Councillor Josh Matlow

COVID-19: Who to Contact and How to Stay Informed

COVID-19: Who to Contact & How to Stay Informed2020-06-11T15:58:07+00:00

Dear residents,

I know that many of you are feeling anxious about our constantly changing reality with regard to COVID-19. That’s understandable. However, I’m very confident that if we work together, and follow the advice of our public health experts, the world will become far more recognizable again over time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about those in our society who are most vulnerable, and people feeling vulnerable, and the support they need through this experience. I’ve been thinking about you and your families. I believe that whether one must stay home to self isolate out of an abundance of caution like I did, or has symptoms, everyone should be able to do the right thing for society without worrying about being able to pay their rent, mortgage or for groceries. COVID-19 should be a non-partisan issue and I expect our governments, along with every political party, to work closely together to support the people we serve.

I remain actively working on our many priorities such as transit, social services, small businesses, road safety, parks and infrastructure. Even at this moment, we cannot lose sight of the importance of planning for a world that’ll eventually return to a relative normal. And that normal should be even better than it was before.

And during this time, as always, let’s treat each other with kindness – and remain close as a community, even if we all need to be distanced temporarily.

How to Protect Yourself2020-04-30T19:15:34+00:00

How To Protect Yourself and Others:

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. According to Toronto Public Health, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed:

  • Stay home as much as possible
  • Only go out for essentials (e.g. groceries, medications) once a week
  • Practice physical distancing when you are out
  • 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
  • Don’t touch 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

Face Masks and Coverings:

Wearing a face mask or covering may not protect you from COVID-19, but it may protect others from your respiratory droplets and germs. The best protection is to stay home, keep six feet from others and wash your hands often. However, if you are unable to maintain a two metre (six feet) distance from others, such as on transit, in an elevator, grocery shopping or entering and leaving your apartment building, a face mask or covering can be used.

You can make your own mask with materials you already have at home (e.g. cotton t-shirt or pillowcase) or use a scarf or bandana to cover your face.

How to Safely Wear a Mask or Face Covering

  • Wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off
  • Make sure it fits to cover your mouth and nose snugly; there should be no gapping
  • Change your mask as soon as it gets damp or soiled
  • Cloth masks can be laundered with other items using a hot cycle, and then dried thoroughly
    • If you wear your mask daily, it should be laundered daily
  • Discard non-reusable masks in a lined garbage
  • Clean surfaces that a dirty mask touches
  • Avoid touching your face and mask while using it
  • Do not share your mask with others
  • Do not leave your mask around your neck, hanging from your ear, or on your forehead
  • Do not put your used mask in your pocket. Put it in a plastic bag until you can wash it

How to Safely Take a Mask Off

  • Remove the mask without touching the side that faces outwards
  • Put the mask directly in the laundry to be cleaned or a lined bin to be discarded
  • Wash your hands thoroughly

Who Should Not Wear a Mask or Face Covering

  • Children under the age of two
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Anyone unable to remove the mask without assistance

Wearing a Mask at Work

Follow instructions provided by your employer regarding the option of choosing to wear a non-medical mask or face covering.

Do Not Use Medical-Grade Masks

It is extremely important that we keep the supply of medical masks for healthcare workers where they are urgently needed for medical procedures, and to care for individuals who have COVID-19. Healthcare workers need medical masks, including N95 and surgical masks.


Safe and Physically Distant Cycling Resources 

Cycle Toronto, in collaboration with Toronto Public Health, has produced an online resource regarding cycling in the time of COVID-19. Please click here to read important information on how to ride safely during the pandemic. 

Take the Self-Assessment Test2020-03-17T19:50:50+00:00

If you think you have 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, please click here and use this self-assessment to help determine if you need to seek further care.

List of Assessment Centres2020-06-04T15:37:38+00:00

To rapidly expand screening and ease pressures on hospital emergency departments, a number of dedicated assessment centres have been established across Toronto. Please click here to learn more about who should visit these centres and where they are located. 

Community Spirit During COVID-19: Ways to Help2020-06-12T18:42:11+00:00

Call to Action: SPRINT Senior Care’s Meals on Wheels

SPRINT Senior Care’s Meals on Wheels (MOW) program is volunteer-based and delivers tasty, nutritious meals directly to seniors’ doors seven days a week, 365 days a year. MOW volunteers also perform security checks when delivering meals, to ensure seniors’ safety.

Volunteers are the foundation of many of SPRINT Senior Care’s services and we could not care for our seniors without support from over 300 volunteers annually. Due to the impact of COVID-19, we anticipate being in need of more volunteers to help us deliver Meals on Wheels.

If you are interesting in finding out more about how you can help, please contact our Volunteer Services and Human Resources Department at 416-481-0669, ext. 8723, or volunteer@sprintseniorcare.org. Visit us at www.sprintseniorcare.org to learn more about our services and programs.
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Call to Action: Friendly Neighbour Hotline

University Health Network’s OpenLab is helping vulnerable seniors—the group most at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic—by mobilizing volunteers to deliver groceries and other household essentials. The service gives priority to seniors living in low-income housing.
Due to the need for social distancing, many seniors face challenges with picking up essentials like groceries. These challenges are made worse by the new reality of having to wait in long lines at some stores, which may not be possible for frail seniors, and which brings a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

Many seniors, particularly those with low-income, do not have digital access or are unable to go online or afford the added fees for delivery services. Since this initiative was first announced on March 13, 2020, close to 600 volunteers have stepped forward to offer assistance to the thousands of seniors living in low-income housing across the city. Together, we operate the Friendly Neighbour Hotline, a single phone number seniors living in low-income housing in Toronto can call, connected to a network of volunteers throughout the city who can help with picking up groceries and household essentials during this difficult time.

Volunteers are ordinary Torontonians who want to help. All volunteers have been vetted. Vetting includes a review of government-issued ID (e.g. driver’s license, passport) and two references, one of which must be from work, school or another volunteer organization. Those who have passed the vetting process attend mandatory online training before they can assist vulnerable seniors.

The UHN OpenLab team has established the processes and procedures of the operation, and consulted with City officials, collaborators, and seniors themselves to ensure a coordinated, effective and safe response. The team has long-standing relationships and projects looking at creative ways to support seniors to live independently in Toronto’s vertical communities. This has allowed UHN OpenLab to get organized very quickly, and to go live with the service in just a week.

The Friendly Neighbour Hotline went live on Monday, March 23. Currently, it is only serving Toronto seniors who live in low-income housing. The toll-free Hotline is available in 180 languages: 1-855-581-9580

To download poster (PDF), click here

To become a volunteer, please complete the Volunteer Intake Form.

Health and social services agencies wishing to collaborate, please download and complete the Letter of Collaboration.

If you would like to make a donation, please visit our fundraising page.

Visit our Twitter page for daily updates.

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City of Toronto Launches New DonateTO: COVID-19 Portal to Support Pandemic Relief Efforts:

The City of Toronto is working hard to support everyone impacted by COVID-19 and there are many ways the community can support the relief efforts, including donations of personal protective equipment, other goods and services, food and financial gifts. All donations help the City, in coordination with our community partners to enhance much needed services and supports, especially for the most vulnerable and those who support them.

Residents and business wanting to help support the City’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts can visit here to make their gift or find out more about volunteer opportunities.

Residents, business and academic institutions have already reached out to the City asking how they can help support Toronto’s front-line efforts. Over the last few weeks donations valued at more than $1.5 million have been received, including Hudson’s Bay’s donation of 2,117 units of cookware, dinnerware, towels and bed linens and mattresses with a value of $335,000 and Sleep Country Canada’s donation of more than $150,000 worth of mattresses, adjustable bases, bed frames, sheets, pillows and mattress protectors, both donated to the City’s Rapid Rehousing Shelter project. Additionally, personal care products and cleaning products for vulnerable residents valued at $330,000 from GlobalMedic in partnership with Procter & Gamble and more than 50,000 masks from Dr. Wong and the Stop Covid-19 volunteer group have also been received.

Any questions about donations can be directed to donate@toronto.ca.

