Over the weekend we hit a number of horrible COVID-19 milestones. There have been more than 350,000 confirmed COVID cases in Ontario and a total of more than 1 million cases across Canada.
Our ICUs across the province are at capacity, and health workers are seeing younger and younger people filling each bed. The variants are more contagious and more deadly, resulting in residents being twice as likely to be hospitalized. These tragic milestones were preventable had the Premier taken swift, consistent, and decisive policy action to help stop the spread of transmission.
Late last week, the Premier announced another province-wide 28-day lockdown to respond to record-breaking increases in case counts. This renewed “shutdown” comes one week after restrictions were loosened in Toronto, opening patios and increasing store occupancy.
We’re repeatedly asked to balance the lives of residents with the health of the economy. I want everyone to remember that Toronto has been in some form of lockdown since the end of November, yet with the new variants of concern and failures to enact robust public health measures, Toronto is seeing some of the highest numbers of new cases since the pandemic began. There are workplace outbreaks across the city, and instead of directly addressing these situations with robust policy and public health framework, the Premier leaves them scrambling.
Today it was announced that the TDSB will be closing all schools and moving to online learning beginning tomorrow. My heart goes out to teachers and parents who have been constantly adapting between remote and in-class learning. I know the struggle of balancing child care with two working parents at home, and it is not easy. I cannot imagine how tired teachers and educators must be seeing the rising case counts all while teaching hundreds of children daily. I am grateful for your sacrifice and your tireless work.
Not taking decisive action to limit rising case numbers is also hurting our small businesses, who are struggling to adapt to constantly changing regulations. One week after patios were allowed to open, Toronto’s bars restaurants are back to only takeout and delivery. Fitness centers and hair salons were busy preparing to re-open only to have their plans put on hold. As small retailers close for curbside pick up, big box stores like Walmart and Ikea are permitted to remain open with limited capacity. Over the weekend, hundreds flocked to Yorkdale shopping mall, sparking outrage at the disproportionate impact these restrictions are having on our small business community. Medical professionals and experts are warning that the Province’s current strategy doesn’t do enough to save lives and prevent a collapse of our healthcare system.
Toronto Public Health, the Board of Health, and City Council have repeatedly called on the Province to instate a robust paid sick leave program. This would offer a social safety net for low-wage, precariously employed essential workers who feel pressure to go to work when they’re feeling ill. The Premier cannot continue to force these workers to choose between putting food on their table or staying home when they’re sick.
Ford said that he is throwing “everything we’ve got” to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We know that is a lie. He cannot rely on individual action and guesswork. We have the data. We have expert advice from health advocates. We know what works.
Over the weekend, Dr de Villa joined her colleagues in Ottawa and Peel requesting an immediate province-wide stay-at-home order, and to enact further public health restrictions including remote learning, paid sick leave, and restricting travel between regions across Ontario. I wish I could say that this wasn’t expected in yet another cycle of premature loosening of public health restrictions. Ford has never had the pandemic under control. At every turn, he’s been guessing and placating to his big business friends.
At the City, we are working hard to quickly roll out our immunization strategy to limit the impacts of COVID-19. We are exploring options to quickly immunize high-risk workplaces, and homebound seniors through mobile vaccination clinics. Currently, the City of Toronto’s Mass Immunization clinics are accepting vaccine bookings for anyone over the age of 60, including residents who turn 60 later in 2021. You can book your appointment online or by calling 1-888-999-6488. Pharmacies across the city are accepting bookings for anyone 55 years or older and you can search your nearest pharmacy here and remember that you will also have to contact the pharmacy directly to book your appointment.
