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by Peter Chiaramonte, President, CPRA Board of Directors

Starting precisely 12:01 a.m. Monday, November 23rd, the Province of Ontario will enforce new public health restrictions for the City of Toronto and the Region of Peel.

The new regulations—which will remain in effect for at least 28 days (until December 21st)—include:

  • A prohibition against indoor social gatherings with people outside of one’s household;
  • No indoor or outdoor dining at bars and restaurants (only permitted open for take-out and delivery);
  • Personal care salons are closed, and all non-essential retail stores may only remain open for curb-side pickup and delivery;
  • 50 percent capacity limits for businesses deemed “essential” by the Province (such as groceries, pharmacies, hardware and convenience stores, and beer and liquor stores);
  • Arenas, gyms, and public fitness facilities must remain closed.
  • Please see https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-open#grey for a complete list of public health measures.
  • Schools and childcare centres will remain open and post-secondary schools will continue with remote distance-learning via the Internet.

In Canada, there have been more than 320,000 cases of Covid-19 reported; 32,877 new cases in the past week alone. Four percent more than the previous week. There have also been 11,324 deaths and at least 256,376 recoveries (Williams, 11-20-2020, theglobeandmail.com). At current rates of contact, officials predict that Canada is headed toward a surge of more than 20,000 cases per day by the end of December.

Starting November 23rd, business owners will be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy. Here are the links to follow-up:
1) https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/11/canada-emergency-rent-subsidy.html  
2) https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-rent-assistance-small-businesses
3) http://www.joecressy.com/community_updates   

For CityPlace residents living in Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York, these new lockdown regulations are especially difficult, since most of us live in high-rise condominiums. Without our parks and access to outdoor patios we have far fewer options for social, fresh air activities or physical exercise. Not to mention those of us and our neighbours affected by socio-economic losses to Toronto’s overall hospitality/tourism industries (e.g., the city’s food and accommodation sector has lost nearly 40,000 jobs since January). It’s estimated that more than a billion dollars tax revenue to all three levels of government has been lost already.

Yesterday (November 20th, 2020), in a special opinion piece in The Globe and Mail, government policy analyst Lauren Dobson-Hughes referred to the provincial government’s sweeping new lockdown restrictions as “an admission of failure.” A failure to act decisively to tackle the pandemic’s rising numbers since September. 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-our-governments-have-failed-to-protect-us-and-now-we-are-paying-the/

The Rare Advantages of Retrospection

Though, in hindsight, everything’s obvious—Lauren Dobson-Hughes points out how most of the provinces did not make “timely investments” in such basic precautions as hiring more home care workers and teachers, or installing ventilation systems to accommodate workplaces where frontline workers are exposed to infection. She also makes a poignant remark about how long provincial governments stalled in addressing “structural barriers” to keeping people safe. 

We knew for months already that long-term care homes—especially those run by for-profit companies—incubated such deadly scenes of pandemic response chaos that Canadian soldiers needed counseling after working there. “And our leaders did virtually nothing about it,” she writes. “Now we’re watching it unfold again.”

Dobson-Hughes isn’t alone in this critical assessment. Wellesley Institute CEO Kwame McKenzie recently shared (with Globe Business reporter Joe Castaldo, theglobeandmail.com 11-2-2020), his view of Toronto as “a liberal city in a conservative province.” In response to Covid-19, he added, people feel they’re not able to maintain appropriate “autonomy from their province.” 

While nobody could predict the path of the pandemic, Lauren Dobson-Hughes points out the likely spread of the disease was something governments had several months to prevent and plan for. “We know that the steeper the exponential growth of the coronavirus and the longer it goes unchecked, the harder the path is back…This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for leaders to rise to a challenge.”

Further to that, urban health think-tank CEO, McKenzie recently stated: “[People] believe they aren’t able to have the police response they need; they’re not allowed to have the school response they need; they haven’t got the health response they need; they believe that every time they want to make a significant change to how they live they have to go to the province, which may or may not grant it.

“That needs to change if we want to harness our cities for the good of Canada, and to make them more livable and reflect the desires of the population.”

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