I wanted to take a bit of a different direction today in recognition that this month is filled with holidays that many will be celebrating across the community, albeit in a very different and maybe even difficult way. We know it isn’t easy to be kept physically apart from those we love, but right now there is nothing more important than everyone’s health, so please stay home and keep family and friends safe. Please check below for messages from our local faith leaders.
Remember: we need you to continue to keep 2m away from people who are not living in your household, and stay home as much as possible. Wash or sanitize your hands often; cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue; and if you feel any symptoms of a cold or flu, including a fever, stay home and check the Michael Garron Assessment page here, or call your personal healthcare practitioner.
Update on Government Programs
Here are some important updates since my last email:
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) launched this past Monday. You can apply on-line or with the automated telephone number: 1-800-959-2019. Please note that we are attempting to relieve the strain on the system and asking that Canadians apply according to their birth month (see chart below).
Other updates for students will be announced shortly.
The Prime Minister has also indicated that an expansion of CERB to assist those with an irregular income is being considered so that freelancers, contract workers, and others can get the support they need. This will be for people who have seen their employment hours reduced to 10 hours or less per week.
Finally, Prime Minister Trudeau announced an important update of the Canada Summer Jobs program to make sure that the thousands of students looking for work – and the companies looking to hire them – can still access the funding needed to make work happen. More details will be coming in the days ahead, but the changes will include an increase to the subsidy to 100%, the allowance of part-time hiring, and an extension of the employment end date to February 2021.
All of these are encouraging developments, but I know from speaking with business owners and with people who are out of work that more needs to be done. We need to keep the dialogue going, so please let me know about your challenges, ideas and questions by sending me an email at Julie.Dabrusin@parl.gc.ca.
Messages from the Faith Leaders of Toronto-Danforth
Click here to read a message to Canada’s religious leaders from Canada’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam.
For many of us in Toronto-Danforth this week is a time for celebrating with our faith community – getting together with extended family, enjoying meals together, attending religious services, and eating a lot of chocolate. It’s not physically possible to have these gatherings this year, but our community has still found creative ways to recognize these important days and keep traditions alive.
We reached out to the faith leaders in Toronto-Danforth so they could share a brief message or direct you to resources during this special time.
Today is the beginning of Passover. For Jewish families, this is a time where families get together to celebrate the first night of passover with a Seder. Singing songs and prayers, eating matzah ball soup, and finding the afikomen. Luckily, Danforth Jewish Circle will be hosting a virtual Seder tomorrow, April 9th, as well as a Yizkor and Hallel service on Wednesday April 15th at 8am and on-going Zoom gatherings for learning, song, prayer and community. Click here to learn more: https://djctoronto.com. You can also click here for an online children’s book on why this Passover is not like any other.
A message from Rabbi Miriam Margles, Danforth Jewish Circle
“It is painful that we won’t be sitting around our tables this Pesach with all our nearest and dearest people. Our elders and our children likely won’t be in the same room and won’t be easily exchanging wisdom and laughter with each other in the ways they do when sitting side by side. We are in the midst of profound loss, in a time of uncertainty and fear. We are in the thick of suffering and constriction, and yet we are about to sit down to a feast of freedom.
What are the internal possibilities and outer transformations we want to imagine, taste, hold in our hands, wear on our bodies and live into during these challenging times? Who do we want to become and what is the world we wish to inhabit on the other side? I imagine forms of compassion, generosity, courage and interdependence, if we choose to take it on. I imagine deep humility, awe and buoyancy in the face of life’s fragility and its magnificence. I imagine seeing your faces around our virtual Seder table and simply want to dance with you, dancing the fear out of our bodies, dancing in joy.
May it be a Pesach of grieving, of healing and of celebrating, and may we be blessed with the wisdom and resilience gained through each of them on the road to something new.”
Holy week is one of the most important times of the Christian calendar and a number of our Christian faith leaders shared their thoughts and important links for those who wish to participate, or to share with others who may be interested.
A message from Rev. Alex Bisset, Riverdale Westminster Presbyterian Churches
“For all of us Christians, this Holy Week will be one that we won’t forget. But in these times when we cannot be together, we should remember that our faith teaches us that our God is always with us. If God is with me and if God is with you, then you and I are still connected, even while we are physically separated.
Although our churches will stand empty on Easter morning, this can serve as a reminder that both the cross and the tomb are empty as well. Our two congregations will have a special Easter service on the first Sunday that we are able to resume gathering for worship, whenever that may be, and anyone who wishes will be invited to join us at that time.
To all our neighbours in Toronto-Danforth, including our siblings of other denominations and faiths and those of no faith, please know that we are praying for you. We are especially praying for those whose work is essential, including those who work in hospitals, our firefighters and police and EMS personnel, those who are producing and distributing and selling food, and those who are trying to find new ways to teach our children.
We are not holding online worship services, but you can read my weekly sermon and find other inspiration by following us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RWPresbyterian/“
A message from Rev. Jeff Rock, Metropolitan Community Church
“The Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCC Toronto) is a vibrant, inclusive, and progressive church in Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood that welcomes people of all backgrounds and beliefs. We celebrate a diversity of sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, abilities and religious traditions.
During Holy Week we will have a special Web Broadcast of our Good Friday Tanabrae Service of Shadowns on Friday April 10th at 7pm and an Easter Sunday Celebration on Sunday April 12th at 11am.
In this period of physical distancing, let’s stay socially connected by reaching out to neighbours, friends and family and share the love our world so needs right now. For questions reach out to email@example.com. Cheers and Blessings.”
A message from Rev. Dr. Catherine Sider Hamilton, St. Matthew’s Anglican Church
“Warm good wishes to all our neighbours from St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Riverdale. In this difficult time you are in our thoughts and prayers. While our public worship is suspended we are providing resources for online worship https://stmatthewsriverdale.org/ and resources for personal prayer and meditation (https://stmatthewsriverdale.org/meditation-in-a-time-of-social-isolation-2/), as well as Friday Facebook Morning Prayer.
On this week, Jesus’s words speak with particular meaning to our hearts: ‘Love one another, as I have loved you.’ If you know of neighbours with particular needs or if you have prayer requests, for friends and family, for the sick, the lonely, the vulnerable, for health care workers, please feel free to be in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org). We would be honoured to help, and to pray with you.”
A message from Pastor Jim Parker, Bethany Baptist Church
“Bethany Baptist Church wishes everyone a safe and blessed week.
Virtual Worship Services will be held on Good Friday, April 10 at 10:45am, and on Easter Sunday (and every Sunday) at 10:45am. Everyone is welcome, please contact us at email@example.com or 416-425-9472 to get the link.
Also, please note our Food Bank open every Thursday at 1:15pm. New registrations welcome.”
East End United Regional Ministry – firstname.lastname@example.org
Holy Name Parish – email@example.com
Holy Name encourages you to visit here for a message from Thomas Cardinal Collins on Holy Week and to find out more about their planned online liturgies.
Please let us know of any other online community religious ceremonies that we may have missed for this upcoming holiday season.