Hospitals are accepting vaccine bookings for residents 50 and older at the following high-risk postal codes (regardless of medical history) in Ward 13, Toronto - Centre:
- St Michael’s Hospital: M4X, M5A
- Englemount-Lawrence Vaccination Clinic: M4X, M5A
If you fall under the following categories, you can also book an appointment to receive your vaccine:
- Frontline health care workers
- Residents, staff, and essential caregivers in retirement homes, long-term care homes, and assisted living
- First Nations, Metis, or Inuit adults (16 years or older)
- Adults receiving chronic at-home care (will receive a letter if eligible)
- Faith leaders
- Transplant recipients and those receiving active cancer treatment (excluding those receiving solely hormonal or radiation therapy)
Individuals with the following health conditions:
- Neurological diseases where your breathing may be compromised
- Blood or bone marrow cancer diagnosed in the past year
- Very severe kidney disease
- Obesity, with a body mass index of greater than 40
- Other treatments causing immunosuppression
- People living with intellectual or development disabilities.
Most hospitals are offering aged-based appointments to those 60 years or older. You can book at www.vaccineto.ca/sites or by calling 1-888-385-1910. I know the vaccine rollout has been confusing for many and rapidly evolving. My team and I are continuing to try and deliver this information as succinctly as possible to keep you informed.
Please continue to only leave for your home for essential trips, practice physical distancing and if you are able, wear a mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Protect First Parliament Town Hall
First Parliament Town Hall promotional graphic
The historic First Parliament site is a nationally significant parcel of land that saw the formation and governance of Upper Canada, the beginning of a united country, and the industrial growth of Toronto. The First Parliament lands are located in downtown Toronto at the intersection of Front and Parliament Streets. It is a full city block, bounded on the west by Berkeley Street and on the south by Parliament Square Park.
The City of Toronto and CreateTO, in consultation with the local community, have been undergoing a master plan process to help protect, preserve and support community priorities for this civic site. Learn more about Canada’s First Parliament site here.
With the current proposal, the Ontario Line will intersect with Canada’s First Parliament site. As a Master Plan process has already been underway, it is critical that we coordinate and collaborate to expedite transit while supporting building complete communities.
On April 15, join Councillor Wong-Tam for Protect First Parliament, a town hall with special guests from Metrolinx, City Planning, CreateTO, City Planning, and Transit Expansion Office for presentations followed by Q & A. Residents will have the opportunity to submit questions in advance as well as over the course of the meeting.
When: Thursday, April 15, 2021
Time: 6:00 p.m. to 8: 00 p.m.
Where: Zoom, registrants will receive a link to join.
Community Corner in Ward 13
Councillor Wong-Tam, MPP Morrison, and Meals on Wheels volunteers posing for a photo
From March 22 to March 26 was Meals’ Community Champions Week! Ontario Meals on Wheels programs welcomed prominent community members to help support the program and give a voice to seniors and people living with disabilities; to help raise awareness for their needs, and to share the power and importance of Meals on Wheels.
I was thrilled to participate alongside local MPP Suze Morrison as we helped to deliver meals to Meals on Wheels clients in the neighbourhood. With just a skeleton crew of staff and volunteers, Dixon Hall saw 73,000 meals delivered from March 2020- March 2021, a 30% increase since last year!
Councillor Wong-Tam participating in a Dixon Hall food delivery
Dixon Hall’s Meals on Wheels program provides a variety of nutritious food options that are delivered to clients’ homes by friendly, caring volunteers. They can accommodate a number of special diets, and offer a variety of different meal options at affordable prices for low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities.
Community Care in Ward 13
BeADonor information graphic
April is BeADonor Month in Ontario. This is a month dedicated to raising awareness and encouraging registration for organ and tissue donation in order to save more lives through transplant.
This past year, COVID-19 has had a profound effect on all aspects of our lives. Donation and transplant are essential and life-saving and as such have continued through the pandemic; however, the need for transplant continues to exceed the availability of organs. Right now, there are almost 1,600 Ontarians waiting for a transplant.
Since April 1, 2020, registrations for organ and tissue donation in Ontario have decreased more than 50% vs the same time a year ago, largely due to the decline of in-person visits to ServiceOntario centres during the pandemic. I encourage you to register online at BeADonor.ca and become a donor today.
