Councillor Josh Matlow

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

COVID-19: Who to Contact & How to Stay Informed2020-03-31T21:46:26+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.

On a personal note, I deeply appreciate the many members of our community who have been so supportive of my family and me while I’ve been in self-isolation. I’m happy to report that as of today, I’m still completely asymptomatic and feel well. In fact, I feel grateful.

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.

Why do I remain optimistic? Every morning, I speak by phone with a Toronto Public Health worker who monitors me in self-isolation for potential symptoms. Public health professionals, along with the Office of Emergency Management, are working around the clock- compassionately, competently and relentlessly. It is because of them.

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.

We will get through this together.

To receive up-to-date information relating to COVID-19, please click here, and see below for more information. If you are unable to see the COVID-19 related information below, you may need to refresh your page. Click here to sign up for my e-newsletter and receive regular email updates on COVID-19 and other community issues. 

How to Protect Yourself2020-03-17T21:09:16+00:00

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Prevention measures include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill
  • Stay home when you are ill
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands
  • If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surface
  • Self-isolate at home when advised by public health officials
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 Testing Centres2020-03-17T19:53:31+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 centers and where they are located. 

Community Spirit During COVID-19: Ways to Help2020-03-27T17:41:17+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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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!

 

Important Travel Information2020-03-28T22:09:38+00:00

An official global travel advisory is in effect: Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. Federal and provincial public health leaders have recommended that all travellers from outside of Canada self-isolate for 14 days. These efforts will contribute to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada. Please click here for more information. 

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.

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre2020-03-17T19:58:37+00:00

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. 

Federal, Provincial, and Municipal News Releases2020-03-17T20:01:36+00:00
Important Contacts2020-03-21T16:56:48+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/

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
Extended Grace Periods: Pre-Authorized Property Tax & Utility Payments2020-03-21T17:14:14+00:00

The City will be suspending any pending automated withdrawals that have been scheduled within the next 60-day period but not yet withdrawn for property tax and utility bill payments. For more information, please click here.

Advocating for Ontario’s Tenants2020-03-31T19:07:14+00:00

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 Benefits:2020-03-27T17:23:39+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 Benefits:2020-03-27T17:24:29+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 and More2020-03-27T19:32:58+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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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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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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Meals to Go at St. Michael’s & All Angels Church

Between 11:00pm-12:00pm daily, St. Michael’s & All Angels Church (611 St. Clair Ave. W.) will be offering meals to go as well as operating as a food bank. Please check them out!
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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.

Supporting Toronto’s Homeless Population2020-03-28T22:17:31+00:00

City Taking Action to Support Torontonians Experiencing Homelessness:

The City of Toronto has, over the past weeks, rapidly mobilized and implemented a plan in response to the risk COVID-19 presents to clients of the city’s network of shelters, respites, and drop-ins.

Shelter, Support & Housing Administration (SSHA) recognizes that physical distancing is a priority. That’s why SSHA has opened nine new facilities with more than 350 spaces to create further physical distancing for clients from shelters, 24-respites and 24-hour drop-ins. An additional facility is preparing to open with more space ready to be activated as needed. In some cases, community and recreation centres closed as part of the City’s suspension of non-essential services are reopening to support distancing efforts. The City has also opened space at hotel and motel sites and is exploring other opportunities.

A new Rapid Housing Access Initiative is helping to prioritize access to housing for existing shelter clients in Toronto Community Housing. Fifteen households have been matched with housing and will be moving in this week. An additional 50 units have been identified for move-in in the coming weeks. Clients are being referred through the Coordinated Access system and provided with supports to be successful in achieving housing stability. Units are being prioritized for particularly vulnerable individuals, including seniors.

Enhanced screening by Central Intake is ongoing. Stronger infection, prevention and control (IPAC) and cleaning measures continue at City and partner shelters. The City has provided additional funding for this increase in preventative measures, purchasing specialized cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), and helping to increase physical distancing (i.e. installation of curtains). There is now a focus on implementing a PPE distribution plan to ensure this critical equipment is available to clients and staff.

SSHA has also issued broad direction today to over 200 social and affordable housing providers responsible for over 33,000 units reinforcing that the housing stability of residents is a top priority. Housing providers have been directed to be flexible, exercise discretion, and to work with households whose employment-related income is affected by the current emergency.
If you or someone you know needs street outreach, call

Standing with Small Business Owners2020-03-31T21:46:06+00:00

March 27th: E-newsletter Blurb

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
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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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