Update on COVID-19: Friday, May 8th

A Special Public Service Announcement from Molly Matlow:

My daughter Molly asked me to share her latest public service announcement with you all. Please click here to view it.

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

I speak with small and medium sized business owners every day of this crisis, and many of of them are financially devastated. The challenges and struggles that our local businesses face demonstrate the need for every level of government to step up to support them.

Our community's business owners have been trying to the best of their abilities to adapt to our constantly changing environment. While our favourite local shops are working to protect our health and safety, let's shop local to support them. We need our main streets to survive this pandemic. Please join me in sharing the following graphic with your family, friends and neighbours to remind them to shop local and use the hashtag: #SaveMidtownMainStreets.

As I'm sure many of you know, one of the greatest challenges small businesses owners face is their inability to pay for rent. That is why I'm advocating to Minister Sarkaria - Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction - to request 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.

While I believe that direct rent relief is needed, 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. For more information, please click 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. A few weeks ago, 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 centre where you will find the resources, tools, and critical support programs you need to manage the challenges you’re facing. For more details, I welcome you to click here.•  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 Centrewill be available for all sectors, including not-for-profit, creative/cultural, manufacturing, technology, retail, hospitality, tourism, main street businesses and consulting services.The centre will help businesses apply for government support programs such as:
    •    Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program
    •    Canada’s Work-Sharing Program
    •    Canada’s Emergency Business Account ProgramIn addition to this virtual one-on-one support, the BusinessTO Support Centre will offer a weekly webinar series to provide information about these available government programs and the requirements to apply. The centre will also inform businesses about how they can support the City's COVID-19 response and provide general business support and information about other City programs. Sign up to schedule a conversation with a business advisor by video or phone, and a business advisor will be in contact within 24 hours.

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

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

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

Province Allowing Non-Essential Retail Stores to Open For Curbside Pick-up and Delivery

The Ontario government is allowing all retail stores with a street entrance to provide curbside pickup and delivery, as well as in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores.

As of today, Friday, May 8 at 12:01 a.m., garden centres and nurseries are able to open for in-store payment and purchases, operating under the same health and safety guidelines as pharmacies and grocery stores. Hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases as soon as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 9. On Monday, May 11 at 12:01 a.m., retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery.
Businesses must follow public health measures and should review the workplace safety guidelines, such as promoting physical distancing and frequent handwashing, sanitizing surfaces, installing physical barriers, staggering shifts, and using contactless payment options to stop the spread of COVID-19.

To learn more, the Province's health and safety guidelines for businesses can be found here. The City of Toronto has also released its very own healthy and safety guidelines here.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery Re-Opens Their Gates!:

I know how difficult the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Gate closure has been for those of us who live in Midtown. My family have gone there frequently throughout our lives, even before our daughter was born. The 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 out of concern for their staff. I know it was a difficult choice for them to make.

Over these past few weeks, I've been actively talking with the Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries, and encouraging them to consider safe and responsible ways suggested by Toronto Public Health to open their gates to support our Midtown community's physical and mental health and for mourners wishing to visit loved ones buried there.

I'm happy to announce that beginning yesterday, all Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries gates, including those connected to the Beltline Trail at Mount Pleasant Cemetery will be opened for public access during the following times:

Monday – Saturday 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Sundays* 3:30 PM – 8:00 PM
* Note: The gates will be closed on May 10th, Mother’s Day

Commencing on Sunday May 17th, their gates will remain open during the above hours including Sundays between 3:30 PM and 8:00 PM.

This is a first step and I’m hopeful for more to come soon.

Midtown Supports New Tenants In Critical Need of Housing

Everyone needs a safe place to live. This has always been true, but the need has never been greater than now as we face an unprecedented global health pandemic. As part of the fight against COVID-19 and to help stop the spread of the virus, our City Staff worked diligently to secure interim housing options in our Midtown community for people who had been living in congregate and encampment settings that were not deemed safe. Providing those in critical need a place to self-isolate not only protects their health and safety, but that of our entire community.