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Volunteer Toronto Information for Volunteers and Non-Profits

Volunteer Toronto is a charity that connects volunteers to the causes that need them. In response to COVID-19, they are sharing resources for both non-profits and individuals:

  • For non-profits: Any non-profits or grassroots groups can contact Volunteer Toronto to start recruiting for urgent response efforts or remote support during COVID-19. Complete this short form and a staff member will reach out: https://bit.ly/2WplJX3. All fees have been waived for this service.
  • For individuals: Volunteers play a crucial role in helping communities fill urgent needs. For individuals looking to get involved, join Toronto’s COVID-19 Volunteer Response Team here: https://info.volunteertoronto.ca/covid19. Alerts with urgent community needs are sent to your inbox every 3-7 days.

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Call to Action: Bernard Betel Center Needs Volunteers

Our community, along with the entire world, is gripped by the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis is impacting us all. But those who will suffer the most—and face the greatest risks—are the most vulnerable among us. They need us now.

Working with our social service agency partners at the Bernard Betel Centre, we are looking for volunteers to drop off meals to seniors who are homebound as part of the kosher Meals on Wheels campaign. Please connect with our colleague Cheryl Besner cherylb@betelcentre.org or 416.225.2112 ext.127 if you are able to help.

For those making the decision to work remotely or socially isolate during this time, we understand and appreciate your decision. We look forward to welcoming you to an event or program at the Bernard Betel Centre in the coming months.
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Call to Action: Toronto Bike Brigade

Concerned cyclists and Dave, The Biking Lawyer are mobilizing people on bikes in Toronto to offer volunteer delivery and support services where safe and medically acceptable to do so. We have over 150 cyclist volunteers in various areas across the city. If your organization would like to post in our group a call for cyclist support or directly email: dave@thebikinglawyer.ca, we can work to assist you.

We can also look at individual support options.

If you are able, have two good wheels, good health and a love for community support please join us!

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Spark Ontario Connects Volunteers to Your Organization:

SPARK Ontario is partnering with the Ontario government to connect volunteers with opportunities to support seniors, people with disabilities and other Ontarians requiring assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All not-for-profit organizations supporting the response to COVID-19 can post volunteer opportunities at sparkontario.ca so potential volunteers can be put to work quickly.

SPARK Ontario is a free, bilingual online platform that connects your organization with potential volunteers.

Almost 20,000 volunteers have already reached out looking for ways to help!

Need help posting your opportunities? Click here

Interested in volunteering? Sign up at sparkontario.ca 

Looking for resources and support for your program or want more information about volunteering in your community? Connect with your local volunteer centre.

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Manor “with heart” Road United Church Encourages Residents to Show Their Gratitude for Frontline Workers

Our very own Manor Road United Church has started a wonderful campaign asking residents to get creative and post a sign, banner or picture in their windows, on their balconies and maybe even their front lawns expressing their gratitude for our frontline workers. Come on Midtown, let’s show our grocery clerks, garbage collectors, nurses, doctors, etc. our gratitude and love!

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Feed the Frontlines!

Our very own Midtown resident, Adair Roberts, who works in the mental health and addictions sector, and is now supported by a group of caring Torontonians who have come together to get delicious, nutritious meals to Toronto’s frontline health and social services workers while keeping restaurant workers employed.  All organizers of this campaign are volunteers and none are employed by the restaurants providing or the health and social services organizations receiving the meals.

All funds will be used to purchase high quality and individually-packed meals directly from our restaurant partners and deliver them to recipients at hospitals and social service centres.  You can see our current list of restaurant partners here. Please check-out their go fund me page to donate.

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St. Clair Supports the Stop.

The Stop Community Food Centre has launched “St. Clair Supports The Stop,” a new initiative in which local St. Clair West restaurants and food businesses will be paid to prepare meals for The Stop’s Wychwood Open Door. For more information, visit: thestop.org/st-clair/
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Johnston & Daniel Safe at Home Campaign

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all been asked to stay at home as much as possible to protect ourselves. But for those experiencing domestic violence, home can be anything but safe. Mount Pleasant Village realtors Johnston & Daniel have launched a campaign to raise money for women’s shelters called JDSafeatHome. Every donation – no matter the size – makes a difference. 100% of all donations will be directed to local women’s shelters across the GTA via the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. Donations can be made at the JDSafeatHome Website here. 
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Check Out What’s Open in Toronto-St. Paul’s and Find Out How to Donate to Your Favorite Business!:

Our Toronto-St. Paul’s community is home to some of the most unique and remarkable  shops, bars and restaurants. Many of them do online sales and food take out and delivery. The following BIAs have put together a list of businesses that remain open amidst this crisis- Dupont By the Castle BIAOakwood Village BIAEglinton Way BIAMt. Pleasant Village BIA and Hillcrest Village BIA.

In case you’re looking for a way to support your favorite local shop right at home, you may want to consider making a monetary donation to them (if they’re listed) on Distantly. For business owners looking to create a profile, you may do so by clicking “Add My Business”, located on the top right section of their home webpage.

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St Michael and All Angels Prayer Shawl Initiative

Are you a crafter looking for ways to support the community? Join the St Michael and All Angels Prayer & Comfort Shawl Team by making shawls that will be passed on to people who are lonely or grieving through this time. If you are able to knit, crochet, sew or macrame a shawl – be in touch! If you have yarn or needles to donate – be in touch! All donated items and finished shawls will be held in quarantine for 72 hours before being delivered to crafters/ blessed and given to recipients. If you know of someone who needs a hug, some comfort, and to know they are not forgotten, please reach out. Contact St Michael and All Angels by email at smaachurchoffice@rogers.com or on Facebook here. 

Important Travel Information2020-04-05T15:01:57+00:00

The Government of Canada has put in place emergency measures that require mandatory 14-day self-isolation for all persons entering Canada, even if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Some provinces and territories may have specific recommendations for certain groups, such as health care workers. These efforts will help contain the outbreak and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. For more information, please click here.

If you or a family member and/or friend are currently travelling outside of Canada and require information on how to get home, please click here. The Federal Government has put a number of plans in place to assist you.

Federal, Provincial, and Municipal News Releases2020-03-17T20:01:36+00:00
Important Hotlines to Contact2020-04-30T20:00:24+00:00

Emergency Services
Call If You’re Having Difficulty Breathing or Experiencing Other Severe Symptoms
24-hours, 7 days a week
Telephone: 911

Telehealth Ontario
Call If You Develop Symptoms
24-hours, 7 days a week
Telephone: 1-866-797-0000

Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Telephone: 416-338-7600
TTY: 416-392-0658
Email: PublicHealth@toronto.ca

311 Toronto
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if You Have Questions About City Services.
Telephone: 311
TTY: 416-338-0889
Email: 311@toronto.ca

211 Toronto
Helpline and Online Database of Ontario’s Community and Social Services
Telephone: 211
TTY:1-888-340-1001
Text: 21166
Email: 211@toronto.ca

Toronto Seniors Helpline
Interpretation Services Available
Mon-Fri: 9:00am-8:00pm
Sat-Sun-Statutory Holidays-9:00am-6:00pm
Telephone: 416-217-2077
Long Distance: 1-877-621-2077

Gerstein Crisis Centre
Adults 16+ Experiencing Mental Health & Substance Abuse
24-hours, 7 days a week
Telephone: 416-929-5200

Distress Centre of GTA
Anyone in Distress or Need of Emotional Support
24-hours, 7 days a week
Telephone: 416-408-4357
Text: 45645

Connex Ontario
Addiction, Mental Health & Problem Gambling
24-hours, 7 days a week
Telephone: 1-866-531-2600
https://www.connexontario.ca/

Kids Help Phone
Free & Confidential Counselling for Youth
24-hours, 7 days a week
Telephone:1-800-668-6868

Toronto Emergency Central Intake for Shelters
24-hours, 7 days a week
Telephone: 416-338-4766
Email: cfi@toronto.ca
https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/housing-shelter/

Grocery Gateway
Order Groceries Online from Longos
24-hours, 7 days a week
Telephone: 1-877-447-8778
https://www.grocerygateway.com/store/groceryGateway/en/

Instacart
Order Groceries Online
24 hours, 7 days a week
Telephone: 1-888-246-7822
https://www.instacart.com/

Inabuggy
Order Groceries Online
24-hours, 7 days a week
Telephone: 1-844-41-BUGGY (28449)
Email: support@inabuggy.com
https://www.inabuggy.com/

COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub
Before the pandemic, we were advocating together for programs to help our youth. Now, during the COVID-19 crisis, we want our community’s youth to get through this physically, and mentally, well. Here’s a helpful COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub that youth can access virtually.

