Last updated: June 24, 2020 at 12 p.m.

The City is looking for diverse perspectives on how Toronto can recover rebuild and emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic even stronger. Host your own meeting or discussion to help shape Toronto’s actions around recovery and rebuild.

The following Guide is available as a printable PDF.

About this Discussion Guide

This guide was created to support the City of Toronto’s work to recover and rebuild our city while living with COVID-19. It provides background information as well as how to contribute your input.

The Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild (TORR) will consider participant feedback, ideas, and information as it develops recommendations for the City Manager and City Council.

Toronto’s recovery and rebuild will be guided by the advice and direction of public health officials. Ensuring the health and safety of all residents remains the City’s top priority. For this reason, consultation will rely primarily on online collection of input to maintain physical distancing and limit the handling of paper forms.

We Are Interested in Hearing from You

The online survey includes questions for individuals, groups and businesses. The questions in this guide are intended to support online discussions and help formulate your ideas.

Please provide your answers by June 30, 2020:

  • Through the survey
  • By email at
  • By mail to Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild, Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, 10th Floor East Tower, Toronto, Ontario M5H 2N2

If you have questions about this guide, or the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild, please email

Input from stakeholders will be summarized and posted to Open Data.

Toronto’s Approach to COVID-19 Recovery & Rebuilding

While the City continues to work on reducing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring the delivery of essential and critical City services, it is also working to prepare for Toronto’s recovery in the weeks and months to come.

The Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild will coordinate engagement and research to develop the City’s recovery strategies and actions to rebuild and reimagine the way we deliver programs and services. Toronto’s recovery and rebuilding will continue to be responsive to how the COVID-19 pandemic evolves and continue to be informed by public health evidence and best practices.

Because residents and businesses play a significant role in successfully restoring communities and our social and economic infrastructure, the City will:

  • Work to promote the health and safety of employees, communities and the public as the number one priority;
  • Communicate regularly about City services, and actions the City is taking to ensure the health and safety of our staff, program participants and service recipients across all our divisions, agencies and service partners; and
  • Engage City Council, institutions, communities and residents throughout our work.

COVID-19: Recovery & Rebuild

Toronto’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are both similar and different from the experiences and action taking place regionally, nationally and internationally. Everything from working to control rates of infection, reacting to a significantly changed supply chain and availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and maintaining physical distancing will continue to have an impact on Toronto similar to other large cities.

Pre-existing critical issues related to transit and traffic congestion, housing affordability and economic disparity, climate change and resilience, health and well-being, continue and have been further challenged by COVID-19. The City entered the pandemic with a strong, diversified workforce, employment sectors and population including urban Indigenous communities that will help to support recovery and rebuilding. However, the impact of remote work, continued public health measures and the financial impact of closures are still to be calculated.

These and other issues will need to be considered by TORR as part of its engagement strategy and will require continued monitoring of this evolving landscape while preparing recommendations to the City’s senior leadership and City Council.

Toronto’s role in implementing these recommendations will increasingly depend on our relationships with other orders of government; Indigenous communities; our regional, business and community partners; the residents of Toronto and our ability to secure sustainable funding.

Public health guidance from all three orders of government – federal, provincial and municipal – will guide the pace of these decisions, actions the City takes and our ability to rebuild Toronto again – or better.

Roles & Responsibilities of Government During COVID-19

Each level of government has different authorities and roles and responsibilities in terms of the COVID-19 response and recovery.

Municipal – Toronto

  • Utilities (water, waste water, garbage)
  • Transit (TTC)
  • Roads
  • Emergency services (police, fire, paramedics)
  • Municipal enforcement
  • City Hall
  • Property taxes
  • Culture and recreation
  • Family and community supports
  • Affordable/social housing
  • COVID-19 case and contact management
  • Long-term care

Provincial – Ontario

  • Schools
  • Hospitals/healthcare
  • Transit (Metrolinx / GO Transit)
  • Supports for employees/employers
  • COVID-19 testing
  • Justice
  • Highways
  • School taxes
  • Safety enforcement
  • Economic stimulus
  • Post-secondary institutions
  • Long-term care
  • Environmental protection

Federal – Canada

  • Income tax
  • Mortgages
  • Borders
  • RCMP
  • Military
  • Student loans
  • Airports
  • International travel
  • Safety enforcement
  • Income supports (Employment Insurance, Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Child Benefit)
  • Economic stimulus
  • Environmental protection

Context: The Provincial Framework

Toronto’s recovery plans are guided by the advice of public health officials and the Province of Ontario’s Framework for Reopening our Province that includes the following three-phased approach to reopening businesses, services, and public spaces.

