Community & COVID-19 Update: Friday, May 15th

UPDATE: Midtown Supports New Tenants In Critical Need of Housing

In my last e-newsletter update, the email address information for the Republic Residents’ Association (RRA), the group organizing a community drive to collect everyday items to support the new tenants at 55-65 Broadway, was written incorrectly. Fortunately, we were immediately able to register that email address to ensure no one’s generous offer of assistance was missed. The correct email address is [email protected]

Please visit my webpage here to learn more about how you can support the new tenants in our community get settled by providing new or gently used items, or a monetary donation.

Akelius Tenant Network – Supporting Each Other and Fighting Back

There is hardly any landlord I’ve heard more complaints about than Akelius. They use parasitic practices to push rent-controlled tenants out, such as buying up buildings, removing the super and beginning construction. Now, the UN is calling them out and claiming that they are abusing the rights of tenants by using the practice of “renovictions” to push tenants out of their homes while making record profits.

Tenants have organized together to provide support and advocacy to others living in the 50+ Akelius-owned buildings across Toronto. If you live in one and are looking to connect and organize with active tenants from across Toronto and the GTA, I encourage you to check out the Akelius Tenants Network. Their website can be found here.

If you do not live in an Akelius–owned building, but would like support in starting a tenant association, you can contact the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association here. While it can sometimes feel discouraging to stand up to your landlord alone, it’s much easier to do so together with your neighbours.

Province Of Ontario Announces Stage 1 Reopening Plan

The Ontario Government has announced that some categories of businesses and services will be reopened over the next few days. Seasonal businesses such as golf courses and private campgrounds will be allowed to open tomorrow, May 16th. Elective surgeries, in-person counselling, veterinary services, retail establishments that can enable physical distancing, and other businesses and services will be allowed to open on Tuesday, May 19th. For a full list of businesses and services allowed to reopen as part of the Ontario government's plan, please see this website here.

Support Needed for Small & Medium Sized Business Owners and Landlords: 

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.

Check Out What's Open in Toronto-St. Paul's and Find Out How to Donate to Your Favourite 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 ,Yonge+St.Clair BIAYork-Eglinton BIAMidtown Yonge BIAUptown Yonge, Upper Village BIA, Rosedale Main Street, Wychwood Heights BIAHillcrest Village BIA and Forest Hill Village BIA.

In case you're looking for a way to support your favourite 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.

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 [email protected] or reply to this e-newsletter. I look forward to hearing from you!

City Provides More Spaces on Streets for Physical Distancing

The City has recently announced the ActiveTO and CurbTO programs being developed by Public Health and Transportation Services to provide more space for people walking and cycling as well as transit riders to allow for better physical distancing as part of the city's restart  and recovery.

As the summer comes and the city starts up again, it’s expected people will be out and about more often. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa's advice to residents to stay at home as much as possible and to avoid rushing out to create conditions that would encourage people to congregate has helped slow the spread of the virus. It has protected the health of Toronto residents and saved lives – which is the primary objective at all times.

But people cannot stay home forever, and they will need to go outside. More space on our streets is needed to ensure that Torontonians can go outside while maintaining distance from others.

Right now, vehicle and pedestrian traffic are at an all-time low, while bike traffic has stayed about the same in certain downtown locations. In anticipation of changes in traffic patterns in the coming weeks and months, the Mayor and City Council requested City staff look at more active transportation as a crucial part of the restart and recovery.

The plans include:

Creating Quiet Streets 

Approximately 50km of local routes throughout Toronto will have traffic calming measures implemented to enable local car traffic only and open up space for pedestrians and cyclists.

Major Streets for Active Transportation

Transportation Services staff and Toronto Public Health recommend closing some major roads adjacent to major trails or recreational attractions where crowding on weekends and holidays has been observed. These would include some locations with complete closures to all car traffic and would be delivered through recurring short-term road closures, such as on weekends. When this happens, on a trial basis, staff will be monitoring adjacent routes with real-time data and will make adjustments as necessary.

Expanding Cycling Network 

More bike lanes will help people move around the city as the restart gets underway. This plan would see the cycling network expanded and temporary active transportation lanes installed. The City will expand and accelerate key parts of the council-approved Cycling Network Plan that connect the cycling network, as well as bikeways that mirror major TTC routes.

