I want to ensure you are receiving up to date information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in the City of Toronto. I know many of you are concerned, so I will be updating you regularly – please sign up for my email list if you are not already on it.
Please monitor the Toronto Public Health website at https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/ for the latest information, resources and facts.
Councillor Fletcher’s COVID-19 Updates
City of Toronto Taking Further Action
The City is taking further action to aggressively halt the spread of COVID-19 in Toronto. We have seen the numbers increasing the past few weeks.
To slow down and ultimately stop the spread of COVID 19, save lives, protect the healthcare system and ensure the economy and society can rebound more quickly, the following measures will take effect April 1, 2020 for up to 12 weeks:
– All individuals with COVID-19 are ordered by the Medical Officer of Health to stay home, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act for 14 days
– All individuals who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are also ordered to stay home by the Medical Officer of Health for 14 days
– Anyone who is not ill or has not travelled, is strongly directed to stay home except for the following reasons:
- accessing healthcare or medication
- shop for groceries once per week
- walk their dogs
- get daily exercise while maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres
– People returning from international travel must stay home, already a federal order
– Anyone over the age of 70, as the province announced this week, is strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible
– Increased supports for self-isolation for those experiencing homelessness
– Only essential businesses remain open, and those businesses must maximize physical distancing and infection prevention and control practices, and limit in-person access to those businesses, as much as possible
– Increased cleaning and active screening of employees at all businesses.
On April 2, 2020 the Mayor signed an emergency order regulating physical distancing in City of Toronto parks and public squares. Any two people who don’t live together, who fail to keep two metres of distance between them in a park or public square, will be subject to prosecution and will be liable for a fine of up to $5,000 upon conviction. The City has asked the Chief Justice of the Province of Ontario to issue a set fine for this offence.
Expect to see increased enforcement of orders and laws designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
A COVID-19 Enforcement Team of 200 Municipal Bylaw Enforcement Officers, 10 Toronto Public Health Bylaw Officers, plus the resources of the Toronto Police Service will enforce the new physical distancing bylaw, provincial orders banning organized social gatherings of more than five people, bans on using closed playgrounds and other parks amenities, and the closure orders on non-essential businesses that remain open.
The enforcement team will be responding to complaints and proactively patrolling parks and other public spaces, all in an effort to ensure public understanding of the need to limit social interactions.
Click here to read the April 2nd news release from the City.
Mayor Tory has Declared a State of Emergency
On March 23, 2020 Mayor Tory declared a State of Emergency in the City of Toronto after receiving advice from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Office of Emergency Management.
The City is not taking this situation lightly and is taking strict measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. Declaring an emergency will ensure the City can continue to act and respond quickly to the pandemic and any other events that arise in the weeks ahead.
Click here to read the City’s news release.
Physical Distancing – Stay Home When Possible
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health is urging physical distancing as a way to minimize COVID-19 transmission in the community. Physical distancing means limiting the number of people you come into close contact with. Measures include:
- keeping 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others
- avoiding mass gatherings
- avoiding crowds
Toronto Public Health is encouraging residents to stay home, when possible, and reduce interactions with others. If we want to be successful in protecting ourselves, our families and our community against this virus, we have to take physical distancing even more seriously. Click here to learn more.
- Do not make multiple trips to the grocery store
- Do not have friends over for dinner parties
- Do not arrange play dates for children
- Do not congregate in playgrounds or dog parks
I know this is a difficult period for all of us and self-isolation can be hard both physically and mentally. While it’s important we stay physically away from each other, there are things you can do to stay connected:
- Call your neighbour to see how they’re doing
- Use programs like Skype, FaceTime or Zoom to video call your friends or family
- Set up a virtual games night or movie watching party
- Only go out when you need to and practice physical distancing (take a walk)
Based on recommendations from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, to help slow the rate of COVID-19 infection in Toronto and protect vulnerable populations, the City of Toronto has cancelled most City-operated programs and closed a number of City facilities. All City buildings, including City Hall, Metro Hall and all civic centres are closed to the public. Services and facility operations are tentatively scheduled to resume Sunday, April 5, 2020. Click here for or further information.
