Toronto to provide enhanced supports for COVID-19 hotspots

Nov 24 2020, 2:57 pm

Toronto is providing more enhanced supports for areas of the city that have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the City said that more targeted supports would be provided to areas where there are higher case rates — many of these neighbourhoods are northwest and northeast of the city.

“The City has been doing what it can to support vulnerable residents during this pandemic, and we will keep doing everything we can. We are focused on helping the other governments, particularly when it comes to COVID-19 testing so that we can stop the spread of this virus,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement.

“This work is crucial right now and will take collaboration between the City, community agencies in these neighbourhoods and both the provincial and federal governments.”

These targeted COVID-19 equity measures include sharing public health information, improving access to COVID-19 testing, and providing supports to individuals and their families during this lockdown.

These new initiatives include:

  • Increasing testing in neighbourhoods experiencing higher COVID-19 case rates, expanding the number of provincial testing sites using City facilities, using buses for mobile testing, providing more transportation to testing sites and extending testing site hours.
  • Targeting outreach, case management and providing support to residents who face multiple barriers, like food support and income services, and providing relevant public education to residents and employers. Residents will also receive masks.
  • Measures for those who test positive and are unable to work due to mandatory isolation. The City said they will address the threat of eviction and improve access to emergency assistance like residential eviction protection, income supports, and newcomer access to COVID-19 services.

“While COVID-19 has affected all of us, sadly we continue to learn of more evidence in North America and beyond that shows that racialized people and individuals living in lower-income households are over-represented in COVID-19 data,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, in a statement.

“My team and I continue to carefully review this and other local data to inform actions to help keep our community safer as we continue living with this virus. Our City’s Equity Action Plan is another example of our collaborative work in this area to better address the root causes of what underpins our health and enhance support in our community.”

In the release, the City notes that the pandemic has widened systemic health inequities related to poverty, racism, and other forms of discrimination.

Because of this, the virus has been able to disproportionately impact residents “who are Indigenous, Black or racialized, precariously employed or live on a low income, living in multigenerational or crowded housing, or experience challenges taking time off from work when ill or to isolate from others.”

City staff will begin implementing parts of this plan this week. City officials continue to reach out to the provincial and federal governments about additional resources and support for expanding testing sites, education and engagement, and resources for eviction and emergency services.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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