Pedestrian Queueing Hotspots

The CurbTO program will provide additional space to encourage physical distancing in areas where it is challenging due to lineups for businesses. City staff have worked to identify key hot spots where there are lineups or pinch points on sidewalks that public health and transportation officials have determined need to be addressed to continue to encourage physical distancing and protect overall public health.

The program focuses on creating curb lane pedestrian zones to increase space for pedestrians, as well as temporary parking pick-up zones that will allow for quick medicine and food pick-ups at essential businesses. Residents and businesses that would like to get more information on the program are encouraged to visit the City's website at this link, and call 311 to report any suggestion locations they may have for the program.

Planned City of Toronto Summer Camps Cancelled Due To COVID-19

The City of Toronto is cancelling all planned 2020 summer camps and preparing an alternative program to get children safely back to camp through a new CampTO program. Details of the program are being developed and are dependent on the lifting of current provincial orders and recommendations from Toronto Public Health.

CampTO would provide children with a high-quality camp experience, inclusive of traditional camp activities, that incorporate public health measures designed to reduce the risk of virus spread, including physical distancing, smaller group sizes, daily health assessments and more extensive cleaning and hygiene measures. If permitted to operate, CampTO will provide 5,300 camp spaces per week for children ages 6 to 12 representing approximately 50 per cent of the typical City of Toronto camp capacity.

Registration details for the CampTO program will be announced once the Province is able to safely remove restrictions on day camps and an estimated four weeks have passed to prepare for their opening. Preparation activities include readying facilities, client registration, staff hiring and training and site-specific program modifications.

City staff are working diligently with Toronto Public Health on guidance for CampTO. This will ensure that the City is prepared to respond quickly to any changes to the Province’s emergency orders or public health recommendations. A number of conditions must be in place before the City can safely operate summer camps, including changes to or termination of the Province of Ontario’s emergency orders, and significant and sustained reduction in virus spread in Toronto. Toronto Public Health has advised that as a result of the current COVID-19 situation, it is highly unlikely the City’s summer camps could operate without modifications to address strategies such as physical distancing to reduce virus spread.

The City is issuing refunds automatically to all current camp registrants. As there is a significant volume of cancellations and refunds to be processed, registrants should expect a wait time for reimbursement of up to four weeks. While registrants do not need to request a refund, they can contact [email protected] with questions or concerns.

City of Toronto Extends Cancellation of Permits for Major Festivals 

To slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Toronto is extending the cancellation of City-led and City-permitted major festivals and events with attendance of more than 250 people through July 31, and those with attendance of 25,000 or more through August 31. The resumption or cancellation of professional sporting events is not included in this decision.

Today's announcement includes festivals, conferences and cultural programs held in facilities managed by City divisions or public locations, such as roads, parks and civic squares. Issued permits are now cancelled and permits that have been applied for will not be issued.

The cancellation of major mass participation events of more than 250 people until July 31 includes Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, Honda Indy, Toronto Triathlon Festival, Beaches International Jazz Festival, and Big on Bloor, among others. Our very own Toronto-St.Paul's Salsa on St.Clair Festival is among those listed - but the dance goes on. Hillcrest Village BIA and Telelatino TV will host a "virtual" Salsa on St.Clair festival on Saturday July 4th and Sunday July 5th, which will feature our remarkable small businesses on St.Clair West, who need our community's support. Stay tuned for more details.

The cancellation of major mass participation events of more than 25,000 people until August 31 includes Jerkfest, Taste of the Danforth, Taste of Manila, and Toronto Chinatown Festival, among others.

To mitigate the impacts of these cancellations, Mayor John Tory announced today that the City will repurpose grant funding that was previously approved by City Council, in order to support festivals that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The City's Cultural Festivals Recovery Program will provide financial and in-kind support to:
•     defray financial losses for festivals that were cancelled due to COVID-19
•    assist festival organizers to meet payments due to their suppliers, including artists and small businesses
•    help festival organizers maintain critical operations to survive this year and prepare for their next festival
•    support planning and purchases that help improve the public health and safety practices of festival organizers and
•    aid collaborative efforts in areas such as event planning, insurance, volunteer training and marketing to strengthen Toronto's network of festivals.