In normal times, City of Toronto staff would have proactively provided more information to the community. However, given the public health emergency, critically important and time sensitive decisions had to be made to order save lives.

These new residents, over the course of up to 6 months, will be provided with on-site supports including meals, 24/7 staff support, security and case management focused on long-term housing and other immediate needs, including harm reduction supports. Health and safety are a priority: active and ongoing screening for COVID-19 symptoms, infection prevention and control measures, and enhanced room and common area cleaning will be undertaken.

This interim housing will help act as a bridge to more permanent housing options for these residents. The City is actively working to increase the supply of long-term supportive housing by fast tracking new modular housing and securing existing Toronto Community Housing Units.

Since new residents started moving in last week, I’ve been deeply touched by the kindness and generosity the Yonge and Eglinton community has offered. While the new residents will only be here for the next six months, the community not only wants to ensure that they are healthy and safe, but that they have everything they need to have a comfortable quality of life.

This week, I had a really warm-hearted and thoughtful phone call with the Republic Residents’ Association (RRA) and the General Manager of Shelter Support and Housing about how we as a community can organize an initiative to help collect household and personal items so that new residents have what they need to thrive.

While specific strategies to safely collect and distribute donations have been put in place, please email me at [email protected] if you would like to be provided with information on what items will be needed. If you have time to spare and would like to help coordinate the acquisition of some of these items, the RRA has offered their leadership to coordinate volunteers with Shelter Support and Housing staff.

Please DO NOT drop off or leave any donations out in front of the building, the street or on anyone’s property. There are specific items that are required and need to be acquired in a safe and coordinated way.

If you have any other questions or ideas about how we can further support these new residents, please contact my office. You can also review the detailed City’s News Release here that may answer any other questions have.

City Provides More Spaces on Streets for Physical Distancing

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

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

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

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

The plans include:

Creating Quiet Streets 

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

Major Streets for Active Transportation

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

Expanding Cycling Network 

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

Pedestrian Queueing Hotspots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling Lonely? We Care About You:

During the COVID-19 crisis, and even during “normal times”, too many seniors are isolated. I’ve organized a team of caring volunteers who are ready to reach out to seniors in our community who feel lonely. Please feel very welcome to post this notice in your building or street. For a printable version, please click here.

Shout-Out to North Toronto Baseball Association For Their Generous Donation:

This spring, the North Toronto Baseball Association had to make the difficult decision to cancel their 2020 house league season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When registration fees were refunded, NTBA families, many of whom live in Ward 12, were encouraged to donate to the City of Toronto's COVID-19 Relief Fund.  This initiative was met with overwhelming support and participation, and participants in the 2020 NTBA House league program have donated over $35,000. I am so grateful to all our generous community members, and to the NTBA for thinking of this initiative!

Play4All.Merton Project:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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).

A Special Message from Our Local Deer Park Residents Group: Leaf Blowers are a Health Hazard:

The Deer Park Residents Group has been doing local advocacy and education around the use of gas powered leaf blowers, encouraging community members to move away from their use. This has involved distributing information sheets around the neighbourhood, including the information below:

"Leaf Blowers are a Health Hazard:

The air propelled from a leaf blower pulverizes what it hits into fine dust. This dust contains pollen, animal fecal matter, mould, fungus, fertilizer, pesticides from lawns and gardens, carcinogens carbon black from tire wear and asbestos from brake linings off the street, which stresses our lungs and can get into our bloodstream.

Gas-powered leaf blowers run on 2-cycle engines. 30% of gasoline /oil fuel is unburned as it exhausts and stays in the air as an aerosol poison. Clouds of toxic exhaust dust particles from the blower can stay airborne for days for all to breathe in. If you smell fumes from gas powered leaf blowers, you have ingested them.

Many gasoline components are known carcinogens that penetrate our lungs and the blood stream compromising our ability to combat the COVID 19 virus."

They invite you to take this information into consideration before using a gas-powered leaf blower, or allowing your landscaper to use one.

