Today is the first day of Pride Month!
This year, Pride is going to be celebrated in a very different way due to COVID-19. Many of our queer, trans, two-spirit, non-binary, gender non-conforming community members will feel the deep loss of not being able to celebrate with community in person. However, we will still celebrate. We will reflect on the achievements of our past and will look to the rivers we must still commit to crossing together. We will reflect on both the parties and the protests that gave birth to pride as we know it.
2SLGBTQIA+ folks, we will not lose our commitment to inclusion. Pride will happen not only in our hearts but it will take place on our phone lines and on virtual spaces across this province.
I’m incredibly proud to be a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and I’m proud of the Ontario NDP’s history of fighting for the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ folks across Ontario. While we’ve accomplished a lot already such as pushing forward legislation mandating equal parenting rights, banning conversion therapy, and entrenching the rights of transgender and gender diverse people’s in the Ontario Human Rights Code – there is still much work to be done.
Today, I recommit to our community that I will always fight for the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ folks.
As you all know, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29 year old Black and Indigenous woman, lost her life after an interaction with the Toronto Police last week. On Saturday, thousands marched in support of an end to all anti-Black racism and the systems of oppression that enable anti-Black racism to permeate throughout our society. It is up to everyone to consistently confront racism and racist institutions – and not only for this moment – but always.
Only when we stand together against anti-Black racism, with the same consistency as it affects the lives of Black people in our community will we see it end. Our responses cannot only be to the most extreme events, but all instances of anti-Black racism.
Shifting gears, this week is Local Food Week, and I'll be featuring content from some of the many community gardens around our wonderful riding! I cannot thank our community gardens enough for your hard work and commitment through your advocacy to food security.
For the first installment I will be featuring our newest community garden, located at St. Matthew’s United Church. This garden has been founded by the Indigenous People's Solidarity Working Group from St. Matthew’s Church and here is how they describe the garden’s creation and its objective:
- “The Indigenous People's Solidarity Working Group at St. Matthew's United Church is planting a "Right Relationship" Garden on the Rushton Rd. side of the building. Plantings include four mounds with the three sisters: corn, beans and squash planted together. In the four directions of the medicine wheel garden are planted tobacco (east), sweetgrass (south), and white sage (west). We are awaiting cedar bushes to be delivered for the north end. Neighbour, Jewel Gomes has been a great help to Robin and Michael Buyers, the leaders of this effort. Produce will be given to The Stop and others as a contribution to local food sustainability.”
We are also at the beginning of Black Music Month!
Black music has a very special history in our community, with some of the roots of the Canadian Reggae scene being found right here in our neighbourhood. Black Music Month is an important time for us to reflect on the many contributions of Black musicians to the fabric of our community and the soundtracks of our lives.
Now during COVID-19 we must also reflect on the supports Black artists, cultural workers and musicians need during COVID-19. With concerts and festivals cancelled, awards shows, live performances postponed many artists are struggling like never before. It's high time we develop a provincial strategy for artists in need of support. I've asked for one from this government and I'll continue to advocate.
Finally today, I must issue another reminder to stay safe. COVID-19 is still among us, and we continue to see new cases in Toronto. It is incredibly important, that as more and more people are venturing outside, that we are staying as safe as possible, keeping our distance from one another and wearing masks that will limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Please ensure that you are washing your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and make sure that you are checking in on vulnerable members of our community and your wider networks.
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."
News and Updates
Here are today’s new developments:
- Canada will give municipalities quicker funding to help with capital infrastructure projects, a development the federal NDP says is necessary relief, but comes too late--and is not enough for many cities and towns that the pandemic has left cash-strapped. In Ontario, the NDP has asked Doug Ford to step up and ensure municipalities have the emergency funds they need to run day cares, transit, public health units and more.
- Ontario’s Ombudsman is launching his own investigation into the Ford government’s handling of COVID-19 in long-term care homes, a decision he made after last week’s now infamous military report. Horwath welcomed the news, saying she hopes the report will provide much-needed accountability, and stressed the additional need for a find-and-fix judicial public inquiry to evaluate the problems at the foundation of Ontario's long-term care system.
- A new provincial COVID-19 measure could result in Ontarians paying higher hydro costs over the next four months - Ontario NDP Energy critic Peter Tabuns called out the Ford government for hiking electricity bills during a pandemic.
Here are some concerns the NDP is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
- As Pride Month kicks off, Andrea Horwath issued a statement reaffirming the Ontario NDP's commitment to working with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to achieve progress when it comes to Queer health.
- The NDP is joining frontline staff in calling for the Ford government to take over at a Sienna-owned long-term care home in Woodbridge, where reported staffing levels are dangerously low.
- NDP critic for Accessibility Joel Harden issued a statement marking National AccessAbility Week, in which he reiterated the NDP's call for concrete support for Ontarians with disabilities during COVID-19.
- NDP MPPs in London said the Ford government must not penalize the city's struggling child care centres for a recent change the province made to rules governing the centres' pay structure during the pandemic.
Featured Art Submission