As the weekend approaches, let’s take a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come.
It was March 17th when the Ontario government first declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19. Libraries, theatres, cinemas, our restaurants and small businesses and more closed. Public gatherings were banned. These measures were unlike anything most of us had ever seen before. It’s now July 3, and while we are still battling with COVID-19, we are seeing the number of new and active cases across our province decline.
We’ve also seen the absolutely best of our community in the last few months.
From community members making masks, to delivering groceries to those in need, to the impromptu concerts and the nightly salute to front line workers, we have come together to battle COVID-19 as one. While we still have a fight ahead of us before we see the end of COVID-19, I want to encourage everyone reading this missive to take a second and reflect on the incredible strength that has been shown in the face of unimaginable tragedy.
We aren’t out of the woods yet – and we could even face another wave at some point in the future. But I’m going to take this moment to just say how proud I am to represent this incredible community.
With that said, for as much good work we’ve already done, we need to keep going. To put COVID-19 behind us, we all need to continue to work collectively to slow the spread its spread. That means washing our hands regularly, wearing a mask in public and supporting the vulnerable members of our community. Taking these steps is not about any one individual, but rather our community: we wear our masks for each other.
That sense of community has been highlighted especially clearly at our Community Food Tables that we’ve been running each Saturday across Toronto-St. Paul’s.
Tomorrow they will be back up and running in three locations in our community.
- St. Matthew’s Church – 729 St. Clair Ave W (St. Clair W and Rushton)
- Oriole Park Community Garden – 201 Oriole Pkwy (Corner of Lascelles and Frobisher)
- Marian Engel Park – 285 Melita Ave (Melita and Hector)
For anyone who is not familiar with the Food Tables, the way they operate is very simple. Anyone is free to donate food to the table, and anyone else is free to take as much food as they need.
The tables ensure that those who might be facing food insecurity in our community or other accessibility barriers have another avenue to get access to food in a non-judgemental environment. These tables have been an incredible example of our community pulling together, and it’s so exciting to see how they’ve flourished. We are looking to expand the tables further, so if you’d like help organizing one in your community, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca.
In our neighbourhood of Toronto-St. Paul’s, more than 60% of our residents are tenants. And we’re lucky to also be blessed with some of the best tenant activists in the city, who have been fighting for the rights of tenants for many years. Two of those activists are John Plumadore and Liza Butcher – who have been relentless in their efforts to support tenants in Toronto-St. Paul’s and across Toronto. These two are the Coordinators of the Tenants Network Toronto (T.N.T.) and this week they’ve launched their new website.
I encourage everyone to check out their site here and get involved with this fantastic organization.
The Tenants Network Toronto are a valuable resource to any tenant who is looking for information about their rights, wants help building their tenant association, wants to connect with other tenant associations or more. Their ultimate goal is to craft a network of tenants associations across the city who will be able to advocate as one, and leverage that influence to create a better world for tenants in Toronto.
If you’re looking to start a tenants association, or challenge an above the guideline rent increase, I would encourage you to email them directly at TOTenantsNetwork@gmail.com. You can also reach out to my office for support on this as well at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca.
I'd also like to take a moment to shout out Patrick Plestid, and all our Toronto-St. Paul's tenants who shared their views with the government about Bill 184 at committee recently. We are genuinely luck to have such engaged and organized tenants in our community.
A major tenant issue that I have been hearing about recently are illegal air conditioner fees. Many landlords have been demanding extra cash from tenants for them to use an air conditioner over the summer. In most cases, the way that these fees are being leveled violates the Residential Tenancies Act. I've written an open letter to the head of the Rental Enforcement Unit at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. If you would like to add your name to show your support for our letter please click here. You can also read the full letter below in this email.
Due to COVID-19, one part of our community has been hit harder than anywhere else. The decades of neglect that have faced our long-term care homes have finally come to a head, and in Ontario we’ve seen more than 80% of COVID-19 related deaths in LTC.
Last night, I participated in and co-facilitated a virtual summit on Long Term Care (LTC) homes, which brought together participants from across Ontario, with over 3,000 viewers watching at home. Advocates, experts, family members and frontline workers came together with Ontario NDP MPPs to discuss what has gone wrong in our LTC facilities and what we need to do to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated or tuned in and extend an especially warm thank you to the families of residents at Meighen Manor and other St.Paul's LTCs for being such strong advocates for your loved ones. For anyone who missed the summit, you can watch a full replay on my Facebook page here.