City of Toronto to Resume Regular Yard Waste Collection

This week, the City of Toronto will resume regular yard waste collection. The resumption of service also coincides with the reopening of garden centres. 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 the day it is put out, the City is asking residents to leave it out until its collected and refrain from calling 311 to report a missed collection. Residents should use a yard waste bag if possible. 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 (2 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 maintain 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.

For more information about the COVID-19 impacts to Solid Waste Management Services, visit here.

City of Toronto to Begin Opening Community Gardens and Allotment Gardens

On April 25, the Province of Ontario announced amendments to an Order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act that permit the use of allotment gardens and community gardens. To help increase the resiliency of and food security for Toronto’s residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Toronto will open its community and allotment gardens for the 2020 gardening season. The City will follow a phased approach in opening its 81 community gardens and 12 allotment gardens to ensure public safety while providing access to an essential source of fresh food.

Community gardens will begin to open this week on a location-by-location basis. Allotment gardens will begin to open during the week of May 11.

As part of the amendment, the Province directed local Medical Officers of Health to provide advice and instructions that gardens must meet in order to operate safely, both for the benefit of those using the garden and for the general public. These guidelines include details on infection prevention and control measures, including how to achieve physical distancing at each location and guidance on the cleaning and disinfection of commonly used equipment and surfaces. The guidelines are available here. Since the provincial order was amended on April 25, site readiness activities have been underway including supplying water service, as well as maintenance and spring cleanup work to get the gardens ready to open. Handwashing station equipment has been procured and will begin to be installed.

The City’s community gardens are initiated through proposals from local volunteer community groups and utilize unused green space which allows them to be spread out amongst Toronto’s many communities. They are also operated and organized by volunteer groups who can ensure they meet both provincial orders on gatherings and public health guidelines.

City staff have reached out to permit holders and community groups to confirm that gardens will open and will continue to connect with them to provide confirmation of when their garden will open and critical public health information. Details about urban agriculture in Toronto, including the City’s community and allotment gardens can found here.

City of Toronto and Partners Help Connect Vulnerable Populations with Internet Access During COVID-19 Pandemic:

The City of Toronto has partnered with technology and telecommunications companies to provide free temporary internet access for many vulnerable Torontonians. These partnerships will provide free access for residents in lower-income neighbourhoods, seniors in long-term care homes and clients in many City-operated shelters. These initiatives will allow more people to connect online to social supports and vital services while still complying with directives to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Low-income neighbourhoods

While the City encourages Torontonians to stay home as much as possible, people who cannot afford home internet face barriers to receiving public health information, pandemic support services, and emergency income supports and have difficulty staying connected to family and friends. To help extend free internet to low-income neighbourhoods, the City received generous donations from technology and telecommunications companies. These donations will help connect 25 large residential apartment buildings in low-income neighbourhoods with temporary free internet access for one year, with the first buildings deployed starting in early May. These donations include:
• hundreds of permanent mobile access point hardware and contribution of fees for some internet circuits from Cisco Canada
• service management and maintenance from OnX Canada
• fibre and hosting of core infrastructure from BAI Canada
• fibre and single point of presence for internet from Beanfield Metroconnect
• volunteer labour provided by the civic tech community.

Bell will provide free Wi-Fi access in up to 10 of these low-income buildings for six months, waiving all installation and project management fees, to ensure all users can access the service. Bell Mobility is also working with the City of Toronto, and with other shelters, social agencies, and organizations that require emergency mobile communications services to provide complimentary phones, tablets, and airtime. Buildings will be identified for this service based on the size and location of the building, proportion of low-income residents and residents without internet access and technology feasibility.

Long-term care homes

The City of Toronto’s Technology Services Division has deployed free 24/7 Wi-Fi access throughout all 10 City-operated long-term care homes: Bendale Acres, Carefree Lodge, Castleview Wychwood Towers, Cummer Lodge, Fudger House, Kipling Acres, Lakeshore Lodge, Seven Oaks, True Davidson Acres and Wesburn Manor. Previously, free Wi-Fi was only available in common areas. These new Wi-Fi hot spots will allow residents to stay connected to friends and family who are not able to visit during the pandemic and help alleviate the feeling of social isolation.

