Chris Glover MPP, Spadina–Fort York

Government of Ontario

COVID-19 Update September 25

Published on September 25, 2020

Dear Neighbours,

This week, like thousands of other Ontarians, I stood in line for three hours to get a COVID-19 test. Today I spoke with a neighbour who spent seven hours in line. The government’s decision to ask asymptomatic people not to get tested is not a solution. A robust testing-and-tracing regime is essential to managing the resurgence we are currently experiencing. 

The lines are particularly frustrating in light of the layoff of over 100 nurses because of a lack of funding. Fighting the pandemic must be the first priority for all of us and all levels of government. Investments in healthcare and schools are essential.

The government is taking some measures to address the resurgence. The new limits for gatherings are now 10 indoors and 25 outdoors. These new limits do not apply to restaurants and bars.  

Fifty-two percent of us in Spadina-Fort York live alone, and 45% of us live in buildings that are five or more stories high. Our parks, cafes and restaurant patios are our main outdoor spaces for socializing. Pop-up patios have been a lifeline, not only for local businesses, but for those of us who live in the riding. 

There have also been some innovative outdoor entertainment opportunities. On Thursday, the many event centres were bathed in red light in support of the event industry and its workers which are currently closed. From September 30 to October 3, The Bentway will be hosting a series of off-site visual art displays beginning with the Canada Malting Silos (for details on this and other events, see Fun Things To Do).

  

As always, during this pandemic, we need  to look after each other. The Fort York Food Bank and other food banks have experienced a 200% increase in demand. With Thanksgiving coming soon, it’s important that we contribute to helping others.

Wishing our Jewish community a Happy Sukkot!

Stay well,


Latest Developments

Homelessness Update:

  • The homelessness crisis in our riding and across the city continues to grow. I am working with constituents to put pressure on the provincial government to make sure everyone has housing as winter approaches. If you are interested in joining this group, please email my office cglover-co@ndp.on.ca.

COVID Response:

  • The Ontario government is prohibiting restaurants, bars and other food and drink businesses from selling alcohol after 11:00 pm and ordering all strip clubs to close across the province. The order will go into effect 12:01 am Saturday and will also require food and drink establishments to close by 12:00 am and remain closed until 5:00 am, except for delivery and takeout. Alcohol consumption will also be prohibited at all food and drink businesses across the province between 12:00 am and 9:00 am.

  • A flu immunization campaign is being implemented to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19. Premier Ford said that further details of the plan, titled Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, will be released over the coming days.
  • The Ontario Community Support Program is being extended until March 2021. The program is to assist low-income seniors and people with disabilities, many who are self isolating due to COVID-19, so they can continue to get meals and other essential supplies delivered to their homes in the upcoming winter months.

Schools Update:

  • Education minister Stephen Lecce confirmed he is considering shortening the list of COVID-19 symptoms that require kids to stay home from school. Lecce says he is working with the province’s medical officials to consider possible changes to the list. British Columbia shortened its list earlier this week by removing 10 symptoms, prompting Ontario to review the data behind that decision.
  • The Ontario government’s back-to-school plan is “morally unconscionable” and even dangerous, the province’s teachers’ unions are arguing in an appeal now before the labour relations board. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation noted in its filing that at the time it was writing its appeal, Premier Doug Ford had “just limited social gathering sizes to 10 indoors and 25 outside across the province because COVID-19 cases continue to rise. And yet the (Ministry of Education) has maintained normal indoor class sizes of between 20 and 35 or more across most of Ontario.” The OSSTF also said that student cohorts remain at 100 under the return-to-school guide “even as social bubbles are maintained at 10. In respect of our children and their teachers and other education workers, the Crown offers protection to them which is manifestly less than for the rest of us.
  • The Ontario College of Teachers has issued an urgent “all hands on deck” plea to retired and non-practising educators, in the hopes of alleviating a teacher shortage that has arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic. The province “is currently experiencing a shortage of certified teachers, which has been magnified by smaller class sizes during the pandemic to improve physical distancing and reduce the risks of spreading the COVID-19 virus,” said the college in an email sent to 132,000 members on Wednesday.
  • Asked about why the limits on school classroom sizes will remain the same despite the new private indoor gatherings limits, Premier Ford said comparing a school with cohorts and teacher supervision to a “wild party” is “apples and oranges.” Christine Elliott and Dr. David Williams reiterated the Premier’s comments saying the two situations are “entirely different” because parties are often not monitored regarding COVID-19 regulations unlike in schools. A motion by the Official Opposition to cap class sizes at 15 was blocked by the current government this week.
  • The Toronto District School Board has hired 350 new teachers as it scrambles to meet a rising demand for online learning that has resulted in some students being left without a classroom. It has hired about 350 teachers off its supply list but more will have to be brought on board in the coming days in order to assign classrooms to the thousands of students that have not yet been assigned one.