Based on advice from Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the experts at the COVID-19 Command Table, the Minister of Education has issued a Ministerial Order to close all publicly funded schools in Ontario for two weeks following March break (until April 5), in response to the emergence in Ontario of COVID-19. This order was approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Click here to learn more.
On March 17, 2020 the province declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19. The province has ordered the following establishments to close:
- all bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout and food delivery
- all facilities providing indoor recreational programs
- all public libraries
- all private schools
- all licensed child care centres
- all movie cinemas
- all theatres, including those offering live performances of music, dance and other art forms
- all concert venues
Grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses are not affected. Those vital for day to day life will remain open. Click here to read the province’s news release.
The Ontario Government has ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces effective as of Tuesday, March 24th at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of an extension as the situation evolves. Click here for the full list of essential workplaces.
The province has launched a toll-free line to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment. Please call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659. Click here for further information.
Park and Playground Closures
City of Toronto announced on March 25, 2020 that all City-owned playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor exercise equipment and other parks amenities, as well as parking lots attached to its parks system, will be closed effective immediately, in the City’s continuing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Signage has been erected across Toronto’s parks amenities to advise of closures, including playgrounds. Where fencing or gates exists, they have been locked. Unfenced playground structures have been signed and taped off. Parks green spaces will remain accessible, but all amenities within City parks will be closed.
Parks are open for walking, cycling and running. While in a park, we must not use park amenities or congregate in groups. Dogs can be taken into parks on a leash.
City staff together with the Toronto Police Service are prioritizing the patrol of hot spot parks. While education is the first line of enforcement, the fines range between $750 to a maximum of $5,000. City staff are re-installing signage, locks and caution tape at parks where these have been removed. Additionally, the City’s Parks Ambassadors have begun a downtown hot spot education blitz and electronic portable signs will display messages near some busy parks.
Closed City park amenities include:
- Sports fields
- Basketball and tennis courts
- Off-leash dog parks
- Skateboard and BMX parks
- Picnic areas
- Outdoor exercise equipment
- Greenhouses, nurseries and conservatories
- Zoos and farms
- Parking lots
- Frisbee golf locations
- Allotment and community gardens
- Park washrooms/shelters
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) will also be closing all playgrounds and other amenities, including sports fields and basketball and tennis courts, on school board property until further notice. The Board will be posting signs and taping off all playgrounds and asks the public to please avoid use until further notice. Where fencing or gates exist around structures, they will be locked.
The Tommy Thompson Park Nature Centre and parking lot are closed. Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) has closed this facility to protect visitors, staff and all other attendants, from the potential risk of contracting COVID-19. Trails remain open for social distanced passive use and can be accessed from the entrance located off Outer Harbour Marina Rd. Be aware all maintenance operations have been suspended, and visitors use the trails at their own risk. Tommy Thompson Park is a significant wildlife area and as such there is a strict no dogs / no pets policy. On duty service animals that are properly identified are permitted within the park, however may be excluded from certain sensitive areas if alternatives are provided. There are no other exceptions.
Large Gatherings and Events
The the Government of Ontario announced on March 17, 2020 that it is taking decisive action by making an order declaring an emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. In doing so, Ontario is using every power possible to continue to protect the health and safety of all individuals and families.
On March 28, 2020 the Ontario government issued a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to prohibit organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people, effective immediately. Read the full statement online here: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/ontario-prohibits-gatherings-of-five-people-or-more-with-strict-exceptions
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in response to the recent provincial emergency order to prohibit organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people, the City of Toronto will cancel all City-led major mass participation events, festivals, conferences and cultural programs, and all City permits for major mass participation events organized by external groups at civic centres and squares, parks, public spaces (including road closures), City-operated museums and cultural centres through June 30. Click here to read the news release.
TTC is now allowing back door boarding on buses. This change has been made to allow for further social distancing. You may also notice some TTC employees wearing masks. This does not mean they are sick or that our system is unsafe. Starting today, TTC employees will be allowed to wear masks if they choose to. Please continue to treat our employees and your fellow commuters with respect during your journey.
Click here to check the TTC’s website for further details and updates.
I’ve heard from residents with concerns about parking enforcement given the current COVID-19 situation. I’ve advocated for changes and I’d like to share that the Toronto Police Service is making adjustments to parking enforcement effective immediately.
