Update on COVID-19: Friday, April 17th

How To Protect Yourself and Others:

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

  • Stay home as much as possible

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

  • Practice physical distancing when you are out

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds

    • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill

  • Stay home when you are ill

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands

    • If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Face Masks and Coverings:

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

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

How to Safely Wear a Mask or Face Covering

  • Wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off

  • Make sure it fits to cover your mouth and nose snugly; there should be no gapping

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

  • Cloth masks can be laundered with other items using a hot cycle, and then dried thoroughly

    • If you wear your mask daily, it should be laundered daily

  • Discard non-reusable masks in a lined garbage

  • Clean surfaces that a dirty mask touches

  • Avoid touching your face and mask while using it

  • Do not share your mask with others

  • Do not leave your mask around your neck, hanging from your ear, or on your forehead

  • Do not put your used mask in your pocket. Put it in a plastic bag until you can wash it

How to Safely Take a Mask Off

  • Remove the mask without touching the side that faces outwards

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

  • Wash your hands thoroughly

Who Should Not Wear a Mask or Face Covering

  • Children under the age of two

  • Anyone who has trouble breathing

  • Anyone unable to remove the mask without assistance

Wearing a Mask at Work

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

Do Not Use Medical-Grade Masks

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

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.

Seniors can still go out to exercise. If they do so, they should practice physical distancing. Seniors who live in buildings need to take extra precautions in common areas and elevators, to maintain physical distancing when going outdoors.

The Medical Officer of Health also stated that going outside to get essentials such as groceries or medications once a week is also acceptable. Seniors may wish to ask others for assistance or use online services to limit their interaction with others and to stay home as much as possible. Please scroll further down my e-newsletter to review these assistance programs and initiative.

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.

Commemorating A Dear Community Member: John O'Leary

John Daniel O'Leary, a longtime resident of the Yonge and St Clair neighbourhood sadly passed away in a tragic accident this week. Living in the neighbourhood for over 40 years, he referred to himself to his family and friends as "Johnny 2 Blocks", because for many years, his entire life - live, work, and play was within a 2 block radius of Yonge and St Clair.

A kind soul who loved books, he could often be found at Deer Park Library, Lichtman's in the old days, Book City, Fran's back when it was on St Clair (in fact, when the restaurant closed in 2001, he lamented that he would have nowhere to eat - he ate almost every meal there!), Boccone, Jingles, and more recently Zelden's Deli and Aroma Coffee.

John was a generous man.  He never married -  as a close friend said, "John O'Leary was married to helping other people" , and his dedication to others was exceptional.

He joined Frontier College in 1976 as a teacher in a prison literacy program, and in 1991 was appointed president of the College. He undertook a national initiative to organize literacy programs with volunteers at every college and university campus in Canada, created literacy coalitions outside the education field, with labour, business, non-profit, and non-government organizations. He was also co-founder of several nationwide advocacy groups for literacy, including the Peter Gzowski Invitational Golf Tournaments, ABC Canada, the Regent Park Community Health Centre Newcomers homework club program, and the Business Task Force on Literacy. He was committee member of the inagural Mr Christie Children's Book Awards, was a member of a federal government task force on social policy and reform, the National Crime Prevention Council, and an advisory group on literacy for the Ontario Ministry of Education. He is the father of the present adult literacy movement in Canada, and a colleague said "without exaggeration, there are hundreds of thousands of people who are able to enjoy the many rich rewards of literacy thanks to his passion and leadership." Most recently working with the Anishnawbe Health Foundation, his relentless pursuit to enrich and make better the lives of others will be his legacy.

He was much loved by so many, and he will be greatly missed. For those that wish to pass along their condolences to John's family and friends, you may reach out to Kate Young at [email protected]

I plan to work with his family and friends in the near future on how we can honor John in our community.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support Needed for Small Business Owners and Landlords: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protecting Our Seniors:

As many of you know, COVID-19 has been particularly virulent with elders in our community, especially in long-term care home settings. Despite best efforts and proven measures to contain outbreaks, this virus has had a devastating impact on those who work and reside in long-term care homes, nursing homes and other institutions where our most vulnerable receive care.

In order to better protect the most vulnerable and stop the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes, the Ontario government has developed an action plan with key measures . In addition, the province has issued a new emergency order restricting long-term care staff from working in more than one long-term care home, retirement home or health care setting. These measures are being taken on the advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health.

The COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes adds critical new measures to prevent further outbreaks and deaths from COVID-19 in long-term care homes, including:

  1. Aggressive Testing, Screening, and Surveillance: enhancing testing for symptomatic residents and staff and those who have been in contact with persons confirmed to have COVID-19; expanding screening to include more asymptomatic contacts of confirmed cases; and leveraging surveillance tools to enable care providers to move proactively against the disease.

  2. Managing Outbreaks and Spread of the Disease: supporting long-term care homes with public health and infection control expertise to contain and prevent outbreaks; providing additional training and support for current staff working in outbreak conditions.

  3. Growing our Heroic Long-Term Care Workforce: redeploying staff from hospitals and home and community care to support the long-term care home workforce and respond to outbreaks, alongside intensive on-going recruitment initiatives.

The government has also issued an emergency order directing long-term care employers to ensure their employees, including registered nurses, registered practical nurses, personal support workers, kitchen and cleaning staff only work in one long-term care home. This means that employees cannot work in multiple locations such as a retirement home or other health care setting. As a result of this order, long-term care workers who must temporarily give up a job in another care setting are protected from losing their job as they are entitled to an unpaid leave of absence. To help long-term care workers make up these lost wages, the government encourages long-term care employers to offer full-time hours to their part-time employees during the COVID-19 outbreak.

To help employers cover this expense, the government is taking action to ensure long-term care homes have the flexibility and funds to rapidly hire nurses and other front-line staff they need, when they need them. These emergency funds are available to help long-term care homes cover the incremental costs of increasing hours for part-time staff to help those staff limit their work locations.

All long-term care staff continue to be subject to rigorous screening procedures and must follow personal protective equipment guidelines, including wearing surgical masks, gowns, gloves and eye protection while in homes.

For more information, please review this provincial news release.

As Toronto's Seniors Advocate, I'm deeply saddened by the devastating impact this virus has had on our senior population. The outbreaks that continue to occur in homes across our local community such as Christie Gardens Apartments and Care, Isabel and Arthur Meighen Manor, Bradgate Arms and Hellenic Home and across Toronto such as at Seven Oaks, Lakeshore Lodge and Kipling Acres, is heartbreaking and I want to offer each community my love and active support.

For those that are in self-isolation alone, there will be brighter days ahead. For those that are unwell due to the virus, I wish you strength and a full recovery. And for those families and friends that have lost a loved one from COVID-19, I express my deepest condolences to you. In any case, we're in this together. You are all in my heart and always on my mind.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to our heroic and caring personal support workers, nurses, health care workers, management teams, cleaners, kitchen staff, coordinators and anyone I missed in between- thank you! I know we wouldn't be able to get through this without your tireless commitment.

If we all do our part, spend time at home and slow the spread of the virus, more of our parents, grandparents, family members, friends and neighbours can get the care they need to survive this.

Province Extends Residential Construction Hours:

Last week, the provincial government overrode the City of Toronto Act to allow residential construction to occur between the hours of 6:00am and 10:00pm every day. This is an extension of the current rules which permit construction 7:00am to 7:00pm on weekdays, and not at all on Sundays. Given that the government has already included most current construction projects on the Essential Workplaces List, I’m concerned this measure could put further stress on workers and communities.

The guidelines for construction safety issued by the province does not require employers to take the steps that public health officials suggest are necessary for keeping workers, or anyone, safe. While some construction companies may have good intentions toward their workers, on many job sites it is almost impossible to maintain 6 feet of physical space due to group lifts or other tasks that involve support. Moreover, the use of port-o-potties is not prohibited and running water is not required, making it difficult to follow hygiene practices recommended to limit the spread of COVID -19.

The risks potentially posed by continuing to allow, and expand, residential construction do not stop at the construction site. Construction workers have families, friends, and neighbours who could also impacted.

Many construction sites are adjacent to, or within, existing residential communities. The wording of the updated Essential Workplaces list would allow construction to continue on apartment infill projects and refurbishments within buildings themselves. Allowing construction from early in the morning until 10:00pm at night, while people are being asked to stay home, has the potential to put residents at risk of infection while greatly impacting their quality of life and mental health by subjecting them to constant noise.