COVID Testing:

Helping Tenants and Small Business Act:

  • The Ontario government has introduced the Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act that would, if passed, freeze rent in 2021 for most rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled residential units. The legislation also proposes to change the Commercial Tenancies Act to extend the temporary ban on evictions for commercial tenants. This temporary ban would continue to apply to businesses that are eligible for federal-provincial rent assistance through the CECRA for small businesses, but whose landlord chose not to apply for the program.

Federal News:

  • Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister Carla Qualtrough announced the introduction of Bill C-2, to create three new temporary Recovery Benefits to support Canadians who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • The Federal government is finalizing a plan to re-establish flights to regional airports across the country by subsidizing airlines. The final details are still being worked out, but Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly said the idea is for federal departments or agencies to subsidize airlines to launch routes between smaller regional centres and connections to larger cities.
  • Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced that the Government of Canada has signed agreements with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to secure up to 72 million doses of their COVID-19 adjuvanted recombinant protein-based vaccine candidate. Anand also announced that the Government of Canada has signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences and McKesson Canada to secure a supply of up to 150,000 vials of remdesivir, with deliveries beginning this month and continuing into early 2021. Currently, remdesivir is the only known antiviral drug that has been shown to be effective in treating COVID-19 patients. The Government of Canada has also signed two contracts with SiO2 International Inc. to purchase syringes and vials for use in filling up to 80 million doses of vaccine, with deliveries beginning this month.
  • Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam published new national modelling projections for COVID-19 in Canada (slides available to download here). The presentation says, “Canada is at a crossroads and individual action to reduce contact rates will decide our path.” The data suggests that based on recent infections, the number of new cases could rise as high as 155,795 by October 2. The potential number of deaths could be as high as 9,300.

City of Toronto News:

  • To slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Toronto is extending the cancellation of City-led and City-permitted outdoor major events to December 31. The decision is based on public health advice and includes festivals and other large in-person gatherings held at outdoor sites managed by the City.
  • Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has ordered the closure of four hospitality businesses that failed to take necessary precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19. One of the businesses served food buffet-style while others pressured employees to work when they were ill and were uncooperative with Toronto Public Health investigators. Investigators found a “concerning link” among the businesses with many people who contracted COVID-19 having visited more than one of them. There were also instances in which staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 worked at more than one of the locations.
  • The Toronto Board of Health has called on the city’s medical officer to publicly release data on workplace outbreaks to protect “vulnerable populations” disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The motion that passed unanimously on Monday asks Toronto Public Health to publish information on workplaces hit hard by the coronavirus, as it has done for outbreaks at long-term-care homes, shelters and schools. Currently, little is known or shared publicly about workplace outbreaks apart from those settings. Following the board of health’s direction issued Monday, de Villa said the health unit will explore how workplace data can be shared in “a manner that appropriately protects privacy.”
  • Toronto Public Health launched enhancements to the COVID-19 data dashboard. This updated dashboard will provide more detailed information to help residents better understand how this virus is affecting the city.

Alexandra Park Social Development Plan Revitalization Grant:

  • A new grant has opened to support the Social Development Plan for Alexandra Park. This is a joint development effort of the Alexandra Park Community Centre, Toronto Community Housing and the City of Toronto. This grant requires applicants to be involved in the community already, and encourages forging new relationships with Alexandra Park organizations and residents themselves. The applications that qualify will be judged by a panel of residents themselves. The grant total is $75,000/year for two years. Applicants can apply for up to $15,000/year, but are allowed to apply multiple times and for both years for projects that will go into 2022. Deadline for applications close October 13, 2020 at 11:45 pm. Click here for more information.

Food Bank Thanksgiving Drive:

  • Food banks have seen a 200% increase in the rate of new clients accessing food banks in Toronto.  Thanksgiving is usually a time for celebration, camaraderie, family gatherings – and often a time to give back to the community. Please consider making a donation to your local food bank. You can donate to the Fort York Food Bank here: https://fyfb.com/donate/

Construction & Road Closures:

