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.
In order to ensure that you have access to credible sources of information, please see the update I’ve provided for you below. It is collected from several recommendations made by public health experts including Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa.
City of Toronto to cancel programs and close facilities as COVID-19 precaution
Based on recommendations from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, to help slow the rate of COVID-19 infection in Toronto and protect vulnerable populations including seniors, people with compromised immune systems, and individuals experiencing homelessness, the City of Toronto is cancelling all programs and closing a number of its facilities as of 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday March 14.
Impacted Programs and Facilities:
• City-operated March Break camps are cancelled
• All licensed child care centres
• Community and recreation centres, greenhouses and conservatories, arenas, pools, fitness centres, and ski hills are closed
• Libraries are closed
• City-operated museums and galleries are closed
• Council and Committee meetings are suspended for the current meeting cycle
• Public consultations are suspended
• All event permits for City facilities, including civic centres, recreation facilities, and parks are cancelled (wedding ceremony permits for civic centre Wedding Chambers will be honoured)
Reimbursements for cancellations will be processed as soon as possible. The tentative date for services to resume is April 5, 2020.
Emergency and Critical Services Continue Unaffected:
• Emergency response by Toronto Police, Fire Services, and Paramedic Services is not impacted
• TTC service will continue to operate. The mass gathering recommendation announced today by the provincial government does not include public transit
• Toronto Water operations continue, including drinking water, wastewater collection and treatment, and stormwater management
• Garbage, recycling and organics collection continues
• Shelters, respites, and drop-in centres continue to operate with measures already established
• Long-term care homes continue to operate with strict visitor restrictions in place
• Road, sidewalk, and bikeway operations and maintenance, including snow removal, continues
• City Hall, Metro Hall, and civic centres will remain open.
Any outstanding questions about service delivery and program impacts should be directed to 311. 311 is available 24/7 by phone:
• 311 (within city limits)
• 416-392-2489 (outside of city limits)
• 416-338-0889 (TTY)
More information on the COVID-19 situation in Toronto and the City’s response, please click here. Adding program and facility information to the webpage is underway.
Medical Officer of Health Encourages Recent International Travellers to Self-Isolate:
Dr. de Villa is also strongly encouraging all residents and visitors to self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving in Toronto from any country, including the United States. Public Health Ontario’s guidelines for are self-isolation are available online.
How To Protect Yourself:
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 surfaces
All Schools Closed until April 5th due to COVID -19
As many of you know, the Provincial government made the decision yesterday to close all publicly-funded schools in Ontario, including those in Toronto from March 14 to April 5, 2020 amid the growing concerns over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Through a Ministerial Order from the Minister of Education, the Ontario government is ordered school boards to close schools to minimize contact between people, especially children, in order to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). For this reason, all childcare centres located inside schools will also be closed and all Extended Day Programs will be cancelled from March 14 through to April 5, 2020.
As all TDSB and TDCSB schools and sites will be closed, the following programs and services will also be closed/cancelled from March 14 to April 5, 2020:
• All Continuing Education and Night School Courses
• All permits
• All Authorized Recreation Programs
• All EarlyON Child and Family Centres
• All TDSB eLearning courses
• All field trips, athletic events, and arts performances
• All school-based meetings and other public meetings and consultations
Call to Action: Organizing To Assist Vulnerable Seniors in Toronto Community Housing
Due to the need to practice social distancing during these uncertain times, many seniors will undoubtedly face challenges with picking up essentials like medications, groceries and other items. These challenges are exacerbated by the new reality of having to wait in line for hours at some stores, which adversely affects some seniors more so than other segments of the population.
The team at UHN OpenLab, which is part of Toronto General Hospital, has been researching and designing solutions to support seniors to live independently in Toronto’s vertical communities. The team is in the midst of organizing a group of volunteers to provide assistance with simple pickups for seniors in designated Toronto Community Housing buildings. They need volunteers to staff the phone lines, communicate with seniors who need assistance, triage orders and provide deliveries. Ideal volunteers are those with cars, good communication skills and a keen interest in the wellbeing of seniors in the city.
To volunteer, please send an email to Tai Huynh at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gormley Avenue Residents Set-Up Special COVID–19 Version of Neighbourhood Watch
Residents on Gormley Avenue, in Deer Park near Yonge and St. Clair, have started COVID-19 Neighbourhood Watch. Several neighbours have joined together to look out for seniors on their street who might fall ill and need assistance to perform daily tasks such as shopping for food, refilling medications and other household essentials. They are also planning to provide local and community information about the virus and how to act as the pandemic progresses.
This is a wonderful display of community spirit that I know we will see more of throughout our Midtown communities in the coming weeks.
We’re all in this together!
If You Require Assistance or Information
My team and I remain actively working. However, our physical offices will be closed until further notice and my staff will be working remotely. In the interim, the best way to connect with us is by email at email@example.com, rather than phone, and we’ll respond to you at our earliest opportunity.
Due to the high volume of correspondence we’re receiving, there may be a delay in our response, but we’ll certainly following up with you. We deeply appreciate your patience.
For any information related to COVID-19, please click here for the Toronto Public Health website to learn more and for important contact information.