Unison Health Telephone Counselling and Support

For the safety of community members and our clients and to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Unison Health is now offering the following services over the phone:

 mental health counselling: Call Amanda Costa, Mental Health OutreachWorker at 416-645-7575 ext. 2050 or send an email to amanda.costa@unisonhcs.org

 help to apply for income benefits, such as CERB: Call 416-787-1661 ext. 3240, Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm Leave a voice mail message with your name and phone number.

 help to get food: Call 416-787-1661 ext. 3341, Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm Leave a voice mail message with your name and phone number.

If you are worried, sad, or scared, you are not alone. Unison’s counsellors are here to help you. Connect with Unison by using one of the phone numbers listed above. Someone will return your call as soon as possible. Note: staff are working from home and your call may be returned from a blocked number.

 

Fact Sheet for Commercial/Residential Buildings: General Infection Prevention and Control Practice & Disinfection Guidance2020-03-21T17:03:10+00:00

This fact sheet provides property owners, property managers, hotel management and cleaning/facilities staff of commercial or residential buildings with infection prevention and control (IPAC) guidance that is appropriate for non-health care settings. This document may be updated as the situation is rapidly changing, and new information becomes available. Refer to Toronto Public Health’s website for the latest updates.

What is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is an infection caused by new type of Coronavirus. COVID-19 can present as an acute respiratory illness in humans. More information on COVID-19 can be found in the Toronto Public Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fact Sheet.

General Infection Prevention Strategies

Building operators should encourage staff to do the following to prevent infection:

 Stay home if sick. Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to not come to work, and to seek appropriate medical attention.
o Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible. For example, relax requirements for sick notes, and allow staff to stay home to care for sick family members.

Good personal hygiene practices remain the best method for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Building operators should encourage staff to do the following to prevent infection:

  •   Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds – an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used if soap and water are not available.
  •   Avoid touching their faces, especially with unwashed hands.
  •   Cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve, not their hands.

General Disinfection Guidance

Building operators and staff should follow these guidelines when cleaning and disinfecting the environment:

  •   Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19.
  •   Frequently touched surfaces are most likely to be contaminated. Ensure cleaning staff, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in common areas. In addition to routine cleaning, surfaces that have frequent contact with hands should be cleaned and disinfected twice per day and when visibly dirty. Examples include doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, toilet handles, counters, hand rails, touch screen surfaces and keypads.
  •   Use only disinfectants that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN is an 8-digit number given by Health Canada that confirms it is approved for use in Canada.
  •   Check the expiry date of products you use and always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  •   In addition to routine cleaning, check with your organization for any specific protocols for cleaning COVID-19.
  •   Staff should use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as gloves, according to existing policies and procedures, as well as following label directions for all cleaning products.
  •   Encourage and support proper handwashing by keeping washroom facilities stocked with soap and paper towels at all times, and ensure custodian staff keep hand washing sinks in a state of good repair.
  •   Consider having alcohol-based hand sanitizer in common areas, including but not limited to bathrooms, laundry rooms, gyms and playrooms, and other high traffic areas at all times.
  •   No evidence to suggest that building waste needs any additional disinfection. Additional considerations in response to current cases of COVID-19
  •   Confirmed and suspect cases of COVID-19 are reported by health care providers and laboratories to public health. Workplaces other than health care settings do not need to report to public health.
  •   Public health performs a risk assessment for all exposures including those that may occur in a workplace.
  •   Public health will provide advice regarding any other measures that the workplace or staff may need to take to reduce the risk of transmission.
  •   Unless advised by Toronto Public Health through the above assessment, there are no restrictions or special measures required for contacts of suspected cases of COVID-19 in the setting. There is no need to close the setting or send people home.Public health will advise if any special cleaning processes are recommended. Regular cleaning (as above) of frequently touched surfaces and hands reduces the risk of infection.

Considerations for persons under self-isolation:

  •   If hotel patrons / condo tenants have been instructed by public health authorities to self- isolate, staff should postpone visits to the unit for service until after the self-isolation period of 14 days if possible.
  •   If service cannot be postponed. Staff should avoid close contact with these guests or residents by conducting their work in a separate room, if possible, or keeping a safe distance of 6 feet from the self-isolating person.
  •   After each visit, staff should wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available.

References:

  1. New York City Health. Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) General Disinfection Guidance for Commercial or Residential Buildings. Accessed on March 12, 2020. https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/imm/disinfection-guidance-for-commercial- residential-covid19.pdf
  2. Toronto Public Health. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Accessed on March 12, 2020. https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/8d59-Fact-Sheet_Novel- Coronavirus.pdf
  3. Government of Canada. Community-based measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Canada. Accessed on March 12, 2020. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus- infection/health-professionals/public-health-measures-mitigate-covid-19.html#appendix
  4. Government of Canada. Public health management of cases and contacts associated with novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Accessed on March 12, 2020.
    https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus- infection/health-professionals/interim-guidance-cases-contacts.html#app1
  1. Australian Government, Department of Health. Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for hotels and hotel staff. Accessed on March 12, 2020. https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for- hotels-and-hotel-staff
  2. Public Health England. Guidance, COVID-19: Decontamination in non-healthcare settings. Accessed on March 12, 2020. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19- decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare- settings
Advocating for Ontario’s Tenants2020-06-04T15:59:11+00:00

Excerpt from April 24th E-newsletter:

Ontario Tenants Still Vulnerable with May Rent Due in A Week         
The provincial government needs to provide support for tenants who are unable to pay their rent on May 1st due to lost income because of the COVID – 19 crisis. Renters and Landlords in Ontario, like those in British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, are in need of assistance to ensure that they are not in financial ruin when the crisis is over.

It is unacceptable that renters have been completely left out of provincial support plans in Ontario. Even with federal government income assistance, far too many tenants are being forced to choose between paying rent and buying groceries.

The average rent for a 1 bedroom is now $2,250, more than the $2,000 monthly CERB payment from the federal government. While eviction orders are frozen during the course of the pandemic, Landlords are still allowed to proceed with eviction notices (N4s).

To support tenants and provide surety to Landlords, the Premier must provide a clear strategy that includes:
• Rent forgiveness for vulnerable tenants: Offset payments for Landlords to forgive rent for tenants who now qualify for federal income supports. Deferrals could lead to mass evictions and financial ruin when the COVID – 19 crisis is over. The provincial government in British Colombia has taken a similar approach.
•Ban eviction notices: While eviction orders have been suspended, landlords are still allowed to file eviction notices and are “entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day an eviction order is not enforced,” according to this recently posted provincial webpage– COVID -19: information for Landlords. If allowed to continue, this measure will leave a threat of eviction over the heads of tenants; exacerbating a public health and financial crisis.
• No Rent Increases: I have heard from many tenants that Landlords are still issuing Guideline and even Above the Guideline Rent Increases (AGIs). There should be a pause on these increases during the course of the pandemic.

The province’s formal advice for tenants to “speak to your landlord about whether (rent) can be postponed or if other payment arrangements can be agreed to,” has not proven effective. Far too many Landlords are still requiring full payment and issuing N4s. As an example, while this Toronto-based Youtube webinar for Landlords advises negotiation with tenants, there is also a recommendation to start the eviction process now on tenants that cannot afford to pay rent (scroll to 14:30).

To add your voice to support tenants, please email Premier Ford: premier@ontario.ca

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Excerpt from April 17th E-newsletter:

Please see the City’s COVID-19 resource page for tenants and property owners here

As May 1st approaches, I continue to hear from tenants who are extremely concerned about their ability to meet rent obligations, along with other basic needs like providing food for themselves or their family without completely depleting whatever emergency savings they may have. With over 50% of tenants in Ontario paying above the affordable threshold of rent, supports by the Federal government are still falling short. That is why, the Provincial government needs to show leadership like British Columbia or Prince Edward Island and provide support for tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to lost income because of the COVID – 19 crisis.