  • Ongoing construction along Union Station rail corridor. This work will take place over the course of one week starting on Saturday, September 12 until Saturday, October 3, overnight from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am.
    • Retaining Wall construction from Spadina Avenue to York Street.
    • Bungalow Foundation construction from Spadina Avenue to York Street.
    • Cable containment from Bathurst Street to York Street.
    • If you have any questions or concerns, please email torontowest@metrolinx.com or call  416-202-6911.
  • To advance the Ontario Line project, Metrolinx will be conducting investigative drilling work on Queen Street West near University Avenue. 
    • Work is scheduled to start September 18, 2020 and last up to six weeks.
    • Work will occur between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am, Sunday to Friday. Specific work times may depend on permits from the City of Toronto.
    • For more information, sign up for the newsletter at metrolinx.com/OntarioLine, email OntarioLine@metrolinx.com or call 416-202-5100.
  • To advance the Ontario Line project, Metrolinx will be conducting investigative drilling work on Vanauley Street near Queen Street West. 
    • Work is scheduled to start September 29, 2020 and last up to three weeks.
    • Work will occur between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, Monday to Friday. Specific work times may depend on permits from the City of Toronto.
    • For more information, sign up for the newsletter at metrolinx.com/OntarioLine, email OntarioLine@metrolinx.com or call 416-202-5100.
  • To advance the Ontario Line project, Metrolinx will be evaluating the underground conditions of the area where the subway will be built. Work is done by using a small drill rig that drills into the ground, collecting soil and rock samples for further testing. 
    • Work is scheduled to start September 10, 2020 and last up to three weeks.
    • Work will occur between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, Monday to Friday. Specific work times may depend on permits from the City of Toronto.
    • For more information, sign up for the newsletter at metrolinx.com/OntarioLine, email OntarioLine@metrolinx.com or call 416-202-5100.
  • Update on construction on Bathurst Street between Fort York Blvd. and Dundas St. W.
    • TTC track replacement work will run September 21 to October 30, south of Dundas St. W. This will impact traffic and parking on Bathurst from Wolseley St. to Dundas St. W.
    • Bathurst Street will be closed to ALL southbound traffic at Dundas St. W.
    • One lane of northbound traffic ONLY will be maintained between Queen St. W. and Dundas St. W. in the southbound curb lane (west side). 
    • No access to Eden Place and Carr Street (east of Bathurst St.), or driveways along the east side of Bathurst St. Affected properties will receive additional information.
    • TTC will likely store track materials inside Wolseley Loop.
    • Sidewalks on both sides of Bathurst Street will remain open.
    • Watermain replacement work from Front St. W. to Queen St. W. is ahead of schedule and expected to be complete in October.
    • Bridge rehabilitation work from Fort York Blvd. to Front St. W. and Bathurst Street will continue to be closed to all vehicles until January 2021. 
    • For more information, call 416-392-3074 or email downtownconstructionprojects@toronto.ca.

Fun Things To Do

  • Bike Month 2020: Bike Month is an opportunity for people to try riding a bike for the first time, learn new skills, or simply have fun and connect with new people. It’s taking the time to rekindle the youthful magic of exploring your neighbourhood by bike or share that joy with the next generation of bike riders.
  • Ontario Place: Enjoy great comedy, live music and feature films on a 60-foot screen in a safe and family-friendly setting at the water’s edge of Ontario Place. 955 Lake Shore Blvd. W.
    • Toronto Shines will present the best in live entertainment, comedy and current and classic films. It is running now through October 31.
  • Nuit Blanche: Toronto’s free all-night contemporary art event, Nuit Blanche, will move online this year with expanded digital content and special online events. The theme, The Space Between Us, will focus on the connections across urban, polar and pacific landscapes revealing the space between us as a potential site for sharing knowledge. October 3, 7:00 pm to 7:00 am.
  • StrollTO: Toronto residents can participate in StrollTO, part of the City of Toronto’s ShowLoveTO initiative. StrollTO will feature self-guided itineraries for each of the City’s 25 wards to encourage residents to actively discover shops, stops, places and spaces on their local main streets. Click here for more information.
  • The Essentials: As part of the City of Toronto’s BigArtTO initiative, The Bentway presents a series of offsite, artist-led digital projections along the waterfront this fall. The Essentials invites Toronto artists to reflect on that which is “essential” now, reaffirming priorities and commitments for the post-COVID city. In partnership with the Waterfront BIA, the first installment of The Essentials shows next week at the Canada Malting Silos (foot of Bathurst Street next to Billy Bishop), September 30 to October 3, 8:00-:00 pm nightly.
  • Toronto Symphony Orchestra: Experience the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in an entirely new way this October—live from the comfort of your own car—with the TSO at the Drive-In series performed at CityView Drive-In, located at 20 Polson St. in Toronto. Rev your engines to ragtime favourites on October 7, see how your all-weather tires handle The Four Seasons on October 16, and slide open that sunroof to soak in the sounds of the legendary divas of soul on October 17. 

Reaching Out

Birthday & Anniversary Greetings:

  • My office sends out congratulatory scrolls to people across the riding to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones! If you have a birthday coming up in the family and you would like to request a scroll, please email us at CGlover-CO@ndp.on.ca.

Calling Local Artists:

  • If you are a local artist, we would love to share your work with the community by publishing it in my newsletter and on this website. If you’re interested in sharing your art, please email us at CGlover-CO@ndp.on.ca. Art submitted must be accompanied by a short description (50 words or less). Thank you for sharing your work with us and our community.