Dear Neighbour,

Today, the Ontario government released a
plan for implementing social circles (you may have heard them also referred to as ‘cohorts’ or ‘bubbles’). These changes come into effect immediately in all parts of the province, regardless of whether the region has progressed to Stage Two of re-opening.

A social circle is a way to reconnect with loved ones and friends in a manner that controls the spread of infection. They are groups of up to 10 people who all mutually agree to limit their close-contact interactions within that group. Social circles are different from the guidelines for gatherings, which have also increased to up to 10 people today. Here’s the difference as described in the
announcement today:

Social circles: No more than 10 people who commit to one circle only and can interact and come into close contact with one another without physical distancing. Social circles will support the mental health and well-being of Ontarians and help reduce social isolation.

Social gatherings: Any 10 people from outside your household, but where physical distancing of at least two metres should be maintained. For example, the expansion of social gatherings enables individuals and families to enjoy the company of others at backyard barbeques and picnics in neighbourhood parks, while respecting physical distancing advice.

Here is the Government of Ontario’s step-by-step guide on
how to build your social circle.

I know today’s announcement will be a great relief for many. The past few months have been hard and the effects of social isolation have brought mental health concerns to the forefront for many. Hopefully, the increased opportunities for socialization will help relieve some of those pressures. The public health advice is for us to remain vigilant, as the threat of COVID-19 is not gone. It remains our responsibility to stay safe and watch out for the health of our neighbours.

Please continue to
self-monitor for any symptoms of COVID-19, and get tested if necessary.

You can find other provincial updates below.

As always, wash your hands properly, practise physical distancing, wear a mask when needed, be kind.


Bhutila Karpoche,
MPP for Parkdale—High Park
Financial Support Needed for Toronto

I have written to the Premier alongside my Toronto caucus colleagues urging him to provide financial support to the City of Toronto in order to avoid devastating municipal cuts. COVID-19 has left the City of Toronto with a 1.5 billion dollar shortfall this year, and since provincial law forbids municipalities from running deficits, the City is left with an impossible choice between cutting services or drastically raising taxes. 

If the Ford government doesn’t step up soon, the City’s Budget Office will have to dramatically raise taxes with
one estimate putting it at a whopping 47% increase in order to make up the shortfall or make devastating cuts to core services like child care, fire, shelters, and transit, as well as the loss of as many as 19,184 city staff. You can read our full letter here.

New Measures Starting Today

The following measures will take effect starting today in Toronto:

  • Social gathering limits will be raised to 10 people. People must still practise physical distancing, by keeping at least two metres away from those outside their household.
  • Places of worship will be able but are not compelled, to re-open and must limit attendance to 30% of their building capacity while practising physical distancing.
30 Day Prescription Limit Lifted
Starting on June 15, 2020, the restriction on the supply of medications will be lifted. 100-day supplies can begin to be issued and Ontario Drug Benefit co-payments will return to their previous amounts. Everyone is encouraged to continue filling their prescription in reasonable amounts, so as to not create an artificial shortage.
Visitor Policy for Congregate Settings

The Ontario government has announced the gradual resumption of in-person visits at congregate care settings, including long term care homes, retirement homes, and group homes. Family and friends will be allowed access to these settings starting on June 18, 2020, with strict health and safety protocols in place. Congregate settings which are in an ongoing outbreak will not be allowed to facilitate outside visitors. The following limitations will be placed on outside visitors to congregate care settings

Public Transit Safety
The Ministry of Transportation has issued a guidance document which provides transit agencies with best practices to control the spread of COVID-19. These recommendations include: maintaining physical distancing whenever possible, highly recommending that passengers wear face coverings or non-medical masks, practicing proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, installing physical barriers between drivers and passengers, using physical markers between seats, and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces.
Other Provincial Announcements
  • The Ontario government has appointed Cathy Fooks as the new Patient Ombudsman, effective July 13, 2020. Cathy Fooks has been President and CEO of The Change Foundation since 2007 and was previously the Executive Director of the Health Council of Canada. The Patient Ombudsman provides support to Ontarians who have concerns about their experience with the public health care system, including public hospitals, long term care homes, and home/community care. The position has been vacant for the past two years, though the office of the Patient Ombudsman has continued to be active.
  • The province has announced an additional investment of up to $15M for the Agri-food Workplace Protection Program, which will help to enhance health and safety measures on farms and food processing facilities.
  • The government has invested an additional $1M in the Student Nutrition Program to help relieve food insecurity for Ontario’s students. The program has taken new forms during COVID-19, including gift cards, frozen meals, food delivery boxes, and targeted support for local food banks.
  • A $1M+ investment has been made into two Rainy River agricultural projects through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.
  • The Ontario government has announced a $57M partnership with the Federal Economic Development Agency to support the Digital Main Street program. This program can support up to 22,900 Ontario small businesses create or enhance their online presence, while creating jobs for over 1,400 students.
  • The Prime Minister has extended the mandate of Canadian Armed Forces personnel currently deployed to Ontario long term care homes by two weeks to June 26.
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 is closed 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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