I’m also hearing from small landlords who are ineligible for mortgage deferrals. While I understand that this is a challenging financial situation for everyone, if small landlords cannot meet their financial obligations to cover their mortgages and they won’t be able to provide safe, clean and well-maintained homes for their tenants.

While Premier Ford took a good first step by freezing eviction orders during the course of the pandemic, renters and Landlords are in need of clarity and surety from the province to ensure that they are not in financial ruin when the crisis is over.

Tenants are answering the government’s call to stay home so it’s only reasonable that the government provide a realistic plan to ensure that renters can afford to do their part.

• Rent forgiveness for vulnerable tenants: Offset payments for Landlords to forgive rent for tenants who now qualify for federal income supports. Deferrals could lead to mass evictions and financial ruin when the COVID – 19 crisis is over. The provincial government in British Colombia has taken a similar approach.

• Ban eviction notices: While eviction orders have been suspended, Landlords are still allowed to file eviction notices and are “entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day an eviction order is not enforced,” according to this recently posted provincial webpage COVID -19: information for Landlords. If allowed to continue, this measure will leave a threat of eviction over the heads of tenants; exacerbating a public health and financial crisis.

• No Rent Increases: I have heard from many tenants that some Landlords are still issuing Guideline and even Above the Guideline Rent Increases (AGIs). There should be a pause on these increases during the course of the pandemic.

The province must come forward with a plan to support tenants now. For more information, please see this article.

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Excerpt from April 4th E-newsletter: 

Tenants Left Vulnerable as Province Fails to Move Forward with Plan to Support Renters and Landlords: 

The provincial government needs to provide support for tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to lost income because of the COVID – 19 crisis. While Premier Ford took a good first step by freezing eviction orders during the course of the pandemic, renters and Landlords are in need of clarity and surety from the province to ensure that they are not in financial ruin when the crisis is over.

Tenants are answering the government’s call to stay home help limit the spread of COVID -19. It’s only reasonable that the government provides a realistic plan to ensure that renters can afford to do their part. The Ontario government needs to implement a plan that includes:

•         Rent forgiveness for vulnerable tenants: Offset payments for Landlords to forgive rent for tenants who now qualify for federal income supports. Deferrals could lead to mass evictions and financial ruin when the COVID – 19 crisis is over. The provincial government in British Colombia has taken a similar approach.
•         Ban eviction notices: while eviction orders have been suspended, Landlords are still allowed to file eviction notices and are “entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day an eviction order is not enforced,” according to this recently posted provincial webpage COVID -19: information for Landlords. If allowed to continue, this measure will leave a threat of eviction over the heads of tenants; exacerbating a public health and financial crisis.
•         No Rent Increases: I have heard from many tenants that Landlords are still issuing Guideline and even Above the Guideline Rent Increases (AGIs). There should be a pause on these increases during the course of the pandemic.

Premier Ford announced, “If you can’t pay rent, and you’re in a crisis, you don’t rent pay rent”, at a recent press conference, leading to confusion amongst tenants and Landlords alike. Moreover, the province’s formal advice for tenants to “speak to your landlord about whether (rent) can be postponed or if other payment arrangements can be agreed to,” has not proven effective. Far too many Landlords still demanded full rent payments.

The province must come forward with a plan to support tenants now. For more information, please see this article.

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Letter to Minister Clark on Premier Ford’s Statement on Providing Immediate Rent Relief for Tenants

March 26, 2020

Hon. Steve Clark
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
17th Floor
777 Bay St. Toronto,ON M5G 2E5

Re: Premier Ford’s Statement on Providing Immediate Rent Relief for Tenants

Minister Clark,

I am writing to seek clarification on Premier Ford’s comment regarding support for Ontario tenants during the COVID – 19 crisis. In a press conference earlier today, the Premier stated, “If you can’t pay rent, and you’re in a crisis, you don’t have to pay rent”. Mr. Ford also made it clear that if you have a job and are able to pay rent, don’t take advantage.

This announcement is welcome and reassuring news to the hundreds of thousands of renters in Ontario, including my Toronto-St. Paul’s Ward, that have lost their jobs and are worried about being unable to pay their rent on April 1st.

I have received a number of questions in the hours since the Premier’s statement that I am seeking clarification on from you, including:

• Will April rent, and subsequent month’s rent until the COVID – 19 crisis subsides, be waived or deferred? I am concerned that deferral will only delay financial crises and a resulting spike in homelessness.
• Is there a specific program that Landlords can apply for to offset their lost rent?

I look forward to your response to these questions. Thank you to the Premier and your government for supporting Ontario’s tenants during this difficult time.

Sincerely,
Josh
Councillor Josh Matlow
City Councillor
Toronto – St. Paul’s
www.joshmatlow.ca
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More Immediate Support Needed for Tenants: 

March 27th- E-newsletter

Tenants who have lost their income due to COVID – 19 are increasingly worried about being able to pay their rent as April 1st approaches. Unfortunately, no direct supports for renters has been announced yet. Yesterday, in a press conference, Premier Ford stated, “If you can’t pay rent, and you’re in a crisis, you don’t have to pay rent”. The Premier also made it clear that if you have a job and are able to pay rent, don’t take advantage.

I then wrote to Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs, to seek clarification on the Premier’s comment. While I have not received a response, the Minister wrote an oped in the Toronto Sun addressing the issue in which he said that tenants should “speak to your landlord about whether it can be postponed or if other payment arrangements can be agreed to”.

While I applaud and appreciate the Provincial Government’s initiative to temporarily freeze evictions, that measure alone is insufficient. Arrangements between Landlords and tenants to either not pay rent or receive a discount should not be left to the ad-hoc whims of individual circumstances. The province should step up and ensure that renters are secure in their homes and Landlords are able to meet their financial obligations with a detailed plan that everyone can understand.

I asked the Minister two important questions that have not been answered since the Premier’s statement to tenants that they don’t have to pay rent on April 1st:

  • Will April rent, and subsequent month’s rent until the COVID – 19 crisis subsides, be waived or deferred? I am concerned that deferral will only delay financial crises and a resulting spike in homelessness.
  • Is there a specific program that Landlords can apply for to offset their lost rent?

I will continue pursuing answers to these questions. For further clarification, and to have your voice heard, please email the Minister of Municipal Affairs: minister.mah@ontario.ca
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Landlords & Condo Boards Urged to Adopt New Health and Safety Measures to Protect Residents from COVID-19:

March 27th- E-newsletter

The City of Toronto is urging Landlords and Condo Boards to adopt new health and safety measures to protect residents from COVID-19. Large residential buildings with a high number of units require new practices and a rigorous cleaning routine to prevent viral spread.

It’s impossible for renters to adopt life-saving hygiene and social distancing practices if, for instance, hand sanitizer isn’t accessible and elevators and common areas are crowded. That’s why building operators and staff should follow these guidelines to protect residents in vertical communities:

  •  Alcohol-based hand sanitizer or a hand washing station with soap and water should be placed at all building entrances.
    •    Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be available in all common areas that remain open, such as laundry rooms.
    •    Close non-essential common areas such as bathrooms, gyms, playrooms, playgrounds and other high traffic areas.
    •    Routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces in common areas, including doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, toilet handles, counters, hand rails, touch screen surfaces and keypads, with common household cleaners and disinfectants.
    •    Organize the building to accept deliveries of essential goods, like medications, for residents to avoid non-essential trips outside.
    •    Post signage limiting the number of residents allowed in common areas, including laundry rooms and elevators, to ensure that individuals are able to maintain a two-metre distance. Consider allowing a maximum of three residents at a time in elevators.
    •    When showing units or suites for sale or lease, practice physical distancing – keep a safe distance of two metres from the resident and wash hands with soap and water, and or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, before and after the visit.

Additional information regarding General Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Guidance for Commercial or Residential Buildings can be found here
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Ontario tenants left vulnerable with rent due tomorrow: Province needs rent forgiveness plan for tenants that includes offsets for Landlords now:

March 31st, 2020

Toronto – The provincial government needs to provide support for tenants who are unable to pay their rent tomorrow, April 1st, due to lost income because of the COVID – 19 crisis. While Premier Ford took a good first step by freezing eviction orders during the course of the pandemic, renters and Landlords are in need of clarity and surety from the province regarding what they can expect tomorrow to ensure that they are not in financial ruin when the crisis is over.

