The City of Toronto is partnering with community agencies to connect residents to resources, services, programs, and support during COVID-19.
Alcohol & Other Drug Use During COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people may experience emotions and face situations that influence their consumption of alcohol, cannabis or other drugs. Alcohol and cannabis use is associated with some diseases that can make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19, and may influence the outcome of a COVID-19 infection.
Learn more about substance use during COVID-19 and what you can do to minimize risks to your health:
Toronto Public Health has also developed harm reduction resources for people who use drugs, including Tips for People Who Use Drugs and Harm Reduction during COVID-19.
If you need support for a substance use issue, visit our Mental Health Resources page to find community-specific resources.
COVID-19 & Pregnancy
COVID-19 can be more severe in pregnancy, especially as new variants spread. Respiratory infections during pregnancy are a concern as pregnant people are more likely to have serious symptoms and may need to be hospitalized.
- Protect yourself by practicing physical distancing, avoid being exposed to the virus, and wear a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces and when you can’t keep physical distance. The use of non-medical masks or face coverings is required in all indoor public spaces, as per a City of Toronto bylaw.
- Consider downloading Health Canada’s COVID Alert app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
- Many people who get COVID-19 while pregnant will have mild symptoms. Some can get very sick and develop respiratory complications that need care in the hospital. Giving birth too early in pregnancy (preterm birth) may be more common in pregnant people with severe COVID-19. New COVID-19 variants can spread more easily and make people sicker. People who are over 35, obese or have certain medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma, have a higher risk of having complications.
- Some pregnant people have gone into early labour (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) due to exposure to the virus.
- To date, most infants born to individuals who had COVID-19 during pregnancy were born healthy and at term.
- If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and self-isolate and get tested.
- It is recommended that the COVID-19 vaccine be offered to people planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding.
Working while pregnant
- People who are pregnant can continue to work. Talk to your employer about the type of work you do, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and how to protect yourself from being exposed to the virus.
- It is important for you to wash your hands often, practice physical distancing, wear a face mask indoors and when distancing is difficult, and stay home if you are sick.
- Ask your health care provider which prenatal appointments can be virtual, and which require an in-person visit.
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider prior to any appointments to let them know and to find out if you should get tested.
Preparing for labour and birth
- A lot is still being learned about COVID-19 during labour and birth.
- Talk to your health care provider about your birth plan. Due to COVID-19, some procedures may be different than what you expect.
- You will be screened for COVID-19 when you arrive at your place of birth. If you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms, additional precautions will be taken to protect your baby and others around you.
- Many hospitals and birth centres only allow one support person in the birthing and post-partum areas. Your support person will be screened for COVID-19. If they have COVID-19, or may have it, they will not be able to be with you for the birth.
- For home births, talk to your midwife about how to make your environment safe.
- You will have to wear a face mask while getting care, and your support person will have to wear a mask as well.
- Breastfeeding is recommended even if you have COVID-19 as there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted in breast milk.
- If giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic worries you, talk to your health care provider.
Learn more about COVID-19 and Pregnancy.
Download this information as a PDF.
Encouraging Outdoor Play for Children During COVID-19
Children use play to explore their environment, grow their imagination and discover new opportunities. Playing outside is fun, exciting and important for healthy child development. Here are some strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 while encouraging outdoor play.
When children play outside they:
- move more, sit less and play longer
- build muscle strength, coordination and confidence
- learn better, sleep better and feel better physically and emotionally
- think creatively and problem solve
- learn skills that help them cope with stress
Prevent the spread of COVID-19
- Stay home if you or your child are feeling sick.
- Teach children to wash their hands often, and to avoid touching their face.
- Supervise children under the age of 6 when using hand sanitizer. Rub hands until dry.
- Explain to children why they need to limit the number of people they come into close contact with.
- Wear a mask in indoor public spaces, and outdoors if physical distancing is difficult. Children under age 2 should not wear a mask.
- Do not play in crowded areas.
- Bring and take home your own toys or sports equipment.
- Wash toys with hot soapy water when you return home.
- Clean hands after touching surfaces such as park benches and playgrounds.
- Teach children how to stay safe around potential dangers, such as streets.
- Use bike paths and helmets when using tricycles, scooters and bicycles.
Download this information as a PDF.
Family Resource List
The COVID-19 Resource List for Families provides parenting supports and information for families to meet their mental health, financial, housing and food security needs during the pandemic.
