COVID Signpost 100 Days: Spotlight on Ontario

Hosted by Arielle Kayabaga, Ward 13 Councillor, London, ON. Featuring Rino Bortolin, Ward 3 Councillor, Windsor, Shelley Carroll, Ward 17 Councillor, Toronto, Shelby Ch’ng, Northwood Ward Councillor, Thunder Bay, and Kemi Akapo, Ward 3 Councillor, Peterborough.

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. The pandemic has magnified issues that existed before COVID

Issues that cities had prior to COVID have been exacerbated in the last 100 days. These include issues of housing affordability, homelessness, transit, food insecurity, and more.

It is important to remember that these are long-standing issues within Canadian municipalities and must continue to be addressed once COVID is behind us. It is also important to remember that these issues are all interconnected and have deep ties to ongoing conversations around equity within cities.

2. We need strategies to address racism at the local level

To date, three migrant workers have died as a result of COVID within the province of Ontario. Due in part to the number of confirmed cases among migrant workers, Windsor has yet to move into phase two of their reopening plan. This has angered some residents who are anxious to see their economy reopen and, in some cases, resulted in racist backlash. Canadian cities need to continue to focus on the differential impacts of COVID, and directly respond to discrimination experienced by some equity-seeking groups during this time.

3. Remote communities have their own unique experiences with COVID

Northern Ontario cities, such as the City of Thunder Bay, have seen comparatively few cases of COVID—but other crises are emerging as a result of the virus. For instance, the City of Thunder Bay has a large Indigenous population and many of the resources previously dedicated to these communities have been redirected during COVID. The City is also dealing with an ongoing opioid crisis, which has led to far higher numbers of deaths within their communities than COVID.

4. Job losses need to be considered at the household level

The millions of Canadian jobs lost during the last 100 days has been among the most significant impact of COVID, but it is also important for cities to examine job losses at the household level. “COVID Signpost 100 Days,” a report published by the Canadian Urban Institute, examines the number of urban Canadians who report that someone within their household has lost their job as a result of COVID. It is important to consider the impact that job loss can have on Canadian families, particularly those with young children, who often depend on two incomes.

5. The long-term care system must be reformed

It has become exceedingly clear that Canada’s long-term care system needs to be reformed. Changes must be made to ensure adequate standards of care across all long-term care facilities in Canada. Conversations about reforming long-term care must also take into account those who work within these facilities, as these essential workers continue to be underappreciated and underpaid.