Phase 1: Protect & Support

The government’s primary focus is on protecting the health and well-being of individuals and families, supporting frontline health care workers, essential workers and businesses, and providing immediate support to protect people and jobs. This is demonstrated through the $17-billion Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 and ongoing government actions, such as increased pay for frontline workers during the pandemic.

Emergency orders put in place to protect people include: the closure of non-essential workplaces, outdoor amenities in parks, recreational areas and public places, as well as bars and restaurants; restrictions on social gatherings; and limiting staff from working in more than one retirement home, long-term care home or congregate care setting.

Phase 2: Restart

The government will take a careful, stage-by-stage approach to loosening emergency measures and reopening Ontario’s economy. Public health and workplace safety will remain the top priority, while balancing the needs of people and businesses. Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two-to-four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health. The government will also continue to issue guidelines for workplace safety.

Phase 3: Recover

Ensuring the health and safety of the public and workers will continue to be a top priority as Ontario transitions to a “new normal.” The government will partner with businesses and other sectors to lead Ontario’s economic recovery. The focus will be on creating jobs and opportunity across the province, while working to restore long term prosperity for the benefit of every individual and family in Ontario.

As the Provincial government moves through their phased approach, the City will review the health and safety impacts to Torontonians and how to implement the Province’s directions. The City will need to determine how to adjust services, programs or operations to meet physical distancing on public transit, in public spaces, and at childcare facilities as more people return to work, school, and daily activities.

The recovery and rebuild decisions we make must consider the personal, social and financial impact of the pandemic on Toronto’s businesses and residents of all ages, in all communities and circumstances, and those who have been hardest hit by COVID-19.

Flexibility and adaptability are essential as Toronto moves to a “new normal.” As the city recovers and rebuilds, we must be responsive to any further spread, decline or surges of COVID-19 and adjust our actions accordingly. This will mean constant monitoring and responding in addition to implementing recovery measures.

Hearing From You

Since the outset of the pandemic, the City has received input from residents and businesses including through the Mayor’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force. This feedback has helped shape the City’s response to the crisis and will shape future actions to recover and rebuild. Community partners and groups, residents and businesses will continue to be engaged by the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild, and the City’s divisions and agencies.

The Phases

The City will take a phased approach to Toronto’s reopening, recovery and rebuild.

  • Restart/Reopen will include gradually resuming City programs and services and gradually reopening businesses and private-sector services.
  • Recovery will involve implementing plans in partnership with other levels of government to support social and economic recovery once the pandemic begins to subside.
  • Rebuild and Reimagine will involve exploring opportunities for new ideas and partnerships related to how services and programs are delivered.

The City has created this guide and information to seek your ideas and suggestions for the City’s recovery and rebuilding.

The City will continue to undertake research, learn from other jurisdictions and work with institutions, local, regional and national networks and Indigenous communities. The City will also work with municipal staff from across Canada to share lessons and best practices.

The City has a dedicated website with information for businesses and residents about the COVID-19 pandemic. This site, includes information on the current health situation, advice for individuals and businesses to reduce the spread of the virus, mental health resources, financial and social support, business resources, donation and volunteer links and regular updates on City services.


Please review these questions to take notes and gather your ideas. Please submit your answers through the online survey.

