What don’t we know about COVID-19 in Canada’s cities?

Joining CUI host Mary Rowe for our session “What don’t we know about COVID-19 in Canada’s cities?” are Kate Graham, Senior Fellow of Municipal Leadership at the Canadian Urban Institute, Thierry Lindor, Founder of the Colors of Covid, Mayor Patrick Brown, the Mayor of Brampton, and Janice Abbott, CEO at Atira Women’s Resource Society.

5 Key
Takeaways

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

1. Confronting the ‘cloak of secrecy’ within essential workplaces

Transparency is critical, according to Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown. In Brampton, major essential sectors like food processing and transportation logistics have been busier than pre-pandemic—hiring additional staff and adding additional shifts with increased demand from consumers. But too often, employers are cutting corners.  Says Mayor Brown, “The privilege of operating during a lockdown must come with a greater level of scrutiny.” Employees are sacrificing their health, and we have to in turn have to ensure that regulations and enforcement is in place to guarantee that employers are doing everything possible to keep their workers safe.

2. Place-based solutions for place-based problems

Thierry Lindor, founder of Colors of COVID—a website tracking the experiences of BIPOC communities’ experiences during the pandemic—reports that 71% of respondents in a recent survey said they would not be ready to take the vaccine if it were offered to them tomorrow. He points to a lack of trust in authority, based on histories of systemic discrimination and broken trust between Indigenous and racialized populations, and the institutions meant to protect them. The solution, he proposes, is to work block by block, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, connecting to and working through people directly on the ground.

3. You can’t tackle what you don’t measure

According to CUI’s Kate Graham, better data leads to better knowledge, information, and outcomes. And that data needs to cover the range of challenges that people are facing during the pandemic. While the majority of Canadians will not contract the disease, the impacts of COVID across the population continue to be deeply felt—from job losses and precarity at work, to mental health impacts and the impact on children with virtual learning. Data needs to be collected at as granular a level as possible, at the city, neighbourhood, workplace, and population levels, and also with an eye to intersectionality, to understand how particular equity-seeking groups are impacted. Agrees Thierry Lindor, “You can’t tackle what you don’t measure.”

4. Balancing transparency with further stigmatization

Janice Abbott, CEO of the Atira Women’s Society in Vancouver and Surrey, describes the challenges of making hyper-local data about COVID infections and deaths more transparent to the public. Drawing from her experience working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, she talks about pre-existing stigmas facing vulnerable populations, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

5. An honest conversation about racism and COVID

Says Thierry Lindor, COVID doesn’t see race, but it does see poverty—and poverty is more likely to impact vulnerable groups, including women, racialized, and Indigenous communities. He cites a recent report on neighbourhoods across Montreal showing a direct correlation between price per square foot in real estate, and the number of COVID cases. “Our understanding of the pandemic has to do with fighting another pandemic called racism. We need an honest conversation if we don’t want to go through a third wave and potentially even more waves after that.”

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Resources

Full Panel
Transcript

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to events@canurb.org with “transcription” in the subject line.

Mary Rowe [00:00:00] Hello everybody, it’s Mary Rowe coming in here from Toronto, which is the traditional territory of many, many First Nations, as many of you know, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec, the Chippewa, the Haudenasaunee and the Wendat peoples home now to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis people from across Turtle Island. We have a couple of treaties that apply here. Treaty 13 signed with Mississaugas and then the Williams Treaty signed with various Annishnabec nations. We have at CUI been on quite a learning journey, I would say for almost a year. Just take that in for a minute. We are almost a year of coming to terms with the impact of COVID on cities and people who live in cities across the country was actually technically a year ago today that the first case of COVID was identified in Canada before the World Health Organization declared it a global pandemic happened a couple of weeks later. In fact, that’s happening. The anniversary of that will be March 11 and we’re going to do something called COVID 365, but we’re not there yet. We’re only at about COVID 320, I think. And we really welcome everybody back. We’d love to wish everyone a happy New Year, although I guess it depends how you define happy. We appreciate that people are continuing to struggle with the impact of this extraordinary health event and also coping with the impact of the different measures that governments have been taking to try to contain the virus. So, we’ve always, when we started this detox sessions, we always wanted to acknowledge that the people on the front lines completely consumed with keeping people alive, keeping people safe, and that continues today. And in fact, it’s worse now in the second wave than it was in the first. And now we have new variants. And all of you know that there’s no easy fix here. But there’s also extraordinary things happening across the country, around the world, obviously, but across the country, as people navigate a new understanding of what it means to be a neighbor, what it means to create places, what it means to be resilient, what are the things that go into allowing us to be imaginative as we cope. And so, CUI has been putting up platforms to enable us to share those kinds of exchanges. City Watch Canada, City Share Canada, and this one, City Talk Canada. And we’ve also been out there with many, many, many of you across the country campaigning for how are we going to bring back our main streets or potentially now how are we going to bring forward our Main Streets? What’s the future of Main Street life going to be as we come out of this, as we go into whatever is ahead? Similarly, what’s going to happen to our downtowns? Everybody on this call has some form of a main street or has some form of a downtown. And these are local businesses and often offices and commercial spaces as well, all of which are going to be radically changed. They’re kind of in suspense at the moment, but they will change and morph into something else and how we relate to our colleagues, how we relate to actually participating in the labor force, and then how is it going to affect our homes and how our life is organized. So, no shortage of questions, no shortage of topics. We at CUI try to stay focused on things that have a particular bearing on the built environment and the quality of life that we aspire to have that includes everyone. And so, our land acknowledgement in the beginning and our work on equity continues to raise these questions that if we’re going to build back better, we better build back fairer, we better build back differently. We better build back more equitable ways. And if not now, when? So that’s the moment we’re in. And I’m very appreciative that we have a group of folks to help us engage in this conversation. Thanks, everybody, for telling us where you’re tuning in. Always gives us a kick to know where people are listening to City Talk from. We have a chat function. Remember my old adage, whatever goes in the chat stays in the chat because we published the chat. So, we will also take a video of the session and it will get posted as well. We encourage you to share it with your colleagues and your friends and family. If you’re bored, certain nights you can watch them all again because we have almost 80 of them up now and they’re a really important repository for us to understand how did we make out? How did we cope through this? What did we learn? What were we thinking in month two? What are we thinking in month ten? So, for that reason, it’s great to have Mayor Brown back. He’s been on before and talking to us about Brampton, and we really appreciate the demands that are placed on municipal leaders, particularly mayors, at this time around. So, thank you for taking the time to be with us. And we’re going to talk about a topic that we know is important to you, which is why we asked you to come back to talk about what don’t we know and why don’t we know what we know. So, I’m going to go first to Kate Graham, who is our senior associate, senior fellow on municipal leadership and governance at the Canadian Urban Institute. She helped initiate COVID 100 and COVID 200 reports. For us, we you haven’t seen her in a while because she went and had a baby who might make an appearance at some point, I suppose, because life does continue. And now she’s back on a part time basis with us while she takes care of Flora and she anchored the COVID 300 report a couple weeks ago. So, she’s going to speak to that. And then we have two others, Thierry and Janice, joining us to give us their perspective about what don’t we know and why don’t we know? So over to you, Kate, first to give us an overview of what you found when you did COVID 300. Thanks very much, everybody. Looking forward to it.

