Today, Mayor John Tory announced $370,000 of funding for community agencies in response to the need for support in communities that are at higher risk for COVID-19, experience vaccine hesitancy or face other barriers to accessing a COVID-19 vaccine.
This funding, part of the City’s COVID-19 Immunization Task Force (ITF) outreach efforts and the TO Supports: Targeted Equity Action Plan, will support people in the South Asian, Disability and Black communities to access COVID-19 vaccines.
The Council for Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) will receive a grant of $175,000 to convene a group of 10 organizations to form the South Asian Collaborative on Vaccine Engagement. The Collaborative will create culturally tailored messaging and outreach strategies to disseminate vaccine-related information to South Asian communities in Toronto, as well as work directly with faith groups, South Asian media, local influencers, and community leaders to encourage vaccinations.
Additionally, the City will launch a multilingual advertising campaign on April 5 with a micro-campaign specifically targeted to the South Asian community. The campaign, which was informed by a consultation with South Asian community leaders, will promote vaccination uptake through television, radio, print and digital channels in a number of languages, including Bangla, Farsi, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil and Urdu.
Funding in the amount of $125,000 will be provided to the Centre for Independent Living (CILT) to provide general resources on accessibility and empower local disability organizations to respond to their specific communities’ needs and concerns related to vaccine uptake. Specifically, funding will support development of grassroots Disability Community Organizations (through the GTA Disability Coalition) to undertake targeted outreach on vaccine uptake to disabled community members through community-specific webinars and by engaging Community Ambassadors from within the Disability community.
Additionally, $70,000 will be allocated to extend the work of the Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity to July 2021. Initially, the Task Force was funded through April 2021, and this additional funding will allow the Task Force, in collaboration with the TAIBU Community Health Centre, located in Scarborough, to extend their work to provide timely, accurate and culturally responsive public health information on COVID-19 vaccines.
This new work builds upon the previously announced City of Toronto Community Mobilization Vaccine Plan, which is providing $5.5 million to 140 community agencies and 240 neighbourhood vaccine ambassadors to support access to vaccines in every corner of Toronto.
“This pandemic has unfairly impacted many communities in Toronto and we have been working to help address these inequities. I am pleased that we are able to help fund the work of community agencies that are serving vulnerable residents in important capacities. We are proud of the diverse alliances we’ve developed with our community partners to share information about vaccines and to remove barriers.”
– Toronto Mayor John Tory
“Today’s announcement of City funding to local agencies in support of vaccine awareness, information and access is an example of government and communities working together toward a positive end. Safe, healthy communities are built from the ground up, and this program improves the capacity of local agencies which, in turn, supports the health and safety of vulnerable residents.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inequities in our city – inequities that must be addressed for our immunization campaign to be effective. Our community mobilization and outreach work is focussed on building trust across the diverse communities within our city, and ensuring that every resident, in every neighbourhood, can access the vaccine. By partnering with local agencies and neighbourhood leaders, we’re building awareness of vaccination options by meeting people where they are at: in their communities.”
– Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York), Chair of the Toronto Board of Health
“South Asian communities in Toronto have had disproportionately high COVID-19 infection rates due to systemic inequities. CASSA is pleased to see the City of Toronto’s plan to support the health and well-being of South Asians in Toronto. Through this funding, we have formed the South Asian Vaccine Engagement Collaborative. This Collaborative will oversee and support community cluster teams, provide culturally tailored resources, and ensure grassroots community groups are at the core of vaccine engagement work and are equitably resourced to carry out the campaign to encourage all South Asians in Toronto to get vaccinated.
– Samya Hasan, Executive Director, Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA)
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted people with disabilities. CILT works to amplify the voices of people with disabilities and we believe ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ must be the case for ensuring broad and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccination. CILT is grateful for the City’s funding to ensure equity and improved access to the vaccine, and I’m proud to work with community members, my colleagues at the City of Toronto, the province and fellow grassroots disability agencies to that end.”
– Wendy Porch, Executive Director, Centre for Independent Living (CILT)
“As long as the data shows that Black people of African and Caribbean origins have some of the highest rates of COVID-19 cases coupled with significantly low levels of vaccine acceptance, we are absolutely committed to sharing vaccination information, and support, so that community members can make decisions based on trusted evidence to protect themselves and their families. This funding will help enormously by extending the work TAIBU Community Health Centre is doing to address the trust issues that are deterring so many people from getting the vaccine as soon as possible.”
– Dr. Akwatu Khenti, Special Advisor to the City of Toronto’s Targeted COVID Equity Action Plan and the Chair of the Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity
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