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FORUM: Vigilance is key, though the vaccine is here (Jan. 2021)

January 27th, 2021 · 1 Comment

Many reasons for optimism for the year ahead

By Mike Layton

As we enter the new year, I know the majority of us are still having to make big sacrifices to keep each other safe and healthy, but I also believe there is positive change in the air and I am hopeful for the coming year.

There is hopeful news that vaccine rollouts across our country and world will continue to develop. We should celebrate this much needed light at the end of the tunnel, while still remaining vigilant in our efforts to slow the spread. This month, our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, put forward additional public health requirements to protect workplaces in Toronto, which could work to curb the recent high numbers of community transmission.

The requirements (as of January 7, and I state this because the instructions seem to consistently shift as needed) say that if two or more people in a workplace test positive for COVID-19 — within a 14-day interval that can be directly attributed to their workplace — they are required to contact Toronto Public Health immediately. Once they report the cases, employers are required to follow specific instructions given to them from Toronto Public Health. The information collected will then be available to the public through the City of Toronto COVID-19 dashboard. It is important to note that the information will only be posted publicly if the workplace is substantially large enough to ensure that employees’ names and identities will remain private.

The experience of the past year has also undeniably demonstrated what our collective priorities should be. Working towards a Toronto where everyone who chooses to make this city their home can thrive must be at the core of our collective policy making. 

For me, 2021 brings with it a renewed sense of optimism. For one, council has finally started vital conversations about systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and I am looking forward to seeing these conversations turn into more representative social supports and services. This much needed change in the public discourse has been driven by many of you and I am grateful for your continued advocacy.

Locally, the year ahead will bring with it several developments on issues that I have spent years of my time on council advocating for, including the solidifying of plans to bring 100% affordable rental housing to 25 Bellevue Avenue. I will continue to work on a green and just recovery from the pandemic that is guided by the C40 Cities’ COVID-19 Recovery Task Force’s Statement of Principles. The development of A Different Booklist Cultural Centre will also continue. The proposed centre will celebrate the decades-long history of African Canadian and Caribbean Canadian community and heritage on Bathurst Street at Bloor. I will also work on the continuation of the expansion of our cycling network, which will mirror major transit routes on Bloor and University in Ward 11.

It remains critical that we follow the advice of Toronto Public Health. Our Medical Officer of Health has noted that we still have many months of this pandemic ahead of us, regardless of the plans to distribute vaccines. It is also extremely important that we get our information from reliable, informed sources and stay home when we can. I continue to have full confidence in TPH to learn, adapt, and evolve as new information becomes available to guide our response and keep residents of  Toronto safe.

As always, my staff and I are here to assist in any way we can. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office by emailing Councillor_Layton@toronto.ca or calling 416-392-4009 to let us know your questions and concerns.

Mike Layton is the city councillor for Ward 11, University—Rosedale.

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Tags: Annex · Opinion

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