 

Kate Graham [00:05:24] OK, well, thank you very much, Mary, and good to see you all, and I don’t have baby Flora with me right now. My husband is taking care of her, so I’m sorry to disappoint, but if you go to my Instagram, there are more photos than you could possibly want. So. But she’s not going to be joining me today. But I’m delighted to be here and for the opportunity to be a part of this conversation about what we don’t know about COVID 300 days in. And so, as Mary said, as part of the team at CUI, we have committed to essentially stop and take a look at what we are seeing as we go through this pandemic. CUI produced a signpost 100, 200 and 300 report at the 100-, 200- and 300-day marks. You can find all of those reports by going to the CUI website or just Googling COVID signpost and you’ll find them. And I want to share with you a little bit about what we learned while doing the 300 report. And the first thing that I would say, and this is something you will find in all three of those reports, is that COVID continues to be an urban crisis in Canada. So as of the 300-day mark, Canada’s 20 largest cities, which represent about 42 percent of Canada’s population, had 65 percent of our COVID cases and 69 percent of our deaths. And I will tell you, those numbers have been plus or minus a bit, basically the same through this pandemic. So, the importance of listening to city leaders and working with people at the local level to be able to navigate through this is paramount to our success because the vast majority of the impacts have, in fact, been in our cities. The second point that I think is important to note is that even though we’re talking about cities collectively, what that has looked like across cities has shifted radically throughout the pandemic. So early on, the day 100 report, if you will, if you look at the data that’s presented there, you will see that cities in Quebec, for example, were, you know, by a long shot experiencing the most difficult COVID impacts and places like Edmonton had very little at the 300-day mark. That is very different. So, Edmonton in the day one report had about 4000 cases. Today it’s well over 45000. So, we see rapid growth happening in a very uneven way. And again, what that looks like within each city is obviously a bit different, but once again speaks to the scale at which we need to respond to this crisis. We’ve been a little bit critical at CUI that most of the reporting has been at a national or provincial level. And when you start to look closer to the ground, that’s where we see some of the more, I think, insightful data points coming out. The third point that I want to make is that when we started doing this, it was very, very difficult to get city level data at all. We would look at local reporting, sometimes contact municipalities or health units. That has gotten a lot better over the last 300 days. The information is more readily available, but there are areas where we see concerning data coming, but we don’t have enough information yet. And that’s what today’s conversation is all about. So we know that within cities, you know, it is not like the COVID impact is spread evenly across neighborhoods or across populations. We know that racialized populations are being disproportionately affected. We know that lower income neighborhoods tend to have higher risk profiles and their experience with COVID is also going to be more acute. We know that workplace outbreaks are a really important part of the story and that the level of data that’s available on those things is uneven. So today we’ve got three phenomenal speakers who know this story better than anyone. And I think we’ll be able to point to what we know, but also what we don’t know and how more information can lead to better outcomes. So, I’m really looking forward to this conversation and what we’re going to learn. Before I pass things back to Mary, I did just want to make one point. Mary, I hope this is OK, but it is heavy on my heart and I know the hearts of other people, certainly in London and beyond today. So, of the 19000 Canadians that we have now lost to COVID, one of them over the last week was a young man named Yasin Déby. He was a 19-year-old. He came to London in 2016 with his four siblings and two parents. They were Syrian refugees. They came to Canada for a better life. He worked as a contract cleaning company and was sent into a long-term care facility, a private long term care facility with an outbreak and he contracted COVID, passed it on to his family, and his family buried him over this weekend in London. And I raise this because it is, to me so central to what we are talking about today and as we watch this crisis, you know. I teach at a university. I’ve got about 150 students this term, most of whom are Yasin’s age. And we have moved mountains because their safety is paramount to us. You know, we’ve gone to great expense to make sure that they are kept safe. And the fact that that same care is not being provided for certain kinds of workers or for certain populations, it speaks to the inequality that we have in this country and COVID is giving us a tragic look at some of the things that were not created by COVID. They were here before, but they are getting worse. It is about who we value and who we don’t, who we protect and who we don’t. And so today, I think this conversation about what we don’t know is really about, you know, where do we see concerning patterns in the data and where do we need to be placing more effort on focusing the people that are at higher risk? Because as Yasin and 19,000 other people have reminded us so tragically, not doing that the costs are just too high. So thank you very much to everyone who is tuned in and who’s a part of the conversation today and to our panelists for the really important work that you are doing, which I know is largely driven by supporting people who need us most right now.

 

Mary Rowe [00:11:13] Thank you, Kate. That’s a very, very, as you suggest, poignant and tragic note about Yasin multiplied by 19,000. I’m interested, when you put this report together for us, one of the things I said to you was it’s one thing that we’ve actually, in the COVID series, the signpost series, we identified early that communities of color, communities where the density is not particularly safe, where there’s overcrowding and that is predominantly inhabited by people of color and people of lower incomes, that that’s where the disease was most prevalent. And you and I have known that now, day 100, day 200, and day 300, as I said to you, when we first talked about it, I said, what I don’t understand is if we’ve known for several months, how come we haven’t been able to come up with interventions to protect those populations? So, I guess that’s a fundamental question that you’re raising and that be a personal story you’ve just told about the death of your one of your fellow Londoners it makes so real. I’m wondering if we could go to Mayor Brown now because he’s got this happening all over the place, particularly the workplace connection. So, Mayor Brown, what don’t we know and why don’t we know, or do we know and we’re just not doing anything about it? Can you give us your perspective as the Mayor of Brampton, please?

 

Mayor Patrick Brown [00:12:34] Well, great to be back on this virtual chat. A big fan of the Canadian Urban Institute and the conversations which you spur. In terms of what we don’t know, unfortunately, a lot is withheld from the public. And I believe this is one of the lessons learned that we’re going to take from the pandemic. And I hope it can be adapted. I know in Toronto they’re looking at adapting this, joe Cressy has been vocal about this, is the level of transparency right now. The standard at the beginning of the pandemic was that if there’s a risk to the public, outbreaks will be made available, that they’ll be transparent, and information will be released. It’s a different standard if there’s an outbreak and long-term care or a school, the public gets to know right away. But there’s almost been a cloak of secrecy around essential workplaces. And this is a standard that’s been applied province wide. And, you know, I’ve spoken out against it because I believe if we’re asking the public to make sacrifices, the very least we can do is to make sure that we provide them with the information that we have. So, when public officials are making decisions and asking the public to make significant sacrifice and significant alterations to their day to day lives, I think we owe it to them that level of transparency. And I can tell you one of the challenges we face in peel region known as one of the hot spots in the country is the nature of our workforce. In Brampton, two of our largest sectors are transportation, logistics and food processing. So, companies like Amazon, the Canadian Tire, National Fulfillment Center, we have these major logistics companies, and they help Canada’s supply chain remain intact. And we’ve got food processing companies that make sure that we have grocery stores coast to coast that are actually stocked. But these sectors that have almost been immune to some of the changes that we’ve seen during the pandemic. It’s business as usual. If anything, it’s busier than normal. These companies have had to hire additional staff, put on additional shifts. If you look at our transit routes, they’re busier than ever. Those busses are full because they’re so busy. And I feel that there’s almost been some corners cut that governments want to allow these sectors to work unencumbered because they play such an integral role to Canada’s supply chain. But I believe, given the fact we’re allowing these corporate citizens the privilege of working during the lockdown, I do believe there needs to be greater scrutiny. And it came up recently, and not to pick on one company, but there was a newspaper article about how Amazon had had four hundred cases in their peel facilities. And that’s just one of hundreds of companies that are in full operation. And so, what I have argued is, for the businesses that are in operation nearby and whether it’s simple as someone going to a restaurant for takeout, don’t they deserve the right to know that there has been an active outbreak at that fulfillment center nearby. The local neighborhood, the people on the transit route to that workplace, do they not deserve to know from us that there’s an outbreak that public health is trying to get under control? And so, I think right now there’s been a real push to change the threshold. Toronto has announced that they’re going to be looking at a new threshold and maybe it’s going to be over 10 people, over five people that they’d release the data on outbreak. And I know Mayor Crombie and myself are urging people to do the same thing. But I really hope we see this happen as expeditiously as possible, because I believe we owe it to the public.

