It’s been another day of sad news — the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to mount — together with some bits of good news in the form of increased support for individuals and businesses by governments at all levels.
Thanks to the vast majority of you who are doing all you can to keep us all well by strictly observing physical distancing rules: stay home if possible and, if you must go out, keep at least two metres away from others. Wash your hands often, especially after you have touched surfaces others might have touched.
I’m thinking today of the many thousands of doctors, nurses and other front-line health care workers who risk their lives to keep us safe. There is no better reminder that there is much goodness in people and that sometimes a crisis brings out the best in us. For those in need of a few minutes of inspiration, I’m attaching a link to my favourite music video, a beautiful recording of musicians around the world performing Stand By Me.
And now for today’s updates and information links:
Today’s statement by Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, can be found online here.
For regular updates on COVID-19 from Toronto Public Health, or for updates on the impact of COVID-19 on City services, please visit www.toronto.ca/covid19.
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Physical Distancing At City Parks Parks are only open for walking, cycling and running. Using parks amenities or congregating in groups is not permitted. Starting today, March 30, City staff together with the Toronto Police Service are prioritizing the patrol of busy parks. While education is the first line of enforcement, fines can range from $750 to $5,000. City staff are re-installing signage, locks and caution tape at parks where these have been removed. Additionally, the City’s Parks Ambassadors have begun a downtown hot spot education blitz and electronic portable signs will display messages near some busy parks. More information is available on the City’s website.
City Opens Child Care Centres For Essential Workers The provincial government has permitted the City to open four licensed child care centres specifically to provide care to children of essential and critical service workers. The child care will be offered to families for free 24/7, funded by the province, for children 12 and under. For details on eligibility and application, visit toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-social-support/covid-19-child-care-for-essential-workers.
Road, Sidewalk and Bikeway Maintenance Recent revisions to road, sidewalk and bikeway maintenance include:
Winter maintenance and emergency road, bridges, bikeway and sidewalk repairs and maintenance will continue.
Street cleaning, event support, and non-essential repairs and maintenance to expressways, roads, sidewalks and bridges have been deferred.
Non-emergency (contracted) road and sidewalk repairs will be suspended.
Housing Support For City’s Homeless The City of Toronto has contracted 5 hotels (up to 650 rooms) to help Toronto’s homeless population. Two sites are currently up and running. An additional 5 hotels (up to 500 rooms) are in the process of being secured. A vacant property site and hotel are also looked at being secured to house the City’s homeless population.
TOArtist Covid Response Fund The Toronto Arts Council has launched TOArtist Covid Response Fund to support arts professional impacted by the virus. If you are eligible for EI benefits, or if you are applying for EI extension support through the Economic Response Action Plan, you are not eligible for the TOArtist Fund. To find more information or apply click here.
Ontario Boosting Support For Seniors Premier Doug Ford announced today that the Ontario government is providing $10 million to support community organizations who deliver meals, medicines and other necessities to seniors
The government is also working with grocers and pharmacists to prioritize seniors’ delivery orders and create senior-only shopping hours.
Additionally, the Ford government is working with province-wide organizations, such as the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) and Older Adults Centres’ Association of Ontario (OACAO) to help mobilize and identify potential volunteer supports.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Ottawa announced today the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, a new initiative by the feds to help support businesses impacted by COVID-19. For companies who have seen a revenue decrease of 30% because of the virus, the government will pay up to 75% of a salary on the first $58,700 that is earned. The government encourages businesses to pay the remaining 25% of employee salary not covered by the subsidy.
Domestic Travel Regulations Starting today, any person exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be denied from boarding domestic airplanes or trains.
Ottawa Pledges Funding for Youth and Seniors On Sunday, the federal government pledged $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone to provide mental health support to youth impacted by school closures and reduced access to social support.
Canada’s older population will also get a financial boost from Ottawa. The feds will be contributing $9 million via United Way Canada to help seniors get essentials like groceries, as well as connecting them to community services.