Update on COVID-19: Friday, April 24th

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

As many of you know, COVID-19 has been particularly virulent with elders in our community, especially in long-term care and retirement homes where it has been running rampant.

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.

The outbreaks that continue to occur in homes across our local community and city, is heartbreaking and I offer each community my love and very active support.

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.

Most importantly, 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.

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

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 letterhere. I know that many small business owners aren't looking for a handout, but a lifeline.

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

The government is also providing further details on the program:

  • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.

  • The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent.

  • Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

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

  • Doubling the Employer Health Tax exemption for 2020, cutting taxes by $355 million, benefiting roughly 57,000 employers;

  • Eliminating penalties and interest to businesses who miss filing or remittance deadlines for various provincially administered taxes for five months starting April 1, 2020, providing up to $6 billion in cashflow for about 100,000 Ontario businesses;

  • Postponing the planned property tax reassessment for 2021, providing stability for Ontario's property taxpayers;

  • Deferring the upcoming quarterly (June 30) remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, providing municipalities with the flexibility to, in turn, provide property tax deferrals of over $1.8 billion to local residents and businesses;

  • Implementing the new Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit for businesses that make eligible capital investments in designated regions of the province where employment growth has significantly lagged behind below the provincial average.

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

My office has no further information other than what was provided above, however, as soon as I receive more details, I won't hesitate to share it in my next e-newsletter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  •  BusinessTO Support Centre:
    The City's new BusinessTO Support Centre will be available for all sectors, including not-for-profit, creative/cultural, manufacturing, technology, retail, hospitality, tourism, main street businesses and consulting services.

The centre will help businesses apply for government support programs such as:
•    Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program
•    Canada’s Work-Sharing Program
•    Canada’s Emergency Business Account Program

In 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To add your voice to support tenants, please email Premier Ford: [email protected]

Know Your Rights: Covid-19 Online Tenant Workshops

The Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations (FMTA) is a non-profit organization in Toronto who has advocated for better rights for tenants for over 40 years. They help tenants organize to fight Above Guidelines Rent increases, provide workshops and training as well as operate the Tenant Hotline which can be reached at (416) 921-9494 or [email protected]

In response to the current health pandemic we are facing, they are offering 7 free online workshops for tenants on their rights under the law. Workshops will be delivered over Zoom and invitations will be sent out the night before.

Some of the session topics include:
•    Evictions during Covid-19
•    Unit Entry and Tenant Privacy during Covid-19
•    Paying Rent and Financial Aid During Covid-19
•    Organizing for Change: Building Tenant Power During and After Covid-19

Please visit their Facebook page here for more information on how to register, dates and times. (You do not need a Facebook account to access this)

Update on Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Gate Closure:

I know how difficult the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Gate closure has been for those of us who live in midtown. My family and I really appreciate walking in the cemetery. My family have gone there frequently throughout our lives, even before our daughter was born. This closure was even more impactful to people who want to visit their loved ones buried there.

As many of you know, this decision was the Cemetery’s, not one that the City made. They told us that they made the decision because too many people were not adhering to safe physical distancing and concern for their staff. I know it was a difficult choice for them to make.

While I respect the Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries concern about visitors who weren’t practicing social distancing and their staff’s well-being, I’ve been encouraging them to consider safe and responsible ways suggested by Toronto Public Health to open their gates to support the public’s physical and mental health.

Moreover, I am requesting the Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries to create a plan to ensure people can, while adhering to social distancing, visit loved ones buried there. I’ve consulted directly with Public Health staff and they’ve suggested ways this can be done safely. I believe that anything decision must ensure the safety of both the public and cemetery staff. I’ll keep you posted.

A Reminder to Drivers- Please Slow Down!:

With the dramatic drop in traffic volumes due to social distancing measures, many community members have noticed the exacerbation of an old problem – speeding and stunt driving on our streets. The concerns raised by our residents in the numerous emails and phone calls I have had about this have been confirmed by the Toronto Police Services. In the second half of March, they have reported a 35% increase in speeding violations and 200% increase in stunt driving violations. It is needless to say that this is absolutely unacceptable and that this reckless and dangerous behaviour can kill not only the most vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists, but also motorists as well. While the concern about people dying of COVID-19 is top of mind, a death is a death and we don’t want to see people die on our roads.

As of last week, officers from the TPS' Vision Zero Enforcement Team have begun rotating in daily shifts across the city and patrolling for drivers who are speeding or stunt driving. All red light cameras in the city are still active and tickets are being issued to motorists who disobey traffic signals. If you are a pedestrian or cyclist, please be cautious and vigilant about your surroundings. If you are a driver, please follow the rules and make sure not to endanger anyone in our community, including yourself. The rules of the road are there for a reason, whether there is a lot of traffic or not.

If you observe someone dangerously speeding, please report this directly to the TPS via their Online Reporting Service at this link.

For more details, please read this article.

Painted Rocks in Our Mt. Pleasant Village:

In an effort to put a smile on people's faces and to thank our front line workers, some residents have painted these stones with positive messages and hiding them along the street on Mount Pleasant Rd. Unfortunately though, these have provided an opportunity for vandalism, so rather than removing them altogether, the Mount Pleasant Village BIA is arranging to re-locate them into businesses' front windows so they may retain the same amount of visibility, but without the risk. If you'd like to submit your own for inclusion, please contact the BIA's community manager, Keven Menager at [email protected].

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.

City of Toronto begins targeted spring cleanup across the city

The City of Toronto will have a targeted spring cleanup taking place across the city over the next few weeks.

Spring cleanup activities include:
•    Illegal dumping cleanup
•    Boulevard and laneway cleaning
•    Litter and debris removal in parks
•    Fence-line litter clearing
•    Street sweeping to clean up dirt and debris from Toronto’s streets.

Unfortunately, the annual Clean Toronto Together community cleanup campaign was cancelled due to COVID-19. During the pandemic, the City has been working hard to keep public spaces clean and safe. Staff are out each day picking up litter, emptying street and park waste bins and sweeping streets. Litter can have harmful effects on the environment and pose risks to both animals and people. There has been an increase in the littering of personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, in Toronto’s public spaces. The public can do their part to help keep Toronto clean and safe by properly disposing of items in available street and bins and not littering items on the ground. The public can also report litter hot spots by calling 311.

If residents find personal protective equipment or other trash discarded on their property, they are advised to use gloves to pick it up and to discard it in the garbage, along with the gloves and then wash their hands. 

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.

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.

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.

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 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)

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.

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