 

Mary Rowe [00:16:34] Yeah, I mean, transparency works on all sorts of levels. Transparency, so that we as voters can hold decision makers accountable. Are you shifting your policy quickly enough to accommodate what you can see in the numbers? That would be one thing. As you suggest, Mayor Brown, there’s lots the public doesn’t see. Then there’s the other piece, as a consumer, are consumers entitled to more information to be better informed so that they know, as you suggest, there is an outbreak? It’s very complicated, isn’t it? I know there have been concerns around they don’t want to stigmatize neighborhoods. Part of the way that we identify a COVID case is by a postcode, where a person resides, when in fact they may work somewhere else. I realize these are all very complicated questions, but you’re raising these two points, transparency and in terms of holding decision makers accountable and then transparency so that consumers can behave accordingly. With our bring back Main Street work, we’ve been encouraging people to shop local and without being overly pointed and saying don’t shop Amazon. But one of the dilemmas that we wondered about was do we say to a consumer, you’re putting more people at risk actually by shopping Amazon because of the fulfillment centers and the way in which that is creating a whole level of added risk for those workers. We have people in our immediate orbit who have parents and family members who are working in these kinds of fulfillment centers. And we’re all hearing anecdotally that those protections aren’t in place, that they’re being put back into work environments that aren’t being enhanced at all. And as you say, Mayor Brown, if they have a license to operate here, should there be higher standards?

 

Mayor Patrick Brown [00:18:20] And one thing that’s been explained to me is that just like a patient has privacy rights, public health views, that a corporation has privacy rights. And for me, you know, I struggle with that because I believe the privilege that they have to operate during a lockdown should come with additional scrutiny. And it’s not just the transparency of an outbreak, but I believe there should be more regular visits from the Ministry of Labor to make sure that they are adhering to the guidelines of public health. And we all hear it from a anecdotally through friends or emails from constituents. We hear, oh, they’re not practicing the guidelines here or in the letter they’re not being followed, or their interests are not being followed. I think for these corporations that have the privilege of operating during the lockdown, and their profits probably have been record profits this year. With that should come a greater level of scrutiny. And to make sure that the employees who are who are who are sacrificing their own health, that we’re doing everything possible to make sure the environment is as safe as possible.

 

Mary Rowe [00:19:28] Mayor Brown, I’m interested with your colleagues, and then I’m going to come to you next Thierry, I’m interested with your colleagues, other municipal leaders, you know, one of the dynamics we watch is that often municipal councils and mayors appear in the non-COVID time to be overly anxious to get these large companies to set to locate in their municipalities. They want the tax base. They want the jobs. And we’ve even seen in terms of lock down provisions in various jurisdictions across the country, there’s been lots of speculation as to why small independent businesses were closed and large, big box stores, which happen to be owned internationally, haven’t been. And you seem to be running a bit against the grain on that. Have you had some resistance from some of your colleagues about insisting that these larger companies be called out?

 

Mayor Patrick Brown [00:20:14] So, no, I think there’s been a large level of agreement and collaboration between municipal leaders, I should note, I think one of them is actually watching it here at Cam Guthrie, the former chair of Ontario’s large urban mayors. We’ve been sharing ideas. We have a weekly GTA mayors’ call, there’s regular big city mayor calls, there’s Ontario mayors’ calls. I’ve never seen this level of collaboration as often than we’ve seen during COVID. And I think we learn from each other. I think transparency has been a topic where we all understand sometimes, we need to push institutions to have a greater degree.

 

Mary Rowe [00:20:53] Yeah. Well, it’s interesting, again, this is maybe one of those things that will change because of COVID, but it may take us to a different level of accountability after COVID two about what we expect from our employers. Thierry can we hear from you? And I don’t know if I pronounce your name correctly, tell me, qu’est-ce que tu prononce en francais? Thierry?

 

Thierry Lindor [00:21:18] Oui. Theirry. Bravo.Thierry.

 

Kate Graham [00:21:18] Over to you Thierry.

 

Thierry Lindor [00:21:18] Yes. So, yeah, I’m in Montreal, Quebec. We created a platform called Colors of COVID because very rapidly we realized that the impact of COVID was COVID doesn’t see color. We know that it doesn’t see race biologically. But one thing it sees is poverty. And poverty in Canada is way too often associated with women, people of color, indigenous people and so on, so forth. So, we decided to come to collect race-based data after our government in Quebec. And some of you might know Quebec does not recognize systemic racism. So that’s the first Mary and that’s the first challenge. So back in May, they committed to collecting race-based data and then they backtracked on their promise on August 3rd by defaulting on that promise and literally dismissing people that were truly suffering from this pandemic. We kept hearing our premier say that we’re all in the same boat and yada, yada, yada. And I like to say that we’re not in the same boat. We’re in the same storm, maybe. But some of us don’t even have boats. Some of us are swimming. So, it kind of speaks volumes also to the disconnect. And that’s what I think is the biggest problem in this pandemic. There seems to be a massive disconnect between the average Canadian, our elected officials, and the reality of what Quebecers and Canadians are going through. Because when you have a premier, once again I’m referring to the Quebec because I’m micro. That’s another thing the pandemic is doing. It is not a macro problem and it is an extremely micro problem. In Quebec, Montreal North was the epicenter of covid-19 in Canada, and it still is, and more importantly was in the top five worst places after the Vatican, New York City in the world. So, we had cases that were ridiculously out of control. And if you looked at a CBC report for super interesting, it’s important to talk about Mary Kate, Major Patrick Brown and Janice, if you if you allow me to, there was a direct correlation between the price of square foot in real estate and the amount of COVID cases. So, when you looked at the map by CBC, the deep red spaces had the lowest price per square foot in Montreal.

 

Mary Rowe [00:23:35] So the cheaper the space, the more prevalent COVID.

 

Thierry Lindor [00:23:40] Correct. Saint-Michel, Montreal North, RDP. And that’s why I’m saying it’s extremely micro. It is so micro. And I’ll give you the best analogy. There’s an area in Montreal called Park Extension. It is highly going through gentrification. Park extensions right next to another area called Ville Montreuil, town of Montreuil, town of Montreuil’s one of the richest places in Canada. Their space is light green. It’s so light green, it looks white. And then right across the street, it is one of the deepest red that you could ever see. So once again, I think that it’s super important that our understanding of this pandemic and how we are going to be confined optimally has to do with fighting another pandemic that a lot of us refuse to admit exists, which is called racism. And I think that’s where we need to have an honest conversation if we don’t want to go through a third wave and potentially even more waves, because I’ll give you a quick data that we collected that is super scary. All right. We ran a quick question saying if tomorrow you had to take the vaccine, tomorrow, at the colorsofcovid.com quick survey, how many of you would be ready to take that vaccine? Seventy one percent of people said no. So, seventy one percent. How do you achieve herd immunity if seven one percent of Indigenous, Black, Brown people, which are composing seventy five percent of mineworkers workers in Quebec, if they don’t believe in the COVID, then we have a huge issue.

 

Mary Rowe [00:25:12] And Thierry are they saying they don’t want to take; I mean I don’t know how detailed your survey was. Everyone should go to colorsofcovid.com, have a look at the survey. Are they saying that because they don’t think the vaccine will work?

