Community News – November 10, 2022

This week, at the Board of Health, we discussed Toronto Public Health’s budget for the coming year.Before the pandemic, the way in which many people interacted with Toronto Public Health was through their public health education programs and frontline services. Some of these programs include diabetes prevention education, student nutrition, healthy pregnancy education, free emergency dental services and much more. These are important programs which have saved lives through early intervention and education.The 2023 Operating Budget for Toronto Public Health jeopardizes many of these programs.

At the beginning of the pandemic, units within Toronto Public Health and across the broader public service were mobilized to help with the response to COVID-19. These were meant to be emergency changes to help our City in an unprecedented situation. Now, almost three years after the beginning of the pandemic, we can and should be fully reinstating these crucial services. If we don’t, these programs could stand to lose their funding permanently.

At the Board’s meeting on Tuesday, I expressed my concerns about the potential impacts of continuing to divert funding from these programs and the danger it creates for the future of Toronto Public Health’s role as a service delivery agency.

As we continue through the 2023 Budget process, I will continue to advocate for services to be restored to their pre-pandemic levels.

All aspects of the City budget were impacted by the pandemic, but now that we should be returning to pre-pandemic service delivery levels, we must find a way to increase revenue. We need to move forward making investments, not choosing austerity, in order to build the city we want. I will continue to advocate for new revenue tools that allow us to build a great city.

Below, I’ve included some information on the 2022/2023 Winter Service Plan, winter recreation programs, and more updates.

Sincerely,

In this week’s newsletter:

  • Winter Recreation Programs
  • 2022/2023 Winter Services Plan
  • Women4Climate Toronto Mentorship Program

Winter Recreation ProgramsThe City of Toronto has released the listings of the winter recreation program offerings. Winter recreation programs will start on January 9 and run for nine weeks. The City will offer approximately 11,200 winter recreation programs with 112,000 spaces for programming in arts and sports such as skating, swimming, basketball, ballet, piano and yoga.

Registration for winter recreation programs starts at 7 a.m. on:

  • Tuesday, December 6 – Etobicoke York (including York South-Weston) and Toronto and East York
  • Wednesday, December 7 – North York and Scarborough

You can register online. Residents need a family and client number to sign up for recreation programs and are encouraged to have them ready before registration day. To get a client and family number, residents can set up a new account or retrieve their existing numbers by phone or online.

If you cannot register online or need in-person registration support, you can visit Masaryk-Cowan Community Recreation Centre (220 Cowan Ave) on December 6 from 7 a.m. until noon to get help from City staff.

Residents who need help preparing for registration can call 416-396-7378, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The call centre will be open for extended hours on Monday, December 5, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

2022/2023 Winter Services PlanThe City of Toronto has released its 2022/23 Winter Services Plan, outlining how it will serve those experiencing homelessness during the coming winter months.

I am disappointed to see that at a time when homelessness is at record levels, we aren’t providing a level of service that will adequately need the needs of our homeless neighbours. I have been a consistent advocate for higher funding levels to meet the needs of our City. We need to build, buy, and expropriate homes for everyone, expand capacity of shelters to meet emergency needs, and build a more comprehensive warming centre and drop-in network. I will continue to advocate for better programs and services that support dignity in housing.

This plan creates more than 1,000 spaces through expanded capacity in shelters, additional room in the refugee-specific system, and new affordable homes with supports. This includes:

  • 132 spaces through expanding capacity at existing shelter sites
  • 100 hotel rooms for refugee singles and families, which will help free up space in the base shelter system by allowing refugee claimants currently in non-refugee specific shelters to move to this program
  • 60 spaces at Warming Centres during periods of extreme cold weather
  • 400 new affordable homes with supports will be be available for occupancy, prioritized for people living in emergency shelters or living outdoors

Two Warming Centres have been confirmed, Metro Hall and the Scarborough Civic Centre. The City is continuing work to secure additional sites to serve as Warming Centres during extreme cold weather.

During extreme cold, Streets to Homes will dispatch additional 24/7 street outreach teams to do wellness checks with those living outdoors, encourage them to seek indoor shelter, and handout blankets, sleeping bags, and warm winter clothing.

For the full 2022/2023 Winter Services plan, click here.

Women4Climate Toronto Mentorship ProgramThe City of Toronto opened applications for the 2023 Women4ClimateTO Mentorship Program. The annual program supports and empowers Toronto’s female climate leaders.

Through Women4ClimateTO, the City offers mentoring, networking and collaborative learning opportunities to help local women take their climate-related initiative or start-up business to the next level. Over a six-month period, mentors from the business sector, public sector, international organizations and social agencies will share their knowledge and skills with the mentees.

Ten to 12 women will be selected to join Toronto’s 2023 Women4ClimateTO cohort. Participants’ projects must support the goals of the City’s TransformTO Climate Action Strategy and/or Resilience Strategy.

Participants must identify as women, be 18 years of age or older, live, study or work in Toronto and have an established climate action project or start-up business that they wish to advance with the support of the program. The City welcomes applications from women of diverse backgrounds. Women with disabilities, as well as those who are Indigenous, Black and from other equity deserving groups are encouraged to apply.