The City's Cultural Festivals Recovery Program in-kind partners include Re-Solved, who donated software development services, as well as FORREC, BaAM Productions and the Leadership Emergency Arts Network, among others, who will provide advisory services to strengthen the planning capacity of third-party event organizers, particularly for health and safety, and to help festivals play a key role in the City's economic recovery.

Update on Isabel and Arthur Meighen Manor:

As many of you know, our beloved Isabel and Arthur Meighen Manor was one of the many Long-Term Care homes from across Toronto that was tragically impacted by COVID-19. I continue to hear from families and friends who are deeply concerned for the health and safety of their loved ones.

I held a phone conference meeting with the CEO of Sunnybrook Dr. Andy Smith and his team to better understand the support that they're offering to Meighen Manor and to discuss the needs of the families of staff and residents I’ve spoken with.

What happened there was devastating. Thankfully, since Sunnybrook arrived, they’ve deployed over 20 Sunnybrook staff, increased the cycles and level of testing completed on every resident, provided personal protective equipment, offered new and frequent training sessions, assisted with communications, and much more. I believe the Sunnybrook team has been doing tireless work and should be commended. Their spirit of collaboration with Meighen Manor shows in the progress that they've made since arriving just a few weeks ago.

You’ll hear more from me in my next update to you about what I’m convinced must be done as next steps to improve the health, safety and quality of care at Meighen Manor and all of Ontario’s Long-Term Care Homes.

Financial Supports Available for Seniors:

As Toronto's Seniors Advocate, I was pleased to hear of the additional measures the Federal government announced this week to help seniors and provide them with greater financial security in this time of crisis. These measures include:

  • Providing additional financial support of $2.5 billion for a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). This measure would give a total of $500 to individuals who are eligible to receive both the OAS and the GIS, and will help them cover increased costs caused by COVID-19.

  • Expanding the New Horizons for Seniors Program with an additional investment of $20 million to support organizations that offer community-based projects that reduce isolation, improve the quality of life of seniors, and help them maintain a social support network.

  • Temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been assessed. This will ensure that the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive their benefits when they need them the most. To avoid an interruption in benefits, seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible and no later than by October 1, 2020.

To learn more about the financial supports available to seniors, please feel welcome to click here.

Show Your Support for the Frontline Staff & Residents at Toronto's Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes:

As Toronto’s Seniors Advocate, I’m very concerned about, and deeply saddened by, the devastating impact this virus is having on our senior population and on those who work and reside in long-term care and retirement homes, along with other institutions where the most vulnerable of us receive care.

For those who are in self-isolation, I want you to know that we care about you and you are not alone. For those who are unwell because of the virus, I wish you our support, strength and a full recovery. And for those families and friends that have lost a loved one from COVID-19, my deepest and most sincere condolences to you.

Our community appreciates the heroic and caring personal support workers, nurses, doctors, health care workers, management teams, cleaners, kitchen staff, coordinators and everyone who works tirelessly to support our loved ones. No words can adequately express our heartfelt gratitude and support.

Many of you have asked how you can offer your support from a physical distance. I’ve created this page to allow residents to leave a comment and show their support for our seniors and frontline staff at the following homes below. You can click on the home you want to leave a message of encouragement, love and gratitude. Once we collect your responses, I’ll share the page with that specific home so that the staff and residents can see how much support they have from all of us.

Thank you for your kindness and support for the people who need us now more than ever.

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.

Seniors Animation Program- North York Arts Teams Up With Toronto Animation Image Society:

Explore the art of storytelling through the use of stop-motion animation! North York Arts and the Toronto Animation Image Society have teamed up to present the Seniors Animation Program. Over the course of 16 FREE workshops (6 online in the spring and 10 in-person in the fall), participants will use digital animation techniques to explore topics and issues affecting today’s senior population. This program is a chance to connect with peers, channel your creative expression, and develop your digital literacy. Please click here for more details on workshop groups, dates, times, locations, and prerequisites.