COVID-19: Vaccine Information
For updates about Toronto’s vaccination rollout and booking system, please visit my website.
Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic by phone through the provincial call centre, 1-888-999-6488.
Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic online at www.toronto.ca/covid-19. For online bookings, you will need:
- Information found on your Government of Ontario photo health card;
- Postal code; and
- Email address or phone number.
The provincial system will verify your eligibility to book an appointment for vaccination based on this information and will then guide you to the scheduling system.
Please do not call 311 or Toronto Public Health to book an appointment. The City 311 contact centre and Toronto Public Health staff do not have access to the booking system.
COVID-19: Ongoing Tips to Reduce Virus Spread
As we begin to again restrengthen our public health measures, we will all continue to live in this new normal. Wearing a mask or a face covering is mandatory in all public indoor spaces and on the TTC. Our commitment must be to continue minimizing the impact of COVID-19, especially on our most vulnerable residents, while reducing negative social, economic, and broader health impacts on our community. In the coming months what this means for our residents is:
- Continuing to work remotely, wherever possible;
- Maintaining physical distance from people outside our household or social circle/bubble;
- Avoiding crowds and congregations in closed indoor settings;
- Wearing a cloth mask or face covering in any public indoor setting, including stores, transit, offices; and where
- physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
- Staying home whenever we are sick for any reason.
Face Masks and Coverings Offer Best Protection
Image description: Informational graphic from Toronto Public Health titled, "Face Masks & Coverings Offer Best Protection." Through visual examples, the graphic shows recommended and not recommended ways of wearing a mask. The recommended way for wearing a mask says, "should cover your nose, mouth, and chin without gaping." The following are not recommended: face shields, masks with exhalation valves, or clear plastic masks.
How to Safely Wear a Mask
Image description: Toronto Public Health infographic about how to safely wear a mask. Information on the infographic is listed below.
- Do wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off
- Do make sure it fits to cover your mouth and nose
- Do wash your cloth mask in the laundry
- Do clean surfaces that a dirty mask touches
- Don’t touch your face or mask while using it
- Don’t use masks on children under 2 or those who can’t breathe with them on
- Don’t share your mask with others
- Don’t wear medical masks, keep them for health care workers
- The best protection is to stay home, keep a 6-foot distance, and wash hands often.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
The spread of COVID-19 has never been greater in Toronto, with variants of concern increasing both the risk of transmission and the risk of serious illness or death. Stronger public health measures are required to reverse the surge of infection that the province currently faces.
The City of Toronto opened its sixth City-operated COVID-19 immunization clinic at The Hangar in North York to vaccinate eligible residents age 60 years or older who have confirmed vaccination appointments.
City of Toronto Launches Advertising Campaign in Multiple Languages Urging Residents to Get Vaccinated
The City of Toronto is launching a multilingual public education campaign next week to urge residents to get vaccinated when it’s their turn.
The City of Toronto has expanded COVID-19 vaccine availability to individuals born in 1961 and earlier. Torontonians aged 60 or older are now eligible to make vaccination appointments online or by phone for City-run COVID-19 immunization clinics and some health partner clinics. Appointments at some City-run clinics are still available for today and throughout this holiday weekend.
Since the start of the pandemic, the City of Toronto has been a leader in protecting people experiencing homelessness. It has implemented numerous safety measures in the shelter system to protect people, including opening more than 25 shelter locations to create physical distancing, infection prevention and control measures, mandatory mask-wearing in all common areas, testing, and a focus on permanent housing.
The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. Today, the Province of Ontario announced the entire province will move into the Shutdown Zone under the provincial COVID-19 response framework at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, April 3.
Toronto Marks Milestone of More than Half a Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Administered in the City to Date
The City is working with all our healthcare partners, pharmacies, and Toronto Public Health to administer all available COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 512,484 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto. The City is the first health region in the Province of Ontario to administer more than 500,000 doses.
