Toronto to begin COVID-19 recovery planning, taps veteran leaders to oversee program

Toronto will soon begin work on a plan to recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, city officials say.

Toronto mayor John Tory announced on Friday the creation of a new “office of recovery and rebuild.”

The city has tapped by Dr. David Mowat, a former chief medical officer of health for Ontario and Saad Raffi, CEO of the 2015 Pan Am Games, to lead the planning.

“In these two individuals, I can tell you that we’ve found the best one-two punch you could possibly find,” Tory said, before laying out the responsibilities of the new office, which include:

  1. To recommend strategies and actions based on evidence and best practices from other jurisdictions.
  2. To ensure Toronto’s municipal government emerges from the pandemic “more efficient, more effective and more resilient than ever.”
  3. To support economic and community growth by working with various levels of government and the private and non-profit sectors.

Toronto will release details of the plan when they are available, Tory added.

Earlier Friday, the provincial government said it would reveal details of its own reopening plan early next week.

Toronto’s medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa previously worked with Mowat during their time with Peel Region, and called him a “significant mentor” during her career.

De Villa pointed to the critical importance of the task now facing the recovery and rebuilding effort.

“We need to get this right, or we run the risk of prompting another wave of COVID-19,” said the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa.

Mowat and Raffi will occupy temporary, full-time positions at the city, Tory said.

Joe Cressy, chair of Toronto’s board of health, said recent modelling analysis suggests the time is right to begin recovery planning, though he said it remains unclear what the “new normal” will look like.

“Preparing for the recovery phase will include fundamental matters such as how to know when we have the current outbreak under control, and ensuring robust systems and processes are in place to detect and contain any new transmission,” Cressy said in a public letter.

De Villa said on Thursday the physical distancing efforts of Toronto residents have resulted in fewer COVID-19 deaths than previously anticipated.

As of Friday, there are 300 people with the virus being treated in hospital, the city says. Of those patients, 113 are in intensive care.

The city has recorded 238 deaths and 4,486 total cases during the pandemic, including 4,048 confirmed cases and 438 deemed probable cases.


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