We begin today with a few pieces of news from Queen’s Park.
First, I sadly must share with you a disturbing piece of news from Question Period yesterday.
MPP Sol Mamakwa, who represents the riding of Kiiwetinoong, was calling on the Ford government to take action to stop any further deaths of Indigenous people at the Thunder Bay Jail, following the passing of his own nephew Kevin, who recently died at the facility.
As Sol rose to ask his supplementary question (second question) on the issue, Doug Ford walked out of Question Period. It’s beyond unacceptable that the Premier of this province did not stay and listen to MPP Mamakwa’s important words about the facility, where nine people have died since 2002. We need systemic change in this province to address the many years of colonialism that have traumatized generations of Indigenous people and forced them into extreme poverty. Sadly, we’ll never see that change if we don’t have a Premier who is at least willing to sit and listen to Indigenous people.
This follows the deaths of other Black, Indigenous, and racialized people in Ontario at the hands of the police. It is easy to see the common threads between these many incidents where People of Colour are dying while interacting with institutions of the state. Police violence needs to be addressed in Ontario, and this week the Ontario NDP released a policy paper with our calls to End Police Violence. It’s a lengthy paper and examines deeply how we need to reallocated funding into community services that support communities in need.
I would encourage everyone to read the whole paper here.
The Ontario government has announced changes to the math curriculum for students across Ontario. Reaction from the education community has been swift, as many parents and educators are concerned that making these changes during a pandemic is going to push an already strained education system too far. Parents and educators are already working to adapt to the new teaching environment that they will be facing come September, and adding new demands on top of that is setting the students up to fail. Today, I am adding my voice to the call to pause this decision, and instead put the focus on better supporting students during this already stressful time. We need to be thinking about and preparing to support students mental health especially with the uncertainty of what the upcoming school year will look like.
At midnight last night, Toronto entered phase two of the reopening plan as we continue to grapple with the effects of COVID-19. This means that many businesses across Toronto are now able to once again operate, under special conditions and regulations. For a full list of the rules and regulations that will govern phase two, please click here. It should be noted that while Toronto enters phase two of the reopening, the state of emergency in Ontario has been extended to July 15.
Here in Toronto-St. Paul’s, many businesses are reopening, and if you are interested in finding out about your local businesses, please check out the websites of your local Business Improvement Areas (BIAs). Our BIAs have been working overtime since COVID-19 hit to do their very best to keep our local business communities afloat.
You can find your local BIAs here:
- Hillcrest Village BIA
- Forest Hill BIA
- Mount Pleasant BIA
- Midtown Yonge BIA
- Yonge and St. Clair BIA
- Oakwood Village BIA
- York Eglinton BIA
- The Eglinton Way BIA
- Dupont by the Castle BIA
- Fairbank Village BIA
As more businesses are reopening, it remains absolutely critical that everyone in our community continues to take every precaution they can to limit the continued spread of COVID-19. Right now, we are seeing a decline in cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19, but if we don’t continue to operate responsibly, we could very well see this trend reversed. That means that we all need to be wearing our masks out in public, washing our hands very regularly, and maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from anyone who is not in your social bubble of 10.
On social bubbles, my office has continued to receive questions about the bubbles and how they work. The simplest explanation is that your bubble is to be a maximum of 10 people. You are only allowed to be in one bubble of 10, and everyone in the bubble needs to have the same 10 people in their bubble. It’s vital that everyone knows exactly who in their bubble and that everyone stick strictly to their group. Here is a helpful explanation of how bubbles work.
In recent weeks, my office has received many messages about fees landlords are demanding for air conditioners being used by their tenants. In most cases, these fees are illegal, and my office is working on a letter to the government to address these charges. If you, or someone you know has been sent a letter about fees for air conditioners, please reach out to my office at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca.
Next, I’m thrilled to send a huge shoutout to local community landmark Albert’s Real Jamaican Foods featured in a BlogTO video. The video discusses Albert’s inspirational journey to where he is today and examines his most popular dishes! You can watch the video here (Facebook link). If you haven't already, go check out Albert's laneway too! I was proud to witness its unveiling - and man was it ever a packed ceremony!
Finally, today, DesignTO is putting out the call for submissions for their 2021 festival! The festival will be hosted in January 2021, and they are looking for artists to submit their ideas to be included in the festival. This year, they are focusing on Inclusive Design!
If you are interested in finding out more, check out their website 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."
News and Updates
Here are today’s new developments:
- Toronto public health officials are asking for federal and provincial funding to establish a voluntary, centralized quarantine system for low-income people with COVID-19 whose living conditions make it difficult to self-isolate. We have pushed Doug Ford to stop clawing back income for social assistance recipients who receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and to step up protections for people experiencing homelessness, including providing hotel, motel or dorm rooms to isolate in.
- Ford reversed course on allowing Windsor and Essex County to move to Stage Two of reopening today, but has held back Kingsville and Leamington, where most of the region’s migrant workers are, to remain in Stage One – Taras Natyshak, said Ford’s decisions have divided the region, and that Ford has failed to prevent and contain outbreaks among migrant workers.
Solutions we’re pushing for:
- Andrea Horwath held a virtual press conference this morning with a woman who had insisted that her mother be moved out of a long-term care home into hospital, despite being told no by the home. Horwath stressed that families deserve answers, and reiterated the need for an independent, judicial public inquiry into how long-term care has failed so many seniors.
- MPP Wayne Gates urged Doug Ford to intervene after major grocery store operators scrapped the $2 wage increase for workers during the pandemic.
- Suze Morrison urged Ford to listen to tenants and tenant advocates and scrap his scheme to fast-track tenant evictions.
Featured Art Submission
Filmmaker - Natty Zavitz
I saw the call for local artists to share their work and wanted to pass along a link to my feature film ACQUAINTED which I wrote and directed and was shot in the neighbourhood with Torontonian cast and crew. Producer Stephanie Hooker and I live on Davenport and shot some of the film in our home. The film played festivals across North America and is available on Apple TV in Canada. I think we did the neighbourhood justice.
Former high school classmates run into each other at a bar and form an immediate rapport before they both reluctantly confess that they are in committed relationships. The shock of their burgeoning love forces them to choose between comfort or unpredictability.