 

Thierry Lindor [00:25:26] Not a lot of them are attributing this to trust. And I think that’s what everything has been exacerbated in 2020 and trust authorities in general. Right. So, from trusting to the police in black Indigenous community, that trust has been diluted, trusting to our elected officials. And that’s scary when we don’t when we start to not trust [inaudible], that is a problem because you cannot deconfine optimally. And the only way cities like Brampton. Montreal, big urban areas, there is no optimized deconfinement without taking care of marginalized neighborhoods. And the way I like to portray it to our elected officials is I tell them; I say right now it’s as if we have a fire in a garage. In a house. Right. And we open the sprinkler system in the whole house. But the fire is only in the garage. Right. Or I have a problem with my pinky, and you want to chop off my arm. If you are proactively going into these Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, they are going to see that you care. And if they see that you care, they are going to trust you and the trust gets rebuilt. And that’s how you are able to potentially talk about a vaccine. But right now, I feel like it’s very scary because the trust between those vulnerable communities and once again, it doesn’t see color, but it sees poverty and poverty in Canada and North America and in G20 country is way too often Black, Brown, Indigenous or woman.

 

Mary Rowe [00:26:56] And as you’re suggesting, this is a vicious circle that’s getting worse and worse. And then if they won’t take the vaccine, it’s just going to get worse, and worse.

 

Thierry Lindor [00:27:05] Never going to achieve herd immunity Mary.

 

Mary Rowe [00:27:05] Yeah, I hear you. Let’s go to Janice Abbott, who can talk to us about, well, going from the Quebec over to the West, we will hear from Janice who is working with particular vulnerable populations. And then Mayor Brown, you can see there’s some questions directed to you in the chat. Go ahead, Janice.

 

Mary Rowe [00:27:26] You’re muted Janice.

 

Janice Abbott [00:27:32] Hi, can you hear me now? Yeah, we can. So, I’m going to speak about the Downtown Eastside in Surrey, which are the communities that we work in and the communities that I know best. I want to start by acknowledging that there were around a thousand eleven hundred deaths due to COVID in B.C. in 2020. There were fifteen hundred deaths by overdose at the end of November. And I think that’s important to acknowledge because overdose deaths impact us more significantly than COVID deaths do. So, with respect to the Downtown Eastside, just by way of some numbers. We’ve had about 70 staff test positive across our portfolio, which represents about six percent of our staff and seventy-six tenants, which represents about four percent of our tenants, tested positive. In the area, in B.C., we get information by small sort of arbitrary health regions that have been identified by the health authorities. So, we’re in the Downtown Eastside in the health region that includes Gastown. Well, for those of Vancouver, Gastown, Strathcona, sort of a wider geographical area and the positive rate in the wider geographical area is about one percent. And again, our tenants have tested positive at about four percent. We’ve had three deaths, COVID deaths across our portfolio, all two of the three are women. Two of the three are Indigenous all over the age of 70. And I want to say that during the first part of the COVID pandemic, so sort of March until July last year, we had only one positive case across our housing portfolio and no deaths. So, all of this has happened between sort of September and now. So, we had a much different experience in the fall than we did in the spring. We were very prepared in the spring. We were supported, well supported by our provincial government and by the federal government to a certain extent. Provincial government, less so, but solely based on kind of a charity model, which is problematic. But at least we were able to ensure that people had food. So, our food programs were ramped up outreach support. Even though we had to restrict numbers of folks in our physical spaces, we were able to offer more outreach programing and deliver food and supplies to people. We were able to open up, because one of our primary concerns was our women only safe injection site, we were able to open up a tent so that even though we had to restrict numbers inside the indoor area, we had a tent that was a block away that had access to cross ventilation. We were able to maintain the same level of overdose response or support around injections and also to create a safe place for women to drink. Because what we’ve found is a lot of transmission in and among the communities who drink. We don’t have disaggregated data here as well. So, BC is not collecting data, long lines of race or especially race. But like Thierry said before me, poverty is a sort of the unifying factor in the Downtown Eastside and the communities in which we work. There’s some suggestion based on a really limited survey and done by a doctor down here who’s a bit controversial. But he has received some press that about 50 percent of the Downtown Eastside population has been exposed to COVID based on testing for antibodies. We have started vaccinations down here. So, the health regions have a vaccination plan, starting with shelters and shelter staff. So, they’re vaccinating staff and residents at the same time. And focus was on shelters where people don’t have private space. We have had about 30 percent refusal rate, I guess, so about 30 percent of the people who are invited to be vaccinated are saying no. A variety of reasons many of you may be familiar with Marielle Triple funds report recently about racism in the BC health care system that certainly plays into people’s decisions about how significantly they want to engage with the health care system. And then there’s a certain amount of just like the general population, just anti-backs kind of ideology that’s held among folks down here. So those two combined to about 30 percent of people so far refusing. They are doing multiple attempts at vaccination. So, saying no once doesn’t mean there won’t be an opportunity a couple of weeks down the road. So, I think probably that’s what I want to say right now. I want to say, too, that I have mixed feelings about complete transparency and reporting, in part because of the stigma that’s already focused on folks who live in the Downtown Eastside. There was a lot of expectation in the spring when we didn’t see any real infections spread down here where people were afraid of the Downtown Eastside like they often are, and a lot of focus on what people were doing and where they were and a lot of media attention because there’s a lot of activity that happens outside because people often live-in single room occupancy hotels, hundred and twenty square foot rooms. So, a lot of people socialize outside. A lot of criticism of that. So, while I support the idea of transparency for the reasons that have been spoken about already, I also worry about populations and communities like the Downtown Eastside being even further stigmatized than they already are. One of the things that’s been really challenging is through the first phase of COVID, the provincial government bought a number of hotels to provide both self-contained places for people to isolate, but also places where people who are homeless to be if they were infected. And there’s been a lot of community backlash to the location of those buildings. And that’s part of our daily kind of work is dealing with a lot of hate and stigmatization because those hotels are typically not in the Downtown Eastside, a lot of hotels down here for the province to have bought. So, we spend a lot of time on community advisory committees in various areas of the city trying to defend our existence or the existence of poor people in their neighborhoods. So, it’s been a challenging year on a number of levels. And I think I’ll end there.

 

Mary Rowe [00:34:39] Janice, did you the early days, you’ve worked in the Downtown Eastside, I gather, for many years. Yeah?

 

Janice Abbott [00:34:46] Yeah.

 

Mary Rowe [00:34:47] And in the early days of the pandemic, did you have access to the data you needed?

 

Janice Abbott [00:34:55] No, so like everybody else and obviously information about how to respond to COVID has changed dramatically from sort of last March until now. So, we have the same information everybody else had. We set up a kind of daily call starting last March, handwashing stations, masks of course were recommended back in early March that shifted in the summertime. We had daily calls and we were just responding every day to the same information everybody else had and from the same place as everybody else was getting it. Again, I want to say in the spring, I’m only aware across our portfolio of one positive case in the spring. We really didn’t have any transmission really until late August, September.

 

Mary Rowe [00:35:51] I mean, as Thierry said, this is a micro problem. This is part of what’s been interesting for us as the Canadian Urban Institute, that our mandate is to connect people working on the ground in cities across the country and make the case to other levels of government. Here’s where policy needs to be fashioned in line with the Janices and Thierrys and the Patrick Browns, who are working on the ground and actually can see what’s going on and that by the time the information that you get, that you observe, gets filtered up to the province or up to the federal government. It’s a long way from actually hitting the ground. And I guess that’s part of what you’ve been advocating for since you’ve joined us at CUI, is that we need more granular data to inform granular solutions. When I hear Janice talking, I mean, I’ve been in the Downtown Eastside, I’m familiar with a lot of what she’s describing. It couldn’t be more different than probably what the North End and Montreal looks like. These are very different places. They may have some similar challenges, but they’re very different places. Right.