Shelter sites

Rogers is donating free Wi-Fi for three months to four permanent City of Toronto shelter locations as of April 2020. The Wi-Fi is enabled by fixed wireless access devices to ensure the coverage is available throughout the shelters. Free Rogers Wi-Fi has also been installed in five temporary shelter locations, to help facilitate physical distancing. Since 2018, there has been free public Wi-Fi access in common areas in all permanent shelter locations, which was donated by Rogers, OnX Canada and Cisco Canada.

People experiencing homelessness often rely on public Wi-Fi to access online supports and services and stay connected with loved ones. With the closure of most public Wi-Fi locations, including libraries, malls and restaurants, many vulnerable people no longer have access to the vital supports they need. The delivery of Wi-Fi at these shelter sites will help to bridge this gap and support people to maintain physical distancing and isolation during the pandemic period.

Cell phones for vulnerable Torontonians

The Telus Mobility for Good program partnered with City of Toronto, Toronto Police Service, United Way Greater Toronto and lead community service providers to help vulnerable Torontonians stay connected to mental health and other crisis services during this difficult time. Through this partnership, eligible clients received a cell phone, data plan or a sim card free of charge. Prior to the conclusion of this program, resources provided by TELUS were distributed through FOCUS Toronto service agencies and the Toronto Mental Health Support Plan to their clients, based on assessment of need.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Help for Canadians Outside of Canada:

If you or a family member and/or friend are currently travelling outside of Canada and require information on how to get home, please click here. The Federal Government has put a number of plans in place to assist you.

Accessing Support through Federal & Provincial Government Benefits:

The COVID-19 pandemic will have an economic impact on everyone's livelihood. That is why, I put together a helpful Q+A below to assist you in navigating through the Federal and Provincial Government benefits.

Did you pay into EI, and have worked at least 700 hours in the last 52 weeks, but have been laid off due to work closures? You can apply for regular EI benefits through the Federal government. Beginning in April, even if you are EI-eligible, you can apply for the Federal Government's Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CREB) to ensure timely access to funds, as Canada’s EI system is currently overloaded with applications.

If this does not apply to you, you may still apply for the Provincial Government's Emergency Assistance Program through Ontario Works and the Federal Government's Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CREB)

Did you pay into EI and have worked at least 700 hours in the last 52 weeks, but are unable to work because you are ill or in self-quarantine? You can apply for EI sickness benefits through the Federal government.

If this does not apply to you, you may still apply for the Federal Government's Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CREB)

Did you pay into EI and have worked at least 700 hours in the last 52 weeks, but are unable to work because of school closures? You can apply for regular EI benefits through the Federal government.

If this does not apply to you, you may still apply for the Federal Government's Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CREB)

Accessing Support through Municipal Benefits:

The COVID-19 pandemic will have an economic impact on everyone's livelihood. That is why, the City of Toronto has identified a list of municipal resources that can be used to help minimize those impacts and help get you back on your feet. Click here to learn more.

Seeking Help: Grocery Delivery Assistance, Food Banks and More:

UHN OpenLab's Friendly Neighbour Hotline:

University Health Network’s OpenLab is helping vulnerable seniors—the group most at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic—by mobilizing volunteers to deliver groceries and other household essentials. The service gives priority to seniors living in low-income housing.

Due to the need for social distancing, many seniors face challenges with picking up essentials like groceries. These challenges are made worse by the new reality of having to wait in long lines at some stores, which may not be possible for frail seniors, and which brings a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

Many seniors, particularly those with low-income, do not have digital access or are unable to go online or afford the added fees for delivery services.

Since this initiative was first announced on March 13, 2020, close to 600 volunteers have stepped forward to offer assistance to the thousands of seniors living in low-income housing across the city. Together, we operate the Friendly Neighbour Hotline, a single phone number seniors living in low-income housing in Toronto can call, connected to a network of volunteers throughout the city who can help with picking up groceries and household essentials during this difficult time.

