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Coronavirus: Toronto helps businesses succeed online, launches tool to better track COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Toronto welcomes Trudeau’s announcement of help for small businesses' Coronavirus outbreak: Toronto welcomes Trudeau’s announcement of help for small businesses
WATCH ABOVE: Mayor of Toronto John Tory said on Thursday that the Prime Minister’s announcement on providing help for small businesses in the form of the Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program, is very welcome news for the small business community in Toronto. Tory said he has spoken about this specific issue directly with deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland and the minister of finance Bill Morneau, and said he believed if it was rolled out quickly and in cooperation with the province of Ontario it will make a real difference in saving many of the small businesses in Toronto. – Apr 16, 2020

The City of Toronto announced Thursday the expansion of a tool to help businesses move online to help them throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor John Tory announced the expansion of the Digital Main Street online program at the daily Toronto coronavirus update press conference.

The idea of the program is to help businesses “develop or expand their online services,” according to a press release.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Personal support worker at Toronto nursing home dies of COVID-19

The program was originally created in partnership between the City of Toronto and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas in 2016. It helps businesses with a variety of things, including company websites, social media and how to launch e-commerce.

The budget for the program has been tripled from $240,000 to $825,000 to better equip it for use during the pandemic. The money will be used to now help businesses with virtual one-on-one support.

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Businesses can find the program here.

“I am doing everything I can as Mayor to help our small businesses get through this, to advocate for them to other governments, and to make sure the city is there to support them,” said Tory.

“The expansion of this program is just one example of work the City of Toronto is doing, in full cooperation with our partners in the provincial and federal governments, business community and non-profit sector, to minimize the impact of this terrible virus and to see an economic recovery take place as soon as possible.”

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The City of Toronto also launched a new technology to help in the case and contact tracing of COVID-19, entitled CORES.

As of Thursday, the city reported 2,881 coronavirus cases, including 322 probable cases. Toronto has also seen 147 deaths due to the virus.

“CORES will allow Toronto Public Health (TPH) to quickly and easily document each individual case investigation efficiently and share data with the provincial Ministry of Health,” said a press release. “It will allow TPH to better keep up with the volume of new reports and prioritize individual cases that require urgent follow-up such as healthcare workers as the local COVID-19 evolves.”

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The program will also allow for more of the city’s front-line staff to work remotely.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Toronto expands its Main Street digital platform for small businesses' Coronavirus outbreak: Toronto expands its Main Street digital platform for small businesses
Coronavirus outbreak: Toronto expands its Main Street digital platform for small businesses – Apr 16, 2020

“I’m pleased to launch this new CORES information system to enhance our critical case and contact tracing work and during our local COVID-19 response,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health. “This new information system enables our team to quickly and easily document each individual case investigation efficiently, and share data with the provincial Ministry of Health.

“This new system will also enable my team to provide more detailed data to the public.”

TPH was originally inputting its data into the provincial integrated public health information system called iPHIS, which all local public health units are using. However, the city said the system is not equipped to deal with a situation of this magnitude, including “the scale and speed of data entry required to provide up-to-date data.

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