I want to start today’s newsletter with some good news from our public health experts. The modelling data that is available shows us that we have likely reached the peak of our community spread. While this certainly doesn’t mean that we’re out of the woods yet, it is progress, nonetheless. And of course, despite this news, we all have a duty right now to ensure that we stay vigilant. That means washing our hands, maintaining our physical distance from one another, and only going outside when we absolutely must. Let me be frank: if we do NOT maintain physical distancing we are literally signing up for a second wave of COVID-19. I know this is not an option anyone wants.
In times like these, we need to make sure that we do everything we can as a community to support those who are the most vulnerable. Sadly, our provincial government is not doing all they can. In fact, our government has ignored our requests along with a request from the federal government to not claw back any CERB money being provided to those who receive social assistance. It has been confirmed by Minister Todd Smith that in households where someone is receiving social assistance (such as ODSP or OW), the Ford government will take away either 50-cents or $1 from the household – per $1 of CERB.
This is wrong and inhumane – and must change immediately. The vast majority of those who receive ODSP or OW receive significantly less than the $2000 per month being provided by CERB, and taking away the supports they need is unthinkable.
We have also heard news today of the closure of the Ontario Correctional Institute in Brampton – where at least 60 inmates and eight staff have tested positive for COVID-19. We need to make sure that everyone who is incarcerated or works in a detention centre is provided with a safe environment.
I want to add my voice to the calls for increased caution in these facilities and to ensure that the necessary PPE is available, to maintain physical distancing protocols and to greatly expand testing. Inmates from Brampton are now being transferred to the Toronto South Detention Centre – with extra addition of hundreds of inmates at the TSDC, it is imperative that we get this right.
Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to all our local artists who have sent their art in to my office to be shared in these emails. While we are faced with immense challenges right now, we must find reprieves where it is possible, and art is truly one of the greatest escapes. Our community is home to so many exceptional artists – and it is an absolute honour to share your work right now.
On the note of arts & culture, I'd like to end with a heartfelt thank you to our fashion and textiles industries in Ontario. The industry is not recognized by either our province or nation as part of our culture sector and therefore does not receive a penny of funding.. This is a wrong that I as Culture Critic will continue to work hard to make right.
Fashion has been a saving grace with so many designers and sewers - many of who are precarious workers themselves - donating their time and talent to create PPE masks and robes for long-term care homes. I have been deeply moved by the response of our local designers, sewers and others volunteering to my calls for assistance. Let's keep the compassion going strong. I know we have an abundance of it to give. If you are able to support please reach out to us via email firstname.lastname@example.org or you can DM me on Twitter @JillsLastWord.
Hang in there everyone, we’re going to get through this.
If you have a positive story from our community OR a virtual event you're hosting that you want amplified, please email us at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca.
Birthday, Anniversary Greetings
During normal times, my office sends out congratulatory scrolls to folks across the riding to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones! While we're taking physical distancing measures, I will be continuing this digitally. If you have a birthday coming up in the family and you would like a special video message from me, please email us at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca. And if you should decide to share your video on social media do tag us @JillsLastWord on Twitter and Jill Andrew - MPP, Toronto-St. Paul's on Facebook.
Calling Local Artists
If you are local artist, and you have a piece of work that you’ve been putting time into, we would love to share it with the community! We know that #ArtsSavesLives and minds especially during traumatic times. If you’re interested in sharing your art please email us at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca
ALL art submitted MUST be accompanied by a short artists statement (50 words or less) to help contextualize the art. Additionally, there are no guarantees that submissions will be included in the newsletter. Thank you for sharing your work with us and our community."
Here are today’s new developments:
Trudeau announced a new fund for community organizations community organizations, and said businesses can start applying for the federal wage subsidy — companies can use the new CRA calculator to see what they qualify for —with so many small and medium-sized businesses floundering, the NDP has been asking Ontario to step up and provide additional supports, including rent subsidies – we call it the "Save Main Street plan.
Federal officials say it is up to each individual province to ramp up its COVID-19 testing and contact tracing — a key factor in opening up the economy. Yet Ontario continues to lag when it comes to testing.
An additional 101 health care workers have contracted COVID-19 — including 27 nursing home workers — bringing the total of confirmed health care worker cases to 1,368. The NDP has been pushing the Ford government to take long-overdue action to better protect workers and residents in long-term care.
At the same time as Ontario is launching a fund to help community organizations deliver food and other essentials to low-income seniors, the province is clawing back money from social assistance recipients.
What we’re working on:
The Ontario NDP is calling out the Ford government for making money off the backs of the province’s most vulnerable, clacking back money from OW and ODSP recipients who are receiving support from the federal CERB benefit.
The NDP's Poverty and Homelessness critic joined forces with a physician who has worked for decades with people experiencing homelessness, stressing that if the government doesn't immediately increase testing and provide safe places for people experiencing homelessness to isolate, shelters will become the next epicentre of the pandemic.
The NDP is asking the Ford government to immediately ramp up protective measures in correctional facilities--including more testing and making sure everyone has the PPE they need--to prevent further crises like the one facing Brampton's Ontario Correctional Institute, where at least 60 inmates and eight workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
"Health experts and frontline workers have been clear about what must be done," said NDP Community Safety critic Kevin Yarde,"and the NDP’s letters pleading for action have been ignored. It's beyond time for the government to act on these clear and critical recommendations.
Here are some things we’re hearing from our community members:
People continue raising concerns about the state of long-term care and seniors homes before COVID-19 — a problem the NDP has been raising for years.
Ongoing concerns about small businesses that are failing, with some facing eviction — through no fault of their own — because there is no provincial support in place for expenses like commercial rent.
Featured Art Submission
In her own words:
The reason why I’m telling you about the laneway project is because the painting that I have attached is located there. It’s a painting on a piece of plywood and is of a poem written on a cheerful background. Apparently the poem was composed in 1886 by Kathleen O’Mara and was reprinted during the Spanish flu. I was cautioned that it may be a fictional backstory but, even if it is, the words still inspire!
It’s mounted on a pole in Helen Porter Lane that runs north from St Clair, behind Kenwood and Wychwood avenues and is available to be seen there anytime.
Find Out More: https://sites.google.com/site/ellementalartwork/products-services