COVID-19

I want to ensure you are receiving up to date information about the COVID-19 situation in the City of Toronto. I am sending out regular updates – please sign up for my email list if you are not already on it.

Please check https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/ for the latest information, resources and facts.

Please check the Changes to City Services webpage for updates:
https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/affected-city-services/

Councillor Fletcher’s Recent Email Updates

February 26, 2021
February 19, 2021
February 12, 2021
February 5, 2021
January 29, 2021
January 22, 2021
January 15, 2021
January 8, 2021

211

Residents who need to access, or are seeking information on, social and community supports and services, should call 211 for non-emergency requests and information. 211 is a 24/7 help line and web service that connects residents to social and community services. 211 is working closely with community agencies to ensure they are continually updating their database with the most up-to-date programming and resource information.

Stay-at-Home Order Extended

In response to evidence presented by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, the Province of Ontario announced that Toronto will remain in the Shutdown Zone under the provincial Lockdown Regulation and the Stay-at-Home Order will be extended until at least March 9, 2021. The City supports the Province’s decision to extend the current orders to protect the healthcare system and save lives.

Read the Province’s news release for more information.

On February 13, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Peel’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence C. Loh wrote to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health to request a two-week extension of the Lockdown Regulation-Shutdown Zone and Stay-at-Home Order in Toronto and Peel. For Dr. de Villa, the request stemmed from significant concern around new COVID-19 variants of concern that are appearing in settings across Toronto. Variants have now been identified in long-term care homes, hospitals, a shelter and a meat packing plant. You can read this letter online.

A variant of concern is a mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 genome that has been reported to spread more easily and may affect the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. Research has recently shown that some variants, such as the B.1.1.7 strain that originated in the United Kingdom and is now present in Toronto, have been linked to increased risk of hospitalization and death. The extension of the shutdown will allow public health officials to focus on monitoring the new variants of concern in the city.

With the Stay-at-Home Order extended to at least March 9, the City continues to ask all people to respect the goal of these regulations. The intention is for people to stay home as much as possible in order to make spreading COVID-19 impossible. Organized public events or social gatherings remain extremely discouraged and indoor gatherings with people outside your household and outdoor gatherings of five or more people from different households are prohibited.

You should only go out for necessities, such as:

  • getting food, beverages or medication
  • going to medical appointments
  • supporting vulnerable community members
  • child care
  • attending school or a post-secondary institution
  • going to a bank
  • accessing government services
  • getting exercise or walking pets
  • going to work, if you can’t do it remotely

Businesses must ensure that all employees work from home if they can.

Do not travel outside your region or the province unless absolutely necessary.

You can find more information on the Province’s website:
https://covid-19.ontario.ca/zones-and-restrictions

The City has also issued lockdown guidance which is available online:
https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-reopening-recovery-rebuild/covid-19-guide-for-toronto-residents/

COVID-19 Vaccines

While vaccination is not mandatory, everyone is strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. Join your family and friends and plan to get vaccinated once vaccines become available to you.

The Province is rolling out a three-phase distribution plan to ensure Ontario is prepared to receive, store and administer  vaccines as soon as they are available. It focuses first on vulnerable populations that are at greatest risk of  and severe illness and those who care for them.

The Province announced changes to Phase 1 of its three phase plan to distribute vaccines. Phase 1 will continue into March 2021 and will now include other high-risk groups. When all reasonable steps have been taken to complete first doses of the vaccine for individuals in the immediate category, first doses will be available to:

  • adults 80 years of age and older
  • staff, residents and caregivers in retirement homes and other congregate care settings for seniors (for example, assisted living)
  • health care workers identified as the high priority level in the Ministry of Health’s guidance on Health Care Worker Prioritization
  • all Indigenous adults
  • adult recipients of chronic home care

Phase 2 will run from April to July 2021, depending on vaccine availability. Ontario will enter Phase 3 when vaccines are available for every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized.

Until vaccines are widely available, it remains important to take steps to protect yourself, your loved ones and our community against COVID-19.

Visit the Province’s website for further information:
https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-ontario

East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP) has also released its plan to support low-barrier access to vaccines in East Toronto. ETHP’s plan highlights two main pillars for increasing access and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to eligible priority populations:

  1. Mobile vaccination teams

  2. COVID-19 immunization clinics

Visit the ETHP website to learn more:
https://ethp.ca/covid19/vaccine/covid19-immunization-plan-for-east-toronto

ETHP is asking eligible priority populations in East Toronto to express their interest in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. These individuals may express their interest by completing a pre-registration form. Pre-registration is currently available for the following populations in East Toronto:

  • Health care workers

  • Individuals living in shelters or experiencing homelessness

  • Adults 80 years of age and older

  • Indigenous adults (16 years of age and older)

  • Homecare recipients

Please check the ETHP website for further information and to pre-register:
https://ethp.ca/covid19/vaccine/pre-registration

The City’s COVID-19 Immunization Task Force, which includes experts from Toronto Public Health, Toronto Fire, Toronto Paramedics Service and the Emergency Operations Centre, is actively planning to ensure the city is ready to deliver the vaccine when it is available. The Task Force is using lessons learned from our annual flu vaccine clinics and experiences from the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009 to inform plans.