 

Mayor Patrick Brown [00:37:00] And Mary, I was going to add in. I think an important perspective is with this data, and I think Thierry is so correct, when you look at where the transmission is happening. I get briefed on the data in peel region and disproportionately it is racialized communities working in the settings with the greatest level of transmission. And I think really that needs to inform decisions. So, as we’re having conversations right now on where the spread is happening, I think there should be a correlation with supports. And so I think if we really want to arm ourselves appropriately with this data is to say, why don’t we have paid sick days for a while? We didn’t even have an isolation center in Brampton. We had an isolation center in Mississauga and Toronto, but one of the most diverse cities in the country, up until a week ago, we didn’t have an isolation center. It was only because we made a fuss in the media about it. So, whether it’s paid sick days, isolation centers, more testing, I think this data should be the rationale behind the proper supports needed for those most affected by this pandemic.

 

Mary Rowe [00:38:06] So it has to be both and, doesn’t it? It has to be the data and the supports that go with it. Yeah, I hear you. Kate, do you want to comment a bit about what kind of access the data? How should we be collecting the data? Is Stats Can useful? What about public health? How come we don’t get it, et cetera? Do you want to comment on that?

 

Kate Graham [00:38:26] Sure. So, I mean, I think pretty consistently CUI and many others, including our three fantastic speakers today, have been pointing to that better data is better information and knowledge and better information and knowledge is better outcomes. And I think we’ve been focusing just on kind of the tip of the iceberg, you know, cases and deaths. The vast majority of Canadians will not get COVID. And we certainly hope that that’s true at the end of this. But the impacts of COVID are extreme. You know, when you look at job losses and, you know, precarity and work, when we look at mental health impacts. So it’s not just about addressing the people who are sick right now, which, of course, needs to be the focus and needs to be, you know, what we’re reporting and most actively interested in, but the lack of knowledge that we have about how this looks in specific cities, in specific workplaces, within specific populations, it means that we will also have a lack of knowledge about, you know, how uneven is the mental health effect or, you know, kids learning from home with very different access to resources in their home environment. You know, what is that going to mean five, 10 years down the road for a whole generation of kids who have had this very uneven start to their education? So, there’s a long way of saying that right now we need better data about how COVID is impacting specific cities, specific neighborhoods, to Mayor Brown’s point about workplaces and certainly how certain populations are being affected with a particular interest in those that we know are most severely impacted. But we also need to know what that broader COVID impact looks like that will linger way beyond this pandemic if we have any hope of supporting people with what they’re struggling with coming out of the crisis.

 

Mary Rowe [00:40:08] So can I ask just the dumbest question to all of you, and can someone just enlighten me about this? Do we know whether you’re more likely to get COVID at your workplace or at your home? Do we know?

 

Mayor Patrick Brown [00:40:25] Well, they’re interrelated, and so the workplace we found we had one hundred ninety plus workplace outbreaks in peel region. So, it may start off in the workplace, but then it spreads into the household. And so, the numbers may show that household spread is larger because generally the people work in these environments, live in crowded living conditions. And so, one essential worker could spread it to 10 within the household. But the causation is these industrial settings. The causation is these essential workplaces. And so, I think understanding that’s where the outbreaks have happened, and then it goes into the community.

 

Mary Rowe [00:41:06] Janice.

 

Janice Abbott [00:41:09] Just because of what we do, we’ve had some fairly significant contact with the health authority. So, we have some information that maybe isn’t generally available in the public. So, what I can tell you is of the number of folks that we’ve had test positive, there’s two distinct groups, staff and tenants. We’ve had more staff test positive than tenants. And we are only aware based on contact tracing of one single transmission between staff and tenants. So, a lot of our staff, again, because of how the world works, live in the Fraser Health region, where there’s been significantly more cases of COVID than in the Vancouver Coastal health region, which is the Downtown Eastside is, in the Vancouver Coastal health region. So, what we know from our own data is that we’re seeing more transmission at home than we are at work. We’ve got very few staff-to-staff transmissions and very few and only one staff to tenant or tenant to staff transmission.

 

Mary Rowe [00:42:15] Wow. It’s just, again, going back to we know this is a micro problem. We know we need micro interventions then and we probably need other orders of government to fund micro interventions. If we wanted to choose our highest priority for the micro intervention, where would it be? Thierry have you thought about this? Would it be at the workplace? Would it be at the home? Patrick saying it’s kind of both. What do you think Thierry?

 

Thierry Lindor [00:42:45] Mayor Brown is a hundred percent, right. If we look at, and I can’t not mention, Kate talked about an individual, that 19-year-old had just passed away. You can’t tackle what you don’t measure. And that’s very important. How do we know that old people are dying more than young people? How do we know that young people might be asymptomatic? How do we know that a younger immune system, biologically speaking, will potentially help you survive this covid-19? And the correlation between work and home is very important. We touched on this, for example, Montreal North, once again, the epicenter of the covid-19 virus, a migrant asylum seeker, 40 years old, Marcel Francoise. And they mustn’t have course where he works daytime in a meat factory, nighttime in an old age home, illegally working, right. So, he goes to work in deplorable condition. He is definitely, obviously maybe getting some symptoms at work because he contracted it there, but he cannot even afford to potentially stop working. So, he brings it back home to his wife and his two kids that are there that are going to go back into the schools and potentially give it to their teachers and so on, so forth. And great example with Marcel Francois, if we touched on the real estate aspect of the whole problem as well. That’s why it’s a societal and economic problem. We say it’s a health pandemic, but it’s really not because Marcel Francois lived in a slum that was infested with mold, mold attacks your lungs. So, the cocktail for disaster is waiting for him to come back at home and infect him, his kids. And the man died literally like a ghost. He just disappeared, was not acknowledged by prime premiere and literally sacrificed his life. So, I think it’s important to understand the correlation between both and when you are a front-line worker, I can’t even envision somebody starting to tell his boss, hey, I need to go home, I need to go to the hospital. No, they’re going to cope with whatever symptoms they have, and they bring those back into their area. And a lot of times these slumlords, at least in Montreal, they know there’s mold in their buildings. They know there’s precarious situations that could expand and create a closed, [inaudible], like we called in French, but they’re just in the business of real estate. So, they’re just waiting for the property to eventually be called [inaudible] destroy it, start back over. So, it’s very important to understand that even though it seems to be a health crisis, it’s truly an economic crisis. We wage war on gangs, we wage war on drugs, but we have a problem on waging war on poverty in Canada.

 

Mary Rowe [00:45:37] Janice, you’re trying to get.

 

Janice Abbott [00:45:41] Yeah, it’s just going to say to is a real difference, we talk about front line workers and it’s a real difference between frontline workers, depending on who you work for. And I think we need to start to talk about front-line for-profit settings. Right? So, if you work at Atira, you get three weeks of paid sick leave annually. You can accumulate up to six weeks over time. That’s not happening. And many nonprofits and governments offer those benefits, but when we go into the private sector or the for-profit venues, that’s where you start to see those kinds of benefits erode. And I don’t know what it would have looked like here at Atira if we weren’t able to say to our staff every single day, stay home if you are sick, stay home if you are sick and them not having to worry about not getting paid. So, this is a good time to talk about the infrastructure and how we deliver essential services to people, whether it’s through a for profit system or a non-profit system.

