Last updated: October 20, 2020 at 12:27 p.m.

The City of Toronto is partnering with community agencies to connect residents to resources, services, programs, and support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To learn more about the City’s Community Coordination Plan, how the City and United Way are working with community agencies to better serve residents and what has been accomplished since March, please see the Community Partnerships Initiatives accordion below.

Check back often for updates and learn about opportunities to help in your community.

Residents who need to access, or are seeking information on, social and community supports and services, should call 211 for non-emergency requests and information.

211 is a 24/7 help line and web service that connects residents to social and community services.

211 is working closely with community agencies to ensure they are continually updating their database with the most up-to-date programming and resource information.

City-Community Response Table

To ensure that the needs of vulnerable residents are met, a City-Community Response Table has been established and is comprised of 30 community agencies and many City divisions. This group is working to identify new and emerging issues affecting vulnerable Torontonians during the COVID-19 emergency and to plan city-wide responses to address and resolve these issues, for example, food security and community resource needs.

Community Coordination Plan

The Community Coordination Plan is a community response initiative that was developed by the United Way Greater Toronto and City of Toronto.

The Community Coordination Plan aims to ensure there is coordination and communication between City of Toronto, United Way, and community organizations. Ten geographic clusters and three non-geographic clusters (Indigenous-serving agencies cluster, city-wide agencies cluster, and the Black Resilience cluster) have been established.

The Community Coordination Plan is designed to be agile and iterative to the urgent needs of vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each cluster is led by a team of three Cluster Coordinators who convene and support community organizations that are responding to the emerging needs of vulnerable people. Cluster Coordinators also work with local Councillors’ offices to respond to urgent issues.

Some issues can be resolved at the community cluster level, such as donation matching or information on physical distancing guidelines. Other issues that are more structural or systemic in nature, may be escalated through City of Toronto channels to City task groups or the Emergency Operations Centre. Examples include issues related to homeless shelters or broader food security issues.

The Community Coordination Plan also includes a Coordinating Table, which is a collaborative group comprised of United Way, City of Toronto and community sector representatives such as Findhelp/211 Central, Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network, Social Planning Toronto and Toronto Nonprofit Network. The Coordinating Table addresses opportunities to leverage actions on broader community sector support issues.

Read the Community Coordination Plan – Bulletin #1 to learn what has been accomplished since the development of the plan.

Funding for Community Services

On June 23 and October 20 the City announced that $4.97 million and $1.9 million will be distributed from the TO Supports Investment Fund to community-based agencies supporting vulnerable populations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS) continues to provide critical services to vulnerable residents and is maintaining a level of service to ensure the provision of critical financial benefits and supports for low-income clients and vulnerable residents.

Residents in immediate need of food can call 211 for information on food program availability or view a map of local food service providers on the 211 website.

The City of Toronto is working closely with community and corporate partners to identify where the greatest needs are and how best to ensure that food needs of vulnerable Torontonians are being met.

Food Access Strategy

The City has developed a food access strategy that includes the establishment of a committee consisting of large-scale community groups that works to identify ways to prevent food banks from being closed, support those that are running, and troubleshoot issues as they arise. Members of the group include:

The group is actively working on multiple food access programs, including:

Food Delivery

The City is working with the Red Cross and other partners to provide food hamper delivery to seniors and others in need who are unable to leave their homes.

This service is made available for qualifying seniors and others that are in self-isolation who do not have alternative access to food (through family, friends, availability of food delivery services) and are currently not receiving such assistance from another community food program.

Call 1-833-204-9952 for eligibility and registration information.

Access to Food Banks

There are 17 temporary food banks located throughout the city. Call 211 for a list of the locations and hours of operation.

Map of Food Banks

The best source for up-to-date information on food program availability is 211toronto.ca. The food listings are updated daily as information is received from providers. Residents can call 211 directly, or view the map on the 211 website.

Connecting Resources to Those That Need Them

The City is working to connect offers of free services and other resources, such as free hot meals and delivery, free spaces and equipment, to agencies and communities that need them.

Food for Kids

The City is working with student nutrition program partners to support the Food for Kids program which is sending grocery gift cards to families of children in need who attend school in Toronto and were previously enrolled in the program. The $50 food card for these children and each of their siblings represents the approximate value of 30 healthy breakfasts for each child.

Indigenous Communities

The City is providing support for the Toronto Aboriginal and Support Services Council to coordinate food access for Indigenous communities that are facing similar challenges created by the COVID-19 response, including increased access to food and financial support.

Food Donations

Residents and businesses looking to donate in support of food security, can visit COVID-19: DonateTO for more information.

Corporate Donations

To help ensure that food programs (including food banks, multi-service centres, home delivery programs, meal drop-ins) in Toronto can continue, corporate partners have stepped up with significant contributions:

  • Sobeys Inc. donated 7,031 cases of food
  • Loblaw Companies Limited is provided $30,000 of food credit
  • Kraft Heinz Canada donated 3,654 cases of baby food, with additional quantities anticipated soon.
  • Metro donated $50,000 in gift cards.

The City of Toronto has partnered with technology and telecommunications companies to provide free temporary internet access for low-income neighbourhoods, long-term care homes and shelters.

Low-Income Neighbourhoods

Learn about the Free Wi-Fi Pilot Project that is bringing free internet to 25 large residential apartment buildings in low-income neighbourhoods for one year.

