We start today with a very sad piece of news from our community. Solar Stage, which has been operating out of the Wychwood Theatre most recently, and has been putting on incredible stage productions for 44 years, are closing their doors permanently. This is an enormous loss for our community, which has been incredibly lucky to have Solar Stage so accessible to us for many years. My best wishes go out to everyone involved at Solar Stage, and I wish you all the best on your next endeavors. This is an enormous loss for the theatre community in Toronto, and I hope to see you all working around the stage again soon.
Let’s take this moment to recognize how important supporting the arts and culture sector is right now. Spaces like Solar Stage are a vital parts of the cultural fabric of our community, and COVID-19 has hit the entire sector hard. Frankly, artists weren’t receiving enough support from the government prior to the global pandemic, and it is now more important than ever to ensure that they are kept afloat. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to deliver a Member’s Statement about this exact issue in the legislature, and I made sure to shout out as many arts and culture workers as I could.
You can watch the whole statement here, and you can sign my open letter to support arts and culture workers here.
Arts and culture sector workers of every kind are struggling due to COVID-19, but it is worth highlighting one group of artists whose work is not legally considered art at all. Across all of Canada, stand-up comedy is not recognized as an art form – and this reduces the supports available to comedians, especially when it comes to grants and other forms of funding. In my opinion, it is absurd to not count comedians as artists; they are storytellers who craft narratives and create characters that bring joy to their audiences, and it’s long overdue that comedy is recognized as an art form.
As a leader in the conversation around art and culture in Ontario, I am proud to share with you a petition to change this – and to ensure that comedians are officially considered artists. To read the full petition text and add your name to show support for this cause, click here.
Last Friday, I let you know about illegal air conditioner fees being charged to many renters across Toronto. These fees are being demanded by landlords from their tenants in exchange for the ‘right’ to operate their air conditioning units. In the vast majority of cases, the landlords had absolutely no right to collect these charges.
In response to this, I wrote a letter to the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit (RHEU), demanding to know why landlords weren’t being held accountable for their actions, and I’ve just got a response. The RHEA has confirmed our understanding of the rules around air conditioners – so if you have been sent a bill for your air conditioning, please email my office so we can connect you with the RHEU directly. You can reach my office at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca. To read the full response click here.
Now that we are in stage two of the reopening plan, restaurant patios across Toronto are re-opening. The patios must maintain physical distancing protocols between patrons, and also must follow strict health and safety guidelines as well. Here in Toronto-St. Paul’s, we are very lucky to have so many patios in our community that you can now go visit! I want to thank the Yonge-St. Clair BIA for putting together a helpful list of BIAs in their area that are now open.
You can see the whole list of open businesses in the Yonge-St. Clair area here!
The move into stage two of reopening has so far been going well, as we continue to see a reduction of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario. Today, we’ve seen a reported 116 new cases, a number that is lower than the number of newly resolved cases. Reports are now circulating that we could see stage three of the reopening process soon in some parts of Ontario. Although things are continuing to progress positively right now, we need to keep focused on working together against COVID-19. It’s vital that we are all following the best advice from our public health experts.
That means wearing a mask when you’re outside of your home, washing your hands frequently, and making sure that we are adhering strictly to our bubbles of 10. We have done an incredible job so far in the fight against COVID-19, and if we keep working together our results will continue to be positive.
Finally for today, I want to send a reminder to everyone that our Community Food Tables are scheduled to be up and running again tomorrow morning. Due to the potential for rain, we will be sending out a final confirmation that they will be operating tomorrow morning – so keep your eyes open for that email!
To find your nearest Community Food Table, check just below in this email!
Finally today, the Brain Injury Society of Toronto is hiring an ABI Community Connection Coordinator for a 2 month Full Time contract! If you’re interested in applying you can check out the posting here.
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."
Community Food Table Locations for Saturday July 11
739 St. Clair Ave W ( located at St. Clair West and Rushton)
Oriole Park Community Garden from 11am to 3pm
201 Oriole Parkway (located next to the community garden - near Frobisher and Lascelles)
Frankel Lambert Park from 11am to 1pm
340 Christie St (located along Melita Cres)
Corner of Vaughan and Winona from 11am to 3pm
529 Vaughan Road
News and Updates
Here are today’s new developments:
Ontario announced a new program to promote locally-made products today, as the economy reopens. Meanwhile, critics say the Ford government's ostensible COVID-19 recovery bill has little to do with the pandemic . As Andrea Horwath has emphasized, the bill offers nothing to help families, long-term care homes, small businesses, schools, day cares, First Nations and municipalities - all of who are reeling from the pandemic.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) sent an open letter to all Ontario MPPs urging them to vote against Ford's so-called COVID-19 recovery bill - officially called the Reopening Ontario Act - saying the proposed legislation poses "a significant threat to democratic oversight."
Officials in Windsor-Essex called on the Ford government or the federal government to take the lead in tackling the ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks on farms in the region, citing concerns about confusion and duplicated efforts. When asked during his press conference today if his government is willing to take over the response, Ford's response was vague and non-committal. The NDP has been urging Ford to protect migrant workers, highlighting his government's total lack of a plan.
Solutions we’re pushing for:
MPP Sol Mamakwa sent a letter to Ontario's Education Minister asking for urgent support for Matawa First Nations emergency education response plan - the Ford government has failed to provide First Nations schools the funding needed to safely manage a return to school in September.
MPP Jessica Bell says Ford's so-called COVID-19 recovery bill has nothing to do with COVID-19, and grants the Premier unprecedented power to seize land without a hearing.