Volunteers are ordinary Torontonians who want to help. All volunteers have been vetted. Vetting includes a review of government-issued ID (e.g. driver’s license, passport) and two references, one of which must be from work, school or another volunteer organization. Those who have passed the vetting process attend mandatory online training before they can assist vulnerable seniors.

The UHN OpenLab team has established the processes and procedures of the operation, and consulted with City officials, collaborators, and seniors themselves to ensure a coordinated, effective and safe response. The team has long-standing relationships and projects looking at creative ways to support seniors to live independently in Toronto’s vertical communities. This has allowed UHN OpenLab to get organized very quickly, and to go live with the service in just a week.

The Friendly Neighbour Hotline went live on Monday, March 23. Currently, it is only serving Toronto seniors who live in low-income housing. The toll-free Hotline is available in 180 languages.


SPRINT Senior Care

SPRINT began caring for seniors and enabling seniors to care for themselves in 1983. They continue to do so today as an accredited, not-for-profit community support service agency in Toronto by offering a wide range of practical and low-cost services to seniors and their caregivers. Due to COVID-19, there have been a number of program and service changes. Please click here to learn more.

If you're a senior and interested in grocery delivery, the Meals on Wheels food service or security and wellness checks, please call 416-481-0069 ext. 1225 or review this flyer.

The Stop's COVID-19 Plan:

We’re at a critical time for the containment of COVID–19 (Coronavirus).

The Stop Community Food Centre will be shifting its resources away from community programming and towards emergency food access services starting Monday, March 16.

Our first and foremost priority is to protect the health and well-being of all Stop community members, staff, and volunteers.

We will continue to provide essential food access services to our community in an adjusted form at our main location at 1884 Davenport Road:

  • The Stop’s Food Bankwill run Mondays and Fridays, 12pm-3pm.

  • The Drop-inwill no longer serve seated meals. Instead, we will serve takeaway meals on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 9am-10am for breakfast, 12pm-1pm for lunch

  • The Stop’s Community Advocacy Officewill no longer hold in-person office hours, but Community Advocates are able to provide information, support, and referrals via phone. Monday-Friday 10am-2pm (416) 652-7867 x243

Please note: the following Stop programs and services are suspended until further notice:

  • Healthy Beginnings (general program, Food Bank still open)
    •Community Kitchens
    • The Stop’s Wychwood Open Door
    • Income Tax Clinic
    • The Stop’s Urban Agriculture programming, including Youth Programs and the Mashkikii;aki’ing Medicine Wheel Garden
    • The Stop’s Farmers’ Market

If you are in need of immediate food access and are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus, or have come in contact with someone with symptoms, please do not visit The Stop. Instead, please ask a friend or family member to do so for you.

Questions? Please contact our general line: 416-652-7867, or email [email protected].

If you would like to support our work, monetary donations are the most efficient way. They allow us to purchase the exact items we need on short notice. We also have purchasing relationships with farmers, stores, and suppliers, so we can buy items at a lower price than retail customers. You can make a donation here.

If you’d prefer to donate items, that’s great too! Currently, we’re seeking baby supplies (wipes, diapers, and formula. Size 3-4 are our most requested diaper sizes, but we would take anything!) unused personal care products (like hand sanitizer, shampoo, menstrual products, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, disposable razors, etc) and clean takeout containers with lids. These can be dropped off at 1884 Davenport Road, Monday-Friday 9am-11am and 1pm-3pm.

We all must do our part to contain any spread and mitigate the effects of Coronavirus—both physically and mentally—on our staff, volunteers, and community members.

To keep our workplace healthy throughout this period, our staff and volunteers are following stringent precautionary measures such as frequent hand washing, continually sterilizing our work environments, use of rubber gloves, and social distancing. The Stop is also providing extended, paid sick days and work-from-home arrangements to our employees upon request, no questions asked.