In partnership with the Toronto Public Library, the City of Toronto provided temporary Wi-Fi access in parks as part of the Wi-Fi on Wheels pilot project. from August 4 to 8. The Wi-Fi-enabled Bookmobile visited Masseygrove Park and Edgeley Park connecting visitors to free Wi-Fi between noon and 6:30 p.m.

The bookmobile sits in Edgeley Park to offer free wi-fi on Aug 7, 2020. A tent is set up to offer shade.
City staff setting up the Wi-Fi on Wheels area at Edgeley Park on August 7, 2020.

Long-Term Care Homes

The City of Toronto is providing free Wi-Fi access throughout all 10 City-operated long-term care homes. Previously, it was only available in common areas. These new Wi-Fi hot spots will allow residents to stay connected to friends and family.

Learn more about service changes in City-operated Long-Term Care Homes.

Shelter Sites

Rogers is donating free Wi-Fi for three months to four permanent City of Toronto shelter locations as of April 2020. Free Rogers Wi-Fi has also been installed in five temporary shelter locations, to help facilitate physical distancing.

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. 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.

Learn more about what the City is doing to support those experiencing homelessness.

Staying Home

For your protection, Toronto Public Health recommends that if you are over 70 years of age, have a weak immune system or a medical condition, limit your trips to public places. Read more health advice for seniors that may prevent COVID-19 infection.

Families and friends can stay in touch by calling, video-conferencing, sending an e-card, email or letter.

Where to Get Help

Call 211 Ontario at any time (in 150+ languages) or the Toronto Seniors Helpline (416-217-2077) to be referred to support services for seniors, including:

  • Meals on Wheels
  • Delivery of food and essentials (e.g., prescriptions)
  • Personal care support
  • Mental health support
  • Transportation to medical appointments
  • Social phone calls
  • Other support services for seniors

Call your Local Health Integration Network  (LHIN) at 310-2222 (no area code) to apply for government-funded health and personal support services and long-term care homes.

The Seniors Safety Line can also assist in cases of elder abuse, isolation, anxiety or depression: 1-866-299-1011

For City-run services (such as garbage and libraries), call 311 or visit the Changes to City Services web page for updates.

Food & Groceries

  • Use a grocery delivery service or have a neighbour or family member shop for you. If that is not possible, some stores have special hours to help seniors practise physical distancing.
  • For low-income seniors, there are organizations and volunteer groups that will deliver groceries to seniors at home with no delivery fee. Call 211 to access.
  • Apply for Meals on Wheels  (regular home delivery of prepared fresh or frozen meals), call 211 or visit OntarioCommunitySupport.ca .
  • For qualifying seniors who are in self-isolation, do not have alternative access to food and are not currently receiving assistance from another food program, call 1-833-204-9952 for registration information about the City of Toronto and Red Cross food hamper delivery program.

It is important to be aware of potential scams and fraud, for example people offering to buy groceries and asking for your credit card details. Call 211 for a referral to a legitimate food service. Report fraud to the police online or by calling 416-808-2222.

Prescriptions & Other Essentials

Many pharmacies/drug stores will deliver prescriptions (and in some cases, over-the-counter medicines and supplies) to your home. To arrange prescription delivery, call your local pharmacy. Refer to the label on your current medication for the pharmacy’s phone number.

If your pharmacy does not offer delivery, call 211 or the Toronto Seniors Helpline (416-217-2077) to be connected with a community agency that offers delivery of prescriptions, medications and essentials such as incontinence supplies.

Pet owners may be eligible for financial assistance when ordering pet food and supplies.

Mental Health & Staying Active

If you need mental health support, call 211 (available 24/7 in many languages). You will be connected to one of the City’s mental health service provider partners for direct phone support. These mental health support services are free to all Toronto residents, and include culturally responsive supports.There are also many volunteer phone lines who offer phone-call check-ins and friendly conversation with seniors who are feeling lonely and need someone to talk to. Call 211 or the Toronto Seniors Helpline (416-217-2077) for referral to one of these free phone call services.

Also get tips for coping with stress and find other resources.

Keeping active and learning new things is good for mental health. Learn about free virtual and phone call activities, including activities designed specifically for seniors, as well as volunteering opportunities.

Housing & Benefits

Learn about support and updates for tenants and property owners, including the Toronto Rent Bank and Housing Stabilization Fund, that may help with rental or energy arrears

Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) has increased measures to support senior tenants.

Visit the City’s Income Support page to learn more about different forms of Income support, including the Hardship Fund for medical/health expenses, and links to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Provincial & Federal Government Supports

The Provincial and Federal Government have also announced programs to support seniors.

If you are experiencing homelessness, call the City’s Central Intake Line at:

  • 416-338-4766
  • 1-877-338-3398 (toll-free)

You will be asked about your current health and recent travel history and then referred to available shelter, respite site or isolation site. For more information about the locations of shelters or respite sites, visit the Homeless Help web page.

Sanitation & Washroom Services

The City has opened some City-operated facilities with showers, washrooms, and drinking water for individuals experiencing homelessness. Find out where they are located and when they are open.

Changes to Shelter Operations

Learn how community partners and operators are preventing the spread of COVID-19 and changes to current shelter operations.