All levels of government play important roles in delivering the COVID-19 vaccine to residents:

  • The federal government is responsible for approving vaccines as safe and effective for use and procuring them;
  • The provincial government is responsible for creating a provincial vaccination plan that includes distributing vaccines and supporting health system partners to deliver them to residents, starting with people who are most vulnerable; and
  • The City of Toronto will promote the importance of the vaccine, distribute vaccine doses and help immunize residents, investigate adverse events following immunization and share data with the province.

Please check the City’s website for updates:
https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-protect-yourself-others/covid-19-vaccines/

Mandatory Masks and Face Coverings

City Council voted unanimously in favour of requiring masks or face coverings in all enclosed public places as of July 7 to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Effective July 2, 2020, masks or face coverings are mandatory when travelling on the TTC. Learn more here: http://www.ttc.ca/COVID-19/Masks.jsp

A growing body of scientific evidence suggests the use of masks and face coverings is an inexpensive, acceptable, and non-invasive measure to help control the spread of COVID-19. People may unknowingly pass the infection to others because they do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) or have not yet developed symptoms (pre-symptomatic). The highest risk for infection is with prolonged close contact.

The new bylaw will require businesses to adopt a policy to ensure masks or face coverings are worn in indoor public spaces under their control. The new bylaw will apply to all indoor spaces that are openly accessible to the public, including grocery stores, community centres, libraries, etc.

Learn more here: http://councillorpaulafletcher.ca/update-on-mandatory-masks-and-face-coverings/

Physical Distancing 

Physical distancing means limiting close contact with others. When outside of your home, practise physical distancing by staying two metres (six feet) away from others outside your household or social bubble to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Learn more online here:
https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-protect-yourself-others/covid-19-reduce-virus-spread/?accordion=physical-distancing

TTC

TTC is allowing back door boarding on buses. This change has been made to allow for further social distancing. Masks or face coverings are also mandatory on the TTC. Please continue to treat employees and fellow commuters with respect during your journey. Masks or face coverings are also mandatory on the TTC.

Click here to check the TTC’s website for further details and updates.

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
1-855-581-9580
Open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm
http://uhnopenlab.ca/project/hotline/

The Pocket Community Association (for those who live in this neighbourhood)
https://pppweb.thepocket.ca/

Food Hamper Delivery Service
The City is working with the Red Cross and other partners to provide food hamper delivery to seniors and others in need who are unable to leave their homes. With support from United Way of Greater Toronto, this service is made available for qualifying seniors and others that are in self-isolation who do not have alternative access to food (through family, friends, availability of food delivery services) and are currently not receiving such assistance from another community food program. Call 1-833-204-9952 for eligibility and registration information.

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:
https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html

Further information on resources for Canadian businesses from the federal government is available here:
https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/resources-for-canadian-businesses.html

Residential Tenants

Toronto City Council has voted in favour of a temporary bylaw requiring masks or face coverings in common areas in apartments and condominiums to protect the health and safety of our communities by reducing the spread of COVID-19.

The new bylaw, recommended by the Medical Officer of Health and City Solicitor, will require building owners or operators to have a policy to ensure masks or face coverings are worn by individuals in the enclosed common spaces, such as lobbies, elevators and laundry rooms, and post corresponding signage. The bylaw comes into effect on Wednesday, August 5.

Like the City’s existing mask or face covering bylaw, the recommendation includes exemptions for individuals who are unable to wear a mask or face covering for medical reasons, children under two years old, and other reasonable accommodations.

Toronto Public Health has created guidance documents for commercial and residential buildings.

On June 29th City Council adopted new health and safety rules for apartment building owners and operators to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic.  More information is available on the RentSafeTO for Building Owners webpage. If you have health and safety concerns, talk to your landlord or building manager first and submit a service request. If you get no action from your landlord and problems persist, contact 311 for the RentSafeTO team.

COVID-19 Assessment Centre

There is a COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Michael Garron Hospital (825 Coxwell Ave). It provides screening, assessment and testing for individuals in East Toronto. Please ensure you follow public health safety measures while waiting for your COVID-19 test, including physical distancing and wearing a mask or face covering.

As directed by provincial guidelines, assessment centres are no longer accepting walk-in assessments as of October 4, 2020. Appointments can be booked online using the online booking tool.

Visit https://www.tehn.ca/programs-services/covid-19-assessment-centre for more information.

East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP) opened temporary COVID-19 testing sites in the East End in to improve access to testing for community members.

The temporary testing sites offer drop-in and same-day appointments for local residents. The sites are run by a number of community, primary care, hospital and social services organizations in East Toronto working together to provide an integrated system of care across their communities.

In Ward 14 there are temporary testing sites at East York Community Centre (1081 ½ Pape Ave) and South Riverdale Community Health Centre (955 Queen Street East).

Visit the website for further information, including a list of locations and hours of operation

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.

Telehealth Ontario

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.

Travel

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:
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html

Prevention Measures

  • 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

COVIDhelpTO

Social Planning Toronto released the CovidHelpTO website to help front-line workers navigate the financial and housing support programs announced over the past couple of months.

The pace of change has been overwhelming, and there’s been a lot of confusion around the details of these programs. CovidHelpTO was designed to help you answer your clients’ most basic questions around financial and housing supports — such as eligibility requirements for the CERB, what help is available for people having trouble paying their rent, support for those who’ve recently exhausted EI benefits, and more.

Watch for translations into 10 languages, which will be added over the next week: Simplified Chinese, Tamil, Spanish, Farsi, Urdu, Korean, Bengali, Arabic, Somali, and French.

Home

Legal Information 

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.

COVID-19 legal questions?