“Tenants are answering the government’s call to stay home to help limit the spread of COVID -19. It’s only reasonable that the government provides a realistic plan to ensure that renters can afford to do their part,” said Councillor Josh Matlow, Toronto – St. Paul’s.

To support tenants and provide surety to Landlords, the Premier must provide a clear strategy that includes:

  • Rent forgiveness for vulnerable tenants: Offset payments for Landlords to forgive rent for tenants who now qualify for federal income supports. Deferrals could lead to mass evictions and financial ruin when the COVID – 19 crisis is over. The provincial government in British Colombia has taken a similar approach.
  • Ban eviction notices: while eviction orders have been suspended, landlords are still allowed to file eviction notices and are “entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day an eviction order is not enforced,” according to this recently posted provincial webpage COVID -19: information for Landlords. If allowed to continue, this measure will leave a threat of eviction over the heads of tenants; exacerbating a public health and financial crisis.

Premier Ford announced, “If you can’t pay rent, and you’re in a crisis, you don’t have to pay rent”, at a recent press conference, leading to confusion amongst tenants and Landlords alike. Moreover, the province’s formal advice for tenants to “speak to your landlord about whether (rent) can be postponed or if other payment arrangements can be agreed to,” has not proven effective. Far too many Landlords are still demanding full rent payments tomorrow.

The province must come forward with a plan to support tenants now.

Accessing Support through Federal & Provincial Government Benefits2020-04-05T15:32:02+00:00

The COVID-19 pandemic will have an economic impact on everyone’s livelihood. That is why, I put together a helpful Q+A below to assist you in navigating through the Federal and Provincial Government benefits.

Did you pay into EI, and have worked at least 700 hours in the last 52 weeks, but have been laid off due to work closures? You can apply for regular EI benefits through the Federal government. Beginning in April, even if you are EI-eligible you can apply for the Federal Government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CREB) to ensure timely access to funds, as Canada’s EI system is currently overloaded with applications.

If this does not apply to you, you may still apply for the Provincial Government’s Emergency Assistance Program through Ontario Works and the Federal Government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CREB)

Did you pay into EI and have worked at least 700 hours in the last 52 weeks, but are unable to work because you are ill or in self-quarantine? You can apply for EI sickness benefits through the Federal government.

If this does not apply to you, you may still apply for the Federal Government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CREB)

Did you pay into EI and have worked at least 700 hours in the last 52 weeks, but are unable to work because of school closures? You can apply for regular EI benefits through the Federal government.

If this does not apply to you, you may still apply for the Federal Government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CREB)

Accessing Support through Municipal Benefits2020-04-05T15:32:11+00:00

The COVID-19 pandemic will have an economic impact on everyone’s livelihood. That is why, the City of Toronto has identified a list of municipal resources that can be used to help minimize those impacts and help get you back on your feet. Click here to learn more.

Seeking Help: Grocery Delivery Assistance, Food Banks, Mental Health, and More2020-06-19T15:23:11+00:00

UHN OpenLab’s Friendly Neighbour Hotline:

University Health Network’s OpenLab is helping vulnerable seniors—the group most at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic—by mobilizing volunteers to deliver groceries and other household essentials. The service gives priority to seniors living in low-income housing.

Due to the need for social distancing, many seniors face challenges with picking up essentials like groceries. These challenges are made worse by the new reality of having to wait in long lines at some stores, which may not be possible for frail seniors, and which brings a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

Many seniors, particularly those with low-income, do not have digital access or are unable to go online or afford the added fees for delivery services.

Since this initiative was first announced on March 13, 2020, close to 600 volunteers have stepped forward to offer assistance to the thousands of seniors living in low-income housing across the city. Together, we operate the Friendly Neighbour Hotline, a single phone number seniors living in low-income housing in Toronto can call, connected to a network of volunteers throughout the city who can help with picking up groceries and household essentials during this difficult time.

Volunteers are ordinary Torontonians who want to help. All volunteers have been vetted. Vetting includes a review of government-issued ID (e.g. driver’s license, passport) and two references, one of which must be from work, school or another volunteer organization. Those who have passed the vetting process attend mandatory online training before they can assist vulnerable seniors.

The UHN OpenLab team has established the processes and procedures of the operation, and consulted with City officials, collaborators, and seniors themselves to ensure a coordinated, effective and safe response. The team has long-standing relationships and projects looking at creative ways to support seniors to live independently in Toronto’s vertical communities. This has allowed UHN OpenLab to get organized very quickly, and to go live with the service in just a week.

The Friendly Neighbour Hotline went live on Monday, March 23. Currently, it is only serving Toronto seniors who live in low-income housing. The toll-free Hotline is available in 180 languages.

1-855-581-9580
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SPRINT Senior Care

SPRINT began caring for seniors and enabling seniors to care for themselves in 1983. They continue to do so today as an accredited, not-for-profit community support service agency in Toronto by offering a wide range of practical and low-cost services to seniors and their caregivers. Due to COVID-19, there have been a number of program and service changes. Please click here to learn more.

If you’re a senior and interested in grocery delivery, Meals on Wheels food service or security and wellness checks, please call 416-481-0069 ext. 1225 or review this flyer.

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Wellness Together Canada E-Portal 

Wellness Together Canada is an innovative joint venture between Canadian mental health leaders to offer a full range of mental health support to people of all ages in every part of Canada. The program connects Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists, and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, and will make it easier to find credible information and help address mental health and substance use issues. It is available in both English and French as an online portal/website and can be accessed at wellnesstogether.ca. Wellness Together Canada is funded by Health Canada.

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Feeling Lonely? We Care About You:

During the COVID-19 crisis, and even during “normal times”, too many seniors are isolated. I’ve organized a team of caring volunteers who are ready to reach out to seniors in our community who feel lonely. Please feel very welcome to post this notice in your building or street. For a printable version, please click here.

Canadian Red Cross Food Delivery

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Helpful Housing Information

Social Planning Toronto has created a helpful tool on their COVIDHelpTO page with information on how to get help for a variety of different housing situations. For more information, please click here.

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The Stop’s COVID-19 Plan:

We’re at a critical time for the containment of COVID19 (Coronavirus).

The Stop Community Food Centre will be shifting its resources away from community programming and towards emergency food access services starting Monday, March 16.

Our first and foremost priority is to protect the health and well-being of all Stop community members, staff, and volunteers.

We will continue to provide essential food access services to our community in an adjusted form at our main location at 1884 Davenport Road:

 The Stop’s Food Bank will run Mondays and Fridays, 12pm-3pm.

 The Drop-in will no longer serve seated meals. Instead, we will serve takeaway meals on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 9am-10am for breakfast, 12pm-1pm for lunch

 The Stop’s Community Advocacy Office will no longer hold in-person office hours, but Community Advocates are able to provide information, support, and referrals via phone. Monday-Friday 10am-2pm (416) 652-7867 x243

Please note: the following Stop programs and services are suspended until further notice:

 Healthy Beginnings (general program, Food Bank still open)
 Community Kitchens
 The Stop’s Wychwood Open Door
 Income Tax Clinic
 The Stop’s Urban Agriculture programming, including Youth Programs and the Mashkikii;aki’ing Medicine Wheel Garden
 The Stop’s Farmers’ Market

If you are in need of immediate food access and are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus, or have come in contact with someone with symptoms, please do not visit The Stop. Instead, please ask a friend or family member to do so for you.

Questions? Please contact our general line: 416-652-7867, or email general@thestop.org.

If you would like to support our work, monetary donations are the most efficient way. They allow us to purchase the exact items we need on short notice. We also have purchasing relationships with farmers, stores, and suppliers, so we can buy items at a lower price than retail customers. You can make a donation here.