Play4All.Merton Project:

Remember the days when you got that phone call from your best friend asking if you were free to go to the park? You would meet, walk to 7-Eleven grab a slurpee, some .25 cent candy, and maybe even a jumbo freezie? Then you’d go to the park, play capture the flag, shoot hoops, or hang upside down on the monkeybars until your parents made you go inside for dinner. Yeah, those were the days...

Those early days at the playground were primitive in developing your social skills. You networked, held conversations, and gained skills of patience – all while waiting for your turn on the swing. Days at the playground had you running around, kept you physically fit, and nurtured your mental health.  Aside from all these wonderful things, days at the playground left you with memories that still make you smile to this day.

Play4All.MertonProject is a grassroots project initiated by residents of Hospital Workers’ Housing Co-operative (HWHC) whose goal is to give today’s children those same memories that you cherish. You can have a direct hand in this mission. You can help give children and youth of today the chance to make some of those same sentimental childhood memories. Now you might be wondering, “How can I help children create such fond memories?”, or “Who is Hospital Workers’ Housing   Co-Operative?”. HWHC is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1992 by a group of CUPE frontline healthcare workers in Toronto who wanted to provide frontline healthcare workers and their families with an affordable housing option.

HWHC continues to exist today has initiated Play4All.MertonProject to make play accessible for youth, children, and adults residing at HWHC. Play4All is raising funds to rebuild a playground where children, youth, and families can keep physically fit, mentally healthy, and build life-long memories.

You can help make Play4All.MertonProject come to fruition. You can help the children of this community make lifelong friends and forge timeless memories.

Want to donate to Play4all.MertonProject directly? Please visit our GoFundMe page here.

Want to learn more? Visit our website here or email us at [email protected]

Revised Due Dates for City of Toronto Property Tax and Utility Bills

The 60-day grace period for property tax, utility bill payments and late penalties extended by the City during the COVID-19 response ends on May 15. There are important changes to instalment amounts and due dates for customers on all payment schedules. All customers will receive a mailed notification of their revised interim bill due dates. Final tax bills will be mailed in mid-May as usual.

Property taxes for the remainder of 2020 will be due on the following dates:
•    Two-instalment plan: August 4
•    Six-instalment plan: June 1, July 2, August 4, September 1 and October 1
•    Eleven-instalment plan: June 15, July 15, August 17, September 15, October 15, November 16 and December 15.

Customers on the 11-instalment plan will have their original May and June interim instalment amounts combined with the final billing and spread evenly over July through December payments. Customers who are already enrolled in the City’s pre-authorized payment plan don’t have to re-enroll – payments will start again automatically on the new due date. Customers who have sent the City post-dated cheques do not need to re-send cheques for the revised due dates, as any cheques previously submitted will be processed on the new due dates. Any cheques received after April 1, 2020 will be cashed according to the date on the cheque.

Those who pay their taxes via their mortgage payment should contact their mortgage company or financial institution to understand how this grace period will affect their mortgage amount and/or mortgage payment schedule.

Customers who paid their property tax and utility bills during this time will see any payments made reflected on their account. Property owners can access their property tax account details by using the online Property Tax Lookup tool available at here.
For utility bill customers, due dates appearing on utility bills have been automatically adjusted to reflect the 60-day grace period.

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:

  • Avoid non-essential trips in the community

  • Only go out for essentials (e.g. groceries, medications) once a week

  • Practise 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:

A face mask or covering can be used if you are unable to maintain a two metre (six feet) distance from others, such as on transit, in an elevator, when grocery shopping or entering and leaving your apartment building. 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.

Making a Non-Medical Mask or Face Covering

  • Use at least two layers of tightly woven fabric (e.g. cotton or linen)

  • Use different fabrics for each side of the mask, so you know which side faces in or out

  • The mask should be large enough to cover the nose and mouth, without gaps

  • Use ties or ear loops for a secure fit, and for easy breathing

  • Do not use plastic or non-breathable materials

  • Be sure the mask or covering does not interfere with your vision or your tasks

  • For instructions on making a mask using fabric, a t-shirt or a bandana, visit the Government of Canada website 

Putting On a Mask or Face Covering

  • Wash your hands before putting on a mask

  • Keep hair away from your face

  • Place the mask over your mouth and nose snugly. There should be no gap

  • Be sure it fits comfortably and that it’s easy to breath, to avoid adjusting the mask while using it

