Last updated: June 23, 2020 at 3:52 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.
This year’s Toronto Challenge has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but you can still support the dozens of agencies who benefit from this community event.
Check back often for more 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.
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.
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.
On June 23, Mayor John Tory announced that approximately $4.97 million will be distributed from the TO Supports Investment Fund to community-based agencies supporting vulnerable populations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Made possible with $2.81 million of the City’s allocation of the Social Services Relief Fund from the Province of Ontario, $370,000 from the Scheinberg Relief Fund through the Better Toronto Coalition Fund at Toronto Foundation, and from an agreement in principle with the Canadian Medical Association Foundation (CMAF) for a $1.79 million allocation from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund for Vulnerable Populations, a collaboration with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
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.
The City has developed a food access strategy that includes the establishment of a group 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:
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 is in response to the March 30 Province of Ontario recommendation that everyone over the age of 70 should self-isolate as part of the COVID-19 emergency measures.
With support from United Way of Greater Toronto, 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.
The City is asking multi-residential buildings, such as condos and apartments, to allow grocery and food deliveries inside buildings to permit those who are self-isolating or COVID-19 positive to remain inside their units.
Nine of the 11 temporary food banks that were at Toronto Public Library (TPL) branches are now closed so TPL can begin their curbside drop-off and pick-up service. Temporary food banks will continue to operate at two TPL branches with adjusted hours. In partnership with Daily Bread Food Bank, North York Harvest Food Bank and Second Harvest, the majority of the temporary food banks have been relocated to other sites in the neighbourhoods that were formally served by the TPL branches. Two new sites were also opened at YMCA locations in these areas, and temporary food banks at three City arenas continue to operate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The City is providing requested equipment to support community food program operators to help them maintain their operations and serve residents. To date, the City has provided City-fork lift operators to Daily Bread Food Bank to assist with warehouse operations, and two trucks and drivers to help transport food.
Residents and businesses looking to donate in support of food security, can visit COVID-19: DonateTO for more information.
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:
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.
While the City encourages Torontonians to stay home as much as possible, people who cannot afford home internet face barriers to receiving public health information, pandemic support services, emergency income supports and have difficulty staying connected to family and friends.
Donations from technology and telecommunications companies are going to help connect 25 large residential apartment buildings in low-income neighbourhoods with temporary free internet access for one year. Their donations include:
Bell will provide free Wi-Fi access in up to 10 of these low-income buildings for six months, waiving all installation and project management fees, to ensure all users can access the service.
Some buildings will be able to start using this free internet access in early May. Buildings will be identified for this service based on the size and location of the building, proportion of low-income residents, and residents without internet access and technology feasibility.
Technical solutions and signal strength may vary throughout each building, although the aim is to provide enough coverage and strength to read news, submit online forms, use messenger apps, but not stream media/games.
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 who are unable to visit during the pandemic.
Learn more about service changes in Long-Term Care Homes.
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.
The Telus Mobility for Good program partnered with City of Toronto, Toronto Police Service, United Way Greater Toronto and lead community service providers to help vulnerable Torontonians stay connected to mental health and other crisis services during this difficult time. Through this partnership, eligible clients received a cell phone, data plan or a sim card, free of charge.
Prior to the conclusion of this program, resources provided by TELUS were distributed through FOCUS Toronto service agencies and the Toronto Mental Health Support Plan to their clients, based on assessment of need.
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, stay home as much as possible. 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.
If seniors cannot get to assessment centres for testing, mobile testing may be an option. Seniors-serving community organizations or housing providers can contact TRTestingIntake@tc.lhins.on.ca to request mobile testing for a group of seniors in a local neighbourhood location. Individual seniors/caregivers may also email to ask about mobile testing options near them
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Ontario government has announced initiatives that may support seniors, including but not limited to:
As of May 13, the Government of Canada has also announced
If you are experiencing homelessness, call the City’s Central Intake Line at:
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.
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.