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It's amazing how fast our world can change. A week ago yesterday, I sat down to write an e-blast about an upcoming report on training for taxi and Uber drivers. We figured a quick update on COVID-19 would suffice. While I was writing that column, word came of a few more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the GTA. Next, a basketball player was infected and the whole NBA season was called off. By the time news came that Tom Hanks and his wife were in quarantine, I knew my Thursday e-blast needed to focus entirely on this public health crisis. Since then, the work of everyone at Toronto City Hall has been devoted to implementing the recommendations of public health officials. Government support As you may already know, my Don Valley North team and I are now working remotely from home. We get updates from Chief Pegg and his Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) every day, as well as from Dr. de Villa, the City Manager and Mayor Tory. We have special access to send any concerns from residents to the EOC team and we also relay some of those concerns to the Mayor's office. Mayor Tory is still in self-isolation, but if you know John you know he is wide awake and very much at the helm, albeit via technology.

This week we received many updates on financial supports and regulation changes from every order of government. Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Ford are rolling out significant support packages, although some supports may take time to implement. My team and I are monitoring all these plans so we can help you access these supports as the economic impact of COVID-19 continues. What you can do Now that we are practising social distancing by staying home to prevent further spread of the virus, many of us are wondering what we can do to stay productive. I've been gathering ideas by looking through the #StayAtHomeChallenge hashtag on Twitter, so here are a couple of suggestions.

If you are one of the lucky ones — meaning not financially impacted by COVID-19 — consider making a donation to a local charity. North York Harvest manages the Oriole Food Space in our own Oriole Community Centre. In any given week, they serve hundreds of food-insecure families in Don Valley North. That may soon stretch into the thousands. Showing up in person to volunteer is not social distancing, but sending a cash donation online is a safe way to help. When at home, it also helps to get dressed daily and keep a routine. Go for a walk outside but keep your distance from others. Phone a friend or two, especially those who are seniors. Email us if you need anything. Turn off the news and social media for a few hours a day to avoid getting overwhelmed. If you don’t already use a streaming service, call your kid and find out how to get Netflix, Crave or Amazon Prime. Tomorrow morning, while my daughter works all day at a hospital with a COVID-19 assessment centre, I’m going to teach my granddaughter how to write cursive. Looking forward to that is my own little silver lining — what could yours be?

Remember that the most productive thing you can do right now is to stay home and follow these simple steps:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water often

  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

  3. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve if needed

These rules are more important than wearing a mask. If we follow these rules effectively, we will flatten the curve and make our way back to normal.


Helpful information and resources Here is a summary of the government supports announced this week as well as some phone numbers and links you should keep close at hand for whatever you may face in the coming days. I strongly suggest that, before you pick up the phone, you read through Toronto Public Health's webpage on COVID-19 here. They have put together an excellent resource that includes health advice, information about affected City services and economic supports. Municipal supports

  • Extended grace periods for property tax payments and utility bills

  • Toronto Public Health webpage:

  • Toronto Public Health hotline: 416-338-7600

    • Please only call this number if you have questions that are not addressed on the website. Note that the hotline is experiencing a very high number of calls and there are long wait times to get through.

Provincial supports

  • Legislation to come on job protections for workers

  • Ministry of Health webpage:

  • Telehealth Ontario hotline: 1-866-797-0000

  • Online Self-assessment tool

    • If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use this self-assessment to help determine if you need to seek further care.

    • If you are having difficulty breathing or experiencing other severe symptoms, call 911 immediately. Advise them of your symptoms and travel history.

Federal supports

  • Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan provides an overview of the Federal Government’s announced support for Canadians and Businesses. Topics include:

    • Income Support for Individuals Who Need it Most

    • Flexibility for Taxpayers

    • Mortgage Default Management Tools

    • Helping Businesses Keep Their Workers

    • Ensuring Businesses have Access to Credit

    • Full details on these supports and how to access them are here.

My team are posting daily updates from all levels of government on my website here. Remember you can also email me at if you have any questions or concerns that aren't addressed on the Toronto Public Health website.


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