Last updated: April 7, 2020 at 6:20 p.m.

New food access supports and resources are available for seniors and other vulnerable people experiencing hardship related to COVID-19.

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

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.

The City of Toronto has received authorization from the Province of Ontario to open licensed child care centres to provide care for children of essential and critical service workers. Learn who is eligible and how to apply.

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

We have developed a Community Coordination Plan that will involve dedicated coordinators working at the community and neighborhood level to ensure the needs of the City’s most vulnerable and isolated residents are met. The Plan organizes the City into 10 geographic Community Clusters with an additional two Clusters focused on city-wide agencies and Indigenous-serving organizations. The coordinators will:

  • work with community organizations to identify and respond to local priorities
  • communicate with other service providers, community organizations and councillors

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.

Provision of critical services primarily by phone include:

  • new applications for Ontario Works (OW) financial assistance (by phone) at 416-338-8888
  • ensuring active OW clients continue to receive their monthly payments
  • Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) requests
  • continuation of benefits such as special diet, employment related expenses, and medical transportation
  • funeral applications

In-person services are restricted at this time and provided by exception only as most service can be provided to those in need by phone.

Check the Employment and Social Services section on the City’s Affected City Services & Facilities web page for updates on impacted services and when they may return to normal service.

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 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:

Food Delivery for Seniors

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. Starting April 7, call 1-833-204-9952 for eligibility and registration information.

Access to food banks

Four food banks are now open at multiple Toronto Public Library locations, with another two opening on April 7. The first one opened on March 25 in partnership with North York Food Harvest Food Bank. Another three opened in partnership with the Daily Bread Food Bank. Eventually 10 locations will be available.

The City is also facilitating food banks in Toronto Community Housing buildings so they can continue to be available to tenants and in specific community centres where possible.

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 repurpose resources to support the Food for Kids program, which is providing grocery gift cards to families of children that need them.

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.

Provide equipment to community food programs

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.

Food Donations

Restaurants and businesses that sell food are asked to donate unsold, surplus food through Second Harvest Food Rescue.

St. Lawrence Market continues to work with food rescue partner Second Harvest and encourages merchants, farmers and vendors to continue to provide unsold food products to Second Harvest pickup volunteers.

Residents who can, are also encouraged to donate essentials to their local food bank. Essentials include:

  • canned fish and meat
  • canned beans and pulses
  • canned tomatoes
  • rice or quinoa
  • cooking oil
  • baby formula and diapers

Map of Food Banks

The Emergency Operations Centre is developing a map of all food banks in Toronto which will help identify which food banks are open/closed and if there are locations that need support.

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.

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. is donating 7,031 cases of food
  • Loblaw Companies Limited is providing $30,000 of food credit
  • Kraft Heinz Canada is donating 3,654 cases of baby food, with additional quantities anticipated soon.

Support for People Facing Unemployment

Employment Insurance (EI)

Service Canada has a dedicated phone line for inquiries regarding EI claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic: 1-833-381-2725.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal starting in early April. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number.

Additional Resources Available

There are several additional support available to assist with utilities, banking and other government programs.

Financial Help to Pay Rent

Tenants should reach out to their landlords to discuss their situation – many landlords are developing payment plans for tenants on a case-by-case basis.

The City of Toronto offers a range of financial supports for tenants:

  • Money for Emergency Housing Needs: Housing Stabilization Fund – Ontario Works or ODSP
  • Interest-Free Loans for Low-Income Households Facing Eviction
  • Grants for Tenants Challenging Rent Hikes, Demolitions or Condo Conversions
  • Rent Reduction for Tenants in Buildings with Reduced Property Taxes
  • Energy-Related Emergency Help for Low-Income Residents
  • Money for Home Energy Conservation Supplies – Ontario Works
  • Other Financial Help to Pay Utility Bills

The City is working on enhancing and expanding financial supports to help tenants maintain their homes. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

  • If you are a tenant of Toronto Community Housing visit www.torontohousing.ca for specific measures related to COVID-19.
  • If you are a tenant of a social or affordable housing, contact your housing provider for information on accommodations related to COVID-19.

At Risk of Being Evicted

The Province has suspended all eviction-related activity. No renter households are currently at imminent risk of eviction for non-payment of rent. Households should be able to maintain their housing for April 1, 2020.

Please note that while evictions are stopped now, the current expectation is that tenants will have to get caught up on rent in time.

If your landlord has on their own locked you out of your unit:

  • Contact the Province’s Rental Housing Enforcement Unit or call 416-585-7214 or 1-888-772-9277
  • Seek legal support or advice from your local community clinic (search by postal code)

Learn how the eviction process has changed due to COVID-19.

Resources to Better Understand Your Rights & Responsibilities as a Tenant

The following resources provide information on your rights and responsibilities as a tenant:

The following organizations can assist tenants:

The following are some tenant-led City-wide resources:

Health & Safety Measures for Apartment Buildings

Landlords and Condo Boards are urged to adopt new health and safety measures to protect residents from COVID-19. Large residential buildings with a high number of units should adopt new practices and a rigorous cleaning routine to prevent viral spread.