 

Mary Rowe [00:46:40] Yeah, these are I mean, these are these fundamental systemic issues. Mayor Brown mentioned one about paid sick days. You’re mentioning one about what are the rules like where long term care and congregate living is being administered? I have a question that’s being posed actually on the chat around transit. Do we have any data to suggest that people are contracting or passing along COVID on transit? Do we have data? Kate, do you know, Mayor Brown, do you know?

 

Mayor Patrick Brown [00:47:10] So we do have some data because we release any municipal worker who contracts COVID, and we’ve had a high number of transit operators get covid-19, and so invariably because we’ve had so many you know, the virus does have transmission in public transit. And so, when we talk about some of the pandemic heroes, I think those that work in municipal transit are some of them and you talked about, or Kate did at the beginning about, you know, municipalities are on the front lines of this pandemic. That’s a perfect example. If you’re in a rural area or an affluent neighborhood that doesn’t rely on public transit, it’s a different reality than the dense neighborhoods in much of urban Canada. And transit is a perfect example of that.

 

Mary Rowe [00:47:59] Mayor Brown, just a stupid question for me coming over to you. Do we know whether that transit operator came into contact with the virus through a passenger or did they come into contact with it because they live in the neighborhood where there was transmission at home? You know, we’ve heard these conversations in hospitals where they realized that the hospital workers aren’t getting it from the patients. They’re getting it from each other when they’re in the staffroom, lowering their mask to have lunch. Do we actually know. I’m concerned about this. We’ll perpetuate back to the trust point. If people think transit isn’t safe, then we’re continuing to stigmatize who uses transit, you know what I mean? And I’m just wrestling with this.

 

Mayor Patrick Brown [00:48:43] Yeah, and so part of the challenge is contact tracing is really falling apart as numbers have escalated. I know with peel public health the magic number was three hundred. Beyond three hundred, there wasn’t enough contact tracers to effectively continue. And I know Toronto probably lost contact tracing in September. I think in peel region we lost it in November. The Ottawa lost it in October. And so, we really don’t have a full picture of whether they’re getting it at home or whether they’re getting it through a staff lunchroom. It would be more challenging to get on the bus because they say the contact has been more than been transit. But those are great questions that I think would help us inform the public to a greater degree.

 

Mary Rowe [00:49:29] I mean, it’s just part of the data mix that we don’t actually physically know. I mean, part of what I think we have to come out of this with is and part of the advocacy that we’re trying to champion with our work, our ongoing work with various municipal leaders across the country is what is the new regime? What will you need to be equipped with to be able to survive more effectively and provide more better service, whatever is next? And what I’m hearing from you guys collectively is more interventions on poverty so that those communities aren’t vulnerable to this kind of thing. Maybe obviously you’re rethinking of how housing is actually constructed. That’s a tangible intervention. So, we were talking about there not being containment centers, Mayor Brown. We’ve got lots and lots of housing developments and cities across the country where there is no safe place outside of your own unit. So, you’re under all sorts of pressure either to social distance or to escape a toxic situation. There is nowhere for you to go. So, there’s a huge challenge, I think, in terms of how we design housing going forward. It sounds like we have a question about workforce and how we design workplaces going forward. Let me ask one more question. The category of essential work. If, in fact, those people who were deemed essential workers, if more of them did not actually have to leave their home and had the technology to deliver their essential service from their home, would we have seen a decrease in COVID transmission? Thierry, you’re nodding. What do you think?

 

Thierry Lindor [00:51:04] Yeah, because remote working is the ultimate privilege. During this pandemic, 70 percent, 71 want to be more precise in colors of COVID of Black, Brown and Indigenous communities were not able to remote work. And if you take into account intersectionalities. Woman, oh, my God, it went up to 86 percent. So, so remote working has become the ultimate privilege.

 

Mary Rowe [00:51:34] So Thierry, what about this? You know, this notion of the 15-minute city.

 

Thierry Lindor [00:51:39] Yeah.

 

Mary Rowe [00:51:39] So the mayor of Paris is advocating that we should start designing cities to have everything in that 15 minutes, if, in fact your job, and your services, and your life was confined to that 15 minutes, I don’t know what Mayor Brown will say about this. But if that were a goal we were working towards, then there would be less long travel and therefore, the incidence of a virus would potentially be more contained? Janice, go ahead.

 

Janice Abbott [00:52:11] So I just want to I just want to point out on that note as well, that when you look at communities like the Downtown Eastside, there are very few community amenities. This is in many ways and for many years has been a forgotten community in terms of public parks, public gathering spaces. So that’s depending on where you live. It’s a privilege to live in some ways in communities that have spaces where you can actually be outside and physically distance and gather. They don’t exist and they really don’t exist in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

 

Mary Rowe [00:52:45] Thierry, I’m just going to come up to you. But Janice, one question from me quickly. In many ways, is the Downtown Eastside, even though its poorly serviced, in fact, that population, does it move very far off the blocks that consist of the Downtown Eastside? Is it a fairly contained community?

 

Janice Abbott [00:53:06] It is in some ways. I don’t think have a lot of data. I mean, a lot of what we know when we say a lot of people are saying, rather, that people stay in the Downtown Eastside. That’s anecdotal. We don’t really have a lot of data on what people do. It’s only anecdotal. So, I will join the anecdotes and say, yes, that appears to be the case. But we don’t know for sure. People have families in other parts of the Lower Mainland, in other parts of the country. We’ve seen in our shelters in Vancouver over the last probably four months an enormous influx of people from Alberta who are here. And this isn’t normal. It’s not every year that we get this kind of influx of people coming into Vancouver from other provinces. So that’s also changing.

 

Mary Rowe [00:53:55] Just curious. Thierry to you. And then I’m going to ask asking around a question about the Brampton workforce. Go ahead, Thierry.

 

Thierry Lindor [00:54:00] If I could add to what Janice just described, which is one hundred percent correct. These are, economically speaking, deserts. So, Montreal, North Saint-Michel, RDP are food deserts, they are technology desert. That’s another big factor. Right? Governments should provide free Wi-Fi in affected areas. You should make sure that your station, if you are the sender of a message, you’re encrypting a message. How is your message being decrypted if you can’t even have access to technology? So, these communities live in food deserts, technology deserts, financial deserts. And now we have the mayor of Paris that’s talking about fifteen-minute kind of cities. I’m very sorry, but that’s to me, like a very bourgeois proposition. When you look at the city of Montreal, the Far East end is where Montreal RDP is red. The Far West End, which is West Island, is one of the richest places. So, you definitely see that there is a privilege and being in your car, confined, not using public transportation, having a service abundance. So, the whole 15-minute city, I’m not sure it would truly serve specifically in the context of a pandemic.

 

Mary Rowe [00:55:12] Yeah, I know it’s a concept. It’s literally a bourgeois concept. Literally. But it is speaking to, can neighborhoods be supported to be more self-sufficient? I guess that’s the question. There’s a comment in the chat from Diane Dyson reinforcing what you’re saying Thierry. And it’s part of my question. If we knew that these neighborhoods and people living in these neighborhoods, disproportionate risk, how come we weren’t able to make interventions to protect them earlier? And what’s our excuse for not doing it now? I’m going to go to you, Mayor Brown, in then Kate, we’ll finish with you. Mayor Brown, do you know what percentage of the people that work in Brampton live in Brampton?

