It is an anxious time for our community and people across Ontario as we respond to the unfolding COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
My team and I are working to put together the latest public health advisories from reliable sources as well as information on local programs and supports available in our Scarborough Southwest community. Let's look out for our neighbours - we are all in this together.
This page will be updated regularly. Please share any local resources that you come across by emailing DBegum-QP@ndp.on.ca so that we can include them.
The latest updates from the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Find out how to protect yourself, what to do if you’re sick and how to recognize possible symptoms at ontario.ca/coronavirus
- On March 19, MPPs passed emergency legislation in response to COVID-19. While there is still much more to do, this first step will guarantee job-protected leave for COVID-19 related absenses and ensure that pharmacies and grocery stores can remain well supplied. See the Ontario government announcement here
If you are experiencing a fever, persistent cough or difficulty breathing, immediately contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 or your primary care physician. You can also use this online self-assessment tool.
Please do not visit an assessment centre unless you have have been referred by a healthcare professional. Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.
Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by making a conscious effort to keep a physical distance between each other. Social distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak. With patience and cooperation, we can all do our part.
What does Social Distancing mean?
This means making changes in your everyday routines in order to minimize close contact with others, including:
- avoiding crowded places and non-essential gatherings
- avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes
- limiting contact with people at higher risk (e.g. older adults and those in poor health)
- keeping a distance of at least 2 arms lengths (approximately 2 metres) from others, as much as possible
Here’s how you can practice social distancing:
- greet with a wave instead of a handshake, a kiss or a hug
- stay home as much as possible, including for meals and entertainment
- shop or take public transportation during off-peak hours
- conduct virtual meetings
- host virtual playdates for your kids
- use technology to keep in touch with friends and family
- use food delivery services or online shopping
- exercise at home or outside
- work from home
- wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face
- cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm
- avoid touching surfaces people touch often
- The City of Toronto is enforcing a bylaw regulating physical distancing in parks and public squares. Any two people who don’t live together, who fail to keep two metres of distance between them in a park or public square, can receive a $1,000 ticket – the maximum set fine available. Officers could issue higher tickets that would be subject to the courts where fines could go up to $5,000 upon conviction.
- Based on the best advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has also issued a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to prohibit organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people, effective immediately.This order would not apply to private households with five people or more. It would also not apply to operating child care centres supporting frontline health care workers and first responders provided the number of persons at each centre does not exceed 50 people. Funerals would be permitted to proceed with up to 10 people at one time.
Important travel advisories and restrictions related to COVID-19, from the Government of Canada travel.gc.ca
Canadians outside the country who are directly impacted by COVID-19 will be able to apply for an emergency repayable loan to facilitate their return to Canada and to cover basic essential needs while they work towards their return. Each application will be assessed according to their specific situation and needs. Find out more here: Financial help for Canadians outside Canada
It’s essential that we all continue to get our information from reliable and informed sources as we respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Below are links to COVID-19 fact sheets in some of the most commonly spoken languages in our local community. Please share these with people in your networks who may need them:
Français (French): https://files.ontario.ca/moh-coronavirus-info-sheet-french-2020-02-18.pdf
Click here for a March 20th statement in Bangla from MPP Doly Begum on the COVID-19 pandemic
中文 (简体) (Simplified Chinese): https://files.ontario.ca/moh-coronavirus-info-sheet-simplified-chinese-2020-02-18.pdf
中文 (繁體) (Traditional Chinese): https://files.ontario.ca/moh-coronavirus-info-sheet-traditional-chinese-2020-02-18.pdf
Ελληνικά (Greek): https://files.ontario.ca/moh-coronavirus-info-sheet-greek-2020-02-18.pdf
Español (Spanish): https://files.ontario.ca/moh-coronavirus-info-sheet-spanish-2020-02-18.pdf
Full list of available languages here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus#section-11
My office will continue to offer services and information to residents during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak via telephone 416-261-9525 and by email at DBegum-CO@ndp.on.ca. You can contact us Monday to Friday from 10:00AM to 4:00PM. Please leave us a voicemail so that we can get back to you as soon as possible. On the guidance of the Ontario Public Service we will not be accepting drop-ins to the office and meetings will be by appointment only.
What can I do to protect myself if I am unable to work from home?