If you’d prefer to donate items, that’s great too! Currently, we’re seeking baby supplies (wipes, diapers, and formula. Size 3-4 are our most requested diaper sizes, but we would take anything!) unused personal care products (like hand sanitizer, shampoo, menstrual products, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, disposable razors, etc) and clean takeout containers with lids. These can be dropped off at 1884 Davenport Road, Monday-Friday 9am-11am and 1pm-3pm.

We all must do our part to contain any spread and mitigate the effects of Coronavirus—both physically and mentally—on our staff, volunteers, and community members.

To keep our workplace healthy throughout this period, our staff and volunteers are following stringent precautionary measures such as frequent hand washing, continually sterilizing our work environments, use of rubber gloves, and social distancing. The Stop is also providing extended, paid sick days and work-from-home arrangements to our employees upon request, no questions asked.

Yet for so many of our community members, these arrangements are completely inaccessible.

To isolate yourself, you need adequate housing.
To take a sick day, you need to know you’ll get to keep your job.
To stockpile food and supplies, you need to be able to afford these essentials in the first place.

In times like these, vulnerable community members need our support the most.

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COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub

Before the pandemic, we were advocating together for programs to help our youth. Now, during the COVID-19 crisis, we want our community’s youth to get through this physically, and mentally, well. Here’s a helpful COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub that youth can access virtually.

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Unison Health Telephone Counselling and Support

For the safety of community members and our clients and to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Unison Health is now offering the following services over the phone:

 mental health counselling: Call Amanda Costa, Mental Health OutreachWorker at 416-645-7575 ext. 2050 or send an email to amanda.costa@unisonhcs.org

 help to apply for income benefits, such as CERB: Call 416-787-1661 ext. 3240, Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm Leave a voice mail message with your name and phone number.

 help to get food: Call 416-787-1661 ext. 3341, Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm Leave a voice mail message with your name and phone number.

If you are worried, sad, or scared, you are not alone. Unison’s counsellors are here to help you. Connect with Unison by using one of the phone numbers listed above. Someone will return your call as soon as possible. Note: staff are working from home and your call may be returned from a blocked number.

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Good Neighbour Project

Are you someone in isolation, elderly, a single parent or person living with a disability that requires delivery assistance for supplies, and groceries with no one to help? A task force of volunteers with the Good Neighbour Project are on standby to offer you assistance. Please call 647-873-2230 between 8:00am-8:00pm daily or visit their website here.
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TakeCare19

TakeCare19 is a collection of crowd-sources, accessible, free/low-cost and inclusive mental health resources to help people cope during COVID-19. A variety of resources on mindfulness, exercise, work, therapy, community and more are available. Please feel very welcome to explore their website here.

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Chatting to Wellness

Chatting to Wellness connects youth and seniors to sit and chat. This initiative helps to combat isolation and loneliness, while improving the mental health of seniors. In normal times, Chatting to Wellness brings youth on a weekly basis to retirement homes to engage with residents, however, due to COVID-19, volunteers will be chatting with seniors every weekday night between 6:00pm-9:00pm. For more details, please click here.​

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Do You Live Between Christie/Ossington & Dupont/Davenport?

Hello neighbour!  My name is Caitlin, and I live in the area between Christie/Ossington and Dupont/Davenport. Along with other neighbours, I’m reaching out because we know that Toronto’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will cause challenges for many of us, due to school and work closures, illness, quarantines, or social distancing. We want to connect with our neighbours so we can communicate, share resources and information, and support each other with any needs that come up.

Let us know if there is anything you need help with now –  errands, supplies, groceries, picking up medication, or anything else. We will do our best to help, or connect you to someone who can. Contact me by email at MelitaCrescentToronto@gmail.com or call/text at 647-393-8742.

If you would like to be part of this mutual support network, let us know:
1.    How we should contact you to follow up (email, call, text, social media)
2.    How you can help (shopping, hosting online gatherings, coordinating the network, etc)

Even though we can’t gather in person, we can still come together as a community!
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Legal Aid

  • Pro Bono Ontario: free legal assistance offered to low-income Ontarians through their Free Legal Advice Hotline (1-855-255-7256)

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211 Toronto

211 Toronto connects people living in the GTA to over 4,000 programs and social services such as financial help, employment services, mental health, home care, housing, shelters, food and childcare. It offers a 24/7 confidential service in 150 languages, including online, text and chat services.
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Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

As COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to spread globally, be on the lookout for associated scams. Fraudsters want to profit from consumers’ fears, uncertainties and misinformation. Please click here for detailed examples of COVID-19 fraud and information on how to protect yourself. 

Standing with Small Business Owners2020-06-11T03:58:29+00:00

Check Out What’s Open in Toronto-St. Paul’s and Find Out How to Donate to Your Favorite Business!:

Our Toronto-St. Paul’s community is home to some of the most unique and remarkable  shops, bars and restaurants. Many of them do online sales and food take out and delivery. The following BIAs have put together a list of businesses that remain open amidst this crisis- Dupont By the Castle BIAOakwood Village BIAEglinton Way BIAMt. Pleasant Village BIA and Hillcrest Village BIA.

In case you’re looking for a way to support your favorite local shop right at home, you may want to consider making a monetary donation to them (if they’re listed) on Distantly. For business owners looking to create a profile, you may do so by clicking “Add My Business”, located on the top right section of their home webpage.

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Have Your Say: Expanding Restaurant Patios This Summer Season:

Yesterday, I held a virtual meeting with 13 of our Midtown Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) to touchbase on the challenges each individual BIA is currently facing and will continue to face in the future, each BIA’s priorities and more importantly, how I can support them and their efforts.

While a number of ideas are being explored by my office and City Staff, such as opening pop-up shops in vacant storefronts, relieving certain permit fees, making sidewalk art easier, tweaking both the ShopHERE and City’s facade grant programs and much more, one particular idea that BIAs mentioned that would help keep businesses alive was the possibility of expanding restaurant patios for this upcoming summer season.

The idea, that is being adopted in places around the world, is to use some curb lanes in Toronto for outdoor dining. While allowing for safe distances, it could create fun and active streetscapes, support our local businesses that would have to cap their indoor capacity and meaningfully contribute to our happiness and quality of life.

Ultimately, they would all be done on a trial basis. If one works, it should continue. If one doesn’t, it can be removed. Every decision should be based on the reality we experience. As a consequence of this pandemic, our local businesses are in desperate need of our support.

I welcome all local residents, business owners and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in our ward to reach out to my office and provide feedback as to where they would like the City to investigate the possibility of expanded patios. Please email me at councillor_matlow@toronto.ca or reply to this e-newsletter. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Excerpt from May 22nd E-newsletter:

I speak with small and medium sized business owners every day of this crisis, and many of of them are financially devastated. The challenges and struggles that our local businesses face demonstrate the need for every level of government to step up to support them.

Our community’s business owners have been trying to the best of their abilities to adapt to our constantly changing environment. While our favorite local shops are working to protect our health and safety, let’s shop local to support them. We need our main streets to survive this pandemic. Please join me in sharing the following graphic with your family, friends and neighbors to remind them to shop local and use the hashtag: #SaveMidtownMainStreets.

As I’m sure many of you know, one of the greatest challenges small businesses owners face is their inability to pay for rent. That is why I’m advocating to Minister Sarkaria – Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction – to request immediate and direct rent relief for businesses. Please see my letter here. I know that many small business owners aren’t looking for a handout, but a lifeline.

While I believe that direct rent relief is needed, Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Ford have announced the new Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA). The OCECRA will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners experiencing potential rent shortfalls because their small business tenants have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. To receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75 per cent and commit to a moratorium on evictions for three months. For more information, please click here. I recognize that many landlords may not feel inclined to apply for this program, and I believe the Province should implement a moratorium on small business evictions until the recovery is well underway.

•  Update on Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy:
As you know, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) helps businesses keep employees on the payroll and encourages employers to re-hire workers previously laid off, and better positions businesses to bounce back following the crisis. Today, the Federal government announced that they will be extending the CEWS by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020. Extending the program will give workers greater confidence that they will continue to get the support they need during these difficult times. The Federal government will consult with key business and labour representatives over the next month on potential adjustments to the program, including the 30 per cent revenue decline threshold, to further incentivize jobs and growth. Any potential changes following the consultation will have as key objectives to maximize employment, ensure the CEWS reflects the immediate needs of businesses, and support the post-crisis economic recovery.

