COVID-19 - June 30 Update

Let me begin by wishing everyone a very happy Canada Day and I hope you have a wonderful day with your family and social circles.  I would normally be inviting you to join me at my Annual Canada Day BBQ but like many things, this year is different so below you can find details on celebrations that can take place this year.

Yesterday at City Council, we had a long and spirited debate about policing, the need to change the way services are provided, systemic anti-Black racism, and racism in all forms as well as how we use our resources as a City for the better good. What emerged was a clear commitment that change needed to occur but there were two very distinct approaches to achieve the change we all know we need. 

Councillor Bailao speaking on the police motion

Many of you contacted me on this matter and expressed differing approaches. Some of you maintained that the police budget should be cut by 50%, others favoured 10% in cuts and others looked at no specific amounts. However, in general there was a consensus of opinion that was consistent, we need to divest funds from the police budget and reallocate and assign them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support.

As noted, two different approaches emerged during yesterday's debate, although there was consensus on the fact that things had to change. One was to have City Council request the Toronto Police Services Board to provide a 2021 budget request that is a minimum of 10 percent lower than the 2020 Approved Budget (Councillor Matlow's motion). This arbitrary cut would have, most likely, resulted in an appeal to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, a provincial agency that has the authority under provincial law to adjudicate budget disputes. This would have resulted in months maybe years of stagnation while the OCPC reviewed the matter before issuing a ruling, the result of which would be far from certain and potentially could have resulted in an order to increase police budgets. The process would have resulted in a protracted period where the culture shift we all want to achieve would simply have sat in abeyance. 

The other option was to first and foremost create the non-policing response. This approach which focuses on de-tasking the police service, reallocating funds from the budget, addressing systemic racism and creating distinct and separate response mechanisms for those with mental health issues quite simply ensures we end up where we all want to be more quickly and with a more defensible position if the OCPC is ever asked to intervene. To be clear, this approach will reduce the police budget and reallocate these funds to community services. It is for these reasons that I chose this approach.

I believe that yesterday we succeeded in approving extremely important changes to how we respond to emergencies. In our City, we will develop a community safety response unit that will lead non-police responses to individuals in crises. This unit will be created with input from community organizations, social service agencies, and mental health workers.

We will look to successful transformative changes such as the CAHOOTS program, which deploys unarmed, medically trained crisis intervention assistance personnel to deal with a range of community challenges including homelessness, intoxication, substance abuse, mental illness, dispute resolution, and basic medical emergency care.

The close scrutiny of how this new unit is implemented and managed will be of maximum importance and a full report and update was requested to come to Council in January 2021. 

I also supported increased accountability and transparency from the Toronto Police Services Board and the Province of Ontario when it comes to policing in our City. This included the adoption of requests to the provincial government to reinstate important reforms to the Police Services Act recommended by Justice Tulloch that would enhance the independence and notification requirements relating to the Special Investigations Unit which investigates police conduct and measures that would provide greater control to City Council to manage the Toronto Police budget, powers which we do not have now.

A motion that I also supported but was not approved was the request to the Toronto Police Services Board to establish an explicit policy for all police officers, excluding the Emergency Task Force, to immediately ban the use of deadly force and military-style weapons against civilians.

The inclusion in the item adopted of the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, as per Councillor Thompson's direction, was approved by Council along with the direction that its recommendations be expedited. This is an extremely important and meaningful step. The Plan had a five year implementation period beginning in 2018 and being fully implemented by 2022 but the motion directs that this process be expedited. The plan has 22 recommendations and 80 actions focusing on five areas; a). children and youth development, b). health and community services, c). job and income supports, d). policing and the justice system and e). community engagement and Black leadership. The creation of the Plan was the result of extensive participation and consultation with members of the community over a period of time and reflects the priorities and recommendations that emerged as part of this process. As noted, its inclusion in the motion approved by Council on Monday is an important step in terms of the expedited implementation of the recommendations and actions outlined in the Plan.

