littering toronto

Toronto mayor asks people to stop littering used gloves and masks

The daily lives of Toronto residents have been disrupted by COVID-19, there's no doubt, but we're far from the point abandoning all social norms — at least, one would hope.

Toronto Mayor John Tory chastised litterbugs during his daily press conference on Tuesday for their "boneheaded conduct" in response to a growing amount of improperly discarded medical masks and gloves within the city.

Used personal protective equipment has been spotted all over Toronto streets, sidewalks and parking lots in recent weeks as more and more people take what they think are protective measures against the 2019 novel coronavirus.

It's a trend that's both unsightly and unsanitary, according to city officials.

Tory told reporters Tuesday afternoon that 311 operators have been pelted with complaints about piles of used gloves and masks in public spaces, and reminded all citizens that they can be fined $500 for littering.

"While it seems like a small matter, it carries with it potentially a big risk. It's the wrong thing to do. It is boneheaded conduct, and quite frankly, littering, even if you leave aside the health-care aspects of this," said Tory.

"It is a risky behaviour."

While chances of used gear spreading the deadly coronavirus may be low, Toronto's medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, says it is possible.

"It will be depend on whether there is, in fact, viable virus on any of those items — if you pick them up, actually acquire virus on your hands, and then get that virus into your system, either through your eyes, your nose and your mouth," she said.

Whatever the case, it's abhorrent behaviour and bylaw-abiding Toronto residents are over it.

"There's a huge proliferation of discarded face-masks and gloves in parking lots & on streets. (e.g. the plaza at The Westway & Martin Grove)," tweeted one person to the City of Toronto on Wednesday.

"Bylaw officers should be ticketing those seen those doing this potentially deadly form of litter pollution."

"I don't even have words to describe these types of people," wrote another. "You despicable idiots should get the virus cause your too stupid to be among the rest of us."


Several Twitter users have gone so far as to threaten people who discard their gloves on the ground of parking lots with shoving said gloves in their mouth.

I'm serious, it's a thing.

"Dear Toronto: Please stop throwing your used medical gloves and masks on the ground," wrote one woman more moderately. 

"It's disgusting on every level and you're littering."


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