•  Regional Relief & Recovery Fund:
This past week, the Federal government announced the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, which is specifically targeted to those that may require additional help to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic but have been unable to access existing support measures. For further details about how to apply, please click here.

•  City of Toronto and Toronto Region Board of Trade:
The City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade are partnering to deliver you a one-stop information centre where you will find the resources, tools, and critical support programs you need to manage the challenges you’re facing. For more details, I welcome you to click here.

•    Expansion of Digital Main Street Program:
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, funding for Digital Main Street in Toronto has been tripled. The budget for the program will go from $240,000 to $825,000 this year. The funding will be used to expand the Digital Service Squad to support Toronto’s main street businesses through one-on-one virtual support. Since its launch, the Digital Main Street program has engaged more than 6,000 Toronto businesses and provided direct one-on-one support to 2,159 businesses, delivering more than 9,200 hours of support, training and education. Prior to working with the Digital Main Street program, 30 per cent of businesses had no online presence. Local businesses can complete the Digital Main Street onboarding process and receive a free Digital Assessment and recommended to-do list here.

•    The City of Toronto’s BIA Financial Incentives:
In case your BIA has not yet been made aware of the various financial incentives offered by the City of Toronto, I’d welcome you to check out the following link, which could provide you funding for commercial facades, streetscape improvements, outside murals, etc.

  •   BusinessTO Support Centre:
    The City’s new BusinessTO Support Centrewill be available for all sectors, including not-for-profit, creative/cultural, manufacturing, technology, retail, hospitality, tourism, main street businesses and consulting services.The centre will help businesses apply for government support programs such as:
    •    Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program
    •    Canada’s Work-Sharing Program
    •    Canada’s Emergency Business Account ProgramIn addition to this virtual one-on-one support, the BusinessTO Support Centre will offer a weekly webinar series to provide information about these available government programs and the requirements to apply. The centre will also inform businesses about how they can support the City’s COVID-19 response and provide general business support and information about other City programs. Sign up to schedule a conversation with a business advisor by video or phone, and a business advisor will be in contact within 24 hours.•    ShopHERE Program:
    ShopHERE will provide Toronto independent businesses and artists the opportunity to develop an online store, which will be built and launched for free in just a matter of days. Hands-on support will be provided throughout the entire process from volunteer website developers and marketing and business students. ShopHERE is supported by a number of community and corporate partners, including Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Shopify, Google, Mastercard, Microsoft, Facebook, eBay, Ritual, Trufan, eShipper, Snapchat, Magnet and Schulich School of Business – York University.

    The program will provide Toronto’s independent businesses and artists with:
    • A template to develop an online store on Shopify, customized with their information, branding, logo, etc.
    • Hands-on assistance setting up and launching their online store
    • Training and support for digital marketing, shipping and operating an online store
    • Access to free tools and online advertising credits to support the launch of their online store.

    An estimated 49,501 Toronto business, 7,371 of them restaurants, bars or cafes, are eligible for the ShopHERE program. The initial program is available now through the end of August, and the City’s goal is to develop 3,000 online stores for Toronto independent businesses and artists.

    To help develop the stores, volunteers from Toronto’s technology community are contributing their time. A number of companies have already agreed to participate, including Global Skills Hub, Scotiabank, General Assembly, Brain Station, Juno, FreshBooks, NEXT Canada, TechTO and TribalScale. Toronto tech companies with an interest in supporting small independent businesses and artists are encouraged to assist if they can. The ShopHERE program will be delivered via the Digital Main Street platform. Toronto independent businesses and artists can sign up for their free online store here.

    •    Ritual ONE:
    Ritual ONE provides restaurants and food services, such as grocers, butchers and bakeries with an easy way to accept digital orders from their own website and social media accounts. Onsite contactless digital ordering is also available. Customers will be able to choose between pickup and delivery. Businesses that sign up for Ritual ONE by June 1 will receive the service free for life and will not pay any commission or monthly subscription fees on Ritual ONE orders. Businesses will be provided with a dedicated expert to help support them during the onboarding process. This offer is also available to existing restaurants in the Ritual marketplace. Standard credit card processing rates would still need to be paid. Toronto businesses can sign up for Ritual ONE here. Businesses enrolled in the City’s ShopHERE program will also be eligible for Ritual ONE and a lifetime exemption from commission and subscription fees.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Excerpt from Apirl 24th E-newsletter:

•    Rent Relief:
As I’m sure many of you know, one of the greatest challenges small businesses owners face is their inability to pay for rent. That is why, I’m advocating to Minister Sarkaria- Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, to request for immediate and direct rent relief for businesses. Please see my letter here. I know that many small business owners aren’t looking for a handout, but a lifeline.

While I believe that direct rent relief is needed, today, Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Ford announced the new Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA).The OCECRA will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners experiencing potential rent shortfalls because their small business tenants have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. To receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75 per cent and commit to a moratorium on evictions for three months.

The government is also providing further details on the program:

  • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
  • The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent.
  • Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

As part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, the government has implemented a series of cash flow supports amounting to $10 billion to help support jobs and the economy, including:

  • Doubling the Employer Health Tax exemption for 2020, cutting taxes by $355 million, benefiting roughly 57,000 employers;
  • Eliminating penalties and interest to businesses who miss filing or remittance deadlines for various provincially administered taxes for five months starting April 1, 2020, providing up to $6 billion in cashflow for about 100,000 Ontario businesses;
  • Postponing the planned property tax reassessment for 2021, providing stability for Ontario’s property taxpayers;
  • Deferring the upcoming quarterly (June 30) remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, providing municipalities with the flexibility to, in turn, provide property tax deferrals of over $1.8 billion to local residents and businesses;
  • Implementing the new Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit for businesses that make eligible capital investments in designated regions of the province where employment growth has significantly lagged behind below the provincial average.

Ontario has also suspended time-of-use electricity rates for eligible small businesses, as well as residential and farm time-of-use customers, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour, for 24 hours per day, seven days a week for 45 days, for all time-of-use customers, who make up the majority of electricity consumers in the province. By switching to a fixed off-peak rate, time-of-use customers will see rate reductions of over 50 per cent compared to on-peak rates.

•    Update on Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA):
I continue to hear from numerous small businesses expressing their frustrations with the eligibility criteria for the Federal Government’s CEBA assistance package. Earlier yesterday, the Prime Minister shared that they’ll be expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs. Since the launch of the CEBA on April 9, 2020, more than 195,000 loans have been approved by financial institutions, extending more than $7.5 billion in credit to small businesses. For more details, please check out this news release here.

•  City of Toronto and Toronto Region Board of Trade:
The City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade are partnering to deliver you a one-stop information center where you will find the resources, tools, and critical support programs you need to manage the challenges you’re facing. For more details, I welcome you to click here.

•  BDC, Canada’s Bank of Entrepreneurs: New Small & Medium-Sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee Program:
The Federal Government, along with BDC, Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, and Export Development Canada (EDC), Canada’s export credit agency, have launched the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in additional lending. The new program is part of a series of measures announced by the Federal Government to support small and medium-sized businesses dealing with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more details, please click here.

•    Expansion of Digital Main Street Program:
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, funding for Digital Main Street in Toronto has been tripled. The budget for the program will go from $240,000 to $825,000 this year. The funding will be used to expand the Digital Service Squad to support Toronto’s main street businesses through one-on-one virtual support. Since its launch, the Digital Main Street program has engaged more than 6,000 Toronto businesses and provided direct one-on-one support to 2,159 businesses, delivering more than 9,200 hours of support, training and education. Prior to working with the Digital Main Street program, 30 per cent of businesses had no online presence. Local businesses can complete the Digital Main Street onboarding process and receive a free Digital Assessment and recommended to-do list here.

•    The City of Toronto’s BIA Financial Incentives:
In case your BIA has not yet been made aware of the various financial incentives offered by the City of Toronto, I’d welcome you to check out the following link, which could provide you funding for commercial facades, streetscape improvements, outside murals, etc.

