The City of Toronto today moved into the Grey – Lockdown category of the Province of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework. These new provincial regulations cover the requirements of the Section 22 order under the Health Promotion and Protection Act issued by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, last week; accordingly, the Section 22 order has been revoked. The City supports all efforts to reduce and eliminate the transmission of COVID-19.
Based on data collected by Toronto Public Health over the course of the pandemic, the City has worked to develop an enhanced plan to provide targeted support to neighbourhoods experiencing higher COVID-19 case rates – many of these neighbourhoods are in the northwest and northeast of the city. This afternoon, Mayor John Tory announced an updated and enhanced set of targeted COVID-19 measures to help the city’s most vulnerable residents during the lockdown.
These targeted COVID-19 equity measures, which build on protections already implemented, include sharing public health information, improving access to COVID-19 testing, and providing critical supports to individuals and their families during this lockdown. These new initiatives include:
- Measures to expand testing sites – Increasing testing in neighbourhoods experiencing higher COVID-19 case rates, expanding the number of provincial testing sites using City facilities, using buses for mobile testing, providing more transportation to testing sites and extending testing site hours.
- Measures to intensify community outreach and engagement – Targeting outreach, case management and providing support to residents who face multiple barriers (i.e. food support, income services, etc.), and providing relevant public education to residents and employers. Residents will also receive masks to support their efforts to stay safe. Strong community partners, trusted by residents in neighbourhoods experiencing higher COVID-19 case rates, are critical to ensuring that these measures are implemented effectively.
- Measures for those who test positive and are unable to work due to mandatory isolation – Addressing the threat of eviction and improving access to emergency assistance is important and this includes advocating for residential eviction protection, income supports, and newcomer access to COVID-19 services and supports.
In March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, the City began taking action to support vulnerable residents, families and communities under its guiding framework, TO Supports: COVID-19 Equity Action Plan. This work is constantly evolving and improving to address new information, new partnerships and new public health conditions. In May, Toronto Public Health became one of the first public health units in the country to collect and release detailed COVID-19 data based on neighbourhood, race and income.
City staff will begin implementing parts of this plan this week while City officials continue to reach out to the provincial and federal governments about additional resources and support for expanding testing sites, education and engagement, and resources for eviction and emergency services. Education and outreach activities, food access, mental health support, engaging community partners on their role in this plan, and the purchase of masks for distribution is now underway.
A backgrounder is available for more information: Enhanced COVID-19 Supports for Targeted Neighbourhoods.
“The City has been doing what it can to support vulnerable residents during this pandemic, and we will keep doing everything we can. We are focused on helping the other governments, particularly when it comes to COVID-19 testing, so that we can stop the spread of this virus. This work is crucial right now and will take collaboration between the City, community agencies in these neighbourhoods and both the provincial and federal governments.” – Toronto Mayor John Tory
“In the first wave of the pandemic earlier this year, our collective efforts and sacrifice worked. Together, we stayed home, we flattened the curve, and we saved lives. But our public health data shows that some people in our city are not only at greater risk of this virus but are also disproportionately impacted by lockdown measures. Now, as we enter a second period of lockdown, all three levels of government must do more to protect the health and livelihoods of low-income Torontonians and people that identify with a racialized group. That’s where Toronto’s Equity Action Plan comes in.”
– Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York), Chair of the Toronto Board of Health
“While COVID-19 has affected all of us, sadly we continue to learn of more evidence in North America and beyond that shows that racialized people and individuals living in lower-income households are over-represented in COVID-19 data. My team and I continue to carefully review this and other local data to inform actions to help keep our community safer as we continue living with this virus. Our City’s Equity Action Plan is another example of our collaborative work in this area to better address the root causes of what underpins our health and enhance support in our community.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health