To fight this pandemic it is essential that every decision be made in the interest of public health and saving lives. I have heard from some of you that there may be nuances in construction safety, and I have written to the Premier to ask whether the decision to include residential construction sites on the Essential Workplaces list was made on the advice of the provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health. While the Premier responded to my letter, he did not address whether his decision was based on the advice of the Province’s public health experts.

To voice your concerns on this issue, please email Premier Ford: [email protected].

For more information, please see this article.

Toronto Public Health Launches New Data System to Enhance Local COVID-19 Response:

Yesterday, Toronto Public Health launched a new technology solution- CORES, to enhance case and contact tracing work. Case and contact tracing is a critical component of Toronto Public Health's (TPH) COVID-19 response and work to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

Case and contact follow-up is routine public health work for COVID-19 and other commonly reportable infectious diseases including measles, mumps and hepatitis A. Case and contact tracing information provides insight in how COVID-19 spreads from one person to another, the extent of community spread and how long the virus can incubate. It also provides information on the overall impacts on our health and what we can to do further protect our residents. Other important data sources are symptoms, testing results, hospitalizations, deaths and what other jurisdictions are experiencing and what we can learn from them.

CORES will allow TPH to quickly and easily document each individual case investigation efficiently and share data with the provincial Ministry of Health. It will allow TPH to better keep up with the volume of new reports and prioritize individual cases that require urgent follow-up such as healthcare workers as the local COVID-19 evolves. Importantly, this system also allows more of our front-line staff to work remotely from home.

Previously, TPH was inputting our case and contact tracing data into the provincial integrated public health information system also known as iPHIS that all local public health departments are required to use to report infectious disease information. This system has served TPH well during routine public health work. However, it is not equipped to deal with a health emergency of this magnitude and the scale and speed of data entry required to provide up-to-date data.

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

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

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

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

Any questions about donations can be directed to [email protected].

City of Toronto to Continue Yard Waste Collection for Another Two Weeks:

The City of Toronto will continue yard waste collection for another two weeks from April 20 to May 1 to accommodate residents. Residents are asked to put their yard waste out before 7 a.m. on their regularly scheduled garbage/yard waste collection day. If yard waste is not picked up on collection day, residents are asked to leave it out until it’s collected. It is not necessary to call 311 to report a missed collection.

If possible, residents should use a yard waste bag. Otherwise, a rigid open-top container can be used. Brush and branches should be secured in bundles no longer than 1.2 metres (4 feet), no wider than 0.6 metres (two feet) and no heavier than 20 kilograms (44 lbs).

A reminder to residents that the following Solid Waste Management Services continue to be impacted, to ensure the health and safety of residents and staff and sustain operations:
• Drop-off depots are closed to the general public. Only those with an existing registered account can continue to bring material to Depots. No new account requests will be processed at this time. Cash will not be accepted and depots will not operate on Saturdays.
• Toxic Taxi services and household hazardous waste drop-off are suspended. Hazardous waste should be safely stored until services resume.
• Bin exchanges are suspended. Existing service requests will be completed once full service resumes. Bin repair and missing bin requests will continue to be processed.
• All community Environment Days scheduled in April, May and June have been cancelled.

The collection of garbage, recycling, organics, and oversized and metal items has not been impacted and will continue as scheduled.

City of Toronto Begins Sweeping Streets This Week as Part of Spring Cleanup: 

Beginning this week, street sweepers are busy cleaning up dirt and debris from Toronto’s streets to help keep roadways clean and safe. Street sweeping is taking place during the day and in the evenings, servicing both neighbourhood and main roads throughout April. Street sweeping helps to remove dust, dirt and other contaminants that would otherwise enter the environment. It also assists in improving the overall air quality and is an important part of Toronto’s flood prevention strategy, since litter and debris are removed from roadway catch basins.

During COVID-19, the City of Toronto continues to operate essential and critical services to keep Toronto functioning, like ensuring a clean and safe water supply, solid waste services, maintaining infrastructure, and emergency services.

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.

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.

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 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 [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

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!

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)

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 www.sprintseniorcare.org 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 sparkontario.ca so potential volunteers can be put to work quickly.

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

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

Need help posting your opportunities? Click here

Interested in volunteering? Sign up at sparkontario.ca 

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

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.

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.

Related posts

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.

Take action

Sign Up for Updates
Contact our Office
Contact 311

Sign up for updates