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Ward 16, Don Valley East
 January 7, 2022 E-update

Greetings Residents,
 

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and I hope that you were able to enjoy celebrations with your loved ones.  This month's e-update includes information on:

Stay well, 

Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong
Councillor, Ward 16 - Don Valley East

Update on COVID-19 in the City of Toronto

We are now seeing soaring cases of COVID-19 with a 7-day average of 14,635 new cases daily in Ontario and 2,703 new cases in Toronto as of yesterday. The Omicron variant is proving to be incredibly transmissible and earlier this week the Province announced a return to Stage Two of Reopening Ontario. These changes include limiting indoor gatherings to five or fewer, and outdoor gatherings limited to 10 people. Outdoor public events have no limit on attendees however, everyone must be wearing masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained. 

Other Provincial changes include limiting retail businesses to 50% capacity and safety measures for shopping malls, including capacity limits, distancing in line-ups, and food courts closed. Indoor service in restaurants is closed again but take-out and delivery options remain available as well as outdoor dining with no more than 10 people per table. All fitness centres are closed except for select professional and elite amateur sports leagues who will operate via an approved Provincial framework from the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

The Province additionally moved all students back to online learning for a minimum of two weeks with an expected return to classrooms on January 17. We will have to wait for further instructions from the Province closer to the date.

On December 31, 2021, the Province of Ontario also announced changes to eligibility for PCR testing, which will now be strictly limited to symptomatic individuals who work at, live in, or visit high-risk settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, shelters (and more) along with any high-risk contacts to the aforementioned groups during confirmed or suspected outbreaks. Members of the public outside of the previous groups are not eligible for publicly-funded PCR testing and are asked to instead isolate themselves. With the elimination of PCR tests, the Province wants you to assume you have COVID-19 and are contagious. If you are vaccinated and have symptoms of COVID-19, then you are now only required to isolate for five days after your symptoms start. If you are unvaccinated or immunocompromised, you must continue to isolate for 10 days. 

The Province states that these public health restrictions are necessary. But this development has resulted in an undue strain on our health system including delaying surgeries in order to accommodate increased patients as well as medical staff shortages due to contagion. While Omicron symptoms are less severe, the onslaught of new cases could very easily overwhelm our hospitals. As of today, there are at least 2,472 people with the virus in Ontario hospitals.

Lastly, the transmission of COVID-19 is airborne. Please, if you are able, wear a mask that is tight-fitting and high quality such as N95 KN95, stay home, and if you are able to get vaccinated as that is your greatest protection. Everyone 18 years or older is eligible for both vaccine doses, and their booster shot. Please go as soon as you’re able. You can book your appointment through the Provincial Booking Portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 to book over the phone. This line is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., 7 days a week.

Accessing PCR tests in Don Valley East

East Toronto Health Network and Michael Garron Hospital are working together to provide PCR testing and at-home rapid tests for those who need them.

Effective this week, some of their COVID-19 Outreach Centres will offer PCR testing to eligible individuals. See if you are eligible to receive a PCR test, according to guidance from the Ontario government.
See updated information for each COVID-19 Outreach Centre: tehn.ca/CovidOutreachCentres




As per provincial guidance, take-home COVID-19 PCR test kits provided by Michael Garron Hospital are now for symptomatic students and education staff who meet testing eligibility. Eligible individuals can pick up and drop off test kits at the MGH COVID-19 Assessment Centre or our COVID-19 Outreach Centres.

You do not need an appointment to pick up or drop off a take-home test kit. Due to increased testing volumes and limited supply, availability of take-home test kits varies at the sites. It is recommended that eligible individuals pick up one take-home test kit at a time. Additional kits may be provided on a case-by-case basis. (For example, if a family has multiple children who need a test.)

FAQ about MGH’s take-home PCR test kits.

Take-home PCR test kit instructions in Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, French, Pashto, Slovak, Tigrinya and Urdu.

 

Emergency child care services are now available to eligible families who qualify as essential workers
 
On January 3, the Province of Ontario announced a province-wide closure of in-person schools and school-aged child care requiring all elementary and secondary school students to transition to online/remote learning starting January 5 to at least January 17.
 
Under the provincial orders, licensed child care centres are not permitted to offer care to school aged children. Licensed home child care providers are permitted to offer care to school aged children. Licensed child care programs will continue for younger children, which includes infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, who do not attend school.
 
Beginning January 10, emergency child care services are available at no cost to eligible families who qualify as essential workers and who are not able to accommodate their school-aged child's care at home. The safest option for families is to have children remain at home, if possible.
 
Eligible families may apply directly to the emergency child care provider of their choice. 40 child care centres and 7 licensed home child care agencies are approved to provide emergency child care. For more information on emergency child care, visit https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/affected-city-services/covid-19-emergency-child-care-for-essential-workers/
 
Numerous services including fire, police, paramedic and court services are on the province's list of eligible workers posted to the ECC website.
 

It's cold outside, Toronto! Protect your pipes with a few tips from the City

Cold weather can cause your water pipes to freeze, resulting in no water and expensive property damage. The City has developed a list of suggestions for residents to prevent this from happening. Visit www.toronto.ca/frozenpipes for more information.


 
 

Free virtual workshops offered by the Labour Education Centre

The Labour Education Centre is offering three different courses this winter, for residents of all skills levels. The classes are free of charge and online, via Zoom. 

The following classes are being offered:

1. Online Communication Basics 
14-week class, every Wednesday, from 1:00 - 3:00 pm
Start: January 20, 2022
End: April 27, 2022

For adults with minimal computer/tablet/smartphone experience and basic English reading and writing.
 
2.  Computer Basics
Every Thursday, from 1:30 - 3:00 pm
First class: January 20, 2022
This is an ongoing class, adults can join anytime throughout the year and finish when they have achieved their learning goal.

For adults with limited experience with computers 
 
3. Smartphone & Tablet Basics
10-week class, every Tuesday from 1:30 - 3:00 pm
Start: March 8, 2022
End:  May 10, 2022

For adults with minimal experience with smartphones or tablets.
 
For more information, please contact the Labour Education Centre at agardner@laboureducation.org or by visiting their website www.laboureducation.org
 
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Denzil Minnan-Wong, Deputy Mayor and City Councillor, Ward 16 - Don Valley East · 100 Queen Street West · 2nd Floor, Suite C32 · Toronto, On M5H 2N2 · Canada

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