May 15, 2020
Planned City of Toronto summer camps cancelled due to COVID-19, work underway for CampTO alternative
The City of Toronto is cancelling all planned 2020 summer camps and preparing an alternative program to get children safely back to camp through a new CampTO program. Details of the program are being developed and are dependent on the lifting of current provincial orders and recommendations from Toronto Public Health.
CampTO would provide children with a high-quality camp experience, inclusive of traditional camp activities, that incorporate public health measures designed to reduce the risk of virus spread, including physical distancing, smaller group sizes, daily health assessments and more extensive cleaning and hygiene measures. If permitted to operate, CampTO will provide 5,300 camp spaces per week for children ages 6 to 12 representing approximately 50 per cent of the typical City of Toronto camp capacity.
Registration details for the CampTO program will be announced once the Province is able to safely remove restrictions on day camps, and an estimated four weeks to prepare for their opening. Preparation activities include readying facilities, client registration, staff hiring and training and site-specific program modifications.
City staff are working diligently with Toronto Public Health on guidance for CampTO. This will ensure that the City is prepared to respond quickly to any changes to the Province’s emergency orders or public health recommendations. A number of conditions must be in place before the City can safely operate summer camps, including changes to or termination of the Province of Ontario’s emergency orders, under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, and significant and sustained reduction in virus spread in Toronto. Toronto Public Health has advised that as a result of the current COVID-19 situation, it is highly unlikely the City’s summer camps could operate without modifications to address strategies such as physical distancing to reduce virus spread.
The City’s current summer camps were scheduled to run at 197 locations from June 29 to September 7. Approximately 68,000 participants had registered this year for City summer camps. The cancellation of the planned camps will impact approximately 1,500 part-time recreation workers. The City is issuing refunds automatically to all current camp registrants. As there is a significant volume of cancellations and refunds to be processed, registrants should expect a wait time for reimbursement of up to four weeks. While registrants do not need to request a refund, they can contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or concerns.
Summer camps provide children and youth with important opportunities for social interaction, as well as necessary childcare for parents and caregivers. The City’s CampTO program can provide needed respite for children and parents, during the COVID-19 pandemic. City summer camps also provide employment opportunities for many young people across Toronto.
More information about changes to City services is available on the City’s website toronto.ca/covid-19. The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health information and details about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures.
“Nothing is more important than the health of our children. In our current environment where it hasn’t yet been safe to have the schools open, we can hardly be going full steam ahead with summer camps, though we are going to have a more modest CampTO plan ready if things continue to improve.”
– Mayor John Tory
“The City of Toronto’s annual summer camps have long been a safe and enjoyable annual event for kids and staff alike. Summer camp provides positive social interactions, childhood development and youth employment. These programs are especially important for vulnerable kids. While the new reality with COVID-19 makes the City’s previous summer camp model unsafe to operate at this time, at Toronto Public Health we are committed to providing a safer alternative. Learning to live with COVID-19 will be challenging, but with significantly enhanced health measures (and Provincial approval), Toronto summer camps can go on”.
– Councillor Joe Cressy, Chair Toronto Board of Health, Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York
“Camps are important component to healthy childcare, and we are taking every step we can to get kids safely back to camp through CampTO. Childcare is an essential component to our recovery from the pandemic, and the City is committed to offering parents and children safe opportunities for camp as soon as restrictions are lifted.”
– Councillor Michael Thompson, Ward 21 Scarborough Centre