Good Neighbour Project

Are you someone in isolation, elderly, a single parent or person living with a disability that requires delivery assistance for supplies, and groceries with no one to help? A task force of volunteers with the Good Neighbour Project are on standby to offer you assistance. Please call 647-873-2230 between 8:00am-8:00pm daily or visit their website here.

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

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

Do You Live Between Christie/Ossington & Dupont/Davenport?

Hello neighbour!  My name is Caitlin, and I live in the area between Christie/Ossington and Dupont/Davenport. Along with other neighbours, I'm reaching out because we know that Toronto's efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will cause challenges for many of us, due to school and work closures, illness, quarantines, or social distancing. We want to connect with our neighbours so we can communicate, share resources and information, and support each other with any needs that come up.

Let us know if there is anything you need help with now -  errands, supplies, groceries, picking up medication, or anything else. We will do our best to help, or connect you to someone who can. Contact me by email at [email protected] or call/text at 647-393-8742.

If you would like to be part of this mutual support network, let us know:
1.    How we should contact you to follow up (email, call, text, social media)
2.    How you can help (shopping, hosting online gatherings, coordinating the network, etc)

Even though we can't gather in person, we can still come together as a community!

Feed the Frontlines!

Our very own Midtown resident, Adair Roberts, who works in the mental health and addictions sector, and is now supported by a group of caring Torontonians who have come together to get delicious, nutritious meals to Toronto’s frontline health and social services workers while keeping restaurant workers employed.  All organizers of this campaign are volunteers and none are employed by the restaurants providing or the health and social services organizations receiving the meals.

All funds will be used to purchase high quality and individually-packed meals directly from our restaurant partners and deliver them to recipients at hospitals and social service centres.  You can see our current list of restaurant partners here. Please check-out their go fund me page to donate.

211 Toronto

211 Toronto connects people living in the GTA to over 4,000 programs and social services such as financial help, employment services, mental health, home care, housing, shelters, food and childcare. It offers a 24/7 confidential service in 150 languages, including online, text (21166) and chat services.

Legal Aid

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

Chatting to Wellness

Chatting to Wellness connects youth and seniors to sit and chat. This initiative helps to combat isolation and loneliness, while improving the mental health of seniors. In normal times, Chatting to Wellness brings youth on a weekly basis to retirement homes to engage with residents, however, due to COVID-19, volunteers will be chatting with seniors every weekday night between 6:00pm-9:00pm. For more details, please click here.​

Supporting Our Youth During COVID-19:

COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub
Before the pandemic, we were advocating together for programs to help our youth. Now, during the COVID-19 crisis, we want our community’s youth to get through this physically, and mentally, well. Here’s a helpful COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub that youth can access virtually.

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

Community Spirit During COVID-19: Ways to Help:

Call to Action: SPRINT Senior Care’s Meals on Wheels

SPRINT Senior Care’s Meals on Wheels (MOW) program is volunteer-based and delivers tasty, nutritious meals directly to seniors’ doors seven days a week, 365 days a year. MOW volunteers also perform security checks when delivering meals, to ensure seniors’ safety.

Volunteers are the foundation of many of SPRINT Senior Care’s services and we could not care for our seniors without support from over 300 volunteers annually. Due to the impact of COVID-19, we anticipate being in need of more volunteers to help us deliver Meals on Wheels.

If you are interesting in finding out more about how you can help, please contact our Volunteer Services and Human Resources Department at 416-481-0669, ext. 8723, or [email protected]. Visit us at 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.

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

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

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

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

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

If You Require Assistance or Information:

My team and I remain actively working. However, our physical offices will be closed until further notice and my staff will be working remotely. In the interim, the best way to connect with us is by email at [email protected], rather than phone, and we’ll respond to you at our earliest opportunity.

Due to the high volume of correspondence we’re receiving, there may be a delay in our response, but we’ll certainly following up with you. We deeply appreciate your patience.

For any information related to COVID-19, please click here for the Toronto Public Health website to learn more and for important contact information.

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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