, there are many concerns the NDP and I have raised about this application. Watch my statement in the legislature here as I call on all members of the Legislative Assembly to oppose this application.
- Canada has quietly revised its guidelines on how COVID-19 spreads to include the risk of aerosol transmission, weeks after other countries and international health organizations acknowledged the airborne threat of the coronavirus. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) updated its guidance without notice this week, making mention of the risk of transmission from aerosols — or microscopic airborne particles — for the first time.
- Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Tuesday that she now recommends Canadians wear three-layer face coverings instead of masks with two layers. Asked whether the province would update its guidelines to match Tam's recommendation, Health Minister Christine Elliott said there's no plan to do so at this time. Elliott said while doctors have different ideas about what people should be doing, Ontario is listening to its Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.
- In an Ontario lab, scientists are assembling a Canadian-made and approved rapid test for COVID-19 that requires no refrigeration and provides results in an hour. Called Triplelock Test Strips, the rapid test received Health Canada approval this week for use across the country. In Thunder Bay, Ont., a health and safety company has become among the first to use it, testing workers and employees in Ontario’s northern communities.