 

Mayor Patrick Brown [00:55:59] So we have a large segment of the population that commute. I believe that’s about in the range of one hundred thousand a day because the GTA is very intermixed. But we have a huge segment of the population that works in these industrial settings locally as well. And so, you know, you make the point about was why was this something done sooner? And I believe it was intentional. I think the political leadership of the country said that we must maintain supply chains. And so, I think the weight of this pandemic, the weight of the risk fell upon these essential workers. And that’s something that I think if we acknowledged earlier on and said if they’re taking this risk on, what can we do to support them? I think we would have fared better because it’s been late in the game that we’ve asked the latter question of what we can do to support them.

 

Mary Rowe [00:56:55] So that just speaks to such a fundamental crisis that we have to be in in this country. If somehow, we were so afraid of some notion of supply chain because it has unbelievable ripple effects. Right? There are all sorts of local businesses that potentially could have stepped in and provided those products and services. This is a thing that’s going to bug us all for a long time. Why we felt that we had to protect this international supply chain that way. I’m going to go to you Kate for the last word, because you’re now rounding up to COVID 365. So where do you think you’re going to go in the next 30 days before we actually start talking about that?

 

Kate Graham [00:57:33] Sure. Well, I will just close by saying I think this has been a really insightful conversation, including the comments in the chat. And even though we are all living through these unusual and difficult times, I think it is incumbent on us to stop and think about what we are seeing. And as today’s conversation and so many like it have pointed to, this is a sad and tragic look at some of the problems that existed long before COVID. These inequities are not new, but every time we read about a Yasin or another tragedy associated with the pandemic, it should be a call for action. These are often matters of political will. These are things that can be addressed. And so, my hope is that as we keep stuff and looking at what we see around us, that it’s an opportunity to talk about solutions ahead. So, Mary, as you said at CUI, we are planning for a big report and examination at the 365-day mark, the beginning of March, where we will be, once again taking a look at what we see happening across cities in Canada, the good and the bad. There’s been lots of innovative on the ground solutions happening. But we also know that there are some big struggles not just associated with the pandemic, but that will linger long beyond. So, it’ll be another opportunity that I think will be an important reflection point about where we need to go from here.

 

Mary Rowe [00:58:53] Thank you, Kate. Thank you, Thierry. Thank you, Janice. Thank you, Mayor Brown, for joining us again. I really hope that all the city talkers, of which we have hundreds and hundreds that come on these sessions are joining with me and saying to all of you that we have to double down on our commitment, that we’re going to address the systemic challenges that COVID has exposed and that we’ve got to be committed to whatever the solutions have to be to actually restructure the way we resource cities, the way we plan neighborhoods, the kinds of opportunities and protections that workers are given, and that that is something that we must, must, must tackle. So, thank you, everyone, for coming on. As we always say, this is only the beginning of a conversation and there’s a momentum that we’re building here. So, thank you very much to all of you for continuing performance on that. And we just have to take the next step and stay committed to a more equitable future. Thanks, everybody.

 

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact events@canurb.org with “Chat Comments” in the subject lin

From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk

12:59:58 From Christina Sisson : Happy New Year!!

13:00:37 From Laurel Anne Snyder : Hello from Stratford, ON. And yes, Happy 2021 to everyone 🙂

13:01:05 From Catherine Hendrick to All panelists : Hello from Milton!

13:01:13 From Craig Gurney to All panelists : Happy Burns’ Night and Happy St Dwynen’s (Welsh Valentine’s Day) too!

13:01:19 From Catherine Soplet : Hello from Mississauga !

13:01:53 From Anne Basque to All panelists : Hello from Downtown Moncton Centre-ville in NB

13:02:08 From Fernando Cirino : Good Afternoon!

13:02:19 From Eunan Quinn to All panelists : Happy New Year from Donegal, Ireland – Athbhlain faoi mhaise daoibh….. 🙂

13:02:48 From Canadian Urban Institute : Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

13:03:06 From Canadian Urban Institute : Attendees: where are you tuning in from today?

13:03:14 From Cameron Watts : Slàinte Mhath

13:03:20 From Craig Gurney to All panelists : Tuning in from Caerphilly, in Wales but working (on social harm and housing) at University of Glasgow, UK. Transmission rates still very high here and lockdown firm

13:03:37 From James Anderson to All panelists : Downtown Vancouver

13:03:46 From Craig Gurney : Tuning in from Caerphilly, in Wales but working (on social harm and housing) at University of Glasgow, UK. Transmission rates still very high here and lockdown firm

13:04:02 From Craig Gurney : Happy Burns’ Night and Happy St Dwynen’s (Welsh Valentine’s Day) too!

13:04:25 From Kendall Christiansen to All panelists : happyhappy from the newly liberated U.S. (Brooklyn, in particular)

13:04:35 From Elayna Paulk to All panelists : Tuning in from Miami, Florida. Looking forward to the conversation

13:04:45 From Elayna Paulk : Tuning in from Miami, Florida. Looking forward to the conversation

13:05:04 From Julie Bourgoin to All panelists : Howdy from Saint-Lambert, Quebec!

13:05:15 From Sheila Simpson to All panelists : Coming in from London, ON

13:05:29 From Andrew Martschenko : Sunny Toronto!

13:05:31 From Fernando Cirino : Greetings from Windsor

13:05:35 From Kayly Robbins to All panelists : Hello from Barrie!

13:05:40 From Dennis Van Staalduinen : Ottawa. The Wellington West Business Improvement Area.

13:05:42 From Donna Dolan : Hi from west end of Toronto

13:05:43 From Gavin Blondeau to All panelists : Here from Saskatoon, SK

13:05:50 From Gay Stephenson to All panelists : Greetings from downtown Vancouver!

13:06:00 From paul mackinnon : Hi from Halifax!

13:06:10 From cam guthrie to All panelists : Happy to listen in from City of Guelph!

13:06:34 From Craig Gurney : Waves back

13:06:39 From Canadian Urban Institute :
Kate Graham, Senior Fellow, Municipal Leadership, CUI @KateMarieGraham

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-graham-9308b526/

Thierry Lindor, Founder, The Colors of Covid
@ColorsCovid
https://www.linkedin.com/in/thierry-lindor-9400b861/

https://thecolorsofcovid.com/

Mayor Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton
@patrickbrownont
https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-brown-12b800198/

Janice Abbott, CEO, Atira Women’s Resource Society @FreeOfViolence

https://www.linkedin.com/in/janice-abbott-07115/

13:07:40 From Canadian Urban Institute : Check out our reports here: https://covidsignpost.ca/

13:11:42 From April Sora : Greetings from Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Metis, Saskatoon. It’s -33 which adds a whole different layer to equity and access to services, homelessness and housing in a time of COVID in our Cities.

13:13:44 From paul mackinnon : Halifax has a large % of government workers, most of whom are still working remotely. We continue to advocate for gov’t to mandate workers to return to the office (safely) as a free measure gov’t can take to stem the closures. Is anyone else seeing gov’t workers return and is it making a difference?

13:14:01 From ruth mora to All panelists : People that cant work from home are at a higher risk, no matter what colour

13:14:11 From paul mackinnon : https://www.iheartradio.ca/max-104-9/ctv-news-atlantic/downtown-halifax-businesses-hoping-workers-return-to-offices-soon-1.14417926

13:14:30 From ruth mora to All panelists : It’s a very sad example, so young

13:21:15 From Gay Stephenson : On that point, Vancouver Coastal Health is sharing the names of companies with bigger outbreaks on Instagram (I believe when they aren’t able to contract trace everyone) https://www.instagram.com/vchhealthcare/

13:22:15 From paul mackinnon : All municipalities are experiencing fiscal constraints. Any advice on where they need to be targeting their investments?

