As we approach the weekend, I am going to start with a quick note about these newsletters.
You will likely notice in the coming weeks that the newsletters are going to be a little shorter as the legislature is not currently sitting. With that said, I will continue to send out three newsletters a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - and I will continue to include any relevant news and updates in each letter.
I want to invite your feedback on this change! I am planning on keeping our featured artist, and will maintain a local focus as well. But if there is something that you would like to see included, please don't hesitate to reach out at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca!
Yesterday, the Ford government announced their plan for reopening schools across Ontario. This announcement came on the heels of protests earlier this week by teachers, education workers, custodians, parents, and students, who want to ensure that when schools do reopen in September, that it is done so safely. Some of the key demands included smaller class sizes, more teachers and custodians, and mandatory masks for everyone.
First and foremost, the government has only allotted $16,000 per school for additional staff, which is far less than you would need for even one new staff person for schools. That means that schools are not going to be able to break kids up into smaller class sizes in elementary schools where we will continue to see very large class sizes. In high schools, students are going to be doing half their class time online, and half in person. Neither of these schemes are an acceptable solution and will be leaving students without the support that they need. Frankly, the government’s plan is simply not funded to the level that is needed to open schools safely and effectively.
Regarding mask regulations, they will be mandatory for students grade 4 and up. Younger students will not have to wear a mask (though they can if they wish), and parents are also going to be allowed to pull their children out of school if they are concerned for their safety. Teachers will be required to wear masks, and masks are to be provided by the government to schools.
The funding package that has been proposed for education will not allow schools in Ontario to invest in the equipment and personnel that are needed to keep our children safe. This plan is a weak half measure that appeases no one. I am calling for the government to immediately add funding to this package before it’s too late. There is still time to hire more teachers, education workers, and custodians so that we can have the #SafeSeptember that our students deserve.
Toronto is moving into Phase Three of the reopening today. In my last newsletter, I covered in detail what this will mean for our community, and you can read that newsletter here.
What I will say today, is to simply reiterate that we all need to stay vigilant. A second wave of COVID-19 could absolutely be around the corner if we’re not careful. So please, make sure that you are following all the public health guidelines, wearing your mask, washing your hands, and keeping your physical distance from anyone outside of your bubble. Working together is the best protection we have against COVID-19.
In our community, working together has been second nature for many years, and last night I was able to see and support an incredibly community initiative in the Vaughan and Oakwood area. Tenants at 440 Winona organized to select a new tenants association chair and will be working hard to hold their landlord accountable. Earlier this month, I was able to share their story in the legislature, and I am thrilled to see the progress being made by the tenants, and I am looking forward to working with their new chair Prophetess for years to come!
I’m also happy to say Eid Mubarak to everyone now celebrating Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice. I hope that that everyone who observes this important festival will be able to find safe ways to recognize it in a way that is meaningful to them!
Tomorrow, is also Emancipation Day in Canada, marking the anniversary of the abolition of slavery on August 1, 1834. This year, as we celebrate Emancipation Day virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are aware of the legacy of racial oppression left by slavery and imperialism, and we find ourselves at a moment that is filled with both pain and possibility.
Along with people all over the world, Ontarians have come together to demand long overdue justice and a fundamental shift in our society’s priorities. I am proud to join with my fellow members of the Ontario NDP Black Caucus to support this call for change. We must commit to dismantling anti-Black racism in all sectors – from policing and justice, to health care, employment, housing, and education and beyond.
Finally, today, I want to send a reminder to everyone that tomorrow we will have four Community Food Tables running in our community. For those who don’t know, the Community Food Tables operate with a simple concept. Those who can, donate food to the table, and those who are in need, pick up whatever they need. I encourage anyone who is interested in dropping by one of your local tables to say hello to our incredible volunteers, who are making this project happen!
You can click here to find your nearest food table, or just scroll down in this email!.
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."
Saturday August 1, 2020
729 St. Clair Ave W ( located at St. Clair West and Rushton)
Oriole Park Community Garden from 11am to 3pm
201 Oriole Parkway (near Frobisher and Lascelles)
Cy Townsend Park from 11am to 3pm
455 Winona Drive (corner of Vaughan and Winona)
Marian Engel Park from 11am to 1pm
285 Melita Ave (just west off of Christie)