• Councillor Mark Grimes

City and community partners continue to support at-risk communities in fight against COVID-19

Throughout the pandemic, the City of Toronto has worked together with community partners to support vulnerable residents, families and neighbourhoods by providing access to timely and accurate information, testing, vaccines and promoting other pandemic-related services. With the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant and its associated risks, Mayor John Tory is reminding residents of the supports and services that have been made available throughout the pandemic, which are still available today.

As vaccines remain one of the biggest tools in the fight against COVID-19, 400 community ambassadors have engaged almost one million residents in the areas of Toronto most impacted by COVID-19 – and worked through the holidays to help residents who need extra supports to protect themselves and their families, including:

  • Leading family-based engagement on the vaccination of children aged five to 11

  • Supporting third dose or “booster” shots

  • Providing multi-lingual information on vaccines and most recently the Omicron variant

  • Engaging communities with vaccine hesitancy and providing them with accurate information on vaccine certification, rapid testing and providing N95 masks

The City has worked with community-based groups and experts to ensure accurate and timely information reaches communities, in a culturally relevant and neighbourhood-specific manner. This work has been furthered by the Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity, Toronto’s Accessibility Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, Toronto Youth Vaccine Advisory Committee, Faith Community Virtual Town Halls, South Asian Community Supports and Eastern European Focus Groups.

To help remove barriers to vaccination, the City continues to work with multiple partners to help transport residents to get their vaccines. Ontario Health Partners, Toronto Ride, Uber and the TTC, including free Presto cards to community agencies for distribution, will continue to assist residents to get their booster shot.

TO Supports Investment Fund was established quickly in 2020, ensuring most urgent needs are met. Just last month, Mayor John Tory announced that additional funding of approximately $1.2 million will be distributed to continue support for equity-deserving populations affected by COVID-19. These supports include:

  • Target outreach and case management

  • Food access

  • Mental health supports

  • Assisting families through isolation

  • Equipping residents with masks

Mental health services and supports have been just as important during the pandemic. The City’s Mental Health Support Strategy was created in partnership with more than 13 mental health service providers, including 211 Central, which provides free counselling and mental health supports to Toronto residents and frontline workers. Some funded services include:

  • Wellness workshops and trainings

  • One-on-one counselling

  • Therapeutic support groups

  • Crisis intervention supports and crisis text services for children and youth, seniors, frontline workers and those intersectional identities, such as Indigenous, Black, persons with disabilities, those experiencing intimate partner violence and 2SLGBTQ+ Torontonians who are experiencing challenges

A Community Coordination Plan was also established with more than 400 not-for-profit community partners to coordinate services for the City’s most vulnerable residents, including:

  • Access to culturally diverse foods

  • Employment supports

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Referrals to relevant services

Ensuring that the food needs of vulnerable Torontonians are being met during the COVID-19 pandemic has been fundamental. City staff worked with community partners to address space and funding needs, seek donation matching and support community kitchens for prepared meal delivery to individuals and agencies. The City has maintained ongoing partnerships with agencies such as North York Harvest Food Bank, Second Harvest, Daily Bread Food Bank, Food Share Toronto, Salvation Army, Canadian Red Cross, United Way and others to deliver food hampers, prepared meals and donated food.

To learn more about the services and supports available to Toronto residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, or to book at COVID-19 vaccine, visit Toronto.ca/COVID-19.