Finally, today, I think that it’s important to draw attention to the plight of migrant workers here in Ontario. These workers often work in dreadful conditions and are not compensated fairly for their work. During COVID-19, they have been on the front lines working hard to ensure that the rest of province has fresh produce to eat, but while they have supported us, the province continues to fail them.
There has been mixed message after mixed message from the province for our migrant workers, but what has become most clear is that there is no plan for them.
First, Doug Ford said that workers diagnosed with COVID-19 should keep working if they are asymptomatic. Unthinkable.
Next, he said he supported the decision of the local Health Unit who prohibited those with COVID-19 from working.
Then, he criticized the decision to bar those positive with COVID-19 from working. (Read full timeline here)
Today, I am calling for the provincial government to ensure that these workers get access to paid sick days and create a real plan to support this community. Doug Ford cannot just make this up as he goes along – he needs to listen to the experts and make sure that these workers are safe and secure.
Thank you everyone for your strength and your generosity to each other. This weekend I wish you every opportunity to take in some sun and some extra TLC with loved ones. One of my favourite spots is the little 'parkette' and its shaded benches under the trees right next to Yorkminister Park Baptist Church.
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."
Open Letter on Air Conditioner Fees
Air conditioners have become a hot issue in our community in the alst few weeks. We have heard from many tenants that their landlords are demanding fees from them in order to operate their AC units this summer.
In many cases, landlords have no right to these charges.
Today, I've written a letter to the Manager of the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to demand action on this issue.
You can read the full letter below, and add your name to show support by clicking here.
Toronto-St. Paul's COVID-19 Business Survey
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on our local business community - and their story needs to be told.
Today, I'm introducing the Toronto-St. Paul's Business Survey, where you can let us know if your favourite local business has closed.
Whether you're an owner or a patron, I want to hear from you.
Please take the time to let me know how COVID-19 has affect a business in our community - and help me fight for more supports for small businesses across Ontario.
You can click here, or on the image above to fill out the survey.
Community Food Tables
Tomorrow they will be back up and running in three locations in our community.
St. Matthew’s United Church
- 729 St. Clair Ave W (St. Clair W and Rushton)
- 11am to 3pm
Oriole Park Community Garden
- 201 Oriole Pkwy (Corner of Lascelles and Frobisher)
- 11am to 3pm
Marian Engel Park
- 285 Melita Ave (Melita and Hector)
- 11am to 1pm
The Community Food Tables are tables located throughout our community where you are able to donate food by leaving it on the table, and anyone who is in need can take anything from the table. They're a free community exchange. Tables are supervised by volunteers during the hours their in operation.
- The Ministry of Health reported a seventh death of a health-care worker associated with the long-term care system today.
- CAF members leave long-term care homes: Members of the Canadian Armed Forces finished their mission at Ontario long-term care homes today, leaving the last facility where a team was present.
- After Ford failed to protect migrant workers and COVID-19 to spread to more than 670 workers in Essex County, the local health unit was forced to overrule Ford’s order to keep infected workers on the job. In an effort to isolate them, local health authorities were left scrambling to find housing for hundreds of infected workers.
- Ford claims he sent Emergency Management Ontario to the region today, but Essex’s health officer was not aware they were there.
- Ford also apologized today for his remarks criticizing migrants who he claimed were “hiding” from COVID-19 tests. MPP Taras Natyshak disputed Ford’s claims yesterday and told him to reverse his decision to force migrant workers with COVID-19 to work, and produce a real plan to protect workers and public health.
- Ford has refused to make masks mandatory on GO, even though Toronto has made mask mandatory on the TTC and in enclosed public places. New Democrats are calling out Ford for not respecting decision of local municipalities to make masks mandatory.
- Jeff Burch wrote an open letter to Doug Ford urging him to provide emergency operating relief funding for municipalities who are facing a financial crisis as a result of the pandemic.
Andrea Horwath has begun laying the foundation for a better long-term care and home care system that truly supports and enables seniors, after a successful virtual summit last night.
The summit, which had over 3,000 viewers streaming from home, brought together participants from across Ontario – from advocates and family members to experts and frontline workers – to address the origins of the long-standing crisis in long-term care, how to stamp out COVID-19 hotspots in the short run, and how to overhaul the system to provide the highest quality care.