Related Information

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 at home as much as possible.

Who to Call for Help

Seniors and caregivers can call 211 Toronto (24/7 accessing 150+ languages) for the most up-to-date information on the status of many community and social services for seniors. 211 Toronto can refer seniors to community-based services where available.

Other resources for seniors include:

  • Toronto Seniors Helpline for support, questions and referral: 416-217-2077
  • Local Health Integration Network to apply for government-funded health and personal care services, and to apply for admission to long-term care: 310-2222, no area code
  • Distress Centres of Toronto for crisis assistance : 416-408-HELP(4357)
  • Seniors Safety Line – Elder Abuse Ontario for suspected elder abuse: 1-866-299-1011, available 24/7 and in many languages
  • Toronto Police Service to report fraud: 416-808-2222
  • Crime Stoppers to report fraud anonymously: 1-800-222-8477(TIPS) or online at crimestoppers.com

Community Services for Seniors

There are many agencies across the City that offer services to seniors living at home, such as:

  • Meals on wheels
  • Transportation to appointments
  • Personal support and adult day programs

Seniors who already receive these services should call their agency to find out if there are any changes to service because of COVID-19 pandemic. Seniors who are interested in accessing new services should call 211 to see if services are available in their area.

City Run Programs & Services

Visit the Affected City Services web page for updates on impacted services.

Access to Food / Groceries

  • Toronto Public Health recommends that people over the age of 70 stay home and use grocery delivery or have a neighbour or family member shop for them. If that is not possible, some stores have special hours to help seniors practise physical distancing.
  • The City and the Red Cross have partnered to provide food hamper delivery to qualifying seniors who are in self-isolation, do not have alternative access to food and are not currently receiving such assistance from another program. Starting April 7, call 1-833-204-9952 for eligibility and registration information.
  • The Friendly Neighbour Hotline is a service with a network of volunteers who deliver groceries from grocery stores (or from food banks, for existing food bank users) to seniors living in low-income housing. There is no delivery fee. Call 1-855-581-9580 (toll-free and available in 180 languages).
  • To enquire about other food support options, such as Meals on Wheels, please contact 211.

Prescriptions

Many pharmacies/drug stores will deliver prescriptions (and in some cases, over-the-counter medicine and supplies) to your home. For example, Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, Well.ca and many local pharmacies, offer deliveries.

Tenants in Toronto Community Housing Corporation

Toronto Community Housing has increased measures to support senior tenants during this time, including:

  • Conducting telephone check-ins with tenants to share COVID-19 related information and determine tenants’ requirements for support
  • In-person visits where necessary to coordinate and provide critical support
  • Cancelling in-person social and recreational programs, and other large gatherings
  • Prominently displaying signage in every TCHC building which provides information about COVID-19 and physical distancing
  • Connecting seniors who are in self-isolation with appropriate community agency support
  • Increased cleaning and disinfection in high traffic, common areas, intercom and elevator systems
  • Supporting clients through the Client Care Centre – call 416-981-5500 or email help@torontohousing.ca; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

TTC Wheel Trans

Learn who is eligible to use the TTC Wheel Trans service and how to book.

During this unusual time, patience and understanding from landlords is necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The City encourages all property owners to check in on their vulnerable residents and if necessary, connect them to the appropriate local agencies and supports.

Call 2-1-1 or visit www.211ontario.ca to see a list of services available in your area.

Rent Collection

Landlords are entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day an eviction order is not enforced. However, tenants who are asked to self-isolate or who can’t work may have difficulty affording their rent.

The City of Toronto offers a range of financial supports for tenants and is working on enhancing and expanding financial supports to help tenants maintain their homes.

In the meantime, the City encourages landlords and tenants to establish fair arrangements to keep tenants in their homes, including deferring their rent or other payment arrangements (such as allowing tenants to use their last month rent cheque to cover the April 1st payment).

Changes to the Eviction Process

In response to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, the Ontario Government has stopped issuing any new eviction orders until further notice. Sheriff’s offices will postpone any scheduled enforcement of current eviction orders.

Please note: Property owners are not permitted to lock-out tenants on their own. This can only be carried out by the Sheriff’s office.

Learn more about how the eviction process has changed due to COVID-19.

Support for Property Owners

The City has extended the grace period for property tax payments and utility bills for both residents and businesses.

Related information

 

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 (please note, drop in and out of the cold information is being updated). You can also get more information about housing supports, such as Access to Housing and Toronto Community Housing.

Community partners and operators can read more about changes to City-operated shelters and supports for homeless.

Many of our community and neighbourhood agencies rely on volunteers to help deliver their services.

Many Torontonians have expressed an interest in helping vulnerable, isolated residents and families during this emergency period.

Residents interested in volunteering should register with Spark Ontario and/or with Volunteer Toronto to get alerts for volunteer opportunities (some of which may be remote). Call Volunteer Toronto at 416-961-6888 or email info@volunteertoronto.ca to connect with an advisor to discuss volunteer opportunities.