Dear Neighbour,

We know that COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on long-term care homes. Today, the province 
formally requested resources from the federal government including personnel from the Canadian Armed Forces, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada. This support would be deployed to five priority long-term care homes, which have not been named yet. As well, local public health units have been ordered to develop a plan to test everyone in long-term care homes for COVID-19 noting that large numbers of staff have the disease without showing symptoms. You will find other provincial announcements below.

Apart from seniors, there are other vulnerable populations particularly in congregate living settings that are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Today I’d like to focus on the homeless population.

Experts on housing and health, like Dr. Steven Hwang from St. Michael’s Hospital and professor at the University of Toronto, believe that without immediate action, COVID-19 will spread through the homeless population like wildfire with devastating consequences. The prevalence of pre-existing health conditions, shared washroom facilities, the impossibility of physical distancing in the shelter systems, and hospitals discharging homeless individuals under investigation with no place for self-isolation all add up to an impending disaster for people experiencing homelessness.

So far, there have already been 14 outbreaks in homeless shelters in Toronto and the City has called for a provincial pandemic plan for shelters. My colleagues and I have joined advocates in urging all levels of government to move immediately to provide housing and widespread access to testing to avert an impending disaster. Simply put, housing will save lives and stop a potential second wave.

As we navigate the COVID-19 crisis, we must all reflect on the challenges others face and how the current situation makes life even harder for those already facing marginalization. This should be a time for us all to stand with each other in solidarity and work together towards something better than just “normal” when this is all over.

As always, wash your hands. Stay home (except if you must work). Be kind. We are all in this together.


Bhutila Karpoche,
MPP for Parkdale—High Park
Virtual Event on Education

I have received emails from parents about remote learning, what the remainder of the school year will look like for our kids, accessing iPads/Chromebooks and other education-related questions. So, I’m hosting a Facebook Live on education and will be joined by Marit Stiles (Education Critic for the Official Opposition) and Robin Pilkey (our local TDSB Trustee).

If you have a question, please send it to my office. We'll answer as many as possible. We'll also provide the latest updates from the school board and the province and share what we’re working on.

Cherry Blossoms in High Park

During the Mayor’s daily press conference, he announced that High Park will be temporarily closed to prevent crowds during the Cherry Blossom bloom this spring. As blooming is weather dependent, the specific dates of closure will be released by the city shortly.

The cherry blossoms are enjoyed by so many and bring people together. I know people will want to witness the blooms but I ask that you continue to follow public health recommendations and stay home. I invite you to send me pictures of past blooms which I will share on my social media. This way we’ll be able to experience the joy digitally. You can send pictures to my team.
Provincial Government Announcements

Essentials for Seniors

  • The Province of Ontario is partnering with the Ontario Community Support Association to launch a new program which will provide $11M to serve low-income seniors through the delivery of meals, medicines, and other essentials in an effort to aid in physical distancing measures, which are especially important for seniors. These supports will be delivered though community-based providers of the Meals on Wheels program. Read the full release here

Increased GAINS Payments This Week

  • The first doubled Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments will be issued this week. Individuals will receive up to $166 per month and couples will receive up to $332 per month. These increased payments will continue for six months and provide support to 194,000 vulnerable seniors. Learn more about GAINS here

Residential Relief Fund

  • A $40M commitment has been made to the Residential Relief Fund which will aid welfare organizations, developmental services, victim shelters, and First Nations-serving social service organizations to deal with the costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This could include purchasing PPE and hiring additional staff. Read the full release here

Updates on Long-term Care
  • 20 long-term care homes which were previously experiencing outbreaks are now outbreak-free.
  • As of 8:00 p.m. on April 21, approximately 20% of Ontario’s long-term care homes were experiencing an outbreak.
  • Hospitals have been asked to help by deploying additional staff and infection prevention controls in long-term care homes. In Toronto, five hospitals have contributed - Michael Garron, Women’s College, North York General, Unity Health Toronto (St. Joe’s & St. Mike’s) and Mount Sinai, to support forty different long-term care homes.
  • You can read the full update on the situation in Ontario’s Long-term Care facilities here.
Reminder: For the most up-to-date information please visit Toronto Public Health, Ontario Ministry of Health, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. Contact information is available on my website here.
Community Office
While our office will be closing to the public as part of our efforts to manage the COVID-19 virus, we will continue to provide services for constituents via phone and email. Thank you for your patience and flexibility during this time. 

Phone: 416-763-5630
Copyright © 2020 MPP for Parkdale—High Park, All rights reserved.

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