COVID-19 has infected more than one and a half million Canadians and killed over 27,000. Toronto has been one of the epicentres, with more than 177,000 confirmed cases and 3,641 deaths as of September 17, 2021.1 The number of lives lost here, and the number of people left grieving at a time when gathering limits prevented many from finding solace in traditional funeral rites, is staggering. As of September 16, 2021, 75.1% have had at least one vaccine dose, and 70.0% have had two doses.
Policy Makers and Donors
Expand community-led crisis and peer-support services to help with the long-term mental health consequences of the pandemic.
Invest in a resilient food infrastructure (food hubs, co-ops, community gardens,etc.) that allows communities to have more sovereignty over food growth and access, particularly Black and Indigenous communities.
Ensure ongoing and sufficient income supports that could reduce or eliminate food insecurity.
Support sustainable community-driven programming that will facilitate connection and community building as the pandemic subsides.
Advocate for the broader adoption of universal design principles into program and project creation and improvement.
When funding programs, provide additional resources to support the cost for accommodations to include people with disabilities within a broader, intersectional framework aimed at reducing systemic barriers to participation.
Tips for Torontonians
- Prioritize donating money to food banks rather than non-perishable items, so they can determine what culturally appropriate food is suitable and in demand and can allocate their resources best on additional programming and/or advocacy
- If you want to support mental health and wellbeing, remember that community organizations offering peer-to-peer support, as well as recreational, cultural, and holistic programming, are an important component of the supportive healthcare system, particularly for Indigenous communities.
- Some of the most effective community-based health organizations recognize the intersectionality of health, meaning that they work at the crossroads of health and other issues, i.e., gender, sexuality, race, immigration status, disability, etc. A varied approach that accounts for the unique needs of different population groups is critical to positive health outcomes.