Like cities around the world, our reliance on enforcement as a solution has been used too readily. It is clear that this approach does not serve the wellbeing of all of our neighbours, has contributed to inequality for racialized individuals, and is an ill-suited response to deal with mental health crises.

My decisions around the various motions brought forward before and during the Council meeting were aimed at taking the most effective and rapid actions possible to address these issues, as well as to take the steps needed to create long-term change, including increasing accountability and transparency and transitioning funding to programs that address the root cause of inequality and violence.

The steps we have taken at City Council will require in some instances, action by the provincial government, as it is their legislation that dictates how we manage many aspects of policing and police budgets. I hope you can join me in insisting that the province makes the necessary changes and we as a City will be diligently advocating for these amendments.

While many may not have agreed on the approach that was decided upon on Monday, I truly believe we share a common goal. We all want to adopt a very different approach to policing and community public services. My commitment in this regard will be unwavering and focused in the days ahead.

I would like to let you know that I am having a small surgery at the end of this week and as a result will be taking a few days to recover, but I will be organizing a virtual town hall on this topic as soon as possible so we can continue this conversation. 

Thank you again to all of you and I look forward to working with you as we move forward.

As well as this important agenda item, City Council reviewed a number of other issues as we continued to meet virtually.  You can review the agenda and decisions made here http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/decisionBodyProfile.do?function=doPrepare&decisionBodyId=1862#Meeting-2020.CC22

Our office continues to work to serve you remotely. If we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us by email at councillor_bailao@toronto.ca or by phone at 416.392.7012.

In community,

Ana

Questions from the Community!

Each day, we are working to answer important questions from our community. To keep you all informed, we will feature some of these questions each newsletter. Have a question you think would be good to share? Reach out to us at councillor_bailao@toronto.ca.

With so many restaurants re-opening, has guidance been provided to these restaurants in terms public health safety?

We welcome the re-opening of restaurants for patio service across the City.  It provides us the opportunity to safely gather for a meal while also supporting our local restaurants who have had a challenging time during this pandemic.  Both the City and the provincial government have provided guidance to restaurants on how re-open safely and how to protect their customers and their employees.  The links below provide additional information on this.

https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/8e95-COVID-19-Guidance-for-Reopening-your-Restaurant.pdf

https://www.ontario.ca/page/restaurant-and-food-services-health-and-safety-during-covid-19

I understand that tests for Covid-19 are available now for anyone who wishes to be tested.  Where can I find a test centre?
Yes, the provincial government has made changes that will allow anyone who wishes to be tested for Covid-19 to secure a test.  There are multiple locations where tests can be done and the link below provides information on how to find a location for a test.  Please review the information associated with the test centre you wish to attend and follow the directions in the link. 
https://covid-19.ontario.ca/?_ga=2.254616527.696779632.1592853286-2023371954.1557234312

Local Updates

Canada Day Celebrations
Toronto unites online this year for Canada Day. Enjoy music, dance, comedy, CN Tower Canada Day Light Show and much more on Canada’s 153rd birthday. Participate in virtual Canada Day programs from home and download a Celebration Kit with interactive and creative activities for the whole family. Plus, nominate a frontline worker for recognition.

The City has raised the Canadian flag to celebrate Canada Day and mark the 40th anniversary of the Canadian National Anthem.

Moving Modular Housing Forward
At Council today, we decided to move forward with two modular housing initiatives at 150 Harrison Street in our Ward 9 Davenport community and 11 Macey Avenue in Scarborough. We know that for many in our City safe, affordable and stable housing remains a challenge and we need to continue to move quickly to meet these needs. These locations are an important first steps in a bold new program to quickly deliver quality housing to those in need of it and in so doing we are creating a more equitable and compassionate city. I want to thank everyone from our community who have taken the time to share their views on the modular housing initiative and I look forward to continuing to work with you closely as we move forward.

