Today, Mayor John Tory announced that approximately $3.12 million in additional funding will be distributed from the TO Supports Investment Fund to 33 community-based agencies supporting vulnerable populations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This round of funding includes $1.96 million from the City of Toronto’s allocation of the Social Services Relief Fund from the Province of Ontario and $550,000 from the Scheinberg Relief Fund.
Data continues to show that Indigenous, Black and other marginalized groups are most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The enhanced COVID-19 supports for targeted neighbourhoods announced by the City in November includes measures to increase testing, intensify community outreach and engagement and support mandatory self-isolation. Initiatives implemented as part of the enhanced supports and this round of funding draw on the expertise and track record of agencies who work effectively with vulnerable, racialized Torontonians.
The collection of race-based data will continue to inform the City’s understanding of the disproportionate negative impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities and guide allocations. In the recommended allocations, priority was given to community-based agencies providing support and services to Torontonians who are most vulnerable in the pandemic, as well as communities experiencing disproportionate negative impacts of COVID-19, namely low-income households; seniors; residents who are experiencing homelessness (e.g. those in shelters, street involved.); individuals with mobility issues, quarantined and/or in self-isolation; households in the inner suburbs and tower neighbourhoods of Toronto; Indigenous and Black people; newcomer and refugee populations; and neighbourhoods with a greater number of COVID-19 cases, such as the northeast and northwest areas of Toronto.
Urgent unmet needs continue related to food access, mental health supports and connectivity. The recommendations for this round of funding build on allocations made in round one to support the continuation of services and partnerships that are already responding to unmet needs in the community related to COVID-19.
Twenty-six of the 33 grantees that were recommended in the round one allocation are recommended in this round to extend the impact of their work. A list of the community-based agencies that the City will be working with is available.
On April 1, the City was advised by the Province of Ontario that its allocation under the Social Services Relief Fund was $39.2 million for 2020-2021 to enable the City to help a diverse range of vulnerable people. In June, approximately $4.6 million was allocated in the first round of investments and, in October, approximately $1.9 million was allocated in the second round of investments. Including this third round of funding, the City has invested in 85 community-based agencies supporting vulnerable populations impacted by the pandemic.
The TO Supports Investment Fund was created to invest in strategic partnerships with social services agencies to address urgent needs of vulnerable Toronto residents. The funds are not intended to meet long-term recovery needs. The City will continue advocating to the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada for greater funding to support the emergency and recovery needs found within Toronto communities.
“Thank you to the Scheinberg Relief Fund for their additional contribution to the TO Supports Investment Fund. The fund – supported by the Government of Ontario – has provided an opportunity to build new partnerships and to engage new organizations representing previously underrepresented, equity-seeking groups. Thank you to all of the partnering community-based agencies and groups and their frontline workers for the work you have been and continue to do to support Torontonians who are most vulnerable, especially for those in COVID-19 hot spots. The City is doing everything it can to keep residents safe and we will continue to do so and I welcome the fact the province has signalled it will also be providing additional funding towards community-focused efforts in our hardest hit neighbourhoods.”
– Mayor John Tory
“As we confront the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more evident than ever that our city is strongest when we all work together. Partnering with community-based agencies and groups enables the City to identify gaps in our supports for Toronto’s most vulnerable residents and to find ways to fill those gaps. Funding from the TO Supports Investment Fund can help our partners sustain and expand their work as Toronto battles through the second wave of this pandemic.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
“On behalf of Across Boundaries, I am really pleased to receive this additional support from the City. During these very difficult and trying times for Black and racialized communities, this funding will allow us to enhance the mental health and addiction supports, as well as continue to address the increased need for food security, digital access, personal protective equipment, self-care and overall wellbeing. Focusing on the most marginalized, including racialized 2SLGBQT++ communities, we focus our efforts on the hardest hit areas of the city. We appreciate the partnership with the City to ensure stability and safety for our communities in the moment, while working to eradicate the systemic barriers that disadvantage us in the first place.”
– Aseefa Sarang, Executive Director, Across Boundaries: An Ethnoracial Mental Health Centre
“This funding will allow us to provide a culturally appropriate hot meal to families and individuals most impacted by food security due to COVID-19. Our clients have expressed gratitude about how much the meals have helped them a great deal, especially those who are unemployed, living with addictions and precariously housed, with no access to kitchen facilities, during the pandemic. Poverty is an issue for many of our clients and this has helped immensely by provided access to a safe and nourishing meal.”
– Cheryl Prescod, Executive Director, Black Creek Community Health Centre
“The winter season can be extremely difficult for East Scarborough’s most vulnerable communities. This winter children, youth, families, and senior across our community are struggling to navigate the restrictions and anxieties experienced due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With a continued investment in the food security, and wellness needs of those most vulnerable in the East end of the City, East Scarborough Boys & Girls Club can continue to provide access to critical food security and wellness services that are in dire need during these critical times.”
– Utcha Sawyers, Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of East Scarborough
“Through funding from the City of Toronto’s TO Support Investment Fund, Dashmaawaan Bemaadzinjin will be able to support Indigenous elders, houseless folks living in encampments and on the streets with healthy, whole, traditional foods. We recognize that Indigenous food security is about more than making sure that our people are fed, but that they have opportunities to thrive and honor their spirits whenever possible. Gathering around food, ceremony and celebration has always been important to Indigenous people – even more so now because of the impact of colonization and years of not being able to practice our traditions. Many of our people are residential school and child welfare survivors and today, because of lack of access to resources, are not able to eat whole healthy foods when they want, nor do they have access to traditional foods often, like deer, moose meat and lake fish. These foods bring back memories of home and family and provide much needed sanctuary in times like we are living in. We feel it is important to remember that food is one of our most important traditions and strongest medicines.”
– Laurie Hermiston and Suzanne Smoke, Founders, Dashmaawaan Bemaadzinjin
“Early on in the pandemic, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto partnered with the City of Toronto and 211 to offer mental health services to Indigenous children, youth and families. Since then, we’ve continued to see COVID-19 disproportionately impacting Indigenous peoples. We’ve heard loud and clear from the community that the pandemic-related challenges, including poverty, mental health crises, substance abuse and family violence are becoming more acute. Thanks to funding provided by the City of Toronto through TO Supports, NCFST will introduce an After-Hours Telephone Mental Health and Crisis Support Line that will deliver culturally responsive counselling, crisis intervention and rapid referrals to dozens of supportive programs and services to Indigenous community members in distress. We remain committed to working alongside the City of Toronto and our partner agencies to ensure that Indigenous children, youth and families are supported throughout and beyond this pandemic.”
– Jeff Schiffer, Executive Director, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto
“The Ontario Psychological Association is pleased to continue working alongside the City of Toronto on its COVID-19 Mental Health Strategy and to partner on a new mental health pilot project that will help connect frontline essential workers without health benefits to psychologists when they need it. This is a very important first step, as we know the pandemic has exacerbated community concerns and highlighted gaps in our healthcare system. Frontline workers who are supporting key health and social programs are shouldering considerable emotional and physical burden and can at times feel fatigue and burnout. Ontario psychologists want to help. Thank you, Mayor Tory, City Council, City staff and the 211 Central team who have been working non-stop since the beginning of the pandemic to keep Toronto safe, while prioritizing mental health.”
– Richard Morrison, Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Psychological Association
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