I am writing to bring you up to date on what is going on with the response to the COVID-19 virus at the provincial level.
The headline of course is the closure of schools across Ontario for 2 weeks after the March break. Here is the official statement of the provincial government - https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/title.html.
The government is acting on the advice of public health professionals, which is the proper course of action. There are, however, problems that arise around childcare, loss of income and people having job security if they stay home that have not yet been fully addressed. The leader of the Opposition, Andrea Horwath, has made a statement calling on the government to address these issues so that we can help people deal with the difficulties that arise. I have included her full statement below.
This is a difficult time. Where the government is doing the right thing, such as acting on the advice of health care professionals then my colleagues and I will be supporting those actions. Where there are gaps in their actions, we will be calling on them to address those gaps.
If you come across issues that you believe need to be raised with the provincial government please let me know. We are trying to make sure that Ontario is looking after the problems people face as the situation develops.
My colleague, Councillor Paula Fletcher, is putting out her own email bulletin and I have included a copy below for your use. I suggest you subscribe to it as it has good information.
My thanks to all our healthcare workers and public health professionals who are in the front lines of making us safe.
If we work together we can protect our families and community.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath responds to government announcement on Ontario school closures
“Thank you to Dr. David Williams and Public Health officials for their continued hard work. The decision to close Ontario’s schools to contain the spread of COVID-19 was not an easy one, and I support it. The safety of children and education workers is paramount.
However, two million kids will be out of school and hundreds of thousands of parents will be home from work. Parents need to be assured that they can stay home with their kids, and that they will not lose a paycheque — and cannot be fired — for doing that. Of course, parents staying home will create a ripple right through our province. TTC drivers are moms and dads. Health care staff have children of their own. Small business owners have children.
Parents and families in Ontario have a right to be concerned right now that the government is ‘looking at’ plans to deal with the impacts that will hit families, workers, businesses, public services and the economy. These plans should have been in place well before this day came.
The people of Ontario deserve a plan for workers, the delivery of public services, and the economy, and they deserve for it to be clearly and effectively communicated to the public."
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
I wanted to get in touch with you about the current coronavirus situation in the City of Toronto.
As of March 11, 2020, Toronto Public Health (TPH) is monitoring 18 positive cases of the novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) in Toronto. To date, there have been four other confirmed cases reported in Toronto, all of whom have recovered from their illness. TPH continues to work with our provincial and federal health colleagues along with airports in response to this situation. At this time the virus is not circulating locally, however given the global circumstances, TPH is actively working with City and health partners to plan for the potential of local spread.
TPH will continue to keep us updated as new facts are confirmed. Residents are encouraged to stay informed by regularly reviewing evidence-based, credible sources of information about this situation. Please check the TPH website at toronto.ca/coronavirus for the latest information, resources and facts.
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Prevention measures include:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill
- Stay home when you are ill
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands
- If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Avoid shaking hands - try an "elbow bump" instead
Click here to read the March 11th statement from the City's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa.
If you need further assistance, you can call the Toronto Public Health Hotline at 416-338-7600 which is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 8 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.
For free medical advice, please contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. A Registered Nurse will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Coronavirus infections are diagnosed by a health care provider based on symptoms and laboratory tests. Travel history is also important. There is a specific test for COVID-19 to confirm the infection if it is suspected. Testing is being conducted at the Public Health Ontario Laboratory in Toronto, which is working collaboratively with the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
Decisions to post-pone, modify, or cancel a mass-gathering event will be made based on thorough risk assessments and advice from Toronto Public Health and health partners.
Again, please monitor toronto.ca/coronavirus for updates.
Working for you,
Ward 14, Toronto-Danforth