• Councillor Mark Grimes

City of Toronto distributes $4.5 million in grants to support equitable vaccine uptake

The City of Toronto is distributing $4.5 million to support grants for COVID-19 vaccine engagement. The City of Toronto’s Vaccine Engagement Teams, formed in April 2021 as a collaboration between the City and community services sector, are a key component of the City’s COVID-19 Community Mobilization and Engagement Plan aimed at reducing barriers to COVID-19 vaccines and increasing vaccination uptake in equity-deserving communities.

The Vaccine Engagement Teams have already connected with more than 1.5 million community members using a wide range of engagement activities. These teams currently operate through 17 geographic and population-based consortiums made up of over 200 health, community and faith-based organizations. Preliminary evaluation of the program found that work of the Vaccine Engagement Teams has resulted in increased vaccine confidence, access and uptake among diverse communities across Toronto. The grant funding, which will be in place through July 1, 2022, will go toward outreach and engagement activities in neighbourhoods and communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details on funding allocation and activities per organization is available on the City’s COVID-19: City Immunization Strategies page.

For the community and by the community, Vaccine Engagement Teams connect with communities that have experienced disproportionate COVID-19 spread and impact, with a focus on older adults who are isolated, people experiencing homelessness, individuals living with disabilities and mental health trauma, newcomers, LGBTQ2S+ communities, undocumented individuals, youth and Indigenous, and Black, South Asian and other racialized communities.

More than 600 local community ambassadors have been mobilized across the city to provide information about vaccination options and resources, acting as key contacts in their communities to address hesitancy and inspire knowledge and confidence in vaccines. Ambassadors reflect the diversity in culture, race and language of Toronto’s equity-deserving groups, and facilitate targeted outreach to individuals and communities using personal relationships and networks in the neighbourhoods where they work and live.