1. What are the priorities for you, your community, organization or business to effectively recover and rebuild and why? What are your top three priorities from this list?
  • Affordable housing and shelters
  • Seniors care and senior’s programs
  • Child care and children’s programs
  • Health program and supports from Toronto Public Health
  • Economic development programs and support for local businesses
  • Skills training and help finding employment opportunities
  • Food banks, community gardens and other food security programs
  • Mental health supports and support to address social isolation
  • More opportunities for technology innovations and contactless services and programs from the City of Toronto
  • Community spaces, parks and public spaces
  • Culture and arts programs
  • Actions to address climate change
  • Mobility, transit and transportation
  • Other, please specify:


2. What three priorities would you like to see the City work with the Federal and Provincial Governments on and why?
  • Immigration support assistance
  • Income support program assistance (e.g. Employment Insurance (EI), Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit)
  • Supports for businesses (e.g. Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy)
  • Health care supports or services
  • Personal or Student loan support
  • Rent or mortgage supports
  • Information about COVID-19 for individuals and businesses
  • Education, training and skills development
  • Climate change
  • Other, please specify:


3. What would you like to see the City work with other Non-Government partners on and why?
  • Spaces for groups to meet safely in the community
  • Opportunities and tools to help connect individuals, communities and non-government partners
  • Support for new ideas and opportunities generated by community members
  • Working with local communities to identity new ideas and opportunities on issues like climate change, food security and safe and healthy neighbourhoods
  • Training and skills development
  • Supports for local businesses and community groups
  • Other, please specify:


4. What have you, your business, your community or your neighbourhood done in response to the pandemic that the City could learn from and build on?
  • Engagement with neighbours and local community
  • Identified contactless ways to complete shopping and service transactions
  • Creative ways to encourage and maintain physical distancing in community or workplace
  • Assisted people in community who needed supports
  • Donated food or money to a community organization or program
  • Launched online program or service
  • Other, please specify:
5. Tell us more about the action you would like the City to consider in its recovery and rebuilding work?
6. Cities will need to change as a result of this pandemic. The City of Toronto is interested in hearing your ideas for your local government.

Please help us by completing the following sentence: I would like the City to address the following issue __________ by taking the following action __________ and make the city better in the following ways__________.

Use these tips and sample agendas to help host virtual meetings in your community. These can accompany the Discussion Guide for Toronto’s Businesses, Organizations and Communities.

Tips for Hosting an Online Conversation

  • Set a time, place and objective
  • Determine who you would like to participate in the meeting and what you would like to discuss
  • Review the Discussion Guide. You can discuss all the questions, only those that interest you, or split your group into smaller groups and divide up the sections among them
  • Determine what platform you will use. There are many ways to connect and collaborate online. Some examples include: WebEx, Skype, Google Hangouts.
    • Please note: the listing of these options is not a City endorsement
  • Contact participants, members of your organization or community to see what time and meeting format works best for them
  • Consider hosting more than one session to accommodate shifts, childcare, or other commitments
  • Give invitees enough notice to increase the chances that people can participate
  • Ask invited participants to confirm if they will attend. If you have a larger group, consider dividing your meeting into smaller groups or host multiple meetings to work through the questions in sections
  • Ensure participants have any background material or have access to any materials you will reference during the meeting
  • Set an agenda and share with participants before the meeting

Practice Using the Technology

  • Ensure you feel comfortable using the online tool you plan to use
  • Consider asking a volunteer to run the technology while you host the discussion
  • Hold practice session a day or two ahead of time to work out any problems
  • Test both the audio and video connections


  • The meeting host is responsible for:
    • starting and ending the meeting
    • keeping the meeting flowing
    • following the agenda
    • providing an opportunity for as many participants as possible to contribute
  • The host does not need to be an expert on the subject being discussed, but they should familiarize themselves with the Discussion Guide, the agenda and questions in advance
  • The host should invite participants to take notes and submit their ideas online at or send one submission on behalf of the group