Councillor Bailao speaking on modular housing

Masks Mandatory in the City of Toronto
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests the use of masks is an inexpensive, acceptable, and non-invasive measure to help control the spread of COVID-19. Modelling studies suggest that if there is a high level of compliance in the wearing of masks, COVID-19 spread can be reduced.

Today, Council adopted a recommendation from the Medical Officer of Health and the City Solicitor on requiring masks or face coverings in enclosed public places in Toronto. The Medical Officer of Health has recommended City Council enact a temporary bylaw effective July 7 requiring the wearing of masks or face coverings in enclosed public settings to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

This decision will temporary regulation requiring masks and face coverings in indoor public spaces.

Masks or face coverings will be required on TTC vehicles July 2 and are already required on City ferries to Toronto Island Park, as well as in certain business settings, like salons and tattoo parlours, as prescribed by orders under the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

In adopting this measure, the City of Toronto joins other surrounding municipalities like Brampton, Mississauga and others to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Green Line Public Meeting
Finding new parkland in the built-up downtown core is a challenge. The Hydro corridor that runs from Davenport and Macpherson Ave west and northwest towards Earlscourt Park presents a rare opportunity to create a linear open space amenity within a rapidly intensifying city.

A public meeting will take place on July 7at 6:30PM. Visit http://toronto.ca/greenline to register and for more details.

Green Line Video

Beautifying Bloordale
When the quarantine began, some of Bloordale residents began to use the laneway to safely get outdoors.  Over time, gradual improvements began to take place. Their laneway became an opportunity for the community members to play, socialize, and create a sense of safety. 

Many of the residents were already familiar with the incredible street art of Victor Fraser. Through social media, residents were able to connect with him to collaborate on a piece of artwork that would embody what we had created in the laneway.

RenovictionsTO
RenovictionsTO is a site created by two Toronto residents to help protect renters and provide them with resources and supports.   You may also know that the Planning and Housing Committee that I chair created a Subcommittee on the Protection of Affordable Rental Housing which is chaired by my colleague, Councillor Paula Fletcher.  They have been also been working diligently on this issue.

Recent Announcements

Municipal

City of Toronto permit parking program resumes operation Thursday
While the office will be closed to the public, it can be accessed in the short-term by phone at 416-392-7873 and by email at permit.parking@toronto.ca from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday.

The parking permit renewal window will be a full month, from July 2 until August 3, and there will be six-month and 12-month renewal options available. Existing permit holders can renew using the online renewal system at or by mail.

Permit parking enforcement was paused due to COVID-19. Enforcement is expected to begin again starting August 14 at midnight.

Toronto City Council approves CaféTO plan to safely increase and quickly expand outdoor dining space for local restaurants and bars
The City of Toronto announced that the CaféTO report, which directs the City to take quick action and make way for additional safe outdoor dining spaces for local restaurants and bars, was unanimously approved with amendments by Toronto City Council. It’s expected the first CaféTO locations will be in place on July 1.

CaféTO will ensure that accessibility and safety are not compromised while making it easier for many restaurant and bar owners to open patios, expand them and access additional space for physical distancing, in accordance with public health guidelines.

City of Toronto update on COVID-19
There are 14,320 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 50 cases since yesterday. There are 214 people hospitalized, with 55 in ICU. In total, 12,432 people have recovered from COVID-19, an increase of 88 cases since yesterday. To date, there have been 1,093 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform.

Provincial

Ontario Encourages Support of Local Small Businesses
The Ontario Government is celebrating International Small Business Week with the launch of the "Shop Local! Shop Safe! Shop with Confidence!" campaign, encouraging Ontarians to support their local small businesses and to shop safely while doing so.

Federal

New initiative to help homeowners cut their energy bills and emissions and keep the local economy moving
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and FCM President Bill Karsten announced the second phase of the new Community Efficiency Financing initiative funded by the Government of Canada as part of its 950-million investment in the Green Municipal Fund (GMF), delivered by FCM to municipalities on behalf of the federal government.

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