The public health guidance is to work from home wherever possible. However working remotely is not feasible in many workplaces. If you are in this situation, it is important that you follow all health and safety protocols related to your workplace. Under the Occupational Health & Safety Act, most of Ontario’s workers have the right to refuse unsafe work. If you are in a unionized workplace, consult your staff rep before refusing any work. It is also recommended that you practice social distancing and proper hygiene as much as possible to reduce the risk of infection.
Is there any financial help available?
The federal government will provide a taxable benefit (the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB) of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19.
There are two ways to apply:
- Over the phone with an automated phone service:
1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041
Both of these services are available 21 hours a day, 7 days a week. Both services are closed from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. (Eastern time) for maintenance.
What about EI?
If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, you should apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, whether or not are eligible for Employment Insurance. The Benefit is available for the period from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.
If you applied for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15, 2020 or later, your claim will be automatically processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Do I need to provide a doctor’s note to my employer to get my sick-leave benefits?
While a medical certificate signed by your doctor is usually required to get sick-leave benefits, this will not be the case during the COVID-19 crisis. During this time, the government is waiving the need for a sick note for patients who are required to miss work due to self-isolation or quarantine.
Will my time off during self-isolation or quarantine be paid by my employer?
If your work can be done remotely for the period of self-isolation or quarantine where you are not sick, your employer should allow remote work paid at your usual rate of compensation. If you become sick, your sick day entitlements will vary depending on the language in your contract or collective agreement. If you have zero sick leave benefits—the Employment Standards Act applies, which is currently three unpaid days.
The provincial government has passed emergency legislation to provide infectious disease emergency leave for anyone unable to work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes provides unpaid leave and job protection for individuals under quarantine or in isolation, or providing care to a child as a result of school and day care closures. More details here.
On Monday, March 23 the provincial government announced the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces in order to contain COVID-19 in Ontario. Note that this list was updated on Friday, April 3rd and the latest version is below
If you are unsure whether your business is part of one of the categories below, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
(For the purposes of this order, businesses include any-for-profit, non-profit or other entity providing the goods and services described herein. This does not preclude the provision of work and services by entities not on this list either online, by telephone or by mail/delivery. Note that teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.)
- Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services within Ontario, or that supply businesses or services that have been declared essential in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario, with the support, products, supplies, systems, or services, including processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution, delivery, and maintenance necessary to operate.
- Businesses that primarily sell food, beverages and consumer products necessary to maintain households and businesses including:
- Supermarkets and grocery stores.
- Convenience stores.
- Discount and big box retailers selling groceries.
- Restaurants (take-out, drive-through and delivery service only).
- Beer and wine and liquor stores.
- Gas stations and other fuel suppliers.
- Laundromats and drycleaners.
- Security services for residences, businesses and other properties.
- Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services.
- Courier, postal, shipping, moving and delivery services.
- Funeral and related services.
- Staffing services including providing temporary help.
- Veterinary services (urgent care only) and other businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters, zoos, aquariums and research facilities.
- Home child care services of up to six children as permitted under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, and child care centres for essential workers authorized to operate in accordance with Ontario Regulation 51/20 (Order Under Subsection 7.0.2 (4) of the Act - Closure of Establishments) made under the Act.
- Hotels, motels, other shared rental accommodation including student residences, except for seasonal campgrounds and any pools, fitness centres, meeting rooms and other recreational facilities that may be part of the operations of these businesses.
- Cheque cashing services.
Services to the public that are restricted to alternative methods of sale
- Stores that sell any of the following items and provide them to the customer only through an alternative method of sale such as curb side pick-up or delivery, except in exceptional circumstances:
- Hardware products.
- Vehicle parts and supplies.
- Pet and animal supplies.
- Office supplies and computer products including computer repair.
- Safety supplies.
- Businesses that provide the following financial services:
- Capital markets and related securities trading and advisory services.
- Banking/credit union activities including credit intermediation.
- Land registration services.
- Real estate agent services.
- Pension and benefits payment services.
- Financial services including payroll and payment processing and accounting and tax services.
Telecommunications and IT infrastructure/service providers
- Information Technology (IT) services, including online services, software products and the facilities necessary for their operation and delivery.
- Telecommunications providers and services (phone, internet, radio, cell phones etc.) and facilities necessary for their operation and delivery.
- Newspapers, radio and television broadcasting.
- Maintenance, repair and property management services strictly necessary to manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings.