•    Survey Results from City of Toronto & Toronto Region Board of Trade:
New data from the City of Toronto and Toronto Region Board of Trade’s (the Board) joint Business Insights Questionnaire (BIQ) sheds new light on the shifting challenges that face the region’s business community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents highlighted the need for commercial rent relief and supply chain security as among their key concerns. Results also emphasized the evolving nature of the crisis facing businesses, and the need for governments to react quickly and efficiently in providing them with the tools they need to stay afloat. For further details, please click here.

•    BusinessTO Support Centre:
The City’s new BusinessTO Support Centre will be available for all sectors, including not-for-profit, creative/cultural, manufacturing, technology, retail, hospitality, tourism, main street businesses and consulting services.The centre will help businesses apply for government support programs such as:
•    Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program
•    Canada’s Work-Sharing Program
•    Canada’s Emergency Business Account ProgramIn addition to this virtual one-on-one support, the BusinessTO Support Centre will offer a weekly webinar series to provide information about these available government programs and the requirements to apply. The centre will also inform businesses about how they can support the City’s COVID-19 response and provide general business support and information about other City programs. Sign up to schedule a conversation with a business advisor by video or phone, and a business advisor will be in contact within 24 hours._______________________________________________________________________________________________

Excerpt from April 17th E-newsletter:

I speak with small business owners every day of this crisis. So many of them are financially devastated by this crisis. From shops located on Mt. Pleasant, Yonge, Spadina, St. Clair, Oakwood or along Eglinton, the challenges and struggles that our local businesses face demonstrates the need for every level of government to step up. Attached below you will find a comprehensive update on a number of items that have been put in place to support our local small businesses.

•    Rent Relief:
As I’m sure many of you know, one of the greatest challenges small businesses owners face is their inability to pay for rent. That is why, I’m advocating to Minister Sarkaria- Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, to request for immediate and direct rent relief for businesses. Please see my letter here. I know that many small business owners aren’t looking for a handout, but a lifeline.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. The Federal Government is working with the provinces and territories to increase rent support for businesses that are most impacted by the pandemic and they will have more details to share soon. For more details, please check out his news release here.

•    Update on Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA):
I continue to hear from numerous small businesses expressing their frustrations with the eligibility criteria for the Federal Government’s CEBA assistance package. Earlier yesterday, the Prime Minister shared that they’ll be expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs. Since the launch of the CEBA on April 9, 2020, more than 195,000 loans have been approved by financial institutions, extending more than $7.5 billion in credit to small businesses. For more details, please check out this news release here.

•  City of Toronto and Toronto Region Board of Trade:
The City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade are partnering to deliver you a one-stop information center where you will find the resources, tools, and critical support programs you need to manage the challenges you’re facing. For more details, I welcome you to click here.

•  BDC, Canada’s Bank of Entrepreneurs: New Small & Medium-Sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee Program:
The Federal Government, along with BDC, Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, and Export Development Canada (EDC), Canada’s export credit agency, have launched the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in additional lending. The new program is part of a series of measures announced by the Federal Government to support small and medium-sized businesses dealing with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more details, please click here

•    Expansion of Digital Main Street Program:
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, funding for Digital Main Street in Toronto has been tripled. The budget for the program will go from $240,000 to $825,000 this year. The funding will be used to expand the Digital Service Squad to support Toronto’s main street businesses through one-on-one virtual support. Since its launch, the Digital Main Street program has engaged more than 6,000 Toronto businesses and provided direct one-on-one support to 2,159 businesses, delivering more than 9,200 hours of support, training and education. Prior to working with the Digital Main Street program, 30 per cent of businesses had no online presence. Local businesses can complete the Digital Main Street onboarding process and receive a free Digital Assessment and recommended to-do list here.

•    The City of Toronto’s BIA Financial Incentives:
In case your BIA has not yet been made aware of the various financial incentives offered by the City of Toronto, I’d welcome you to check out the following link, which could provide you funding for commercial facades, streetscape improvements, outside murals, etc. 

•    TABIA Calls for All Small Business Owners & Landlords to Fill Out Survey:
As many of you know TABIA has been working closely with BIAs’ across Toronto to voice the needs of small businesses and challenges you are all facing in light of COVID-19. A quick survey has been put together to get a pulse of who was able to make April’s rent and what challenges you foresee in the coming months. Please take a moment to complete this survey – it shouldn’t take more then 2 minutes– your input is very important to help us understand how Toronto small businesses are doing and to push accurate recommendations and findings to all levels of government through our advocacy efforts. We also ask that you forward this email to your landlord/tenant.

As the needs of landlords and small business owners are different, two similar, but separate surveys, have been created. If you are a business who owns your own building, you can decide which to complete (or respond to both if you feel it’s applicable).

Landlords: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/COVID-19landlordsurvey 
Tenants/Small Business: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/COVID-10tenantsurvey

For those of you who have already completed the survey, thank-you. Our combined efforts will take us forward. 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Excerpt from April 4th E-newsletter:

I speak with small business owners every day of this crisis. So many of them are financially devastated by this crisis. From shops located on Mt. Pleasant Avenue, Yonge Street, Spadina Avenue, St. Clair Avenue East and West, Oakwood Avenue or along Eglinton Avenue East and West, the challenges and struggles that our local businesses face demonstrates the need for every level of government to step up. This past week, I participated in a round table conference call, hosted by the Yonge & St. Clair BIA, with over 30 merchants to discuss the personal and financial impacts of COVID-19 and helpful ways each of our governments can provide the necessary and immediate support they need.

I’m very supportive of the efforts of our Mayor for assembling the Economic Support and Recovery Task Force. This initiative extends the grace period for property tax and utility bills, pledges no layoffs of City employees due to the cancellation of City programs, and establishes a contingency fund to support businesses and affected groups, and more. As of yesterday, the City launched a survey inviting business owners to share how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting their business, and what information or supports they and their employees need. I also believe the Provincial and Federal Governments should create plans that aren’t loans or deferrals, but immediate financial relief to prevent these small business owners, who are seeing little to no revenue coming in now, from being buried in debt that they might never get out of.

To learn more about the business supports already announced through our Federal Government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, I welcome you to click here. I’d like to specifically note that today, Prime Minister Trudeau is increasing the small business wage subsidy to 75 per cent, as opposed to the proposed 10% subsidy, for qualifying businesses. Lastly, to learn more about how our Provincial Government is supporting our local businesses, please click here.

The Toronto Police Service have asked that I share with you a poster with many helpful tips on how to protect your business property. During the challenges of the current pandemic, many businesses have been forced to close for extended periods. This creates opportunity for potential thieves to take advantage and potentially break into your business properties.

If you have any information regarding a criminal matter, please report it directly to the police. You can do so online at: www.torontopolice.on.ca/core or my telephone at 416-808-2222. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477) or online at: www.222tips.com
________________________________________________________________________________________________

Letter to the Province Regarding the Need for An Immediate Rent Relief Plan for Small Businesses and Commercial Landlords

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
7th Floor, 56 Wellesley St. W
Toronto,ON
M7A 2E7

March 31st, 2020

Re: Rent support for small business owners and Landlords

Dear Minister Sarkaria,

I am writing to you as the Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction on behalf of many small business owners, and their Landlords, who are concerned about being able to pay or receive rent tomorrow, April 1st. While the health and safety of our residents are of course the top priority, we must also work to ensure that the drivers of our local economy are in a position to contribute when we make it to the other side of the COVID -19 crisis.

While the federal government has agreed to provide significant wage subsidies, and other measures, to ensure that small businesses are able to retain their workforce, little is being done to ensure that the owners, and their landlords, are able to stay afloat during the pandemic. I have heard from far too many business owners that they will be evicted if they are unable to pay rent, forcing them to shutter their doors and lay off workers.

Please provide small business owners and their landlords with:

  • Immediate Rent Relief: small business owners need direct support to pay their rent now and during the course of the pandemic. Rent deferrals, while appreciated, only delay financial issues and add to the mounting debt that many small business owners are accruing during this crisis.

Rent support from your government for small businesses will help ensure that our main streets return more vibrant than ever on the other side of this pandemic.

Thank you for your continued work to support small businesses.

Sincerely,
Councillor Josh Matlow
City Councillor Toronto – St. Paul’s
www.joshmatlow.ca

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