  • 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 because it is contaminated with germs. Put it in a plastic bag until you can wash it

Taking Off a Face Mask

  • Change your mask as soon as it gets damp or soiled

  • Remove the mask without touching the outside of the mask

  • Put the mask directly in the laundry or a lined bin to be cleaned

  • Wash cloth masks after each use, in the laundry with other items using the hot cycle

  • Discard non-reusable masks in a lined garbage

  • Clean surfaces that a dirty mask touches

  • Wash your hands thoroughly

Individuals Who Should Not Use Face Masks

  • Children under the age of two

  • Anyone who has trouble breathing

  • Anyone who cannot 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.

Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Issues New Directives Under the Health Protection & Promotion Act:

On April 1, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health issued new directives under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. These include:

  1. All individuals with COVID-19 are ordered by the Medical Officer of Health to stay home, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act for 14 days.

  2. All individuals who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are also ordered to stay home by the Medical Officer of Health for 14 days.

  3. Anyone who is not ill or has not travelled, is strongly directed to stay home except for the following reasons:

    • accessing healthcare or medication

    • shop for groceries once per week

    • walk their dogs

    • get daily exercise while maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres

  4. People returning from international travel must stay home (already a federal order).

Anyone over the age of 70, as the Province announced, is strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible. The rationale is that seniors are at the highest risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19. Adding additional measures to protect them is important.

All Travelers Are Mandated to Self-Isolate for 14-Days:

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.

Help for Canadians Outside of Canada:

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.

Accessing Support through Federal & Provincial Government Benefits:

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:

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 More:

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.


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, the Meals on Wheels food service or security and wellness checks, please call 416-481-0069 ext. 1225 or review this flyer.

The Stop's COVID-19 Plan:

We’re at a critical time for the containment of COVID–19 (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 Bankwill run Mondays and Fridays, 12pm-3pm.

  • The Drop-inwill 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 Officewill 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 [email protected].

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.

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.

Meals to Go at St. Michael's & All Angels Church

On Sundays, our local St. Michael’s & All Angels Church (611 St. Clair Ave. W.) offers out of the cold take away lunches (til the end of April) and between 11:00pm-12:00pm on Wednesdays, a food bank will be open. For more details, you may visit their Facebook page here.

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 [email protected] 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!

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.

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 (21166) and chat services.

Legal Aid

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

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.​

Supporting Our Youth During COVID-19:

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.

Toronto Pubic Library's Youth Tools
I know many of our Toronto Public Library (TPL) branches offer youth hubs for youth to hang-out during the week. Our very own Maria Shchuka Library has an amazing youth hub that is constantly packed during the weekdays. Branches from across Toronto are currently working on ways to reach out to youth in the community, virtually, of course. The Toronto Public Library's Youth Advisory Groups, which are made up of youth volunteers, continue to keep in touch and engaged with Youth Services staff for the past few weeks via email, phone and Webex. Youth can connect to the library through social media, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the TPL website.

Community Spirit During COVID-19: Ways to Help:

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 [email protected]. Visit us at to learn more about our services and programs.

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.

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 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.

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 [email protected] or 416.225.2112 ext.127 if you are able to help.

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: [email protected], 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!

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!

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 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 

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

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 [email protected] or on Facebook here.

City of Toronto 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 [email protected].

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 protected], 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.

NEW: Accessibility Link Available 

As part of my commitment to ensuring that my community updates are available to all residents in Toronto-St Paul’s, my e-newsletter can be viewed with a variety of accessibility features. Options include changing text size, colour options, fonts and more. To access the accessibility panel, view this newsletter on my website by clicking here and then clicking on the person shaped icon on the left of your screen.

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Councillor Matlow's City Hall and Community Update: Summer 2022

Dear Residents,

I hope this finds you healthy and well. As always, I hope that you find this e-newsletter helpful and informative.

Due to the upcoming municipal election on October 24th, integrity rules state that I am unable to send out community updates after August 1st. Therefore, you will receive my next update later in the fall if I continue to have the honour to serve you. Over the past four years, we have achieved so much together, in every one of our Toronto-St. Paul's neighbourhoods and the many important initiatives we have brought to City Hall to improve our city.

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