- Businesses and facilities that provide transportation services, including,
- transportation services provided by air, water, road, and rail, including taxis and other private transportation providers, and
- support services for transportation services, including,
- logistical support, distribution services, warehousing and storage, truck stops and tow operators,
- services that support the operations and safety of transportation systems including maintenance and repairs, and
- marinas, but only to the extent that the marina is necessary to enable individuals to access their primary place of residence.
- Businesses that provide and support online retail, including by providing warehousing, storage and distribution of goods that are ordered online.
- Businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials, including businesses that manufacture inputs to other manufacturers, (e.g. primary metal/ steel, blow molding, component manufacturers, chemicals, etc. that feed the end-product manufacturer), regardless of whether those other manufacturers are inside or outside of Ontario, together with businesses that support and facilitate the movement of goods within integrated North American and global supply chains.
Agriculture and food production
- Businesses that produce food and beverages, and agricultural products including plants, including by farming, harvesting, aquaculture, hunting and fishing.
- Businesses that process, manufacture or distribute food, beverages, crops, agricultural products, animal products and by-products.
- Businesses that support the food or agricultural products supply chains and the health and safety of food, animals and plants.
- Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space.
- Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of, or to provide new capacity in, critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
- Critical industrial construction activities required for,
- the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
- significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,
- industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance, and/or enhancement of Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices (such as ventilators), and other identified products directly related to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Residential construction projects where,
- a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
- an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed use and other buildings, or
- the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before April 4, 2020.
- Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.
Resources and energy
- Businesses that provide and ensure the domestic and global continuity of supply of resources, including mining, forestry, aggregates, petroleum, petroleum by-products and chemicals.
- Electricity generation, transmission, distribution and storage and natural gas distribution, transmission and storage.
- Businesses that deliver or support the delivery of services including:
- Sewage treatment and disposal.
- Collecting, transporting, storing, processing, disposing or recycling of any type of waste.
- Potable drinking water.
- Critical infrastructure repair and maintenance including roads, dams, bridges etc.
- Environmental rehabilitation, management and monitoring, and spill clean up and response.
- Administrative authorities that regulate and inspect businesses.
- Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system.
- Government services including but not limited to policing and law enforcement, fire and emergency services, paramedics, coroner and pathology services, corrections and court services, licences and permits.
- Businesses and organizations that maintain research facilities and engage in research, including medical research and other research and development activities.
Health care and social services
- Organizations and providers that deliver home care services or personal support services to seniors and persons with disabilities.
- Businesses that sell, rent or repair assistive/mobility/medical devices, aids and/or supplies.
- Regulated health professionals (urgent care only) including dentists, optometrists, chiropractic services, ophthalmologists, physical and occupational therapists and podiatrists.
- Organizations that provide health care including retirement homes, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, independent health facilities and mental health and addictions counselling supports.
- Laboratories and specimen collection centres.
- Manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, including medications, medical isotopes, vaccines and antivirals, medical devices and medical supplies.
- Manufacturers, distributors and businesses that provide logistical support of or for products and/or services that support the delivery of health care in all locations.
- Not-for-profit organizations that provide critical personal support services in home or residential services for individuals with physical disabilities.
- Not-for profit organizations that support the provision of food, shelter, safety or protection, and/or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals.
Requirements that apply to businesses
- The person responsible for a place of business that continues to operate shall ensure that the business operates in accordance with all applicable laws, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the regulations made under it.
- The person responsible for a place of business that continues to operate shall operate the business in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials, including any advice, recommendations or instructions on physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting.
Restricting access to businesses and providing alternative methods of sale
- Subject to subsection (2), the person responsible for a place of business that continues to operate and that engages in retail sales to the public, except for pharmacies and businesses that primarily sell food and beverages at retail, shall, to the fullest extent possible, restrict public access to the place of business by providing alternative methods of sale such as curb side pick-up or delivery.
- The person responsible for a place of business described in paragraph 15 of Schedule 2 shall restrict public access to the place of business and shall provide all items to the public using an alternative method of sale such as curb side pick-up or delivery, except in exceptional circumstances.
Short term rentals
- Every person who provides short term rentals in rental accommodations shall ensure that any rentals booked after April 4, 2020 are only provided to individuals who are in need of housing during the emergency period.
- Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of hotels, motels and student residences.
