Today marks one month since Mayor John Tory declared a State of Emergency in the City of Toronto following advice from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Office of Emergency Management.
The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was first activated 44 days ago on March 12 to support the local response to COVID-19. Originally activated at a Level One, it escalated to a Level Three on March 17 to better respond to the emerging situation.
Over the past month, the City has acted and responded quickly to the pandemic, working together with other levels of government, agencies, corporations, businesses, and community organizations to ensure that the City is best positioned to stop the spread of COVID-19, while providing support to those who need it most.
Throughout the month, all emergency services – including police, fire and paramedic services, have continued to operate normally. Toronto Water has ensured that the City’s drinking water is reliable and safe. Toronto Hydro has continued to operate.
The Medical Officer of Health and Toronto Public Health have taken a number of critical actions over the last month, including:
• Conducting more than 3,820 investigations into cases of COVID-19 to prevent further virus spread;
• Redeploying hundreds of staff to respond to this unprecedented situation;
• Issuing a class order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act requiring self-isolation for those with confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 and their close contacts;
• Collaborating with City Information Technology Division to develop the Coronavirus Rapid Entry Case and Contact Management System (CORES);
• Developing, in collaboration with community scientists, enhanced expertise in epidemiological modeling to enable better understanding of the pandemic outbreak in our community;
• Promoting physical distancing by closing all park amenities, and cancelling recreation programs, City-led events and permits for events on streets and in City facilities; and
• Responding to nearly 18,000 calls to Toronto Public Health.
Under the Declaration of Emergency, the City has also taken several important actions, which include:
• Continued emergency planning efforts, including establishing dedicated operational taskforces, securing supplies of important personal protective equipment for frontline workers, and simultaneously preparing to address other environmental risks such as flooding;
• Enforcing the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and the orders issued by the Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. This includes issuing:
o 64 tickets to non-essential businesses, 133 notices and educating 60 people.
o 477 tickets for non-compliance in parks, 728 notices and educating 10,654 people.
o 49 tickets for gatherings of more than five people.
• Creating more capacity for physical distancing within the shelter system which includes opening 11 new shelter facilities with more than 470 new spaces, securing 11 hotels with more than 1,020 rooms, and establishing one hotel with 200 rooms as a dedicated recovery site;
• Developing an innovative solution to promote physical distancing for Ontario Works recipients picking up their cheques;
• Implementing the Food Access Strategy, developed with community groups to ensure continued food access for Toronto’s seniors and most vulnerable people. This strategy included opening temporary food banks in 11 Toronto Public Library branches and activating additional community resources to deliver food hampers to those in need;
• Opening six emergency child care centres to offer free child care 24/7 for frontline healthcare workers and essential City employees. This program has provided care for nearly 300 children and helped more than 200 families;
• Providing support for businesses through the newly launched BusinessTO Support Centre, tripling funding for Digital Main Street to help businesses develop expand their businesses online, and leveraging the expertise of the business and technology sector to launch Distantly.ca, an online donation tool where people can donate to their favourite small businesses;
• Launching DonateTO, an online portal which allows businesses and residents to make donations of products, services and funds in support of the City’s pandemic relief efforts. So far, more than $1.7 million in donations has been received;
• Maintaining service levels for organic, garbage and recycling collection, and resuming yard waste collection;
• Redeploying approximately 500 City staff to provide much-needed support for critical City service areas such as shelters and long-term care homes;
• Highlighting mental health resources to support people experiencing distress during this time;
• Prioritizing communications with both the public and our employees with 311 responding to approximately 102,000 calls, holding regular news briefings and live streaming these on YouTube, and having more than 8,000 staff participate in a virtual Town Hall with the City Manager;
• Developing plans to host the first-ever virtual Toronto City Council meeting so that Council can continue to work together to serve the public; and much more.
Toronto’s State of Emergency remains in place in order to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Residents are urged to continue to take every precaution to protect themselves and others by continuing to stay home, stay safe and only venturing out to buy essential supplies once a week.
Insights shared by Dr. de Villa earlier this week into Toronto’s outbreak comparing the situation in the city to other jurisdictions, including the provincial and national outbreak curves, suggest that Toronto’s strong public health measures and residents’ adherence to those measures are beginning to be reflected in Toronto’s curve.
Residents must continue to abide by public health orders in order to realize the benefits of these measures and the City will continue to act and make decisions based on the expert advice of public health officials.
The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check toronto.ca/covid-19 for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.
“A month ago, I declared a State of Emergency in the City of Toronto in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that the municipal government would be in a position to act quickly to address Toronto’s critical public health, social and economic needs as a result of the pandemic. Since the declaration, all facets of the City have worked at wartime speed in collaboration with other levels of government, agencies, community partners, businesses and more, to come together as a united front in our fight against this virus. While the emergency continues, there is still much work to do to flatten the curve, protect our most vulnerable, and support businesses, I am hopeful that if
we all continue to take action, adhere to public health orders, and physical distancing, that we will be able to beat COVID-19 and move forward with a strong recovery.”
– Mayor John Tory
“This global pandemic is like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetime. In response, we’ve learned from other jurisdictions and have had to put in place strict measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to keep us safe. In order to realize the benefits of our collective sacrifices, we must continue to stay the course, stay home, and practise physical distancing, until it is the right and safe time to begin to ease our public health and physical distancing measures.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health
“The City of Toronto began planning for the COVID-19 outbreak before the first case was reported in Canada. The City has remained steadfast in its response to this crisis and over the past month, has achieved an incredible feat by executing swift, coordinated and meaningful responses to some of the toughest challenges to ever face Toronto. I am proud of the City’s work in response to this pandemic but am mindful that our response is a marathon, not a sprint. There is still a long way to go and everyone must continue to follow the advice of public health and understand that it’s only by working together that we’ll beat COVID-19.
– Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management
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 toronto.ca or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CityofToronto, on Instagram at instagram.com/cityofto or on Facebook at facebook.com/cityofto.