13:22:31 From Sylvia Roberts : how do we hold Cities like Brampton accountable for not dealing with dire overcrowding? Brampton has a dozen or more people living per rooming house, and there are hundreds of these, where people can’t isolate, and have to go in even if they are sick, so they can keep a roof over their head (they are temp workers, so even if paid sick days happened, it wouldn’t apply to them)

13:24:36 From Sylvia Roberts : if buses are so crowded in Brampton (and they are), why wasn’t Mayor Brown pushing for more service?

13:26:33 From ruth mora to All panelists : Can you share Thierry’s link…to see the researchand the numbers he is referring to

13:27:11 From ruth mora to All panelists : education ( or lack of) is also a barrier

13:27:27 From Canadian Urban Institute : For more information: https://thecolorsofcovid.com/

13:28:06 From ruth mora to All panelists : thank you

13:30:38 From Mayor Patrick Brown to Sylvia Roberts and all panelists : Eight replacement buses to maintain fleet reliability; 40 new transit shelters; $175M towards third transit maintenance and storage facility to meet future growth

13:31:14 From Mayor Patrick Brown to Sylvia Roberts and all panelists : we are investing and running transit at full capacity. physical distancing and masking has had some slight modifications

13:36:58 From Dennis Van Staalduinen : Ottawa Public Health releases a ward-by-ward snapshot of COVID incidence every two weeks. https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiY2JlOWU2MTQtYzE4Zi00ZTk4LTkxOTktMjdiZDFkZWViYmVhIiwidCI6ImRmY2MwMzNkLWRmODctNGM2ZS1hMWI4LThlYWE3M2YxYjcyZSJ9

13:38:10 From Lise Bendrodt to All panelists : from Vancouver- thanks for all you do Janice

13:38:34 From Chloe Carducci to All panelists : Question for any panelist to answer: what lessons can we learn from other countries who were able to get their COVID-19 cases quickly, even within their marginalized populations (ex. New Zealand, Iceland, etc.) ?

13:38:59 From Chloe Carducci to All panelists : **lower their COVID-19 cases

13:40:03 From Catherine Soplet : YES !! to PAID SICK DAYS, isolations centre and more testing. Way better investment of public dollars, way more compassionate policy approach, and can mitigate trauma impacts going forward.

13:42:02 From Marisa Creatore to All panelists : Depends on whether you have kids (who have school exposures) and where you work (eg. LTC vs. office)

13:42:20 From Gavin Blondeau : I think the question here is how does covid come into the home

13:42:25 From ruth mora : Trust in the vaccine/ vaccination also come with more information about how safe it is. Also, assurance that the 2 dosis will come…reassurance that the ones used here , have little secondary effect, etc..And most of that is an education campaign, a care campaign at all levels

13:42:43 From Marisa Creatore to All panelists : Short answer Mary is “no”

13:43:13 From ruth mora : of course because they have to travel…everyday

13:43:16 From Canadian Urban Institute : Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

13:44:00 From Catherine Hendrick to All panelists : Our essential workers are forced to continue working while their salaries do not cover adequate housing. Our most vulnerable are the ones who are still being suppressed.

13:44:06 From Eunan Quinn : Happy New Year from Donegal, Ireland – Athbhlain faoi mhaise daoibh….. 🙂

13:44:15 From Craig Gurney : Reports published by AHURI in Australia and CaCHE in UK in the last few weeks have demonstrated that during the last 300 days poor housing has amplified pre-existing social gradients in health and that these are experienced at home – thus mental health crises, exposure to intimate partner violence coercive control show marked social patterns – any similar data in Canada or thoughts on this?

13:44:55 From Eunan Quinn : The lack of locally relevant ddata

13:45:32 From Fahim Khan to All panelists : (1) What do you think municipal, provincial and federal governments do to support local businesses in the long term? They continued to face challenges even before the pandemic. Hence we need long term planning and solutions. Otherwise we will be left with large big box stores and corporations that will have complete monopoly. (2) How can we alleviate health care inequity? Although we think our healthcare is universal, it’s actually not. There is still so much inequity particularly when it comes to regular public health issues, dental and eye care and many more.

13:45:57 From Eunan Quinn : …the lack of locally relevant data remains a problem that has and will continue to result in poor decisions.

13:46:07 From C Kagan : and he likely travels on public transit because he can’t afford a car. public transit is a very large part of the problem, in specific areas of each city. I keep hearing about this in a toronto re. the E and W. ends.

13:47:56 From Kendall Christiansen : happyhappy from the newly liberated U.S. (Brooklyn, in particular)

13:48:50 From Catherine Soplet : Thanks Thierry for your passion – very difficult and shameful story about Marcel

13:52:01 From Thierry Lindor : It truly is. We know there’s hundreds of them in Canada. He became a hero in Quebec during the 1st wave. Heart goes out to all the “Marcellin François” across Canada.

13:54:41 From Diane Dyson : I would love to see Public Health interventions specifically prioritized to target to neighbourhoods that have higher portions of the working poor and to those where people live in overcrowded (measured by residents per bedroom vs. high density) spaces. These measurements re important and I am seeing places ignored by the use of broader measurements.

13:56:16 From Jimmy Johnson to All panelists : happy new everybody

13:56:30 From Cheryl Cohen : And, in Toronto, closing access to ALL public washroom!

13:57:09 From Sylvia Roberts to All panelists : Mayor Brown, none of that helps the worker who has to get to work at the Amazon warehouses. 8 replacement buses, is this a joke? that’s like saying Brampton should be happy because it got Brampton Civic Hospital

13:57:09 From Canadian Urban Institute : You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk

Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb

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13:57:15 From paul mackinnon : Great session. Thanks.

13:57:22 From Catherine Soplet : Why poverty … forever the question, forever the human condition

13:57:39 From Julie Bourgoin to All panelists : excellent questions!! Great job CUI!!

13:57:46 From Michael Roschlau : There are very few if any documented cases of COVID transmission on public transit. There are individuals (both transit passengers and employees) who have tested positive but to my knowledge no confirmed traces back to transmission on a bus or train.

13:58:13 From Michael Roschlau : That’s why wearing masks is so critical.

13:58:14 From Janice Abbott to All panelists : People who can move to less risky/less populated areas will and who will be left in the cities will be people who are made poor.

13:58:49 From Catherine Soplet : Peel Poverty Reduction Strategy 2021 Priorities – https://bit.ly/PPRSC_2021-Set-Priorities-Meeting_2020-11-27

13:59:00 From Catherine Soplet : get rid of anti-Black racism

13:59:42 From Olusola Olufemi to All panelists : Poverty and Accessibility continue to be constraints to achieving the optimal for the less privileged in our communities.

14:00:27 From Thierry Lindor : YASSS @Catherine Soplet

14:00:35 From Emily R : Brilliant conversation! Thank you all.

14:00:36 From Dennis Van Staalduinen : Amen Mary.

14:00:40 From cam guthrie to All panelists : appreciate the discussion today! thanks so much!

14:00:40 From Diane Dyson : Bravo all. This is so important with the likelihood of a third wave.

14:00:41 From Julie Bourgoin to All panelists : SAfety measures on public transportation are effective, as mentioned earlier in the chat.

14:00:43 From Laurel Anne Snyder : thank you.

14:00:49 From Cheryl Cohen : Important conversation. Thank you!

14:00:56 From Thierry Lindor : THANK YOU ALL!

14:00:57 From Dennis Van Staalduinen : Thank you all!

14:00:58 From Thierry Lindor : Take the survey

14:00:59 From Lise Bendrodt : Thank you

14:00:59 From Eunan Quinn : Many thanks everyone.

14:00:59 From Desiree Geib to All panelists : thank you so much for the great discussion!