Open houses prohibited
- Every person who is responsible for a business that provides real estate agent services shall ensure that the business does not host, provide or support any open house events.
- The federal government has announced some new funding for small and medium sized businesses impacted by COVID-19, and we continue to advocate for parallel provincial protections. For a list of the federal and provincial funding available to your business, fill out the online tool at innovation.canada.ca
- The City of Toronto has announced a range of economic support and recovery measures for individuals and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more here.
- The federal government has proposed a Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would cover 75 per cent of salaries for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. Employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy would be eligible with the exception of public sector entities. This program is designed to help employers hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic to keep and retain workers. Organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 per cent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, 2020. Eligible employers would be able to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal. More details on how to apply will follow soon.
The Ontario Government has suspended the issuing of eviction notices until further notice. Sheriffs have been asked to suspend the enforcement of eviction orders, including scheduled eviction orders. Evictions are paused until further notice. We have heard reports that despite this, tenants are continuing to be threatened with eviction at this time. We are calling on the government to support legislation that guarantees in law that no one can be evicted for any reason during the pandemic, nor punished in any way for missing a rent payment.
Please note — this is for general information purposes only and not intended to be legal advice.
- Tenants are still expected to pay their rent on time.
- Tenants should keep copies of messages to their landlord to show that they tried to pay their rent on time. Tenants should document how they informed their landlord that they could not pay their rent on time. Tenants who pay their rent late or fail to pay their rent will enter arrears (they will owe their landlord for their late rent).
- Tenants who have reduced hours or are laid off as a result of COVID-19 or are in quarantine and unable to work and cannot pay their rent on time should inform their landlord as early as possible.
- Tenants who lose income because of COVID-19 should document changes to their finances. This includes saving letters, emails or text messages showing that you were laid off or had your hours reduced because of COVID-19.
- If your landlord files to evict you at the Landlord and Tenant Board, tenants can request that their landlord meet with them so they can negotiate a plan to pay back their arrears.
- Generally speaking if a tenant has never had problems paying their rent before and is able to show a realistic plan to both pay their rent on time and pay their landlord arrears, the Landlord and Tenant Board Members will give tenants a chance to repay any late rent before terminating a tenancy.
- Landlords can still serve notices to tenants and fax applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board. As a tenant, your landlord can still serve you notices such as an N4 if you miss your usual timeline to pay your rent.
- At present, neither the federal nor the provincial government have suspended rent payments.
- If you have more questions and live in Scarborough Southwest, please email DBegum-CO@ndp.on.ca
The federal and provincial governments have both announced a 6-month, interest-free moratorium on student loan payments.
The province of Ontario has extended the validity of expiring health cards during the State of Emergency. Expiring and expired health cards will continue to provide access to health services during this period. If you need help getting an OHIP card renewed or replaced, please contact my office at DBegum-CO@ndp.on.ca.
- The province of Ontario is is extending the validity period of driver licences, licence plate validation, Ontario Photo Cards, and Commercial Vehicle Operator Registration certificates during the State of Emergency.
- The Ministry of Transportation is also automatically extending the due dates for medical or vision reports, which both reduces the need for in-person visits, but also ensures that patients do not need to visit their doctors, helping the health system to focus on containing COVID-19.
- Scarborough Food Security Initiative is operating out of the Oakridge area and offering help with food and supplies for anyone between paycheques and delivery of groceries or medication for individuals self-isolating. They are also seeking volunteers.
- Beginning March 23rd, Rod & Joe's No Frills at Kingston Rd and Midland Ave is offering dedicated shopping hours for seniors and people with disabilities on Tuesdays and Fridays from 8am to 9am. Staff will be available to help those who need assistance.
- South Asian Women's Rights Organization (SAWRO) based in Teesdale is offering assistance for community members with applications for EI.
- Mutual aid/caremongering groups are safelt connecting vulnerable neighbours with the supports they need. Groups serving our area where you can post requests for support or offers of support include:
Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak, the Ontario government has announced that schools and child care centres will remain closed until at least Monday 4 May to protect the health and safety of students and staff.
While schools and child care centres are closed, parents can apply for direct funding from the Ontario government to offset the cost of buying materials to support their children’s learning, while they practice self-isolation and physical distancing.
All parents are eligible if you have a child who is:
- $200 for children aged 0 to 12
- $250 for children or youth aged 0 to 21 with special needs
If you have more than one child, you must submit one application per child.