Routine Immunization During COVID-19
Routine immunization for infants and toddlers is still important during COVID-19. Vaccine preventable diseases are still spreading globally. Waiting to vaccinate can leave children vulnerable to diseases. Vaccines should only be postponed if your child is sick with respiratory symptoms to prevent any possible spread of COVID-19.
Immunization is not just for kids. The vaccines you need may depend on your age, health condition, occupation, travel habits, environment, and lifestyle. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to be vaccinated during COVID19 and how to safely attend a clinic.
Before Your Visit
- Choose only one parent or guardian to accompany your child’s appointment.
- Do not attend a clinic if you or your child is sick. Call to reschedule an appointment.
- Review tips to improve your child’s immunization experience.
- Bring your child’s immunization card to the appointment or download the CANImmunize app.
- Talk to your child about the visit so they know what to expect. Your child may feel a poke or pinch for a few seconds.
- Have your child choose a blanket, stuffed toy or a book for distraction or comfort.
During the Visit
- Wait in the car until they are ready for your child, if feasible.
- Sanitize your hands when entering the building.
- If spending time in the waiting room with others, consider wearing a face mask.
- Keep six feet distance from others.
- After vaccination, stay at the clinic for 15 minutes to monitor for any reactions.
- Offer praise. Positive reinforcement works for children of all ages.
- Sanitize your hands when leaving the building.
- At home, monitor your child for any side effects. For minor reactions such as fever, irritability or a sore arm, use acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed by your doctor.
- If you notice any changes in your child’s health, such as unusual fussing, crying or low energy, call your doctor.
For information about COVID-19 vaccines and their availability in Toronto, please visit our COVID-19 vaccines page.
Communicating with People Who Are Deaf, Deafened or Hard of Hearing
A new City of Toronto bylaw requires people to wear masks or face coverings when inside public spaces. COVID-19 can spread before someone develops symptoms. By wearing a mask or face covering, we can protect each other.
Some people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing cannot wear face coverings because they rely on facial movements and lip-reading to communicate. If you meet someone not wearing a face covering, be understanding. It is not always obvious when someone is deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.
Tips for communicating with people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing:
- Ask the person how they prefer to communicate. Not all deaf people use sign language.
- You can remove your mask if someone who is deaf or hard of hearing asks you to, but keep a distance of 6 feet (2 metres) or stand behind a plexiglass barrier.
- Consider using a clear plastic face shield that extends below the chin and wraps around the sides of the face. Ensure they are cleaned and disinfected properly. And remember, they do not replace a mask for people who can still wear a mask.
- Look at and speak directly to the person, not the ASL interpreter (if using one).
- Do not over-articulate your words or shout.
- Speak at a normal pace – not too fast or too slow.
- Use speech-to-text mobile apps or writing paper.
Sharing Child Custody & Co-Parenting During COVID-19
Tips for parents
The COVID-19 pandemic may be challenging to parents who are not living together but are co-parenting their children. Below are some tips to help you work together during this stressful time.
Stick to the court-ordered parenting schedules as much as possible
- Regular parenting time and custody schedules should be kept, unless someone is self-isolating or under quarantine.
- If you think the other parent is not taking the necessary health precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, consider obtaining legal advice.
- Do not take advantage of this health crisis to prevent your child from having contact with the other parent.
Maintain structure and routines
- Stick to regular family schedules and routines – schedule time for exercise, school work, family time, chores and hobbies. Keep regular bedtimes and meal times.
Keep conflict away from children
- Stay child-focused and work together as a united team to help your child feel safe and reduce their stress and anxiety. Focus on what is best for your child.
Reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19
- To model good prevention behaviour, ensure that both homes are taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as:
- regular hand washing
- cleaning and sanitizing frequently touched objects
- staying home as much as possible
- practising physical distancing
- wearing a face mask or covering in indoor and outdoor public spaces
- getting vaccinated as soon as you can
- Consider downloading the COVID Alert app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
- When carrying out parenting exchanges, do it where you can keep a safe physical distancing of two metres (or six feet) from the other parent, and wash your child’s toys, clothing and personal belongings each time they return from their other parent.
- Follow public health guidance if you or your child has COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- Parenting exchanges should not take place when a parent or child is self-isolating, and should only resume once the isolation period is over, and the parent or child who was in self-isolation is feeling better, and no longer has a fever.
- If you are caring for someone with COVID19 or are pregnant or caring for a new baby at home and have COVID-19, ensure that you are taking measures to prevent spreading the virus.
For more legal information or support
Download this information as a PDF.
Also read the Public Health Agency of Canada’s fact sheet for vulnerable populations.
For information in French about COVID-19, please visit the Government of Ontario’s website and Public Health Ontario portal.