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Toronto cancels summer camps, but makes plans for CampTO alternative


TORONTO, ON., May 15, 2020 — Today, the City of Toronto announced that it is cancelling all planned 2020 summer camps and preparing an alternative program to get children safely back to camp through a new CampTO program. Details of the program are being developed and are dependent on the lifting of current provincial orders and recommendations from Toronto Public Health. 

CampTO would provide children with a high-quality camp experience, inclusive of traditional camp activities, that incorporate public health measures designed to reduce the risk of virus spread, including physical distancing, smaller group sizes, daily health assessments and more extensive cleaning and hygiene measures. If permitted to operate, CampTO will provide 5,300 camp spaces per week for children ages 6 to 12 representing approximately 50 per cent of the typical City of Toronto camp capacity. 

“Nothing is more important than the health of our children,” said Mayor John Tory. “In our current environment where it hasn’t yet been safe to have the schools open, we can hardly be going full steam ahead with summer camps, though we are going to have a more modest CampTO plan ready if things continue to improve.” 

Registration details for the CampTO program will be announced once the Province is able to safely remove restrictions on day camps, and an estimated four weeks to prepare for their opening. Preparation activities include readying facilities, client registration, staff hiring and training and site-specific program modifications. 

City staff are working diligently with Toronto Public Health on guidance for CampTO to ensure that the City is prepared to respond quickly to any changes to the Province’s emergency orders or public health recommendations.

A number of conditions must be in place before the City can safely operate summer camps, including changes to or termination of the Province of Ontario’s emergency orders, under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, and significant and sustained reduction in virus spread in Toronto. Toronto Public Health has advised that as a result of the current COVID-19 situation, it is highly unlikely the City’s summer camps could operate without 
modifications to address strategies such as physical distancing to reduce virus spread. 

The City’s current summer camps were scheduled to run at 197 locations from June 29 to September 7. Approximately 68,000 participants had registered this year for City summer camps. The cancellation of the planned camps will impact approximately 1,500 part-time recreation workers. The City is issuing refunds automatically to all current camp registrants. As there is a significant volume of cancellations and refunds to be processed, registrants should expect a wait time for reimbursement of up to four weeks. While registrants do not need to request a refund, they can contact pfrcustomerservice@toronto.ca with questions or concerns. 

Summer camps provide children and youth with important opportunities for social interaction, as well as necessary childcare for parents and caregivers. The City’s CampTO program can provide needed respite for children and parents, during the COVID-19 pandemic. City summer camps also provide employment opportunities for many young people across Toronto. 

More information about changes to City services is available on the City’s website toronto.ca/covid-19. The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health information and details about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. 

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