Mayor John Tory announced that the City of Toronto, in partnership with the Governments of Canada and Ontario, has helped bring a new vaccine manufacturing facility to Toronto. The new Sanofi facility will be located on their existing site at 1755 Steeles Ave. W. in North York.
City of Toronto Receives Environmental Finance Bond Award for Inaugural Social Bond, a First in Canada’s Public Sector
The City of Toronto has been awarded “Social Bond of the Year – Local Authority/Municipality” at the 2021 Environmental Finance Bond Awards for the issuance of the City’s inaugural social bond last year. The award marks the City as a leader in the green, social and sustainability bond and loan market.
City of Toronto Partners with Black, South Asian, and Persons with Disabilities Organizations to Support the Vaccine Campaign
Mayor John Tory announced $370,000 of funding for community agencies in response to the need for support in communities that are at higher risk for COVID-19, experience vaccine hesitancy or face other barriers to accessing a COVID-19 vaccine.
City of Toronto Announces Portion of College Street Will be Closed for up to Eight Weeks for Emergency Repair Work
The City of Toronto announced that College Street, between McCaul Street and Huron Street, will be fully closed for up to eight weeks as crews perform emergency repairs to the sewer under the roadway.
Province of Ontario Updates
The Ontario government is extending booking for COVID-19 vaccination appointments to more age groups through its provincial booking system in 10 public health units on Friday, April 2, 2021.
The Ontario government is investing $12.5 million over three years to strengthen the mental health services available to Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and their families. The funding will support the hiring of 20 additional mental-health support staff and enhance the OPP's Healthy Workplace initiative to address issues of mental health and occupational stress injuries. This investment is part of the 2021 Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economy.
The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is imposing a province-wide emergency brake as a result of an alarming surge in case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province. The province-wide emergency brake will be effective Saturday, April 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and the government intends to keep this in place for at least four weeks.
The Ontario government is partnering with the federal government, the City of Toronto, and Sanofi, a leading global biopharmaceutical and vaccines company, to expand its Ontario facility to meet the growing demand for flu vaccines, boost Canada's preparedness for future pandemics and create 300 high-quality jobs.
The Ontario government is providing parents with $980 million in direct support as part of the Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit. Under this new round of funding, payments will be doubled to $400 per child and $500 for a child with special needs to help offset additional learning costs. This investment is part of the 2021 Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economy.
Government of Canada Updates
Minister Gould Participates in Global Gathering for Gender Equality and Reaffirms Support for Women’s Rights Organizations
The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified systemic and long-standing inequalities, with women and girls disproportionately affected by the crisis. Bold action is needed to renew momentum and accelerate progress on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity.
Canada to Press for Continued Coordinated COVID-19 Support at the G7, G20 and Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank
Canada to press for continued coordinated COVID-19 support at the G7, G20, and Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.
COVID-19 Information and Resources
Now is the time to stay informed through credible sources, and to follow the advice of our public health professionals. Together we can limit the spread of COVID-19.
Phone lines for telehealth, TPH and 311 continue to experience very high volumes. Please help keep the phones lines open for people who are sick by visiting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19
Call if you develop symptoms!
Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Email: [email protected]
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services, or to report people
Telephone: 311 (The City is only accepting 311 requests through phone)
Support for People Living with Homelessness
If you see someone living with homelessness and in need of support you can call Streets to Homes at 416-338-4766. For mental health support, the Gerstein Crisis Centre is a valuable 24-hours a day, seven days a week service in our community and they have crisis workers on standby at 416-929-5200. More resources, including additional how to report information, are available on my website at kristynwongtam.ca.
If you or someone else is confronted with life-threatening danger, please call 911 immediately. Alternatively, the Toronto Police request that online reports be submitted at torontopolice.on.ca/core or to torontopolice.on.ca/community-complaints. You can also call their non-emergency line at 416-808-2222.