Until further notice, parking enforcement has been suspended for the following offences:
- On-Street Permit Parking Areas
- On-Street Time Limit Offences such a 1, 2 and 3 Hour Parking
- North York Winter Maintenance Bylaw
- Expired Vehicle Validation License Plates
- Boulevard Parking
- School Zones with posted No Stopping/No Standing/No Parking Signage
The above parking offences may be enforced in exceptional circumstances where a significant traffic safety, and/or of community concern exists. Parking Enforcement Officers will continue to have discretion to use enforcement tools as necessary to ensure the safe and orderly movement of vehicles in the city.
All other parking offences will continue to be enforced. This includes no stopping, no standing and no parking offences, rush hour routes and also pay and display/metered areas where payment is required. This is to ensure an adequate level of street parking, traffic flow, and maintain traffic and pedestrian safety.
Groups Offering Assistance
I’ve been reaching out to community members and wanted to share with you the groups I’ve heard about who are offering assistance. They are connecting volunteers with people who need help with tasks such as getting groceries, walking their dog or picking up medication.
Friendly Neighbour Hotline for low-income seniors
Open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm
The Pocket Community Association (for those who live in this neighbourhood)
I’ll be posting updates on these groups and any new groups. If you’re able to, please sign up to volunteer. If you need help, please let these groups know. We’re all in this together and as neighbours we’ll get through it.
Business and Employment Concerns
I have been in touch with many of our local businesses and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) about their concerns and how they will get through this situation.
The City is doing everything possible, in full cooperation with the provincial and federal governments, to minimize that impact and see an economic recovery take place as soon as possible.
The City has created the Economic Support and Recovery Task Force to identify immediate and longer-term economic recovery strategies for residents and businesses, with a focus on supporting those segments of the economy that are most strongly impacted by COVID-19, such as tourism, hospitality and entertainment. Click here to learn more.
Supports for residents including expedited access to employment insurance benefits as well as protection for renters and job protection for those who are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 are available from the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario. More information and instructions for accessing employment insurance benefits are available at:
Further information on resources for Canadian businesses from the federal government is available here:
Read the Premier’s announcement on job protection for workers during the COVID-19 situation here:
I’ve heard from tenants who are worried about not being able to pay rent and possibly being evicted. Eviction orders for residential tenants have been postponed by the province. No new eviction orders will be issued until further notice in Ontario. Eviction order enforcement has also been postponed.
Emergency bylaw enforcement and investigation services continue for emergency orders and in response to unsafe conditions, including:
- no heat
- no water
- boarding of vacant properties
- illegal dumping
Non-emergency building and bylaw inspections and enforcement have been suspended. To make an emergency complaint, residents should call 311.
COVID-19 Assessment Centre
There is a COVID-19 Assessment Centre located at 825 Coxwell Ave – the entrance is off of Mortimer Avenue, west of the Michael Garron Hospital Emergency Department. This location provides screening, assessment and testing for individuals in East Toronto who are experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19.
The Assessment Centre is not open for walk-in visits at this time. Please call ahead to book an appointment: 416-469-6858. Patients who do not have symptoms should not visit the COVID-19 Assessment Centre.
Toronto Public Health Hotline
People are encouraged to check https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/ for resources and information. If you need further assistance, you can call the Toronto Public Health Hotline at 416-338-7600 which is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 8 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. They are receiving a very high volume of calls, so please only call if you cannot find the information on the website.
Please only call if you require medical advice as Telehealth Ontario is experiencing a high volume of calls. The phone number is at 1-866-797-0000. A Registered Nurse will take your call and they are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
An official global travel advisory is in effect: Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. Please visit the Government of Canada’s website for further information and updates:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill
- Stay home when you are ill
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands
- If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Avoid shaking hands – try an “elbow bump” instead
People looking for legal information on the numerous questions arising from the COVID-19 situation can find them on a special section of Community Legal Education Ontario’s (CLEO) Steps to Justice website at https://stepstojustice.ca/covid-19. The site, updated on a daily basis, gives answers to more than 50 legal questions, including questions about emergency benefits assistance, Employment Insurance, getting evicted for non-payment of rent, and what to do about a family law matter in the midst of the closure of the courts.