Facilitation Tips

  • Ask everyone to introduce themselves and share one or two words on why they chose to attend, if time permits
  • Start by describing the agenda or process you have chosen for the discussion and ask if there are any questions
  • Start or end by doing a go-around that lets everyone share a first or final thought, if time permits
  • Keep the conversation focused, remind people of the discussion questions if they get off track
  • Draw quiet participants into the conversation by asking if they have thoughts they want to add, while giving them the option to pass. Ask people who are speaking a lot to let others who haven’t spoken yet contribute
  • Suggest that people provide comments or feedback through alternative means, such as chat functions or in emails to the host during the meeting
  • Repeat what you hear and ask for clarity when needed
  • Keep things moving and on time – watch the clock!
  • Don’t allow intimidation or disrespectful language. If someone says something disrespectful, remind the group the discussion should be welcoming and respectful for everyone
  • In virtual meetings it’s sometimes hard to know who wants to speak either when everyone is muted, or everyone is talking at once. With cameras on, you can ask people to raise their hand, or hold up a sign asking to speak. Some online meeting platforms have a built-in hand raising function or allow participants to privately chat with a moderator. For smaller groups, you might consider calling each person out by name at least once to ensure everyone gets a chance to speak

Designate Other Roles

In addition to the host, you may consider having a:

  • Note taker: Takes notes during the meeting, emails notes to participants and submits the discussion summary to the Toronto Office of Recovery & Rebuild
  • Technical support: Helps with technical troubleshooting. Ensure that the contact information for the technical support is available for participants in case there are issues during the meeting.
  • Time Keeper

Sharing Feedback

Summarize your group’s discussion and submit your feedback online. Participants are also encouraged to submit their feedback individually online.

Please provide your feedback by June 30 to be considered in this round of consultations.

Sample Agenda

Item Description Suggested Time
1 Virtual discussion Starts: allow attendees to join online virtual space 5 min
2 Welcome 3 min
3 Land Acknowledgement 2 min
4 Review the Agenda 5 min
5 Review of Discussion Guide & Presentation: Discussion Guide online 10 min
6 Online Discussion: Question 1 15 min
7 Online Discussion: Additional Question (optional) 15 min
8 Wrap-up, Thanks & Next Steps 5 min

Total time: 45-60 minutes

Sample Detailed Agenda

Item Description Suggested Time
1 Virtual Engagement Start

  • Allow attendees to join online virtual space (e.g., WebEx, Skype, Google Hangout etc.)
  • Attendees may join or depart throughout the event, and may not all be visible on screen
  • Use time to recognize participants and have small talk, but do not convey any critical information as majority of participants may not hear some or all of information
5 min
2 Engagement Welcome

  • Formally acknowledge the start of the meeting
  • In order to allow all participants to hear each other as best as best as possible, request that all participants mute when not speaking
  • Take the opportunity to practice finding mute and doing so now
3 min
3 Land Acknowledgement

Providing a land acknowledgement at the beginning of an event or meeting gives time for reflection and demonstrates recognition of Indigenous lands, treaties and peoples.

There are two versions depending on where the meeting is being held:

  1. If you are hosting the discussion in Etobicoke, North York, York, East York or Toronto
  2. If you are hosting the discussion in Scarborough
2 min
4 Review the agenda 5 min
5 Review of Discussion Guide & Presentation

  • Ask everyone to open/upload the City’s Discussion Guide online
  • Highlight the Roles and Responsibilities of all three Orders of Government and link to Province of Ontario’s Framework for Reopening our Province
  • Note, City’s recovery plans are guided by the advice of public health officials and the Province’s framework
10 min
6 Online discussion – Question 1

  • Choose any question in the Discussion Guide
  • Consider use of “Chat” function to allow users to also submit questions, comments, responses or general input (if online engagement platform offers such a function)
  • Do not record session unless all participants agree
15 min
7 Online Discussion – Additional Question (optional)

  • Chose one of the remaining questions, and a third if there is time
  • Consider use of “Chat” function to allow users to also submit questions, comments, responses or general input (if online engagement platform offers such a function)
15 min
8 Wrap-up, Thanks & Next Steps

  • Thank all participants for their contributions to the discussion
  • Remind options for participants to provide their answers to discussion guide questions
  • City will be collecting all input until June 30, 2020
  • All input will be summarized and posted to Toronto Open Data
  • More information, including reports on these engagements and to City Council on the City’s Rebuilding and Recovery efforts are available online.
5 min

Total time: 45-60 minutes