Today, Mayor John Tory announced the City of Toronto is distributing $4.5 million to support grants for COVID-19 vaccine engagement. The City of Toronto’s Vaccine Engagement Teams, formed in April 2021 as a collaboration between the City and community services sector, are a key component of the City’s COVID-19 Community Mobilization and Engagement Plan aimed at reducing barriers to COVID-19 vaccines and increasing vaccination uptake in equity-deserving communities.
The Vaccine Engagement Teams have already connected with more than 1.5 million community members using a wide range of engagement activities. These teams currently operate through 17 geographic and population-based consortiums made up of over 200 health, community and faith-based organizations. Preliminary evaluation of the program found that work of the Vaccine Engagement Teams has resulted in increased vaccine confidence, access and uptake among diverse communities across Toronto. The grant funding, which will be in place through July 1, 2022, will go toward outreach and engagement activities in neighbourhoods and communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Details on funding allocation and activities per organization is available on the City’s COVID-19: City Immunization Strategies page.
For the community and by the community, Vaccine Engagement Teams connect with communities that have experienced disproportionate COVID-19 spread and impact, with a focus on older adults who are isolated, people experiencing homelessness, individuals living with disabilities and mental health trauma, newcomers, LGBTQ2S+ communities, undocumented individuals, youth and Indigenous, and Black, South Asian and other racialized communities.
More than 600 local community ambassadors have been mobilized across the city to provide information about vaccination options and resources, acting as key contacts in their communities to address hesitancy and inspire knowledge and confidence in vaccines. Ambassadors reflect the diversity in culture, race and language of Toronto’s equity-deserving groups, and facilitate targeted outreach to individuals and communities using personal relationships and networks in the neighbourhoods where they work and live.
“I am pleased to see the goals and plans in place for the COVID-19 Vaccine Engagement Teams Grants. This work is key to our City’s recovery and for the well-being of all Toronto residents. What we are doing is working to drive up vaccination rates, and it is important that it continues. I want to thank all the community agencies and ambassadors working in their communities making a tremendous difference every single day.”
– Mayor John Tory
“Cooperation between the City and its community partners is essential to our recovery and rebuild efforts. Grant funding will enable partner organizations to build on the success of Vaccine Engagement Teams and intensify their efforts as community ambassadors. Their work has had, and will continue to have a lasting, positive impact on individuals, communities and our City as a whole.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
“Increasing vaccine equity, removing barriers and providing opportunities is at the core of the Vaccine Engagement Teams’ work. For the community and by the community, local and trusted ambassadors make personal connections with their neighbors where they live, work and play. This includes door-to-door visits, targeted social media campaigns, connected with youth and engaging with grassroots groups. I look forward to seeing the continued success of this work.”
– Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York), Chair of the Toronto Board of Health
“As the Omicron wave continues to recede, we are seeing signs for cautious optimism. This thanks to the perseverance and hard work of all Toronto residents. As we increase our hyper-local, equity-focused vaccine strategy, I am pleased to see the continuing work of vaccine engagement teams and community ambassadors continue to remove barriers to vaccination. This work is critical to the health and well-being of all Torontonians and the hopeful end of the pandemic.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.